Edmonton ITU 2012

Yesterday I completed my first Olympic Distance triathlon at the Edmonton ITU race. We were also blessed/cursed with the craziest heat I’ve experienced in the 2 years I’ve lived in Edmonton. Overall I was pretty happy with how I did. When I made predictions back in April I was actually pretty accurate in terms of guessing overall time. I was hoping to do 2:27:00 in total and ended up at 2:29:04. I think if the heat would have been a bit more reasonable at something less than 33 degrees with the Humidex, I could have beaten my goal time. That being said, I struggled a bit more than I should have on the run.

PL Bib Name Swim Rnk T1 Rnk Bike Rnk T2 Rnk Run Rnk Time Diff
7 215 Derek Dowling 0:31:41.8 (11) 0:02:21.8 (9) 1:06:44.4 (8) 0:01:19.9 (11) 0:46:56.5 (7) 2:29:04.6 +29:44.5

Swim 1.5km

Goal: 2:13/100m x 1500m = 33:15

Actual:   2:07/100m x 1500m = 31:41

As you can see from predicted time versus what I actually swam, I’ve put in a lot of speed work since April and have managed to drop my CSS(Critical Swim Speed) down from 2:13 to 2:07. Another important factor to consider is that this was my first open water swim and I did a fair amount of zig-zagging. So I suspect that my CSS is actually a lot closer to 2:00/100m.

Considering I couldn’t swim more than half a length in August of last year, I am super stoked on how far I have come. The next big step is to keep making good progress without injuring myself before Apple Triathlon in Kelowna, where hopefully, with a wetsuit, I’ll be able to crack 2:00/100m CSS.

The swim went well. With only about 40ish people in my heat, the start wasn’t nearly as crowded as some of the horror stories I’ve heard. Maybe if I was quick enough to stay in the pack, then things would have been a bit more interesting. I seeded myself at the back of the pack knowing I wouldn’t be able to keep up so rather than being swam over I could maybe do a bit of drafting and have a good first racing experience. After the gun went off, I sprinted hard and managed to stick with the pack for about 200m’s until they started to pull away and I geared down to what I figured race pace should feel like for 1500m. My sighting was actually pretty good. I didn’t end up to far off course at any point throughout the two laps however there were a couple of times where I did some small zig-zags. I tried bi-lateral breathing a couple of times but really didn’t start to feel comfortable doing it until about 1100m into the race. In the future I really need to work on this as it helps regulate my breathing and stops myself from putting to much strain on either of my arms and feels a lot more rhythmical and smooth than single side breathing. Another thing that I really noticed near the end of the race was that because I was trying to sight often, my head position was looking a lot more forward than I normally do in the pool. I believe this also caused my legs to drop a bit in the water making me less streamlined. Once I become comfortable and better at sighting, both of these problems will be alleviated. Having a wetsuit would also help, but I do not want to be reliant on that when it comes to being good in open-water swims. The start of the second lap was pretty demoralizing, I got out of the water to do the beach run and really couldn’t see any of the pack because they were so far ahead. From about 750m-1050m I was really feeling pretty rough. But then when I hit the final turn around bouys I really started to hammer knowing the quicker I finished, the quicker I could be done swimming. I wish I could grab some heart-rate data because it’d be interesting to figure out just how hard I’m working in the water. I realize its a bit of a shock going from completely non-weight bearing to sprinting into T1, but I’m guessing my HR was definitely over 170bpm.

Bike 40km 4 x Emily Murphy -> Sask Dr -> Down Groat Road -> Up Groat Road North -> Down Groat Road -> Turn Around in Hawrelak

Goal: 40km/35km/h =1:09:00

Actual: 1:06:44 = 35.96km/h

I won’t go into huge detail in the bike. I felt fairly strong as I’ve devoted most of my summer training up until now to Biking. I didn’t really know how hard to go and was a bit scared I’d blow up on the run if I really hammered. A warning sign for how much power I’m using comes when my glutes start to get sore on the bike. It happened in the Devon Crit race and it happened again yesterday. I was somewhat surprised to see that I still got beat by 2-4 minutes by the fast guys in my AG, but I think once I get my swim faster and more economical I will feel much better getting onto the bike as opposed to dizzy and gassed which will allow me to produce more competitive times. I also need to produce a more consistent effort. As I’ve seen from reports by Stefan and Josh, sitting at threshold wattage is much more valuable then going into the red zone on climbs and areas where you feel like you should be pushing hard. I did that a couple of times and worked harder than I should have on false flats which hurt me a bit on the climbs and in other areas. Overall I was quite happy with the bike.

Run 10km

Goal: 4:10min/km x 10km = 41:40

Actual: 46:56 = 4:42min/km

The run was nothing but nasty. On the bike, its hard work, but doing 50km/h every 5 minutes really cools you down. On the run, no such luck doing only about 12km/h. I felt  good going into t2. I nailed my first ever flying dismount and was pretty stoked about that. My transition was okay, but I really should have put on socks. It would have been worth it not feeling all of the blisters that were developing at 5k’s into the run. I started the first kilometre pretty strong and was running close to 4min/km which would have been okay had it not been 33 degrees out. My swim also came back to haunt me again. When I really start working hard in the water, I have a tendency to start swallowing air. That mixed with how much water I had drank throughout the previous days and in the morning meant I was feeling super bloated and and really had to go to the bathroom. This got worse and worse as the run continued to which the point where this mixed with the heat was the limiting factor in my speed. I gradually got slower and slower until I hit about 4:45/km which I was able to hold. I was able to dig down and whipped out a pretty fast last km which I am guessing was around 4:00 minutes. I wasn’t really that happy with my run, but I learned a bunch in my first ever Olympic distance race. I think I drank a bit too much during the bike or atleast should have done more of the drinking earlier on in that portion. I drank almost 2 full bottles or 1.5L’s while I think I should have kept it closer to 1L. I believe this would have helped with the bloated feeling. Running more would also help, but I plan to address this come fall September.Believe it or not I have yet to uploaded my Strava results and will add those to the post as soon as I put them up. I finished ITU as the fastest of the slow people and qualified pretty much by default for the London Age Group National Championships for 2013. That being said I don’t plan on going to get my ass kicked by guys who have been doing this since they were 12. Maybe in a couple of years once I start getting stronger I’ll think about it. In the mean time I have two weeks “off” to give the engine a bit of the break. Still planning on riding twice a week, swimming twice a week, and running once the arch pain I developed yesterday goes down.

Advertisements

Fast Trax 30km Trail Race Report

On this most recent Saturday morning I completed my first ever trail race. The 30k distance, which I competed in, was the smallest distance with the other choices being Ultra Races at 50km, 80km, and 100km distances. The 30k was more than enough considering I’ve only ever done one other half-marathon back in February and hadn’t really devoted a lot of distance work and time to preparing for this race which I signed up for on a whim back in March.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from myself in the race. I think the largest ran I’d done before this was back in February at about 23km and was at a really slow pace. The other factor was that I’d never completed a trail race before so running with a ton of elevation change was not something I was used too. I also hadn’t really devoted a whole lot of training for this race. Since the summer has started I’ve been consistently doing long runs on Monday nights of about 18-20km’s with lots of trails and maintaining an average pace of about 5:00min/km and then trying to do at least one other 10km run during the weeks at closer to my 10k race pace. For that reason I assumed that the max cut off for my day being a failure was running anything over 3 hours (6:00min/km pace) and set my top end goal for 2 hours and 30 minutes(5:00min/km).

The race was held at Gold Bar Park here in Edmonton and was a blast to run. It had rained earlier in the week but despite many close calls held off from raining for the last 2 days before the race making the trails soft but not at all muddy. Because some people were attempting to do a 100km’s, there was a mass start for all distances at 7am which was really damn early. It was a little bit intimidating with all of the hard core people dressed to the 9’s with their hard core trail runners, compression socks, camelbak’s and all of that other trail running gear. Soon enough the gun went off and we all went trudging along. The different distance packs all split up pretty quickly and before I knew it, Keegan, myself, and the eventual 30km winner had all moved to the front and were out leading the pack.

I hadn’t pre-run the course or even been to Gold Bar before so I held back a bit on the first lap until I got more of a feel for the course and the elevation. After about 6km’s two other runners started lessen the gap between me and themselves so I decided to take off from Keegan, who was going for 50km, and just run at a comfortable threshold pace. I specifically set my garmin to not show heart rate, set my laps to 10km and only showed average lap pace so as not to worry about pacing other than that I was not completely falling short of the speed I wanted over the course of the lap.

The first half of the course was extremely hilly, right off the bat we hit Esso hill which was a nasty, long steep beast which was okay the first two times through but really sucked the third time. From about kilometre 6 and on the course really flattened out and I was able to step on it. After the first lap my legs were feeling really good so I upped my pace a bit and was able to float around 4:41/km for the lap. By the time the third lap came around I was really starting to feel it. However there was $20 worth of beer on the line for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers so I had to push hard. By the 26th or so kilometre I was starting to feel pretty spent and went from pushing to be fast to pushing just so I could be done with running for the day. My pace gradually dropped from 4:45 down to 4:55 at which point I really focused on maintaining that speed. There were a couple of points where I got really light headed and shivery, and felt like I was starting to bonk but backed off just long enough that it would go away. At another point I developed chest pain that started on one side and worked its way across my body to cover the whole front and a bit of my back. I figured I was going to be that 1/1000 person who died from a heart attack in a race and that I should really push so that when it finally struck me it would be a swift and painless death. I survived that, the knee pain, small back spasms, and all of the other interesting ways that your body starts to scream at you once you get over about 20 kilometres and the finish line came soon enough. It felt so awesome to be done, finishing second in my distance and first in my age group.

Overall I was really happy with my performance, my pacing, and the race in general. Obviously more training would have helped but I went into this race more just to try the longer distance out in preparation for a marathon in the next year and as something different to try out. The only real critiques were that I should have maybe eaten another gel or 2 on the race as I only managed to get 1.5 down. And perhaps drinking more water would have helped. The aid station people missed me twice so I only ended up drinking 3 small cups throughout the race. That being said the Ultra distance is more of a self-serve aid station set up and I shouldn’t have really expected the volunteers to have water ready for me as I was going by.

Total Time: 2:25:03

Split 1 – 48:00

Split 2 – 47:17

Split 3 – 49:46

Strava: http://app.strava.com/runs/10958663

Race Website: http://ultra.fasttraxskishop.com/trail_info.php

Coronation Triathlon

Well, today I officially became a triathlete. I also found out that you can do all of the brick’s, mini-tri’s and training you want, but nothing compares to the overall hurt that you experience in a real triathlon.

The swim was about what I expected it to be. I actually did a pretty good job of predicting my overall time and got seeded with a group of people who were all pretty close in terms of speed. Our lane had no real issues with passing or turning. One really annoying feature of Peter Hemming way pool that I discovered really quickly is that it lacks the little lip around the edge of the pool. While this really has no affect on you if you can flip turn, I cannot and it made grabbing onto the wall really tricky to do my side turns. There were probably about 4 or 5 really terrible turns that I had probably cost me a couple of seconds and some wasted effort.

The swim itself wasn’t bad, I felt I paced myself pretty well and made sure that I didn’t blow up. I did get the light headed feeling that I get when I really push my distance at high pace. It’s almost like a strong head ache, but I’ve had this before so I didn’t panic. I got out of the pool after swimming my 1000m and felt horrendously bad. This being the second time I’d swam 1000m in my life after doing 100m repeats and 400m time trials for most of my most recent training it was definitely a bit of a shock. I think it was more that I hadn’t really experience the feeling of swimming hard, or that long, then pulling myself out of the pool and sprinting for T1.

My transition was surprisingly fast. I got out of the pool about half a length behind the other 2 faster guys in my lane who said they had some major race experience and beat them onto the bike course. While I didn’t practise my transitions before hand, I really spent some time and thought about what I was going to do and laid my gear out pretty well. The toughest thing to simulate is the feeling of having shaky arms from the swim and feeling like you are going to pass out/vomit. Also, getting my tri-top on was another funny scene to watch. It’s tough to do when you are soaking wet.

The bike course was fairly tough. On the slight down hill heading towards the river, there was about a 20km/h headwind which really kills some of your momentum. There was one spot where the shelter was really good and the course got a bit steeper so I really pushed hard to get up near 47km/h ish. It was surprising how many people were not taking race lines, people were pretty much everywhere but on the fastest path through the course. This worked out really well for me as I didn’t have to deal with getting around people who were in the race line. The uphill was tough to gauge. It was in that awkward spot between a hill climb and a gradual slope so you really had to work hard to find the right effort/gear to climb fast but not waste energy. Also, it felt pretty sweet pacing people with race wheels and aero bikes and aero helmets on my entry level road biking Cannondale.

Other than the feeling of T1, the run was the hardest part and definitely hurt a lot as to be expected. I was familiar with the rubbery feeling that accompanies changing from the bike to run was from all of the brick sessions I’d done. But for some reason I had gotten really tight on the front-outside of my leg between my knee and my ankle. I have felt the feeling before when running on a sloped highway so maybe the strange elevations and angles of the roads and paths caused it. It really felt like the limiting factor in my run. I was going about as fast as possible without it exploding in pain. That being said I was still around ~165bpm average on the heart rate and was still going fairly fast. The only flat part of the course was the last 1.5km.  I started feeling a bit stronger and the pain in my leg either went down or adrenalin kicked in and I was able to lay down some sub 4min/km for the last little bit. I sprinted it in to finish the race off, I think people thought I was dogging it and then picked it up at the end when really my last 1km was a sprint in comparison to most of the people I passed.

Official Splits(with transitions)

1:40:29 Derek DOWLING Edmonton 7/26   M2029 231 
Swim: 113th   21:56 
Bike 36th   47:28 32.9km/h (includes t1 and t2)        
Run: 22nd   31:06  3:54min/km

Takeaways

-Need to do some more distance work in the swim

-Once my tri bike shoes come, I need to practise the flying mount. Running down pavement in carbon soled shoes is both expensive and looks really dumb.

-There is definitely value to taping gels to the top tube of your bike, it’s hard to get at them from the side pockets of my vest

-Power Gel’s taste about 100x better than GU’s

-Need to get out of the shoes on the bike quicker, could have had a train wreck when I came flying up to the dismount line and wasted time

-Need to drink more on the bike, felt pretty dehydrated going into the run

-Need to run more, I’ve been neglecting it

-Need to brick off of road rides more, it’s a lot different than bricking off a spin bike

Also, based on my Garmin which is pretty accurate, the course was short by about 1.9km on the bike and about 0.7km on the run. The difference between 7th place and an age group podium finish was about the difference between my swim time and the average of our age group.

Latest Swim TT

So today I did another 400m swim TT. My 100m splits were approximately:

1:49,1:44,1:39,1:30

For a grand total of 6:42. This absolutely demolishes my last PB in a 25m which was right around 8:32. Great to see the swim work continue to pay off. The big take away from both of my most recent swim TT’s is pacing. Instead of coming out in the first 100m like a bat out of hell, start fast but relaxed and gradually crank up the intensity as you near your goal. Ideally it would be best to swim the whole thing equally at threshold, but I still need to practise something like that before I try it in a race.

Summer Race & Training Plans

This summer is sure to be a busy one between my summer internship, a part time web admin job, training, and racing. Oh yaa, and supposedly relaxation time. Anyways, I am gearing up for my first real season of endurance racing. So far I’ve put in 8 months of hard work and have another 1 month before my first real challenge. As it is my first real year of racing I’ve decided to really focus on my bike. This is where I believe I have the most potential to improve and really can add some major volume without hurting myself as I have already managed to do quite easily with swimming and running. The other reason why I am focusing on the bike is so I can attempt a half Ironman in the near future. I already know I can run a pretty solid half-marathon, and I can’t really swim any harder without re-injuring my shoulder, so making a 90km bike seem easy and short is by far the best option for this summer.

To make my bike better, I’ve joined ERTC. So far I haven’t been disappointed with the workouts. They offer interval work on Tuesdays, a hill night on Thursdays, and long rides on Saturdays and Sundays. My plan is to do Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays with them, and long Tri Club rides on Sundays with our club. 4 rides a week should be more than plenty to get me where I want to be.

I continue to keep making improvements with my swim. Since injuring my shoulder I have completed revamped my swim stroke to become more relaxed, rythmical, and more powerful all at the same time. I managed to beat my last PB which was 8:32s-400m which was in a 25m pool by 4 seconds(8:28s) in the Kinsmen 50m pool which is great. I did this while completely cutting out distance, speed, and cardio work and focusing solely on technique which is awesome feedback for my improving technique. Using the Swim Smooth website as I gude, I also found out today my Critical Swim Speed (CSS) today. CSS is an approximation of your lactate threshold speed or about what you should be able to hold for long distance swimming. My CSS is roughly 2:13/100m. Now that I know this, I can start to do sets at this pace to get used to swimming at my CSS which will push my threshold up so that I can swim faster, farther. The other good news is this is extremely slow and that there is tons of room for improvement.

Finally, my run feels as strong as always. I am becoming able to run long distances at high speeds, with lots of hills. From March 9th to April 9th I ran 104 miles as part of Strava & GU’s 100 000 mile challenge. I have been dealing with some knee pain on my left knee. So I have been trying to take it fairly easy.

So far for races, here is what I have planned:

1) Coronation Triathlon – May 27, 2012

1km swim – 26km bike – 8km run

This race is strange in terms of distance. My goal is to finish in a total time of (2:13s/100m x 1000m) + (26km/35km/h) + 8km x 4min/km = 22:10s + 45min + 32min + 3 minutes(transition) = ~1:42:00s. That being said, this is my first real triathlon so  as long as I finish under 1hr 45mins I will be satisfied.

2) Fast Trax 30km Ultra – June 16th, 2012

30 km of trail running

This should be an interesting run. I have never done a trail race let alone a 30 km run. I signed up for this race as motivation for run training. Once the trails start to dry up I will begin to do both long runs with trails and hill climbs mixed in. I’m not to sure what the course will be like yet, but my goal is to run sub 6min/km which would mean finishing in just under 3 hours. This would have been good enough for 3rd place in my age group last year.

3) Edmonton ITU – July 8th, 2012

1.5km swim- 40km bike – 10km run

Edmonton is hosting the national championships this year for the Triathlon Canada at Sprint and Olympic distances. This means that the top 10 finishers from each age group will qualify to represent Team Canada at the Triathlon Age Group World Championships. This is my A race, or most important race of the year for me. My goal is to finish top 10 in my age group although this will be a real challenge. The biggest obstacle will include this being my first open water race swim, although it’s in Hawrelak pond which is about 4.5 feet deep and also that my swim is really slow. Also, this will be my first Olympic distance triathlon.

My goal is to finish in a time of (2:13/100m x 1500m) + (40km/35km/h) + (4:10min/km x 10km) = 33:15 + 1:09:00 + 41:40 + 3min(transition) = ~ 2:27:00

Again, as it is my first real open water swim, a hilly bike course, and a crowded run, I will still be satisfied with anything below 2:30:00.

After ITU I have no set plans. I might throw in another Triathlon, perhaps the Edmonton Derby Half-Marathon, or something else. I really want to try out cyclo-cross racing as well. I feel like it will really help me build power for the next biking season and will help make me a more proficient rider.

Edmonton Hypo Half Marathon Post Mortem

Well, my first ever endurance race of any kind was a great success! It was an awesome experience and a great chance to measure what my 6 months of training has done for me. I finished the half-marathon(21.1km) with a time of 1:37:19 and ended up in 4th place overall and second place in my age group, Male 20-29.

The Conditions

They were just horrid. There was about 1.5 inches of loose snow making it feel more like a cross country run than something that was supposed to be on a pavement road. I spent a lot of time zig-zagging looking for the most packed down places to run and when the side walks were cleared by the residents of the area, darting from side walk to side walk. Based on what the  runners who beat me had said about his regular times vs his time today, the snow cost me about 7-10 minutes. Another challenge was passing walkers and slower runners. Because there wasn’t a whole lot of packed snow, I wasted a bunch of energy passing people although many were nice enough to let me pass by down the best path on the road.

My shoes did okay, but have about 400km from them and are starting to lose some of their grippyness. A trail running shoe may have almost been better for the conditions.

Another thing that didn’t really help my cause was a 7.5 hour 3am greyhound to Edmonton the day before the race followed by a 7 hour shift on my feet at work. Although it didn’t really seem to come back to haunt me it may have potentially affected my performance.

The Race

I felt pretty confident in my training that I could do well going into the race. I felt like I could run sub 1:30 but set a cap at 1:40 for what I thought was the lowest I would accept from myself. At the start I managed to line up at the front of the pack with the other fast guys so I didn’t have to weave in and out at the start of the race to get clear of all the traffic. I realized after about 100m that it was going to be tough to make my 1:30 goal so I started to pace myself a bit better. For the first 2km I ran with a pack of 3 other guys who turned out to be the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers. After a while I realized I was a bit out classed by these more experienced and better trained runners and dropped my pace from about 4:15 to 4:30 because my legs were getting tired from sliding so much.

As the race went on I began to develop more of a strategy. I paced myself much more carefully on the slippery roads and really picked it up on the side-walks and down hill portions of the race which seemed to work the best for making up time and maximizing efficiency. Another problem that I had was that I had been working on leaning forward slightly during my runs, I’ve found that extra forward momentum causes my pace to quicken a bit. However with the slippery conditions it was impossible to due this as it would cause you to lose traction. So I was forced to run pretty well straight vertical.

My splits were not bad although I would have liked to see them a bit closer to each other.

First 10.5k: 47:37

Second 10.6k: 49:32

Near kilometre 14 or 15 things really started to get tough as you are far into the race and the legs are starting to feel it a bit, but the end is still quite some ways away. My pace began dropping slightly, although I made a conscious effort to try and stay quicker than 4:40 by focussing on passing the runners and walkers ahead of me. As I got closer to the end I wasn’t quite sure how hard to kick it and where I should really start to go full out but I definitely felt like I pushed myself close to my upper limit and put out too as close to as much effort as I possibly could.

Training

Although I was pretty happy with my result there is definitely a TON of room for improvement. I wasn’t happy with my 174bpm heart rate avg, that definitely points to the need for some more base work, although I am impressed that I could push my cardio-vascular system that hard for that long. I definitely need to get some more volume under my belt. Although I did a bunch of long runs, I need to start running at a quicker pace closer to 4:45-5:15/km as opposed to 5:45-6:15/km to help my base out. One thing I will definitely do for my next race is interval training at my racing pace as well. It’s tough on the body to train at race pace all of the time and seems to be a really good alternative and perhaps even more effective at improving race pace as well.

What Now

I’m undecided as to whether I want to focus on triathlons specifically for the time being now or tackle another half-marathon on the side. There is an interesting one at the end of April called the Edmonton Police Foundation Half Marathon that I might do as its well before my other triathlons. I know the paths which are great to run and it looks to be a nice there-and-back race with 3 hills along the way which could prove to make it a bit more interesting of a run.

Ohhh! And here is the runkeeper for the race: http://runkeeper.com/user/deredowl/activity/72568047

Getting pumped up for 21km's right before the race started.