Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vancouver Half Iron Race Report

I've been procrastinating writing this report long enough, and tonight I had the bright idea of watching a horror movie (I don't like scary movies), so instead of sleeping, I'll update everyone on the race.

I've already listed the result, and there is a minor correction, 17th place included one of the relays, so I actually came 16th WOO!

Leading into the race I no longer have the nerves that I had a few month ago where I was concerned about being able to finish a half without bonking. I'm comfortable with the distance, and know my nutrition requirements. My primary concern was actually about my lack of commitment to this race. Being my third race in 21 days, my motivation and preparation were lacking. Normally I alter my diet for at least 2-3 days leading into a race this long. Also, I try and get some good rest. The problem being, doing this requires a lot of planning, and I just wasn't up to it. So my only preparation for this race was the pasta dinner I had on Saturday. I was even up till midnight getting my race stuff organized thanks to some wheel difficulties I had preventing me from getting ready earlier in the day. 

Race morning I woke up at the tender hour of 4AM to get ready for the race. Had my typical breakfast of cliff bars (only had 2 this time, and water).

It was amazing to sleep in my own bed the night before the race, the only issue being that my race needed to be checked in the Saturday, and getting to a race site around 5AM is too early for busses. Fortunately Jody was driving and picked me up. Choppy (Jody's boyfriend), was racing his first triathlon in Vancouver, and the three of us made our way down to the beach.

Getting to transition I quickly put my disk wheel on and did my regular transition set up. My rack wasn't particularly good, middle of a rack and really really crowded. I set down my bright striped towel and get into my wetsuit and prepared for the start of the race.

Vancouver was a running start into the ocean, a new experience for me. I've rarely done running starts (maybe once or twice over the years), and have never done a salt water swim in a race. I was thankful that I've been going to the open water swims at Kits beach because otherwise I think the salt water while swimming would have thrown me off. 

It was a small field of around 100 athletes all in one large wave start. Position wasn't overly important because of the small field, so I just made sure to be at the start and prepared for the sprint to the water. The gun went off and I was shooting towards the water like a maniac. I was first in the water by about 5 feet ahead of second. My only issue is I didn't have the most graceful entrance which instead of resulting in a dolphin dive, was more something like a belly flop. Check out the photo;

I'm the one at the front in the bottom right!
The swim was amazing. I wasn't fighting anyone and just got onto peoples feet and charged through at a comfortable pace. Finishing my first lap I gained a spot running up on the beach around the buoy and was trying to make it back up to the feet ahead. Unfortunately I never could bridge the gap. I followed at about 8-10feet behind. Every time I tried and surge to catch up, they must have done the same because I would power for 30 seconds and still not make up any distance. Fortunately I wasn't losing distance either so that was fine by me. I just relaxed and kept going.

One thing I found interesting and Jody pointed this out to me before the race was that, since the tide was going out, the current was dragging out across the beach (We are on a bay), so keeping a straight line was a challenge but I think I managed well.

I got out of the water in 11th place, swimming a 28:11 according to my watch, good enough for a new PB with a swim of 1:29min/100m!

Speedy first transition and I passed 3 people and onto the bike in 8th. It was really nice having the sprint start after the complete swim, because the result being all my friends racing the sprint were there cheering me on after the first lap and also as I ran thru transition. 

Onto the bike I was flying. After riding the hill to UBC I pulled myself into 5th place! This is about the time I started to feel the previous few weeks on my legs. I'll keep the bike short, but I just had nothing to push. I could easily maintain cruising speed of 31-32kph, but pushing upwards of 33-34 was really hard. I managed to average 33.5 on the bike, which wasn't horrible but also wasn't all too fantastic. 

Bike Turnaround at Spanish Banks

I'm going to complain here for a second, and its something I rarely fuss about but at times like this I feel something has to be said so that the new people to the sport can learn what NOT to do. I caught up and passed one of the elite females (We'll call her Miss Smith) on the first climb up towards UBC. Having overdone it a little bit on the hill she then passed me again, and after a 30 second breather I was refreshed and pulled ahead again, however, wasn't dropping her. She was drafting me HARD. After a little while she passes me and says "With all due respect, if you pass someone keep going." This made me angry at the time, but laugh now, because when I passed her, she was only going 33 but then I was going 35 and she all of a sudden was right on my wheel, draft may have had an effect. Anyways she eventually dropped me, not because she was riding harder, but because a guy caught up and passed me and she just clicked on to his wheel and pulled off him for the next 10k. I couldn't believe it. I thought drafting was something annoying hot shot teenagers did when they are trying to crack the top 10 in sprint distance, not 35 year old women who are riding elite. It was so bad that I actually waved down one of the martials on the course and pointed it out to them. I've NEVER done that before. Regardless she gained about a minute on me through this technique and eventually another female rider Rachel Kiers (Powerhouse on the bike), caught up to me and I knew she would catch up to Miss Smith, so I gave her the heads up about the drafting. I was satisfied to see that when Rachel caught up to Smith that she quickly accelerated past and dropped Smith hard. I feel kinda bad with all this taddling, however, after the race I was talking about it with another racer, and their response was, "yeah, she does that all the time, its annoying." So Miss Smith, if your reading this and pissed at me, you may want to check your race tactics because your not making friends. 

Anyways, enough about my drafting rant, I'm not 100% innocent either, I'll admit I've done some slow passes in the past, but I always try my best not to follow closely, because you can have the best race of your life, but you just need one person to say you were drafting to tarnish it, so pride is was should police you, and not the martials. 

So as I said, I wasn't able to push at all on the bike, was feeling really flat. Got to T2 and have never looked forward to a run more in my life. I was probably a little too excited bout T2. I flew into transition, saw my striped towel, racked my bike (angry that someone was in my spot) and then started bitching because I couldn't find my shoes. Turns out, someone wasn't in my spot, they just had my towel. I've been racing 6 years using the same towel at every race, have never seen it before, and now over a month I've seen one so similar to it twice. I re-racked my bike, put on my shoes and took off, (18th fastest transition time, gross). 

The run I just kept slow but steady. I felt much better than I did last week in Osoyoos, however, seeing as how it was a much smaller race I was running alone a lot. There was one racer, Ricardo Estrada who caught up to me and passed, and I probably could have stayed with him if motivation had really been there, but I saw that I was secure in my position at the turnaround, and that pushing hard really wasn't going to improve my placing, the gaps were too big. So instead I opted to cruise holding a comfortable 4:30min/km pace to the finish. Ricardo did end up running 5 minutes faster than me, but still ended up just 1 spot ahead of me, so I was satisfied with my choice. 

These next two photos are so very staged, I saw the photographer and made myself look GOOD!

I think my face in this photo summarizes the past 3 weeks

No land speed records were broken at this race, but I won my age group and I was satisfied with that. I think that had I not raced these past few weeks, and made this a focus race, that I really could have cracked the top 10 because I feel that between my bike and run I could have cut nearly 15 minutes on a fresh day. 

So there we have it, 3 races over 21 days. First place in my age group at each! I don't think I could have asked for much more.

Thats Rachel beside me, she finished second female overall by only 5 seconds.

Podium of my age group

If anyone else is considering doing something as foolish as this, then I'll share my feelings on the triple header. Was a great experience and posed a lot of obstacles. The first being good planning. I really needed to be careful over these three weeks to not overdo it on a training ride. The second obstacle was the hardest, getting over the psychological barrier. Gearing myself up and getting the motivation to race hard week after week was really difficult. It helped a lot doing it with someone else. I don't think it would have been nearly as easy to do had Jody not been racing them all as well. She was saying that she gained confidence in being able to do it because I was doing it as well. I'll have to agree with her on that, seeing as how she was doing all the races as well (not to mention these were her first three half irons ever), really boosted my confidence that if she was able (and willing) to race them, then I could as well.

Now prioritizing was important. I had to really chose which races were more important to me. I decided that Victoria I would use as an A race, where as the other two didn't matter as much, Osoyoos being more important than Vancouver. 

This was difficult for me, because I'm used to going to every race and hoping for a PB. Racing these races, I could hope for that at Victoria, but three weeks later in Vancouver, that was out of the question. Sure I PB'ed the swim, but then was 19 minutes slower than Vic on the bike and run (Bike was 6k longer). So if your going out to challenge yourself, then this is a good method. But if you are trying to get record breaking times... Then this shouldn't be your route.

That being said, I don't know if I will do it next year. I really like the Subaru 4pack, and I won a free entrance to Osoyoos for next year, so you never know. Maybe in a year I will be ranting about race triple header once more. 

Other races this weekend, Facundo, Kevin, Choppy, and Greg all raced the sprint with some fantastic performances. Facundo taking the overall win with the fastest bike split, and Kevin having the fastest run. Good job guys. And Jody doing the Half IM and making it through the three weeks, I'm really proud and impressed by her for that.

Being two days later, my legs are still a little stiff, but feeling good. Will be able to get back onto my bike and cruise soon. I'm really excited to be able to train hard again and not worry about tapering!

That being said, I signed up for the Victoria Marathon on October 12th 2008. This will be my first Marathon, so as my race reports die down, there will be more training updates about running. It should be fun because Kevin and Doug are also racing the Marathon, and I found out just today that my cousin Sean is also running it. I couldn't imagine a better way to run my first than with a bunch of people I know racing with me as well. I have a target in my head, but I won't reveal it until I have some training under my belt to gauge how realistic it is.

Thanks for reading and keep checking the blog, because although I am not racing I will have updates weekly. One that I have begun prepping is a transition summary, filled with tips on what should and shouldn't be done in transition. 

Oh! I also I fell in love with a Masseuse, I got a massage after the race, and fell in love with a girl named Robyn. Thanks a lot for the massage, I really enjoyed it and it made my legs feel a lot better!


Anonymous said...

You are INSANE!!

Dan Yu

Rob said...


Kevin said...

I think Vic is going to be a fun race! I know a lot of people doing the half as well, so we'll have to organize some sort of post-race party.