Jul. 10, 2008

When Birds Attack

Last Sunday was the Peterborough "Half Iron" triathlon... I had a better race than last year, where glute problems forced me to walk for 10 minutes on the bike course. I managed to improve my time by 13 minutes. We had "great" weather with the result that the run was pretty hot. Luckily the lake was close at hand afterwards for a cooling dunk. The highlight of the race was getting attacked by a Redwing Blackbird at about the 20K mark during the bike! I heard him swooping and screeching, but didn't realise how close he came until a rider behind me told me that he'd come within inches.

Once again I drove up the morning of the race, although this time I drove "down" as I was spending most of the weekend at a friend's cottage north of Orillia (we went to Casino Rama and I lost $25). It took about an hour and 40 minutes to drive to the race in the morning, starting shortly after 5:00 AM. Yuck! The drive was beautiful though as Google plotted a course along some fast back roads and there was a very pretty mist over the fields most of the trip.

Getting setup in Beavermead Park was straightforward and I ran into lots of friends. I managed to have a last-second problem though: trapped in the porta potty line with only minutes to the start! I managed to squeeze into my wet suit in record time and reached the water's edge literally as the horn sounded. I didn't even break stride! On the way to the start I also realised that my electronic car keys were still in a back pocket, so I partly unzipped and threw them to a race organiser to hold until after the race. Took me an hour to track them down after I finished...

The swim went fairly well, 33:16, 1:40/100m. 4/50 in M45-49, 52/469 overall. Lots of weeds though. I didn't do a very good job of sighting either, so I covered some extra ground and wasn't able to draft behind a faster swimmer. T1 went OK except for some trash talk from a friend as she waited for her relay swimmer to arrive. I'm always slow in T1, so a short corrective conversation gave me a chance to catch my breath anyway.

2008 Peterborough Half Iron BikeThe bike was better than last year, 2:46:49, 32.4 kph. 19/50 in M45-49, 174/469 overall. I guesstimate that my heart rate averaged about 75% of max. Last year I had terrible glute problems, so I was watching for that. Sure enough at about the half way point they started firing. I slowed a bit and took every chance to get out of the saddle. That settled them down and I was able to push again. Being so fast out of the water does mean getting passed a lot on the bike though. The first 50K were all about staying to the right. As a faster Club member said though as he passed me, it was pretty "drafty" out there. Drafting is a no-no in triathlons... Riders were coming by in "pelotons" of 5 - 10. Then I had about 30K where it was basically just me and the road. The last 10K got interesting again as I started passing people who had gone out too hard, although a team mate did reel me in. T2 was quick, but I made the mistake of not applying fresh sunblock...

2008 Peterborough Half Iron FinishThe run was mixed. 1:53:26, 5:23 min/k. 17/50 in M45-49, 142/469 overall. The run course returned to the old configuration this year; a short out and back loop, past the finish onto a long stretch of the bike course, then the same short loop at end. Fairly flat. No shade, so we all felt the heat. I started looking for sunblock as soon as I got onto the section that followed the bike course and after a few aid stations found a volunteer who had some in her car. That cost me a few minutes, but my skin thanked me. The first 8K went well, but then my left foot started developing a hot spot. I eventually stopped to check it. There was no visible problem but I put my sock back on with more care. It cropped up again at about the 15K mark so I stopped again and checked both feet. Conclusion: ditch the socks (after the race) I've been wearing the last few races. Not right for my feet. So some time lost to "technical issues" and I walked all the aid stations. I felt steady and strong the whole way, but just didn't have the pace. In training runs I have no problem maintaining a pace significantly under 5:00/K pace though so I have to figure out a way to keep that speed after hours on the bike. I probably averaged 80% of max heart rate.

At the finish line I discovered that my parents had come up from Cobourg, so I got a quick hug from them before they turned around and went right back. It turned out that my mother was trying to catch the rest of the epic Federer/Nadal final at Wimbledon. I had a nice long dip in the lake, hung out with friends for a bit, got a finish line massage (actually acupuncture with electrical stimulation...) and finally made my way to the food tent were I got something solid in me.

Final result: 5:17:15. 13/50 in M45-49, 135/469 overall.

When I got back into town I joined my friend Brian to watch the British Grand Prix, which we'd recorded. A very interesting race with rain playing a big part in the result. Lewis Hamilton did a great job of getting up from fourth to second by the first corner, and passed his team mate a few laps later. Smart tire choices kept him safely in the lead for the rest of the race although Kimi Raikkonen looked threatening until his team made a bad tire choice. There were plenty of incidents through out the race as the rain came and went. Kimi ended up fourth, behind Nick Heidfeld and Heikki Kovalainen.

Now back to training for Ironman Canada... Six weeks to go!

Listening to: Blackbird by Sarah McLachlan from Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff Volume 2.

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