Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Very Long Winded Race Report (Shawnigan Half IM)

So, this past weekend Jody and I travelled to Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island to do the first of four triathlons as part of the Subaru West Coast Series. Waking up early and making the ferry over to Victoria was very smooth and we had great weather all day which was nice. 

We arrived at the race site around 1:30 with ample time to get our race packages and then go out for a nice cruise ride of the course. The bike course I would say compares most accurately with the Muskoka bike course, never really going straight, and rarely flat. The only difference here is that the hills were all much smaller, typically 100 meters long and not 2-300. The road surface however, wasn't the best. No cracks and very few wholes, but it just wasn't smooth, the asphalt was almost pebbled, like the fire road after the ice breaker bridge for those of you who train in Montreal, or that crappy patch of road on the west side of UBC near Wreck beach.

We got back to the race site at about 4 just in time for the pre race meeting, at which point I changed my wheels from my training wheels to my new SPEED WEAPONRY! For those of you who don't know I got new wheels, you can see them here, or wait a little while longer and I will post some photos.

The race briefing was very standard, however, there was one tip of advice that was given that I considered. They said when coming out of the water, wait at least 15 minutes before eating. You can sip water, but nothing else for at least 15 minutes until your heart rate settles, so I thought to myself I would try this.

I forgot to buy Gatorade for the race, so after the briefing we stopped in at a convenience store to bought some. Gatorade was disgustingly expensive, and the old lady working there felt bad for me, so was trying to find me a better deal, suggesting that I buy rockstar energy drink instead because they were 2 for 3$. I kindly declined.

We stayed at one of Jody's friends parents place, which was actually on the race course, and was amazing. They made lasagna for us for dinner, and everything was perfect, I couldn't have asked for better accommodations. We slept on the floor in the basement on small foam pads over a shag carpet, and I was just as comfortable as I am in my own bed.

Race morning arrived early, I woke up to pee at 4:30 and decide that since I was getting up at 5 anyways, that I would just stay up. I got up, got into my suit and had a quick breakfast of bagels and juice. Not enough food I would say for future races.

Getting to the race site at 6:15 was fine, however, they only had 5 bathrooms for the 200 athletes (my only complaint about the weekend), so this worried me a little since at 6:15 there was already a 40 person line up.

I ignored all this, went and got my bike set up, put on my gels etc and pumped up my new tires to 160 psi, WOW!

In typical Vince fashion, I got everything set up, went to the bathroom and then went to get my wetsuit on and sure enough its 6:58 when I finally snap on my goggles. Perfect amount of time for a warmup before a 7AM start.

Got to the water, spit in my goggles to prevent fogging up (I highly suggest this to anyone who doesn't do it already, you just wipe out the spit before putting them on, and your goggles will stay clear for a full 2 hour practice) and lined myself at the front and heard the gun go off. 


The swim was cold, but there were only about 100 people in the race so it wasn't to crowded. I did a good job of leading out the front while the pros went up the right side. I managed to slowly weave over to them avoiding other swimmers until I caught on to someone swimming at a reasonable pace. It took me about 2-300 meters for my lungs and face to feel comfortable in the water, I guess this is why you should warm up, muscle and wetsuit wise everything felt pretty good. 

Open water swims are funny, since you can't really see who is behind you, all you ever see is a crowd in front of you, this results in my feeling like I'm always in last place on the swim. So I pushed really hard for the first lap (was a 2X950m swim) and got to the end of the first lap thinking I was going painfully slow to realize I was only at 14:14 as I rounded the turn, not too bad.

I swam most of the first lap alone, and then finally caught up to someone that I could get into their draft about midway thru the second lap. At this point I took a mild breather to look around and noticed I was leading a train of people behind which although doesn't make me go any faster, made me feel pretty good that there was a group who were just trying to hold on to my feet. I finished up the swim feeling strong in 29:38, a new PB! Thinking I was among the last people to exit the water, I was very pleased when I heard The Voice of Ironman Canada Steve King announce that I was in 11th place overall. I was super pumped about this because there were 4 pro's in the race and 3 athletes who were training at the National center doing only the swim bike portion, so realistically I wouldn't expect to beat any of them.

Smooth transition 7th fastest on the day, and off onto the bike. My goal was to be slow and steady on the bike. I tried the not eating for at least 15 minutes (typically I take a gel right as I get on the bike), and this was a great move, my stomach felt much better, so I suggest this to anyone racing any distance.

I'll be very quick with my recap of the bike, I started off slow and did a quick burn to see how my legs felt, they felt good, so I threw caution to the wind and started hammering. This was probably a good thing because it was a harder bike course than I had anticipated, riding it slowly saturday made me miss the difficulty of a few of the sections, and had I gone conservatively I would not have made my target. 

Nutrition on the bike was good, I tried my chocolate bar technique, went very well, however, took me too long to eat, so I decided not to have the second, instead I threw it to a kid who got very excited. 

2 hours 35 mintues and 5 gels later I finished the bike feeling good but really having to pee. I was a little concerned about how my legs would fare up, this being only my third brick run of the year, the first being the UBC tri, and second being storm the wall, neither being exactly at the same level as a half marathon. But I did have confidence that I would run strong because I've been putting in some great mileage in training. I came thru transition, and once again Steve King saying a whole slew of info on me; where I'm coming from my target times, my PB's. It was fantastic (During registration for the races they asked for a small biography, this really made for great announcing). I had a fantastic transition, despite running in the wrong direction for a few meters, came out with the 3rd fastest change. Yup, I beat a few pro's!

Onto the run, as soon as I was out of view, I stripped down to my waist (I was wearing a 1 piece, but this didn't take long at all) and watered the plants. Felling much relieved I started on a fun half marathon. The run was entirely on a crushed rock path, similar to running up mount royal. I do most of my training in the endowment lands, so trail running etc was no problem for me.

I went with the strategy of taking water and a gel at every aid station, in doing so I would eat the gel right before the next station, get water to wash it down and have a gel prepared for later. This technique worked great. 

I have two complaints about the run, first, the km markers were terrible, I kept running 3min km followed by 6 minute km (km 14 actually took me just over 8 minutes and I was probably running fastest at that point), but I've done so many races with no mileage so how can you complain if they are off a little. While running a half marathon, if you know that your at 12k, who cares if thats really 11 or 13, its all more or less the same since you should be running on feel anyways.

My second complaint is no fault of the race organizers, but I was completely alone, no one for 6 minutes ahead, and 5 minutes behind, so I had no one to push me. Only at km 12 did a girl doing the relay catch up to me. She was running 4:20's while I was running in around 5min/km and I realized I had no problem keeping up with her. So for my next race I am confident I could slim a lot of time off my run. I stayed with this girl until km 17 when she started to hammer and finally pulled away from me.

I rounded out the half marathon in 1:40:05. Again, another PB! So I was really pleased with this and a total time of 4:46:47! This is one of the first races I've done where I finished, not feeling like I was dead, but also feeling like I gave it my all. Typically I finish with the feeling that I could have pushed a lot harder, and sure I could have done that on the run, but my final 9km of the run were fast (Negative split 49 minute opening 10k, and 51 minute last 11k) so I can't really complain.

If you want to see the breakdown of the times click here.

Anyways, that was about all. Jody's race also went well. She did the sprint distance and was really pleased with her result.

I'll leave out my area's for improvement for another post, because I feel this has been far too long. But expect something big on my next run.

Today being two days later I'm feeling pretty good, but my calfs are still really tight.

Thanks for reading, hopefully you made it to this point.

And wish me luck for my next month of hard training before the Victoria Half on the 22nd.

And congrats to everyone who races either Triathlon des Iles or the Ottawa marathons this weekend.


Daniele Hohol said...

Great work! Great read!

Must've been exciting stuff to race along the pros such as Jasper Blake???

And you're so close to the National Centre as well...any dreams/aspirations of going pro?

feistydaichi said...

Congratulations Vince - sounds like you're having a lot of fun. So have you completely moved on to long course?

Rob said...

Hey Vince, glad the race went well and that you "fed the warrior". My favorite part was giving the kid that chocolate bar, he must have been pumped.

James said...

Congrats on the race Vince! That's awesome!

elspeth said...

That was good to read. You should do a blog on transformers. I bet the 'short biography' was at least 4 paragraphs long.
Congratulations on a great race!