On June 22 I had a great race in Syracuse, NY and successfully qualified for the 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant a few weeks ago on September 7, 2014. I was excited to go back to Tremblant to race as it is an incredible race venue.
After Syracuse I needed a bit of a mental and physical break so I took about 10 days of unstructured training. It felt good to take the foot off the gas pedal for a bit and sure enough the desire to get back to hard training came back.
Training towards the world championships went well, and it was some of the hardest training I’ve ever done. Coach Miranda is very good at pushing me to redefine my limits without crushing me.
3 weeks before Tremblant I raced the Orillia sprint distance and had a good race, finishing 11th overall and second in my Age Group(AG). Although much shorter than a half Ironman, it was a good confirmation that training was going well and I was in a good place to race well at 70.3 worlds. Then I struggled a bit in the last few weeks of my training as I could feel myself getting tired physically and mentally. This impacted my confidence a bit, but by the time I had tapered into the race I was rested and ready to go.
We were fortunate enough to be staying at our friends’ condo just up the hill from the pedestrian village in Tremblant and it was great. Coming back to race in Tremblant felt amazing. There is something about the area that really puts me at ease, even in the midst of the pre-race excitement/tension. This was my 4th visit to train or race in Tremblant in two years and it felt very comfortable to me.
OK, onto the race itself…
I knew this was going to be a fast start so I chose to hang back for a few seconds at the start. Combined with an excellent 15 min warm-up, this helped me to quickly find my rhythm. Given this was a world championship I was surprised that it wasn’t a rougher start, but then again I wasn’t up at the front of the group, so who knows what was going on up there. On the final leg back to the finish I swam side-by-side with another guy going the exact same speed I was going and at the same stroke rate. It was perfect. We made eye contact several times and a non-verbal agreement was made…’let’s do this the remainder of the way’. Even when we lost each other for a moment we would reconnect and get back in sync. The impact of this, if you can stay close enough together, is that for the same amount of effort you go faster.
All in all a very comfortable swim. 31:23 (1:38/100m) – 138/247 AG
Timing chip came off when I had my wetsuit stripped and I wiped out while running in the change tent, but other than that it was an uneventful T1 J. It’s a great 400m run into the change tent. Lined with people cheering. It’s very loud and you can’t help but smile.
Very quickly I realized that it was going to be a crowded bike course. The problem with this is that it is illegal to draft and therefore you are forced to constantly make decisions about whether to drop back to avoid drafting or spend the energy to pass someone. If you choose to pass, but don’t have the room to slot in between two riders without drafting, then you better make sure that you can pass them both. The goal was to hold about 220-230 watts for the opening 10 km out to Hwy 177 but that didn’t happen (201 watts). Regardless I felt pretty good on the bike and once out on the highway I got settled at my goal power, taking it 10 km at a time. For the next 30 km I averaged 217 watts. Right about what I was looking for. During this time I got passed by a couple of huge packs of people riding in a group and drafting. This was annoying and disappointing, since it’s against the rules, but I’ve since heard that it is the norm at the 70.3 World Championships. Anyway, I wanted to race my race without drafting, and if others were going to do it that way, then so be it.
Over the final 50 km I averaged 200 watts which was well below what I was aiming for. I think it was a combination of a few things. I was fatiguing, I lost some of my focus, I wasn’t aggressive enough (see reasons to hurt in my run summary), and I had to slow to avoid drafting. A good lesson for the future. I still at times struggle to push hard enough on the bike for fear that I won’t run well afterwards. In hindsight I must admit that this was in the back of my mind.
Anyway I had a decent bike split but to be fair it’s faster when it is a busy bike course like that.
Bike time 2:32:44 (35.3 km/hr) – 178/247 AG (35 km/hr and 177 guys in my age group went faster!!)
For those interested in power numbers…
0-10 km 201 AP (215 NP). HR 161.
10-51 km 213 AP (219 NP). HR 160.
51-75 km 201 AP (214 NP). HR 159.
75-81 km 210 AP (217 NP). Climbing but plenty of descending too. HR 161.
81-90 km 170 AP (186 NP). Congested while descending. Trying not to crash!
I had to stop to take a pee while starting the run. That was my third time since the beginning of the bike. Not sure what that was all about!
I felt quite good as soon as I started running. No stomach issues. Temperature was perfect for running. It was a challenging course with very few flat sections and a several challenging hills at the end of each loop. I didn’t know what damage the hills at the end of the first loop would inflict, so I choose to settle in at a comfortable pace for the first loop, rather than risk going out too fast. Overall about a 4:25/km pace for the first 11 km. The plan was to then pick it up for the second half but I didn’t. The pace for the final 10 km was about 4:30/km. Not terrible but not what I was hoping for. I realize now that my goals for this race were a bit loose and I wasn’t obsessed by them. I’m OK with that given that the big goal was to qualify for this race but it really shows that you need a compelling reason to hurt a lot and I didn’t have that reason in that final 10 km.
Even still I really enjoyed the final km running through the crowds in the village, stopping to hug my kids and taking a brief moment to appreciate the awesome season I’ve had this year. I’m normally too focused (and hurting) at this point to reflect, so this was a nice change.
Run time – 1:34 (4:28/km) 83/247 AG
Overall I finished in 4:46:38 and 141/247 in my age group and had a very enjoyable time. Fortunately we were able to stay at our friends’ condo on the Sunday night, even while they returned home to Ottawa. It was very nice to be able to relax after the race and go out for dinner in the village.
Here is a video of the race and I get a brief on-the-bike interview. The wheelchair athlete climbing the hill in the village is incredible!
Thank you for reading and to the MANY people who support me along the way in different ways, especially my family!
In my next blog I’ll talk about what I think were the most important lessons I learned in training and racing this season.
Now onto the off-season…