Monday, October 20, 2014

Boston or Bust - Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon*

*Boston or Bust for Guylaine.

We are very happy (can't you tell)

A few months ago, a friend of ours planted a dangerous seed in Guylaine's head. "It's only 3:55 for BQ". Guylaine's previous (and only marathon) was 4:14 - but she said she went too easy, and had lots of energy left.  She was hooked. I ran the numbers through McMillan and based on last year's hilly half-marathon of 1:51:02, a full would could come in at 3:53:40.  I was hopeful. It was going to be tough -- I can not match McMillan's marathon times based on my half -- but then again, I don't like pain too much -- and that wife of mine is stubborn enough to do it. We were both in peak shape based on the last 6 months of Ironman training. A five week marathon training schedule was hatched.

The 5 Week Training Schedule:
WeekStartMonTueWedThuFriSatSun
19/15/2014Rest888RestSwim21
29/22/2014Rest888RestSwim32
39/29/2014Rest888RestSwim19
410/6/2014Rest888RestSwim13
510/13/2014Rest663RestRest42.2

The training went well (give or take), and we arrived in Toronto ready to rock. I was actually very nervous, Guylaine not at all. She had put her complete trust in me, and had agreed to the plan.

The plan:
DistanceSplitSplit PaceTotal PaceTime
50:28:200:05:400:05:400:28:20
100:28:200:05:400:05:400:56:40
150:28:200:05:400:05:401:25:00
200:28:200:05:400:05:401:53:20
250:26:550:05:230:05:372:20:15
300:26:550:05:230:05:342:47:10
350:26:550:05:230:05:333:14:05
400:26:550:05:230:05:323:41:00
42.20:12:000:05:270:05:313:53:00

This year's Boston cutoff was 1 minute and 2 seconds under BQ. For Guylaine's age-group that meant 3:53:58. We had targeted 3:53:00 to give a two minute cushion. The plan was a blended negative split. The first 20K was to be run at 4 hour pace (5:40/km), the remaining 22.2K was going to be faster at 5:23 pace (3:47 marathon). This would give us a finish time of 3:53:00.

But this was all Pie-in-the-Sky
Realistically, the hopes and goals were, in this order:
1) Have a good marathon
2) PB by a lot
3) Break 4 hours
4) Come close to 3:55
5) Break 3:55
6) Hit 3:53

I had made a custom pace band with 5km splits, and not wanting to mess up ala the Canadian 226, I wrote the two most important numbers on my hand.. 5:40 and 5:23.
The custom Pace Band


Here's how it officially played out (my stats, Guylaine's were virtually identical +/- a few seconds on the split times; but, we ended up with exactly the same finish time).

Split Name Distance Split Time Pace Race Time Overall (/5117) Gender (/3228) Category (/535) Time Of Day
10 km10 km0:56:545:41/km0:56:54244418123189:53:57
Halfway21.1 km1:02:145:36/km1:59:082274170930210:56:11
25 km25 km0:21:315:31/km2:20:392254168530011:17:41
30 km30 km0:27:045:24/km2:47:431986151026911:44:46
35 km35 km0:27:405:31/km3:15:231833139925112:12:26
40 km40 km0:27:135:26/km3:42:361654127322612:39:38
42 km42.2 km0:11:165:07/km3:53:521577122022012:50:56

It more-or-less went according to plan. (note that incredible surge for the final 2.2 km). So here's what happened....

My Garmin was consistently off, gaining about 100 meters every 10 km.  By the 25K mark I was only relying on the Garmin pace / km as a general indicator. I was checking the on course markers every 5km against the bracelet as an indicator of where we were based on the plan. All the while hoping the Garmin distance was right, and the course markers were wrong, and that it would magically work out in our favour at the end (wishful thinking). At 35K, we were about 1:20 slower than our goal, but I kept feeding positive news to Guylaine. "Yup, we're right on pace / We've totally got this", all the while keeping her at 100% max effort. At 40K, my watch time had us 1m36s over (but still 24 seconds under 3:55) - not enough - I wanted more! We really pushed and apparently dropped it to 5:07/km pace. I could hear her breathing like a racehorse, and I was seriously worried she might not make it, but she pushed through it, and we made it in with a BQ and 1 minute and 8 seconds in the bank. Neither one of us could have run any faster.

Now, all that said...
I am in no way taking credit for any of this. She did the run by herself, and powered through a world of discomfort I would not possibly want to discover. I was more-or-less on my fitness limit, and probably would not have run that fast if it weren't for Guylaine's motivation.

The full Garmin Story...



Here are some other pictures from various sources:
Fastest marathon in a baseball outfit.

Not sure if he set a record, but definitely best superhero outfit.

Fastest female marathon in a fireman's outfit.
We passed going the opposite direction, we were at about 36k, and she was at 29
- and looking a little discouraged. Glad to hear she made it.

Fastest half-marathon as a super-hero.  He was kickin' it hard.

Ryan Gosling kept popping up.

Fastest marathon while juggling - we saw this guy, he was running fast too.
Fastest Marathon dressed as a Zoo Keeper. (Note the Boots!)

aint that the truth!
At the expo with Ed Whitlock

And funnily enough, we ran into Ed in person at the Eaton Centre that night and shard a good laugh about my blogs.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Two Days To Go #STWM


Here's the plan...


DistanceSplitSplit PaceTotal PaceTime
50:28:200:05:400:05:400:28:20
100:28:200:05:400:05:400:56:40
150:28:200:05:400:05:401:25:00
200:28:200:05:400:05:401:53:20
250:26:550:05:230:05:372:20:15
300:26:550:05:230:05:342:47:10
350:26:550:05:230:05:333:14:05
400:26:550:05:230:05:323:41:00
42.20:12:000:05:270:05:313:53:00


Repeat after me: "WE WILL STICK TO THE PLAN!"

And just to remind myself... we are starting at 5:40 and not 4:50!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Rev3 Cedar Point - Sherpa Report

The Money Shot!

The van was packed and ready to go by 2pm on Thursday. The kids rolled in from school shortly after, and we were officially on the road by 3. First stop was Rochester NY. About a 4 and a half hour drive, and nearly the half-way point to Sandusky Ohio. It was a great idea to leave Thursday night and break the trip down into two parts. The original plan was 10 hours of driving on Friday. This was way better.

We rolled into Rochester more-or-less on schedule, and found the Hampton Inn with no problem. After a little negotiation at the counter, we got a great room at a great price. $40 off - we were already starting to make money on this trip. The hotel was nicer than expected. We feasted on complementary popcorn and cookies, and lazed around in the pool and hot tub, before turning in for the night.

We were up and on the road to Sandusky, by around 9:30... after loading up on the complimentary breakfast buffet. After a little pit-stop in Cleveland for lunch, it wasn't long before we were making the turn onto Rye Beach Road for Cedar Point.



First stop was this sign. Chris and Caro had taken a picture of it when they rode around Lake Erie during the summer. I had noticed it when we visited for our recon. I wanted our picture with it.

The weather: Damn - It was HOT out. I tried not to seem too freaked out. But, if it was going to be this hot all weekend, we were in for some serious trouble. It had to have been 40 degrees, and no breeze whatsoever.

After checking into our hotel suite at Castaway Bay (and promising the kids there would be tons of time to enjoy the water park), we headed out to Cedar Point amusement park to pick up the race kits, get signed in, and check out the expo. Check in and pick up was quick and painless.

My initial impression was - whoa, this looks pro. All the equipment, tents, fencing, trucks, branding. We weren't at a Somersault event, lol. The expo was a little meager,but I wanted to soak it all in. Hoka shoes had a booth. I was curious to try them. And did. And bought a pair. (They were so awesomely comfortable all weekend. If nothing else, they are fantastic Ironman spectating shoes). Also, there was an Endless Pool set up. I was curious to try it. And did. It was neat.

Swag Tally: So far, I was up 2 free t-shirts and at the Rev3 booth, we picked up free passes for the go-karts. Which we enjoyed later that evening, after a great Pizza dinner at "Chet and Matt's".  Eventually, we made it back to the hotel, so the kids could check out the water park... and where I was the worst dad ever, for suggesting we limit it to 3 "slides" for the evening. (Trying to let the kids save their legs from all the climbing so they would be ready for their races the next day).

The Start/Finish and Transition Areas are all the Cedar Point Amusement Park

Charlie Brown on the way into the Park
Getting all the race bags, numbers and stuff.
Photo Booth at the Expo
Me in an Endless Pool
Hotel! The staff here were all very nice. The room even came at a discount because of the race.

The Go-Karts, where I kicked everyone's butt.

Just as we were getting ready for bed, the sky broke - and the most tumultuous thunder storm ravaged the area. The kids had the option of checking their bikes in transition overnight. Some folks did. I'm glad we didn't.

After a peaceful sleep, we woke early to get back to the race venue. Andrew's race was first up: the adult Sprint Triathlon. Transition closed at 6:30. I think we got there at 5:30. Pitch black. He got set up, and ready to go. We had a bit of a hike up the beach to get the swim start. The morning sun rose about 5 minutes before the swim start.... and shortly after a new set of clouds rolled in, the wind picked up, and the drizzle started. It was really cold and miserable, a complete 180 from the heat and humidity the evening before. I felt bad for him, and all the others who had to race in such poor conditions.

Andrew impressed me by having the nerve to start at the front of the pack for the swim. He's a good swimmer, but open water still makes him nervous. He didn't let it bother him though, and was out of the water early enough, and onto the bike. Now we had about 40 minutes to wait in the cold drizzle for him to get back. And all the time, we're telling Laura.. "You've gotta to go slow on the bike!". Laura was going to be doing the Youth Rev (after Andrew's race finished), and their bike course was in the parking lot. She's a beast on the bike, and we were worried that the several sharp 90 degree turns on wet pavement would be dangerous for her 30+ kph speeds.

Guylaine was the first to spot Andrew coming back from the bike ride. Something didn't look right, he wasn't on his aero bars, and he was holding his arm. Oh crap, he was gushing blood from his elbow. He must have wiped out. I saw Guylaine tear up. "Don't worry, I'll go see him", I took off, trying to catch up to him at the run-out from transition to see if he was okay. Well, he was going too fast, and was out running well before I could catch up to him.

What happened was: about 500m from the end of the bike, there's a metal grate on the causeway that crosses the water back into the park. It's kind of on top of a little incline. By the time, he saw it, it was too late, he was boxed in, and his back wheel just went sideways sending him to the deck hard enough to really mess up his elbow, knee and finger. He was patched up easily enough after the race, but it took a few weeks for his cuts and bruises to heel up. Anyhow... adrenaline is apparently a wonderful drug, because he told us he felt like he was possessed during the run. He ran a pretty impressive 22:30 5K after all that.

Now, the whole time he was out running, I was feeling like a bad parent for encouraging him to do this race. Only to find out, that once he finished, he was all like "Man, that was awesome!" He honestly loved it, every little bit of it. He was even proud of his wipe-out - and the fact he didn't put his arm out to brace the impact - he remembered that little nugget I had mentioned to him months ago, about that's how people break their collar bones. (I'm sure I wouldn't have remembered that during a fall).  After we got him patched up at the medical tent, we went to check his results... and BAM! 2nd place in M0-19. He was 14/55 males, and 23/113 overall. Not bad for his first full out Sprint.

Swim Out

Starting the bike

Andrew's big finish!

Totally stoked.

2nd Place AG = Lottso Swag

Next up was Laura.

By the time the Youth Rev was scheduled to start, the winds had picked up and the water was pretty rough. There was chatter that they may cut the swim out. Fortunately/unfortunately, they didn't cancel the swim. Laura was with the older group, and surveying the competition, it was apparent this wouldn't be a cake-walk.  The swim section was actually fairly short, but the problem was that it was too close to shore, basically in knee deep water. So whereas, Laura is a fast swimmer, all the other kids were running the swim. Poor Laura was almost last out of the water. She looked pee'd off during transition, and had a look of determination in her eyes as she mounted the bike.

"Let it Rip!" I shouted at her. She's a competitor, and although we had been telling her to take it easy on the bike all morning, I knew she wanted to reel everyone back in. Her bike ride had 4 loops, and each time, she was reeling in the competition.

Back into transition, there was only one other girl in front of her. Now, running isn't her strongest point, so she knew she wasn't going to catch the first place person. All she had to do was hold off everyone else. The third place girl started the run a few minutes behind Laura so it could come down to the wire. In the end, Laura held her ground and finished 2nd Overall female.

All smiles at the swim start.
Starting the bike, with a chip on her shoulder.



Woo Hoo!

2nd Place OA Female = Lotso Swag! I have to say also that the first place girl was very Gracious.

It was late in the afternoon by the time all the awards were done with. It had been a pretty tiring day so far. Not necessarily the best pre-ironman day. We headed back to the hotel. The kids played at the water park, Guylaine and I tried to chillax. One of two (mandatory) athlete meetings was being held at 1:30, and we opted to go to that one to get it over with. At this time, we brought Guylaine's bike for the (mandatory) overnight bike check in.

The meeting was long, but somewhat therapeutic. One funny nugget that was learned was that a lady who was doing the full, her fiance owned a pavement sweeping company, so he was out during the day, making sure the roadway was in tip-top shape. The weather was looking up after the meeting so we felt comfortable checking the bike in - still a somewhat weird concept if you ask me. And now time for one last meal at the Olive Garden.

We got there early enough and didn't need to wait for a table. But it was very amusing as we left, to see the line-ups of triathlon and M-Dotted people - as if this was *the* place to carbo-load.

gNom, gnom, gnom


And finally off to bed....

...I slept like a baby. Even though we were just a 6 minute drive from the race set, we were up early enough and on site early so as not to be too stressed. It was dark! Fortunately, Guylaine's transition spot was close to the fence, so I could chat with her while she was getting ready. Once the tires were pumped up, I ran back to the van to drop off the pump while she suited up. We walked the beach to the swim start, and had plenty of time to take our time. We stood on the beach with everyone else, all pointing through the darkness towards the water trying to figure out where the buoys were and where to turn. Guylaine wandered in, to warm up and get ready. Soon enough they were calling people out of the water to get under the arch. The start was going to be a knee-"deep-water" start, but everyone needed to get out, and cross under the arch to be counted in. And this is where the hilarity starts...

There's always ONE guy. No matter where you go, or what you do. That ONE guy is there. Well, that ONE guy was at Cedar Point for the full rev. He was 100 feet out, chest deep in the water minding his own business. All alone. EVERYONE else was out of the water waiting - the announcer was yelling at him to come in... completely oblivious, that ONE guy is wading around, taking his sweet-ass time.... 6:59... 7:00 (official start time), and that ONE guy is still in the water. Eventually, he clues in, and makes it back to shore. And everyone else can proceed ... albeit, we're now officially 3 minutes late for the start.  People start wading out to the first buoy, which we can now see as the sun is starting to peek out.

My plan now, was to watch the first 5 minutes of the swim, and then head back to the van to catch a 60 minute power-nap, and be at the swim-exit just on time to watch her come out. The horn sounds... and I watch the first 5 minutes... It is very apparent that something is different about this swim. The waves were weird, not terribly huge, but weird. People are having a devil of a time getting started... and then sure enough, about 8 minutes into the swim, the first abandonment.  And a big healthy guy at that... hmm. That's not right. and then, bam, another, and shortly after another.  Uh oh, I'm getting really worried now. People are still having a hard time getting going, they're bobbing up and down, and as the sun is rising the whole picture unfolding is not very pretty. All the stand-up paddle boarders are not standing up, but instead holding onto the buoys, the jetski is jumping waves taking air as it crosses over from point to point.

The jet ski, kept coming back to shore, dropping off DNF after DNF. Again, all strong, healthy looking people. Within the first 20 minutes. There were at least 10 people sitting on shore. Oh crap, I was getting really worried. I wanted to let Guylaine know she didn't have to continue, that it wold be okay to drop out. We could go and do Ironman Maryland instead the next week.  I stood on the beach, for the whole swim, hoping each time the jet-ski came back, it would be with Guylaine bringing her back to safety, and then rejoicing every time it wasn't her. And through it all deep down, I knew she was stubborn enough to not let the waves defeat her. After an hour and 10 minutes, she hadn't been pulled from the water, she must have persevered, so I headed down the beach to the swim-exit, and waited.

The look in peoples eyes as they emerged from the water ran the whole gamut of human emotion. A huge sigh of relief overcame me when I saw Guylaine strolling up the swim-out corridor. She made it!

Transition was "slow" but methodical. I figured I'd cut her some slack after that nasty swim. "Check your brakes" I yelled through the fence before she headed out. She was already doing so, before I could get the words out. She gave me thumbs up, and off she went.

Getting set up first thing in the morning.

She may look nervous here, but I don't think she was.

The sky looked kind of nice. None of the photos I have seen actually capture how rough
the water really was. It looks fairly calm in this picture, but it was far from it.

Phew! Out of the Water.

T1 done. Go Time!

Zoom!


I headed back to the hotel. The kids were up and anxious to get the day started. The plan was to drop them off at the amusement park, and meet up with them later in the afternoon. The hotel, being affiliated with the park, had discount tickets for sale, and early admission. We even scored a free parking pass, so in and out parking would be hassle free. Before heading out, I checked Guylaine's stats and updated the Facebook. It was a pleasant surprise to see she was sitting in 2nd place AG. The kids were dropped off at the park at 10, with a plan to meet back up at 3pm (my best estimate as to when Guylaine might be finishing the bike).

And now, back to the race...

I fired up the GPS, and picked a location where I would find her 20 minutes from now. (Being the nerd that I am, I had plotted all her 10 mile splits based on three different bike speed scenarios). The first sighting spot was going to be Darrow Road, approximately Mile 42. I got parked and set up. And cheered on the cyclists as they passed by.  Sure enough, within 5 minutes, I could spot Guylaine making her way towards me... but she was slowing down. "Can you check my back wheel!" ..huh.. "My back wheel fell off!" oh my god, I ran over, it looked fine. She explained, it had just fallen off, but she was okay, a little banged up, but fine. The bike was okay, and the wheel was fine, and after assuring me she was fine. She got back on and rode off. Oh fudge, that was weird.

I arrived at the next rendez-vous spot about 15 minutes down course, got out, and started cheering on the cyclists. It was reassuring to see some bikes that I knew were ahead of Guylaine, and then again, she popped up. We exchanged "Thumbs-up" and I continued on. In total, I popped up about 6 times around the course. By the 4th time, the other cyclists ahead of her were catching on.. "Hey! Are you stalking me?". The whole time, she seemed to be surpassing expectations, and getting faster and faster. I had plenty of time, to pick up the kids at 3 (they were waiting and ready). We headed out to the bike-in area, and waited. I began to see some of the bikes I was familiar with, and knew she'd be along soon.. and sure enough, she was. It was great to see the kids reaction to her coming in. We repositioned ourselves to the run-out, and sure enough, within a few minutes she was off and running.

At that moment, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. The swim was done, and so was the bike. Despite her back wheel falling off... there were no flats or other mechanical issues. All she has to do now is run, let's hope the knee holds up!

I'll give her this... Every time I saw her, she was aero!

Zoom.

Zoom!

Phew! 112 miles later, she's safe and sound.
After a long day so far for the kids and I, we headed back to the hotel to get refreshed and fuel up for the evening.  We checked up on the stats again... unbelievable, she was first in her AG coming off the bike, and seven minutes faster than her "pie-in-the-sky" bike time. Again, being the nerd that I was, I had plotted all her run splits and figured we'd be able to catch up to her at the park as she was finishing her first lap. As we drove up the cause-way, sure enough, she was running in. The kids went absolutely mental, they were so impressed. We parked and caught up to her, and watched her loop around for her first loop.  I was able to go into transition and pick up her bike. (They give each competitor, in their race kit, a ticket for a friend of family member to pick up their bike).

Now, in my mind, having run the course prior with Guylaine, the Rev3 run would be super family-friendly. There's a spot (at the end of what I call, the finger roads), where you see them come out of the park, and up and down the 3 roads. In total, you can see your runner about 5 times per loop. So we camped out there. I expected it would be full of cheering folks... but alas, we were pretty much the only ones. We made a point to cheer everyone on. The kids always impress me with their genuine cheering. And again, as we see the runners 5 times, they got used to us, and would banter back-and-forth with us.

Back to Guylaine... wow, what can I say, I know I'm biased, but dam, she was a machine. She kept her pace pretty much constant the whole run, and always looked strong when she passed us. She was way ahead of schedule. Eventually, she made her last pass by us, and we would have to high-tail it back to the park to catch her finish.
Starting the run.

Downtown.

Still strong. About 30K into the run.

We waited at the fence, near by the entrance to the finish chute. I had started my stopwatch with the horn early in the morning, the finish clock was wrong. It looked like it had started at 7AM, but remember that ONE guy, so it was off by about 3 minutes. I was watching my watch and doing the math, and I was pretty sure she was going to break 13 hours. Very shortly, some of the runners we were familiar with started coming down the chute. Sure enough, she popped into frame, and came charging down the bend with authority. We all went nuts, and then repositioned ourselves at the finish arch. Cameras ready... BOOM! 12:57:36. How awesome was that. I was so proud, and happy.

So-- remember when I said the clock was wrong. Well, Guylaine obviously didn't know that, and when she came around the corner, the clock was much closer to 13 hours, so she threw out all aspirations of a fancy finish photo in order for the sub-13 time. She ended up getting mixed in with a poor chap who was limping it in with his girlfriend. We had a good laugh with the photographer after that, and since there was no one else coming through we sent her back out to stage another finish line photo.

We were all on cloud 9. It had been a great day. When we looked at the final results, sure enough, Guylaine had finished first place in her AG and was 11th female overall. We were definitely going to the Awards brunch the next day!
Rounding the corner for the finish.

Clock was wrong! Trying to squeak in under 13 hours. People in the way.


A little photoshop magic.

Woo-Hoo!

Good night Cedar Point.
Our original plan had been to pack up and head home as early as possible. We were going to do the 10 hour drive in one stretch, but seeing as Guylaine had won her Age group, and considering the Kids had picked up tons of nice swag in their awards kits, I insisted that we stay for the breakfast. And imagine to our surprise to find out, that not only was she 1st AG, but also 4th Masters Woman overall.. which meant a winner's cheque! One Hundred Dollars Baby!

On stage getting awards!

The REAL money shot

Dat Swag!