Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Race report: New Balance Victoria Half-Iron

Date/Time: June 20, 2010, 6:45 am
Weather: 10ish and cloudy
Distance: Half IM
Gun time: 5:05:04 <--check it new half im pb
Swim: 38:13 (2:01 per 100m pace)
T1: 2:07
Bike: 2:49:13 (30.8 km/hr)
T2: 1:26
Run: 1:34:07 (4:45 per km)
Age Group: 4/7
Overall: 79/401

I always knew that training makes a difference, it’s only this year I started to truly appreciate the benefits.

The Victoria half ironman is the first event in this distance that I’ll be able to compare myself to a previous year’s result, barring against variables such as slight course change and weather conditions of course.

My training duration between the months of January and May looks something like this:
Swim 49hrs (+ 53.5% from 2009)
Bike 65hrs (+58.5% from 2009)
Run 42hrs (+35.8% from 2009)

And the comparison of Victoria half im from the two years.

Hey presto! Two big factors for such a dramatic difference. The first being that last year, I had very little time to train leading up to Victoria since I was on a weeklong vacation the week beforehand. This was partly due to bad planning on my part. The second being is simply more training and better familiarity of the race course.

Race morning was eventful. Going on a training ride the day before to scope out the bike course with some friends, I somehow applied my oh-so mighty brute force and yanked my crank off its moorings (or a fancy way of saying I lost a very critical bolt). And luckliy or unluckliy I did go on the training ride, the bike mechanic from Trek named Bill ordered in some used bolts just for me but none of them had fit. He told me it was a very specialized bolt, so I should try my luck the next morning. Race morning my day came down to two bolts, the first candidate didn't work. Then I saw a big smile from Bill and knew the second one had work. Big thanks goes out to Bill from the Trek bike tent. Crisis averted!

A perfect weapon.

The swim felt dreadful. Swimmers were passing me left and right, all I could do was to hang on and play human dodgeball. I swam with a bit of fear and that motivated me to go faster. Surprisingly this swim is my fastest open water swim pace at 2:01 per 100m. The draft benefit with 400 other swimmers was amazing.

The only picture I'm not smiling.

Surprisingly, despite a harder bike course for this year’s event, improvements were all around. Perhaps a little experience came in handy. Racing in Shawnigan a couple weeks beforehand also had helped me fine tuned my performance for Victoria, as I achieved one of my fastest transition times ever, which is always a good confidence booster. It’s a good thing I worked on this hidden fourth discipline because it very well could have been the difference between pb’ing or not. I learned the swim cap and goggles inside wetsuit sleeve trick from this video!

All the half ironers met an unkind monstrous 400m long 80 m vertical hill detour on the bike course near the airport, TWICE. This little beast destroyed my legs for the run and I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty for the run, while doing the second of the two lap bike course.

Boltin' away! Okay no more bolt jokes.

The run course was absolutely gorgeous. Running around Elk Lake was very enjoyable despite the very bricky legs I was talking about earlier off the bike. My legs locked up and I had to stop for a moment at the 1km marker. I survived the next 2km to reach the next aid station and only then I was able to get my rhythm back. Eventually I was holding about 4:39 /km pace for the first lap, and subsequently I was averaging 4:45 /km pace overall on the run course. Not bad, but there is room for improvements. Stayed tuned for Vancouver!

I love the run!

I’m tickled by the fact I will be racing on my new bike.

My new friend!

My friends were already giving a lot of crap about not racing on it for Victoria. My dad had convinced me earlier not to race on the new bike in Victoria just yet, because I couldn’t bear to scratch it up just yet (that new car feeling). I had everything set up as a mock run, but ah, aching heart! But come Vancouver, I’m finally ready to make the exciting debut! Look out. Look out!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

Shawnigan Lake Race Report

The much anticipated opening event of the Subaru Series kicked off at Shawnigan Lake late last month.

 Sun rise on race morning

Having already established two stellar pbs (from Sun Run and UBC Tri), I wanted to continue bringing my A-game for the swim, bike and run and not being too worried about my competition. Though I do welcome a friendly rival namely Andrew Wight. On the road/sea trip, he’d been humming tunes from Willy Wonka “A world is your imagination” just to get inside my head. I was thinking to myself, "Andrew, you really need a catchier tune if you want to get inside my head, seriously!", because I was still fixated on playing with my gps watch.

The race in Shawnigan marked an exciting battle between Andrew and I. However coming into this race, Andrew had only half the training I have in all three disciplines since January 2010. Recently having a new daughter, Andrew obviously had more important commitments. Last year Andrew peaked at the right moment in the Victoria Half and absolute dominated in his own backyard.

Andrew had crushed me in all of the three triathlons we competed in last year


We started the swim shoulder to shoulder.

The water was a little chilly but once I found some steady legs to draft, the open water swim was relatively smooth sailing. I was only metres back from Andrew walking towards T1 after the swim. Who knows, those steady legs could have very well been Andrew's.


We sprinted out with our bikes and I mistakenly removed my chip while stripping my wetsuit. I figured I had to run back to retrieve it. 


I caught up to Andrew after losing a minute or two at T1 by the 10km bike mark. Eventually by our fourth and final lap, Andrew yelled out while passing me, “Com’on, Winstorm don’t you dare let me beat you!” His final two bike laps were negative splits, impressive!

Andrew’s words were motivating, however by this point I was just thinking about a pee break and I was so close to T2.


I managed to bump into Andrew again while transitioning at T2. Andrew booked it out, and I booked it for a washroom break! Such a relief, now time for an epic run- time to hunt down the prey! At this point, Andrew had a 2 minute lead into the run course.

Interesting stat: both my T1 and T2 are ranked 71st place overall by time, at 4:52 and 3:45 respectively! Not sure if I should be depressed or impressed by this result.


My initial goal was to run 4:30 min/km pace but slowly relaxed it to 4:40s. I caught up to Andrew by the 4km of the run course. We exchanged some words and I picked up the pace. By the 15km marker, a runner was challenging me and was about to pass me. By the tail end of the approximately 20.6km run course, it was difficult to pick up the pace since the next closest competitor was about a km ahead. I made a determined effort to hold him off and managing to keep this gap until the finish. Nobody but a lady on a relay team managed to pass me on the run course, which I’m quite pleased about.


To silent all my naysayers out there, my overall time was 5:07:46 going under my goal time of sub 5:10, and smashing my previous mark at last year’s Vancouver half (time of 5:21:01) by over 13 minutes!!

I’m so stoked about my killer time!

I finished 29th Overall and placed 2nd in my age group. Not too shabby, considering the last time I placed in any triathlon event was nearly 5 years ago. Those were certainly the glory years when I could cruise to a podium finish in the heavy-terrain mountain bike. Those were the days!

Man oh man, my finishing pose needs to look like this!

Andrew had a very respectable time 5:14:56, also finishing third in his age group. I am so happy for him!

Eric Suess was brilliant in keeping his bike a mystery until race day. All thanks to his handy bbq stove cover, which I’ll admit is a clever idea.

There must be a better backdrop

The gang

The bling

The canon

Possibly the UBC Tri Club best team showing at a Subaru series race occurred in Shawnigan Lake. Many fellow blue smurfs with the coveted snug UBC Tri-Club jumpers were absolutely rocking the tri at Shawnigan Lake.

From the left, Derrick Lee, Andrew Wight and I did our road trip together
From the right, Melanie Van Soeren, Vincent Lavallee, and Barry Claman

A fellow competitor, Scott Chris aka Eagle has made himself a clear force to be reckoned with all his secret rituals of barefoot running, yoga classes and rides up mountains of late! He is a swimmer turning into an all-rounder. It’s hard to forget that this is the same guy who had beaten me by a very slim 37 seconds last year in Vancouver Half IM last year after all. However, he signed up for the wrong event of the race – the Olympic distance managing to pull off a respectable 2:31:27 and placing 3rd in his age group.

Scott Chris and Celeste Pakstas smiling for the paparazzi.

Snoozing is part of Eagle’s big game plan to avoid big-league competition early in the tri-season.

Highlight of the trip: Vincent Lavallee gauges a leap to the trunk to temporary grab his jacket and to protect shotgun, not realizing Derrick had already dove into shotgun through the middle gap. Vince kindly lays the smackdown and poor Derrick is laying helplessly on the ground...

...and Vince gets robbed!

The half IM’ers including Ceilidh Curtis on the far right. Ceilidh is training for IM Canada!!

I have to thank Celeste and Andrew and their families for their generous hospitalities during this trip! Congrats to everyone who raced in Shawnigan! This adventure was so awesome!!!

Friday, June 4, 2010