The Welland Review (2012)

Posted: June 29, 2012 in Races
Tags: , ,
  • 2k swim, 90k bike, 21.1k run
  • Goal Time = 5:00:00
  • Chip Time = 5:05:26 (click to see official Sportstats page)
  • Category Place = 11/53 (M 40-44)
  • Overall Place = 97/402
  • Fuel: 1 (57 ml) btl. 5-Hour Energy Shot (pre-race), 2 btls. Perpetuem (bike), 1 pkg. Chomps (bike), 1 GU gel (run)…and bucket loads of water, coke and cold sponges.

The usual set up, pink towel n’ all…

Well, my whole 2012 Ironman triathlon journey was officially opened this past weekend and, although it was not opened with the huge can of ‘whoop ass’ as I had initially hoped, it was still a successful venture.  Sunday represented my first official crack at three of my 2012 season goals, which I have largely kept secret this year.  Specifically, I was hoping to beat my Half Iron PB I set at this event last year with time of 5:02:25.  Instead, I limped away this year with a 5:05:26 finishing time and a good training day to boot.  But, being the positive son-of-a-bitch that I am – cuz that’s just how I choose to roll, homeslice – I am not going to focus on the negatives so much and instead review the overwhelming positives that I also managed to achieve.

The day began as well as I might expect it would after a largely restless night providing little sleep (as it typically is in my case), and I scarfed down a little breakfast, got dressed, rechecked all my stuff that I had carefully packed the night before, racked Lucille on the back of the car, squeezed out a poop, pet the cats, hoped in the car and, BAM!, we were on our way.

We arrived on site bright and early and I was able to rack my bike, get registered, drop another bowel bomb, chug back a 5-Hour Energy Shot before getting set up in transition relatively easy without much obstacle; so far, so good and still thirty minutes to go until the swim start.  Unlike the previous years where I would typically be running around like a chicken with its head cut off by this point, I felt cool, calm, prepared and focused.  Shit, somebody might actually mistakenly assume I knew what I was doing.  Good for me!

  • Swim: 2k (33:44)
  • Pace: 1:42 /100m
  • Gender Place: 7/53
  • Overall Place: 54/402

This year I have added a new tool to my triathlon arsenal, namely, a Nineteen Rogue (review to come) wetsuit and this was my first opportunity to take it out for a test swim.  I know that a huge race day ‘No-No’, but the overall purpose of this race was to also test out my potential 2012 Ironman racing strategies and I have no real issues or fears regarding open-water swimming nor using wetsuits so I wasn’t much worried – apart from getting the damn thing on that is.  Fortunately, my girlfriend was also along for the ride this year and stepped up to her role as ‘race day helper monkey’ admirably by lending a helping hand.  So with the assistance of about three quarts of baby powder, some careful tugging and prodding, not to mention a few accidentally plucked armpit hairs, we managed to successfully wedge my chubby ass into it.  Twenty minutes to go.  Perfect.

The swim start…

I waded into the water with about 10 minutes to go for a quick warm up including some ‘water running’ to pull the wetsuit perfectly into place, I began to mentally take myself through the swim course.  Now, I have to mention here, that I have worked very  hard on my swim technique throughout the off-season months this year, specifically, with my kicking.  I have increased the number of times I work out in the pool per week and, therefore, the overall mileage, as well as focusing primarily on the amount of time I spend working on my kicking drills, which, has been about 100% considering that I usually skipped kicking drills altogether.  Now, I spend approximately an hour (1k) dedicated solely to kicking during each work out even before I begin my regular swim set, so this was to be my first chance to apply that training to an actual event for effect.

Just prior to the mass open water start and learning from last years’ debacle I positioned myself on the outside of the course by the starting line buoy near the front of the pack (even larger than last year at 402 participants strong) to avoid the whole ‘Beyond Thunderdome’   crush of brawling athletes, and with the customary rounds of ‘have a good race’, ‘be safe’,  and the ‘who’s-going-to-be-drafting-off-who’  exchange, etc. and so forth with my team mates, we launched our headlong into the 2k  swim at the sound of the horn.  We were off.

The flying fists and elbows, not to mention ‘knees of death’ were nowhere near as brutal as last year thanks to an enlarged starting line so getting into a quick and steady rhythm was fairly easy to accomplish right off the bat.  I had previously decided to go ‘all out’ on the swim and proceeded to leap frog from swimmer to swimmer up the pack until I was comfortably in the top fifth or sixth of the group.  A quick mental check told me I was swimming comfortably, breathing well, my heart rate was under control, the new wetsuit felt great and, above all else, I was KICKING!  I fended off the few off-course swimmers that happened into my path by powering past them and arrived at the turn around points on target while avoiding the congestion of swimmers and was feeling pretty pleased with myself.

You may not realize it here, but I am actually kicking!

After the second turn around, the first glitch began to take shape.  I had come out of the second roundabout a little wide as my goggles had begun to fog up and I ended up on the far outside of the group near the shore and not quite on line with where I wanted to be.  I remedied the situation quickly by pausing for a second to wipe out my goggles and proceeded to getting back on course.

Mental note to self:   de-fog my goggles prior to the start with the ‘ol spit n’ polish technique.

The rest of the swim was uneventful as I got back on track and made a second self-assessment to learn that I felt fairly un-fatigued so I proceeded to power through the final 400m or so to the exit point passing another dozen or so fading swimmers exiting a whole minute quicker than last year.  Had it not been for that quick side-track in the middle, I might have saved myself another whole minute but I was happy nonetheless and exited in close proximity with two other strong swimmers from my club and started the long run into T1 feeling positive.  Over all, I was 54th out of the water and 7th in age category.  Good first show.

  • Bike: 90k (2:32:58)
  • Pace: 35.3 km/h
  • Gender Place: 7/53
  • Overall Place: 54/402
  • Transition: 1:53

My transition to the bike was as smooth as can be expected with little issue.  I found my bike, got out of my wetsuit, got my breathing under control, got suited into my helmet, race belt, glasses, etc., and peeled out to the mounting line just behind another team mate of mine who must have also had a good swim.  Immediately after mounting and getting going I felt something happening immediately behind me with a rough grating noise and then the rear of my bike began to push out from under me before it suddenly righted again.  Looking back, another dipshit rider had (I assumed) tried to pass me in the chute and went down sending his own bike sliding underneath mine.  Thankfully, the triathlon gods were smiling on me and Lucille again and we avoided another crash just we had in Cancun back in September.

I caught my team mate relatively early but I knew it wasn’t the last I was going to see him for the day so I just focused on finding my pace and settled in and started taking in some nutrition and fluids to prep for the next 89  or so kilometers to come.

Booking into T2…

I settled into a good rhythm when a large cluster of riders happened to pass and being cautious to stay a few bike lengths behind them I used them to maintain my pace for approximately the next 35-40  kilometers.  I remember getting frustrated that nobody seemed to be paying much attention to the ‘No Drafting’ rule or even speaking to one another while passing other riders so I made a mental decision that I was going to instead focus on my own race and participate in a respectful fashion, even if that meant losing some speed to other riders by not drafting and positively urging along other riders as I passed them with the customary courteous ‘on your left’  and ‘thank you’.  For the most part, other riders seemed to acknowledge the gesture and thanked me while offering their own encouragement afterwards.  Yeah, I’m a tri-dandy for sure, but this is the way I prefer to race.

By the 45k  mark I was pretty much riding alone into the headwind and began experiencing some fatigue and discomfort in my quads, but I pressed on.  It was at this point that I was caught by two other team members of mine that are amazing cyclists and I used their momentum to pick up my pace again before resettling back into my own rhythm.  And so it went for the next little while…sip, munch, pedal, burp, sip some more, maybe squeak out a fart here and there, and pedal, pedal, pedal.  Until the 75k  mark that is, when I was caught by the other team mate I followed out of transition and passed early on in the ride.  Together we paced one another the last 25k  back into the city to T2.  By this time I could feel the stress building in my legs and I was ready to dismount and change up the focus to the run after an otherwise successful ride, representing another whole minute faster than last year.  I realized that even if I could manage to keep the same pace I did last year on the run I had already more or less made up the two minutes over last years’ time putting me nearly on target for my five hour goal.  Winning.

Upon dismounting the bike my girlfriend was right there to greet me with the Granddaddy of all motivation signs:

Who you calling Sissypants?

Am I lucky or what?

  • Run: 21.1k (1:52:27)
  • Pace: 5:20 /km
  • Gender Place: 16/53
  • Overall Place: 139/402
  • Transition: 0:51

Similar to leaving T1, I exited out of T2 approximately 15m  behind that same team mate of mine after a nearly flawless (in my mind anyway) bike-to-run transition which I have also been working on.  We left onto the run course one after the other and I knew it was on as spectators.  I will say here that this particular team member is an amazing runner for whom I am not fit to even tie his laces.  In short, he’s a lean, mean, running machine.  I decided that I would try and keep his pace for as long as I could just to see if I further use that momentum to bring me in under that five hour mark.  I knew it was a stretch, but my competitive male machismo had long since set in and I figured what’s life without a few risks, right?  Without chance, sport just tastes like chicken; skinless, boneless, boiled chicken served dry with a side of dust bunnies.  This was supposed to be a ‘learning day’, so why not see what I was capable of?  I had already had a good swim and bike, how bad could it get?

With this mentality I kept my pace approximately 20-25m  behind him for a good portion of the run sure I could pour it on if I had to.  And so it went…I kept my decent 5:00 /kph  pace up until around the 14-15k  mark when my quads started to scream with agony.  I have experienced the normal aches and pains and discomfort that come with running, particularly after a fast 90k bike ride but, seriously, this was excruciating; more so than I have ever experienced before.  I’d like to say here that I sucked it up and plodded on but, fearing that I was doing some damage to my legs somewhere I eased back my pace and resorted to walking through the aid stations to make sure I was getting every opportunity to hydrate.  Normally, I HATE  walking through aid stations so I admit to having felt pretty disappointed with myself, especially watching that goal time slip away when I was already so close to the finish.  But, hey, nothing ventured; nothing gained.  I’m pleased I gave it my all as well, and I’ve already made some mental notes to address what I thought my areas of opportunity for improvement might be (blog post to come).

However, just prior to the final stretch to the finishing line, an interesting moment came when runners had to be escorted across a parade route that was in full progress at the time.  The police officer in charge of directing traffic kindly hauled the parade for me and I passed right in front of ‘Droopsy the Clown’  riding in his fancy convertible.  I remember seeing Droopsy’s disheveled face and thinking to myself, “Hey, bud, why so shitty?  Want to change positions?”   Seriously, sad clowns are not what you want to see at kilometer 20.5k  in a half marathon and I had about a zillion inappropriate pet names fly through my mind for him, believe me!  Thanks for the support, Droopsy!  Would it have killed ya to break character just for a second and flash me a quick smile as I suffered across your path?

Anyway, the last half kilometer passed in agony and I was able to at least pick up the pace just a little bit for a good showing at the end to cross the line in 5:05:26…exactly three minutes and one painful second slower than last year.  I was happy to see my girlfriend there at the finishers chute and hear that all-to-familiar cowbell bringing me home, knowing that a massage was only mere moments away.

So now I get to enjoy exactly one week off (well, maybe a short swim for shits n’ giggles) from training to recover before the focus shifts again to covering longer distances (oi vay), spending more time in the saddle and finding that elusive “Ironman” pace prior to Septembers’ event.  However, I do have some exciting race prospects coming up shortly including the Toronto Triathlon Festival and the Shore-to- Shore Friendship Triathlon where I get to time trial across the Peace Bridge into Canada.  How fucking rad is that?

So stay tuned sports fans, it’s going to be an eventful season yet!

  1. Jeff says:

    So basically, if it hadn’t been for the cramps in your quads, you would have blown last year’s time away! Damn right you should be proud. Well done

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