Monday, June 27, 2011

A Different Kind of Race for Ian this Past Weekend

Okay so I got the call Friday night from my friend Dave. AMP (Atlantic Motorsport Park) was beckoning us. Dave's cousin Paul had a race car and drivers but sure could use a hand with pit crew duties. What ws I to say but, "What time do you need me."

Yes, I love to race my bike. I love to race by foot as well. Love to race in the water (well, I do like to swim, so we will leave it at that)? But I also love to watch cars race. From Formula 1 cars to Nascar, so IndyCars, to the 24 Hours of LeMans, they are all good. And to get the chance to work on the actual race car while watching the race as well? Yipee!

So here we have the BWM 318i in all its glory. A truly pretty beast for sure. Inside you will find no comfort. Just a driver's seat, horribly snug looking seatbelt system (5 points of contact) and a few gauges. This is built to go fast.

Now these are shorter, amateur races(though these are excellent drivers to say the least). So being on the pit crew doesn't mean standing next to the race track, ready to change to tires out in 10 seconds or less. It means making sure that in between races the car gets gas, tire pressure checked, in car camera turned on or off, look for fluid leaks etc...

Here we are changing from rain tires to slick tires for better grip. Turns out the rain didn't come for us, which was awesome. We also fueled the car. I have no pictures of that as it was my job to hold the fire extinguisher just in case, and I didn't want to try and do pictures at the same time. Luckily I also spoted a small fuel leak before the first race which was easily fixed by one of the drivers.

Here Tim (one of the three drivers, the other 2 being names Paul) is checking the engine during the 1 hour lunch break. We just wanted to make sure the fluids were up, no leaks were happening and that the engine was still there. It was. Whew.

Here we see Paul M. getting himself into the car. Luckily for Triathletes, we don't have to wear a horribly heavy helmet and horribly hot fireproof racing suit. But it is best to be safe when climbing into one of these cars.

With three different drivers doing different races, we also had to change the car number to go with the driver in question. The car was normally #98, which was reserved for Paul, the car owner. The other drivers were #198 and #981. For us that meant a quick piece of coloured duct tape to correspond with who was in the car.

Our final job was counting laps and recording lap times. This helps the drivers know how to improve, and it also helps them calculate fuel mileage.  By the way these cars eat gas. And they eat expensive gas. This is by no means a green sport. Our pit wall duties of lap counting and being prepared is necessary to run to the truck for tools, meant that we weren't able to wander around the track to watch the race from different areas. Still, I found this to be a great way to relax on a Saturday

Oh and congrats to our team. Paul C., Paul M., and Tim all won in there different races with this new to them car. And they all set great lap times enroute to winning 
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Monday, June 20, 2011

2011 Greenwood Duathlon - Race 6

So it was up early. Greenwood is a decent 1:45 or so away from my place (depending on traffic and speed) and the race started at 10 with a race briefing at 9:45am. The car was packed the night before to allow myself a leisurely morning of food and coffee. It is also best to just wear your race clothes, well as much as possible, to save any time you can upon arrival. This includes a pre race vintage 7 Eleven hat.

The sites on the way to the race are always fun. Hey look Llamas!

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Then after what seems like a long time behind the wheel, Greenwood! (Oh I know the race officials are up even earlier than me, and maybe it is too dark for them to see the fun llamas on the way in. But thanks to them for doing it).

Anyway, that is the end of my pictures for this event, so bear with my rambling while I describe the rest of the day.

9am arrival and the weather is holding. The weatherman had said maybe showers, but so far so good. Overcast, check. Windless, check. Cool, check. All of this seemed great. Not too hot, not too sunny, no winds (at Greenwood?). But then after setting up my bike and stopping for a few chats, it started. Drop, drip, splat. The light sprinkling of rain came down. Not too bad, annoying but okay I said. Then thunder, lightening and the skies opened up. Massive downpour. The temporarily suspended racing and pulled people out of the pool (now I didn't see them actually pull anyone physically pout, but these are triathletes, so I imagine some had to be).  How odd is it to hear, " Shoes and helmets are floating away in Transition." Oh yeah, there was that much rain. Easily ankle deep in 15 minutes. But the rain let up, we got things going and we were all wet.

Thankfully they held the start for a bit while I finished getting my bike shoes and helmet and water bottle set back up in the TZ. Then it was line up, race brief (2 laps, 3 laps, 1 lap) and the horn blasted. Alan Miner told me to chase down the leader right before the start. I think he was just trying to tire me out. Little did he know that I just take off regardless. The leader (I was later told) was pretty unstoppable by anyone on the duathlon and he raced a few ITU events. Oh well, whatever. I still held with him for the first km or so, then found my proper pace and kept running. Eventually after about 3kms Alan passed me, but I stuck with him for the rest of the run a few steps back. He took a wrong turn heading into Transition so officially I beat him in the first run, though just by a second. Another sub 20 minute 5K for me. Big thanks on that go to Shane M. for holding those winter Tri Camps this year. Also I am sure my half marathon training helped a lot. I ended with a time of 19:56.

Then on to the bike. My helmet was all messed up from the rain. It was soaked and the straps were tangled. After try number 2 I got it on, put on my shoes and headed to the mount line. Then off I was for the flattest time trial you will get around here (if it weren't for that first hill at Shearwater it would be a tie). Head down, legs pumping, redline it to the end of 20km. It was great with no wind until the final lap when a bit started to pick up. I kept Alan in my sights the whole way, but he is pretty strong on the bike and I couldn't get any closer to him. It was also good to see no drafting on course. That is great on such a small course. I came into T2 with a time of 32:20 for a avg speed of 37.1km/hr. Like I said flat and windless.

I dropped off the bike, helmet and changed shoes. I was about to grab for my running hat but it was in a puddle 2 inches deep. So I decided against that. Sunglasses would have to do. Though the sun was coming out strong and I am sure it would have helped (I had switched to yellow lenses with the horrible rain and overcast conditions).   

Off I went. I could just see Alan in the distance. My legs felt okay but much slower now. I wasn't cramping like in past year or having ITBS like last year, so I couldn't complain. I just pushed through the tired and went for it. After all the second run was only going to be 2.5km. I kept pace with Alan, but his lead was too much for me. I came across a guy running in the Sprint Triathlon and paced him back to the finish. He looked miserable and needed a boost. So I chatted with him as we picked up his pace a bit. We rounded the corner for the finish and he apologized for trying to out sprint me, though I beat him to the mat. Nice try ( I had told him I was in a different race). A sprint finish is always fun. I raced the last 2.5km (including T2) in a time of 11:25 to take 3rd place overall and first in Age Group. Same as last year so I was pretty happy. I had hoped to break 1 hour, but it was not to be and a time of 1:03:40 is still nice. Still two great runs and a strong ride made me really happy for the last Duathlon until Riverport in October.

Next up? As far as multisport and TNS go, that will be Ingonish in 2 weeks time. My first Sprint distance triathlon and first swimming competition in open water. Should be fun and scary.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

2011 Cyclesmith Duathlon

So the day had come. The big Cyclesmith Duathlon. Sure I had done 2 other Dus this year, but they were short and fast (and fun) events. This was a much longer event (and fun as well - aren't they all?). This one always pushes me to my max to see what I can accomplish. A 5K run that starts out going stright up a huge hill, followed by a hill, then a bike ride of 34K that is full of hills (rollers yes, but some are quite steep), and then an off road 6K run to finish it off (no hills!!). Oh and I like hills, but that is a lot of hills.
Well the event (being in Nova Scotia and being held in Lawrencetown) is always weather unpredictable. Rain, fog, wind are all expected. And with the Spring we have been having lately, very expected. But it was sunny. And turns out quite hot as well (the reddish hue to my skin attests to the lovely high UV we experienced). Glad I thought to put a little sunscreen on first. And glad that my wife insists we have SPF 60 or some such silly level thing (didn't Robocop offer SPF 1000).

The field was large. It usually is for Cyclesmith's Du, but I hear there was 100 people entered in the race (There was also a Youth Du and as always the Team Competition). And of those entered, there was some serious fast people. My goal was to try and better last years time and effort. As these fields get bigger and better, a better placing isn't always possible, but I really hoped for a top 20 finish and top half of my Age Group.

In the above photo, taken right after the start horn, you can see a line of really fast guys and me. Well I managed to stay with them for about the first half km up the big first hill. Then I found my rhythm and stuck to that  It meant a few more people passed me, but not too many. After the hilly section heading away from the beach, we head back on a pretty flat trail system to T1. I had my Timex stopwatch going but I guess I forgot to hit the lap feature. Luckily the nice chips on our ankles recorded everything.

As I said I wanted to go faster than last year. And I did. Oddly running a PB 5K time of 19:40 with a pace of 3:56. My old PB 5K time was set on a flat stand alone event in Bedford 2 years ago at 19:56. Needless to say, I was happy with that. It was the 18th fastest time for that leg out of 85 people in the event.

Into T1, off with the running shoes and hat, on with the cycling shoes and helmet (always important), and away I went.


The ride was moderately wind free which was nice. But it always seems so extra long. Where is that 17K turn around point? Oh where is it?  I was passed by this point by a few riders and then on the way back by 1 or 2 more. But I managed to pass a few as well, so I was basically staying put in the standings. By the time I returned to the TZ I was still 18th place. I had a time (which included  T1) of 1:02 and a pace of 32.6km/hr. I think my bike computer shows a pace on the bike closer to 2km/hr faster, but it didn't care about me changing my shoes. I was hoping to be a little faster on the bike portion this year, but that first run probably sapped a little juice from my legs and my lower back started to hurt a little. Also I had to let up a bit and make sure I fell out of the draft zone of the guys who were a bit faster than me. I wasn't chancing penalties at this point.

T2 was upon me. A quick shoe change, head gear swap, swig of magic juice and I was off. My legs were spent, but to my amazement, not cramping. Yea! I was passed by one runner who stayed about 7 seconds ahead of me, just out of reach. then one more runner who blazed by me. Turns out he ended up with the fastest second run of the day. No matching that for me.

But I managed to hold off all other runners. Usually by this point someone speedy comes blazing by while I am halfway into the second run. This makes me sad. But this day I kept a decent pace. I even managed to track down one runner (she was part of a team, whom I beat on the first run, and was passed by on the bike portion). I ended up with a 6K run time of 28:29 including T2 for a 4:45 pace. A couple of years back I would have been happy with that pace in a stand alone event.

Final time for me was 1:50:32. I was rather close to the 2 runners ahead of me, but had no oompf in the tank to get an extra kick. I bettered last years time by 3 minutes (last years second run was a bit more difficult with a small hill but not 3 minutes more difficult), was 6th out of 20 in my Age Group (1 away from a prize), and still managed a top 20 finish in a really tough field.

Another great event and what turned out to be a rare sunny beautiful day in Lawrencetown.

Next up is Greenwood. But first a rest is in order. Perhaps my new taper system called the Hammock (if the rain lets up).

Oh and to all the animal lovers out there. I managed to avoid a slithering snake that zipped into my path on the bike. Phew. To the snake haters out there, don't read that part.
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Monday, June 6, 2011

'Tis the Season for the Wetsuit

Okay so June is upon us. Soon the Triathlons will be outdoors completely (following the upcoming Greenwood Tri/Du/Aquathlon). And my goal this year (well one of them) is to compete (ish) in 2 Sprint distance open water swim Triathlons.

Of course this means a wetsuit is needed. I know some might say it is helpful but not needed, I say it is needed. My swim is weak, I am skinny and get cold in the water fairly easily. So I need a wetsuit. Of course dishing out the cash for a decent one isn't easy, especially when you aren't competing for top AG spots. To this end I decdied to try out the offerings from Xterra, as they have great sales on. I bought the Vortex 3 sleeveless for a nice low price. The reason for sleeveless? Well it is mail order, I was picking it up from my American relative's house (free shipping) and I wanted to make sure the blasted thing would fit (shoulders and all). Also the sleeveless option was significantly cheaper.

Well I got it, tried it on and it fit like a charm. The only alteration I needed was to trim the legs to the proper length (easy enough).

Still, I had this thing in April and it wasn't until this past weekend that I was brave enough to actually try it out in the water. Part of the bravado came from the warm day we were having, part from the anxiety I was having from the realisation that the first open water Tri was only weeks away.

I had decided to do the Ingonish Sprint distance Tri earlier in the year. I book a place to stay over a month ago.So with it coming in 4 weeks from now I thought, better try this blasted thing out.

I have found that the other nice thing about a sleeveless wetsuit is that it fits nicely into your panier. So off I went on my commuter bike to my secret lake swim spot. Upon arrival, I ditched my bike in the woods, slipped on the wetsuit (oh how easy it is to get this on, with a little work), and stepped into the water.

Well I will say this. Lakes are still cold. My feet went numb fairly quick. But I kept going. I sat down in the water to get all over wet and just let myself acclimate a bit. Then off I went.

I would love to say that I jumped in and threw down a quick 1000m of awesome. I truly would love to say that. Alas I threw down a slow 100m of breast stroke to start. But the suit was doing its job. I was sort of warmish and I floated well. After another 100m or so of muddling about I took the plunge and began a half assed frontcrawl. Maybe I got 100m more in, I don't know. But I did it. Then I got out of the water and road home all nice and wet.

Wetsuit attempt #1 a success (ish). This bodes well for my future attempts and I plan on getting at least a few more in before heading to Cape Breton. First though? 2 more Duathlons. See you there.