Ironman Mont Tremblant

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Muskoka 70.3 Race Report

By returning to Muskoka 70.3, I felt I could do better than last year's result after suffering my chain falling off and then a flat tire.  I've always thought my bike was the weakest of all three sports.

Muskoka 70.3 is a tough course where everything ends up hill.  The swim has a 300 meter run uphill to T1, the bike is rolling uphill in the last 10 km and the run at the 20.5 km mark is the bottom of a hill.  Everything ends in a hill.

We headed up to Deehurst Resort Saturday morning but like a couple of weeks ago when we went up to Orillia, we jumped on Highway 400 only to come to a screeching halt.  Traffic was backed up for miles and we turned on the radio only to find out there was a bad traffic accident at 5 am (like 5 hours ago) and the highway was a mess (I really need to get my traffic GPS fixed).  We zigged zagged for miles going east, then north, then west to try and get back to the highway only to find traffic was still crawling along.  Finally we arrived in Barrie two and half hours later (it should have only taken one hour), we stopped off at Tim Hortons for a pee break and coffee. Traffic cleared up once we got past Barrie and what should have taken about two hours to get to the resort, it took about four hours.

The race is held at the resort so it's a no brainer to stay they especially since we have three young kids and Tammy can take them back to the room or go back to the room while I flounder around on the course for six hours.  Last year, the resort had a minimum three night stay but this year it was only two nights so that saved several hundreds of dollars.  After checking in, we headed to our room which was on the third floor and had no elevators.  There is nothing like walking up three flights of stairs after a race carrying your race gear and bike!

Seeing all the set up got me going and I was looking forward to this race as it is the first and last triathlon of the year.  The weather was very nice but my friend Peter A had told me about his team meeting with NRG at 3  pm and I wanted to sit on it.  The meeting was more for first timers and since I did the course last year, I had a pretty good idea what to expect but if I could take away one thing, then it would have been worth it.  I've known about NRG for several years as Scobie was coached by Nigel Gray who is a sub 9 hour Ironman finisher and his sister Fiona who is a 10 hour Ironman finisher.  In fact, my two younger brothers used to train with Fiona as well as Paul & Cathy S train with NRG.  Also Paul D is with Nigel.  The briefing was casual and there were three coaches with about 20 athletes.  Fiona is one of the coaches who knows my two younger brothers from their Ironman days.  The most important thing I did learn was part of the roads at the bottom of a hill was broken up and if you had water bottle cages at the back you might lose your bottles.  This is very important as I do have the cages and I usually keep my nutrition in those bottles.  It would be a disaster to lose any water bottles during the race but especially those one.  I planned to switch those and keep the water in the back so if I did lose them, then not as big as a deal.  I also got elastic bands to hold them down as well.  After the meeting, we wandered over the to the expo where I ran into Fiona.  I introduced myself as originally she thought I was working with one of the other coaches.  I explained I was a free loafer but was interesting in talking to her as I knew lots of people that trained with her.  She was super friendly (aren't they all when they're talking to a prospect?) and I told her I would contact her in a couple of weeks.  Later I introduced myself to her husband who also knew my brothers.  Branden works in the same industry and we chatted about how things were going as well as training.  I looked at my watch and realized transition was closing and ran out to get my bike set up but found out later they delayed the closure due to the accident on the highway which caused several athletes to be late.

Race Morning
I woke up early as usual and watched a little TV.  We rented a suite and I slept on the pull out coach (Oooh my back!) while everyone else slept in the nice comfty beds but at least I can move around without waking everyone up.  I was in the seventh and last wave so with six minutes apart, I wasn't going to get swam over by another wave.  Lisa was in wave three so she had a 24 minute head start.  I figure I'd catch up with her somewhere near the end of the bike or even on the beginning of the run.  I went down to transition for the final set up and wondered around for a couple of minutes.  There were a lot of people from the Ajax Pickering Tri Club so I asked one guy if Mindy was around.  Mindy is a friend of my brother Don knows her from the Running Free store in Pickering.  I did the Scotia Half Marathon several years ago with her but she didn't remember me.  Back then I could beat her but she's gone hard core into triathlons and can smoke me (also she weighs about 100 pounds less than me and is 20 years younger).  I headed over the number marking and then headed back to the room.  When I got there, I realized I told them the wrong number and ran back down to get remarked.   Doh!  First time I've done that.

The Swim 37:21 - 1:53\100m
Seeing that I was in the last wave, I stood around chatting to a couple of people I knew.  Peter A was in the wave ahead of me and I ran into blog follower Paul D.  We chatted for a bit and then headed for a short warm up swim.  The water was warmer than last year but I did see one woman with no wetsuit.  She's more of a man than I am because there was no way I'd swim without a wetsuit.  I double checked when I was packing the car to make sure I brought it.  If I had forgotten it I would have bought a new one at the expo.  The race started and we were off.

Me and Peter A.  Do I look fat?

Me in the middle with no goggles
The start had less crashing than last year but I had a hard time getting my groove.  I finally caught on to a pair of feet and was doing ok but they were going a little too fast and time I hit the last buoy about 400 meters back to shore, I was dying.  I felt as I was all over the place and in fact strayed too far to the left.  The water was very shallow and I actuallly stood up and walked about 10 feet as I was hitting the bottom.  As I stumbled out of the water, I looked at my watch and I was 37 minutes which was the same as last year.  The wet suit strippers were great and had me out of mine in a flash.  Now the hard part was the long 300 meters run uphill after swimming.  One of the points in the NRG meeting was not to sprint up the hill which is what I did last year.  It killed me and I staggered through T1.  This year I jogged up the hill and took my time.  Too much time in fact as T1 this year was a brutal 6 minutes.

The Bike 3:23 - 27.8 km\hr
The bike course is a tough 94 km leaving the resort. I hoped to come in around 3:15 as last year I had a flat tire.  The first 10 km out is a series of rollers but it gets flatter.  I've been having trouble with the Power Tap as it was showing me riding at an average of 170 watts but recently coach changed the batteries and my readings shot up by 25% so I tried to ride conseratitvely but did not know what watts to ride at.  The course becomes flatter as we head towards the small town of Dorset where they had a water station and lots of fans.  I carried my three bottles and one throwaway water bottle so  I slowed down a grabbed a new bottle, some gel and tried to grab a bottle of Ironman Perform but it bounced right out of my hand.  I've never tried it nor even seen it sold anywhere.  We headed to the next town of Baysville 27 km away.  This part the course was on Highway 117 which was nice and smooth but into a stiff headwind.  Baysville is roughly two thirds of the way and the roads begin to get a little hillier until the 80 km mark where it starts getting tough.  I was playing cat-and-mouse with one girl who kept passing me on the hills as I spun up the hills but would blow by her on the downhills and flats.  Eventually she dumped my ass as the course got hillier.  At the 80 km mark there was a steep hill and I wanted to use my momentum to carry me up the other side so in aero position I flew down the hill hitting 72 km\hr but at the bottom I hit a small bump and almost fell off my bike.  At that speed a crash would have been ugly.  As we head back into Deerhurst, we encounter the same hills that we hit coming out and I really begin to tire.  I thought my nutrition would be ok as I had two bottles of Hammer Perpetuem for 500 calories but actually I thought they were 500 calories EACH bottle so I knew I had to take in more gels.  I figured I had about 10 gels on the bike and was getting sick of them for a total of 1,500 calories plus lots of salt pills.  I could feel my legs beginning to cramp up and took more pills each time.  Despite all that, I was bagged by the time I reached transition and headed out to the run. 

T2 - 1:39
No pee this time.  Now is that a good thing or bad thing given how hot it was?  I drank almost five bottles of liquid and took in about 20 salt pills and no pee. 

The Run - 2:05
In my transition bag I had a throw away bottle of water that I mixed Amino Vital with two salt pills.  When I come off the bike, I'm aways thirsty and like to run with my water belt.  For this race, I decided to ditch my water belt and run with a throw away water bottle as there were aid stations every two kilometer.  That turned out to be a big mistake as I was constantly thirsty and by the 15 km mark I was walking through the aid stations gulping down the water. 

I tried to start off the run with a slower pace that would allow for a negative split but every time I looked at my pace watch, I was running around 5:00 to 5:30 min\km pace.  Coming out of the resort, the roads are hilly and I struggled in the first 4 km until we hit the highway where the roads are flat.  I kept looking for Lisa as I didn't see her on the bike so I catch her on the first part of the run but I never saw her.  Just before the turn around I saw John Proc but he was walking????  I yelled at him to keep going and he said something about his stomach.  Later on I found out that he was puking on the bike and run.  At least he looked good in his IMLP kit!  Others I saw on the run were Mindy F (friend of my brother Don and Barb), Doug Stoddard (owner of SEMI and eLoad).  Both were way ahead of me and moving fast.  I was looking to run down John Proc but never saw him again so he must have ran hard.  I finally saw Lisa as I was at the 13 km mark and she was around the 8 km mark.  I must have passed her and not noticed.  Later I found out that I passed her on the bike as I flew down the big hill at the 80 km.

Up until the 14.5 km mark the course on the road but then cuts into the a rolling hilly trail.  Last year I died at the 15 km mark and had to walk the hills and aid stations.  This year it was pretty much the same but I did walk less!  I was constantly thirsty and drinking heavily at every water stations which were manned by kids. They took great joy in splashing us with water.  They did a great job!  I think I only walked once on the staright away and that was only for about 30 seconds.  I knew if I started walking more, my time would have been toast.  I kept checking my watch and I knew it was going to be very close to last year's time.  As I hit the last aid station, I knew I wasn't going to make it but I kept going.  The 20.5 km mark was at the bottom of the last hill and there were several people walking up it.  I swore to myself there was no way I was walking up that hill so I kept going.  Finally I reached the top and started to pickup my pace.  I kept looking at my watch but I knew I wasn't going to make it.  I checked my pace and I was running at 4:30 min\km and by the time I crossed the finish line I was running a 3:35 min\km.  Oh well, at least I finished strong.

Total time - 6:13:46
One minute slower than last year's time - boo

I'm pretty disappointed about my time especially the bike.  I thought having a tri-bike with a Power Tap would have given me a better bike split but that wasn't the case.  I think my biggest disappointment is with my coach.  He never called me before the race and I didn't return his call or email after the race.  I basically had to make up my own game plan and nutrition. Sitting in on the NRG meeting was very helpful and I would like to talk to Fiona about Ironman Mont - Tremblant but I think I'll talk to her after I talk to Scobie. 

Right now, I'm unhappy with my performance and was looking around for another race.  The last triathlon race is this Sunday in London but its completly sold out.  Maybe I'll run either the Ajax Half Marathon this month or the Scotiabank Half Marathon next month.  Although I don't have any problems with my shin, I'm wondering if running another half marathon might be pushing it?

Oh yea, I finally got to try that Ironman Perform after I crossed the finsih line and it was quite disgusting.  I couldn't even drink half the bottle.

Mihaela & Doru S, John P and me


  1. man, bummer on the failed expectations.

    Gotta find what works for you though, if you figure out how to get fast on the bike, please let me know!!!

    Sounded like it was a rough day out there though so don't get too down on yourself over the time result, if it were same conditions as last year I bet you would have gotten a better result.

    Sounds like you are looking for redemption now... that is what I do, unhappy with performance, need to end on a high note haha.

    Good luck man and keep training smart. No advice on the coach scenario, I have my reasons why I don't have one or want one. Disappointment is one of them, I can only hold myself accountable for my results and not get mad at someone else because "they should have known how to get me to the next level" or whatever I would end up saying.

    Keep your head up, its all about the journey man, not the race.

  2. I've been waiting for this race report.

    Keep your chin up - a 70.3 is one helluva race and is anything but straightforward. There are so many variables and knowing when to push, when to slow, etc is really hard to get right. And adjustments have to happen as you race, too.

    And you know Muskoka is one tough course. Nothing about it is easy, except for the proximity to your hotel room if you stay at the resort.

    On the coach front...I hear you - my coach is the same way - he won't call or reach out to me...if I want his advice or something, I have to reach out to him. Not my preference as I think part of coaching (I am a Level II Ski Coach) is to have and show concern for your athlete's success. My coach, however, did say he wasn't the type to 'hold peoples' hands', so I knew that going into it. I am sure you'll find the right one for you that works with your style.

    It also takes a ton of training on a PT or any electronic bike gizmo to really feel it and the effect on bike performance and rider capability.

    Last...I am happy for you that you made it to the start, you competed, did your best, had the sun shine down on your a$$ all day. I wished I could have been there with you!

  3. I have read about how tough that course is, congrats on the race, I still think you did great.

    Weird your coach didnt get in contact with you, I hope he had a good reason, because that would really tick me off