Sunday, July 17, 2016

Challenge St. Andrews Race Report

Well, that was interesting.

In a nutshell: Poor weather (cold and raining), Great swim (1.9K @ 30:13), long T1 (5:51) hilly bike (90K @ 2:50:05), safe T2 (2:11) smart run (21K @ 1:45:18). Final Time: 5:13:36. 49/267 OA, 12/40 M40-44

5:13:36
6:06:31
The Algonquin Resort. The Race Venue. (Picture from Trip Adviser, obviously not taken on race day).

T minus 2 days.
We arrived in St. Andrews on the Friday afternoon before the race. With just enough time to narrowly miss the closing of packet pick-up (forgot about the 1 hour time-zone change). Fortunately, they were nice enough to sort us out, and we got our packets and bibs, but more pressing - our Pasta dinner tickets.

The pasta dinner was nice, and we sat with some folks from Nova Scotia.There was a local comedian/triathlete guy who was keeping us all entertained. The food was good and plentiful. The head referee talked over the rules and such, and everyone awed at the size of the draft zone - as demonstrated with two bikes which had been set up.

T minus 1 day.
We got suited up in our wetsuits at the hotel room, and took a leisurely morning hike down to the swim area for a practice swim. The buoys were all set up and the course looked pretty straight forward. The water was cool, and got cooler in patches along the back-side, but it was dead calm. But even better than that, it was salt water, and it was fast. I did a practice loop in just over 30 minutes.. this was going to good!

We spent the rest of the day hovering around the expo and taking in Kingsbrae Gardens. We spent far too much time laughing at a horny Alpaca called, Philby.  Later in the day, we took a test spin on the bikes, and did the first 5K out -- uh, oh, it was pretty hilly. We decided not to fry our legs, and cut the bike ride to 10K. It was very cold on the bike, and it looked like we might be wearing jackets on race day.

Transition minus 1 (Night before transition setup)
We had to rack our bikes the night before. I don't like doing this. The racks were very high off the ground. Basically, my bike was hanging in the air. The disk wheel was like a sail and the bike would swing and sway with the wind. I didn't like this one bit. Knowing that this would drive me insane throughout the night, I tried almost every racking spot available, no luck. Where my bike was an inch off the ground, Guylaine's was probably 4 inches.

Transition 0 (Morning of, visit to transition)
We woke and headed down to transition. Our hotel room being in the building literally next to transition, it was an easy 2 minute walk. We checked on the bikes - and to my pleasant surprise, they were not strewn all over the place nor all tangled up. We pumped up the tires, laid out our stuff, and then went back to the hotel room to chill before heading down to the water. We could easily have chilled outside instead. It was 10 degrees, and misty... rain was forecast... great.

Transition 0.5 (Donning of the wetsuits)
Perhaps the weirdest thing about this race, was since the hotel was so close to transition, we were able put our wetsuits on in the comfort of our room, and not have to do any strange hopping or dancing in order to wiggle into them. With about 30 minutes to go, we set off on the 10 minute hike down to the water.

The Start
We were treading water, listening to last minute instructions. I think I heard the announcer say, the start would be in 2 minutes...

...I guess 2 minutes after that there was a slightly audible comment from a boat nearby, and what sounded like a whistle. People were looking around, and then all of a sudden  a group started swimming. "That must be it" I thought, and at the very least, there's enough people already swimming, they're not going to call us all back, so with about as little fanfare and circumstance as you could imagine, the race was underway.

The Swim - 1900 meters
The first 50 meters were a bit chaotic, but it settled down quickly, and and as luck would have it, I seemed to settle into a pack that were going the speed I wanted to go at....

...1900 meters later, the pack seemed mostly intact, and one-by-one we were done the swim portion. There was a clock set up on the beach, and I could see it roll over 30 minutes as I stood up. I was disheartened for a second. As I was hoping to go under 30 for the swim, but then I remembered I had planned on 33 minutes, so 30:XX was pretty good.

Transition 1
I exited the swim, and stripped the wetsuit (with a bit of difficulty) shortly after the beach. I then hurried on to the transition shoe area where we had minutes before dropped off a pair to soften the blow of the 650m +/- rocky trip up to transition.With my shoes on and wetsuit over my arm, I pushed on up the hill. And was happy to be greeted by Laura along the way... "you're doing really well, you're one of the first ones out!" The hill up to transition was tougher than I thought, and I had to stop and walk to catch my breath half-way up. Finally, I made it into the compound, picked up my bike, and got ready to ride. (oh, and by now, it was drizzling pretty steady). I decided to tough out the weather with bare arms.

Gasping for air with a mouth full of Cliff bar in T1

Decided not to push my luck with the "shoes on the bike" trick, heading out of transition

The Bike - 90 km (although posted as 91, but I only had 89.5 on my Garmin, so I think it's probably closer to 90).
Right out of transition, I put on my glasses (yellow lenses for the poor light), only to have them fog up instantly. The road to the bike course out of transition goes straight down a hill and a takes a hard right: I was essentially blind.... somehow, I made it without killing myself, or the guy right behind me. With the glasses now safely stored in my back pocket, I continue along the way.

St. Andrews bike elevation comparison.

I knew the course was hilly. But It was weird hilly. There was literally no flat spot on the course, you're either going up or down. And the climbs seemed to sneak up on you, where you'd be going downhill really fast, and then all of a sudden, you think you're going flat, but your speed is way low, and you're actually going up, and low and behold, you're in the wrong gear.

Knowing the course was hilly, I decided that the best way to go fast, was to not go slow. There's no point in losing time going slow on the climbs, so I pushed it as much as possible. I had set my Garmin up on the bike with 2 fields - the top line was current speed, and the bottom line was average speed. I had auto-lap set for every km, so I would know how far along the course I was. It probably was not the wisest strategy, but I was trying to maintain an overall average speed above 32. I had previously guesstimated I would average 31.2 for the course, but I mis-remembered that during the race, and thought I needed to keep 32.1. As it turned out, I did average 32.1 (higher than estimated), I was pretty pleased with that.

The bike ride seemed to take longer than it needed to. I was passed a few times, but never seemed to really pass anyone in front of me. I reminded myself that I was only racing me, and not to worry about getting passed.

Maybe this is the only flat part of the bike course? Photo by Christian Gallant.
Transition 2
After dismounting, and finally finding my spot, I picked up my small transition towel, which was soaking wet, and wiped off all the snot, gu and puke from my face. I had actually thrown up while biking (a result of exertion and chunky Hammer drink which was provided on course). Next up was my pair of soaking wet shoes. Put the race belt on, reset the Garmin, and off we go. It was a conservative transition, it felt like I was taking forever, but the timing company have me down for 2 minutes and 11 seconds, so I'll take it.

Coming up the last hill approaching T2 in the wrong gear.

Poor spectators standing in the rain (oh, thanks Laura for standing in the rain and taking my picture, and cheering for me).

Although T2 was relatively sparse when I got back, it still took me forever to find my rack.
The Run
I have this habit of blowing long distance triathlons on the run. My goal was a 1:50 half marathon. That was potentially do-able. I would aim for a 1:45 and plan for a 5 minute fade. That meant pacing at 5 minute kilometers.

I was feeling pretty good heading out for the run, and could have run faster than 5:00 pace, but I forced myself to stick to 5 minutes. I had the Garmin set up on one field: Average Pace.

The run was two out-and-backs, with a detour each time through Kingsbrae Gardens (which wasn't terribly great because of the narrow pea-gravel pathway, but they are the title sponsor - so why not). The run was relatively flat EXCEPT for the run back up to Finish area (we hit the biggish hill twice, and it sapped energy and time both trips).

Leaving transition.
Again, on the run, I was passed constantly, and didn't seem to pass anyone, but I was determined to keep my 5 minute pace. And I was very happy each 1000 meters when the Garmin chriped out the split, usually in the 4:56 range - with the exception of the hills at the end of the route. Having planned for a fade at the end, I was very happy to see that it didn't really happen. I slowed down only a little bit, but still managed to keep a 5 minute average right to the bitter end.

Despite the cold and the rain, the run was fairly pleasant. The tide was out and you could see a massive area of tidal beach on the way into town. The downtown area of St-Andrews was busy with spectators and volunteers, and it seemed everyone was in a cheery mood. There was definitely a good vibe.

The Finish
The strange part about this race, was that I had low expectations going in, I didn't even know what my time was. When I saw the race clock, I was honestly surprised. I wasn't even sure that I had a PB. It turned out that I beat my previous best (Last year's Tupper Lake Tinman, with a probably short run) by 3 seconds. Pretty neat.

The final 100 meters
Almost there.

The Splits
Bike Splits per KM. Pretty constant overall average despite big variances in per km speed because of hills.

Run Splits per KM. I think I'm most proud of this. Finally after 13 years of Tri-ing, I've figured out how to pace a run!
Nutrition
Breakfast - 2 bowls of Honey Combs, Banana, 2 cups of Coffee.
T1 - half a cliff bar
Bike - 3 Gels, half a cliff bar, 1 bottle of water, 1.5 bottles of Hammer Heed (course hand ups)
T2 - nothing
Run - 2 Gels, 1 cup of Red Bull (didn't like it), 5 or 6 cups of water




Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Wheel of MoJo, and a Race Prediction.

We have a race coming up in a few days. A half-ironman. The Challenge St. Andrews. 113 km.  My mojo has been on a roller coaster since Challenge Cedar Point. Four years of consecutive ironman training has taken it's toll and I'm tired. The last three weeks has had me almost riding rock-bottom. The year has been lackluster so far, highlighted by gluttony and nagging niggles (pulled left shoulder, weird right knee thing, and aching left ankle). I had resigned to just experiencing the event instead of racing it - in fact, I was "this-close" to not bringing my tri-bike due to several mechanical gremlins ...riding up to last night's club duathlon, the constant ping-ping-ping of my bottom bracket all but confirmed my non-race strategy... except...

Except, once we started the du, I got that little streak of excitement back. My first run felt okay, and for a change, the wind this week was only moderately strong in our face for the bike instead of insanely strong. I was first out of transition, and despite the ping-ping-ping of my wonky bottom bracket, it still took over 4 km for the speedsters to catch me, and once they did, they didn't leave me too far behind. I got back to transition with 36.6 kph average, (later to find out my second fastest bike split at the duathlon of all-time), a glance at the watch, and I knew I could call it in for a sub-53 - or I could turn it on for a near personal best.

200 meters into the run, and my legs were so heavy from a long weekend of cycling that I decided to split the difference and picked a pace somewhere between fast and furious such that I ran okay, but didn't unnecessarily burn up too many running fibers. I just missed sub-51 by 5 seconds. My best result so far this year - and back to peak-ish form from last year... maybe time to rethink the Challenge St. Andrews strategy.

On the way home, I diagnosed all my bike's mechanical issues, and planned how to fix them.  A short time later, I had the bike up on the stand -- rubber mallet in hand, whacking away at it. With the cranks off, I found the faulty bearing and re-packed it; I took apart the front brake cable, and re-set the lever - a quick spin around the block, and I was good to go. In fact, I was anxious for the morning so I could give it a real test ride.

As the morning broke, I suited up and went Strava hunting. There are two segments close by that I have a top-10 on... could I improve on them.... yes. The ride was great, and I climbed up to 2nd on "Tyotown-Summerstown", and 3rd on the "Devil's back".

And just like that, I feel like my mojo is rising again... can it peak on July 10th? I'm officially psyching myself up now for this race, and going out on a limb and predicting a 5:23 finish time:

Swim 33:00; T1 5:00 (long Transition); 2:53 bike (@ 31.2kph); 2:00 T2 and 1:50 run (@ 5:13 -- the run is my big weakness lately).

It won't be a half-ironman PB, but it will be pretty good for me.






Monday, May 02, 2016

Cornwall Run to endMS Marathon - Race Coordinator Report

"Be the change you wish to see." Maybe it was a Facebook post superimposed on a photo of Ghandi, or maybe it was a bumper sticker on a Prius - but somehow that quote resonates with me.

Two years ago, at the awards ceremony of the Run to endMS, it was mentioned that they were considering putting on a full marathon to celebrate 15 years of the event. "That would be awesome" was the collective thought amongst me, my wife and a collection of Cornwall multisporters. "They should do this... they should do that..." we had no shortage of suggestions on how and what "they" should do when "they" put on the marathon.

Fast forward 18 months: still no official word on the Cornwall marathon. My wife and I are planning our 2016 multisport season, and looking to squeeze in a Boston Qualifying attempt.  I called up Pat Clarke, the long-time race director for the MS run. "Pat, are you putting on the marathon this year - can I help?" And with that innocent offer, a Pandora’s Box of event coordinating madness was opened.

I’ll spare you the minutia; suffice to say, there is a lot that goes into putting on a modern-era event, burdened with all the entitlements we as runners have come expect. There’s a phrase long time race directors tell newbies - "You don’t know what you don’t know."

Fast forward to race day, 6:40 AM, the buses roll into Crysler Park and Marina. I’ve already breathed several sighs of relief by now (I’ve synched the starter's watch with Sportstats, the buses (finally) arrived to pick us up, most of the runners have been bibbed and chipped, we’ve left the college right on schedule, we’ve passed by Upper Canada Village and the first aid station crew is getting setup and ready to go). We’re on site with twenty minutes to go before start time: plenty of time.

It’s amazing how fast time can really fly. I’m passing out the last bunch of bibs and chips, signing the invoices for the buses, answering last minute questions. Concurrently realizing that I have to really "water the flowers", but more urgently.... poop - oh yes, forgot to mention I’m running the marathon too.

No time, "I’ll just sweat it out." Oh the humility.

8 minutes to go: Shoot, gotta get changed and ready to run. 4 minutes to go: Uh oh, we gotta get everyone behind the start line.... 2 minutes to go: last minute instructions to runners, "Oh and by the way, for some reason, someone parked a house on the road, at about the 500 meter mark, uhm, just try and go around it" - you can’t make this stuff up. A glance at the watch, 6:59:48, "12 seconds to go!" By the time those words leave my mouth, "okay 4...3...2...1...Go!"

"...for some reason, someone parked a house on the road... just try and go around it"
- - -

From all accounts, our inaugural marathon was a success. There are of course many things we noticed that will be changed for next year, but overall, everyone seemed really happy. We even managed to qualify 25% of our runners for Boston. We have been lucky to have the local MS Society manage and coordinate a lot of the behind the scenes things. The local mulitisport and running community here in Cornwall have really helped with the race. Our registration, aid station, bike-support, and race-support volunteers were all top-notch. Joe McNamara our resident graphic designer knocked the bibs and medals out of the park; and Cornwall Triathlon Race Director, Rob Allen, not only helped enormously at the half-way mark, but for the past 10 years has set the example on how to put on world-class event.

Thank you to all the local runners who came out for the marathon. Thank you to the TriRudy community for participating. Thank you for the 5K, 10K and half-marathon runners for providing a back-bone to the whole event for without whom, we would not have the base to host a marathon.

If there’s any moral to this story, I suppose it is this: Bumper stickers work. The next time you hear yourself saying, "They should do _______", challenge yourself, "Be the change you wish to see".

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Run to endMS Marathon

Subtitle: So close.
Alternate Title: The LAST marathon I am ever running - I honestly mean it this time.


All smiles at 1.3 K.

Still running strong


The official pace band:

A planned negative split 51/49% with a finish time of 3:52

Planned vs Actual

Right on pace, until 29 K. 

The excuses - the wind was fro the East - it was much tougher than I expected along the Parkway. The Rollers from Guindon Park to Lamoureux Park were nasty.

The Strava - https://www.strava.com/activities/561178712

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Frozen Sole on Legs of 18K

The Frozen Sole lived up to it's reputation again this month with a wind chill of minus 27. We ran 18K yesterday, so we were on somewhat tired legs. Pretty good effort; probably could have gone faster. It felt faster than it really was at the start, likely due to the cold (and tired legs). I was able to surge at the end, dropping down to 4:18 for the final kilometer. I wore the Heart Rate Monitor and was surprised to see my resting heart rate in the 47-48 range while in the car waiting. The average heart rate for the race was lower than usual at 157.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Yuk yuk

Congratulations Phil Barnes! You have qualified for the Olympic-distance race at the 2016 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships on Aug. 13 in Omaha, Nebraska, after finishing in the top 10 percent in your age group at the Challenge Cedar Point


Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 - Year in Review

The Good


Looking back, 2015 was a pretty good year.

PBs:
Super Sprint Triathlon - CMC
Sprint Triathlon - Maple City (4th OA)
Olympic Triathlon - Cornwall - finally went legit sub 2:30 on an Olympic Triathlon
Half-Ironman - Tupper Lake
1500m pool swim (tied with PB from 3 years ago)
1500m open water swim - CMC
8K - Frozen Sole

Near Misses:
Ironman - (8mins 18 seconds over PB, but tougher course at Cedar Point, plus 800 meter run to T1) oh and 1st AG
500m pool swim (5 seconds over PB), but swam faster overall throughout the year
5K - (44 seconds over PB), but in the ball-park of top 3 overall
Duathlon - 5th best time overall, a minute off a PB, but 30 seconds within the top 3

The Bad

2015 was the first year I suffered some real set-backs injury wise:

I was nursing a sports hernia (?) for the first 8 months of the year.

I tripped and fell hard on my knees 3 weeks before my ironman and had prolonged severe pain from deep bone bruising.

I messed up my right leg somehow over-running the marathon at Cedar Point. It took about 7 weeks to recover.

And finally, I somehow managed to mess up my left shoulder while sleeping about 6 weeks ago, and it has me side-lined from swimming for now, with little sign of feeling better, even after multiple rounds of chiro and physio.

The Ugly

I'm finally old. I admit it. I'm one of those guys that gets injured now.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

PB at the Frozen Sole

By December, the training is usually ramping down and the flubber getting thicker. This year is no exception. This year seems to have been particularly bad -- training is significantly diminished, and flubber significantly thicker than most years - a visit to Trombino's yesterday did not help the cause... however, something unusual happened this morning. On the first really cold day of the year, with an ice-crusted running surface, I set my 3-year PB on the Frozen Sole 8K course. Clocking a 35:53 (sub 4:30 pace). Weird.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Frozen Sole #3.3

5 Miles @ 36:36. Not bad. 4th best Frozen Sole time. First two Frozen Soles were jogged due to nursing residual soreness from Cedar Point. This sole was pretty much all out. Surprised I am this "fast" for my current "condition". I knew I was racing as hard as I could, because with 2K to go, I was telling myself "only 10 more minutes of pain, and it's all over with".