Friday, August 03, 2012

Ironman 70.3 Calgary Race Report

There was pretty much only two things I did right for this race, show up and finish.  Everything in between was a bit of a gong show.  I did finish in 5:45:23, which bested my target goal of 6:00:00, so I guess it wasn't a disaster by any stretch, but ...

I learned a good few lessons:

  1. Don't go to Olive Garden the night before.  Carb loading is good, but more appropriate at breakfast a full 24 hours before the race, not stuffing yourself full of bread/salad/pasta the night before.  I did terrible things in the portapody at the race which was probably related to overconsuming the night before.  I also didn't eat lunch the day before the race or much for fruit/vegetables, and I had a protein/fat heavy breakfast the day before instead of carb rich breakfast.  I spent most of the bike feeling bloated and gassy, which may have been directly tied to my poor diet choices the day before.
  2. Show up early.  And by early, I mean at my bike with at LEAST 45 minutes to spare.  Not get to the parking lot with 30 minutes to spare, have to walk a km to get to the bikes, rush to prepare bike, rush to get into portapody, and rush to get wetsuit on and in the water.
  3. Use the strippers!  All the wetsuit strippers were occupied when I came up the boat launch and I was already down to my waist so I just pulled the bottoms off myself.  This almost resulted in losing my balance and falling.  Next time be patient and wait.
  4. Setup watch before entering water.  I didn't have my GPS watch turned on or set to Multisport and in the panic of trying to get going on the bike, I couldn't remember how to set it up again and I stood there trying to navigate menus and figure it out.  This hurt my T1 time significantly.  Eventually I got it going, but it would have been so much easier to just pull it out, slap it on my wrist and push start.
  5. Ensure everything that needs to be connected to the bike is done so properly.  I put on my aero bottle on the front of the bike backward and this resulted in it almost coming off at 35km/hr at the start of the bike.  I had to stop to fix this.  Shortly after this, the gel bottle on attached to the top tube mostly by velcro came off and was lost.  Both of these mistakes were due to lack of care and attention, in turn due to lack of time to prep.  I was prepared for long portapody lineups, but since I was so late, I had to deal with them.  
  6. Remember gels when going out on run.  I didn't see the expresso gu gels I had put in my T2 bag and forgot them when heading out on the run.  Therefore I didn't get the caffeine kick I was hoping for, though there were still non-caffeinated gu gels on course.
  7. I was warned not to consume too much liquid before the end of the bike and I tried this by cutting off liquid once I reached Glenmore trail (about 15 minutes left on the bike?).  However, I did take a few swigs on Glenmore.  The result was that I was feeling sloshing in my guts during the run and I was hesitant to take in much more fluid to make matters worse.  I would rather be dehydrated to start the run and take in as much fluids as I want during.  Near the final push for the finish, my calves and hamstrings nearly cramped, suggesting lack of fluid/eletrolytes.  I should have taken in more Perform sports drink during the run.
  8. Along the too much fluid lines, don't take in too much fluids pre-race!  I had to pee the whole bike and I was not going to just let fly while pedaling down the highway.  This resulted in a much needed, though not too hampering, bathroom break in T2.  More wasted time.
These errors likely cost me at least 5 minutes.

As for things I did well:

  1. Swim was just about what I had targeted.  I didn't have any issues with running into other swimmers.  I avoided the usual early race panic.  I swam to the inside of the buoys and largely missed traffic buildup.  And I waited off the start to avoid the thrashing.
  2. The bike was much better than I would have ever expected.  I was averaging about 31km/hr even after the huge climb for the first 30km.  I think the lack of wind was a factor here, it may have been at my back on the climb, but it was so light I couldn't even get a real feel for what direction it was blowing.  Environment Canada showed it switching direction completely from start to finish, so I don't know if that's accurate.
  3. The first half of the run was right on target for my goal pace of 5:45/km.  I walked up all the steep hills.  As expected, the second half slowed due to the uphill grade and tired legs.  I didn't really hit a wall until km 18 where I started to walk run.


During the bike I consumed Ironman Perform in my aero bottle, and small and big Camelbak bottles (700mL, 710mL, 621mL), as well as a banana at about km 15, a BonkBreaker bar at about km 30, and a chocolate covered granola bar at about km 60.

I tried freezing my Camelbaks half-full of Perform and then topping up on race morning, but they were easily melted and warm by the time they were used.  If trying this again, freeze the full bottle.

During the run I consumed water/Coke/Perform in almost equal amounts.  I should have taken in more Perform.  I used two Gu gels, one at km 5 and one at km 12.

As for sun, I put sunscreen on before the race and rubbed well into my skin before putting my wetsuit on.  I didn't re-apply until T2 where I sprayed more on without rubbing it in.  No burns.


The pre-race prep and bike/run fluid intake could be vastly improved which would be very helpful for my time and general feeling during the race.  Aim to fix all errors noted above.  I'm very happy with my time and though 5:30:00 was my "crazy good" goal, 5:45:23 is about exactly what I wanted.  Next year, I want to make 5:30:00 the target goal (with 5:15:00 or less being the "crazy good").  This will require significant gains to be made in swimming (lessons, stroke improvement) and running (more training and weight loss).