Although it is super nice to have a major race at home the logistics of the Calgary 70.3 are a bit crazy. Since it is a point to point race, all bikes are required to be racked at T1 the day before out at Ghost Lake, which is a good half hour west of the city. Race morning began with a 3:00am wakeup, a short taxi ride to the host hotel downtown where I got body marked before hopping on the 4:00am shuttle bus for a 45 minute ride out to the start. It was finally getting reasonably light about 25 minutes before our Pro wave start at 6:10. When I first arrived I was amused to see several Pros in transition wearing head lamps, these guys know what they’re doing!!
The water was brrrr, cold, but I decided I would do a short warm-up to avoid absolute shock when the gun went off. As we started I went after feet in front of me but was promptly dropped into no mans land with a few trailing behind me. It was tougher having to sight the whole way and even tougher once I could barely feel my hands and feet anymore and my coordination went out the window, even my face never really warmed up which was weird and rare for any open water swimming I’ve done. Thirty-two minutes later I was out of the water in fourth place, and very grateful to the volunteer wetsuit strippers out there today otherwise there was no way I would have got my wetsuit undone with how numb I was!
Although the weather eventually heated up nice and hot by the end of the run, going out for a fast ride on a time trial bike in a tri suit with no socks or gloves on isn’t exactly toasty at before 7:00am in this climate. For the first 30-40km of the bike I was seeing cross-eyed and riding rather wobbly before I eventually warmed up enough for my hands to get their circulation back and properly grab my gels and water bottles! So that’s when the race started to get a little more fun. The course is a bit long at 94km and other than a few signifiicant sustained uphills it is fast, rolling smooth and fun most of the way to T2 at the Glenmore reservoir, southwest of downtown Calgary. I really had no idea how I was doing until I passed my coach at the second aid station who told me I was 2:30 back of third place, and I thought, hey cool! I continued as strong as I could into T2, and headed out onto the run in 5th position after 2:32:55 on the bike, the third fastest split.
I moved into 4th after the first few km, and worked on keeping a steady even rythmn on the out and back run course along the paved bike path, thankfully a good amount was in the shade too. I have bad memories of the same race two years ago when I ended up in the med tent for an hour afterwards with super low blood pressure and a high heart rate. But by 8km in I realized I was feeling pretty good, and pushed on to end with the fastest run split of the day for 1:28:06 and just 24 seconds short of catching third.
Well, it wasn’t faster overall from my attempt at almost the same course two years ago, but I at least feel fitter to go the distance now, and that is a big thanks to Coach Cal who helps me maximize the quality out of the training hours I have to work with. I also have to give a HUGE thanks to my friend Luke Way for helping me get through this race feeling much better on my Orbea Ordu time trial bike. After Wildflower in April I was so sore, I could barely straighten my left leg, let alone walk the next day! So recently Luke, a professional SICI bike fitter, helped me out. After some measurements, flexibility testing, body marking, filming, dartfishing, spinning, and lazering, Luke repositioned my cleats, adjusted my saddle position, flipped my stem, and moved back my bars a little. Secondly, he is also a master mechanic and when I realized my derailleur was majorly messed up when I dropped it at T1 yesterday, he went out there in the evening, busted through the security, put in a new cable, and adjusted my derailleur so that it was shifting beautifully again for today! Merci Luke!!!
Thanks to everyone who cheered out there today, and congrats to everyone I know who raced today! Half-ironmans are tough!!!! I’m in awe of people who are motivated to race these more often and then double the distance for an Ironman! Three dunks in the cool river, and an ice bath later I’m still hobbling around, in a good way this time though 😉