Vineman 70.3 Race Report

Local outdoor pool for some training

What a day!!!! So my debut 70.3 in the Pro field didn’t go exactly to plan, which is probably not the most unusual thing to happen in the world of Triathlon, to say the least. The learning curve this year for the long course racing has been pretty steep, but this only being my second 70.3 this year (not to mention I’m not exactly a seasoned veteran in this distance, or ANY distance actually,) I have a TON to learn. The day was a good schooling lesson for sure, but let’s start before race day:

Arriving on the wednesday before the race, I was well into my taper (the first time I’ve had more than a few days to properly taper, EVER! In fact, this is the first time this year that I’ve tapered for longer than one or two days pre-race, haha.) Landing in San Fran, it was all fog. “Great,” I thought, ” now I’ve flown from cold rainy Vancouver, to cold foggy San Fran!” I was pretty happy though, as my bus left San Fran and started to get closer to Santa Rosa, when it got mighty sunny out. My homestay for Vineman, Marion and Kent, were absolutely awesome! They were so accommodating, and their house was a beautiful old Manor, something you might see from an old movie. I loved everything about it, how even just shifting your weight on the spot created loud creaks, and sneaking around this place was not an option!lol

Echelon Cycles saved my butt!

Anyways, enough about that stuff, fast forward to saturday! Rachel McBride and myself headed out to the race expo mid-day, on bikes, for our package pick-up and pro pre-race meeting. I tell you, I was pretty relaxed and calm all the way until that meeting. When you’re sitting in a small auditorium, with the likes of Chris Lieto, Joe Gambles, Andy Potts, and Matt Reed (JUST to name only a FEW of the superstars there,) the nerves REALLY start to rattle. What really set my nerves off, was the fact that I wasn’t going to be watching these guys race tomorrow, I was racing WITH them!! Crazy. What really set me off though, was when Rachel and myself started to ride back to our respective homestays after everything was done for the day. Well, everything was done for Rachel. My excitement for the evening hadn’t even started. 5mins after leaving, I started to get that bouncy feeling. No, not in my stomach, but in my rear wheel. Looking down, I let out a few choice words, and told Rachel to keep on heading home, as I was about to start my run back to the expo to get my rear tubular replaced. I have to throw a HUGE shout-out and THANK YOU to Echelon Cycle and Multisport , as well as Trisports.com, both saved my bacon that night. Trisports.com hooked me up with a new tubular wheel, and the guys at Echelon did all the gluing and work to fix my tire!!! I’d have been pretty screwed without them, as all the local cycling shops were closed by then. Thanks guys!!

ITU style bike racks

Exiting the water

Race morning was an early one. As the pro fields started at 6:30am, I was up just before 4am (after yet ANOTHER restless night.) Tired and confused, Rachel and myself got a ride down to transition. They had a separate ‘pro’ bike rack in transition (as they said, they wanted to try and ‘pimp out’ the pro race this year,) so we had ITU style rear wheel racks. The one thing was though, they had our racks about 20m’s after the swim exit, so it was going to be a lesson in FAST wetsuit removal! The swim was nothing special for me. It was a struggle the whole way, I just had trouble getting into a good rhythm. What really threw me off was the 200-300m’s on course that was about 2 feet deep, where I had to REALLY alter my stroke to avoid hitting my hands on the bottom. I thought I would get DQ’d, or at least a penalty, if I dolphin dived these sections. Apparently we don’t though, as a bunch of others were doing it (probably gaining a fair amount of time on those who didn’t!) Exiting the water in just over 26mins, I wasn’t too pleased with my swim. My Nineteen Frequency definitely helped me through the swim, it kept me afloat and gave me zero restriction through my arms/shoulders, keeping me faster than where I probably would’ve been!

Bike Start

Stung by a BEE!!!

On to the bike, it started to mist and rain (which it kept up the whole ride pretty much.) Right from the start, something didn’t feel proper. It felt like my brakes were rubbing, and no matter how many times I looked down, I couldn’t see them touching (although they looked damn close.) My new position that I changed to (just after the Vancouver race,) felt outstanding, but I was pushing so hard and felt like I wasn’t really going anywhere, even when descending. After about 20mins, Leanda Cave rode by me, along with a few other pro-men, and I lost contact with them after a while. It was frustrating, but I just kept on pushing and pushing, determined not to let anything set me back. Even the bee sting. Yup, that’s right, about 30mins into the ride, a bee stung me right on my quad, which proceeded to swell up nicely, then change color a bit. Boy did it sting like a bugger, the whole rest of the day in fact! It actually kept me up two nights in a row due to the pain/itchyness. So that probably didnt help me out too much. Being cold and wet, I didnt drink enough fluids on the bike, so I was probably in the red for hydration going into the run. I was, however, knocking back Eload Gels the whole ride, and the liquid I did have was full of Eload and FLY, which helped keep my electrolyte and fuel levels up. After a slower than anticipated ride, it was into T2 and out for a half marathon.

Pushing through the last few miles
Stong to the finish!

This was the first race that I decided to use socks for the run, as I’ve been struggling with a foot inflammation issue for the past year. I used my New Balance Baddalay 890’s, with their new Rev-Lite soles. Only 9oz each, they are very comfortable, yet very light. I started out feeling strong on the run, knocking out sub 6 minute miles for about 5 miles. I slowly watched Melissa Rollison run away, but then slowly watched Leanda Cave get closer and closer. I was still feeling good (minus the foot inflammation,) hitting the turn-around loop in the La Crema Winery, which is where I finally passed Cave. That was about the end of feeling good though, as my hamstrings started to cramp up. Altering my stride, I was forced to slow down to prevent catastrophic failure, and I was hitting everything I could at aid stations. My stomach was rebelling, my legs were not cooperating, but I just pushed through. I knew I was dehydrated, but I just kept myself in check, and embraced the pain from every step. At the 9.5mile mark, a volunteer on a bike let me know I was not too far behind another pro-male. I thought to myself, “okay, this is it, use this guy as a target and run him down!” I used this as fuel, and with each mile, he was getting closer. With just over a mile to go, I pulled up behind him, and with a surge, flew by. I just gave everything I had the last mile, which isn’t saying much, and thankfully I didn’t have to sprint the finish, as I don’t think the legs had a few hundred meter sprint left in them (although, you never know what the body will give you when you dig deep for it!!) Overworked from the bike, dehydrated, and battling a mental game (among other things,) I was fairly happy with my 1:21 half marathon, (considering the hilly, challenging course,) and my 4:16 finish, which had me as the top Canadian, something I am very proud of :)Also, number 1 MOST IMPORTANT THING, I had FUN 🙂 🙂 🙂

20lbs of post-race recovery ‘activities’

The day was a monstrous learning experience, with a TON of things learned that I will be taking into Lake Stevens 70.3 with me. I was REALLY happy with my Compressport calf guards, my calves were probably the ONLY thing that wasn’t sore!! Practically living in my compression leggings the days leading up to the race definitely helped, as they also helped with recovery the days after. I will definitely be adjusting my diet the few days leading up to the half-irons, ideally less fiber in the diet (all I ate all day was fibrous fruits before Vineman,) so that might help out the stomach issues a bit. I will continue using my Eload, FLY, and their Gels, as they provide a VERY easy to stomach flavor, and consistency. I never came close to bonking or running out of gas out there, so fuel wasn’t a issue. Congratulations to Rachel McBride and her 7th place female placing, and second female to cross the line.

Post race, I discovered that the rear hub/axle, that held the bearings in the wheel, was loose by about 2-3mm’s (unscrewed.) It caused the rear brake to sometimes rub, and created resistance in the rear wheel. Yet another learning experience, ALWAYS check your equipment, especially if you have a mechanical issue.

Met a new friend on the way home:)

A huge thanks to all those that supported me, without your help, I wouldn’t have even made it to the start line in Vineman. The race organizers put on an absolutely spectacular race, I was even very impressed with the post-race food spread (always a way to an athlete’s heart, through their stomach!lol) The course was beautiful, rolling through the hills and wineries of the local vineyards.

Next on the block is the Olympic Pursuit race in Sooke, with my next kick at the 70.3 can at Lake Stevens the following weekend.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer, with great training and outstanding racing. Happy training!!!

One week ‘Till Race Day!

My last big week of training is dwindling down, all in preparation for my big debut Ironman 70.3 next sunday, at the Vineman 70.3 near Santa Rosa, California (about 66miles north of San Francisco.) It’s been a tough week, especially since I’ve just come off two weekends of racing in a row, and a few weeks of heavy training. As always, I’m totally loving the work, every big session giving me a bit of a confidence boost for this weekend’s race.

Rachel, Steph, and I at Kits Beach, practicing starts

This week had some REALLY fun sessions, including a few open water sessions at Kits beach (thanks Rachel Mcbride and Stephanie Ossenbrink for the fun,) one which saw some drama unfold mid swim: we were practicing some drafting, with myself in the lead. Just as I approached a turn buoy, I *SLAMMED* my hand into a giant log floating in the water! I repeatedly yelled out “STOP STOP STOP STOP,” to try and prevent Rachel and Stephanie from crashing into the log. Fortunately for them, they stopped. Unfortunately for me, Stephanie thought I was yelling SHARK, and proceeded to scream and try to climb on top of me to get out of the water (because, as you know, a shark can’t attack the top person in a people sandwhich! Hahaha!!) Way too funny, boy we had a good laugh with that! Then, we decided to have an on-going battle royale the rest of the swim, with many karate chops to the head (and a few well placed shots to a bit of a tender region, if you know what I mean!) We followed up the session with a trip to Burrito Brother’s just up from the beach, with Coach Bjoern. Mexican seems to be a great way to finish a swim session.

My new Vineman scare tactic, courtesy of Stephanie 🙂

Friday was a great Kits pool swim (one of a few this week,) followed up by an awesome UBC track session with Coach and the rest of the Lifesport athletes. Probably the best session ever, as we played barefoot Freeze Tag post workout (I had my heart rate monitor on, and it is quite the workout running around!) Stephanie Ossenbrink came up with some great tactics to paralyze opponents, one that I think I might employ this weekend at Vineman (running after people, arms waving, head shaking, barking like a dog, moving like a bat outta hell!!) It stopped us like a deer in the headlights, so hopefully it will work for me, to psyche out my competition 🙂

A successful Mt. Seymour climb for everyone!
Enjoying the BBQ

Yesterday capped off the week with a big group ride, which included a Mt. Seymour climb, and a stop in Deep Cove for donuts (sandwiches and muffins for some of us.) We polished off the day with a BBQ at Megan’s relative’s house on SW Marine Drive (amazing place, the kitchen was UN-believable!!!) Burgers, salads, and all the fruits we could handle, it was a fantastic time, too much fun for all the Lifesport gang! The BBQ was finished off with an absolutely amazing mini-concert by Megan (on the violin,) and her brother Nathan (on the piano.) They played many tunes, there was even some dancing going on by Anita and Stephanie! Too funny watching them rip up the dance floor, but the best part was Bjoern’s air-piano playing (think: headbanger meets Beethoven’s 5th Symphony!!) Classic (literally.)

Megan and Nathan’s mini-concert, conducted by Coach Bjoern

The rest of this week will be a ton of resting, relaxing, stretching, and getting ready for the race (with a little bit of training, just enough to keep fresh.) This will be my first full week taper, so I’m not 100% sure what’s going to happen come race-day, but hopefully there will be a great result! You can follow Rachel McBride’s race progress (she’s racing in the women’s pro race,) as well as mine, at ironman.com .

Enjoy the week of forecasted sunny, warm weather, and happy training everyone 🙂

Subaru Vancouver Half Race Report

After a disappointing race at ITU Monroe last saturday (27th overall, partially due to a horrible swim,) things are finally starting to look up for my swim after yesterday’s Subaru Vancouver Half Ironman. The day breaks down like this:

Being a 6:30am start, my day started pretty early (up at 3:45am,) which seemed even earlier after a bad night sleep (tossing and turning, seems to be a trend the last few nights.) But alas, the show must go on, so after some breakfast it was off to the race site at Jericho beach. Mum decided to brave the early morning start, and came out to watch the race. Best Mum ever, she was up before 4am too, and on a sunday no less!!!!

Coming out of the water, RIGHT behind Martina

Arriving at the race around 5:15am, I quickly got into transition and set everything up. It was still cloudy as heck, but it had stopped raining and looked like it would start to slowly clear up. After a short warm-up run, and a bit of a swim (the water wasn’t actually too cold today either,) I was toeing the start line, in my Nineteen Frequency, ready for action! Beside me was Elliot Holtham, Anthony Toth, Scott Curry, Rachel McBride, and Martina Wan, among others (all great swimmers.) Since I’ve been having some trouble with the swim lately, my goal was to go out hard, and try to settle into a solid rhythm on someone’s feet who was pushing the pace.

With a blast of the airhorn, the race was off!!!! Smashing, bashing, kicking, and punching (typical of a triathlon swim start,) I fought hard to keep a good position. I was sprinting hard, and managed to get myself into clear water. I noticed the faster swimmers making a bit of a wide right arc, but I held my straight line to the first swim buoy. Around it I went, and I realized that I was in open water, with nobody in front of me (except for the front pack of guys, slowly pulling away.) I was feeling amazing, and settled into a great rhythm right away. After loop one, it was out of the water and around the beach buoy, and to my amazement, I was pretty far ahead, and within spitting distance of the lead pack! All I could hear was screaming and yelling of the crowd in excitement, along with coach Bjoern yelling some kind of encouragement (I think; if you’ve ever had to get out of the water mid-swim to run around a buoy, you’d know that you’re in a state of confusion and utter discombobulation, so you never really know WHAT’S going on! For all I know coach could’ve been screaming that the weather looked like it was clearing up.) Back into the water I dove, with a hard sprint to keep my time down. Closing in on the final stretch of water, I noticed someone pulling up beside me in another Nineteen wetsuit. I thought it was Andrew Powell, a friend and training partner. Then another person pulled up beside me, and I was pretty sure it was Martina Wan. I looked again, and I was really sure. “Boy,” I thought, “Martina must be having a REALLY bad swim today, if she’s been on my feet this whole time!!” Martina has been swimming extremely well lately, so I thought it weird she’d be swimming around me. Coming out of the water, all I could hear was Coach yelling “you’re only 1min 30sec down from the leaders!” I was amazed!! I thought they could swim faster than that. Then coach yelled my time out, “25:30.” That helped slam me into another gear, as that was amazingly fast for me.

out of T1, 1min30sec down from the leaders!

Finally, a great swim!!! Must’ve been my Nineteen Frequency;)

Out onto the bike, I knew I had some work to do. It was a tough bike course, 4 loops (each loop included a big hill climb and 3 turn around points,) making it 91km’s. I managed to take the lead for about half a loop (after the two leaders took a bit of a detour,) but by the 3rd loop, Toth, Curry, and Holtham had caught me and pulled by. I wasn’t feeling it on the bike, even though my nutrition was bang-on (using Eload and FLY in my bottles, as well as a hand-full of Eload GELS throughout,) I started to feel the fatigue in my legs climbing the start of the 3rd loop (from some heavy training this week, part of my build for Ironman 70.3 Vineman.) I tried my damnest to keep up with Elliot, (which I was able to accomplish for the 3rd loop,) but as I lost sight of Anthony and Scott, Elliot started to pull away starting the 4th loop (when I really started to feel the fatigue in my legs.) I decided I would try to save a bit for the run, as I was starting to hurt.

Heading out, got some work to do!!

Pushing hard through the middle of the run
Finishing the run strong, keeping up form!

Coming into T2, I got the coach’s report that I was 5mins down from Scott (the leader,) and about 1:30 down from Elliot (3rd.) My legs just didn’t seem to get into running until about 3 or 4km’s into the run, and even then, they left something to be desired. I ended up running alone the whole run (other than on the second loop, when I ran into a bunch of athletes on their first loop, which was REALLY motivating, as many were good friends of mine.) My feet started to hurt mid-run (I race sockless,) so being a learning experience, I’ll be racing halves in socks from now on. I just pushed as hard as I could the second half of the run, hitting my Eload Gels and water to keep my energy up. It was frustrating to not be gaining on the leaders, especially when a podium spot was right in front of me, and I was having a rough run. I never really got into my ‘zone’ on the run (highlighted by the fact my Mum told me I looked tired out there and wasn’t running as fast as I usually do when I race,) and I definitely found it tougher to mentally push myself without having Elliot within sight. My New Balance Minimus shoes performed brilliantly (a minimalist shoe, with only a 4mm heel to toe drop, giving me a great feel for the ground.) My goal was to keep reminding myself about form and technique, which I feel I did well. I just ran strong, and still managed to break out the second fastest run of the day (a 1:15:04 for the 20km’s.) I’m SUPER glad I wore my new Compressport Ultra Silicon calf guards today, as my calves were probably the ONLY part of my body that felt perfect the entire day! They performed their job with perfection, keeping my calves fresh. Even today, the day after the race, my calves feel outstanding!

Some post-race words with announcer Jordan Back

Finishing just off the podium, in 4th place with a 4:06:13 clocking for the half ironman, I was pretty happy with my performance for a training race. I learned a ton of valuable lessons during the race (which is great, seeing as it was my first half ironman in a LONG time,) lessons that will no doubt help me in my debut professional race at Ironman 70.3 Vineman in two weeks, as well as the Subaru Sooke Half Ironman 3 weeks after that.

It was great to be out at the race, and to watch a lot of friends have some outstanding performances, many people setting PB’s for the half-iron distance. Special thanks to the volunteers, who made the race possible, as well as everyone who came out to cheer for the athletes!!! I have to thank Coach Bjoern especially, as he was in a half-dead state with the flu, but still made it out to coach us through the race, and make sure everyone was prepared!! Thanks Bjoern!!!

Also a thanks to all my sponsors, who’ve made training and racing this season a possibility. Without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

That’s it for now, time to put in a solid week before the taper to the Vineman Half in two weeks. Time to get down to business, to prepare to race some of the best pro’s this sport has to offer!!! Happy training and racing people, enjoy the summer sun that’s finally arrived:)