Since my objectives for the Chinook Half-Ironman were to experiment with nutrition and having a good run, which included a conservative bike pacing, the objectives for the Great White North Triathlon were just to work harder in all three disciplines.
Surprisingly, I had a great swim. Not so much for the time (even though it was better than my last one), but for the fact that I was swimming almost the entire 2 km on my own (with 700+ people at the start). This was mainly due to the fact that I tried to stay as far left as possible (we swam clockwise). In total we did two laps including a run around a buoy on the beach. The water was well tempered, however, pretty muddy with almost no visibility.
Transition was not too bad, however it took me a while to get into my shoes. This can be done better! Then, during the first stretch of the course I picked up some good speed (downhill section), which motivated me to keep on going fast. At about kilometre 35 I had passed everyone in front of me except for the leader of the race. At the turnaround I could see that he was only about 20 seconds ahead of me, which felt awesome! I tried to catch him but the distance stayed the same for the rest of the race. That means he definitely picked up some speed and it motivated me seeing that. My average heart rate was 157 (14 beats higher than during Chinook Half-IM), which gives me some valuable information of what could be a reasonable pace during Ironman Canada later this season.
My transition must have been fairly quick since the race leader and I ran out of T2 almost at the same time. And then, 500 meters later, I was in pain for the rest of the race … I cramped in both legs (M. vastus medialis) and ran like a robot with no knee joints. I realised I had to slow down or quit the race. Since the latter was not an option I slowed down to a pace that allowed me to run like a robot with primordial knee joints. Luckily, it was not too slow though and I kept on saying, “Don’t slow down, your goal for the rest of the race is NOT to slow down!” After 3 or 4 km the third guy passed me, which made me third and I saw that the fourth guy was close. Then I saw Josh running quite smoothly in fifth position figuring he will have a great race today. The rest of the race was blurry and I even started to feel like a robot. Every now and then there was an emotional reaction especially when I saw my friends cheering me on! With 17 km to go I got passed by the guy behind me and eventually I finished fourth in 4:11:xx. Later at the awards dinner this guy told me I made him really work hard and he hopes he will not see me anytime soon. I think that’s the best feedback you can get from a competitor.
First of all a big THANK YOU to Josh, Shari, Simmon, Glenn, Jen, Mike, Michele, Emily, Dave & Bridget, Ben & Lindsay, Pat & Becky, Darren & Andrea, Lesley & Travis for cheering me on either as athletes or as spectators along the course and especially to Sanja for her cheering, tremendous support and for taking care of my little aches and pains!!! I hope I will see more race reports soon!
As for the race I really learnt a lot and it definitely helped me to tailor my training towards my weaknesses in order to finish strong at IM Canada. My swim, bike and run splits were faster at GWN than Chinook, but was also way harder (which was my goal for this race). My average heart rate on the bike was 14 beats higher compared to the Chinook Half-IM, which now gives me an idea what my average heart rate could be during an half ironman event. The run split was just slightly better (which may be due to a flatter course) but MUCH more painful compared to Chinook. My average heart rate was 155, which was only 2 beats higher compared to Chinook. Given that and my performance in training I know that there is definitely more room for a better running performance, however, not achievable with cramps. I HAVE TO get my cramping issues in order to become better.