Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Peterborough Half Iron Du 2013

I've had my eyes on this race for the past 2 years and had always chickened out or found some excuse not to do it both times! Why? Its hilly. And I suck at hills.

But with all the hill repeats in biking and running, and out of curiosity of just how vain my efforts have been, I signed up. *Gulp*

Got my disco wheelcover on and a 12-30T cassette in the back and I was game! Prayed for cool weather since historically this race has been a scorcher/dehydration pool with some sunburn thrown in.

Thankfully, my brown skin got me covered from sunburn! hah! The rest, though...

Run 1:

Short and sweet. All on grass. Kind of short for 2k, i think. Passed by with the usual mess of everyone around me starting wayy too fast. I tried to keep my pace calm while I heard everybody already heaving and hoofing before they reached T1. Why do they do this?

Anyway, 4th place after Run 1. 2k done in 6:42. Wut wut!


So my iPod that i had been using as my computer during bike rides died on me after the Welland race so I had to go back to using my watch mounted on my handlebars for this race. After fumbling around forever in T1 and having nearly the slowest transition, I exited for the start of the bike ride in 7th place! Lost a good 30-40s there. Ah well, 1st world problems.

From then on, the drama began shortly. The first 5km were sort of bumpy with railroad crossings and I was mindful of my nutrition bottles getting torpedoed off my aerobars. After surviving one particularly nasty railroad crossing, I got back into my tuck and *boom*, nice big pothole. I saw my special concoction of carefully mixed salt tablets+sugar+water fly down the road into the ditch.

I began re-thinking my hydration for the 87 kms remaining of the 90km ride. Then my HRM stopped working for 10km...showing either 80 BPM or 180BPM. Then my disc sticker fell apart in the wet roads that I was riding through...which then proceeded to roll around my chainstay and rub with every wheel rotation.

I did the best French impression of "Je m'en fous", shrugged my head and carried on.

All of this definitely threw me off mentally and suddenly I found myself out of touch with my legs and unable to focus on the hard rolling climbs until about 35 kms. I got on top of my hydration after the first bottle exchange at 30km and felt better.
Dripping sweat in the humidity despite light rain in the beginning!
On the way back after halfway, I felt much more smooth and in control. The only thing that pissed me off was that all the damn hills that I dragged my sorry rear up in the first part, were completely bumpy on the way down. I had to routinely get off my aerobars and sit up to avoid potholes and bad that I was nearly on the middle of the road for extended times and being afraid of getting a penalty for blocking!! Lost speed, trying to bomb down the hills trying to speed up was utterly useless.

7 kms from the end of the bike, there was a tricky 90 degree turn that I saw some guy overshoot and completely ignore the turn! "Poor guy", I thought: "...wasn't there supposed to be a policeman directing racers/controlling traffic here? Where are they?" Then I saw the policeman, he was nursing another racer who slipped and fell badly on that turn. Then I saw who it was: Etienne Filion...I'd been chasing him for most of the bike ride after he overtook me in T1. I also competed with him in 2012 in Welland, where he my outbiked my slow ass and stayed ahead of me till the finish!

He looked pretty scratched up, but looked to be moving back towards his bike. Tough. I moved on and finished the ride going back and forth with another guy I recognized from the UofT Triathlon Club. We passed a lot of people in this section.

I had just got my first ever bike fit from Endurosport which had significantly changed my saddle height and overall set up. It felt too compact in the front and felt like I was going to fall off the front end! However, to my surprise, I averaged 201W! Because of the hilly course and messing up the downhills, I should have gone at about 36 km/hr at that power, but ended up only doing 34.0 km/hr.

First ever side pic for the bike ride! Still getting used to the new bike fit....

The bike ride was good for 2nd in the Duathlon and 45th out of ~300 people on the day. Still some work to do, but after 2500 ft of rolling hills, I'll take it.

Run 2:

Honestly, I was scared of this run. I had read stories about a long rolling 15 km out and back section where the rollers magically turn into mountains after the bike ride. So I was apprehensive. Given the poor form I felt on the bike ride, I just told myself save it for the run, on the bike, and to stay calm...let it unfold.

"Stay calm, don't blow up!"
My problems didnt stop at the end of the bike, though! In the chaotic T2, I had too many things to do (thanks to taking my watch off the bike again..) that I forgot my nutrition bottle for the run that I had prepared (more of the same salty/sugary stuff!). After another re-thinking of strategy, I found myself at the 5 km mark, having thoroughly blown off-pace at a fast 4:07 min/km average. That's almost a 20 minute 5 km after biking 90 kms! This part was flat but included 3 kms on the grass (=slow), too, so it was pretty surprising. Maybe the course markers were wrong?

After I convinced my legs to slow down, I soldiered on to the rolling hills awaiting the dreaded meltdown that usually ensues such horrible pacing. Then I remembered: "..hold on, this is the same road that I began the bike ride on....hold on once again, wasn't this were I dropped my first bottle during the bike ride?" So I started watching the sidelines for some stranded bottles. There were plenty...guess I wasnt the only one who lost their nutrition because of these bumps. Then soon enough, I saw my bottle lying on the side of the road in the ditch.

Found my bottle of salt+water! Sweeeeeet!
Bent down, picked it up: still full, took a sip, re-adjusted my headspace and got ready to pick off some competitors! The miles just ticked by as I carried my nutrition bottle and stayed on top of my hydration. I stopped counting after I passed at least 30 people. On my way back to the finish, I crossed my fingers not to get calf cramps so I didnt really push myself in the last 5 kms. Like clockwork, I felt some inkling of calf spasms around 19.0 kms. 1.5 miles left, one last big uphill. Take it easy.

Dug deep for that last hill and before I knew it, it was 200m to the finish. There were lots of turns in the last km,so I didnt want to miss one! Sprinted to the end and knew I was in 2nd place...probably 10 mins behind the duathlon leader (...he was just in a different league!)

This run turned out to be the fastest half marathon I've done after a 90km bike ride in a half Iron duathlon, even faster than the flat course 2 weeks ago in Welland (which was HOT!)...and to do that on a rolling course with nearly 1000 ft of climbing, i'm confident that I can get to the 1:30 mark next year.

Time: 1:33:58 (1:34:11 official time) | 13.5 km/hr |  4:27 min/km pace.
Rank: 3/18 in the Duathlon, and 23 out of ~300 people doing the race.

Total time: 4:16
Overall Duathlon position: 2nd

They took my pic after I made an awesome finish pose! this time I was about to fall over..that's the time for the Triathlon people, BTW...


I had some freebies and lunch offered by the race and at least 3 cokes. Changed up, put my bike back in the car and went back for the awards.

Then I bumped into Etienne,who had crashed on the bike. Not only did he finish the bike ride, he went and ran the half marathon in 1:37. Pretty badass. Had he not crashed, it would've been a very close battle. He had like 3 bandages on his biceps/elbows and lots of road rash. I chatted with him for a while and made some small talk. Nice guy...

On the way back home, the drive was horrible. I got stuck in traffic for 2 hours, then spent another hour driving in MAD monsoon-like rain to get home. That whole week was a new level of rain for the GTA area anyway.

Next up was the Gravenhurst ITU format Duathlon + trip to Garima's cousins' cottage in Owen Sound! Stay tuned, that was a fun weekend!

Keep pedaling!

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