Friday, 27 September 2013

Muskoka 70.3

Last race of a very quiet season!  After a super strong spring, motivation waned for the rest of the year.  After a strong race based on average fitness at the Toronto Triathlon Festival, I dialed up the training a touch to get in decent shape for this early September test.  

The race is the same day as the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas, therefore many of the top studs are out of the country racing, but with 100 slots to the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championship on offer, which will be hosted outside the USA for the first time in our neighbouring province of Quebec, the field was anticipated to be much deeper than previous years.

Pre-Race
At bike check-in on Saturday, I noticed that as I was walking with the bike, the cranks were turning: not a good sign.  I'd noticed this at the Toronto race as well, but didn't remember it from training rides in between, so thought the wheel cover was causing the issue.  At check-in, I stripped the cover off, and the issue persisted.  Slightly concerned, but with no real time to check it out, I racked the bike and hoped for the best. 

The forecast for race day was cold - single-digit Celsius readings, which is unchartered territory for me - very used to hot and humid days but this weather presented some interesting clothing options.  The day itself was beautiful after rain showers on Saturday, so I packed a couple options in transition (long sleeve top and gloves) and decided I'd see what others were doing after the swim.

Breakfast was a bagel with peanut butter, a banana and a Boost+ shake.  I had a swig of First Endurance gel 20 minutes before the start, and put on my casual shoes to walk down to the water - it's a bit of a trek in Muskoka, and wanted to keep my feet warm.  There's a bag check down by the water for the shoes, however after the race I forgot to pick mine up so someone has a sweet pair of blue and red Pumas - enjoy!

Something I tried for the first time was swimming in compression socks - I'd overheard Joe Gambles talking about it at Syracuse last year in the pro meeting, he'd 'learned' the trick from Fred Van Lierde, doesn't really slow you down in the water and then you already have socks on for the rest of the race.  I figured the extra coverage from the compression socks as well as the Compressport For Quad products would potentially help with the cold.

Swim - 26:48, 4th in AG, 23rd overall
The men 35-39 were in wave three along with the men 18-24.  I knew speedsters Cody Beals (18-24) and Richard Pady (35-39) were in my wave, so optimistically found my way over to them at the start of the swim and hoped to ride their feet through the opening leg.  In the words of Joel Filliol, 'hope is not a strategy' and my lack of swim training over the May-June-July period had me spit out the back about 500 meters in.  From there on out, it was a solo slog through the waves in front of us.  
Wave 3 Swim Start - photo cred Kim Astley
Similar to Syracuse last year, I had a tight feeling in my chest and felt a bit of hyperventilation in that opening 500 meters - likely due to lack of warm-up, lack of racing this year making that claustrophobic start uncomfortable, and racing at an effort that is a little too high.  Noted for next year - less reliance on hope, more reliance on meters.  

I was out of the water 5th in our wave, which was led out by Adam Golden, an old friend from my club swimming days, with Cody and Richard on his feet, and Stephen Cann about 45 seconds up ahead.
Swimming in socks!
T1 - 3:42, 14th in AG, 82nd overall
Two mistakes, here: the first was not properly scouting T1 so when I came in, I followed the woman in front of me who ran left, when my bike was on the right; the second was indecision about what to wear.  I started putting on the long-sleeved shirt but saw a lot of guys running out in only their tri suits, so decided to just take the gloves and roll with it.  

Also, with the cranks turning as I was running with the bike, and my shoes (clipped in) flying all over the place, the run to the mount line was with the rear wheel off the ground most of the way - not the easiest way to run with the bike.  
Running with a broken bike
Bike - 3:46:26, 150th in AG, 663rd overall
The wheel almost literally fell off this race in Baysville, 60K into the ride.  That issue with the cranks was in fact the death knell of my freehub, which was causing certain gear shifts through the 60K of the ride resulting in cranks and chain spinning but no force being transferred to the rear wheel.  Fiddling with the gears would get one of them to 'catch', but on a very technical first 30K and very hilly course, not an ideal situation.  I'd considered trying to find one gear and risking it all the way back to T2, but it's not that kind of course - a full complement of gears was needed.
Early in the ride making a pass
I was HORRIBLE through the technical section from Deerhurst to Dorset, and that definitely needs to be improved upon in the future.  Apparently my kind of courses are like Kona, where it's basically a dead-straight road almost the entire time, no twists or turns in sight. 

In Baysville I down-shifted to slow down for a bottle exchange, and the freehub failed.  Over the next hour I flagged down three race motorcycles, none of whom had the ability to communicate with the D'Ornella's tech support car or the sag wagon, so I sat on the side of the road until one of them came by.  D'Ornella's confirmed the freehub had failed, then ten minutes later offered up a rear wheel to get me home.  I was wearing a black t-shirt that one of the marshalls had lent me, so must have looked pretty funny on the ride back with the shirt blowing in the wind.
T-Shirt Time!
I didn't feel amazing on the bike, but had built into it by Dorset, and the stretch from Dorset to Baysville was really fun (minus the gearing issues).  Power had sat around 245ish watts for the first section, but was able to rev it up into the high 260's over the next stretch which would have been a nice figure to finish at.   

T2 - DNF
The whole way back from Baysville I flip-flopped on running or not running - part of me wanted to rip off a fast run to 'salvage' the day, the other part of me knew it would be hard to push it when the race up the road was out of reach.  The two deciding factors were hearing them announce Richard Pady winning my AG as I ran into T2, and then seeing my Mom who was completely freaked out that I was in a ditch somewhere out on the course seeing how I was over an hour later than expected.  So for the second 70.3 in a row, I took my chip off in T2 and handed it over.  

Definitely not the way I'd planned on ending the season, but it was still a nice day to be outside, several friends had great races and it gives me an excuse to pick a spring 70.3 to clinch a Tremblant spot.  Also gives me a bit to reflect on as 2014 season planning gets underway, lucky for me Arcade Fire has already composed the theme song for reflection period.