Thursday, 10 July 2014

Peterborough Half Iron Weekend!

Peterborough is the 2nd half iron distance race in the calendar of events offered by the Subaru Triathlon Series (the first being Welland MSC a few weeks ago). I always find it interesting how different the atmosphere in Subaru races is, versus the MSC series. It almost attracts a different type of athlete!

The day before the race, we had another visitor:

Yes! Riddhi is back in Toronto visiting us for a month during her summer vacay! Yayy! I went to get her at the airport and all of us hung around the entire day. She was jetlagged, but still had enough energy to wander around Eaton centre to do some shopping with Garima. *sigh* Women.

Anyway, back to the race… I have a mixed opinion about this event…having done it in pouring rain last year, the tough terrain course was somehow tamed in the cool weather and almost didn’t seem as hard as it had been hyped up to be. This year, the hot and windy conditions that this race is better known for, were in the cards.
Due to a mix of laziness, poor planning and just not caring, I only got about 5 mins to really warm up before the race started. It was nearly not enough as I felt sluggish for a good part of the first 30 mins of the race!

Run 1:

2 kms again…nothing worth mentioning…too short for a warm up or for gaining any time on other people (that didn’t hold back one guy who took off a minute faster than anyone else, though!)

I really wish they’d make this more like a real Duathlon with at least a 5 km run, but I guess I should be counting my stars and stay happy that I at least have a Duathlon option at all! Finished this part in 6:40 (was slightly shorter than 2 km!)


I was 3rd coming into transition. The person in the lead apparently couldn’t find his bike, so I saw him running towards me searching for his bike. Strange. Now I was ahead of him.
T1 was otherwise quick, no issues like last year where I fumbled a lot with my watch!


Starting off on the bike ride, I went through the first 2 turns to get out onto Ashburnham road. In almost a comical repeat of last year, within 1 km my front speedfill bottle between the aerobars attempted to fly off my bike. This was very unexpected because I had made sure to have it nicely secured, with my iPod computer band mounted on top. The iPod band had also slipped away.
Anyway, somehow it caught my attention in the nick of time and I literally was able to catch it by the straw, while it flew away. I then spent a good minute or two soft pedaling making sure it was fully secured before getting on with the bike ride. There was no way I’d make it through this ride without a nutrition bottle! Phew. That was a close one.

Even more eerily similar to last year, within the first 5 kms, my speed sensor broke. Yes, BROKE. No GPS  since this Timex watch once again decided to be fidgety in the morning. Awesome, no speed data for the rest of the ride.

Broken Garmin Speed Sensor...
I settled into my groove and was happy that the rough roads from last year throughout the ride were only restricted to the first 10 kms this year since the course had completely changed. The out and back section had some big rolling hills, but we had tailwind going out so they were not very noticeable…well, until I found out that AGAIN, I couldn’t shift to my lower chainring in the front! That really pissed me off because I had made sure the shifting worked fine in T2, and the day before the race!! Aaargh!! The hills weren’t so bad that I’d be crawling up them, but I definitely did not want to be standing up pedaling at 60 RPM on my 52/25 gear! On one occasion, the chain did magically shift to the small ring but then I was not able to shift it back up to the big one on the downhill for 1 km or so.

I reached the 45 km mark in roughly 1:14  (37 km/hr pace in the 10 km/hr tailwind) After the turnaround, the I found myself getting increasingly frustrated by the inability to change my front gear. Then a bulb popped in my head. The damn Q-rings probably don’t have  a good slip  track along the rings to allow me to  change gears under torque. Sure enough, as soon as I reduced the pressure on the pedals for a second, they shifted. Turns out nothing was wrong with the shifting at all, I just hadn’t learnt how to shift using these contraptions! Dumb.
There were not that many people ahead of me and the way back felt very long into the headwind, which had seemed to have picked up A LOT  more in the last 30 kms, becoming gusty at times (don’t you just love it when this happens?).

Somehow related to the wind, around 70 km, I hit a real bad spot. My focus just died, my quads started cramping, I found myself standing up to pedal more and more. I couldn’t grasp why it would happen but I must have messed up my nutrition or pacing. When I looked at my Normalized Power, it said 217W, while my average watts were 203W. That’s a 7% variance…no wonder my quads felt trashed. I suck a lot more when I vary power on  hills. For the next 10 km, I hated being on the road, pedaling away seemingly nowhere. I lost the two-three people who were close to me and lost a good chunk of time in this section. I was worried about the quad cramping and wanted it to subside before the run.

Mercifully, between 80 km and 90 km, my nutrition +rest must have kicked in and I was able to push again, but my overall power had dropped by  5W! I ended up at 199W in the end, but more importantly, not feeling like death!

90 km Bike Time: 2:39 (34.0 km/hr)
AP/NP: 199W AP / 214W NP
Total climbing: ~2400 ft


I’ve been practicing for a flying dismount earlier last week and although I was not able to execute it fully at the end of the bike ride, I did at least manage to get my feet out of my shoes while riding so I can save some time in T2! This way at least I can stop giving away podium places in transitions!! About damn time I practiced them!

After changing into my run shoes, I was like: WHERE IS MY RUN NUTRITION BOTTLE?! 

Did someone seriously take my bottle?!  I was truly mad  for an instant.  I couldn’t believe it. Then I realized I had a spare Gatorade bottle on my bike from the last aid station. Phew…Gatorade is not ideal and way too sugary, but its better than being dehydrated. I grabbed it and off I went.

Run 2:

Once I started running proper, I tried to find my rhythm. Its always hard in the first few kms but in this course, the first 4 kms are almost all on grass and semi-paved trails…lots of unsure footing. The grass seems to take all the spring out of your step! I held back as much as reasonably possible and settled into a 4:15 min/km pace.

Then I got to the mind-numbing 16km out and back section on a straight section on Ashburnham road again.

 Relentless rolling hills, lots of ups and downs, not one kilometer of flat roads!

This time I was having a new problem. I couldn’t breathe deep enough. It’s weird that just when you think you’ve figured out all the ways long distance racing can go wrong, you find another one. At first, it just felt a little tight around my chest. I thought it was the HR strap, so I adjusted it…but then it just got worse. Usually I fold  my top up to my chest so as to cool off better, but today doing that made me feel more uncomfortable around my chest. I concentrated on deep stomach breathing, which helped but was hard to focus on consistently. I found myself taking a lot shorter, shallower breaths without realizing.

Meanwhile, Garima and Riddhi kept themselves entertained:


Anyway, at least I ran with a Gatorade bottle. I just kept my hydration in check in the hot weather and didn’t push the run too too much because I knew after the turnaround that the first place was way up ahead and the third place was way back. I’ve been lacking that aggression/killer instinct in races these days to really push and get my best result out of me. 
Motivation after 4 hours to push yourself to the limit comes hard when it isn’t necessary! :D

In the last 2 kms, the 2nd place overall female in the triathlon started chasing me down. I don’t care about getting “chicked” but I sure like someone running with me to edge me on! So these 2 kms hurt, but I was able to manage some fast closing minutes.

Thank you Riddhi for the great pics!

21.1 km Run time: 1:35

Overall: 4 h23 mins
Duathlon rank: 2nd

The run 3 weeks ago in Welland was A LOT more painful. The run in Peterborough was harder in terms of effort, weather and terrain, but not as painful on the legs as in Welland.

After the race in Welland, I could barely walk to the chocolate milk tent. Today, I was tired, but got to my usual self in a few minutes. We even went to Yorkdale mall and spent walking 2 hours before reaching home at night!! 

…this tells me that it looks like im finally digging myself out of the weird fatigue hole I put myself in since mid-May. Funny how this is the 3rd year in a row when this has happened despite lots of changes to the training routine.

The conditions and course today were completely different from last year (at least on the bike) so I judge my improvement on my relative position to others. I’m pretty happy with the race I had today:
·         My bike ride was the 30th fastest this year ( was 45th fastest last year)
·         My 2nd run was the 15th fastest (was 23rd last year)  

Next race is Toronto Triathlon Festival (Olympic distance!). Stay tuned!

Keep pedaling.