Saturday, December 7, 2013

Year-end Highlights and Arizona IM RR

It's been a long season to say the least. I figured since I'm so late for this race report from Arizona, I might as well throw in all the number crunched data from the year.

A summary of the races I have completed this year.

Note: *but not sure if this fast and flat course counts :)

Now I know it's a big crime to compare times from one race to another and even from a race to itself to other years especially because of many varying factors but I don't care..(kidding). For getting a baseline on fitness, I have always based my training upon time-based goals and we can always add-in the weak excuses unique caveats for each race if so desired. :)

Some main highlights:
1. Shawnigan Half was the first race since I started implementing the speedy ENVE 6.7 wheels.
2. I managed to attain some PBs late in the season. Victoria Half was a tipping point, which was a first PB in two years at the time! The wheels was starting to cash in chunks of minutes. An old working man like me in the office needs all the speed I can get (to match the speeds as I was when I was still in school)! ;)
3. Vancouver Half provided a huge lesson for me this year. I thought I could hammer hard on the bike with the new wheels and be invincible but I realized my output was not steady. Lap 4 was a disaster as many many people passed me.
4. BMO marathon and the Subaru half series really whipped me into shape for Whistler IM. Hilly course on bike and run, but still managed to pull off a huge 23minute PB from last year's Penticton course. At least 10 minutes definitely came from the wheels and calm windy conditions but I was also noticing my hidden weaknesses. During the pancake-flat Pemberton Meadows stretch, I noticed the same lap 4 in Vancouver situation. Everyone was killing me on the flats! Despite going quicker in all disciplines, I knew I had to shape up for Arizona!
5. Chicago Marathon was really good preparation for Arizona because both were so flat! I did some training runs with amazing trainer partner Lise and really channeled those 3h20m run in pouring rain that we did. Despite being sick, I remembered it was only 3hr of suffering, I've already done 3h20m in training so it couldn't be that bad right?

And finally this brings me to Arizona!

2012 was the heartbreak hills in Boston and Switzerland. 2013 was the Canyons from La Salle Street in Chicago to Arizona's none other than the Grand grandaddy Canyon itself. A terrible capture of my go-pro of superstar triathlete Brendan Naef and the up to 3300 million years old rocks carved out by the Colorado River.

I'll keep the race short. The swim was a bit rough for me, I had to sight quite a bit and got kicked in the face a few times because of the high turbidity of the water, which I couldn't even see my own hands. Geometry was also unusual since it follows the curve of the river. I tried swimming straight to cut the apex of turn as short as possible but others wanted to swim towards the buoys. The latter half on the way back allowed me to draft of a guy with a bit of red on the wetsuit and managed to salvage a similar time split for the swim as Whistler. 1h15m. I have lots of room for improvement here.

Coming out and into T1 in about 800-900 place, I was impressed with the volunteer support! They were helpful, patient and friendly. I remember trying to put on my cycling shoe in the change tents, but lost my balance a few times and the volunteer was able to guide me through and collect my items and helped put on my watch. Amazing!

The bike was basically a space mission for me. Bad analogy I know! I had no idea how fast I could go, but didn't want to overcook the legs for the marathon. The first half of the first lap of a three loop course, I was pedaling gingerly at 31-32 km/hr. I didn't want to repeat the same mistake of Vancouver Half. Slowly I picked up to 34-35 km/hr average per lap and felt really strong after lap 2. I knew lap three was in the bag if I kept this up, the advantage of a looped bike course. Sometimes knowing, is the biggest difference. I'm not sure how much credit this really represent but my bike split was 5h15m on a flat and draft friendly course. I felt like I was holding back and could have gone at least 5 minutes quicker. I was happy with my nutrition but there were some bad hand-off for the gels so I had to really slow the pace to grab them. Drafting was a bit of a issue naturally with such a congested course, but I was able to pedal my way out of trouble when the groups did get larger for the most part. Don't mean to throw anyone under the bus, but most of the groups had weaker cyclists in them who weren't even pedaling! Despite all this, I was quite please with my result at this point, leaving my final energy for the run.

I decided to not risk wasting time at T2 and use the washroom at one of the first aid stations on the run. This probably took 20 seconds, but a much needed break. This was where the race really got serious. A close training friend Victoria Gilbert have been putting a fantastic race in her first Ironman race and I learned that she was only a couple minutes back of me on Mile 2 of the run. I was prepared for her to catch me, but I said to myself in a little voice inside my head that I wanted her to pass me knowing that I had ran my best. I couldn't dare look back at many points of the race feeling like a gun was held to my head. It was a lot of fun knowing both of us was on pace for a fantastic PB. Music was not my motivation, I had to channel a few friends from home to get me through the run. Their energy definitely helped.

One person I should mention is Brendan Naef. This was my 5th ironman and all of them has been done with him. He is an amazing mentor and I try to absorb his amazing can-do attitude. He definitely said some words to me prior to the race that helped me gain some confidence.

I finished in a time of 10h6m57s. Totally satisfied with the result, but I feel like I can go quicker. My hunger has deepened. Bring on 2014 (baby)!

Thanks for reading.

Other cool links.
IMAZ Video

Also checkout a couple inspiring friend's reports:
 Brendan Naef's RR
 Kory Seder's RR

Bonus, I thought it would be neat to compare my open marathon and IM run splits since both are on such flat and fast courses.


  1. Inspiring season Winston. No one deserves it more - congrats! I'm still convince it's the "wet fish" comments that lit your fire : )

  2. Thanks Brendan! Carl's comment on torturing me with that wet fish definitely did. :0

  3. 10:06?! Are you kidding me? Flat or not that's freaking awesome! Nice work storm

  4. Great read Winston! I can only imagine what 2014 will hold.