Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Vancouver International Half Iron Race Report

This week has just flown by.

Change of pace for this race, instead of having to travel all day Saturday I got to relax quite a bit since I was sleeping in my own bed for once. I didn't want a repeat of last year where despite being a race in Vancouver, it was my latest sleep because I kept putting things off. Fortunately Nick and his girlfriend Hannah were staying with me and they kept me in line and to bed early.

After a pretty good pasta dinner with chicken, I just had some stretching to do, pack up my bag and head to bed.

Surprisingly, despite sleeping in my own bed, this was the worst sleep I've had before a race all year. I think it was because it was really hot in Vancouver. Oh well, at least I got to sleep early so although interrupted, I still managed 6 hours of sleep before the 4AM wake up.

Out the door by 4:45 and at the race site by 4:50. AWESOME! Nice being so close.

Set up T1, uneventful, bathroom line, then hop in the water for a brief 150m warmup and adjustment in my wetsuit.

This race had a beach start which is the only one I do each year. Clearly I need to practice it. Running into the water and diving in. I quickly filled both my goggles, and fortunately didn't end up with them around my neck. Problem being, I'm 10 meters into the water with 400 people behind me. No time to fix them now without getting thoroughly drowned. Instead I swim the first 300-400 meters completely blind, eyes closed simply bumping into people to my left and right to sense the direction I am supposed to be going. Thinking that this is among my worst starts ever, I finally get some free space, turn over onto my back and fix my goggles. And sure enough, who is right behind me, Rachel Kiers. Seeing her right behind me reassures me a little, she typically comes out of the water right behind me, so things aren't going so badly after all. That being said, I feel like I could have done much better. (Photos taken from SI photography or Rachel Kiers site).

Exiting the water in 15:15 after my first lap. Yikes, slow, I wanted to be around 13:45. Must be a slow course. The water was calm but everyone was fighting for the same water. Instead of fighting I just pushed hard and managed to bridge my group up to a group about 30-40 meters ahead of us. Thanks to some poor navigating with the current, I tack on to the back of the group and let them pull me in to shore.

Click this picture to enlarge, its pretty sweet
In this photo above, coming in to the finish of the swim you can see Rachel (middle blue arm) Nick (far right) and Me (middle left with arm in air). I think this is a pretty cool photo.

Exiting the water Nick is right in front of me. So despite how I felt in the water, I guess this swim is pretty much on par with the rest of the season coming out with Nick (albeit really slow)

Swim time 31:07 (slow course).

T1, uneventful. I make up some excuses to Nick that he beat me because I didn't shave my beard.

Onto the bike. I knew my competition would be A) Nick B) Rachel C) Sheldon. Rachel and Nick were both right with me leaving transition, and Sheldon with a much better swim would be 3-5 minutes up the road. I didn't concern myself with him too much though because in the past two races I've crushed him on the bike so bringing him back in wasn't going to be an issue.

Nick and Rachel have beat me on the bike in every race we have done so far this year. My goal therefore was simply to keep the two of them in sight. I've had a habit of going out too hard in the past, so I used them to pace myself and decided if I was keeping up, I was doing well. The pace seemed nice and relaxed, but I figured that was just what even splits was supposed to feel like.

After 2 laps (of 4), I still haven't caught up to Sheldon, I decide to time him on the out and back and realize he is still 4 minutes up on me. I haven't caught up ANYTHING! Whats going on. For someone who averaged 32.5 at the last race he is FLYING! I decide this is the point where I need to throw caution to the wind and just go after him.

Surprisingly my third lap, although my fastest (gaining a minute on Nick and Rachel) equaled Sheldons 3rd lap to the second. It was only on my 4th lap that I brought him back in, but was still 95 seconds down after T2.

Can you believe Scott averaged 33.2 on that bike!

Rachel Kiers
Some good looking guy
A hometown star, Magali Tisseyre who won the womans division
Patrick Waters
Sheldon Clarke

I dug a little too deep at the end of the bike. Within 2k Nick has caught up the minute lead I had on him and Sheldon is out of sight. Seeing Nick catching up I decide to try and relax and gear up for when he catches me and to just stick to his heels. This works successfully for the first 10-12k. My knee is kinda hurting, similar to the last race, but its not actually slowing me down. At 14k I decide its now or never to catch Sheldon and I surge. Although the effort increased, my speed didn't at all. I'm going to blame the wind again and the increased drag caused by my beard. In the end Sheldon ended up pulling it back to 3 minutes by the end of the run with an impressive time of 4:29:21. I followed behind at 4:32:52.

On a comical note, there was a finishing shoot which I missed while talking to a friend on his first lap. In doing so I either had to backtrack 100 meters, or climb over a small fence to get to the finish line. I decided the jump would be much quicker and spectacular so after 4.5 hours of racing I scale a quick 5 foot fence and storm the finish line.

Now for far too many numbers for anyone to care about. I broke down the race splits provided from the website to show where I lost time to Sheldon.

My mistake, I hugely underestimated Sheldon on the bike. He went from 32.2kph at his first half 7 weeks ago. To 32.5kph at Victoria a month ago, and rode a blistering 35.6kph in Vancouver. I was shocked. Once again, I'm going to blame the beard. Too much drag.

Again, for those interested.


And I'm not sure what happened here, they must have had the km markers wrong or something because I didn't catch my time at the end, however, if I backtrack it means I ran a 2:57 last km which I definitely didn't do. Maybe a 3:30 but not sub 3. Especially not with my fence jump.

All in all I'm really pleased with the way the race went. Few tactical errors. I feel I could have bridged closer to Sheldon on the bike had I raced hard from the get go. Had I been able to see him on the run I think it would have been a different race. And that was only 30 seconds away from being in sight. Remember this Sheldon. I won't make that mistake again.

Was pleased with my run, however, when I tried to surge, I realized that I can't push myself at all. When running with Nick, when he was setting the pace I had no problem keeping up, but then as soon as I was on my own I needed some incentive. That will definitely be a major focus over the next two month until our next faceoff in Sooke.

Anyways, results can be found here

Amy running one of the fastest run splits of the day

Rob showing off some guns on the course

Jeremy flying into the finish
Rob with his finisher Salute

And big congrats to all my friends who raced. A few PB's in there. And Facundo, Choppy and Kamal who raced in the sprint. Nick sorry I couldn't find more photos of you.

Facundo Winning yet again

Was a really nice day and great to see everyone out. And what did I learn? Should I have shaved. HELL NO! I've now got a built in excuse for all my mini failures.


Missy said...

Nice job! Very fast nothing to be pissed about for sure. You gotta love a mass start. That's some ass kicking right there. Congrats. Looks like a great race.

Ulyana said...

I agree. KEEP IT! Haha.

Great race! and I loved your report, as always.