Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Peterborough half Iron triathlon race report

If Ironman Malaysia was to be my final exam, this race is akin to a mid term test. We are spoilt for choices being in North America with plenty of races to choose from. I decided to go local this time, it was about 3.5 hours drive away. The race is also part of the Subaru Triathlon Series and entry fees were relatively cheaper at C$160 plus taxes. It has an undulating course and it sits right in the middle of my training built - perfect!

Pre race

Li-Ann had a conference in Toronto from Thursday, so I picked her up on the way from the nearest train station in Oshawa as I wasn't keen in driving into Toronto downtown. We missed the Highway 115 exit towards Peterborough - by about 40km! So we had to back track and added another 45 minutes to the journey. We made it just in time for race packet pick up before the 4.30pm close but there seem to be many still coming in to pick up theirs. Fairly low key with some local vendors. The organizers were great in keeping my goggles which I lost at Guelph triathlon two weeks ago. We briefly checked into our accommodation at Motel 6, which was less than 1km away from the race site in Beavermead Park. Then, we joined the rest of Team Sheri athletes for dinner at East Side Mario's for a bit of laugh and celebrate one of our team member's birthday.

It's not often I get such a low race number
Race morning

Up at 5.30am for the 8am race start. I didn't quite get a good night's sleep. The room next to us were pretty loud even past midnight. My left knee felt a bit uncomfortable and I had a slight limp as I walked. But I kept my thoughts positive. After breakfast, we took a stroll to the park. There was only 1 rack for my age group of 19 people and there were only about 250 entries for the half distance, and this includes triathlon, duathlon and relays. Pick up my timing chip and get number marked. My Garmin only lasts for 4+ hours in GPS mode, so I was only intending to use it for the run. I activated to signal then turned it off again so that it would be quicker to detect the signal again before I start the run. Just to be sure, I went to the toilet for the 3rd time that morning. Put wetsuit on, do a 5 minute warm up swim and soon it was time to go. But not before getting a few kisses from my wife!

Very grassy transition area
Ready to go!
 Swim 2km

The swim was a mass start with two lap rectangular course - anti clockwise direction and short 20-30m run in between laps. I felt I swam pretty well. There were so many people around me that I didn't need to sight throughout the outward direction. After the turnaround, I was veering outwards slightly and had to sight a bit to return in line. There were some sections where there were plenty of weeds, just have to remind myself not to freak out. I somehow had the urge to pee a few times and did so, just had to stop kicking a bit hahaha. My watch was in clock mode throughout and I did the first lap in 14-15 minutes. The second lap was less crowded and I swam closer on the return. Reached the beach in about 29+ minutes and after the 200m or so run up the grass, I crossed the first timing mat in 30:54.

Holding tightly to my goggles this time so that I won't lose it!
Transition 1

No dramas with getting the wetsuit off this time. The weekly practice in Splash N Dash certainly helped. Helmet went straight on without any issues too. I even left transition before a guy who came in before me, so a mini win for me! Just had to mindful not to run into trees as there were quite a few of them in the transition area. My clipped on bike shoes weren't quite in the position I wanted when I got the bike mount line. But no problem, just take a bit of care when mounting as to not fall over. And my right sock got stuck to the velcro on the shoe, which took me a while to remove. Time was 1:19.

Bike 90km

The bike course is a stretched out U shape, just one lap out and back. This was the older course as for the past few years, it was switched to a shorter 86km course due to construction. I prefer it at the full 90km so to make comparison with other half iron races more valid (yes, I'm picking knits that way!) There were some short steep hills, though not killer climbs but as there were plenty of them so it made gaining a momentum rather difficult at times. The elevation numbers on Mapmyride ranged from 300m to 600m, so it's hard to say how hilly it was.

At one point, some supporters were waving what looked like an Australian flag and I yelled Oz, Oz, Oz! Later however, I think it was actually a New Zealand flag - my Aussie permanent residency failed! On one of the downhills, I went low on my aerobars and as the speed increased, my bike wobbled so badly that I braced myself for I was sure I was going to fall! Luckily, as I sat up, it stabilized and stopped wobbling... phew! Not sure what caused it, maybe turbulence at the front end - not enough weight as I don't have an aerobottle set up and not enough weight on myself!

One of my better looking pictures in the aero position
The course wasn't closed to traffic at all but the police stopped traffic at the intersections. There was a guy a bit further in front of me who crashed. When I got to that intersection, he was at the side with many people crowding around. I wasn't sure whether to stopped or not, as I didn't know if I would be of any help. Shortly after I saw an ambulance coming from the opposite direction. Apparently, he hit a tractor. I hope he's okay. On the way back, this same intersection was poorly managed. Cars were stopped on one side of the road and we had to move to the opposite lane to overtake the cars.

A very Canadian way to pose
We enjoyed a tailwind on the way out but soon after the turnaround, it was pretty tough. The wind picked up too. Even in some of the downhill sections I didn't feel like I was going fast. With the cross wind in some sections, I had to stay off my aerobars just so I could steer properly. My hopes of clocking a 2 hours 35 minutes bike split have gone out of the window, but my position didn't change much. I finally got back to transition with 2:40:45 for the bike. Not great but okay, given the conditions. Cycling is still my weakest leg and will continue to be a work-in-progress.

Transition 2

I timed the dismount pretty nicely and didn't freewheel for too long this time. It was nice to know that there were only 3 bikes on the my age group rack when I got there. Had a visual of what needed to be done - shoes and sunglasses on, visor and belt on the go. Total time 43 seconds.

Run 21km

The first 3kms of the run were on grass, around the park. I pressed the GPS button on my Garmin just before I dismounted the bike, hoping that it would pick up the location as I left transition. But it took forever to detect the signal, so I gave up and switched it to stop watch mode instead. There were km markers every 1km so there wasn't an issue. Just had to press the lap button each time to give the splits.

I've got a love-hate relationship with helmet hair!
Once we left the park, the course is out-and-back, just 1 lap. It was pretty exposed but thankfully, there was plenty of cloud overcast in the sky. It was the same course as the first section of the bike course, so some short, steep climbs again. My legs felt good, the funny feeling in my left knee was totally gone. I was clocking between 4:15 to 4:40 per km, the range probably due to the hills or maybe less than accurate positioning of the markers. But I knew I was on target for a 4:30 per km overall average.

Everyone in the house, put your hands up, put your hands up!

Getting jiggy with it!
The overall race leader was coming back and I estimated he was about 6-7 kms ahead. Which would translate to about 4:45 finish time for me, assuming he would finish in 4:15. Like the bike course, as there were 250 participants on the course, it can get pretty lonely out there. But after the turnaround, I was beginning to reel in those further ahead of me. This gave me a bit of a boost and I find myself running faster.

Bringing minimizing foot landing to a whole new level
As I got the finishing gantry, Li-Ann was there cheering and so was Coach Sheri. I noticed I was a few seconds before the time turned to 4:45, so I gave a bit of a sprint and crossed the line in 4:44:54. My run split was 1:31:16 but I noticed my final km was almost a minute faster than the others, maybe it's shorter by 200m but maybe not, as it could have been made up in the earlier kms.

Final sprint to the finish
Just... under... 4:45!
Post race

We were served Erdinger alcohol free beer and I went straight for the massage while it was still relatively quiet. I was 3rd in my age group (benefits of doing a small race!), must have overtaken someone in the run. An improvement on my personal best by 6 minutes. And the overall winner finished in 4:13:25, not a bad guess on my part! Click here for full results.

The Team Sheri rainbow T-shirt sure is a head turner!
We left soon after prize giving as we're both back to work the next day. Team Sheri all did well with some great racing times. I'm really happy with own performance and glad that I'm heading in the right direction for Ironman Malaysia in another 12 weeks. The mega training blocks are coming soon...

Aah... not quite the right order of a triathlon but...
Bronze medal in addition to finisher's medal for 3rd in age group


CheapRunnerMike said...

Nice race Kevin and congrats on the PB! Nice to see you giving the Shaka in that race pic too, I think that's what my pictures always look like...

Kevin Siah said...

Thanks Mike! Hahaha yeah, I'm a bit embarrassed actually that I looked like I was dancing in so many of the pictures. Your turn this weekend, all the best!

Steve said...

Kevin, nice job on the half iron event (even though you looked like you were having too much fun in those photos). Enjoyed reading your race report.

Kevin Siah said...

Thanks Steve! Yeah... though I believe that I perform my best when I'm having fun :)