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The Great White North Triathlon - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Stony Plain, Alberta
The Great White North Triathlon
25C / 77F
Total Time = 6h 04m 44s
Overall Rank = 421/673
Age Group = M40-49
Age Group Rank = 101/147
Pre-race routine:

Dropped off the Dirty Girl the night before at the race site. Was going to have a dinner with the Regina Gang, but started feeling stressed, so I went back to the hotel, had a salad, chicken, egg, bagel packed my gear while watching The Tour.

Mixed nutrition and put in fridge.

Transitions were in different locations so we needed to pack stuff in two special (provided bags - swim and run) I packed a backpack because I anticipated that I would have to work my own way home - see details later.

Got up at 4:30. Slept relatively well. Had one egg, some bagel, soymilk one small cup of coffee.
Chatted with some of the gang at the hotel, then piled into Jason's vehicle and drove down to the site.
Left at about 6 a.m. for 8 a.m. start. No pre-race meeting, that was on the Friday.
Found parking right at the lake site. Got out and started to set up T1. I put T2 bag (run) into the designated truck.

Dirty girl was dripping wet, as were all the other bikes. I had covered the Bento box, seat and aerobottle with bags...worked well. Although I had a new squeak in my pedal.

Two bathroom visits in the hotel. One at race site...felt like I should have gone again, but I had wet suit on by then. Must have peed 3 times in the suit. They don't call it a wet suit for nothing!

Event warmup:

Wandered around aimlessly for a while, got the wetsuit on and went for a 200m swim. Water was flat and calm. The morning was spectacular, albeit a little chilly.
No room for any other kind of shoes (remember T2 bag) Didn't feel like warming up in sandals.
Lots of people swimming around. Just go acclimatised. Suggested to George that he spit in his goggles (and rinse) they kept fogging up. More on George later.
Sludged out of the water (see below) and walked around to the start, listened to the anthem (for those about to tri, we salute Oh Canada!)
  • 42m 49s
  • 2000 meters
  • 02m 08s / 100 meters

I actually had fun with 673 bodies around me. Felt very comfortable and at home with this course.
I went into this swim with a lot of confidence. I felt strong. I started slowly. Tried to keep my HR down with the 673 other swimmers flailing around me.
Started in the centre - middle of the pack...the whole left side (where I normally start) was packed with people!
I had no problem. I tried drafting a few times, but people either kepts slowing down or bumping and stopping or going off course. I got annoyed. I must have just missed the "fast crowd". I was all by myself for the majority of the swim. I must have passed 20 people on the last 400 (that I saw) I just wound up my speed. I could see a huge wake beside and behind me. I must have been doing about a 1:30 pace.

I alternated between fast reps and steady gliding. last 400 I focused on gliding and the angle of my hand on entry.
I rounded the buoys at right angles - avoided the crowds - swimmers just stopped and waited around the bouys WTF? Couple of bumped heads I saw.
Lots of guys and gals touching and grabbing at me, it never bothered me once, other than it being annoying, so I swam aside or ahead.
My navigation was exceptional. Aimed for middle of lake buoys and beach -airborne zeppelin-shaped yellow balloon.

This was a great swim.
What would you do differently?:

Not much. Time was 10 minutes faster than I expected.
Maybe push a little harder at the start to get in with a faster group and try to get the drafting thing going.
Transition 1
  • 03m 9s

Wetsuit strippers. I was very efficient, but my left hamstring cramped...foreshadow! But I got the suit off and ran to my bike that was in a good spot from the beach. Sat down. Got sand and gooseshit out of my toes. Yuck! Did everything very methodically.
Made sure I didn't forget anything. Also had to place my stuff so that the "helpers" could pack and transport it all to T2 - I didn't want to lose anything, especially not my wetsuit!

Could have done this faster...but I like to focus on not forgetting anything.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. This was a good transition.
  • 2h 55m 22s
  • 90 kms
  • 30.79 km/hr

I did everything right on this bike course. I was more than ready for it. I had water (maybe not enough?) a four hour perpetuum bottle (split between two empty gatorade bottles and about 6 e-load pills. I didn't need or want anything else. I did notice I would burp after after every gulp of Perpetuum. (my watch was set for 15 minutes) I gulped at the beep. I also felt a little bloaty - I felt my stomach against my knees in the last 10 k.
I worked hard on this ride. I could have pushed harder, but I was thinking about the run.

Had to pee once...Waited for the turnaround and the porta-toilet was past the turnaround down a gravel road!!! I just held it then stopped and peed right off the highway. That took a about a minute - felt like an hour!
Had to pee again, but waited till I got out of T2.
I tried to pee on the bike. I really tried and squeezed, but it didn't work. I must be pee shy.
Gear changes were frequent and smooth. I stayed in the big chain ring for all but one climb. There were some trouble spots, especially around one bridge and it's two gaping expansion joints. There were Aerobottle sponges and bottles everywhere...I jumped the expansion joints.

My bike computer time had me at 2:50, so that gives a better indication of my time without T1 and T2 in there.
My top speed was 70.9...I've gone faster. The actual computer distance was 88.9, not 90km
What would you do differently?:

Take more e-load pills/salt. Maybe more water...Think about the bloating...
Push a little harder...I know I can.
Transition 2
  • 01m 10s

Had to find my rack...remember T2 was moved and my shoe bag was moved with it....I was quickly directed by volunteers. Dropped dirty girl off. Made a decision to leave my asthma inhaler. Took my hat and gel flask (Hammer) and took off. I should have taken some salt!
This was probably one of my fastest ever T2s. Very efficient. Sat down for the shoes.
What would you do differently?:

  • 2h 26m 35s
  • 21 kms
  • 06m 59s  min/km

Got out of the porta toilet. Felt good and ready. Ran about 300 m then both my quads locked up so tight that I thought I had broken something. I immediately stopped and tried to stretch...that's when my hamstring cramped up...
I almost started crying...half pain half thinking that I'm done - I won't be able to finish this.
Started walking...slowly. I couldn't stretch it out, it hurt too much. The pain subsided, I picked it up a bit and started to run. Managed about 2 k, passed the aid station and boom! happened again.
This was the pattern for the whole run. I tried to run up an incline and the pain got so bad I had to walk backwards.

I just struggled through it. Running until the pain would come and then walking.
Had a rock in my left shoe, but couldn't get it out. Stopped emptied my shoe, but it came back.
Paced some people along the way and that helped a little.
Never once looked at my watch. I was too depressed. I knew all the gains I made on the swim and bike were evaporating.
Had gel, coke, water and on the last two aid stations, cookie and gatorade - I was desperate!
John (Starcorp) passed me half way through the run and then on the return from the turnaround he yelled something about 6 hours and that motivated me when I was at my lowest. That was at about 18k. I picked it up there. And must have done about 2k, before the system shut down again. The pain was really unbearable.
Then as I finally got onto the town street (out of the park) and rounded the corner. I could see the finish line.
I did a little jump (like a polevaulter does before he starts his approach) and started running...I mean really running. Holy crap! (I even thought that to myself!) I must have been doing a 4 minute pace. I passed about 8 people.

When I got to the finish line. I was happy. But.
They put my medal on and took off the chip and asked me to move. I couldn't. Both my legs were completely cramped up. Everytime I moved I had searing pain from just above my kneecaps (quads). I finally managed to hobble away from the finish line and had a Margarita and met up with the others that had all passed me on the run...sigh.

This run almost killed me. Many times I thought, how the hell am I going to ever do Ironman.
But I wasn't tired. My muscles just didn't work.

What would you do differently?:

More salt. More salt and more salt. The signs were all there. Cramped calf on the wetsuit, cramped hand on the bike and then, well!

Run faster! If I had managed a 2:15 hour run that I am more than capable of, I would have had a kick-ass race...Mind you, I was thinking that I would finish in 6:15 overall, so I still rocked this race.
Post race
Warm down:

Limped around...looked for Godot.
Found the Regina Peeps. Tried to stretch. Had pretzels and Virgin Margaritas and walked around. Went indoors, out of the sun.
Spent 30 minutes taking care of George. George (5:42) (great cyclist and runner) just didn't drink enough. He was pale when I saw him. He seemed to be babbling. Nick, who rocked his race, was having his usual post race GI issues, but suggested I keep an eye on George. I found an Paramedic and he right away took George into the ambulance. Where he measured everything, including blood sugar.
He was a few minutes away from a hospital visit.
So I spent my cooldown in the ambulance.

Then, I suggested to Nick and Jason, that George should probably get the ride home. I was prepared (remember the backpack?) I packed everything and rode the 15 minutes or so back to the motel.
This actually helped my legs.
At the hotel I jumped into the pool, but it was too hot and the whirlpool jets were too feeble to make any decent difference.
I slept with compression socks.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Cramps...did you hear?
I was all ready to go for this. My mind was in the right place, my Cardio Vascular was great. My stupid quads just locked up!

Salt...I have to work on salt. Which is a surprise because I had plenty the week before and I was over hydrated. I actually stopped drinking a little the day before because I was peeing every 20 minutes!

Event comments:

Not much more to say.
Personal Best Half Iron distance race. My swimming rocked, my biking was solid...and so were my cramps.

This was a great race. Another learning experience.

There are some pictures of the race start here:

Last updated: 2009-06-22 12:00 AM
00:42:49 | 2000 meters | 02m 08s / 100meters
Age Group: 102/147
Overall: 456/673
Performance: Good
HR was always good (perceived) really pushed last 400 and sensed it was up. Never stressed at the start.
Suit: Orca
Course: Two laps, clockwise 400,200,400. last 400 into the sun. run through sludge onto beach and back into water. Okay. this was a beautiful beach Problem was Geese. The day before the race, there was goose crap all over the beach. They raked the beach that night, so it was clean. But just two steps into the water and we sank into sludge/sediment. It was really, really gross. The water itself was other wise very clear and although it has a few odd lake-like smells, was pretty clean. I'm waiting for the Hep C! Nice lake to swim in, however. Despite the getting in and out grossness. I notice a huge, (lifesize) plastic Bald Eagle decoy on the beach...I'm guessing it was to keep the birds away. It worked. there were no birds.
Start type: Wade Plus: Shot
Water temp: 10C / 50F Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 03:09
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
02:55:22 | 90 kms | 30.79 km/hr
Age Group: 84/147
Overall: 300/673
Performance: Good
Out and back - to new location, where T2 was located. They moved the racks. HR was never an issue, but I started off pretty slow. The race organizer was uptight about drafting, so I concentrated (when on the highway) on not redlining, but also getting ahead of any trouble from the speed demons.
Course: First 200m was a steep climb...Bike was in the right gear..almost got crashed into by two others who forgot about preselecting their gears. Got out of the park and found more uphill on the grid road and then onto the highway. All - or most - highway. Some had rumble strip. Two hills, some found them difficult, but most of us Regina folk thought they were manageable. They were valley hills like we were used to. Very technical course, I thought. Lots of rollers. Had to really work them the right way to get over the hills. Wind was very strong - 30k/hr? headwind for the last 35k. I passed so many people in that wind. They just were not used to it, like I am. How many full carbon, diskwheel/trispoke bikes did the Dirty Girl pass....hmmmm...5. But who is counting? Kept aero the whole way. Stood every now and again. Stood and accelerated on every corner (4 major once). My left hand cramped every time I did that (foreshadow?). There were draft cops everywhere and they would hang back and watch for violations. I kept my nose clean. Sometimes I had to ride way over to the side to avoid being in the "huge" draft box. A number of people DQd because of drafting or crossing the yellow line. There was a 1600m "lap of shame" for caught drafters that had to be run before the half mary! I liked this course. It suited my riding style. The hills didn't kill me and I had lots of zip to get through the wind and the rollers. I spun at 90 RP for the last 10 k. Didn't help. (foreshadow).
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 75
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:10
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
02:26:35 | 21 kms | 06m 59s  min/km
Age Group: 115/147
Overall: 515/673
Performance: Below average
Was breathing pretty hard and was focused on finding a bathroom. Didn't really have time to think. Ran out of transition, feeling pretty strong. Passed the "lap of shame" area. Found the toilet. Peed.
Course: Sort of a T shaped course. The "turnaround" seemed like it was way to far. Hot on the run. Well marked course Green line most of the way. Lots of volunteers, aid stations every 2 or 3 K. People out with hoses and sprinklers. Mostly nice course.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2009-07-07 4:32 PM

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Extreme Veteran
Land of living sighs
Subject: The Great White North Triathlon

2009-07-07 5:14 PM
in reply to: #2268487

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Lethbridge, Alberta
Bronze member
Subject: RE: The Great White North Triathlon
Good job getting it done, and still improving your best time for the distance too! That run sounds awful! Good luck getting it all sorted out for IMC. You'll really rock that one!
2009-07-07 6:33 PM
in reply to: #2268487

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Gold Coast Australia.
Subject: RE: The Great White North Triathlon
So, how come you didn't mention the water temp was 50F??? That's bloody freezing! No wonder your legs were cramping. It is totally amazing how you could still manage 2:26 run on locked quads! Congratulations! Awesome race and RR!
2009-07-07 8:17 PM
in reply to: #2268487

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Subject: RE: The Great White North Triathlon
Congrats on your race. I figured you would like the bike course. Too bad about the cramping - I'm impressed that you toughed out the run, and still got it done in 2:26.
2009-07-07 8:30 PM
in reply to: #2268487

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Subject: RE: The Great White North Triathlon

WOW... that was a solid race (and quads). I know that feeling, but you pushed through and still had a respectable "run". Do you think it was salt? Or could it have been the affects of swimming in frigid waters... the body does strange things to protect itself when it's cold. Could it have cut off blood supply a little to the legs during the swim, then you suffered for it later? (Just a thought... I don't have a medical degree or anything).

GREAT RACE Terry. You're learning a great deal and have become very strong. I really think you're worrying too much about IMC... you know what to expect... you've done it before. So... do the training and keep your wits about you and you will have a GREAT race.

Congrats on a great PR!

2009-07-07 10:09 PM
in reply to: #2268487

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Extreme Veteran
Land of living sighs
Subject: RE: The Great White North Triathlon
Thanks all. I don't think the water temp was a factor...I've swam in colder temps without issues. it's all a learning experience.

2009-07-08 9:47 AM
in reply to: #2268487

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Subject: RE: The Great White North Triathlon
Great race young fella!  Rejoice in your accomplishments and thank FW for allowing it all to happen! lol!
2009-07-09 9:49 PM
in reply to: #2268487

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Sous Mon Diadème
Gold member
Subject: RE: The Great White North Triathlon

Wow... a personal best despite such a tough run.  Congrats on pushing through it and finishing and recognizing that life is really just one big learning experience.

2009-07-10 11:32 AM
in reply to: #2268487

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A farming town in MN
Subject: RE: The Great White North Triathlon
Congrats on finishing a tough race...and with a PR at that!  I had a feeling you'd get pretty close to 6.  I'm always trying to keep up with you...

I think that after reading your peeing/cramping documentary, that you maybe had too much water and not enough salt.

I do have one edge on you...I have learned to pee on the bike, not that my race times would EVER justify it , but I've got to be able to say I learned to do SOMETHING before you did...

Great race and great practice for IM Oh Canada!

Edited by sparco 2009-07-10 11:35 AM
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