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Ironman 70.3 Calgary - Triathlon


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Calgary, Alberta
Canada
Rocky Mountain Triathlon Company
75F / 24C
Sunny
Total Time = 5h 06m 27s
Overall Rank = 179/897
Age Group = 45-49W
Age Group Rank = 5/55
Pre-race routine:

Up at 4 AM; had the usual pre-race breakfast (four granola bars, coffee); got stuff together and drove to parking near host hotel about a 15 minute walk from the start. There was supposed to be a shuttle to the start but didn't see one by 5:40 so just walked over. Set up transition and stood in LONG porte-potty line. Put on wetsuit, commenced warmup with about fifteen minutes till start.
Event warmup:

About five minutes of jogging on "beach" (sand by lake); into water, maybe two minutes of swimming before they called us out for the men's start.
Swim
  • 35m 29s
  • 1900 meters
  • 01m 52s / 100 meters
Comments:

I just hated this swim from the get-go. With the one-lap course two years ago, it was helpful to keep a little to the outside and swim a little extra distance for the clear water. The two-lap course was much more crowded and there were just people everywhere--to the inside, the outside, and even running smack into the buoys. I spent the entire race jostled and sandwiched and trying to pass people, especially men. To top things off, started feeling distinctly unwell (sluggish, nauseous) about 500m in. Not really sure why. Pre-race nutrition not sitting well, turbulent water, PMS?
What would you do differently?:

My coach says I should just swim over/through the slow people, especially guys.
Transition 1
  • 04m 15s
Comments:

There were wetsuit strippers and I used them as my hands were cold. Got the suit off and ran okay to my spot. Once there I was a bit slow and clumsy due to cold hands and nausea/vertigo. I had put out gloves and was trying to put them on, then it occurred to me that it would be really hard to get nutrition that way, so I took them off again and put them in the bag with the wetsuit. Waste of time. Also had trouble fastening helmet as my hands were freezing. It took several tries; the woman next to me was having the same problem. We just stood there staring at each other and trying to get our hands to function!
What would you do differently?:

Just forget about the gloves!
Bike
  • 2h 34m 52s
  • 54.5 miles
  • 21.11 mile/hr
Comments:

BTW course is short by about 1 to 1.5 miles, according to the race director. My Garmin had it at 53.5 miles, but it tends to consistently lose 500-800m every 30 km and pretty much is always 1 to 1.5 miles short of "official" distances and other people's Garmins for the HIM distance. So calling this 54.5 miles, although the official results say 90 km. Possibly closer to 55 miles. Correcting for the short course, this was equivalent to about a 2:39 split. That would be my best HIM bike split by about nine minutes.
What would you do differently?:

Oddly, I think I needed to push the pace/power a little harder going out with the tailwind. NP was 149; I have been in the low to mid 150's and survived to do an okay run. I think I coasted a bit too much on the way out, despite the crazy-fast split. I think I handled the ride back well, physically and mentally. Saw a lot of athletes really struggling in both respects; I just tried to keep power steady and keep my head down to maximize aero-ness.That really mattered today! Probably need to work on keeping a higher cadence/easier gear when going uphill into the headwinds.


Transition 2
  • 01m 57s
Comments:

This time I knew where the bike course ended and was able to gear down, slow down, get my shoes off, and get off without coming to a screeching halt at the dismount line! But as soon as I got off the bike, I got serious cramps in both adductors--felt like I'd been riding rough on a horse all morning. Tried my utmost to proceed through T2 in some semblance of a running motion; it was difficult!
What would you do differently?:

Try to get to the bottom of why I cramp off the bike. It has happened in 4 of the 10 HIM I've done, as well as some shorter races. The common denominators seem to be hard effort on the bike and, in most cases, cool conditions on the swim and early in the bike leg. There may also be some bike fit/position issues contributing to the problem.
Run
  • 1h 49m 56s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 23s  min/mile
Comments:

The cramps really held me back until about five miles. Told myself not to panic, just keep moving and they would gradually work themselves out (they usually do) but it took longer than usual. I was frustrated because my legs otherwise felt good (quads, glutes, hamstrings) and I felt really energetic. But the cramps made it impossible for me to do my normal stride--I had to use really short, choppy steps to keep moving. Stopped 2 or 3 times to stretch for about 5-10 seconds each and that seemed to help a bit. The cramps were "cramping my style" so much I decided it was worth it. They finally went away by about five miles, and I tried to pick up the pace as much as possible and work my way through the people in front of me. No further issues until about 1/4 mile from the end, when the usual lockdown shin and calf cramps started. I just said, "Seriously?!" to my legs and waddled on to the finish.

It wasn't my best run split--about 3 minutes slower than two years ago here (when the run course was slightly easier as T2 was elsewhere and there was less descent/climb to/from the valley path), but considering that my last two HIM have been over two hours owing to injury and then lack of run fitness after layoff from said injury, I'll take it. Especially negative splits.
What would you do differently?:

Get to the bottom of what causes this cramping. My coach and I have looked at a lot of things without much success. My gut feeling is that it has to do with pushing the bike really hard, plus sometimes it is aggravated by muscle tightness due to cold water and/or cold weather early on the bike.
Post race
Warm down:

Really none. I pretty much just staggered over the line and dragged my cramping carcass to the post-race food and massage tent. Didn't feel that bad heat or body-wise but there was absolutely nothing left in my legs. Ended up walking quite a bit as the shuttle never materialized (again) and we had to walk (very slowly) about 3/4 mile back to transition and another 3/4 mile back to the car.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Crowded conditions, not dealing well with them, and general feeling of malaise on the swim. Not OWS panic--I just (literally) was feeling a bit sick.

Probably not pushing hard enough with the tailwind on the way out. This may also be a function of my size--at 117 pounds, I probably just don't gain the momentum that a heavier athlete might!

Cramping off the bike. I think without it my run could easily have been 3-5 minutes faster. Grrr.... Need to take a closer look at bike fit/position as well as cadence on the bike when riding uphill and/or into the wind.

Event comments:

This race is very well organized; officials, volunteers, locals, etc.are almost uniformly friendly,enthusiastic, and helpful. My only real complaint is the swim course--the change to a two-lap course and making all the women start after all the men. I really didn't feel like I was swimming, just trying to punch/slither my way through an endless stream of bodies. Like salmon spawning or something. Several other women made the same comment, and we let the RD know our displeasure with this. I think they should go back to the one-lap course, and use self-seeded wave starts.

The new bike course was probably faster and seemed at least as challenging as the previous one. Not quite as scenic, and returning into a strong headwind plus a net uphill was physically and mentally tough. Roads were very rough in sections and there were LOTS of mechanicals. If doing this course, bring study tubes and tires. Disc wheels might be a bad idea for lighter riders due to strong crosswinds, both natural ones and from passing trucks, on some sections.

The run was pleasant, if a bit exposed. I would happily do this race again, but would probably fly up and rent a car. It's a beautiful drive from our home in the Boise area but tons of fires and road repaving en route made the 2-day trip each way an arduous one!


Profile Album


Last updated: 2018-08-01 12:00 AM
Swimming
00:35:29 | 1900 meters | 01m 52s / 100meters
Age Group: 5/55
Overall: 141/897
Performance: Below average
I can't find it now; it was on the tracker. Considering the run between the two laps, roughly equal splits for each; fairly even pacing.
Suit: ProMotion Full Suit
Course: Course was changed in last days before the race from the one-lap loop in the past (which was short by about 150m meters) to a two-loop course with a short beach run in between. All women (I think--one wonders about a few women who did 27:XX and were faster than all but a few men!) started in the third wave and behind all the men. Two triangular shaped loops of a small lake in a park. This was done for "safety" and so the swim could be of standard distance.
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 68F / 20C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
T1
Time: 04:15
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
No
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Good
Biking
02:34:52 | 54.5 miles | 21.11 mile/hr
Age Group: 9/55
Overall: 311/897
Performance: Good
The splits are nutty due to very strong tailwind (going out) and headwind (coming back). It was also a net downhill out and net uphill back--nothing dramatic but some long, slow descents/climbs and false flats. Seriously, splits as follows: First half: 1:08:25 Second half: 1:26:27 And according to SportsStats, my split was much more competitive going back. Guessing this has to do with being really light--just not much momentum on the way out. I hit 40 km in 1:02:40. Seriously!
Wind: Strong
Course: Basically out and back on a provincial highway. Approximately 12 km loop at the far end on very rough township roads; otherwise the surface was mostly okay. Traffic not stopped; sometimes one had to cross a rumble strip and go out into the traffic lane to pass. (Seems to be a Canadian tradition?)
Road: Rough  Cadence: 80
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Average Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
T2
Time: 01:57
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
Running
01:49:56 | 13.1 miles | 08m 23s  min/mile
Age Group: 3/55
Overall: 152/897
Performance: Average
5:14 pace going out (to turnaround at 9.8 km) 5:07/km pace coming back (to finish at 21.1 km) Even considering that the big climb on the course was on the way back. Probably close to 5 minutes a km for the flat part of the return leg.
Course: Out through a residential neighborhood and over an overpass, several more blocks and then onto a running/walking path behind a residential area. Steep, long downhill (over 1 km) at about 5 and back up at16 km into the race. The path descended a ridge into a deep valley and then followed a creek; over some small bridges, through wooded areas and open grassy areas to the turnaround. Literally "over the river and through the woods". Pleasant but minimal shade most of the time. Temps climbed to low 80's but I was fine with that.
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
Evaluation
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

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2018-08-01 9:34 PM

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Master
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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: Ironman 70.3 Calgary


2018-08-02 4:49 AM
in reply to: #5247328

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143
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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Calgary
Great report and even though you had some tough spots in the race you did great and top 5 in your AG is very impressive. I know it wasn't the result you wanted but well done anyway!
2018-08-02 10:45 AM
in reply to: tomsimper

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Member
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Simsbury, Connecticut
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Calgary
Great job - crazy fast

FYI in your bike section you said maybe you should have pushed harder at the start - and then in the run you said maybe pushing hard on the bike caused your cramps. Just worth pointing out - maybe this is a clue to figuring stuff out
2018-08-02 11:33 AM
in reply to: mtnbikerchk

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Master
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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Calgary
Well.....I suck as a biker, relative to the other two legs. It is pretty common for me to be 10 minutes or more back of the top women in my AG on the bike. (In this case, 18 minutes back--she was a former pro.)

Not pushing hard on the bike is kind of not an option. My run (and swim, unless water conditions are really rough) just isn't outstanding enough, at least with current fitness, to make up more than 10 minutes or so on the women I compete with for podium, Worlds qualifying, etc. In my first 4-5 races, I didn't cramp on the run, but my bike was also 30 minutes or more slower than it is now. (My first HIM was, I think, a 3:23 bike split?!) Even with the cramping, my runs have usually been within 5-6 minutes of where they were back then.

Collateral damage might have been lower "pushing" downhill with a tailwind. I do realize that I have yet to find the perfect balance of effort on bike and run that works for me.
2018-08-05 6:44 AM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Master
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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Calgary

Great job Karen. It sounds like the cold may be playing a part in the cramping, but I'm not even an internet doctor, so what do I know.  I hope you keep on working on it though, because you are an awesome racer!

2018-08-05 3:48 PM
in reply to: cdban66

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Master
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50002000500100100252525
Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Calgary
Yep, I have a very, very long history of cramping in cold weather/water, from my earliest run and swim days. It's not just a matter of being skinny or living in the tropics. My dad was a big guy and had the same issues. We are just cold-blooded creatures. It's one reason I picked IM Malaysia! The idea of being cold all day....just makes me sick!

The tailwind going out on the bike made it difficult to work hard enough to get warm--I ran out of gears and felt like I was maxed out on cadence--flying along at about 26 mph, getting passed left and right by heavier people and freezing! I think I would have done better with the headwind on the way out!


2018-08-07 9:48 AM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Champion
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Gold member
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Calgary
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