Monday, August 31, 2015

Wasaga Olympic

For the fifth time this season Ang and I were at another one of MultiSport Canada's excellent races. This time we were in the beach town of Wasaga Beach, ON for their olympic distance race. Every year as the season starts to wind down I find myself starring at the point standings and doing some math on what I need to do to move up in the series standings. This season Jack Laundry and I have been battling it out in the series, but we have only faced off head-to-head once. He beat me in Woodstock when he absolutely left me in the dust on the bike portion, but with his short course specialty we haven't squared off in any of the longer series events. Once again I knew this race was going to come down to the bike.

Race morning in Wasaga started a little later than normal with the blessing of a 10:30 am start time, but Ang's mom was racing the try-a-tri so we arrived plenty early to cheer her on and get set up for the race. It was quite shocking this year that it wasn't raining and the wind, while present, wasn't at hurricane type speeds. Moving the race up from September to August paid off for the MSC crew. The swim at Wasaga beach takes place in Georgian Bay, and any time the swim is in a larger body of water there is always a risk of waves, and we definitely experienced some chop. Because we don't see this often in Ontario I am always worried the officials will cancel the swim, and it wasn't until the 10 second to go warning that I was 100% sure we would swim.

Swim - 1st out 21:50

The waves felt much larger than what the picture suggests

With the waves coming at us for the first 730ish meters my plan was to swim that section basically as hard as I could. It is much harder to draft off someone when the water is choppy so I knew if I wanted  to get out first and secure some bonus series points I had to open the gap early. Andrew Bolton and I started on the left of the start line while Ang and Jack started on the right. Warming up I figured out I could take 3 or 4 dolphin dives before the water was at a depth where swimming is faster than diving then about 10 strokes before hitting a sandbar. At the sandbar I would have decide if I wanted to do a few more dolphin dives or just keep the head down and keep swimming. When the horn went I was off, and I wasn't waiting to see what anyone else was doing. I jumped as far as I could got my arms streamlined to crash through the first wave as efficiently as possible. As my fingers made contact with the sand I pulled as hard as I could, got me feet firmly planted below me and once again jumped as far as I could. After one more dolphin dive I hit the water swimming. My first breath was to the left, and I could see, thanks to my Vorgee goggles, Andrew had already dropped back a bit, my second breath to the right to see where everyone else was. Sometimes it is difficult to judge exactly where you were, but I thought I had a lead so I skipped the dolphin dives at the sandbar and just focused on trying to get through the waves as best I could. My swim stroke is generally a bit more kick heavy then most triathletes, and over time I have developed a bit of a "gallop" to my stroke. I'm not sure if this is the most efficient of styles, but on this day it worked well and I was first to the turn buoy. On the way back in I just focused on keeping my hips as high as possible with my feet near the surface trying to surf the waves back in which was made easier by my Nineteen wetsuit. Breathing to the right  I could also see when the some of the bigger waves were coming in so I would pull harder for a couple of strokes to try and catch the waves. The last 200m or so I eased off on the kicking knowing my legs would be needed during the bike. About 100m from shore I hit the shallower waters again and tried to run a bit, but I found it more tiring than swimming so I dove back in and swam basically right up to the shore. I was rewarded with about a 30s lead on Ang and about 80s on Andrew and Jack.

The Bike - 3rd 59:15

Great photos heading in and out on the bike by the My Sports Shooter team

From racing Andrew a few times already this year, and seeing some of Jack's other race results I knew the bike was going to be where the race would decided. I talked to Rich the day before as I was driving up and we agreed that no matter what happened when I was caught on the bike I had to give it everything I had to try and go with Jack. We have both always run similar so anything more than a handful of seconds would be tough to make up on the run. Sure enough in true Wasaga Beach fashion we had some strong winds and a bit of rain, but my Smith sunglasses kept my vision clear and eyes protected. There is really only one hill on the Wasaga course at about 15k, and I was really hoping to make it up this hill before I was caught. Sure enough though I was caught right at the base you make a right hand turn directly into the start of the climb. I'm not sure if the guys behind me were able to carry more speed into the hill or if they were just that much stronger, but I gave everything I had but to no avail. I was out of the saddle mashing the pedals and saw my power was about 470w (up until this point I was averaging about 230w). I was well over 300w for the rest of the climb, and tried to close the gap when the road levelled off a bit, but I just wasn't strong enough. When my legs gave up I spent what felt like several minutes riding at about 200w trying to get things going again but the gap kept growing. I think at the next turn the gap had increased to about 30s, but my legs were starting to come back around and the caffeine in my custom Infinit sports drink started to kick in. By about 30k when we made the turn to head back towards town I measured the gap to about 20s (I looked at my clock when they made the turn and then again when I made the turn), and it gave me some motivation that I might be able to get back on. When we made that final turn though it was right into the headwind, and almost instantly my power and pace dropped. I ended up arriving to t2 about a minute down.

The Run - 2nd 34:33

Heading out on the run. Another great shot by the My Sports Shooter team

Getting onto the run being about a minute down I knew it was going to be tough to close the gap, but I was going to try my best to do it. I caught Andrew on the first little uphill as he had to take a walk break, I guess he slipped on a wetsuit in t2 and landed on his hip pretty hard making it difficult to run.   On the first of 2 5k loops I could every now and then catch a glimpse of Jack off in the distance, but it turns out I wasn't actually making up much time at all. I thought I was keeping the gap pretty similar, but it turns out he might have actually been pulling away a little bit. On the second lap as we started to mix in with racers on their first lap I couldn't see him at all, and as the saying goes "out of sight out of mind." I think this messed with my head a little bit because my pace started to drop off a bit during that second lap. Good news is that I felt a lot better than I did a Bracebridge, but I think I have now run 34ish both times I have done the full 10k here, and I've run 34:xx way to many times in tris.
Good looking guy with a good looking moustache

Next up will be a few weeks to focus on Barrelman before I decide what the rest of season will hold or if I will just pack it in and start focusing on 2016.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bracebridge Olympic

Been a little slow to get this blog up, but training is in full swing for Barrelman (you can still register if you are interested in racing this awesome race from Welland to Niagara Falls. Anyway back to Bracebridge. Bracebridge is a great venue with a time trial start. The pros and elite age groupers started 15s apart and the other age groups started 5s apart. I'm not a huge fan of tt starts because I like racing head to head against my competition, but it was a good opportunity just to race fast from the gun.

I was number 1 and first to leave the dock. I wanted to get out fairly strong so no one could swim up to my feet. Mikael started 2nd, Kristen 3rd, and Sean 4th. Heading down the river I just focus on keep a nice long stroke and keep the hips up. There isn't a huge current in that river, but you can still take advantage of it. On the way back I focused on trying to keep the turn over a bit higher. I exited the water first, but Sean had made up about 45s on me. Team Nineteen hammered that swim.

I had a good transition and got into my rhythm pretty fast trying to hold off Sean. I knew that if he could catch me that I would be 1 minute down, and it is easier to hold onto someone then it is to catch them. I was waiting for Sean to catch me, but at the turnaround I actually had gained a little bit of time on both him and Mikael. The 2nd have was fairly uneventful, and I just focused on holding numbers.

The run I just focused on getting it done. We haven't been doing a lot of 10k pace work, and I could tell in my legs. I felt good, but I just couldn't pick up the pace. All in all I did what I had to do and got the win.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

K-Town Long Course

Well if Muskoka was the "perfect" race K-Town Long Course was the opposite. Someone can go ahead and tweet this to @triexcuses because I have a pretty long list of things here. I don't like making excuses for why I wasn't at the front of the race, but I think people can learn from some of the mistakes I made.

The swim was rather uneventful for 1900m. The last 100m though was a 3 way sprint between who I believe was Marc Prud'Homme and Larry Hasson with Ang right behind. All I was thinking about was the bonus points for leading the swim because it is looking like it will be close race between myself and Jack Laundry for the series. I think I managed to touch the dock first, but the timing mat isn't the dock. My terrible upper body strength let me down, and I rolled onto to the dock something like a beached whale. There is my first excuse, but from now on at swim the end of swim practices I will jump onto deck instead of being so exhausted I have to use the ladder.

Excuse number 2 - When taking my wetsuit off my chip came off with it. In 99% of my races I will put a safety pin through the chip to make sure it stays on. I was lazy this morning and decided not to and it cost me. Lesson 2 don't be lazy with race set up, it doesn't matter how important a race is.

The plan for the bike was to go out a bit harder than half-ironman (him) pace then ease into him pace during the second half. The first 20k of the bike was going really well. My normalized power was about 230w which is about 10w over him pace and right where I wanted to be, leading the race. Excuse 3 - However, at about the 20k mark I hear a whistling sound, and the first thought that came into my head was that I had a tack or nail stuck in one of my tires. I slowed down and pulled over to the side of the road checked my front tire, didn't see anything and it felt normal. Felt the back tire it felt normal gave it a spin to see if anything was sticking in it, and that is when I saw the sticker that covers the valve hole in my disc came off and got stuck in my brakes. This once again goes back to just being a little bit carefree and not paying attention to small details when setting my bike up. Looking back at it I have used that sticker for all the races this year, and should have just replaced it. Looking at my Strava file it looks like I was on the side of the road for just over a minute and during that time Andrew and Jordan flew by. The next 5k I put the hammer down riding about 240w trying to catch back up. I think I managed to close the gap down a little bit, but just after making the turn around my legs went POP! If you missed it that was excuse number 4 and the lesson here is that if something happens during a race don't panic and stick to the plan. The power steadily dropped over the last 20k of the race, and Marc caught me at about 40k.

My last mistake. Running out of transition I was carrying my number, hat, a gel, and my watch as I was still panicking and trying to catch up. During my panic I dropped my watch and had to stop and go back for it. Once again panicking doesn't make anything better relax and do what is in your control.

Leaving transition I was a little bit surprised to hear I was 4:30 minutes down from the leaders as I was expecting maybe 2-3. At this point I thought about just tossing in the towel and saving up for next weeks battle in Bracebridge, but I told myself I need to get a longer run in anyway and my as well do it on a supported course. At the turn around I was about 2 min behind Andrew, and thought I had a chance to catch him. Jordan's lead stayed pretty steady so I knew I wasn't going to catch him. With about 2k to go Andrew's green tri suit stood out amongst the short course racers heading back in, and I found an extra gear. About 200m from the finish I came up on Andrew's shoulder just as he was receiving the news that him and Jordan missed part of the course and were being dq'd. I guess the missed the sign for a small triangle section that added on maybe 1k I'll make excuse number 6 for them that the sign wasn't very big, but you should also have a rough idea of the course route. I'm sure MSC will have some much larger signs next year as they do a wonderful job at their races and do a great job listening to feedback to make the races even better, no one is perfect. In the end I got the win, but you never want to win because someone got dq'd hopefully I can race these guys again soon and none of us make mistakes and we will all be in for a great battle.

Kingston is one of my favourites races in Ontario with its urban setting. I find it really motivating to races when there is a ton of people around cheering throughout the entire course. I want to thank all my sponsors. Vorgee for their amazing swim equipment, Nineteen for a speedy wetsuit, Infinit for simplifying my nutrition, CicloWerks for keeping my bike running smoothly, Smith Optics for keeping my eyes safe, MultiSport Canada for allowing me to race on a pro triathletes budget, and Franklin Terrazzo for their support.

Here is an interview Ang and I did with Roger from Triathlon Magazine Canada. Always great chatting with him after a hard day of work