Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Race Report - Woodstock Triathlon 2011

4th Place Age Group / 19th Place Overall
Split placing:

7th on swim
2nd on the bike
6th on the run

Yes, that reads 4th place. The first non-podium loser. Haha! Well I was 4 minutes behind the 3rd place guy so I am happy about that. That is far enough that I cannot come up with a list of circumstances that could have got me on the podium. He beat me fair and square so there is no sulking coming from me, I put together a damn fine race. :)


We got up extra extra early this time. Mrs LoTC has a bad reputation for dragging her butt in the mornings. I made sure to give us an additional 45 minutes to get out the door but somehow - that still was not enough! Arrrrggghh! Even with all our stuff laid out the night before, We still did not leave on time. I attribute it mostly to the wife not getting out of bed when the alarm goes off :)
On the way there I had to skip my planned coffee stop. I wanted to try out a medium coffee in the morning before a race to help kick start my motor but there was not enough time to go out of our way to get one. I am thankful that the weather called for no rain but it was cool out. Not cold, but cool with a bit of overcast. Upon arrival I had to make a quick last minute adjustment to my headset on the TT bike. It keeps coming loose, I have a feeling its related to the integrated headset design and the way the bearing slips out of the socket. Annoying, but luckily I know what I am doing so I tried to fix it on the spot.
I had the best Pre-race ever. As we got into transition I picked out my spot on the rack. I like being near the legs of the stands, that means I can use the space around the legs for additional real estate. The best part was, I was hardly nervous. I took a glimpse around at the other competitors and had a moment of hesitation. The guys around me were all well built, serious looking triathletes. My age group looked stacked and any hopes of being competitive with these guys began to fade. But ONLY for a moment. Immediately I went back to setting up my transition and decided to focus on my own race. Ignore what everyone else is doing and how they look and concentrate only on myself and keep to my little bubble. I quietly and meticulately roughed in my transition gear while I recalled all the training I have done to get here. I've been training for an Ironman, not a short distance triathlon like this. As much as I want to do well in the rankings, I am fooling myself as I have done absolutely no sprinting or intense speed work during my training program. Instead I focused on doing my best and have a great race of MY OWN. My confidence soared and I knew in my mind and in my heart that my commitment to the traininig program will pay dividends provided I 'race myself' and not others. I kept to myself and didn't chat with the other competitors in my age group.
I wanted to get to the race extra early so I could warm up properly. The shorter the race, the longer the warm-up. I had enough time to run the first couple kilometers on the run course. I was sweating like crazy when I returned and my legs felt a big fatigued from riding 190km the day before but overall I felt pretty good. I told the wife and some friends that arm warmers won't be needed on the bike. Its actually warm out once you get going.

Next time wear a watch you fool! Or get to the race earlier! I went to get a warm-up swim in and somehow I wound up out at almost the first buoy when the race director called the 4 minute race start warning. WHAT?! I could have sworn I had plenty of time to warm up, are they starting early or something?! I tried to stay calm and haul ass back to the beach. With 2 minutes until race start I was still not at the beach and I could see I will barely make it. I got back to the beach with 45 seconds to spare and a boat load of anxiety. Wow that was close. I didn't have time to remove my RoadID since I couldn't find anyone to give it to. I guess I'm racing with it on. I dont mind it being there, but I dont want to cut anyone on the swim with it. Since I was last out of the water, I was right at the front of the pack. I wanted to be here though, I planned to put in a great swim so I wanted to be up with the fastest at the front.

As soon as we started I knew I was in trouble. Wow these guys are fast, this is not the kind of fast swimming I have been doing in training. I got humped from behind a couple times before the first buoy, they were mowing me down and running me over. I couldn't find my rythm, I breathed every single stroke and my heart rate was wildly out of control. This was bad, I'm borderline panicing and we're not even halfway yet! Luckily everyone's pace slowed down significantly after 300m in. I was still struggling but at least I wasn't getting run over anymore.
After the first turn I decided to back right off and concentrate on my composure. I slowed my stroke down, concentrated on getting longer pulls and stop kicking so hard. Once I found my rythm, I was able to get my breathing under control. I was practically hyper-ventilating at one time, but now I was able to breath every few strokes, alternating sides. Just like in training. Before I knew it I was beginning to pass people and picked up alot of speed. I was able to recover. Wow, that felt great knowing that if this happens in an Ironman, I know what I have to do to get back in the game. Unfortunately it was too late in the game for such a short race, so my time in the swim was horrible compared to what I am capable of.
1:53min/100m on the swim. Sad. I should be closer to 1:40 but oh well! Lesson learned!

My arms felt weak coming out of the water, but still better than they have ever felt at any other tri I have done. As I ran I stripped the top half of my suit and by the time I reached my bike I had a reasonable amount of strength back in my shoulders. I am definitely stronger than I once was, and that boosted my confidence! Socks. Yes, I wore socks. For a triathlon this short I would prefer not to have socks but after trying it out earlier in the week I am still barely recovered from the blisters that ensued. I chose to wear socks over my duct tape'd feet to prevent further injury. This was a brand new pair of running socks that I picked up the other day - they went on perfectly! No fuss whatsoever, I dont think the socks cost me much time at all, if anything they added time due to me being more comfortable on the bike and run. Anyways, the toughest part of the transition is the bending over. Being tall, its a loooong way down and I don't have much trunk muscle so holding that position is difficult. Honestly, I didn't once practice my transition ahead of time, so everything went pretty good considering. I did cost myself about 15 seconds as I  took a moment to check that I had everything. If I had practiced ahead of time, this shouldn't have been needed. I just wanted to make sure.

Uphill Photo Op
It was a long run with the bike to the mount line. The grass was off camber and on a hill so I couldn't just push the bike by the saddle, I had to reach down to grab the handlebar and steer it along. That's tough when the bike is so low and you're trying to run at the same time. As I approached the mount line I also have to admit I didn't practice mounting the bike either. I'm an expert at the flying mount with the mountain bike, however on the TT bike the bottles at the back get in the way. Plus I didn't want to pull a Rodney in front of everyone and fall over lol.
I opted for the safe method and put my leg over the top tube. It took forever to get clipped in but I had pedaled a bit to make sure I was trying to get clipped WHILE rolling. It wasn't much of a roll since we were on an uphill and I got passed by a guy. Immediately I cranked it up the hill to pass him because I could see at the top there was a photographer, haha! I seized the photo opportunity at the last second and got in front of the guy. Perfect!
The lousy part was, while cranking on the pedals I could hear a horrible crunching/creaking noise from my front end - my headset was still loose. Damn. I would have to listen to this noise everytime I climbed or sprinted and it was a painful noise that made me back off a bit or not sprint as long.
Out on the road I quickly realized my earlier advice to my friends was very very wrong. It was really frickin' cold out. Not so much the temperature but the 35km/h killer headwind. Ohhhh I was freezing and I could feel the fatigue in my legs from the previous day's 190km ride. The harder I rode, the more I got passed. I got passed again, and again. After a few kilometers I backed off and concentrated on my own ride. I ignored the rest of the competitors and what they were doing and just focused on my own legs and heartrate. Immediately I started to pick up speed. I would spin lightly on the uphills, pushed moderately on the downhills and surged on the flats. As I warmed up I just got faster and faster. In no time I was passing a ton of people. I could see the leaders out in front of me in the distance, I wasn't too far back. I could tell almost everyone blew there load against that headwind. I chose to ride a bit more conservatively into the wind, so when we hit the turn around I had energy to haul ass. It was one scary fast ride back to transition - I managed to catch a few more people in the distance as well. With only 3km to go a chipmunk (or maybe it was a mouse) ran out from the bush. I was going too fast to react and I hit it bang on. I felt the thump and then a spray of fluids up my legs. I thought for certain I was covered in blood. It was horrible, I looked down but nothing looked red so I figured the chipmunk must have been wet or something. It wasn't until after the race that the wife pointed out it was more likely chipmunk pee. Eww. Poor little guy, didn't stand a chance.
I totally stuffed that guy - haha!
I had a great bike, and it all came down to pacing myself on my own terms. I had the 2nd fastest bike split, even with having done a 190km ride the day before. Hah!

Overtook him in the sprint to the timing mat lol
Coming into T2 you're not allowed to pass on the downhill corner that approaches the dismount line. I biked so hard to pass the guy in front of me that I pulled in from a distance, but missed getting the pass by a few meters. He took the corner slow knowing he was blocking me. We jumped off the bikes and I sprinted as hard as I could passed him. It was shoulder to shoulder for a bit and I had the inside lane of a turn that we would make down to the timing mats. I completely stuffed him up the outside of the corner. He had to back off and I made it to the timing mat first. Hah! He was in my age group too! lol
T2 was perfect, I didn't even do a double check of my equipment before leaving. I struggled to get my garmin wristwatch done up on the fly though.

Ohhhh so this is what a brick feels like. OK, I haven't done many brick workouts and for the ones I have done, I had not had a problem. Actually I always felt great going from the bike to run. Except today, my legs were toast. Almost immediately I had jello legs, clearly from pushing so hard on the bike. In the first few hundred meters I was beginning to worry but my Garmin was showing a 4:30min/km so its not like I was dogging it or anything. I held the pace as best I could and within a kilometer I had my running legs underneath me. I don't normally run this fast, actually I never run this fast so I dont know how long I would be able to hold that pace. The legs were moving as fast as they could which would get me to 4:05min/km but they were not overly tired or burning up. They were just pushing as hard as they could. The problem lied with my breathing. I was breathing heavy and not comfortable with it since I never trained at this heartrate before. Oh well I promised myself I would do my best to hang onto that pace for as long as I could. I got passed by the woman's race winner and a 20 year old guy that were crazy fast. Other than that - I didn't see anyone for almost the entire run. I tried to take a cup of water but I was breathing so hard it went down the wrong tube cuz I didn't time my breath with my swallow. Idiot! lol.  So no more water for me. I didn't once look back to see who is behind me because it didn't matter. This was as fast as I could go so if somone went to pass me, I had nothing in reserve to attack with. I told myself there is no other place I would rather be right now. This is what I want to be doing. Except my lungs were not quite buying it. I was looking forward to that finish line and the end to my suffering. I didn't drink anything the whole race so with 1km to go I could tell I was about to stop sweating from dehydration. I looked back as the trail curved just once on an uphill to the dam and I locked eyes with my predator. He was right behind me and I knew in that moment he was coming for me. With just one kilometer to go I gave it my all and made sure that if this guy were to close the gap he would have to be Ben Johnson or something, I did my best to make sure he didn't have time to catch me on the flat since the final 500m  was a downhill anyways.

I crossed the line and was ecstatic at how well I did! I knew my bike was fast and my run was the fastest I have ever gone and was happy with it. I didn't even go check the results, I was perfectly content knowing that my training has paid off. Once the awards ceremony started I rushed to figure out how I placed, just incase. Sure enough it was 4th! Damn, that sucks. 4th place is a tough spot to swallow since you were so close to podium that you can usually come up with the reasons why you missed it. In this case, the guy in 3rd was pretty far ahead and I put in such a great race that there wasn't much left to make up that gap even if I wanted to. Even with a better swim, a more organized transition I wouldn't even be close. The run would not get any faster than that and my bike was damn good. I guess if I didn't do 190km the day before I may have been able to go just a bit faster, but would that have been enough? Who cares! I wouldn't trade my saturday long ride for a podium finish any day! I had such an awesome ride Saturday, it was worth a silly podium. :)  This was a perfect weekend!

19 1:40:56 Proc, John 30 Brantford ON 17/132 4/20 Men 30-34 35 14:03 1:53 14 52:35 34.2 24 32:04 4:14 1:21 0:55


  1. 2nd fastest bike split the day after a Long ride!!! nice work ...especially with crunching/creaking noise

    awesome run the swim was fine - you did Great

    your training most def paid off here:)


  2. hahaha love the screw ups pre race w/ your timing, it happens man.

    Way to pull this one off. Are you sure Bryan wasn't out there trying to give it to you from behind during the swim?

    That bike split was wicked awesome! Now if only you can wrap up the 3 sports with a fast run, I think you would be pretty dangerous!

    I have been told by numerous people, no matter what, after your long rides, go run for a minimum of 10 minutes. Train your body to take to that transition. Don't waste your long rides and not run after them!!!

  3. Congrats John! Great race! What impresses me the most is how much your running has improved.
    Way to go! I'm sure that you'll get that podium spot very soon.

  4. Wow that is a great race John!!! Love that you ignored the rest and focused on your race. When's the next one? IM?

  5. Awesome report and a wicked result! Well done! I looked at the stats and the guys who beat you were running an unreal 3:15-3:30/KM pace. That is nuts!

  6. Great job!!!! That first race of the year is always kind of crazy trying to get back in the routine. 4th place is AWESOME!

  7. Great race...but all I can think about is that poor chipmunk. We almost hit a deer and a small rodent the other day on our ride. I don't think I could handle killing a small animal with my bike...unless it was maybe a slug...

  8. CONGRATS! What a great race - esp. when you have been training for long course!

    Poor little chipmunk! :(



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