Monday, July 22, 2013

Back to the tri.../IMMT70.3 race report

I've been not posting tri stuff as of late due to the interest in and focus on Anders' expedition to Denali.  Now that's safely in the books, I thought I'd give you an update on where I'm at in my triathlon endeavors and also post my Mont Tremblant 70.3 race report...

The last four weeks since MT have all been focused on IM training.  I've tried to do as much as I can handle but I have to admit it's been a hard slog.  My body was a bit trashed post Mont Tremblant and the weather has proved challenging--especially for my run.  I'm not suffering from any new injuries but I've been constantly sore--I'm not trying to do more than I have in the past but I just think my ability to absorb my normal heavy volume is beginning to diminish.  My left knee also is more of an issue these days than I recall it being in years past....

Anyways, I keep plugging along.  My aggregate training goals for July were to hit around 100 hours of total training and to hit a key long swim, bike and run workout each week.  I'm on target for the 100 hours and I've had a 3000 yard swim and a 100+ mile bike each week.  On the run, I've just been able to complete one 2+ hour run--so I'm behind there.  I feel like I'm in very good shape for my Sept. IM with respect to the swim and bike, but I'll have to rally a bit on the run.

I think I may have to back off a bit this week as I'm feeling the effects of 4 pretty high volume weeks and I plan to race for the first time in five weeks on Saturday.  Here is the volume month-to-date for July (21 days):

Swim: 31,500 yards (46.5k monthly pace)
Bike: 794 miles (1,172 mile monthly pace)
Run: 78 miles (115 mile monthly pace)
Time: 69 hours (102 hour monthly pace)

Finally, here is the belated MT race report--I wanted to hold off posting to Anders was back:

2013 Ironman Mont Tremblant 70.3 Race Report
June 23rd, 2013


Location: Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
Distance: 1.28-mile swim/56-mile bike/13.1-mile run
2013 Triathlon Race Number: 7
Career Triathlon Race Number: 133
Conditions:  Low 60s to mid 70s.  Overcast and very humid.  Little wind.  Water temperature around 64 degrees.

A return to long-course racing for me (my 32nd LC triathlon) and my 3rd triathlon in 15 days.  I was just 3 weeks into my IMLT build cycle (with a delayed start to training in 2013) so my fitness was relatively off and my legs were a bit weary from the recent ramp-up in training load.  Still, I was excited to race and looking forward to testing myself on this very difficult Half-Ironman course.

I flew up on Friday morning (for the Sunday race) to Montreal and then drove the 1:45 drive up to Tremblant—it was pleasant and quite scenic.  I did all of my usual pre-race scouting activities and then met up with the Ironman XC crowd—I was racing this race with the XC group.  On Saturday, we had breakfast with Linsey Corbin and last year’s defending champs Magali Tisseyre and Romain Guillaume.  Later I bumped into Terenzo Bozzone and had a nice chat with him—I had dinner with him a couple of years back in New Orleans.

My expectations for the race were modest.  I was principally focused on getting a good solid LC race under my belt as part of my run-up to Lake Tahoe.  I was not concerned with where I finished in either my AG or XC, as I had no interest in taking one of the XC Vegas slots for the IM70.3 World Championship.

It rained heavily most of the day on Saturday and I swam, rode and ran a bit of the course.  I checked my bike in at transition and had an early pasta meal around 5 p.m.  By 9 p.m. I was in bed and slept quite peacefully.

The Swim

I was up at 3:30 a.m. and did all my normal morning-of things.  I set my transition zone up by 5:45 and then went back and hung out in my room for a while.  I put my wetsuit on there and headed over to the lakeside by 6:35.  I did a short warm-up and was ready to go with a few minutes to spare. 

The water temperature in Lac Tremblant was around 64 degrees, which I view as ideal for a LC swim.  A little nippy at the start but not overly so and it helps keep you cool when you push things during the race.  The course was essentially 3 sides of a box around in peninsula with a clock-wise flow.  It was a little overcast and the lake water is only moderately clear so visibility was only OK in the water.

Us XC types were in the 2nd wave with the female pros.  I saw Linsey and we hugged and I told her it was hers to win.  She wished me well.  The men were off at 7 a.m. and five minutes later the cannon fired and we were on our way.

Given my lack of swim training to date in 2013, I did not expect to swim my usual 32-33 minutes.  That combined with the fresh-water tempered my expectations about this swim.  I also wanted to just back off a slight bit, as this was definitely not an “A” race for me.  All in all, I was hoping to swim 36-38 minutes or so.

At the start I consciously took it easy.  We had a small wave and there was plenty of room so I didn’t see the need to go anaerobic and focused on slowing building my intensity.  I was on the left side of the start area and with my left dominated breathing I didn’t have good tactical visibility of the other swimmers.  However, what I could see indicated that the whole wave was swimming faster than me!  Now I expected this from the pros but I had expected to be in the mix for the 10 XC competitors, even though I was the oldest.

However, I stuck with my plan and after about 5 minutes or so I felt pretty darn good so I began to up my cadence and the pressure I was applying to the water on my pull-phase.  Soon, I began catching folks and then pulling away from them.

I had a very pleasant swim—comfortable and completely in control.  I was conscious I had another gear above where I was cruising but this seemed like the right call for this morning.  Over the last 500 meters or so, several of the guys from the 3rd wave began to catch me and two of them swam right over me, which seemed a bit excessive given the expanse of clean water we had all around us.

I soldiered on and finally hit the shallow waters and ran through the knee-deep section until I hit the beach with an elapsed time of 37:51.  This seemed a little slow to me at the time, but my Garmin did measure the course at 1.28 miles so maybe this was pretty much what was to be expected on this morning.  My pace was 29:32/mile.  I took 1400 strokes, which averages out to 37 strokes/min.  This is about 1.61 yards/strokes, which is decidedly middling for sure.

Competitively, I was the 4th fastest of the XC group and 2nd in the over 50 crowd.  In my M55-59 AG I was 25rd out of 78 (69.2 %-tile).  I was 800th OA out of 1963 individual starters (59.3 %-tile).  (There were 89 relay teams in the mix so some of the faster swimmers were part of relay teams.)

One of the XC competitors was a fellow named Carl Wernicke, whom I had raced at Kona—and he beat me by almost two hours there.  I had also raced him at Oceanside where I bested him as he DNF’ed due to mechanical issues on the bike.  Despite the trouncing he put on me at Kona I thought we might be closely matched.  On this morning I outswam him by 1:58—this compared positively to the 3:44 that he had outswam me at Kona.

Additionally, two other XC athletes (Beyer and Le Jamtel) swam here and then two weeks later at IM Germany.  Based on their times at these two races my swim at Mont-Tremblant was equivalent to a 70:45 at IM Germany—a result I would be more than satisfied with.

All in all, I was satisfied with the start to this race.  Off to T1!

Transition One

I ran up the carpet and was directed to a side area where my wetsuit was stripped off.  I thanked the stripper (“merci beaucoup”!), grabbed my wetsuit and continued on my merry way.  The transition was VERY long—in fact my Garmin had it at 0.47 miles.  As we ran through the impressive crowds that lined the snaking transition chute I was passing several of the guys who had caught me on the swim.

I got to the bike, did my thing and was soon on my way.  I felt I had a very solid transition and completed it in 4:55.  Relative to Carl, I was 1:02 faster and left T1 with a 3:00 lead on him—I of course didn’t know this as I was gone before he arrived at his bike but I would have guessed I was 2 or 3 minutes ahead of him based on what I had observed on the swim.

The Bike

I mounted my bike, not with my usual confidence and focus on attacking, but rather with a bit of trepidation and a game plan to hold back a bit.  I had driven the course and was intimidated by 8-10 sections, which had descents that definitely gave me pause.  In anticipation of the challenges of the course, I had brought my old TT bike (I’m not yet comfortable riding hills on my new TM01) and replaced the disc with a rear 808.  I also swapped out my 54/42 chain-ring with a compact 50/34.

My plan was to target 200 watts for the total ride.  I knew the course was very challenging and in fact my Garmin would record 3,251 feet of vertical for the ride.  200 watts is about 20-25 watts below what I can handle for a Half-IM when I am really fit and ready to race aggressively.  My best H-IM rides from the past are these four:

White Lake 2007   228 watts
Eagleman 2007     223 watts
Eagleman 2008     222 watts
SkipJack 2011      221 watts (66 miles)

The first section out through Monte Ryan had several climbs and descents with the final one a long, nerve-racking screamer where my speedo hit 39.8 mph.  I was sitting up and feathering my brakes as I descended and other guys just blew past me.

The second section out to Labelle and back on HWY 117 was very mellow, with just rollers, and with the freshly paved road, it was very fast.  I chatted with my friend Devanish Paul as he passed me.  Around 25 miles or so Carl caught and passed me.  While I had a lot of reserve power I chose to ignore this—I wasn’t really here to race the XC crowd.  Here is what these first six 5-mile segments looked like, data-wise:

Miles 0-5: 19.9mph/147bpm/82rpm/210 avg watts/217 NP
Miles 6-10: 16.9/140/83/202/206
Miles 11-15: 22.3/140/86/196/197
Miles 16-20: 19.3/138/86/198/201
Miles 21-25: 21.8/137/86/200/204
Miles 26-30: 22.3/137/87/194/196

The next 15 miles back through Monte Ryan and Chemin Duplesis back near the transition area had a number of challenging climbs and descents and I again played it very conservatively (although my power spiked a bit due to the climbs).  Here is the data from the next 15 miles:

Miles 31-35: 17.3/134/81/209/213
Miles 36-40: 20.4/136/82/211/217
Miles 41-45: 19.0/134/79/199/206

I was feeling very good at this point and felt like I was being appropriately conservative.  I had done (I believe) a very good job on my hydration and eating.  At this point I had consumed all of the 56 oz. of Osmos I had brought along and ate three of my Cliff Shot packs.  I had also taken 6 Enduralytes.

However, as we rounded the transition area and began the climb towards Lac Superieur, I was definitely feeling a little uneasy.  This section of the course has the hardest climbing by far with about 1000 vertical climbing from mile 47 to 52.  That was a concern but what was really in the back of my head was the final four miles of screaming, swooping turns down the back of the ski-mountain towards the end of the bike ride.

On the climb I was very thankful for my 34/27-granny gear and I was in it a lot.  I found the climb very difficult to find any rhythm on and I was amazed to see people crushing it up the hill with relatively large gears and cadence that must have been in the 40s—ouch, I wouldn’t want to run after that!  At one point I saw the EMTs attending to a very road rash covered triathlete on the side of the road.  His bike was nowhere to be seen—not a real confidence booster!  Here are the next five miles, which has some flat in it and about 60% of the climb:

Miles 46-50: 14.5/139/78/215/227

While my power spiked a bit here, I did a good job of managing my Variability Index (NP/AP), which was 1.055…not too shabby.  It’s worth noting that in this 5-mile section I had my highest AP, highest NP, highest VI and lowest speed!  I think I rode this section very well from a tactical perspective but what that meant in the real world is tons of people were blasting pass me.

I hit the crest and turned back towards the bike finish.  I was intimidated the whole way down and sat up a lot, spun easy, and feathered my brakes from time to time.  Surprisingly, not that many people passed me on the way down—although those that did where moving dramatically faster than yours truly!

Here is the data from the last miles:

Miles 51-55: 19.9/134/78/209/221
Mile 56: 23.1/128/77/201/201 

I finished my bike with a split of 2:54:50.  My average speed was just 19.2mph.  My HR averaged a very modest 138 bpm and my average cadence was 82 rpm.  My AP was 204 watts and my NP was 211 watts.  My TSS was 168 and VI was 1.034.  These all indicate a very conservative ride and not surprisingly, I was only 28th out of 78 in my AG (65.4%-tile), which means I faired better on the swim than the bike.  Carl had put 3:57 on me on the bike and I entered T2 57 seconds behind him.

Transition Two

As I ran into transition I noted that my right hip was unusually stiff but otherwise my legs felt pretty good.  It wasn’t overly warm, although it was very humid, but I felt like I’d done a good job at hydration—all in all, I felt like I was ready to run.  I ran to my rack space and gave Carl a pat on the head as I ran by.  I executed my T2 in 2:11, which turned out to be 29 seconds faster than Carl and as I exited T2 just 28 seconds behind him, I could see him up the road.  As I left T2, Carl’s wife told me to catch Carl and give him some company on the run.  I responded that there was no way I was going to catch Carl—and I truly believed this, as Carl is a much stronger runner than I am.

The Run

The run at IMMT70.3 is quite a difficult one and the hills are concentrated in the beginning and at the end of the run.  As I was confronted with a fairly lengthy and steep hill almost immediately as we ran away from the lake, I was thankful I had been conservative on the bike and I noted that my legs felt reasonably decent (for me).

Soon after the start of my run I saw Terenzo driving to the finish line with another pro just a few seconds back.  He was absolutely on the rivet (and he would win the race).  Midway through the 2nd mile, I decided to hit a porta-potty and deal with my effective hydration on the bike.  This proved to be quite a lengthy process but one that I felt quite a bit better after completing! 

I hit my 2nd mile marker and decided to pick it up a bit—my legs felt pretty good, especially considering my suspect run conditioning.  Here is what the first three miles looked like:

1:  9:10/147bpm/121 feet of climbing
2:  9:51/148/108
3:  8:32/149/20

As the course flatted out, I settled into a nice rhythm.  My HR was relatively low and the pace was comfortable.  Just pass 7 miles or so, we hit a turnaround and I estimated that Carl was about 2 minutes in front of me, which I found a bit surprising with my extended bathroom break.  It was here that I first wondered if maybe I might be able to catch him.  Here are the next four miles:

4:  8:54/154/13
5:  9:09/154/59
6:  9:20/154/13
7:  9:22/154/33

At around 9 miles there was a short out and back section and as I approached the turnaround I could see Carl was not very far ahead—just 30-45 seconds or so.  This got my attention and I decided to hit the gas and see if I might be able to catch him—note the jump in my level of effort in mile 10:

8:  9:50/152/75
9:  9:38/153/10
10: 8:45/166/72

As we reached the 10-mile mark I pulled even with Carl.  I had decided that I would offer to run with him the rest of the way.  Even though we were competing, this seemed like the appropriate thing to do in this situation.  Carl appreciated my gesture and so we ran the next mile or so together.

The last two miles are a real challenge and as we hit the first big hill Carl decided he needed to walk.  I slowed and said that I would walk with him—it truly didn’t matter to me what my time ultimately was.  He told me that if I could still run up these hills that I should—he said he was a big boy and would get there eventually.

So we parted ways and I did my best to stay strong over the final two miles.  These were very challenging and I decided to back off my effort a little bit and just enjoy the experience.   The last 500 meters are fantastic as you run down through the village to the base of the gondola.  You run in a narrow chute with the crowds a good 3-4 people deep the whole way.  People are screaming, the music is blaring, and I high-fived at least a 100 people.  My next three miles:

11: 9:26/166/79
12: 9:48/163/112
13: 10:20/164/118

I was thankful to see my mug on the big screen and then finally run up the ramp and finish another Half-Ironman.  My total run was 2:02:53 and I averaged 156bpm.  In total there was 833 feet of climbing on this run.  Despite this time seeming slow, I was in fact 30th in my AG (62.8 %-tile).  I was 2:33 faster than Carl and ended up besting him by 2:04.

My total time for the race was 5:42:50, which was 2nd in my XC AG and 23rd in my AG (71.8 %-tile).  Overall, I finished 834th (57.6 %-tile).  A very MOP day for me but pretty much what I had set out to do at the outset.  Money in the fitness bank and solid progress on my road to Ironman Lake Tahoe in September….

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