Ironman 70.3 Victoria

Race number two is in the books at 70.3 Victoria. As most races some ups and downs but lots of positives to take from it and lots of things to improve on for the next time out.

So first off the swim. Started out and boy did it start fast. I was almost immediately into the red, swimming the first 50 in 30s flat which is a pb by about 3 seconds and through the opening 100 in 1:05 which is also a pb by about 6 seconds -yes I’m not a sprinter in the pool maxing at about a 1:11 100m (not from a dive and without being able to do flip turns without feeling sick to my stomach doesn’t help that time but still wouldn’t be crazy fast). Once I felt like I was starting finally to settle in, I quickly noticed the leaders were drifting away. Mentally I had big decision to make. My group was falling back and the leaders were already likely about 50m ahead. I didn’t think cruising along in the group I was in was a good idea or would really test my limits but also thought their group of 7 or so at that point would be very hard to bridge up to on my own. But I gave it a go and went full on nuclear (into major lactate) and swam my absolute heart out for about 400m and finally got onto their toes. I sat in and tried to breathe out the lactate that accumulated with that huge effort. But then again with about 400m to go it was decision time again. Brent was little bit up and the three guys I was with were seeming to be swimming a good 50m to the left of the bouys on the right on a clockwise course. I gambled and left both of them even though swimming in the draft with would have saved energy, and went off on my own swimming back over to the right and hugging the line of the bouys closely with the Swim Out all the way on the inside line. It worked and beat both into the swim exit and had the 5th fastest swim on the day and a personal best for the 70.3 distance at 25:13.

Into transition the time I gained on the swim pretty much evaporated as I had issues trying to get my shoes on which were already pre clipped into the bike. Embarrassing but yes I only learned how to do this the week of the race and felt very comfortable doing it with the crank arms positioned in very specific way. As I ran over to the mount line the elastics popped off (probably didn’t have them looped all the way around the derailleur). Anyways that through me right off and with the shoes flopping all over the place was struggling to get them on. Got frustrated just said basically screw it got off the bike put my feet in finally and then remounted. It was a little embarrassing but really don’t care about that. I committed to finally put the shoes pre clipped into the pedals like all the other pros and gave it a go. If I didn’t panic and get angry, just chilled took my time and started riding regardless and then once moving quicker got around to getting my feet into the shoes it would’ve really been no issue. But my short temper got better of me and ended up costing me a good minute and losing contact with the pointy end of the race almost immediately. Lesson learned when things go wrong don’t panic, just roll with it, it is a 90km bike, you have lots of time to get your shoes on right.

Anyways finally got it going and was flying through opening sections but there was another little distraction. I realized the Jetstream tail wasn’t on the back of my helmet (it popped off when I took the helmet out of the bag setting up Transition and I hadn’t noticed it). I really like the piece since not only does it direct airflow better over my back having naturally such a rounded back but also since it serves as a good tactile cue since when I have a good head position the tail literally touches my back in between my shoulders so I just try to keep that touching the whole time instead of letting my head bob around looking at my computer and what not. Anyways another little transition blunder but not major just more distracting since I was feeling around behind my head for the tail thinking maybe it was still on and perhaps just off kilter a bit. On the opening sections though had few good climbs and with some big power pushes quickly passed the couple who had passed me fiddling with the shoes, and was now into 6th. Unfortunately then came the flat slight downhill section through the stunningly beautiful forest. My speed on the flats and descents just isn’t comparable right now to these other guys just like Marbella and it was one, two, three passes and was quickly now in 11th and it stayed that way the whole way until the end of the bike, riding basically solo the entire time (pretty lonely ride). There was one other competitor who just sat on my tail literally for about 60km not once coming through to even just mentally break things up and maybe help pull each other along (at a legal draft gap but still back and fourth switching leads will 60% of time every time be faster - Doesn’t make sense right but made sense for Mr Burgundy). Once we got to the “climb” at 75k dropped him and put about 2 minutes into him quickly while using the climb as an opportunity to take gels and fuel back up since I rather not be reaching around while trying to stay in aero on other sections. I say climb with quotations since after Marbella it really was nothing. Overall loved the course it was great challenge with constant rolling hills just under 1000m of elevation gain (just over 3000ft for American friends), beautiful scenery and the rain thankfully stayed away which would’ve made one of the very technical turns on course more than terrifying - it really looked like you were going to bike off a cliff into the ocean for a while before the straight 90 degree turn at the base of the descent finally came into sight. I Just wish I could’ve not lost so much time on the course. I do think the position changes on the way will really help and after speaking to both Nathan Killam, who had fantastic race coming in third and great guy chatting for a while, and a race coordinator who was sub 9 full IM athlete himself will be finally manning up and going to bigger chainrings. 52-36 is great for climbing but I’m just getting shredded on flats and descents. Not too mention as he explained it will even help with the rolling hills since I’ll just be taking that much more speed into the base of every climb. It is also a matter of more experience just being more confident knowing how hard I can push on the bike. I’ll admit after my absolute implosion last June at Ironman 70.3 Wisconsin where I came off the bike in second with a three minute lead on third, in the extreme heat of the day really probably over-biked pushing what even now I consider pretty crazy power the first half of that ride, and I’m just slightly more hesitant to just put my head down and just lay it all out there on the bike. That race in Wisconsin definitely left some mental scars and I just need to move past it to regain my confidence on pushing the bike, cause it really is getting frustrating having bikes like this where I look at a NP of 260W, average at about 250 in this race, and say holy moly I’ve pushed almost as much power for 4 hour rides before inside on the trainer (yes it’s different inside but still). Anyways change in position will help me be more comfortable in aero, and the change in gearing I believe will really help amp up the pace on the bike to the level it needs to be at. Having said all this was it a terrible bike. No. The course was pretty challenging so I wasn’t expected like a 2:10 bike split for myself. Also going into the race, I focused on my run much more so than the bike, and then the power is still half decent at just over 4.56W/kg, having had dropped some weight heading into the race (with the run focus, less swimming, and some diet changes), and the VI was very low which for such a rolling course is pretty impressive and set me up to have a good run.

Into T2 I made the decision after having to literally pee like crazy for about an hour went to washroom as quick as I could and lost another 1:20 on average to the entire field. Boy I wish I could’ve taken that back or held it in with how the finish was but I got to live with it as I made a judgement call and was really uncomfortable for that last hour on the bike and didn’t want to spend the entire run like that. I was passed by my bike companion in T2 with this delay but within about 100m I cruised on past. The GPS was getting pretty thrown for a loop and kilometre marking seemed to be a ways off since I passed the first km apparently in 3:06, the second in 3:07, and the third in sub-3. I felt like I was running well, but a 15min 5km no way with how windy, twisty and surprisingly technical the opening couple miles of the trail were (it was a two lap run course around Elk Lake all on trail). Technical like the single track trails such as S.O.S I ran on in Park City years back, heck no, but definitely more so than a classic rail trail or my normal now coyote infested Eco Park trail here in Thornhill. Anyways really had no idea what my pace was but felt good, and kept rolling along. With the trail being so twisty you really had no idea where you stood in the grand scheme of things and again it was pretty solo/quite not seeing people ahead or behind. I just knew I was in 11th, and thankfully saw an old friend from Mcmaster, Greg, who was running along the trail cheering people on, he recognized me right away (last time we saw each other was about 4 years ago), and said I was looking awesome and guys are too far up ahead. So I kept it rolling, and approaching the end of the first loop the crowds were great spurring me on with spectators giving some oos, and wows, and saying I looked the best they’ve seen all day - not sure if they were referring to the dope lime green outfit I was wearing, or how quick I was running, either way I liked hearing it and that helped going out on to lap number 2.

About 14kms in, finally a glimpse of another competitor. He had passed me early on the bike, and had put about 4-5 minutes into me on the bike, and after about 50 minutes of running I pulled all of that back. From afar I assessed how he was running and whether this would be a pull back, sit and then go by, or a straight up pass. But with how quickly I closed the gap just went straight on by. He tried to stay for a second but the elastic snapped very fast. Quickly I saw another competitor ahead. This one too was a quick pull back and power past. I had now run my way into 9th place. At 17km in, we hit the final hill on the course, and on the downhill I could feel my quads falling apart, and was getting a little fuzzy. Briefly the sub-70 attempt from couple Monday’s ago crossed my mind, and thought omg am I going to cramp up, and bonk out in the last 15 minutes here. But I ran through the full rollidex in my mind of things to inspire me. Telling my self mind over body, you got this, how bad do you want this, thinking about the Terry Fox statue at mile 0 here in Victoria and how incredible that man was at 22 years old with cancer and on one leg - my quads are hurting and feeling wobbly so what deal with it. I saw two more competitors just ahead of me at the turn around. And gave whatever was left to try to catch them. Again it’s hard to know how far ahead people are when with the turns even if only 200m ahead you are out of sight. I tried to just run it out as quickly as I could, and likely with the worst form you’ve ever seen in your life using my arms to run really more so than my legs. Unfortunately I couldn’t catch the two of them but boy was it close with only about 18 seconds to 8th and a minute to 7th. I do believe if we went for just 500m longer I could’ve finished 7th, but for now I’m happy with 9th place in such a strong field, and with how I ran having the third fastest run in the field and a pretty solid time of 1:17:04 on such a historical slow run course, and only 9 seconds slower than Cody the overall winner who had just a real well-rounded strong race with swim, bike and run.

Overall finishing time was 4:10:40 which is around a 6 minute PB, and quite pleased with it. The swim is there, the run is there, the bike needs some work but it will come with time and the more I race these longer distances. Also an easy 1.5 minutes gained without the silly pitstop in transition (figure out how to pee on the bike - I tried trust me I tried but this is a person who can barely go in a public washroom so bit of mental block to go really out in public). Also a minute gained with more practice with shoes being pre-clipped, and really just not getting flustered when things don’t quite work out the first time. And I do think I can run even better with better hydration along route, in this race the carbohydrates were there on the run taking in three gels so about 70g of CHO, but need more water/electrolyte. I did not grab nearly enough at stations just really a tiny splash here or there. I don’t think the fuzziness I was getting was from a lack of carbohydrate taking in about 180g on the bike, and then the other 70 on the run, just more water/electrolytes will help. So there it is, as usual thanks so much to my sponsors Revolver Wheels, Zone3, TriSports, and Rudy Project. Next race up is all dependent on whether I am selected to represent Canada at ITU Worlds in Denmark for Long Course. Until then I’m going fully commit to sorting out this bike with my upcoming position change, new gearing, and then begin in a couple day the Tour de Frank where I’m planning on biking basically a 2.5 week long “Grand Tour” mostly all outside to get my bike to where I need it to be. Thanks for reading along, and the support, until next time happy training and racing.