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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

211.6 in 2 challenge

The plan

Bike 211.6 km over 2 days


Because I will be on vacation and have the time to do it.

What's so special about 211.6?

The route I like is 105.8km long, double it is 211.6km. I'm nothing if not practical.

Don't you want to take a different route each day?

No. Stop asking questions.

Good Luck!


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Race Report: Gravenhurst Olympic Triathlon

One word: Ouch.

The Race

Gravenhurst Olympic Triathlon (Part of the MultiSport Canada Triathlon Series)


The race itself was great, I would do it again. They use a Muskoka Steamship to transport everyone out into the lake, then you jump out and line up in the water. Very neat!

Organization was stellar as usual. My only beef was the traffic during the bike - it was really bad at times, lots of frustrated and incompetent motorists. Not sure if they can fix that, but it was worse than any other race I've been part of.

My Swim... Buoy that was hard

It started so well! The steamship blew its whistle to signal the start, and I immediately got into a nice rhythm. In fact, I can't remember ever being that comfortable in open water, I felt smooth and fast. I got to the first buoy at 500m feeling very strong, surrounded by blue caps from my wave. I was delighted!

And then... disaster. The sun was right in our eyes, and I could not for the life of me see the next buoy. I started to follow other people who I assumed could see the buoys.

They couldn't.

So at some point, I see a canoe pull up next to the few of us and two girls are frantically trying to get our attention... I pop up and she says "you're going the wrong way!". I look and finally see a big orange buoy between the island and the shore (which I had mistaken for the island). Sigh! I don't know how much extra swimming I did, but it was a lot.

From there on my swim was scrappy and frustrating, I never got my flow back, and by the end of the swim I felt spent... with two more sports to go! Sigh.

My Bike... A bit of vengeance

It took me 10-15km to really feel comfortable and get my heart rate down, but once I finally settled in things went well. The hills were nowhere near as bad as advertised, Muskoka and Coubourg were way worse.

The turn-around points were ... amusing? So many triathletes have no bike handling skills... guys with their inside pedal down trying to make a 180 degree turn, one woman overshot the turn-around, and when she tried it she hit the gravel. Yikes!!!

There were some rough sections of road, but very much what I'm used to. I just put my head down and pretended I was Ryder Hesjedal on the cobblestone stage at the Tour de France and hammered by everyone I could! One of the benefits of having a cheaper bike, you aren't so dainty with it!

I ended up just over 30km/h, which isn't fantastic but isn't horrible. I'm happy with it, especially after spending the early part in the red.

My run... hot, hilly, horrible

I had these delusions of running this at 5:10-5:20/km pace... ha ha. I could tell about 2 minutes in that wasn't going to happen! The heat and humidity caught up to me, the sun was beating down with almost no relief from it, and with the steep rolling hills it was just too much.

Within a few kilometers I was just in survival mode, walking the steeper sections and trying to keep the legs going to the aid stations. I gulped down as much Inifite as my stomach would handle, but just never recovered. My average pace was a crushing 6:07/km... I'm surprised it was even that good, I felt like death (and most of the athletes around me looked like death too!).


Learned two things:

1. Triathlons are hard

I can do a fast run, a fast bike, but what makes triathlon uniquely challenging is switching disciplines in the middle of a race. It's something I've only got right a couple of times, once in the shorter Sprint Triathlon at Belwood, and once at Ironman Canada... but I have been crushed a few times too, Muskoka Long Course and today.

2. I pay dearly for being a weak swimmer

It's not so much the time I give up, but the effort I end up putting in. I come out of the water in bad shape, and once behind the 8 ball it's tough to get back on top of things.

At Ironman, the event was so long (and so was transition) that recovery was a piece of cake. At sprints, the swim is short so it's not as desperately bad. But in these middle distances, it's very very tough for me, and something I have to address if I'm going to continue doing this sport.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Race Report: Honda Indy Run, Walk, Wheel'athon (5k run)

The Good

I finished 2nd among adult men and 4th overall, and set a personal best at 20:34 (by my watch)! My previous best was over 22:00, so this was a huge accomplishment... and I've never really won anything.

The Bad

Just about everything else about this race was awful.

I hate to say it due to the charity affiliation, but I have never seen a more poorly organized event.

To give you an idea - they didn't even know there the start line was supposed to be.

The Botched Start

A lap of the Indy track is 2.8k, so for the 5k run they decided to do 2 laps but start us 600m up the track. Fine. So the runners all walked and walked, but nobody in charge knew where to stop. At one point, a young lady in a car told us we were there, but I looked at my Garmin and we were only at 250m! So I told her it had to be further up... we kept walking until 550m and she once again declared us there.

Close enough.

As we stood there waiting for someone to tell us to go, we saw the walkers and wheelchairs had started behind us. They then caught up to us... there was mass confusion, were we supposed to start?? Wait? A bunch of people decided to go, but this was chip timed, so I wanted to make sure I started when the official clock did!

Then out of the blue everyone starts going and people are saying "go go go!". I figured they must have got word to start, so I went. The race was on... I guess!

My Race

Kilometer 1 - 3:56
Kilometer 2 - 4:03
Kilometer 3 - 4:04
Kilometer 4 - 4:24
Kilometer 5 - 4:05

I started a bit too fast, a bit charged up with frustration. My goal in my head was around 4:10/km, and getting faster toward the end if I had it in me, but I just couldn't quite get myself to back off. Paid for it by kilometer 4!

All in all I was happy with my pacing. I crossed the line and they gave me what I thought was a finishers medal, then I heard them telling someone who finished after me they were 4th... I was like "wait, if he's 4th, what was I?" They said I was 2nd, but I knew two people had finished ahead of me. Turns out I was 4th and 2nd among adult men! Crazy.

The Botched Post-race

Now remember, it was hot and humid... high 20's, humidex in the 30's.

I asked someone at the finish if there was any water, he said it was back at the tables. Annoying, but fine.

I walk back to the tables, ask for a water. $2.50. This was the Hooter's tent at Indy, so it was all Indy pricing.

How can you not have free water at a race???

Seriously! They had free burgers and hot dogs, though... but not water? It's July, people!
  • No bag check
  • No water
  • Started late
  • Confusion over where/when to start
  • No guidance on where the track edge was - fences? red and white race track strips?
  • Told me to wear the ankel chip on my arm (which wouldn't have worked)
  • Had to dodge around Walkers/Wheelers blocking the course on both laps

So despite the low entry fee and the cool venue (Indy track), I won't be doing this one again. It was just too poorly organized to deal with a second time. Hopefully organizers read this and fix it, though, because there is so much potential here...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Preview: Honda Indy Run, Walk, Wheel'athon (5k run)

The Race

Running on the Toronto Honda Indy race track??? Now that is cool! The only thing cooler would be doing it in a race car.

Race Web Site

5K for $25? That's cool too!

My Goal

This is a bit of a dry run for me for the Bill Harper 5k which I'll be doing in late August.

My previous 5k best is 22:26 on a similarly flat course, but that was two years ago (and 20 pounds ago) so I think I have quite a bit more in me. I have not been doing much speed work, though, so I have to temper my optimism a bit!

I did a 10k run and run two of the kilometers at around 4:00/km pace to remember what it feels like. It feels awful. I hate 5k races!!!

I am not sure how close to 20:00 I can get, but I think I can get pretty close... I would be disappointed with anything over 22:00. I really believe I can break 21:00, but we will have to see how it shakes out... doing a couple of kilometers at that pace is one thing, stringing 5 together is quite another!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Preview: Gravenhurst Triathlon (Olympic Distance)

The Race

Gravenhurst Triathlon, up in the Muskokas. This is an Olympic distance triathlon.

I wanted something between a 1/2 Iron but more than a Sprint, so this was the one. It will be my first Oly.

Cool feature of this race: it starts on a steamship! How cool is that? You get on the boat, they steamship you out onto the lake to the start.

Ouch, that swim...

The Olympic distance is a bit more swim-heavy than I would normally prefer, being a weak swimmer.

1500m Swim
40km Bike
10km Run

And to make matters worse, I tweaked my shoulder/back two weeks back with a fall during a mountain bike stage at the Moraine Adventure Race... and haven't been in the pool since! Two weeks with no swimming and a swim-heavy race in two weeks.


On the bright side, it's feeling much better today, so I think I will get back in the pool in the next few days.


Get through the swim, hammer out a nice bike, and run as strong of a 10k as I have in me to the finish!