Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Balance Victoria Half Ironman 2009 - Race report

Before I start.....

For a long time, I wanted to do triathlons. I remember watching the Ironman World Championships as a kid and decided that this was going to be something I would do...one day. A few years ago, I told my wife I would be an Ironman before I turn 45 and last year, after watching the Half Ironman at Elk Lake I decided it was now time to do what I said I would do! I always do what I say I will do....always! In October 2008, on my birthday, I joined Island Triathlon...a wonderful group of athletes and coaches to train with. I learned how to swim (I could not even swim 50m before I joined), got fitter on the bike and learned how to run faster than I ever could imagine.

June 21st, 2009: New Balance Victoria Half Ironman

4AM...alarm! I get up...excited and ready for action! I have been carbo loading during the days before and I am confident.

5:30 AM...I get marked (I am 514), get my timing chip and set up my transition. Everything looks good, I decide not to be obsessive-compulsive about this like I was in Sooke. My transition space is nice and clean, everything is there...I leave to put my wetsuit on.

6:15 AM...I have my wetsuit on and I am getting nervous about this 1.9km swim. There are a lot of athletes there and everybody will start together...will I be kicked in the face? Will anyone try to drown me?

6:42 AM...I am in the water, waiting....I saw the cannon and I know it is just about to go

6:45 AM...BOOM!!!! Swim time!!! Here I go...this is it!

6:46 AM - 7:20AM...I am swimming and there is a lot of people around me. In a bold move I decide to get between two athletes in order to pass them. My heart is racing and I can barely breathe. I try to breathe every third stroke but I found it impossible to do...what the hell...I will breathe every second stroke. I pass the first buoy, the second one and I get to the triangle where I have to turn. At the triangle the crowd compacts and there is very little room to do anything...even swim! I have to constantly repeat to myself this mantra: Calm down! Calm down!

On the second half of the swim I feel way more comfortable and I know the swim finish line is near. Last buoy! The exit is just meters away...I feel dizzy! I swim until my hands rake the bottom and then I get up. I really feel weird...this is a very strange sensation...never felt this before! I see familiar faces, I hear Crys, I see Peggy, I see Kim from Island Triathlon....I peel my wet suit and run to transition (T1). I feel like I just landed on another planet...my head is spinning a bit!

OFFICIAL SWIM TIME: 36 minutes 17 seconds (1:55/100m)


Nothing special to add here....too long of a transition but a good transition nevertheless. I get on my bike and off I go...for the next 3 hours my Opus Bike will be my best friend...and it did not disappoint me!

Bike (87 km)
Very often I have a song playing in my mind and as I went for the first hill, I have this Supertramp song stuck in my head..."Take the Long Way Home"...how appropriate! I get up to speed quickly and my legs feel fine except for tight calves.
Uphill...downhill...uphill...downhill...This is going to kill my legs! I pass another Island Triathlon athlete, Fergus. He gives me a very wise advice: "Slow down...you still have a long way to go"....Take the long way home!

The weird thing about the first 20-30km is that I felt almost no pain, going uphill seemed effortless (not that I was going very fast)...adrenalin I guess...but adrenalin can only take you so far... On the second loop I feelt pain in my rear end and I had to stand on my pedals to stretch. This pain became my companion for the next 45 km...

On fast section another song popped in my mind: Satch Boogie by Joe Satriani....fast!

OFFICIAL BIKE TIME: 2h 56 minutes 50 seconds (29.5 km/h...not so bad on a hilly course)


Off the bike, remove cycling shoes...put on running shoes, remove helmet..put on my racing hat....I am outta there!

RUN 20 km
I know Elk Lake very well and I love running there. But this is different! I am running on totally knackered legs...I tell myself..HOW AM I GOING TO DO THIS? I start to run, slowly..."cement legs" can not go very fast....I know I will accelerate in a few minutes but WHEN? Sometimes LIFE takes charge and sends you unexpected help. This help came when Lysanne (an amazing triathlete and friend) passed me...Hey DOM...wanna run with me? Sure! Lysanne and I have very similar paces when running is the only thing on the menu...but she is a stronger athlete than I am (and much younger I have to say). I run with her for 10-15 minutes but eventually I had to walk a bit. The good thing is that this proved to me that I could go faster..and that's exactly what I did! The remaining km were very difficult, cramps, pain in the foot, pain in the knees but I decided I was not going to slow down. I had a good pace under the circumstances and I am happy with this!

OFFICIAL RUN TIME: 1h 40 minutes 41 seconds (5minutes 03 seconds / km).. I can run much faster than this...usually!


I am happy with this competition...I am EXACTLY in the middle of my age group...not that I really care but it is nice to know that I worked hard and it paid off. I have to say this...Thalia Castillo is the Head Coach of Island Triathlon and she was everywhere on the course...I could hear my name being called everywhere! She came early for her athletes. She made a HUGE difference in my training and part of my success goes to her. Thanks Thalia!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The sky is the limit...

At least this is how I feel right now. My tapering is going so (SO) well despite an annoying cold. I run faster, I swim faster (but not that fast) and my cycling is also going very well. I am gaining confidence and I am really looking forwards to that New Balance Half Ironman.

I know that on race day it can be a different story but at least my preparative work is done properly and with high intensity. I wanted to look for explanations regarding the way I feel right now and this is what I found:

"From a neuromuscular perspective, the taper usually results in markedly increased muscular strength and power, often associated with performance gains at the muscular and whole body level. Oxidative enzyme activities can increase, along with positive changes in single muscle fibre size, metabolic properties and contractile properties. Limited research on the influence of the taper on athletes' immune status indicates that small changes in immune cells, immunoglobulins and cytokines are unlikely to compromise overall immunological protection."


REF: Physiological Changes Associated with the Pre-Event Taper in Athletes.
Sports Medicine. 34(13):891-927, 2004.
Mujika, Inigo; Padilla, Sabino; Pyne, David; Busso, Thierry

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Taaper weeks...

More intensity, less distance...this is my goal for the next 2 weeks. Despite a little battle with a virus...nothing serious, I just felt a bit tired, I feel like my fitness level is UP THERE! I felt like I never felt before. I feel strong mentally and physically and I am ready for action. The next 2 weeks are designed to bring me to the next level, to "peak". The week after that, I am going to California for a conference. I plan to swim there at least once but preferably twice. I plan to run on the Golden Gate...just for the fun of it! Then I come back. June 21st it's competition time...I plan to give everything I have. Time is no issue, I want to be proud of myself knowing that the time it takes to do this Half Iron is the absolute minimum for me, at this point. I am ready! SOOOOO READY!!!!