Sunday, August 24, 2008

Alberta Challenge Half IM, Lake Miquelon, near Camrose

Swim 1.9 K, Bike 84 K, Run 20 K. At least that's what they said.
I think swim was closer to 2 K, my bike computer said 84.57 K, and run was closer to 21 K.

Going back to my last run, I think I overdid it just a little. The next day I had sore calves. That worried me a bit. My calves seem to be the weakest part, and are what have given me the most problems and worries. So I took it easy the rest of the week, lots of stretching, and lots of sleeping.

Friday evening I got almost everything all packed into the new Zoot bag. I even discovered another pocket! The wetsuit actually slides into it's bag slick as grass through a goose, with room left over. Made up my energy drink. Reviewed the race materials. Went over my checklist and race plan. Tried not to fret, and and got a reasonable night's sleep.

Sat am I went for a 30 min ride, and short run, with pickups. My legs felt pretty good. We got the last of the stuff into the car and headed out. It's an easy 3 hr drive to Camrose, and we stayed at the Norseman. There's a reason that's funny, and apros, but I'm not sure anyone reading this is in on the joke. You'll have to buy me a beer for the explanation.

After a light meal (BIG plate of lasagna in case you were wondering) we drove up to the park. Checked out the bike route along the way. Some of the road has really new paving. Most of it isn't too bad, except for the damn rumble strips, and the sealant filling up the cracks from side to side. We scoped out the beach, transition, and the route up to the road and out to the run course. Walked a bit of the run course. Back to the hotel, and tried to get to bed early.

We watched a little bit of the Olympics. Sleep was going good till 2:30, when the noisy neighbours came home. Bastards! I'm not sure I got back to sleep after that. We were up at 5:30, and neither of us made any particular attempt to be quiet. I particularly loved it when the bathroom fan swallowed the little metal clip holding the plastic cover on. That made so much noise I hauled it out, and tried it again. You get your jollies where you can.

We had picked up a light breakfast from the night before and nibbled that. Yes Jenna, the poop fairy visited. Headed out in good time. I've never seen so many bird conventions along the way. We were directed us to a different parking lot, and it was a shambles. I must say that when there aren't any lines, triathlon people park horribly. Maybe there should be a parking lot Nazi to go along with the swim lane Nazi. It's nice having all stuff in one bag. Found a space in transition on our rack, mainly by moving someone over. They'd taken 3 spaces. Registration. Cap, nice tech T shirt, number. That's it. Chipped. Body marking. #7. Back in, set up transition, got wetsuit on. Took Jenna's advice and slathered body glide all over my feet to help with wetsuit removal.

Race meeting. Good directions. Remember that. The race director was totally clear about the swim, bike and run routes for the different distances. Very clear. Race started a few minutes late, which is not a surprise. They were a bit short of volunteers. There were a mighty pack of 25 of us doing the half. Yes, twenty five. It made for quite the 'mass' start. The course was sort of diamond shaped for the first lap. New goggles didn't leak a drop.

I settled in to a fairly strong and easy stroke. Breathing to one side, but occasionally every third stroke. I think I paced myself better, and was never really short of breath. It was a bit of an adventure going from the 2nd to 3rd buoy. It was right into the sun, and nobody could see anything. Back to the first buoy, out of the water, and around a shorter triangular course. I was out of the water in 40:18. I thought that was a bit slow, but a couple people said they thought they were slow too, so maybe the distance was a hair further than 1.9 K. Coming out of the water I noticed a crick in my back, sort of low mid back. Usually hanging from a chin up bar and stretching fixes that, but no opportunity. It impacted my breathing a little bit. Niggled me throughout the day.

We had to run over the soft sandy beach for about 100 m. I was a bit worried about getting out of the water since that's often where I've cramped my calves. Thrashed my feet around a little just before getting out of the water, and crouched for a few seconds stretching before I stood up. Supposedly there was wetsuit strippers for the half people, but I didn't see any. Linda said she had been counting yellow caps, and said that only about 10 of them were ahead of me. Certainly there were still lots of bikes on the half rack. Sat near my bike and pulled off my wetsuit myself. The body glide helped. Got it together in a mostly organized way, though I nearly forgot my helmet. Getting sand off wet feet, drying them, and getting socks on isn't much fun. We had to go up a small hill over a rough gravel path. I noticed a few people that had been thinking about clipping their shoes and running in socks changing their minds. Out of T1 in 7:16 (47:34 elapsed).

My goal for the bike was to keep my heart rate mid zone 3 (low 130's) and if possible maintain 28 kph over the fairly flat course. And YAHOO!! That is exactly what I did. I passed two people, and two people passed me. Not sure if they were half people or not, since there were several other races. I was really disappointed on my second lap. I'd been slowly reeling in another rider on the north leg, and nearly had them. But they turned left into the park. I checked the schedule later, and nobody should have been turning in about then, unless they were really, really slow. Like hours slow on the sprint. Linda later mentioned there was talk of people not taking the correct course.

There was hardly anyone near me for most of the ride. I didn't know what that meant, but carried on. Spent part of the time singing to myself. (I ride alone, tadum tadum, and you know when I ride alone, I prefer to be by myelf. No bitch bout drafting, and nobody farting ahead, just me and my buddy Estela, we got everything we need.) (plus lots more.)

I certainly wasn't lapped by the faster riders, that's for sure. I was hoping to be out of T2 before the half was won. I'll have to check the official results, but from something Linda said, I think I did that. I kept the ride smooth and strong, like dark chocolate dripping off the abs of a buff cutie. I got through 2 and 5/6 Cliff's bars during the ride, plus nearly all of two bottles of energy drink. Stopped once on the bike course for urgent fluid management.

Back into T2. Oddly enough, the bike rack was full again. I'm going to have to figure this out sometime. How can there be lots of bikes, half of them at least on the rack when I leave, only get passed twice, and have a full rack when I get back? Chatted with a guy I saw doing photography. He told me he got a great shot of me, so I'm looking forward to it. The water bottle with ice in it was still cold. Slurped back a Gu. Out and up the hill. There were 3 laps for the run. About the first half of it is a trail run. It's mostly well shaded and just as well, it was getting hot. Up and down smallish hills. Well, they seemed small the first lap. They got bigger. Then the course went onto gravel roads winding through the park. I got through the first lap at 4:49, for 55 min. That was a little bit slower than I hoped for, but I ran the whole lap, except for the aid stations. Slurped back another Gu at the beginning of the second lap.

I got part way through the second hilly part, and nearly tripped over a root. I had visions of them trying to get a big guy like me out of there, and resolved to be more careful. I was beginning to feel the heat, and my legs were getting tired. I started walking the hills, and ran most of the rest of the flats and gravel. I had a brief panic attack when I looked down and couldn't see my chip. WTF?? I had brief vision of the entire day being for nothing, with everyone pointing and laughing, to say nothing of the lost chip fee. Then I noticed the bulge in my sock, and was relieved. Nibbled half a banana at the aid station about half way through the run. Typically was drinking a cup of water, some of another, then pouring it on my head and shoulders.

Finshed the second lap, and was beginning to struggle. I think the second lap was about an hour. Walked more of the third, especially the hills. Chatted with a really nice volunteer, and discovered I was last, except for a couple DNF's. Sucked back another Gu there, and the last one at the second aid station. Stopped at a tap part way between the stations to rinse my head, hands and arms. I was so sticky from sunscreen and sweat I couldn't take it any more. Walked a good chunk of the last lap, running flat trail bits. Ran the last K or so on flat roads. I think the last lap was a bit over an hour.

The end was a bit disappointing. They had rolled up and put away the chip mat, but there was a guy there looking at his watch, and told me the time. It agreed pretty close with my stopwatch time. They did announce my name as the last finisher. I got what I think is a set of aero-bars as a prize, and a finisher medallion, though it's not as nice as Chinook or Canmore. My bike was the only one in transition, leaning against the fence, with my wetsuit draped over it.

Linda brought the bag, I stretched a bit. Well, a lot. Tried to click my back and was seeing stars for a second. Humped all the stuff back to the car. Went back to the hose and showerhead they have set up for the beach. Hosed off with ice cold water, and went into the nearby change room to put on shorts and T shirt. No need for a towel to dry off.

Back into Camrose. Dinner. Drove home. Showered!!! Heavenly. Rinsed out wetsuit, which was filthy! Checked Greg. Sub 10!! What a super race. Lets hope that's good for a Kona spot. Checked out a few other people as well. Wrote up own race report.

In spite of finishing totally last, I'm pretty pleased. Darn pleased, in fact. What went well:
Swim was a hair slower than I'd hoped, but in the ballpark. I felt strong and confident. It was more important this time to stay on top of heart rate and breathing, and avoid cramping the calves. There was that long walk across sand to think about. The bike leg was everything I had hoped for. 28 Kph for 3 hours and feeling good! This was a huge improvement from Chinook, which was 25.5 Kph average and felt knackered after. Estela was a champ, nice smooth ride. The nutrition plan appears to have worked. I like the Gu, though I have to remember to time it for coming up to an aid station so I can get some water fairly quickly after. Even though the run was slow, I still ran various portions throughout the race, and finished the last K running. On a tougher course, I got about the same time, with much less effort.

What didn't go so well:
I had been hoping for 2.5 hrs for the run, which was about the pace for Canmore, instead of 3:10. If anything, I was slightly slower than Chinook, assuming the distances are the same, which is a poor bet. This was my first time doing a run on a trail, and with lots of short hills. Mostly my training has been done on asphalt bike paths. I wasn't getting cadance numbers, and I'm not sure why. It seemed to be plugged in, but maybe the magnet moved or something. Doesn't really matter, I've got a pretty good idea what my rpm is and when it's time to shift.

I feel much better than I did after Chinook. MUCH better. I'm not going to go up the stairs two at a time, but it doesn't hurt. (Even Monday morning I'm feeling pretty good, tired but not hurting.) Part of the credit goes to this great vibrating chair attachment Linda got for me. The end of the race was a bit of a letdown, with most of the event packed away, and no burgers for me, but I can see they'd want to get packed up. I think it's a good end to my first season of triathlon. Looking forward to working with Greg over the next year to continue the improvement on the bike, and hoping to see some of that same improvement happen to the run.

Time summary
Swim 40:18 avg hr 131 bpm
T1 7:16 (47:34 elapsed)
Bike 3:02:32 (3:50:06 elapsed) Avg hr 132
T2 4:44 (3:54 elapsed)
Run 3:10:12 (7:05:00 elapsed) avg hr 136 bpm

Average heartate overall 134 bpm
peak heart rate 151
Total Cal 7628


  1. Hey Keith,

    Congratulations on your race! Great race account too, loved the details!


  2. I'm so proud of you my friend!! What an amazing first season. Lots of wonderful accomplishments and lots of lessons learned - which is the cool part of triathlon.

    Oh, and I burst out laughing about you trying to put the metal bit back in the fan - I know what you are talking about with the 'remote' o&g hotels...

    You did great out there - congratulations!

  3. dark chocolate dripping? LOL Anyways good race buddy, keep on improving. It's awesome to see/read

  4. Good for you Keith! You have raised the bar for yourself this year and have done very well!!!

  5. Awesome first year!!! We will continue to work on things and next year will be even better :)

  6. Way to go...a great year is in the bag ...onward and upward to year two and a bunch of more PB's and great tales....

  7. Good job Keith! What an amazing first year of tris you have had. Can't wait to see what is in store next!


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