Monday, July 30, 2012

Calgary 70.3 Triathlon

Calgary 70.3 2012 is officially in the books. My best ½ ironman to date. I would have broken 5 hours if the bike course wasn’t 4 km long. My time was 5:03. I only decided to do this race after I didn’t get an Ironman Canada slot in the Desert Half. But get this, during the warm up iconic tri announcer Steve King announced that this year’s IMC might be a wetsuit ILLegal swim. Apparently the temps have been so warm that the water temp is also high. Man...I don’t do non-wetsuit swims (w/out wetsuit floatation not only would I be slow, I’d be scared of drowning!). Good thing I didn’t get that slot!

I’d done the Calgary 70.3 the innaugural year (2009) and the next year, 2010. So my challenge was to see if I could get better. My swim was 1 minute slower. You never know with the courses though, they tend to vary so much. The Ghost Lake is so cold! Fortunately I have a neoprene beany to go with my wetsuit. It makes the 16C water so much bearable. A swimmer actually drowned just 1 week to the day before the race. He’d jumped off the bridge we swim under, but probably due to the cold water was unable to make it to shore. A sad thing for sure.

After the swim I jumped on the bike hoping for a little improvement from the previous year. I was 6 minutes faster. My tubeless clinchers really performed well on the rougher roads. I wouldn’t doubt if the better rolling resistance accounted for some of that improvement. Even though 90km is pretty long, the km’s just seemed to fly by. I love the bike!

Onto the run. After burning a good couple of minutes draining my bladder in the porta potty in t2 it was off to the races. The day turned out kinda hot, but nothing like the 38C I’d encountered earlier this year in Osyoos. My pace seemed good, but my body wanted to go faster, but every time I dialed it up I felt a little "bonky". My energy stores seemed right on the edge, so I tried to be conservative. With about 5 km to go though it was time to rip. There was a lot still in the tank so it was fun to finish fast.

The last 8km or so I ran with a 55 year old guy that set a record this day for his age group. I ended up dropping him. As I passed and began a long surge I reminded him that I wasn’t in his age group. He sounded relieved that he didn’t have to fight me off. He made an interesting comment earlier in our running together though. He said that he was going faster in triathlon than when he was 31. The improvement curve was still on the upward trend. That’s kinda cool. So is mine!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Last Saturday I did one of my favorite rides... Canmore to Calgary via the Highwood Pass. It’s a long one. I didn’t have my cycle computer, but as I rode I tallied up the road signs and figured it was about 275km’s. The Highwood pass route takes you up pretty high into the alpine. There was still snow up there and evidence of a very recent, very large avalanche. When you turn off the highway into K country it seems like about a 3 hour climb up to the top of the pass.

Ironically, the toughest part of the day seemed to be the 1 hour downhill descent from the pass. It took about 4 hours to get up there and my usual stop is at Highwood crossing, another hour from the top. It’s funny that when you anticipate a break or even the end of a journey it seems to take forever. Such was the case from hour 4 to 5 in this long 10 hour ride. Though it was all downhill I kept looking for the junction where I’d take a short break and have some lunch. When it finally came and I took a short 15 min stop I realized I was just over ½ way done. That thought seemed a little intimidating.

This ride takes you through many eco-zones. From mountain valley (where I live), up to the high alpine, then down into dry foothills and grasslands. It’s an amazing journey. When you’re on the final leg, you look way off into the distance to the west and see the mountains that you had ridden to the top of and they look so far off! It’s quite a thought that you dwell on the fact that earlier in the day that’s where you were. Sometimes I find it astonishing that a body and a bike can traverse over so much distance in a day.

From the Highwood junction there’s a gradual downhill for 44 km’s and though I had a small head wind, this section went fast. When I reached Longview and the prairie I still had a ways to go, but calculated that I’d ridden the equivalent of an Ironman bike leg 180km’s.

As I made my way along the long roller ups and downs I was caught from behind by a somewhat studly looking rider who was visiting from Danmark. He said I was flying and he had to work hard to catch me. I told him I found that hard to believe since I felt like I was in survival mode. On the long downhills though, in my aero tuck and with my tubeless tires I would really pull away from him, so perhaps I was going better than I thought.

As I made my way gradually into the city it was a great feeling to feel actually pretty fresh knowing how many k’s I’d put in. The most frustrating part of the day was when I finally reached the city limits. Finding my way through town trying to avoid the major arteries was tough. I criss-crossed going much farther than needed just trying to safely get to my destination.

Man what a feeling when it’s all done. This is one of the epic rides I wanted to do this year. The other is Revy to Canmore in a single day, a 300km ride. With my not doing an Ironman now, we’ll see if the long rides are still in the plan, but they sure are a fun way to train!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rough 70.3 Day in the Desert

The Osoyoos Desert ½ tri was supposed to be my qualifier for doing another ironman this summer; however it wasn’t meant to be. The race was fine (explained below), but the advertised Ironman Canada slots didn’t materialize. Last year they had 30 slots, this year 12. Of the 9 guys vying for these 12 I was one of the 3 left out. Yet, as I walked out of the meeting to decide who got them I was totally at peace. I’d earlier decided to do an Ironman to "up" my fitness level so as to be maximally fit for skimo worlds next Feb. This strategy has really worked for me in the past, most recently last year. However; I was considering doing more skimo specific training instead, but in the end decided to go with what historically has worked. But as you can see a higher plan overrulled.

My alternative plan immediately kicked in. That is, to do Calgary 70.3 ½, trying for a p.b. Last time I did this I actually came in 3rd in my age group qualifying for 70.3 worlds. I really feel my bike swim and run are the best they’ve ever been so I’ve got to go for some kind of tri challenge. This race is 1 week before August long weekend (first in Aug.), so I’ll have a full August summer month plus Sept. & Oct (some on snow in Oct.) For skimo dryland.

Now to the race.....

Swim: course was short. I didn’t mind as my time of 38min was pleasing to me (slow for most probably).

Bike: I really wanted to at least equal last year’s bike time. I did to the minute. This course is super challenging, I love it! We start by going up 14km steep Richter Pass, descend the pass, then hit the 7 roller hills into Keremeos. Turn around then do it all backwards. By far the toughest part of the IMC bike course and this Iron bike course is probably the toughest one out there.

I hadn’t gotten the bike km’s in I’d like as we’ve had a really, really wet and cold spring (up here June is spring). So in equalling last year’s time I was stoked.

Run: my run training has been more focussed and intense than ever before so I was hoping to bust last year’s time of 1:45. Coming off the bike though I felt rough. A result of pushing for a good bike time. At first I was moving along fine (once my body made the transition from bike to run-typically the first km), yet the 38C temps began to really take a toll on me. Having hardly trained once over 20C this was going to be a challenge. Indeed, approaching the halfway point I was in real distress. No energy, no sweat, slowing to a crawl. I knew I wouldn’t be able to would be dangerous for my health, except for one try...

At the 9km mark I entered a feed station, they called out the typical, "water, gatorade?" I calmly said I’d be back in a few minutes. I then proceeded to jump into the lake and sit there for about 5 minutes. I’d thought about doing this during races, but would never sacrifice so much time. Today it was do it, hope it works, or not finish.. Guess what? It worked! My core body temp really began to cool down. That and some ice down the jersey at every aid station from then one got me going again. I don’t know if what I did is legal, but otherwise I wouldn’t have finished. I actually got faster and faster. By the time the run was over my time was only 9 minutes slower than the previous year.

I finished in 5:30. Only 5th in my class. I felt I had a good effort and decent time especially considering the heat, but there must have been a pretty good field. I finished 42 over all. Last year I was 41 overall, but there were 100 less athletes. This race really attracts some quality as many of the pros live and train in the area.

So in a couple weeks my short tri season will be over. I only start training in late May after skiing is done. And with the wet (and even snowy!) June, it all goes by pretty fast. But I am looking forward to doing some long mountain hikes and trail runs. Much more vert this summer to get ready for France (skimo worlds). More roller skiing too.