Great White North Half Ironman Triathlon – July 3, 2011

I have done this race three times before and four half IMs in my life. After the Olympic a few weeks ago, I wasn’t really sure what to expect for this one. This is how it ended up looking in comparison with other years:

Year Total Time Swim Bike w/transition Run
2011 6:32:11 40:03 3:20:30 2:31:40
2008 6:45:41 40:25 3:23:46 2:41:31
2007 6:32:59 43:49 3:15:39 2:33:32
2005 6:41:02 44:43 3:26:23 2:29:56

Upon review of the previous years, it seems that I set a personal best by a small margin. Lucky for me, my other 6:32 was on an Ironman year and I ended up finishing that IM. So it bodes well for me that this one will be completed as well. Actually, I felt really good in this race. I don’t really remember what it felt like in 2007, but I was not sore at all after this race. It means that I probably could have pushed harder.

I spent most of the days before the race with a couple from Saskatoon. Carolanne is an awesome athlete and amazing triathlete and was doing her second half IM. Darren, her husband, was a great support person and helped us both the day before, let us drag him around the race course, and helped us the morning of the race.  We had supper the night before at Boston Pizza and carpooled to the lake the morning of the race. It was a nice, relaxed, and fun time hanging out with cool people! And since I didn’t have my own support person, it was awesome to have Darren and Carolanne to chat with.

Setting up my transition area was smooth and I felt the most organized ever before a race.

The Swim:
The lake was super calm and the morning was beautiful despite some dark clouds looming in the distance. However, it didn’t rain at all contrary to weather reports saying that the afternoon would be wet. Carolanne was pretty nervous about the swim and I assured her it wouldn’t be that bad. I was being honest at the time, but in retrospect I think I just forgot how brutal that swim is. 800 people in a mass start in a small lake is kind of a recipe for disaster. And it was. It was rough – lots of pushing and hitting and punching… “unintentionally” of course. I don’t really understand how people can push other people in the water. It baffles me… it really does. I have said it before so I won’t harp on it, but I have NEVER hit or pushed anyone out of my way to get my line. Maybe that’s why I’m so slow. I’d rather be slow than a jerk though.

This went really smooth. The wet suit strippers were awesome and my wet suit came off no problem. It was a super fast transition for me and before I knew it I was on my way to the road.

The Bike
I felt good on the bike. I ended up with a 27km/hr average speed, which is awesome for me. It is faster than my avg speed for the Pike Lake triathlon a couple of weeks before so of course I was happy with it. There was a brutal headwind coming into town, so the last 10km were really rough.

Again, not much to report. I yelled out 3:14 to Darren so that he could text my friends and family. He told them 3:42, but that’s cool. I was so fast out of transition he couldn’t even verify it.

The Run
My nemesis is the run of a triathlon. The first few kilometres of the run are the worst, but this one felt worse than most. I did NOT want to run. I wanted to walk. It is obvious to me now that I need more mental toughness during the run portion of the triathlon. That is what I’m working on between now and Ironman – mental toughness. No walking during my runs. Bike-run bricks. NO WALKING DURING MY RUNS! That is just the start of my plan for running domination. Or at least better results.

I love this race. It is well-organized, it has lots of volunteers, the course is a great prairie course, and Stony Plain is a nice little town. My only wish is that it wasn’t on the July long-weekend. I missed spending the weekend with my family at the lake. It won’t be a consistent race in my life, but it sure is a great one!

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