It's funny how waiting for a certain event to happen it seems like forever and then before you know it, bamn its here. Thats what I felt like with the GWN half iron. I was glad when the day to race was finally here. I tried to get a good night sleep the night before, I think I managed 5-6 hrs but I felt fairly rested. I arrived at the transition area right at 6am and was very quickly set up and ready to go. I bumped into my friend Dave and then Dusty and Adrian who also train with my coach. Dave and I had been trash talking for months about this race and it was continuing on before the start, lol. I hopped in the water for a quick warmup and then it we were herded into the start area.
THE SWIM (46:51 512/627)
I seeded myself at the back of the first half. Right off the bat there was lots of contact. Triathlon swim can definately be a contact sport, lol. I can't say that it really bothered me, I am getting more used to it now. I did manage to get a nice kick in the ribs as I was passing someone but it was not something that affected me. The turn around the first bouy was what I expected...congested. People just doggy paddling around it. I made it through there fairly quickly on the outside. After the turn there was still a fair bit of contact but it was starting to thin out a bit. The rest of the swim was pretty uneventful. I was feeling good coming out of the water and was looking forward to getting on my bike. Exiting was pretty smooth, I had my wetsuit down to my hips as I crossed the mat and was stripped and on my way in quick order.
I thought that my transition was on the slower side but my wife said I was in and out very quickly. I decided to put socks on here versus before the run to save some time later. I took a few extra seconds to towel my feet off and then get into my shoes. It did feel smooth but I felt slow.
THE BIKE (2:45:37 173/627)
I was soooo happy to get on my bike. The plan was to stay in the small chain ring for a little bit to give the legs a warm up. I did this for about 10 mins and then it was time to hammer. My legs were feeling warm and ready to go. Once I turned off highway 16 and headed towards Stoney Plain all I saw was a line of riders. I started to pass people left and right. It was easy to get a nice pace going considering how flat the course is. I had driven the course the day before and I knew what to expect. Heading out I could see some dark clouds in the distance. I was just hoping that we didnt get rained on and thankfully we didnt.
The little valley we had to cross over was nothing compared to what I have been doing on my training rides. I stood up a couple of times on the way up but that was more to stretch out the legs than out of necessity. I was 2km from the turn around when I saw my friend Dave..4km on me...I can make that up, lol. One not so fun moment was on the way back I was flying downhill and catching up to another rider. As I approached they moved over, for what I thought was to let me pass. Turns out they moved to avoid the rumble strips that I hit about 55km/h. I had a brief wobble but managed to keep it together. I hate those damn things.
I was still feeling pretty good so I decided to step it up a bit. With a bit of a tailwind and a slight down grade I was able to cruise at 40+ km/hr for a nice bit of time. Once we made the last turn back into town I had to turn it down a notch because of the crosswind and the road condition. I was leaning into the wind just to keep a straight course. But not much longer I was turning into the residential area and headed towards transition. I dropped into my small chain ring to spin my legs out.
As I approached the transition area they volunteers were all ready to take me to my run gear. The voluteer took me to my bike and then asked me if I needed help. I was fine but talk about great volunteers. I felt like this transition was one of my best..nice and quick. I am not sure what my time was I forgot to hit my lap button.
THE RUN (2:17:02 470/627)
I was feeling quite good when I initially started the run. My coach was there to give some encouragement and to let me know my friend Dave was just ahead ;). I quickly caught up to my friend and we started some trash talk. But it wasnt long before I could feel some not so good feeling in my legs. My quads were feeling a little tight and that rapidly progressed to full on stop all forward motion cramps. I stopped to massage them out and was joined by a woman who was doing the same. The only thought that was going through my mind was "this is going to be a long 21k". I would have crawled if I had to but I was going to finish.
I started to run despite the cramps still being there and eventually they faded out a bit. Not much later I caught back up to my friend Dave. We joked that we should just run this together and I suggested that we don't try to out sprint each other near the finish (this is how I beat him last race). But as it turned out, we did run most of the 21k together. I must have been in my own little world because I missed seeing so many people on the run. I did manage to spot Keith on the run but his height stands out. Leana saw me on the run and I managed to get out a hi as she went by me. I had looked for her out there but there were quite a few TriLife jerseys out there! A few girls that I know and had passed on the bike (don't remember seeing them) passed me on the run course. They were smoking the run! I was so happy for them. My friend/coworker Daniel who trains with TriLife looked so good..I knew she would pass me on the run, lol.
I was feeling ok for most of the run, felt like I had lots of fuel in the tank but the legs were often on the verge of cramping again. Once we got to about 17km my friend Dave was hurting and told me to push it if I could. Well I did so I started to pick up the pace a bit. But around 19km the quads started to cramp again. I had to stop a few times and let them pass. But I knew I was almost home. I managed to get under my goal time of 6hrs and I beat my friend Dave by 2mins, lol.
Final Time 5:49:29 (359/627)
I am quite happy with my time for my first half Ironman. Was it a perfect race??...hell no. My swim time was a touch longer than I had hoped for. I wanted to get closer to the 40min mark but I am not that disappointed. My bike I was quite pleased with...I wanted to be under 3 hours and I did that. I felt strong and didnt feel like I had pushed beyond what I wanted to do. My run was a bit slower than I wanted. My last 2 half marathons have been just about 2 hours on fresh legs so I expected a little bit longer. But I did hope to be a bit faster. Given the cramping issues I was ok with my run time.
The cramping issues have been ongoing for me. I am still trying to get to the root of them. I have tried longer warm ups, more eletrolytes different nutrition, etc... Very frustrating to say the least. I will one day conquer them!! I was fine after about an hour and to my wife's surprise I wanted to drive home, lol. The drive was nice but it was nice to get home and relax.
I am looking forward to the Calgary 70.3 at the end of the month. I am not expecting to best my GWN time as I think Calgary might be a bit of a tougher course. Regardless it will be a little more long course experience. It's now thursday and I feel pretty much back to normal. The first couple of days after the race were daytime walks and working nights. Yesterday was an easy swim and today was just 90 mins of biking. Loving the nice weather and looking forward to some good training days!!
1 hour ago