HALF IRON RACE: By Stefan Schriber
All objectives are with regard to Ironman Canada this year.
- Testing CarboPro as my main fuel for racing
- Carrying a super cool water bottle on the run since I want to drink whenever I need to drink and not when aid stations are available.
- Checking how my recently started running intervals affect my run performance in a triathlon run.
The 2km swim section (2 1km-loops) of the race took place in lake Midnapore in Calgary. The water was super cold and after a little “warm-up” in the lake my cheeks were frozen and I had difficulties to speak.
Back on the beach, I jumped around in my wetsuit desperately hoping that it gets warm from inside. About 10 min later we were finally off. Now, I couldn’t really feel the cold anymore but my typical “bah, I hate swimming in the pack” – thoughts crept up after 200m in the swim. That is something I really have to work on. Anyway, I clocked slightly below 33min, which is something I can swim no matter the distance (all my half Ironman swims were ~33min, and the full Ironman last year was 1:06 something). I will definitely need work on my swim performance for the next season.
Transition 1 was okay, though I was a bit slow since we arrived 40min before my swim start and I had to set-up transition, get body marked and time chipped. So, I didn’t really have time to get familiar with everything in order to have a quick transition. This will not happen at the Great White North (GWN) in 2 weeks, I promise!!
The bike was a scenic out and back to Bragg Creek. It was a bit too much traffic for my taste and the shoulders were not always super clean. Actually, the entire ride I was worrying not to get a flat since I rode without spare tubular… stupid, eh? Won’t happen for GWN!! Overall, I kept it moderate on the bike since I was curious to see how my recently started interval training would affect my running performance. My average heart rate was 143 on the bike, which leaves quite some room for improvement at GWN. I also tested CarboPro as my only fuel source (check www.carbopro.ca). So I didn’t “eat” at all during the race and I felt perfect. I set up a mixture of 370cal per bottle and a “thinner” solution for my aero-bottle, which I filled up with plain water at the aid station at the bike turn-around. In total I drank the amount of 1 ½ aero-bottles and only one bottle of the rocket fuel 😉 The other bottle remained full (I drank it after the race though).
Transition 2 was fast and I am satisfied with it.
Unfortunately, I was cramping a bit in the beginning of the run leg and had to slow down for the first 4km, then it went better and after a pee break I felt great and could enjoy for the first time in my life a triathlon run (maybe also since I had a comfortable lead on the second guy). My average heart rate on the run was 153, which also leaves some room for a better performance at GWN. As for the fuel I carried my own bottle with a thin mixture CarboPro (125cal) and sipped it empty through out the run. I just took one cup of water at the aid station.
So, all in all it was a good race. My race performance showed me that my training is going well and I am on track. Especially, the interval workouts toughened me up so that a heart rate of 153 doesn’t feel as bad as in the past year. My 12-hour weeks working well for me so far, although I know I have to increase my weekly mileage in order to be prepared for Ironman. I am still super motivated, not tired at all, and fresh to keep on training hard. I hope it will last till Ironman by the end of August. If it all works out, I think I will have a good race this year. But there is still some time left and there are still some tough training sessions along the way in order to reach my peak for this year. Given my current performance, however, I am super motivated and can’t wait to hit the running track again on Tuesday.
Olympic Race Report – by Sanja Bosnjak
The trip to Calgary was exciting, filled with dry humor and high expectations for the day that was ahead of us. While we were roller coasting through the highway, I was desperately trying to rest my eyes and mind by watching cows ruminate. They generate such a perfect serenity around! Regardless, my heart and brain just wouldn’t calm down.
After inevitable driving around Calgary, we finally checked-in. The busy Hostel didn’t promise a peaceful night and I was a little pissed off by the fact that they wouldn’t let us keep our bikes in the room. The clock was ticking unusually slow and I was hoping the alarm would set on soon so that I don’t need to pretend I’m sleeping anymore. Lesson #1 learned: No more shady hostels before the race.
At last – 4:45!, time to get up and get prepared for the big day! The kitchen was unfortunately closed, and we couldn’t get our breakfast I was really looking forward to the entire night. We hit the road in a flash, stopped by McDonald’s for the washroom break (which turned to be everything but that) and finally came to the parking lot, approximately 1km from the lake.
It was painfully freezing for my taste, so I decided to stay in the car, with the heating on, while I was contemplating if I should stay or should I go? I was debating with myself, calculating how much time, sweat and money have I spent to get there. Questions like: Have I truly come prepared? Do I really need this kind of stress in my life? What the hell am I doing here? What if…? were collapsing on my head.
After 15 minutes of lingering, epiphany woke me up, and I started to run around the parking lot in an effort to pull myself together. Stefan had already gone to find the spot in the Transition, because his start was at 8:00, while Jan, Glen and I stayed behind. I really had to use the washroom, and it almost came to the point where you just don’t care about who’s around, you just have to do it right here, right now! Fortunately, for potential spectators, that didn’t take place. However, striptease did. I swiftly took off my street clothes and put on my racing attire (yes, that’s right, showing my white butt off), packed the bag, and soon we were on our way to the T1.
My sincere apologies to Glen and Jan for having them disconcerted and big thanks for bearing up with me! Lesson #2 learned: No matter how frustrated you are, don’t get other people affected by it, too! And, for the love of God, organize yourself well before hand and don’t dig up through the bags looking for your bike shoes 45 minutes before the T1 closes!
The three bikes were set up at the only rack left, so at the far end, right next to each other, which turned out to be the best spot. I made sure that my labello was neatly placed on the towel, together with biking and running shoes. I took my really nice second hand Orca wet suit, and went to find Stefan before he swims away. But, nature call came first, naturally. Luckily, there were real washrooms available, and I thanked God for that.
The ½ IM start was really exciting, announcing the fear that was gradually increasing in and all over my body. That was the first meeting with open water for me! A multitude of antsy swimmers hurtling into the lake! Oh, my God! I was ready to leave, vanish, disappear, go without a trace! Two laps, each of 1km, passed quickly by me, and I was happy to realize that Stefan came out 4th!
It was time for the “Olympic” swimmers to get lined up. My heart was ready to jump out of my rib cage; my legs were trembling, partially due to the incredibly cold weather, partially due to overwhelming anxiety. And there we went, running into the dark lake, a mass of 248 people, all highly worked up, with different goals in our heads: some of us set our minds to win, and some of us, just to survive! After just one stroke, I realized that free style is not going to be the swim technique I will use this time. Panic attack struck me in no time, and I started breaststroking with my head high above the water. It was the time to quickly reset my goals, from sub 30 minutes (which I can swim easily in the pool) to simply stay alive. As I was struggling with my short breaths and the pulse that seemed to be over 200, the only thing I had in my head was, never, ever to repeat this horrible experience in my life. The orange bouy on the beach appeared to be miles away, but with every new stroke I knew I was closer, if only there wasn’t for this antsy crowd which kicked and hit me in my head, back, arms, legs, everywhere! I thought: there’s no way I can do this, as soon as get there, I’m getting out, nothing will stop me, I don’t need this, I’m sorry Shari and Andrea, but this is the matter of life and death, farewell GWN! Orange thing was just at the reach of the hand and I decided: you are going to suck it up now and go all the way to the end, conquer your fears and fight! Lesson #3 learned: In stress situations, readjust your goals, and no matter what, fight ‘til the end!
As I ran into the T1, ranting and bitching out loud about how terrible and scary open water experience I had (like somebody really cared), my watch was showing 35 minutes and some seconds, and I thought, wow, that’s only 5 minutes less than anticipated – I have to make them up on the bike! That was the point when Glen came along, swiftly took his bike off of the racks, and saluted me on his way out, leaving me to my own despair.
Bike leg was great! I enjoyed every moment, and was truly happy for the first time in the race! I managed to easily pass many racers, got passed by only 1 or 2 guys, and no woman. In the T2 I saw I had 1:10 time, and I was really happy. Lesson #4 learned: There are always some enjoyable parts in the race!
Alas, I realized that my happiness was short-lived, shortly after I started running. My knees were already achy, and I knew this is not going to be a really enjoyable run. After couple hundreds of meters, Stefan lightly snapped me on the butt reminding me that the number should be worn in front. And then he disappeared. Somewhere between 5.5-6km my left knee let me down, and I had to stop and stretch it for a few moments. Then just before the 8km mark, the right knee died on me too, and another stop-stretch was in order. At the so-called “heart breaking” hill, I started to walk again, and then I heard Josh’s voice yelling at me:”Sanja, run!!!” And so I did until the end, with horrendous deep pain in both of my knees. I passed the finish line in mediocre 2:44:23.
In summary, I am happy I didn’t collapse in the lake, and dropped out, like a wimp. After this experience, I am really looking forward to another race, new opportunity for overcoming this really terrifying experience! GWN here I come! 😉
Fiera had 4 race team members out in the Chinook Triathlon this past weekend: Stefan raced in the Half Iron, and Glen, Jan, and Sanja all raced the Olympic. All in all, our athletes had an amazing day results-wise. Stefan finished first in his age category, and FIRST OVERALL, while Glen placed 5th in his age category, Jan placed 6th in his age category, and Sanja was 12th in her age category!! Congratulations to you all!!! Full results can be viewed here. Also, a shout out to Jan for all the photos, which were shamelessly stolen from his Facebook page.