Kelowna Apple Triathlon Race Report

Well I’ve just gotten home from 11 hours of driving Kelowna to Edmonton and felt compelled to right up the last triathlon race report of the summer. Early in the race season, I decided that for this year’s destination race, I’d do the Kelowna Apple Tri. Many people that I’ve spoken with have said the race was excellent and this year was no exception. The race was well organized, started on time, was clearly marked, had tons of cheering fans, and had great post-race support in the form of food, and cold showers.

The race director’s performance was great, however mine was not so hot. I made a bunch of critical mistakes during and before the race, which cost me quite heavily in terms of performance and showed accordingly with my splits and finishing time. That being said, I definitely learned a lot from the race, and finished feeling I worked my ass off. Another note, I’ve decided that Triathlon is an absolutely brutal sport if you push yourself. I’ve now done bike and run races that were approximately equal in total time spent racing this weekend. Those races hurt, but not nearly as bad as this one or Edmonton ITU.

Overall : 171 /431

AG: 9/27 in M2024

Total Time: 2:41:20

T1:  121st 1:49, T2: 192st  1:35

Swim: 326th 36:33, 2:27/100m

Bike: 119th 1:11:43 33.5km/h

Run: 49:42 4:59min/km

The Swim

After dropping a significant amount of money on my Xterra wetsuit, both of the open water swims I completed this year were deemed non-wetsuit swims due to the water temperature being over 23 degrees in both races. In hindsight, I am quite glad that I was unable to wear my wetsuit at Edmonton ITU as it was a good confidence booster for this race where there was no putting my feet down if things went south in the middle of the Okanagan Lake. As another side note, it was amazing swimming in that lake with how spectacularly clear the water was. I’ve never swam in a lake before, so it was very cool to see how long the sea-weeds were and all of the fish darting in and out of them in the middle of the race.

Any ways, I seeded myself in the middle of the pack with the most direct line to the first buoy. I stuck with the pack for the first 100 metres or so and then settled into my own pace as I knew they’d shortly be long gone and I’d be dead in the water if I tried to hold their pace. The swim consisted of two 750m laps around 4 large bouys in a diamond shape. The first lap was quite easy to sight as I just looked for where the group was swimming and followed them only worrying about locating the buoys on every third or fourth sight. I completed my first lap in the usual fashion, I felt terrible for the first 200 metres, started to relax from 200-400m, and then got into a strong rhythm after that. I found a couple of people who were about my speed and completed the last leg of the first lap with them. At about that time, the super quick swimmers from F20-24 caught me so I had another group of people to sight off of. Running on the beach and then jumping back in the water is always disorienting, but I got through that a lot more gracefully then at Edmonton ITU.

It wasn’t until lap two that disaster struck. I made my way to the first buoy in good time, but with the glare of the sun, the jacked up heart rate, and lack of oxygen to the brain, totally missed sighting the farthest out 2nd buoy, and headed straight for the third. After realizing that no one was following me, I looked to my right and noticed that they were all swimming away from me. I think I was about 100m of course at this point, so by the time I turned, and got back on course I figure that mistake cost me about an extra 200m in swim time plus fatigue.  Other than feeling like a moron, I finished the swim uneventfully. I rolled into T1 and there was absolutely no one around.

Recap- I think if I wouldn’t have swam off course to a 36:33, I would have swam a time similar to that of Edmonton ITU(0:31:41.8). I could have also stayed tighter to some of the buoys, but it was difficult to see them at times staring straight into the sun in a big lake. I also should have swam a bit more regularly after ITU, as I only went to the pool about 8 times in about 6 weeks.

The Bike

The bike leg my most successful of the three events in the race, however I made two serious errors in preparation for the race. Firstly, I forgot my aero-bars in Edmonton. I think this cost me at least 1-2km/h as a result of being uncomfortable in the drops for an hour, using slightly different muscles, and by making it difficult to relieve the bloating I get from swimming at race pace. That being said I still managed to do 33.5km/h which I am okay with but not extremely happy about. I also know I would have benefited greatly from going out to more of the Tuesday night ERTC time trials. I haven’t been out to one since June, however it’s been a battle to balance work, training, sleeping, and getting adequate recovery after weekend races, which has resulted in my lack of attendance on Tuesday nights. Finally, my bike computer died as soon as I hopped onto my bike so I had no way of knowing how fast I was riding. Although it’s not the best metric of effort, it is useful to know approximately how fast you were going on previous laps to make sure that you aren’t backing off from a lack of focus.

The Run

The run was super disheartening. I suffered the same bloating as at Edmonton ITU only twice as worse. I ate less the night before, however I think the cause was a combination of swallowing air/water during the swim, and being stuck in the drops for the whole bike. My stomach expanded to the point where it hurt to run anything faster than a 5:30min/km pace and I was forced to walk a couple of times. I tried to fart/cough as much as possible, but I couldn’t relieve myself. I even ran to an outhouse and tried to remove whatever my body was willing to part with, but that didn’t really help either. Finally around 4km, a girl from UBC caught me and was running about 5:20s and not wanting to get chicked by a UBC girl, I was able to use her as a pacer. I ran with her for about 2 kilometers and slowly picked up steam as my body attempted to relieve pressure. I could hear her dying in front of me as I pushed her on and decided to drop her. With about 3k left I began to feel like I should have at the start of the run and was able to crank up the pace to near 4:10min/km and held that until the final sprint.

Take-Aways

-I need to work hard at swimming during the off-season. Getting faster and more comfortable in the water will have me gasping for air less, which will make me more relaxed during the swim, and will allow me to actually race the run leg of the race.  Not to mention, will help me shave upwards of 2-3 minutes off my race times.

-I need to attend more of the Tuesday night TT’s. I think I undervalued this workout this year, and will try to attend as much as possible next year. I think having the increased cycling base will also allow me to bounce back from weekend races quicker next year allowing my legs to be more capable of completing this demanding workout.

-I need to average more than 10 kilometres a week of running, and I need to do speed workouts. I neglected running and partially swimming this summer to ride as often as possible. There were many Wednesdays and Fridays where should have been spent with runs.

-I need to not be an idiot and forget my aero-bars in Edmonton.

-I have done some research into gas relief products and might try something like Gas-X next year. Obviously it’s a short term solution and I’ll have to test its side-effects out before I attempt to use it in a racing environment, but even if it provides partial relief, it’ll have been worth it.

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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.