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Ironman 70.3 Muskoka - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Muskoka, Ontario
World Triathlon Corporation
19C / 66F
Total Time = 5h 41m 9s
Overall Rank = 217/825
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 41/121
Pre-race routine:

Redemption. That’s what I why I signed up for this race. This was my first HIM back in 2009, and I just wanted to finish and break 6 hours. In 2011 I went back with a plan of smashing my prior time – I finished 4 minutes faster after starting to walk 4km into the run course. I was very much crushed from that race because I felt I’d done everything right in preparing for it, and it all fell apart. 2012 was about setting things right.

Morning of the race I had the normal pre-race jitters. The weather was cool out, with a daytime high of only 19-20C, which would make for ideal racing conditions. I never have much of an appetite before racing but forced down some cereal and juice. Once I got to the race site I took a long time setting up transition area, but this is just how I work through making certain I have everything. Even still, I just about left all my nutrition in my bag, but luckily remembered it at the last minute.

I was one of the last people in transition, but going off in the third last wave meant that I didn’t need to rush getting down to the swim start which was a 10min walk. I walked down with my wife, and we chatted, and I basically tried to keep the race out of my mind for the last few minutes.
Event warmup:

Got down to the water and since each wave was 6min apart you got a reasonable amount of time to get in the water and loosen up a bit. I reckoned I didn’t need to swim too much, and once I felt warmed up I looked along the beach for my wife. As I guessed, she’d made it to the very front of the beach and I swam/ran over, gave her a kiss, and then headed back out. I seeded myself to the far right where you needed to float, while if you stayed to the left you would have a running start. I figured there would be less congestion in my position, and given it was the biggest wave of the day, I think that made sense.
  • 36m 57s
  • 1931 meters
  • 01m 55s / 100 meters

The horn went off and we were directly into the sun for the first few hundred meters. I knew this in advance so I’d brought tinted goggles which certainly helped. Congestion wasn’t bad at all, and as I looked to the left I could see it was a lot busier, and was happy with my position. There were two buoys on the way out and we turned right at the second one. It looked like the first one was actually offline a bit so I sighted off the second one. A lot of the pack came together at the first and second buoys and this was the most contact during the swim, but it wasn’t too bad. I tried to find some feet to swim off, but that simply didn’t happen. I kept close to the buoys even for the long straight shot down the lake, and found that someone kept tickling my feet every once in a while, so they enjoyed my draft for most of the swim.

The swim felt good and I focused on keeping my form as solid as possible, since I tend to get lazy in a wetsuit. I was picking up swimmers from the prior groups, and as we got to the final turn I realized that I had more people with me from the wave ahead, as opposed to from my own wave. Navigation had been good up to this point, but I drifted right on the way into the swim finish and needed to correct. That added a bit of time, but not too much.

Came out of the water feeling pretty good, headed over to the strippers to get my suit off and started the long run uphill to transition. It’s tough to go from being horizontal for almost 40min to having to charge up a hill for 400M.

What would you do differently?:

Nothing. This swim met my exact expectations.
Transition 1
  • 05m 38s

Got to transition, and struggled. Seems to have been my theme this year for transitions as I just waste time. I did take the time to put on socks, and then struggled for over a minute with arm warmers. I’m glad I had those for the first 20km, but after that they weren’t needed, and most people just ignored wearing them. Grabbed the bike and headed out.
What would you do differently?:

No armwarmers next time.
  • 3h 07m 28s
  • 94 kms
  • 30.09 km/hr

I had a set goal in mind for the bike – both a time and a power number. Started the ride with a high HR in the mid-160’s, but felt good and reckoned that it would drop down to a reasonable level once I was calmed down. My power numbers were certainly high at the beginning, but nothing crazy and it’s a very hilly start. I tried to remind myself to back things off a bit but I found I was passing a fair number of people and didn’t want to lose momentum. After 30min and my HR in the low 160’s I finally decided that I needed to back things off a bit. Power came down, and so did HR – although HR then went wonky, and ultimately disappeared (it somehow came back 90min later). I was getting into the fastest part of the course at this point and could allow the power to be a bit lower anyway. Made sure I was drinking water/Gatorade on a regular basis and taking in some gel from my flask every 30min. Legs felt good, and body felt good – except for one part of the male anatomy that was very uncomfortable and no matter how much I moved about, and readjusted, caused me a lot of discomfort for a couple of hours. Not sure why it happened on this ride, cause that’s not normal.

At 60km you pass the final aid station and know that the last section of the course is going to be tough. This is where the steepest hills kick in. I knew it and was ready, started the first climb at ~km 70 and came out of the saddle to stand…both quads seized. WTF!! I don’t know why, but I barely made it up that hill. When I sat to pedal uphill I was mostly fine, and when in aero I had no issues, but there are hills where I need to come out of the saddle and those were miserable as my legs locked up. I knew I’d survive the last part of the ride but was worried about the run. At this point I backed way off the power. I knew I was still riding well, and needed to do anything to save the quads. Not long after I also started to feel nauseous and hot, but again I don’t know why. I actually dry heaved twice but nothing was willing to come up.

About 8km from the finish you make the final real turn and climb a short hill. I shifted into the small chainring and promptly dropped the chain. Nuts, this is going to cost a few seconds. It actually cost me 12min. The chain got wedged between the frame and chainring and would not come out. I could hear everyone going by me, and I’m sitting on the side of the road completely stuck. Finally someone yelled to a couple of spectators to see if they could help. Initially no luck, but one of them got a screwdriver and I wedged it between the frame and chainring enough to get the chain out. Those guys saved my race, without them I was done.

I still wasn’t feeling great but at least I was mobile again, and limped over the last couple of hills and made my way into transition. When I downloaded my ride file later I could see that I rode a 2:56, and my goal had been a 2:55. So even though I wasn’t feeling great I had met expectations. Obviously this isn’t my official ride time, but for personal knowledge it’s good to know I hit my expectations.

Unfortunately, after the race I found I’d been assessed a 4min penalty (only 5 people got a penalty in the entire field). I thought this may have been for outside assistance, but the RD emailed me to indicate it was for drafting. The penalty doesn’t sit well with me, and thanks to Jason (Tri808) pulling up the Athlete Guide, I can see I should have been informed or shown a yellow card to indicate I had received a penalty. Also, I was bib 173, and one of the other penalties was given to bib 175 – perhaps a mix up? Ultimately, I may have been in the wrong during the race and deserved the penalty, and at this point I doubt anything will come about from my questions. But I have to ask, because racing within the rules is something I take seriously.

What would you do differently?:

Not sure. My ride time matched my expectations, but the bout of not feeling well and the quads seizing leaves me puzzled.
Transition 2
  • 03m 23s

T2 was sloooow. My wife was standing at the barrier cheering and yelling for me to move along, but she’d expected me to arrive almost 15min earlier and knew something was wrong. I told her about the chain and that I wasn’t feeling good, and then used one of the porta potties. At least I could pee, which I took as a good sign.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Just wasn't feeling good at this point.
  • 1h 43m 45s
  • 21.08 kms
  • 04m 55s  min/km

As I started the run, I was not very enthused. I didn’t feel well and for the first couple of km my glutes were really tight, the quads were a bit twingy, and I dry heaved again. As I passed the first aid station I grabbed some Pepsi and water, and started to feel a bit better. As I went through km 3-4 all I could think about was the fact that last year I was walking shortly after this point. I was starting to feel better and told myself, that I had only one goal in mind for this run course now. Don’t walk. I’d let myself walk through aid stations for a few seconds to grab drinks, but that was it.

I wasn’t running badly for the first few km, but did get passed by a couple of people who sort of stayed out in front of me almost begging me to catch them. The legs weren’t happy at this point, but they kept moving forward. By km 7/8 though I could feel my IT Band start to go. I knew that if it really went the day was done, and I would be forced to walk. At that point I decided I’d run as far as the legs would take me rather than trying to be conservative. By km 10 I realized that some of the runners ahead were starting to come back to me, not quickly but I was passing more and more people. Once we got to Fairy Trail the run became a mental battle because the small ups and downs were taking a toll. What I think really helped is that the few people who were around me were running, that motivated me to keep doing the same thing. I was still walking the aid stations grabbing drinks and gels, but running the rest of the time.

With about 3km to go the quads had had enough. They were okay on the flats and downhills, but I was trying to run with my glutes to get up hill. There are two steep hills in the last couple of km and I’d like to say I ran them but it was more of a death shuffle that was slightly faster than a walk. With about 700M to go there was a guy 100M ahead of me, and I had no interest in passing him, but was gaining on him. Then I looked at his age, crap, that’s my age, now I’ve got to run harder. So with that, I went by him looking as strong as I possibly could, going as fast as I possibly could, and hoped he had nothing left. I didn’t look over my shoulder until the final 200M and he wasn’t in sight. Zipped up the suit, made sure my number was visible and gave the finish line a little fist pump as I crossed over.

I’ve got to say, that this run is the one I’m most proud of. My body, and my mind, both wanted to quit running from the time I started the run course, but neither gave up. I know this is a bit on the mushy side, but I teared up right after because I didn’t think I had that run in me just a couple of hours earlier.

What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I ran the best I could after that bike ride.
Post race
Warm down:

I ended up in the Med Tent for a few minutes after the finish. I was a little wobbly on my legs and the volunteers kindly steered me that direction. I sat there for a few minutes with a drink and then told them I felt good enough to get moving again. Found my wife, and some friends, and tried to stretch out the legs a bit. The IT Band had enough and I limped for the next day and a half – but at least it held up for the run. They put on a nice spread in one of the banquet halls and I ate a healthy amount. Apart from the legs the rest of the body felt fine, even though it had gone through some tough patches during the race.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I had some very specific stretch goals in mind coming to this race. I wanted to take over 35min off my race time from the previous year. I officially beat it by 11min, but am very happy with the result given that I didn’t have that perfect day, but felt like I performed really well.

Goal Time ______Race Time_____Moving Time
Swim - :37 ______0:36:57
Bike – 2:55 _____3:07:28_______2:56
Run – 1:38 _____1:43:45

The run was really the only part of the race where I may have stretched my expectations, which makes me think I need to continue to get stronger on the bike to setup a better run.

Event comments:

Marc already did this in his RR, so I can’t be the first, but a huge thanks to the Fred D group, and BryanCD from purgatory. A lot of knowledgeable, helpful people, who have given me countless bits of advice and support, for which I am very thankful.

As soon as I finished I decided I’ve had enough of this race for a while. It really is a tough course and the run doesn’t seem to offer any real respite. I’m ready to try some different courses, and see how I perform. With that said, I just may be back at some point to try and chase that 5:15….

Last updated: 2012-05-17 12:00 AM
00:36:57 | 1931 meters | 01m 55s / 100meters
Age Group: 25/121
Overall: 213/825
Performance: Good
Suit: Nineteen Pipeline
Course: Funny shaped P.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Bad
Waves: Good Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 05:38
Performance: Bad
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
03:07:28 | 94 kms | 30.09 km/hr
Age Group: 48/121
Overall: 276/825
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: One big loop. Extra 4km of hills so it stays as just one loop. Very hily course, with the toughest part in the last 25km.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Bad Hills: Below average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:23
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Average
Jumping off bike Average
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Bad
01:43:45 | 21.08 kms | 04m 55s  min/km
Age Group: 15/121
Overall: 127/825
Performance: Good
Course: Ummm, some more hills.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
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: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2012-09-14 11:01 AM

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Subject: Ironman 70.3 Muskoka

2012-09-14 11:16 AM
in reply to: #4411453

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Muskoka

Awesome race!

Way to keep it going on the run.

Sorry about the dropped chain and I hope that penalty gets sorted out soon.

You rock!

2012-09-14 11:53 AM
in reply to: #4411453

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Muskoka

That is a great race.

Look back at your progress year of year and there is a lot to be proud of. The chain drop and penalty suck but that is a great run after a solid bike on a killer course.

I don't think people appreciate just how tough a course this is. And you keep on coming back for punishment :-)


2012-09-14 12:04 PM
in reply to: #4411453

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PEI, Canada
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Muskoka

Great race and RR Neil.  

The chain problem really sucks, it was one of my big fears in MT as I dropped mine several times this summer and even the day before the race!

You improved on all of your splits and set a big PR, just fantastic!  You'll do the same next time again!

2012-09-14 1:47 PM
in reply to: #4411453

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Muskoka

Great job Neil.  Really hard luck with the chain, but it seems like all that training you did resulted in the fitness you wanted to achieve for this race.  Your official time may not reflect that, but you should still celebrate your improvements.


2012-09-14 1:55 PM
in reply to: #4411453

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Payson, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Muskoka
Great mental race Neil.  You stuck with it and powered through.  Sucks about the chain though. 

2012-09-15 8:00 AM
in reply to: #4411793

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Extreme Veteran
Acton, Ontario
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Muskoka

Great race Neil! You are inspiring me to give Muskoka 70.3 another shot to go sub 5:00

Sounds like you really pushed through a number of problems, both mentally and physically, which is why this race should be considered a huge success!

2012-09-15 10:44 AM
in reply to: #4411453

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Norton Shores, MI
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Muskoka
Solid race Neil!  The mechanical is out of your control and nothing you could have done about it.  You still had a solid bike and followed it with a strong run.  Nice job on a tough course!
2012-09-15 10:51 AM
in reply to: #4411453

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