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Race Report: 2014 Black Bear Half Iron Triathlon

I chose the Black Bear triathlon this season since had a half-iron distance and it was close to home.  I like to do a half-iron distance in the beginning of June to test out my fitness in preparation for Ironman Lake Placid which is at the end of July. This year I was trying to cut back on my triathlon-related expenses so doing a race that I can drive to really eliminates a ton of travel costs.

Saturday Packet Pickup

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Black Bear Triathlon

Saturday was the packet pickup for the race at the Beltzville State Park. It was a pretty uneventful packet picket with no expo or anything to make it a real worthwhile trip. They did have a warm-up swim course available in the lake so I did take advantage of that since I was making the 40 minute drive up there and back. It was a beautiful day, so I really didn’t mind the drive at all.

After I got my race packet, I headed over to the beach and put on my wetsuit for a swim. The water was said to be around 65 degrees ( F )  and I found it to be the perfect wetsuit temperature. They had the sprint swim course setup with start line, and 5 buoys lined up at 100 yard increments. Each one was marked with the distance except for the last one. They were working on setting up the other distances at the time, but there was a large gap between the end of the sprint and the olympic turnaround.

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Black Bear Triathlon

I ended up swimming the 1000 yards of the course plus what it took me to get to the start line from the far end of the beach. I tried going past the end of the sprint course but the boat guy setting up the buoys yelled at me. It was a nice swim and I felt pretty good. On the way back it was pretty windy and the chop was making things a bit difficult.

I prepared all my race gear Saturday night and loaded my bike into the car beforehand. The less stress I have on race morning the better. I noticed that I had taken my old size ML “fat” wetsuit for the swim earlier since my newer size “M” was still in the basement. I was wondering why it was fitting so loose. I had a delicious pre-race dinner of  Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry with Green Peas and was in bed by 9:30PM.

 

Race Day-Pre Race

I got up around 4:45 am on race morning. I finished mixing up my water bottles filled with Skratch Labs Raspberry hydration mix and one bottle with UCann SuperStarch. I would then supplement with water on the course(see Race Nutrition Plan below). I finished packing up, said goodbye to my wife and my dog and headed north up the PA Turnpike. My wife has been working a lot lately and Sunday was here only day off that week. I told her she didn’t need to spectate this race. It is an full 8 hour day and it just isn’t worth her sitting around there all day just to see me whiz by for a total of 2 minutes during that whole time. It was a beautiful morning with the sun coming up and a low fog settling in the cooler low spots. And now wind! I so wanted to stop and take some pictures, but I needed to get there before 7AM. I fired up my Pre-Race playlist on my iPhone and jammed away for the ride up to Beltzville. I skipped ahead to Beautiful Day by U2, before I hit the exit at Mahoning Valley. That is my go-to pre-race song!

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Black Bear Triathlon

Pohopco Drive was backed up a little bit from the entrance to the park, but it moved pretty fast. They were filing the cars into the grass soccer field first and by the time I got in they directed me right up close to the lake, which is where I would usually park anyway. Sweet!  Sometimes it is better to be late I guess. I made a B line for the toilets by the beach to get that out of the way, then I could calmly get my stuff and setup transition.

I made the long walk over to transition, got bodymarked and setup my little spot. On the way to my rack, I spotted one of my Facebook friends Nikky. I had been Fb friends with her since the now defunct Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains when she was posting the water levels of the Delaware River, but I had never met her in person. It was nice to finally meet her in person. I wished her good luck and headed down to find my assigned rack. Most of the rack I was already filled up so I was forced to the end of the rack where the guys in there had spread out like kings. A British gent politely offered to push his stuff over to give me some room. I setup pretty quickly and then heard someone calling my name. It was my friend Kirsten who used to play ice hockey with my wife. Her partner Kim was doing the race as well and she pointed out that Kim was just a couple rows over. Kim had done the triathlon in Belleplain, NJ when I did my first duathlon, so we have always kept in touch on Facebook about our racing. Kim was doing the olympic distance race today. After setting up my stuff I headed over and talked to Kim and Kirsten for a bit.

I also saw my tri-blogging buddy Shanna from Swoon Style & Home on the walk to the swim start. We had been chatting about on each others blogs since last years’ NJ Devilman race, so it was pretty cool to finally meet her in person. She is getting ready to do her first Ironman Lake Placid this year and I really enjoy following her progress and journey. She has also been doing really well in her age group with local races, so I think she is well prepared for July 27th!

So, my pre-race consisted of a lot of socializing which was fun! I find that I don’t have pre-race anxiety like I used to. I don’t know if that is good or bad? I am curious how Ironman Lake Placid pre-race will be this year. At least I know what to expect this year.

Race Nutrition Plan

Activity Nutrition Post-Race Comment
Pre-Race water/skratch labs hydration
Vega Protein bar on arrival to venue
Bring spring water(throw away) bottle while waiting for wave start.
Swim Lake Water(hopefully no pee!)
Bike 2-20oz bottles Skratch Labs
3-1oz servings of Chunks of Energy Chia Chunks
1 Clif Bar cut into small chunks(White Choc Mcadamia)
1 bottle of UCann SuperStarch
on course water to supplement
Clif Bar was yuk! Try Amrita bar next time instead for variationDidn’t really drink much UCann. Other food was plenty. Better off with another Skratch bottle.Took one water from aid station
Run 2 8oz Fuel Belt bottles of Skratch Labs
1 Lemon Honey stinger Waffle(at start)
Aid station water
Hit many of the aid stations for water. It was very hot on course.

 

The Swim

I made one last bathroom stop before the swim and then waited on the beach watching all the early swim waves take off. My wave was the second-to-last swim wave so I had an hour to wait from the first wave. I cannot understand why they put the longest race last to start?? Why wouldn’t let them go first so they can finish a little earlier and maybe they would actually have some specators still around when they finish.

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Black Bear Triathlon

Eventually, the “powder blue” swim cap wave was on-deck and we swam out to the dark blue balls indicating the start line. I swam over to the far left side of the start and it was only about 15 seconds until they started us off. The swim went fairly well overall. I settled into a pretty easy pace and just enjoyed the ride. Every once in a while I would run up into someone, but would then quickly redirect to the closest open water area. I always seem to find these guys that zig-zag their way through the course. I really hate that because they just seem to come out of nowhere and run right in front or into you from the side. I tend to sight a lot because I am not the fastest swimmer. I figure the straighter I can swim the less effort I need to exert. Lifting my head up to see every 6 or 7 strokes is not a big deal to me. It is better than being one of those feckless meanderers that aimlessly swimming all over the place.

We swam down to what seemed to be the wall of the dam and made our right turn. My Garmin had buzzed at the 20 min reminder just past the 2nd right so I figured was on par for my usual time. I started seeing a bunch of the red-capped ladies from the wave behind passing me so the fact that I was getting “chicked” was playing with my confidence a bit. I soothed my soul a bit by telling myself they were young.

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Black Bear Triathlon

Sighting also became a bit more difficult after that 2nd turn since we were going right into the sun now. We also didn’t need to follow the bouys on our right and could go directly at the one yellow one that was our last left turn to the exit. The only thing is, it was far away and I could not see it. I just followed the red cappers in front of me and kept an eye on the buoys on my right. Seemed to workout out alright. My watch buzzed 30mins just before the left turn buoy, so now I was eager to get to shore. I tried to increase my stroke a bit. I was soon spotting the lake bottom getting closer and closer. I would not stand up until my hands touched it. Bam…I am up!

As I exited the water I started searching for my zipper cord. I heard my name being called out by a male voice from the spectators to the right. Is that me?? Then I spotted Kenrick Smith waving to me. Kenrick is up-and-coming triathlon pro and coach from my area and is also founder of the Bruised Banana race report website. I don’t how he could recognize me with my swim cap and wetsuit, but it was pretty cool to have someone like him cheering for you to start the race.

Lessons Learned: Need to keep swimming when zig-zaggers cannot swim straight in front of me. I keep stopping cause I get mad and I am losing time.

Swim Time: 37:21

T1

The first transition went pretty well with no major hiccups. I had socks out, but decided against them. My bike shoes are meant for no socks so they work pretty well like that. I put my shoes on at the rack instead of the flying mount stuff. That is usually more headache than it is worth. The walking of the bike to the mount area is a bit of uphill slog. Especially when all your blood is in your shoulders.  It was a long haul.  Time was not too bad considering that.

T1 Time: 2:39

The Bike

I fortunately left my bike in the small chainring and middle gear on the cassette which is perfect to start. I don’t think I did that intentionally, but was happy it was there. I was pretty thirsty after the swim, so I hit the Skratch Labs juice pretty quickly and often right from the start. Once on Pohopco Drive I tried to settle into as much a rhythm as you can on that roller-coaster of a road. It was a little better this time(as opposed to my previous ride) since there was less traffic about and navigating the poor road conditions and lack of a shoulder was much easier. Being familiar with the road is very helpful since you can predict your shifts in a much more timely manner. There is lots of shifting to be done.

Black Bear Half Iron Triathlon 2014-Bike

Black Bear Half Iron Triathlon 2014-Bike

I found myself being entertained by the Endurance Multisport guy with the disc wheel who would fly past me at the end of each descent and then I would then spin by him going up the ascents. He would always climbing out of the saddle which made my quads cramp just thinking about it. That could come back to hurt him on the run I would guess. The course was pretty much as expected from what I learned on the pre-scout ride I did before and I really didn’t have any issues. I managed to survive the out-and-back on Penn Forest Rd. unscathed. That is a totally nasty downhill section that is littered with potholes. It sucks and is an accident waiting to happen.

Black Bear Half Iron Bike Course Elevation Profile

Black Bear Half Iron Bike Course Elevation Profile

The only difference to the course was the change to accommodate the bridge out. Instead of making the right onto Owl Creek Road, we stayed straight on Deer Lane. This was a pretty nice downhill section where you could pick up some speed. I did run into a bit of a jam at the one little uphill section past Lakeside drive. The slower cyclist had decided to stay in the middle of the road and when I tried to veer left to blow by him there was a large crater of a pothole in the road!! By the time I saw it I had passed him so I was able to swing back to the right, which is where he should have been. As I did this I heard someone yell “Right!” I looked back to find two faster cyclist had decided to pass him on the right, which is illegal and obviously not safe. I had cut them off, but I didn’t care cause they were in the wrong. I expected them to say something when they passed me, but they didn’t since I figure they realized they were wrong.

We then made a couple sharp turns(there were a bunch of these too) and popped back out onto Pohopco Drive again crossing the bridge just before the park entrance. We then made a quick right turn onto Pine Run Road just so we could make a super sharp left to the hit the nice little steep section onto Jefferson St. Thanks CGI! We then circled back around to the park entrance and on for the 2nd loop. I remember thinking how daunting it was to have to do that again, but the second loop went pretty quickly.

Black Bear Bike vs 2013 Quassy comparison

Black Bear Bike vs 2013 Quassy comparison

My pace after the first loop was around 17.5, so I must have slowed a bit on the second since I ended up around 16.9 overall. I felt like I was going faster the second time and their was a lot less bike traffic. I did mis-navigate one of the many potholes on Penn Forest Rd. this second time and had a bone-jarring thud of my front wheel. I kept checking my front tire for a flat for a while after that. My aid station-provided water bottle almost fell out between my aerobars too and I had a hard time getting that back in while navigating all the other potholes in the road while descending. I didn’t want to lose that water since it was all I had until the run.

Black Bear Half Iron Watts/Power

Black Bear Half Iron Watts/Power

I finished up the bike wondering if I had given too much to the 5000+ feet of climbs and possibly hurt my run. My Garmin showed a Normalized Power of 204 watts for the 3:19 bike ride, which is pretty high for me given a 234 FTP. I raced the bike as strong as I could without totally dying and I still felt pretty good when I finished.

Lessons Learned:

  • More Skratch Labs hydration, less UCann Superstarch(for half-iron distance)
  • Skip the Clif Bar, more Chunks of Energy or Amrita Bar cut into pieces

Bike Time:  3:19:09

T2

While dismounting my bike, I knocked one of my water bottles off my X-Lab Turbo Wing. Not a problem. I sauntered down the hill to transition crossing over a very soft sand volleyball court. I didn’t remember that on the way up? It just sucked all the momentum out of my legs…kind of an unexpected thing? Found my way to my rack space and racked my bike. Switched to my running sunglasses, hat, put socks on. Ripped one of them trying to get them over my semi-moist feet. Sneakers…forgot to untie or loosely tie them…doh! Left shoelace knotted trying to untie it(of course)! Argh! Relax…be calm…deep breath! You cannot untie a knot in panic mode! Finally undid the knot and got shoes on. Squirted blobs of sunscreen up and down my arms and shoulders. Fuel Belt…check. Run bib belt…check. Lemon Honeystinger Waffle to-go….check. Yum! And we are off…

While exiting  transition and chomping my Honeystinger waffle, I hit a button on my Garmin. Apparently I hit two of them because a minute or so later I realized my watch was stopped, but it was in the Run mode of the Multisport setting. I smeared around the sunscreen as best I could on my arms, shoulders, face and neck after my little lemon snack. Apparently I didn’t so such a great job cause I got some weird sunburn around the edges of where my jersey armholes end. I wish they had sunscreen appliers at these smaller events! It was after this I realized the Garmin was stopped.

Lessons Learned: Untie or loosely tie running shoes in transition before race!

T2 Time: 4:05 Sad smile

The Run

The legs were feeling pretty heavy at the start of the run. No wonder because that bike was pretty challenging. The trail started out along the water and then turned right up some trails through the woods. This is were I started feeling like it was more of an XTerra race than a triathlon. At least it was shady here. I hit a short, steep little incline on the double-track going through the woods. My quads started to cramp up…NO!! I just passed Endurance Multisport guy with the disc wheel who was walking up it and started to walk a little until the cramping stopped. I settled back into an easy pace again by the time I popped out of the woods. Now it was all sun exposure as we circumnavigated all aspects of the Beltzville Dam. The first was was down the right side on a very gravelly dirt road. I could feel every rock and pebble that I stepped on. Everyone stayed in the narrow little track where the tires had pushed most of the stones out.

Black Bear Half Run Elevation Profile

Black Bear Half Run Elevation Profile

The trail then angled to the right and more swiftly downhill and the road became VERY loose stones which were hard to run on. I moved into the narrow grass shoulder to gets some better footing. The road got steeper at the end before it bottomed out onto sharp left turn to a cement road where there was a aid station. I filed up and took a couple splashes from the kids. They were really enjoying dumping water on us. I sipped on my 2 8oz bottles of Skratch Labs hydration evenly in between water stops so that the weight was always properly distributed.

First Lap on the run. Only 6.5 more to go!

First Lap on the run. Only 6.5 more to go!

After the water stop, I looked up to find the trail leading up a VERY steep wall of the dam. What?! Holy crap! It had to be 20-30% grade and it was large loose rocks. There were a couple volunteers stationed there I guess to help people up. WTF?! I didn’t even attempt to run this because it would not be worth the energy and I probably wouldn’t go any faster. From there it was a steady incline up to the top of the dam. We then went back and forth across the top of the dam. There was a shithouse at the turnaround, so I popped in there quick to unload my bladder. Must have been hydrated well if I am peeing at this point? The top of the dam seemed like eternity. I think it must be a mile and half both ways. Fortunately there was a tailwind on the way back.

Beltzville Dam The Wall Elevation

Beltzville Dam The Wall Elevation

We then took another gnarly stone/dirt road down the left side of the damn almost to the water then turned around and back up to make a right. I lady in a teal one-piece tri suit passed me very easily…chicked again! Oh she had a “30” on her leg, so she has got the whole youth thing going there. That’s my excuse! Ok the dam has been fully inspected now. And I somehow managed to do it without breaking an ankle! We then headed across a very flat open plain before going back through the woods we came in on.

Black Bear 2014 - Run

Black Bear 2014 – Run

I made the turn to the right to make my second loop of the run course. The left turn to the finish line looked so inviting! I actually felt good on my second lap. I tried to stay  present take in the scenery and not focus on how far I have to go. It helps. One foot in front of the other. I walked the steeper hills and a couple aid stations to make sure the water got down my gullet. The miles ticked off. I was now getting pretty familiar with everyone in front and back of me since the whole route consisted of out-and-backs. I tried to make ends meat of whether I was getting relatively faster or slower, but it was hard to tell. I did pass one guy in my age group on the last stretch of the dam, which renewed my will a bit.

I hit the 13 mile mark right before heading into the shady wooded section. Ahh! Home stretch. It is funny how good feel at this point. Why didn’t I feel like that 2 minutes ago? Running along the water, I angled to the left and stayed left into the finishing chute. It was pretty much empty with a few straggling fans along the fence. The announcer said something with “Alburtis, PA” in it and then announced my name as “Brian Schwind, with the wind at his back” lol! Not enough wind I thought! I crossed the line with a minimal fanfare except for a few golf-claps from the few remaining spectators. It was the most anti-climatic half Iron distance finish I have ever seen. Not a big deal. I got a bottle ice cold water and my very large finishers medal and walked around a bit.

BB2103

BB2103

BB2103

BB2103

 

 

Lesson Learned: Bring mountaineering gear next time for run course! Smile

Run Time: 2:06:51 (9:41/mi avg pace)

Overall Finish Time: 6:10:06

BB2103

BB2103

Post-Race Summary

I circled back to the finish line chute to cheer for some of the folks coming in behind. I didn’t want them to feel meager finish that I did. Having done a bunch of these it is not a big deal, but if this was someones’ first half or A race of the year it could be pretty disappointing.

I walked around a bit after my cheering time and I found that there was a tent with bags of food for the athletes. It would have been nice if someone told me that?? It was the most laid back finish experience I have ever had. They didn’t even put the medal around your neck, but just handed it to you. It was pretty heavy though. I sat down and chowed on my soft pretzel and a uncrustable PB&J which was pretty good.

I considered staying for awards, but they seemed a little disorganized there too so I figured I would not be getting one anyway. I ended up finishing 8th in my Age Group(of 33) which is alright. My actual finish time was my longest ever for a half-Iron distance, but given the course I am not that depressed about it. It is a good prep for Lake Placid and will give me some extra push to get faster. I really need to get my run speed up post-bike. I would really like to maintain a 9:30 pace at IMLP this year.

I have heard post-race that several folks were a bit disappointed by the course and the unsafe aspects of it. The road conditions are not very good and given the steep descents and still flowing vehicle traffic on the course it makes this a dicey situation. There many drivers in this area that are not cyclist-friendly and do give them the safe distance and passing speed that is necessary. CGI really needs to look into this a bit more before someone is seriously hurt. I am not sure if I will do this race again, but if I do that will play heavily into my decision.

Ironman Lake Placid 2013-The Full Race Report

Pre-Race

I knew it was going to be a good day when “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath starting blasting through my earbuds as I enter the speed skating oval/transition area on race morning. Was it coincidence? I think not. I have over 2000 songs on my iPhone and I had shuffle-played them all while driving to town. I think it is going to be a great day!

The alarm went off at 3:45am and I immediately rose out of bed. I had taken my Heart Rate Variability like I do each morning and it read a 55. Not great, but I didn’t exactly have a great night sleep either. I felt as though I was awake more than I probably was. Despite that, I didn’t feel too bad for 3:45 in the morning. I proceeded making my usual breakfast fruit smoothie and a couple cups of tea.

I finished packing up my “specials needs” bags, which I am able to access at the halfway point of the bike and the run, with extra inner tubes, socks, and nutrition. Skratch Labs hydration mix, Chunks of Energy Chia Chunks, Amrita Bars, and a couple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches form the base of my nutrition program. I am not fan of a lot of gels and the typical sugary, processed race nutrition that most people use. I see so many people have stomach issues and those are usually the culprit. I did throw in a couple Clif Bars and Honey Stinger waffles for some variation too.

We were off on our way to town. Denise dropped me off at the intersection of RT 86 & 73 at the top of the hill by the Sunoco station. I made my way up the road to the transition. It was still kind of dark and it felt like a quiet pilgrimage up  to the speed skating oval. A few rain drops started to fall as I made my way up the street, but it never really amounted to much. I entered the transition area and headed over to my bike to put my water bottles on and my “bento box” full of nutrition. I double-checked my bike and made sure the tires did not go flat over night. All good.

2013-07-28 05.04.22

I then headed to the bag racks and added more food and hydration mix packets to them. I passed my coach, Scott,  on the way over there. I re-tied my bags and broke the one string on my run bag. Ugh! “Relax…no big deal” I thought to myself. I managed to “MacGyver” it so that it was ok. Next, I left transition and headed to the body marking area in the street just in front of the oval. I got in line and waited my turn. I had gotten in a longer line and a woman in a Polish bike jersey signaled to me to jump in her line which was much shorter. I was then marked with my number on both shoulders, both thighs and one the back of my left calf. Of course they would not leave a calf unmarked, they put my race age on my right calf too. I don’t think anyone could not figure out what number I was.

2013-07-28 05.32.06

I then waited a bit at the Mobil station for my wife to show up. Cell service in Lake Placid was awful the entire week, so texting is impossible. I bumped into Coach Scott again and we chatted a bit. His tire pump died on him while pumping his tires up. Why does that stuff always happen at the worst times? He managed to get another one, so it was all good. I then realized I left my special needs bags laying on the ground in transition and ran back to get them. Whew! They were still sitting there. Slight panic averted!

2013-07-28 05.35.51

I headed back and got in the porta-potty line and then Denise and my in-laws showed up. I finally got to the porta-potty and no TP! Ugh…Guess I will have to hold it for 13 hours! Actually I didn’t have to go that bad, just want to take a little insurance evacuation. TMI? We then headed up to the swim area and I dropped my special needs bags off at the appropriate areas. The walk to the stone wall on Mirror Lake Drive felt like miles and took forever. I was walking briskly back to the swim chute since it was getting time to start and I was still carrying my wetsuit. I got back to where Denise and her parents were standing and I quickly put my wetsuit on. We had a tearful goodbye and good luck and I made my way down the chute to the swim start. Time to get this party started!

Putting on wetsuit before the swim. Denise with backpack watching me

Putting on wetsuit before the swim. Denise with backpack watching me

A teary-eyed goodbye before the Swim

A teary-eyed goodbye before the Swim

The Swim

I felt sort of like a herded cow as I made my way to the seeded swim sections. I was looking for the 1:11-1:20 finish time section and it seemed impossible that I would get up there. While standing there, I felt a slight tweak on the rear of my wetsuit. It was Scott again…LOL! The red-faced girl next to him and behind me was like, “it wasn’t me!!”. Definitely a tension-breaker! So we shot the shit again as we tried to make our way to the start. I also saw my friend Robin, from the Troy Jacobson IMLP Camp standing along the railing. We said Hi and she said she would be on aid station #4 on the run course. This would be great to have another friend out there in no man’s land on the run. Scott eventually worked his way up to the 1:00 seeding area and I found my way into my section. The cannon went off for the pros a little before the rest of us.

Before I knew it, a second cannon went off for the age-groupers and the line began to move. I put my goggles on and florescent green swim cap over top. I weaseled my way over to the left side of the herd so I would be on the outside of the group for the clockwise swim. I also thought maybe I could see Denise and the family since it looked like they headed over there. I never saw them though. Before I knew it, I was passing under the big red Swim Start gate, hitting the start button on my Garmin, and submerging into the water. Here we go!

I started out easy since I hadn’t warmed up at all and eventually settled into my rhythm. There were no issues at all. The water was a nice temperature. Not too hot, not too cold…just right. No one hitting me and mostly clear water to swim unobstructed. After about 17 minutes I was rounding the big red tetrahedrons marking the turn back to the beach at 0.6 miles. The turns are always a little congested, but it is a narrow course, so it didn’t last long. The swim back went just as smooth and even thinned out a bit. Before I knew it, I was exiting the water for the first loop. I tried to look in the crowd for family, but my goggles were all blurry at this point. I hit the lap button on my watch at ~37 minutes and back into the water for another loop. Still feeling good and only 1.2 more miles to swim!

The second loop was even better. I was swimming the outside again, but noticed on my right side breath that there was no one between me and the buoys. I then angled over to the rope that is sunk a few feet beneath the surface. This helps so that you don’t have to keep looking forward to site the buoys to swim straight, and your times will increase since you are not swimming so far. I kept the rope in sight most of the second lap. I veered off a couple of times, but not a lot. Before I knew it I was grabbing the sandy bottom of the beach and standing up. I jogged through the swim exit and hit the lap button on my watch. Time: 1:16:54. Nice! This was the easiest swim I have ever had in a triathlon.

T1

I started unzipping my wetsuit as I headed over to two available “wetsuit strippers.” They quickly pulled down my wetsuit to my waist and instructed me to laydown and they ripped my wetsuit off my legs. One helped me up and the other handed me my wetsuit. Done. I then jogged down the chute that lead to transition. The chute was long and lined deep with cheering crowds of people. I tried to scan both sides while still keeping a steady jog. I finally heard my wife screaming my “BRIAN!!” as I was about 10 feet past her. I stopped and quickly ran back to her trying not to obstruct the other athletes behind me. I gave her a quick kiss and then on my way. Right before I entered transition I spotted my parents and my dog, Yuki, who looked like a drowned rat. Apparently, it had rained pretty good while I was swimming. Funny I never noticed it. I gave my Mom a kiss and Yuki a pet on the head and headed into transition.

Post Swim Smootch

I quickly grabbed my blue bike gear bag and made my way into the very crowded changing tent. I found an empty chair and sat down to get my bike stuff on. A volunteer came over to help me. I got out my helmet, sunglasses and shoes and was on my way out to get my bike. The volunteer took my bag and would put it back on the rack. There was a volunteer calling out numbers for other volunteers to get bikes out, but my number was not called out, so I headed down the aisle to get my own. Another volunteer was in the aisle next to me and she quickly helped my find my bike. They had apparently spun it around to the other side so I had to do the limbo and get into the next aisle. I got my bike and headed out the bike exit to the mounting area.

T1 Time: 0:08:45

 

The Bike

I headed around the sharp turn and down the hill onto the bike course. Denise and her parents were along the side of the road yelling my name as I cruised by. They must have sprinted to get down there so fast. I made my way down the steep, wet streets very cautiously so that I could make the sharp turn at the bottom. They had a wall of hay bails set up at the bottom and I did not want to be the one who crashed into them. Success! The first loop of the bike went very smoothly and my legs felt so good. It felt effortless at times. The only issue on the first loop was the long downhill from Cascade Lakes to Keene. The road surface is horrible and it was pretty wet. I have previously gotten up to 47 miles per hour on here, but this time 35 would be my limit. My brakes were not stopping me as well as normal with the wetness on the carbon fiber wheels. I was not about to take any chances here.

Going aero with my "speed hat" by Cascade Lakes

Going aero with my “speed hat” by Cascade Lakes

The stretch from Keene to Ausable Forks and back to Jay was a real cruise. I think we had a tailwind cause it was really nice. I unfortunately dropped one of my Amrita Bars out of the little side pocket of my jersey. Guess I should have kept that in my bento box. Crap! I still had a Clif Bar and plenty of Chia Chunks so I was still ok. I consistently popped the chia chunks in my mouth the whole way while sipping my hydration mix. I did not stop at any aid stations to take on more water since I wanted to empty the four I had before the hills started. I also had a small bottle with Ucan Superstarch in it that I sipped occasionally too. Not the best tasting stuff, but I think it is a good slow-release carb that I think works well. It does give you some serious farts afterward though. But for me that is nothing unusual. LOL!

Not very aero with my "speed hat" in the valley between Keene and Jay

Not very aero with my “speed hat” in the valley between Keene and Jay. Even have a “spare tire” around my waist in case I get a flat! Lol!

Coming into Ausable Forks a bike whizzed by me with a TYL (Tri Your Limits) cycling jersey on. I knew it wasn’t my coach Scott and then realized it was John from work. He also swims at Rodale Aquatic Center where I used to swim. I sped up to him to say Hi. I hoped I wouldn’t regret burning that match, but it wasn’t too bad. We chatted briefly and then I dropped off since John is a faster biker than I am. He has also finished IMLP a few times now so I figured I would not be able to keep with him. I checked my time through the 30 mile split timer and it was just under an hour and a half. Crap…I am looking at a ~3 hour split for the first 56 miles! I was thinking it would be like 4 hours. I was not feeling like I was going real hard either, so I just kept at that pace.

Aero

Aero

Next it was up the climb from Jay to Wilmington. It is a pretty healthy climb, but I just love it. It was nice to get out of the aero position for awhile and spin an easy gear. The thing I love about the Lake Placid course is the variation. Flat is ok for a little, but too much and I get sick of it. I like to climb too. The stretch from Wilmington back to Lake Placid is a steady climb up through the gorge. It was recently paved so it is pretty nice. It felt great the first time through. I managed to drop a whole Clif Bar right at the entrance to Whiteface Ski Area. Ugh! Note: Cut these packaged bars up next time and put them in my Chia Chunks baggy. I still had some Chia Chunks left so it was not an issue. I think I over did it on the food, but I would rather have too much than not enough.

I finally reached the “three bears” climbs before heading into town for the 2nd loop. There are a bunch of crazy spectators lined along the climb almost in Tour de France style as you ascend. It is pretty fun. As I reached the top of “Papa Bear” hill by Cobble Mountain Lodge, Denise came popping out aside me and running along. We chatted a bit until I made the right turn into town. Pretty cool! I cruised into the crowd-lined Mirror Lake Drive and picked up my special needs bag. I pulled out more chia chunks, Amrita Bar, a PB&J and some Skratch Labs packets and was on my way for lap #2. I did the first lap in a little over 3 hours which is an hour faster than I had planned. Hmm..better chill a bit on the second lap.

Chatting with Denise on Papa Bear

Chatting with Denise on Papa Bear

I weaved through town and behind the high school and down the hill. I spotted my parents and Yuki down past the hay bails and gave them a wave as I whizzed by. When I got on the climb past the ski jumps, I pulled out my PB&J and started chowing on that. The peanut butter was getting stuck in my throat, so I had to take sips of liquid in between bites. Here I am climbing a hill with a PB&J in one hand and a water bottle in the other. And I was passing some people too! Lol! The PB&J really hit the spot though. The descent down to Keene was here in no time. This time it was dry…sweet! There was also less people this time, so I could let it fly a bit more. Not sure how fast I got going this time since I was going too fast to look.

Bike Loop 1 done!!

Bike Loop 1 done!!

The 2nd time through Keene to Ausable Forks I was getting tired of being aero. My ass was really starting to hurt being in this position so long. I was relieved to hit the climb to Wilmington again and sit up a bit. I stopped briefly to pour some water from aide station and a Skratch Labs pack into my water bottle. My legs were starting to feel it a bit on this stretch back to the end. Not terrible though. What you would expect after 80 miles of riding. I did manage to get an Amrita Bar into my mouth this time without dropping it. Yum! I also kept popping Chia Chunks the whole time keeping a fairly consistent feeding routine. I think this would be key to the rest of the day for me. My coach had said that I would not feel like eating during the race and that I would have to force it a bit. Ha…ha…not me. I had no issue wanting to eat the whole time on the bike. For once my non-stop hunger becomes advantageous.

Back up the “three bears”, into town and straight into transition this time. The bike is over. Time: 6:24:38(7:50:17 overall)…Excellent! 36 minutes ahead of my plan. I just hope I didn’t tank my legs though. I will soon find out.

T2

I gave my bike to a volunteer and headed for the run gear bag hanging on the rack. Then into the changing tent which was much less crowded this time. The volunteer in the tent just ripped my bag open and assured me he would get my a new bag. I changed into some fresh socks, which felt sooo good. My cold, numb feet started to regain consciousness. I put my run belt, fuel belt and run shoes on. I ditched the run hat and sunglasses since it was still totally cloudy out. I popped a few salt pills and b-lined for the urinal in the tent. My pee looked pretty dark which worried me a bit. I needed to keep sipping liquids. I headed out the tent and over to the sunscreen appliers. The one girl even rubbed some on my head…what are you saying I am bald?? Lol! Good idea really.

My transitions were a bit slow, but it is the first time I had done them in this format. I know next year I can definitely shave off at least 5 minutes from here.

T2 Time: 0:07:58

The Run

I was out of transition and onto the run. The first mile is all downhill out of town. I felt really good here thanks to gravity. Denise and her parents were down at the bottom of the hill by Lisa G’s I said Hi and cruised on up the little hill and headed out of town. My legs felt a little crampy up the hill which worried me at first. I think it was from all the downhill and  it went away  pretty quickly. The first 13 mile loop of the run went very well and my legs felt phenomenal. Apparently, I did not burn my legs on the bike. I ran past the house and Wendy was out front and yelled some supportive words. A mile later I was at the 6 mile turnaround and heading back to town.

Realizing I have a whole marathon to run...think I will have a snack!

Realizing I have a whole marathon to run…think I will have a snack!

I fast-walked up the hill by the metal bridge by the ski jumps just to save my legs a bit. I was going as fast walking as some were running anyway. I was back into town and the whole family was cheering for me as I went by approaching the big hill into town. I slowed down to say Hi and pet Yuki a bit and then onto the hill. I walked most of the way up until the turn on Main St. I was on track for a 2 hour half marathon first loop. Wow, maybe I could PR my marathon during Ironman? My one and only marathon was a 4:30, but I was nursing a IT Band issue and really took it slow.

Possibly this years Xmas Card Family Photo

Possibly this years Xmas Card Family Photo

" Excuse me Maam, Does your dog bite?"

” Excuse me Maam, Does your dog bite?”

Petting Little Yukes

Petting Little Yukes

Making the turn on Mirror Lake and having to head all the way back out to River Road again really messed with my mental state. This is where is got tough. When I passed the family I told Denise this loop may not be quite as fast. I struggled a bit and had a few bouts of walk-run. I always walk the aid stations to get water in without spilling it all over myself, but now I was walking some in between. I also starting feeling something in sticking up in my left shoe. I thought there was something in there but I stopped and took my shoe off and there was nothing. I then took my sock off and still nothing. I ran my hand in my shoe and could not feel anything. WTH?! There was some excess thread in my sock that may have been causing it so I just took it off. One foot sockless and one not. It seemed better and I continued on this way.

On the way down to River Road I struck up a conversation with a girl in a No Meat Athlete shirt and she was telling me about her day. It helped get my mind off the drudgery of doing another loop. When I reached Aid Station #4 things started picking up again. I started drinking Coke with some water for some quick energy which really helped. I also started challenging myself to run for longer stretches and I was beating these challenges.

Hamming it up on the 2nd loop of the run!

Hamming it up on the 2nd loop of the run!

After the final turn and reaching the 20 mile marker I got a 2nd wind and running become the prominent method of movement again. I could feel the finish looming ever closer. I knew I got this thing now. I fast walked the hill be ski jumps again, but that would be the last hill I walk today. I was now running all the way to the finish. I even walked ran the big hill into town and up to Mirror Lake Drive. My family had now situated themselves along Main St. in front of the transition area. I heard them yelling  and gave them a big smile while holding up two fingers , indicating only two more miles to go. Fans lined along the street were yelling my name, which is listed on my bib, and words of encouragement the whole way. It was awesome. I reflected on all the training and hard work it took to get here and was so stoked that it was coming to the grand finale.

I made the last turn on Mirror Lake Drive. It was only one mile now to the finish. Just then, the sky opened up and it poured! Oh great, I am going to finish in a downpour. It really felt good though and I needed a shower anyway. How timely! It had stopped by the time I reached the oval and I took the right fork this time into the speed skating oval…this is it! Spectators lined the barriers cheering away. I high-fived a bunch of people as I rounded the bend. There were a few people in front of me and I tried to slow a bit so we had some separation. I took a glance up at the Jumbo-Tron and tried to take it all in. I could vaguely hear “Brian Schwind, You are an Ironman” being called over the loudspeaker  with all the cheering fans. It wasn’t quite the finish I had expected after watching all the late night finisher videos, but I did it and that is all that really matters. I was scanning the crowd for family in the finishing chute, but did not see anyone. I came through the finish line and gave a little “hockey-pump”. I did it!

Run Time: 4:39:44

Finish Time: 12:37:59

Finish line hockey pump!

Finish line hockey pump!

 

Post-Race

As soon as I passed the finish line I was quickly escorted by a couple volunteers who asked if I was ok. I was! They put a foil wrap around me that had “Refuel with Chocolate Milk” on it. I wasn’t too happy about promoting chocolate milk, but the warmth felt good. The volunteer, only one now, paraded me around to different people to get finisher swag, water, and take my race chip off my ankle. He then walked me around a bit and I said I was good. I spotted the family behind the fence on the side and went over to say Hi. I didn’t see Denise and first and asked “Where is Denise at?” She was standing just to the left and gave me a look like duh…here I am! I gave her a big hug and kiss and then proceed to give my Mom and Mother-in-law hugs and kisses. My Dad and Father-in-law got high fives. I thought I would be more emotional at the finish, but I wasn’t. Maybe too tired to be. I was happy though. I don’t think it was totally set in yet.

I started getting a little dizzy while talking to them about post-race plans. I went and sat down for awhile. A volunteer came by and asked if I wanted a piece of pizza. Hmmm…I have been plant-based for over a year now, but I think I can break the rules for this. Sure!…I said. It was soooo good!!  chatted for a bit with another first-timer from DC and even had another slice of pizza. That stuff is addicting!

I finally mustered up the energy to get moving again. I collected up all my transition bags and my bike and met up with my wife. We walked down the hill to the parking lot on Wesvalley Road. Most places were closed at this point(~9pm), but we headed over to the Dancing Bears on Main St. I had a couple Lake Placid IPA’s and yes, another Pizza!! What the hell!

The spoils of victory!! LP IPA and a Pizza!!

The spoils of victory!! LP IPA and a Pizza!!

After chowing down, we went back to the finish line to see the final finishers of the night. It was so cool. So much energy!! I could not believe people were still out there that long. This is what I expected the finish line to look like. Everyone was dancing and music blasting. Mike O’Reilly was up and down the finishers chute dancing and carrying on. One girl entered the oval at few seconds before midnight, but she didn’t cross until after 12:00. Not sure if she made it or not.

After that, we then made our way back to the car and headed home to River Road. I took a quick shower and slide into the covers around 1AM. Just before my eyes closed I thought to myself….

I AM AN IRONMAN!!

…And I fell off to sleep! I think it finally sunk in.

Thanks for reading!

Rev3 Quassy HalfRev 2013 Race Report

Pre-Race

My eyes peeled open around 4:15am. 15 minutes before my alarm went off. I was happy to have gotten a full nights sleep and feeling pretty fresh. I rolled out of bed and started preparing my pre-race breakfast in the little microwave in our hotel room. Granola with coconut milk, a banana and a cup of Tazo “Awake” black tea. I tried to be quiet and not disturb my wife, but everything seemed so loud. Eventually she awoke.

I had everything prepared the night before, so it was pretty easy to get ready. Just had to eat and get dressed. I did need to make two trips to the car since I had accumulated a bunch of gear from the car. I was happy to see other triathletes vehicles still in the parking lot when I got out there, confirming I was not totally late. We were out of the room by 5:30. The transition area at Rev3 Quassy closed at 6:30am and a half hour drive there gave me a full 30 minutes to get my transition area prepped. There wasn’t much to do really since my bike was already there and I body marked myself already. We had made good time getting there until we made the turn onto the last road into Quassy which backed up 1 mile from the park. Fortunately it moved pretty quickly and we were there in no time. Some people got out of there cars and started walking to the race entrance and their cars actually passed them. By the time we got to the entrance they were re-directing everyone to the overflow lot across the street. Denise dropped me off and I made my way into transition.

I got to my spot and quickly set everything up. I put socks in bike shoes this time, which I don’t normally do, but I thought it may be a good idea with the heat. I also opted for the standard bike helmet as opposed to the aero helmet, to keep a little cooler. The aero helmet will not provide that much benefit on a hilly course like this. I also put my sunscreen pump bottle there too so I could lather up a bit. I carried my wetsuit and swim stuff out of transition with me since I had over an hour until my wave, the last wave of the day. No sense getting heated up that early. I headed over to the Quassy ticket booth to wait for Denise and chowed down one of my PB&J Rice cakes(from Skratch Labs Feed Zone Portables cook book. Yum!). I tried texting Denise but the cell waves were quite congested and the message never got through. I resent as a text message and waited. By now the toilet was a calling so I jumped in line for the Port-O-John. They were well stocked and lines were not too long, so I was in there pretty quickly. Much better than the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon and Steelman Tri last year.

I still had not received any response from Denise after emptying out my digestive system, so I went back to waiting. Eventually I got a text back from her and spotted her immediately. She didn’t see me, so I had a little fun texting her while walking right behind her. LOL. We headed over to the beach area and watched the pros and initial age group waves take off. They had a area designated for swim warm-up, so people were swimming away while other waves were going out. Pretty nice. I decided to suit up and head in for a warm-up swim. Water was really nice temp, which they said was around 72 deg F. I was feeling pretty good in the warm-up and the lake was really nice for swimming.

The Swim

Before I knew it they were calling my wave, so I headed over to the starting coral. We then proceeded over the timing sensor into the coral. I lined up right in the middle of the pack on the right, inner buoy side. I have no idea why I lined up here cause I am usually a back, outside kinda guy avoiding the craziness. Today I for some reason chose to get “in the mix”. Perhaps I am feeling a bit guilty about missing out on the mass swim start at Lake Placid due to the recent swim start changes. The countdown started and then we were off. It was a little hectic getting started but things eventually settled out. As I was spotting the buoys I also glanced for some open water too. I did end up getting a little drafting in with some other swimmers which may have helped my time a bit.

Everything was good until I made the first turn, then it was straight on sun right in the eyes trying to spot the buoys. I could not see anything straight ahead of me except swimmers immediately ahead of me. I thought I could follow them but that is not always a good idea. I remembered that they said that the paddleboarders would be on the inside and kayakers on the outside, so I just kept them at a certain distance a side of me and knew I was good. I got into a nice rhythm and was feeling amazingly good. I really focused on my swim technique and started kicking more than usual. I also really worked on my body rotation to get a little extra torque.

 

Before I knew it I was at the last turn towards shore. At this time I started getting a gas fume smell or taste from the boats. It was really foul. I also was getting blasted from the sun again, but this time on the left side. I focused on closing my eyes when I breathed to the left side and also took double breaths on the right side. I was starting to see all kinds of psychedelic trails now from the sun glare. Pretty wild.  Next I was grabbing sand in my hand and was up and out of the water. I spotted my wife right away and headed over her way while I started unzipping my wetsuit. I forgot to hit the lap button on my watch until in transition and it was reading 34 mins and change…holy crap! That would be my fastest 1.2 mile swim ever. Officially it was 32:45.

The Bike

Transition was pretty uneventful. I managed to get my socks on without issue and ditching my wetsuit went well too. I made my clackety-clack walk to the other side of transition to head out on the bike. Denise was standing at the turn so I ambled over towards her to have a quick chat as I mounted the bike. She told me to “enjoy those hills!” as I left. “Thanks!” I replied. The course started out with a slight downgrade and I took full advantage of it. I wanted to get my heart rate down since it is always red-lining coming out of T1. We made the first right turn and then it was steady upgrade from there. The course was always either up or down, there was nothing flat for any length of time. My plan, with help from my coach, was to spin easy up the hills and bomb the downhills. I think I did that pretty well. I really tried to let it fly on the downhills keeping in a tuck position and trying not to hit the brakes. I only did so a couple times when I wasn’t sure what was around the next bend. Knowing the course more would have really helped there I think.

The course was very hilly to say the least, but I really liked it. I was enjoying just spinning past people going up those hills. Many people were laboring to breath and I felt like I had mammoth lungs or something. Nutrtion-wise I just kept nibbling away at my Cha Cha Cha Chia Chunks of Energy the whole ride. They are packed with nutrition and don’t give you that rot gut like all the over-processed crap does. I also drank my Hammer Perpetuem too, but I am not sold on that as a single nutrition source. Makes me feel very full. I also was drinking my Skratch Labs hydration drinks and water very consistently. I really feel like I did everything right on the bike. I was hoping to be around 3 hours, but with a course much tougher than Ironman 70.3 Muskoka, 3:11 is not too bad. I did slow down a bit towards the end just to give my legs some reprieve before the run started.

The Run

T2 went pretty smoothly as well. I was starting to feel some sunburn on my shoulders so I layered on another coating of sunscreen. Fuel belt, run bib belt and shoes and off on the run. My plan was to head out on a steady pace for the first couple miles until the legs acclimate. Today it took about 3 miles for that happen, which ironically was right as the hills started up. We basically headed out the same way as we did on the bike, but eventually made a different turn. I got into a steady run around 8:00-8:30 pace. I thought I would be able to pick things up a bit, but little did I know how tough this run would be. The worst part was the hill from around mile 3.5 to 5. It was unforgiving to say the least. Just up and up and up again. Not only that it was dirt road which made it worse. I have not seen that many people walking since I was volunteered on the run course at Lake Placid last year. It really made it tougher to keep running when you see people that look much more fit than yourself walking.

I did end up walking the aid stations after that big hill. It sucked the life out of me. Walking the aid stations also gave me a chance to get all the hydration I could in and put some ice in my hat. It is amazing how much help that is to get you going again. My legs were really feeling it and I was battling in my head to keep on running. I kept thinking to myself how this is good practice for LP in controlling the mind. If I can do it here I can do it in LP. There was one guy, who was running near me and we kept passing each other. We would then push the other one when one was walking. It made such a huge difference to have that support. We ended up finishing right next to each other and he definitely helped me get there and I hope I did the same for him.

REv3 Quassy Run Start

Eventually some relief came with a bit of downhills, but they were never real long as there was always a little up interspersed every so often. The worst part was at around mile 9.5 the course went right by the finish before heading out for another 4 miles. How cruel!! The only good thing was the encouragement from some spectators and seeing my wife. But then it was out away from the finish and the hills started up again. The last one was really steep too and it was all I could do to keep from walking. Eventually I caved in to the grade. At the last aid station I grabbed a cup of Coke(the only time I will drink Coke) and some water for a last blast of energy to get me home. As I neared the finish, I could feel the feet picking up again and then all the pain is quickly forgotten. Sort of.

As I entered the finishing chute, I spotted my wife with iPhone camera in hand. I headed over for a high five and then high fived the announcer guy too as I made my way to the finish line. The clock said  around 6:47 and I thought “oh crap, I am over 6 hours!” figuring my wave left at 7:45, but realized we were probably late so I had no idea. My watch was saying 5:57 so was a bit disappointed at first. I never saw my official finish time until we were part way home and realized I had a new half-iron distance PR of 5:54, which really made me happy. Also, 2:05 run on a hilly course like that is not too bad for me.

Rev3 Quassy Finish Photo

Nothing like an post-race ice bath! Ahhh!

Nothing like an post-race ice bath! Ahhh!

Crossing the finish line I was draped with a icy cold Gatorade towel over my shoulders which was the best thing I ever. It felt so refreshing. I was pretty spent. That was a tough course no doubt. I was also given a finishers ribbon that would have made a rapper jealous. I usually hang those things on my night stand light, but this thing will surely pull the light off. I met up with Denise and we headed over so I could get some food. As we walked over, I spotted a couple people wallowing in what looked like cow troughs. Oh man…Ice bath!!! The water looked disgusting and actually had a oil slick of sunscreen on the top, but I didn’t care. One dude sitting in one said it is gross but feels amazing! I hopped on it and it really did feel good. A girl next me had her friends filling up a cup for her with a pitcher of beer and my wife caught me staring at it. Denise then quietly snuck away to get me one while I chatted with the guy next to me. When she realized they only had Miller Lite she nixed that idea.

After the ice bath, I headed over to the food. They had lots of pasta that looked so good. They even had veggie burgers which I was pretty psyched about. Thankfully the lady behind me asked about them cause they were not readily visible. While standing in line I realized that they had Corona bottled beer so I ended up getting one and it tasted some good. We then headed over to transition, packed up my stuff and made our way home.

This was a true test of my fitness for Lake Placid. Although it was brutally tough, I come away with some confidence for Lake Placid and new 70.3 PR. The other notable thing was that this was my 1-year anniversary of switching to a whole foods, plant-based diet and I am feeling better than ever. The run at Lake Placid is twice the distance, but the hills I feel are more manageable. I still have a lot more training to go, so I know that will only add to the fitness that I already have. Thanks Rev3 Quassy and bring on Ironman Lake Placid!

2012 Ironman Muskoka 70.3 Race Report-T1 & Bike

T1

Toronto HarborfrontI bypassed the wetsuit strippers on the exit of the swim and started the long haul up the hill to the Deerhurst Lodge parking lot were the transition was. I can get out of my wetsuit pretty quickly and I thought the strippers would take longer than if I did it myself. I may take advantage of it at Lake Placid next year though. The path to transition followed the golf cart path up steady hill and ended up being about 0.35 miles in length. This was probably the longest transition distance I have ever had. I thought my transition was fairly decent for the things I had control over. I did put on socks since it was a bit cool out this morning. This will take up a good 30 seconds more, especially with wet feet.

 

T1 result: OK
T1 Time
: 5:01

The Bike

Technical Difficulties--Ironman Muskoka 70.3The start of the bike was a bit rough. After getting out into the mounting zone, I hopped on my bike and started pedaling. I immediately felt a rubbing of my back tire. I had recently put a new rear tire on and it was a bit taller than the previous one. I thought I had adjusted this correctly, but I think it may have came loose again. Funny how these things always happen in a race. My wife had made her way up to the road and came over to see what was going on. I heard my wife say “uh oh!” I managed to loosen the quick release and adjust the wheel to alleviate the rubbing and was on my way. I had taken my bike gloves from transition, but ended up giving them to my wife after I got the wheel fixed. I was finally on my way.

 

[singlepic id=120 w=400]

The course was hilly to say the least. It wasn’t like huge mountain climbs, but it was just constantly up-and-down. There was a section on one of the major roads that was somewhat flat for a little bit, but even that had some undulations. Tried to settle into some grooves and made sure I was spinning at over 85 rpms on the hills. There was a couple hills that I had no choice but to go under, but for the most part I kept to that.

Toronto HarborfrontThe ride went through a couple small little towns that were a really nice change of scenery. There were usually groups of supporters cheering away. The scenery overall was gorgeous. Lots of lakes and woods. The trees were starting to change color too, which added even more to the picturesque surroundings. One stretch of road ran along a beach of a larger lake and there was fire boat docked shooting a large stream of water out over the beach which was really cool. I picked up a bottle of water and a Honey Stinger waffle at the first aid station. I usually don’t take food at race aid stations, but the Honey Stinger Waffle is my regular feed on the bike. This along with my homemade energy chunks kept me well fed for the race. I also kept well hydrated with 2 bottles of Skratch Labs Hydration mix and 1.5 bottles of water. Felt like this was the perfect amount. I had also taken 3 Salt Sticks and a bottle of Skratch Labs mix prior to the race too.

Toronto HarborfrontThe last part of the race was quite a bit hillier than the first half. My legs were really feeling it on the last couple of climbs. In addition to this was 3 sections of recently oil-and-chipped road…YUK! This shit should be outlawed! They did a pretty good job of sweeping it, but it just sucks the life out of me. Fortunately the sections were fairly short. In addition to the hilly course, they also extended it to 58.5 miles(94km)! What the hell??? Could we make this tougher please??!! Finally I rolled back into Deerhurst to get ready for the 13.1 mile run. I was hoping my legs still had some life left in them. While this was not my fastest bike ride, I think I may have executed it as I had hoped to and that was to remain steady and save something for the run. I also lost a minute or two adjusting my wheel at the start.

Bike Result: OK-(not superfast, but steady)
Bike Time: 3:18:59 ( 17.6 mph)

2012 Ironman Muskoka 70.3 Race Report-Start & Swim

Deerhust Lodge Entrance

I think the best things about the Muskoka Ironman 70.3 race is the later 8AM start and the hotel proximity to the transition. The latter is only a benefit if you are actually staying at the Deerhurst Resort, which I did. Given those items I was able to sleep in until around 5AM race morning, enjoy a casual breakfast in the room, and make a short walk to setup my transition at 5:30AM. The morning was extremely stress-free. I also think that I am really starting to lose some of the anxiety that comes with a triathlon, but not all. It had rained pretty heavily on Saturday so the bags I used to cover my handlebars and seat had collected a bit of water in them. I created a bit of a stream through transition when I dumped them onto the ground. I did manage to keep from running through others stuff.

MuskokaSep2012-8598I had plenty of time to setup my transition spot and head back to the room to relax a bit and hydrate a little more. I really felt well hydrated and my pores felt like they were ready to explode with sweat. I put on my wetsuit in the room since it was around 40 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. There was a large amount of steam coming off the lake, so I knew that the water was going to be nice and warm when we got in. With about 15 minutes until the first wave starts, we made the 10 minute walk out the back of the hotel and down the hill to the small peninsula where the race began. Once we got out there things started going pretty quickly. I don’t ever remember hearing them play “O Canada”. I thought that that would be kind of different hearing that instead of our National Anthem. I kissed my wife goodbye and headed to the queue where my wave of green swim caps was starting to congregate. We really didn’t get much time to warm-up and before I knew it the pink cap wave in front of us was taking off.

The 1.2 mile(2km) swim course formed somewhat of an flipped “P”. We headed in a clockwise direction flanking the beach, before turning towards the opposite shore and then back. The majority of the guys in my wave had congregated on the left, outer side which was closer to the shore. I assume because they were able to stand up. I had started to line up there myself, but my wife motioned out to the inner buoy towards the middle of the lake . I looked and there was hardly anyone there, which is quite odd. Usually this is where everyone congregates and you better know what you are doing to line up there. Today it was empty, so I headed over there and found a nice open space right behind the line. I could not stand here so I just laid back and floated until the gun went off.

Finally the gun fired(not sure if there was a gun actually) and we were off. The swim down to the first turn was so nice without all the typical congestion. The sun was directly in front of us, so spotting was a little tricky, but not bad. The first turn was pretty good as well. I made way across to the other side of the lake and then made the next right heading back. I somehow got out a little wide, but there was no one around me. Probably one of the least congested swims I have ever had. I felt great the whole time and just got in a good steady rhythm. I felt my 15 min timer go off on my watch part way down the upper side. It felt like I had a ways to go yet, so I really was not sure if I was doing good or not. I didn’t take any time to look at my pace on my Garmin, as I was trying to not waste any time.

I IMMuskoka2012-1420eventually made the final right turn heading back to the swim exit on the green just below Deerhurst Lodge. The water got very shallow and it felt like I could reach the bottom with my hand if I tried. It was pretty cool since it gave some perspective as to how fast I was going. I never felt the second vibration for my 2nd 15 minute timer on my Garmin, so I was thinking I was either going blazing fast(< 30min 1.2mile?? Yeah right) or I just didn’t feel it. Undoubtedly the latter. The swim exit approached and I swam as far into it as I could before a volunteer grabbed my arm to help my up the steps. A quick glance at my Garmin indicated 38 mins and some odd seconds…SWEET!!!!  Last year at Ironman Miami 70.3 I did it in just over 45 mins, so chopping off around 7 minutes is huge.

Swim Result: Success!
Official Time: 38:13
Pace:1:49 min/100yds

Ironman Muskoka 70.3 Quick Recap

Despite the fact that I missed my goal of finishing under 6 hours, I had a really great day today. But the bike was actually 58.5 miles instead of the 56 mile standard for a Ironman 70.3 race and I finished 2 minutes and 55 seconds past 6 hours, I will consider that goal reached. I know 2.25 miles take much longer than 3 minutes. Given my average speed of 17.6 MPH, that would come out to .3 miles/min. So 2.5 miles would take around 8 minutes at that same speed. So figure a typical course distance would have given me a finish of 5:55. 5 minutes under 6 hours. 🙂

The swim was awesome. I finished in ~38 minutes which was around a 1:40 min/100yd pace which is really good for me, especially when swimming 1.2 miles. It ranked 36th in my age group. The water was nice and clean and there was plenty of open water to swim without getting beaten up. I really enjoyed the swim and it was nice to pass the pink and blue caps from the 2 waves ahead of me. I guess that is what happens when you have a kick-ass swim coach!

T1 was a bit crazy. It was about 0.35 miles in distance and included a large hill to run up. Took a little longer than usual. I also put socks on since it was a bit chilly out. My toes ended up being numb the entire ride anyway,so I wonder if it was worth it.

The bike was pretty hilly, but beautiful. There didn’t seem to be too many flats on this course. The start of the bike was a bit crazy too. My back wheel was loose and my tire was rubbing against the frame. I straightened it out enough to get going, but I felt it rub a little every once in a while. My pace was around 17.8mph which is a little slow, but given the hillage no wonder.

T2 went well. 2 minute quick change. Kiss for the wife too which made her day.

The run was great compared to last year. Course was hilly as well, but I felt good and was able to pull it in under 2 hours. No cramping! Thanks Skratch Labs and Salt Stick!

In addition, the weather was incredible. Sunny and cool. After yesterdays, damp and raining day it was greatly appreciated. All in all a great day. More details to come soon depending on whether we have internet access. Heading to do some camping tomorrow.

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