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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Race Report: Peterborough Half Ironman (Swim/Bike)

The Race

Peterborough 1/2 Ironman. I didn't know a lot about this race beforehand, other than everyone says it's hot... today was pretty warm (24C) and the sun was out, so no exception. I'm sure the run was tough... but I didn't do it.

The Swim/Bike Option

I was stinging a little from my bad race at Muskoka, so wanted to do a long distance race. But I couldn't afford the recovery from a half Ironman at this point in the summer.

Fortunately the Subaru Triathlon Series offers a Swim/Bike option - you do the 2000m swim and 90k bike but skip the run. It sounds unusual, but there were a good 20+ people signed up for it. I overheard some conversations - a few seemed to be doing Ironman later this year, I assume like me they didn't want to have to recover from the run.

The Swim

I pulled myself into my wetsuit (and managed to damage it yet again - stupid fingernails). Got in for a warm-up, and everything felt great. After the early season freezing cold, the water felt really decent and warm. It was going to be a good day!

This was my first mass start, about 500 people. I seeded myself somewhat near the back and to the outside, with the plan being to aim for the far buoy and gradually come to the inside. It was a bit chaotic at first, but I found my rhythm and some space pretty early on and was off.

Everyone crowded pretty badly at the turn-around buoy, so I lost a bit of time there, but by the second lap I had few people around me. All in all a fairly uneventful swim, I felt good and comfortable and smooth.

The only complaint I have was the weeds, but it's an Ontario lake, that's pretty typical. My hands went through a bunch.

I was hoping for sub-50, so I'm happy with my result (and the time includes a pretty long run to transition), even though I was pretty far back there...

Swim time: 47:46 (2:24/100m) 34/37


This transition went OK. I didn't rush, I was pretty bagged from the swim, so fairly casually put on my socks, shoes, glasses, gloves, helmet, and was on my way.

T1 time: 3:12

The Bike

Nothing quite boosts the ego like handing other people their butts... and being behind after the swim means there's a lot of butts ahead!

Coming out of transition I was pretty wiped, so I focused on spinning and getting my heart rate down. It took about 10 minutes or so to get really comfortable, then I started on my nutrition, drinking some eLoad/Gatorade.

Then I started to put the hammer down, and picking people off...

It was an out-and-back course with a pretty decent head-wind, and I knew the highest point of the course was toward he turn-around, so I didn't pressure myself too much. I wanted to be over 30km/h, but the course was tougher than I though, I didn't know if I could get it.

I expected a pretty flat course, but there were some big hills. Most of them weren't too steep, but one long one in and out of Millbrook was a bit grueling. Fortunately I had my triple chainring on the front, so I was able to spin all the way up.

Brief Diversion: Things People Screw Up on the Bike
  • Bring too few gears. As I mentioned, I have a triple chainring, so I could spin up the hills. I saw other people getting crushed, couldn't have been spinning faster than 40rpm. It's very hard on the legs, takes a lot of you. I know, I know, your roadie buddies will laugh at your triple... but will they still be laughing when you kick their butts? Not everyone needs a triple, but bottom line is that you want to be able to spin whatever hills the course throws at you.
  • Don't use their aerobars. Seriously, it was a strong headwind today, and I can't believe how many people on full tri bikes weren't in their aero bars. You paid good money for that bike, use the advantage it gives you! I have clip-ons on a road bike and I was in them, what's your excuse Mr. Cervelo P3?
  • Lose their downhill momentum. I saw a lot of this - people coast downhill, and don't start pedaling again until they are 1/4 way up the other side, when they've already started slowing. I blew right by them, over and over... downhills can be a chance to rest, but make sure you use the free speed to get up the other side, otherwise you'll blow more energy than you needed to
  • Hammer it uphill. It's a 90k bike, do you really want to drain your energy and leg power jumping out of the saddle to be first up the hill? Roadies do this a lot, it makes sense in a bike race, but not in triathlon.
Sorry, needed to rant.

Back to my Bike...

At the turn-around I was just over 28km/h, so I knew 30km/h would be do-able. I was charging through the field the entire way back, the only time I got passed was up a hill by a guy that I re-passed once we crested it. It was a lot of fun... not completely fair, especially in the closing stages, as people were pacing themselves for the coming 1/2 marathon! But great for the ego.

How much fun? I started singing. I'm not usually a spontaneous public singer, but I was cruising down this hill at 60km/h+ and started singing "Soul Ride... Take it Easy...". I don't even like that song! But it seemed appropriate. I googled after, apparently the actual lyrics are - ironically - "Slow Ride"! See what depriving your brain of oxygen can do!?

I hit the transition area with a final average speed of 30.8km/h - I'm delighted with that! I sprinted to the mat which was really my finish line... and it was over. Very strange not having to run, but nice to be able to hammer the bike with all I had right to the end.

Bike time: 2:47:23 (30.6km/h) 11/37

Overall time: 3:38:20 (17/37 overall, 5/6 Men 30-39)

The Postmortem

What a great race! Great weather, nice location in Peterborough, challenging and interesting bike course, awesome. Can't wait to do it again some year, including the run.

My goals this race were to get my swim under 50:00 and to be close to 30km/h on the bike. I did both, and now feel way more confident about Ironman.


Boris T said...

Nice report, glad to hear that the swim and bike went well for you.

Also good tips for the bike.

IronMoe said...

just found your blog - great race report! your story is very inspiring!!! keep it up and good luck on the upcoming Ironman :)

Aaron said...

Nice job...sounds like you're rounding nicely into form for the Ironman. And you're right - the hill in Millbrook was more fun on the "back" than on the "out".