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Ironman 70.3 Calgary - Triathlon

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Calgary, Alberta
Rocky Mountain Triathlon Company
65F / 18C
Total Time = 5h 16m 42s
Overall Rank = 199/926
Age Group = 45-49W
Age Group Rank = 2/39
Pre-race routine:

Got up at about 3:45 AM; got dressed; had breakfast (four granola bars and coffee); drove to race HQ for shuttle to swim start. (It was a point to point course.)
Event warmup:

Not much of one as it was too cold (51F) for me to get in the water much before the start without chilling/cramping. Although in retrospect, maybe I should have. Might have been okay in the full wetsuit. It was not quite sunrise until a few minutes before the start, and I was really cold. Jumping around and dancing on the "beach" to the pre-race music in an effort to stay warm!
  • 32m 59s
  • 1800 meters
  • 01m 50s / 100 meters

I had a hard time getting my breathing into a rhythm at the start, maybe due to cold water and lack of warmup. Felt like I was sucking air, and then I got a bit nauseous. Not a panic issue--more like asthma. The same thing often happens in poorly ventilated pools or when it's polluted. I decided to swim to the outside of the scrum (closer to shore) so I could stay out of traffic and get my breathing into a good rhythm. Felt better by halfway and tried to rejoin the flow. Sometimes hard to sight due to rising sun.

It was weird--I didn't think I had a good swim, but I actually placed well both overall (better than run) and in my AG (2nd, just a few seconds back of 1st).
What would you do differently?:

Do more swim warmup. My new wetsuit is warmer, and I think I would have been okay with a short warmup swim, even though the air temps were low and water wasn't very warm either. Maybe just swim for a few minutes and then tread water until the start.
Transition 1
  • 04m 4s

Stupid transition issue. I did a good job of quickly getting my caps (neoprene and race cap) and goggles off and unzipping the suit. There were strippers and I decided to use them to pull off the arms and legs as my hands were pretty cold. I got to my bike quickly and put my wetsuit into what I thought was my bag....only to discover a Garmin bike computer at the bottom. It wasn't my bag. Somehow the bag from the athlete three bikes down had blown into my space, and my bag was out in the lane between two rows of bikes. Had to find my bag and re-bag my wetsuit, cap, and goggles. Grrr.... Also not possible to run bike out of T1 owing to narrow exit gate--we had to line up and walk.
What would you do differently?:

Check the number on the bag before putting it in!
  • 2h 49m 52s
  • 56 miles
  • 19.78 mile/hr

I worked this part really, really hard. Despite the difficulties of the course, I tried to keep a steady power in the 150-160 range and I succeeded in that (average power = 155, normalized - 159). Tried to keep pushing on uphills, downhills, and flats, and stay out of trouble with both car and bike traffic.

The race literature and results say the course was the standard 90 km and other athletes said they basically had that, but my Garmin showed 87.5 km (about 54.5 miles). Not sure why. It was consistently slightly off--by half a mile at 30 km and then a mile at 60 km. Gonna call it a GPS issue! This contributed to my T2 snafu (below) and possibly to troubles on the run.
What would you do differently?:

It really would have been helpful to preview the course in advance (I wasn't able to, owing to logistical issues). I actually was riding a bike course and going through a T2 that I never saw until I raced it. In particular,, make sure I know when the bike leg is about to end. My Garmin said I still had 2.5 km to go, so figured we still had to ride a loop of the park, and all of a sudden officials were yelling at me to slow down and the dismount line was right there. I ended up only having time to get one foot out of my shoes!
Transition 2
  • 02m 37s

As mentioned above, I didn't realize I was almost done with the bike till I was practically at the dismount line, so I didn't do what I usually do in the last mile or so of the bike--ease off a bit, go to an easier gear, get my feet out of my shoes with plenty of time to spare. Instead I had to come to a screaming stop and get off with one shoe on my foot and one on my pedal. My bike shoes are really hard to run in, so I stopped just past the dismount line (off to the side) to take the other shoe off. Other than that, a fairly good T2 for me. I did have some issues with cramping, so my run out was not very fast.
What would you do differently?: more attention to my surroundings than my Garmin?
  • 1h 47m 10s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 11s  min/mile

I cramped quite nastily off the bike (glute/hamstring attachment area plus adductors), maybe due to my abrupt end to the ride, plus probably using too high a gear uphill and into the wind. Felt very wobbly and was afraid I might not be able to finish, or at least might have to walk, but the cramp gradually resolved. It took 5-6 km before I could get to my normal stride, which was annoying. Ran well between about 6 and 16 km. Then I cramped again (calves and whatever muscle runs along the sides of your shins) just after going up the last hill. That never resolved and got progressively worse. By the finish, I was pretty much waddling. It was frustrating as I simply couldn't run faster since I couldn't push off my toes--muscles were totally locked up. Just kind of jogged/waddled to finish the last 4 km.
What would you do differently?:

I think the run issues were mostly due to muscle fatigue from pushing too high a gear on the bike, and not backing off effort at the end of the bike. So pay more attention to proper gearing and transitioning to the run. Also, do more of my long runs on pavement. I have been doing most of my running on trails this summer. I tend to run on the balls of my feet (and on my toes uphill) and that can make long runs on pavement fatiguing when I'm not used to it.
Post race
Warm down:

None, really. I had to walk around quite a bit to retrieve my stuff and get food and beverages for myself and Mom. Checked the results and found I was second in my AG, so had to wait about 3 1/2 hours for awards. Tried to alternate between walking around a bit and putting my feet up, and keep replacing fluids and carbs. I really hurt after this one--it was worse than any HIM I've done, with the possible exception of my first, in terms of how trashed my legs felt. About average by Day 2, feel fine today (Day 3)--though I haven't tried to run yet!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

*Lack of swim warmup.

*T1 mistake with wetsuit bag.

*Poor understanding of bike course. Some of this is my fault and some the organizers'. It wasn't possible for me to preview it for a variety of reasons, and I think I misunderstood some of the info on the website and at the briefing. Total altitude gain was MUCH more than I thought. It was not revealed until someone asked at the briefing that we would be racing on the highway shoulder with traffic in progress. I also thought we had to ride an extra loop at the finish and we didn't--that was the RUN finish!

*Tougher conditions than I had trained for or expected on the bike. Probably improper gearing on hills due to lack of experience with hilly courses on the tri bike.

*Cramping on the run--probably due to the bike issues.

Event comments:

If I had to summarize this race in one word, it would be HARD! The swim is okay (though crowded), and the run is pleasant and of average difficulty, but it is one humdinger of a bike course. The scenery on the bike course is beautiful, with inspiring views of the Rockies, but the so-called "rolling" course consists of a seemingly endless series of pretty substantial hills on the way out, into a strong headwind. Coming back is much faster owing to a net descent and (sometimes) tailwinds. But it's a point to point course with a large net elevation gain (over 3600 feet). It's not the best place to go after one's best bike split, which for some reason I'd decided to do! Racing on a narrow shoulder with traffic, sometimes heavy, just a foot or so away, particularly with the rumble strip, was also really nerve-wracking. I'd recommend that anyone thinking of doing this race have a good comfort level with riding hilly courses in traffic.

Despite the difficulties (and the fact that I actually signed up for this race by mistake, believing it was a late qualifier for 2016 Worlds, when in fact it's an early qualifier for 2017, which I'm not interested in attending owing to the location), this race was really useful for me as a confidence builder. It helped me to see that my win and Worlds qualification at IM Vietnam wasn't some kind of fluke. It was also fun for Mom to experience a bigger IM brand event as a spectator. I was glad that she was able to cheer me on and see me make it onto the podium of a big event.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2016-07-27 12:00 AM
00:32:59 | 1800 meters | 01m 50s / 100meters
Age Group: 2/39
Overall: 175/926
Performance: Average
According to the RD, the swim course was 150m short. However, I probably swam a little more than that as I was kind of to the outside of the shortest point between buoys. I don't swim with a Garmin, so not sure exactly how far I swam--probably somewhere in the 1800m range.
Suit: ProMotion Full Suit
Course: One lap of a small lake in a gated residential community. The lake was so small that the course basically consisted of paralleling the shore all the way around.
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 20C / 68F Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Below average Drafting: Below average
Waves: Good Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Good
Time: 04:04
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
02:49:52 | 56 miles | 19.78 mile/hr
Age Group: 8/39
Overall: 308/926
Performance: Good
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: Ugh. Net uphill out to Bragg Creek, net downhill back toward T2 at North Glenmore Park. This was a point to point course, with a total uphill of 5279 feet and total descent of 1632 feet. It was much harder than what I had understood from the course literature and video. (The description claimed 300m of elevation gain, which would be about 1200 feet, not 5000+! Maybe they mean difference between start and finish elevation, not total ascent vs. descent) To top it off, it was very windy, and all but the first/last kilometer or so were on the shoulder of a provincial highway with traffic, heavy at times, not stopped while the race was in progress. I have never experienced that in a race. Most of the time, there was a rumble strip between the shoulder and the traffic lane; one had to go out onto the rumble strip (sometimes even in the traffic lane) to pass. It was really nerve-wracking!
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 79
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Average Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:37
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Bad
Jumping off bike Bad
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:47:10 | 13.1 miles | 08m 11s  min/mile
Age Group: 1/39
Overall: 199/926
Performance: Average
Slightly over 5 minutes/km for the first 5-6 km; slightly under that for the next 10-11 km; closer to 5:30 or 5:40 for the final 4 km. I cramped quite badly at the beginning and end of the run leg; the middle went well.
Course: Approximately 5-6 km loop of the the area near T2 and the finish in North Glenmore Park; down a steep hill (about 300-400m) to multi-use trail along a lake through some woods to the turnaround at halfway, back along the same path. Back up the hill; about 4+ km loop back to the finish. Some small hills but mainly flat except for the steep hill between 5-6 and 16-17 km.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %?
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
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] 4

2016-07-27 10:42 PM

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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: Ironman 70.3 Calgary

2016-07-28 8:49 AM
in reply to: #5192948

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Falls Church, Virginia
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Calgary
Big congrats! That bike course sounds really tough, and you put it together well. As always, you have excellent race day headspace.
2016-07-28 9:10 AM
in reply to: #5192948

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Overland Park, KS
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Calgary
Amazing performance that's all I've got to say. Well done young lady!
2016-07-28 9:25 AM
in reply to: reecealan

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Silver member
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Calgary

Wow! You did great dealing with all of those "curves". Good job.

PS. that bike course with traffic and rumble strips would have scared me stupid!

2016-07-28 9:26 AM
in reply to: reecealan

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Silver member
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Calgary

Wow! You did great dealing with all of those "curves". Good job.

PS. that bike course with traffic and rumble strips would have scared me stupid!

2016-07-28 10:07 AM
in reply to: #5192948

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Aledo, Texas
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Calgary

Great read, and great race. Congrats!

2016-07-28 2:06 PM
in reply to: #5192948

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Calgary

Wow, big congrats on a great result, 2nd AG!  You toughed through the challenges put before you on the swim and bike and with dealing with the transition bag and cramps, pushing onward and not letting any of those things ruin your day.  And yeah, your qualifications are not a fluke, you rock!

2016-07-28 4:53 PM
in reply to: #5192948

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Extreme Veteran
Langley, BC, 'Wet Coast' Canada
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Calgary
Great job on the race in Calgary, and on your report. Podium !!
2016-07-28 6:56 PM
in reply to: triosaurus

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Calgary

Congrats on a great race in tough conditions!  Glad your mother was able to enjoy it with you.

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