Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Welland Half: Chasing Legends

This past weekend I competed in the Ontario Long Course Provincial Championships at the MultiSport Canada Recharge With Milk Welland half iron distance triathlon. Entering this race was a bit of a last minute decision after I had been selected to the Recharge With Milk Development. This is an awesome program that John Salt does to help young racers develop their skills. I thought what better way to test the long course waters then with a near by race that is regarded as being fairly easy aka flat. The race was anything but easy with the hot, humid, and windy conditions. Anyone one that was out there that day, whether they were racing, volunteering, organizing, officiating, or cheering on the athletes deserves a big thank-you. Being the first real hot day we have had this year I think the heat took a lot of people off guard.

I titled this post Chasing Legends because that was exactly how the race went. When I started triathlon a few years back there was 4 names that kept coming up in results and when you would talk to other triathletes: Nigel Gray, Wolfgang Guembel, Richard Pady, and Len Gushe. Unfortunately Len wasn't there, but the other 3 who I have heard so much about were.

Besides the "legends" we also had the up and comers which included myself, Cody Beals, and Chris Balestrini. Chris had done one half already this year and for Cody and I it was our first one ever.

Now onto the race report.

Pre Race 
4 rice cakes with peanut butter and banana
Cliff builder bar
One bottle of Infinit Jet Fuel
One can of Red Bull (60 minutes before)
One Cliff Gel right before getting into the water

Saturday night I drove up to Angela's (she had an awesome race and finished 3rd in her first half) house as she was also doing the race and would cut down on commute time to the race sunday morning. Sunday morning we woke up at about 4:15 and it was straight to the food I went.

My warm up consisted of 10 minutes on the bike, 10 minute run, dynamic stretching, and a quick swim. During each I would put in surges at or above race intensity to prime the body for what was going to come.

Swim - 28:14 
The swim was rather uneventful. Getting to have our own Pro/EliteAG wave really cut down on the congestion and I was into clean water pretty quick. I tried getting onto Cody's feet, but he managed to get on Angela's speedy feet and I never saw him again. Wolfgang and Rich took off like rockets, but I guess Rich eased off and got onto the feet of Ang and Cody as well. Nigel and I exchanged leads a couple times as we lead a small chase pack. During each segment of the race little demons would sneak in my head saying wow this is long. It was hard to shake these at times and I think staying mentally focused for 4 hours is something that I will have to try and work on.
Bird's eye view of the swim as we went under the bridge

Bike - 2:18:02
1 bottle of jet fuel
4 cliff gels
2 bottles of water

Being my first half, and the first real hot day I wasn't sure how my nutrition was going to go. I had only planned on one bottle of water and one bottle of jet fuel, but when I approached the final bottle exchange I decided I would grab another bottle of water. I think this strategy paid of because I had one of the best bikes of my life. I knew the fast bike was just waiting for me because I have been putting out good numbers in training, but not in races. It helped on the way out that I was caught by Jakub Macel early on. I new from Andrew Bolton's pre race predictions that Jakub was a strong cyclist. I told myself to hang with him for as long as I can. He pulled away from me just after the first bottle exchange and I was in no man's land for what felt like forever. Finally we came to the small out and back section and I could see where abouts everyone was, and at this point I was caught by Jim Sunners. Once again I told myself to try and stay with Jim as long as I could because it is a lot easier mentally when you can see someone. There was another group of 3 not far behind us that included Francois and Chris. With only about 30k to go I put my head down with the goal of making it to transition before anyone else could catch me.

Run - 1:24:09
couple of cups of water and Heed

This is where my nutrition fell apart. I thought there were going to be gels on course so I didn't bring any of my own. Next time I will not make this mistake because I think it cost me a lot not taking in any calories for the last 90 minutes of the race. I also didn't nail my pacing very well. One thing I did well that I didn't think I would be able to do was use the bathroom. You always hear of guys being able to pee on the run but I never thought I could bring myself to do it phyically or mentally. Unfortunately about 3k into the run I had to go. For about 500m I battled with myself, do i try to hold it, do I let it flow, do I stop? Finally I just had to let it go while on the run. Luckily there was no one around me at this point and I quickly got to an aid station and asked for 3 cups of water. With a couple of guys not far a head a bolted out of transition to catch them. I didn't have a watch on but the first 3k were way to fast. Once I passed Jim, Jakub, and Kenneth (I think) it was time to chase legends (and watch my back for Chris chasing me down). I was pretty far down, but I thought if I kept up the pace I might be able to reel them in. On a double out and back I had lots of opportunities to see where everyone was. I managed to catch Richard part way through the 2nd out and back, but Wolfgang and Nigel were to far ahead and it would have taken a super run to even come close to them. The last 5k felt like I was running through quick sand and with 10 lbs strapped around each leg. I knew Chris and Richard could still catch me if things really imploded so I kept checking my shoulder and telling my self to keep turning the legs over at any pace I could.
Death march into the finish line

Post Race
All in all I was super happy with the race. Coming in last minute and not the ideal training for a half I was happy to go under 4:15 as that was my only goal. This summer has been all over the place for me with draft legal/non-draft, sprint/olympic/half, off road coming up in a couple weeks, and then a sprint duathlon at worlds. I sat down with Cliff Monday night after the race for our debriefing and I think next year I am going to focus on 70.3s. This doesn't mean my draft legal days are over since I still need some top end speed to do well in long course, but I need to start making some money and I enjoyed the 70.3 distance even though it was very difficult.
She always beats me out of the water