Monday, June 23, 2008

New Balance Half Iron Race Report!

I've dragged my feet long enough (figuratively and literally) since the race and feel its finally time I write up my report. Once again, this has potential to be VERY long, however, I have given my race report enough times now that I hope I can summarize it a little better this time.

So time for some day stats

Wake up 4:30
Race start 6:45
Water - Temp ~18*C (PERFECT)
Water - Quite choppy water on way out, but calm come turn around.
Air Temp - Morning Cold ~13-14*C but warmed up to just over 22 for end of run so again perfect.
Wind - Apparently quite windy but didn't really notice.

So now that we have had that out of the way, onto the specifics. Changed breakfast a little bit, added some more in, had two Cliff bars, full whole wheat bagel and glass of juice, food went down quite well, nerves were surprisingly absent (I'll get back to this later)

There wasn't much parking so the first winning move of the day was to aim to get to the course before 5:30 (Yuck!), we arrived at 5:31 but managed to get one of the last parking spots so we didn't have to walk the km to the transition.

Getting to transition an 1.25 hours ahead I realized I had little to do. Pump tires and put on gels. Then I kinda just puttered around talking it up with some other competitors. Being there so early also relieved a lot of pre race stress. 

With 40 minutes to go decided I had puttered around enough and got in line for the bathroom. Good race move #2. Line up took over 20 minutes. Again, nerves hadn't set in (I'll leave out details), and as ironic as this is, that was making me nervous. But figured Oh well, I don't even know how my leg will hold (leg was hurting yesterday, read previous post for details) so worst case scenario is having to stop for a minute during the race.

Got my wetsuit on and was ready 10 minutes before the race. COME ON! Those who know me, this has got to be a record. I got to the water and had the pleasure of dipping my feet in and complaining about not wanting to go in, which, from memory has not happened over the past 8-9 races. Then got a 200-300m warmup (I know, I'm surprising myself here). Then lined up where I figured the pros would be.

Gun went off and the sprint began. Picked up an awesome set of feet, water was clear and easy to follow. Unfortunately the pros decided on taking the inside corner, which coincidentally somehow was the long route due to funky buoy placement. Result of this being I couldn't catch there feet. Swim out to the first turn (800m) was really choppy, it was near the shore and we were going perpendicular to the wave direction, breathing was the focus here. Reaching the turn I realized I was only about 10m back from the pack of 4-5 leading the swim (Daniel doesn't count, that freak swam a 23 minute solo).  Had I chosen the correct start position I can almost guarantee that I would have stayed with the leading 5 men. I was swimming fast and really easy, I would say 85-90% intensity. I tried getting around the feet I was following but turns out following is much easier than leading, I knew this but didn't realize how fast we were really going. Fortunately a parallel group joined us at the turn and I was just sitting back, decided that pushing it to get passed wasn't going to help me much so I just sucked feet. I've never felt stronger in the water. Around 400m left the feet I was following must have been kicked in the face because they abruptly stopped and so I had to bridge a gap which was ok and the increased intensity this resulted in helped me, I just carried it on and dropped the pack I was with and tried to bridge up to a few stragglers of the leaders.

Ended the swim with a time of 28:27 according to my watch and 28:50 to the mat up the beach. Significant PB there. And to think I felt like I was cruising. 

Look of confusion when I see my swim time, did I miss a lap?
Hit transition, stupidly ran right past my bike by about 15 feet, got confused when I didn't see my colorful towel and then realized my error. I was bike slot 8 and I ran up to 25 Oops!

An otherwise uneventful transition got my on my bike passing 2 people in the process. Man imagine if I hadn't passed my bike. Thats the 5th fastest T1 by the way, not bad for 500 people.

On the bike I found it really hard to get my average speed up. After 15k I was only at 31kph. Digging deep by 50k I had it up to 36kph (may have overdone it). It wasn't particularly flat either, so was really burning. I mentioned earlier that it was windy, and people said it was cold, I didn't notice, however, my water consumption would reflect this. I didn't drink nearly enough. After the race I combined my two gatoraide bottles expecting there to be only about 1/4 of a bottle left and was shocked to find over a full bottle left. Meaning over 87km I only drank about 780ml of Gatoraide and 3 gels. This could be bad news.

The bike was fairly uneventful compared to the run that was to follow. I had wanted to go 34.6kph because that would complete the 87km in 2:30:00, my speedometer read 35.03kph so I was satisfied with this. But then looking at my watch saw that I was over 2:32. What happened, well, my speedometer average speed wasn't working earlier this week, so I took out the battery and put it back in, avg speed function recovered I moved on. I didn't check that it had changed my wheel size from 2111mm to 2150. So it was reading fast. When I hit 70km and started feeling the wear, I saw that my speed was on my target so I let myself slow down a bit. Not knowing that my reference speed was slow. Stupid mistake, but probably benefited me in the long run (HAHA PUN!).

Pounding away on the biking thinking how I really have to pee!

Final note on the bike. My stomach felt terrible for about 3/4 of the ride, but other than discomfort, I don't think this affected my performance at all, may have been why I didn't drink much. Positive note, my leg felt fantastic, none of yesterday's concerns turned out to be anything, hurrah!

T2 again, very fast, but I made the same mistake. I must have been puttering and chatting too much before the race around bike spot 25 because this time I actually racked my bike in the wrong spot, looked for my shoes and didn't see them, realized I was 15 feet early moved my bike down to my spot. Even with that, had the 3rd fastest T2 of the day. I'm quite proud of my transitions if you haven't noticed. Another exciting moment was when the announcer said as I left T2, "There goes Vincent Lavallee, leading the 20-24 division since the gun!"

Why is this exciting other than the fact that I was winning. Well the winner wins a new pair of New Balance Shoes! So you bet I was running my heart out. Papa needs a new pair of shoes!

Before getting to the run, I'll explain the stakes of the race. I had two friends/competitors in the race; Doug Giles, and Cameron Mackay. Thru speaking to them and knowing previous results this is what I knew.

I was a faster swimmer by a few minutes on both of them. I figured I would fare about the same as Doug on the bike, and Cam was somewhere around us as well, potentially a little faster. Turns out that I beat Doug by 30 seconds on the bike and Cam beat me by a minute. Pretty even field I would say! And then we hit the run. My previous run pace at Shawnigan was 4:45 min/km. This was not going to cut it. At that pace Doug would catch up 15 minutes on me and Cam would surely catch up as well. But I didn't know how much.

Getting back to the race, I knew they would be somewhere between 1-10 minutes behind me off the bike. I ran my own race with a little pee break at 1km and then just focused on steady running. I knew I could run faster than 4:45 so I pushed for 4:30's or lower, and I was holding steady pace doing my first 10km in 43:40. Fantastic. But at this point, I know Doug and Cam are closing it. I was actually already expecting Cam by this point, Doug I had gauged to catch me by 14k. I'm running scared.

12.5k comes around, I look back, see a Speed Theory outfit behind me (Cam and Doug both work for Speed Theory and race in their tri suit), and realize Cam is closing in. I decided to surge and make it hard for him to catch up, by 13.5k he is gone. Hmmm... Must have taken a bathroom break. We were 4 hours into the race after all. At km 16.5 I look back and see VERY fast closing in Doug behind me. As he approaches I remember smiling a bit. Thinking back to Bryce who raced Doug in Oliver, Bryce mentioned there was a very distinct difference between his pre-chasing Doug pace, and his chasing Doug pace. I was excited to see how I would fare. As he passed me the critical move was asking him how far back Cam was and his only response was "NOT FAR!" This instilled fear and desperation. I wanted new shoes! So I dug deep and stuck to Doug's feet as best as I could.

Running in the last 3km was amazing, reminded me of running great cross country races back in high school. A feeling I haven't had in so long. At 1.5 km to go I was still on his feet, however, the course was thru tree's and shaded so I wasn't wearing my sunglasses on my eyes, they were on the top of my head and bounced of. Had to stop fast, swear a little bit, Doug yelled back if I was alright, I said yeah and again had to dig deep to try and bridge the 15-20 foot gap he had made, finally did thanks in some part to some confusion caused by slow old men at the aid station (Was a two lap course, so with this speedy finish we were passing all the first lappers). At 800m to go I told Doug I wasn't contesting the sprint, not that he really had to worry because he has a significantly better kick than I do, and I was dead.

We pulled into the finish line, Doug charged to try and break 4:30, unfortunately crossing in 4:30:00 and I followed 8 seconds behind good enough to win my age group. And Cam came in a few minutes behind to take 2nd. 

Now just to show the intensity. We ran the last 3km in 4:00/3:58/3:43!

I think its pretty clear why Doug beat me to the line. Look at that intensity
Running into the finish line (Notice terrible form with hip dropping... Eww)

This hurt. I felt good for about 10 seconds and then nearly passed out. On my way to the refreshment tent I had 4 separate people ask me if I was alright and if I had a friend or family member at the race.
Moments before Nearly Collapsing.

After a much needed collapse under a tent I recovered in time to barely miss Jody's spectacular race finish. I was expecting her to go thru with another lap and she surprised me with finishing well below her target time. She also took 3rd in her age group.

Unfortunately what happened to Cam wasn't a pee break, he had a powergel that just didn't sit right and caused him to be sick. Too bad because it would have been really exciting otherwise. I have no doubt that if he hadn't been sick it would have come down to the three of us running into the line. Maybe the next race.

End of the day. Amazing race. 

So I lead the race from the gun. First time for me. Results of the race can be seen here. And for previous races, I have a side panel to the blog with all the links. It says that I finished 2nd in my age group, which I guess technically I did, but first place was registered as an elite which makes him not eligible for the age group prizes. Same goes for Jody's race.

With the win I think I will be getting these new balance shoes. What do you think? Scream Vince? I think so. Now I just need to find them to try them on, which is going to be very difficult in Vancouver.

Sorry for rambling so much, but I warned you all. I guess this wasn't the summarized version I may have predicted, but I'm sure you all expected this anyways.

Two days later, muscles feel great, just a little tightness in my hamstrings because I'm not used to pushing that hard on the run with such kick back. 

Big thanks to Doug though for carrying me in to the finish line with his amazing running, in the end he caught up almost 8 minutes over 20k. WOW. And Cam for applying the pressure to put the fear in me for 20k of the run.

Jody, great race and thanks again for the drive.

Thanks for reading.

And people, leave comments, don't be shy!


Kevin said...

Awesome job man! I can't wait to see how you do on the Desert Half after our Cypress-Seymour ride. On my end, since I adjusted the seat position my hip is feeling a lot better. Didn't try running today but tomorrow I'll try 20 mins or so. I guess the good new is that my super-slow pace (around 125 HR) is still about 5 min/km.

rebecca said...

nice race vince. very impressive.

"Got my wetsuit on and was ready 10 minutes before the race. COME ON! Those who know me, this has got to be a record." Classic. I love it.

Brian said...

this makes me want to start ironmanning. teach me, ill be the kid to your miyagi.

Anonymous said...

Great job Vince!!
Are you thinking of moving up the distance anytime soon?