Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Not Our Best Race

The title is a pretty accurate summary.  There were no catastrophic failures like flat tires or getting our goggles kicked off, but neither of us performed as well as we would have hoped, and the results showed it.

As an aside, a lot of people have told us that "we tried our best", and "just getting there was a victory", etc etc.  We both really appreciate the support, but I disagree.  Yes, there has been lots to gain in terms of life experiences.  But we signed up to race, not to simply participate.  Neither of us were as fast as we could have been - for example, I pre-swam the swim course two days before the race in 12:30.  Same course on race day, with the advantage of a pack draft, and I came in at over 14 minutes.  A minute and a half over a twelve minute race is a lot to lose, and I could list out similiar performance measures for all stages of the race. 

Now, even with our best race, neither of us would have won - but we could have done better.  I don't plan on sitting around and pouting about it, but I do think that it makes more sense to look at the race objectively and possibly find some improvements.  Trying to improve is what this type of sport is all about, and I would much rather take a hard look at what I did and find some improvement, rather than just write the whole experience off and get the same result next time.

With the aside aside, here is my race experience as best as I can recall:

Age Group World Championships

Support:  Cliff and Lori were in New Zealand on their Honeymoon during the race.  They took the time to come watch and support us, which was pretty awesome.  We also stole the pictures they took.

Age Group World Championships


Considering how competitive this race was, I was expecting a lot more violence and "accidental" grabbing and maneuvering here.  There was almost none, which was really nice to experience.  I swam straighter than I had in my practice runs, which was also nice.  On the way back, I felt someone on my feet, and had another person just beside and behind me, which convinced me that I was doing pretty well and was with the main pack, so I stopped sighting so much and tried to stay with them.  Eventually I looked up, and I guess everyone I was with had the same thought process - we were way off course, almost into opposing traffic, and were definitely not with the main pack.  Damn.  I spent the rest of the swim being very conscious of not swimming into any lifeguards as I got back on track.

Age Group World Championships

Transition 1 (Swim to Bike): 

I came out of the water knowing I was behind where I wanted to be, and feeling half drowned, as per usual.  I was also surprisingly thirsty.  I knew this transition was a long one, due to the organizers having to find space for 3000 bikes.  Like, seriously really thirsty.  What is the deal.  In any case, my on the fly strategy was to make sure I passed at least two people, but other than that not to kill myself here, so that I didn't fall off my bike when I tried to get on (I have done this once before).  I got to my bike at the same time as another Canadian four bikes down the rack.  He looked me in the eye, paused, and said "I really ____ing hate swimming". I decided he was my kind of person.

Age Group World Championships


In the week leading up to the race, I had practiced all of the hills on the course, and decided that I could get up all of them about halfway down my cassette in my big ring.  I got to the first hill with this in mind, and immediately almost passed out.  I think I was in the granny gear by the time I got to the top.  This was pretty much all I could think about until I coughed up a mouthful of phlegm, and then all I could think about was whether it would be considered unsportsmanlike to spit it out right in front of the rider behind me.  So I am going to put a bit of blame on being sick the two days leading up to the race.  I also have to admit a bit of a mental problem here too - normally the bike portion is my strongest, and being passed here by more than a few people definitely got into my head.  It was a really fun course though, and this was still my strongest placing in the end.

Age Group World Championships

Transition 2 (Bike to Run):

By the time I got my bike back on the rack, I was thinking that I was going to have to go home and measure just how long this transition was.  Pretty sure I had already done my run distance at this point.

Age Group World Championships


Sometimes, I really ____ing hate running.

Age Group World Championships

So.  A few lessons to be learned.  Maybe we'll do it again someday, but I think we will definitely wait for it to come a little closer to home.  For now, we have two weeks to explore New Zealand.

And then we will be home, probably just in time to start ski touring.  And I'm going mountain biking.  I'm looking forward to it already.

Friday, October 19, 2012

One More Day

...and I am super sick.

I have mixed feelings about writing that, since it sounds like I am already making excuses for a poor performance before I even race.  I thought it would be more heroic to just suffer through it, maybe.

Well.  I have been complaining to Caroline all day, and it looks like it will extend to the internet also.  It came on incredibly fast last night, and I have basically spent the day in bed.  My only hope at this point is that if it comes on fast, it will work its way through my system fast as well, and by tomorrow night I will be feeling OK.  Not the ideal race prep, but not really anything I can do about it either.


Yesterday the swim course was opened up for us to do a practice lap or two, and get used to the water.  This was pleasantly surprising - during the aquathlon a few days back it was so wavy and rough that people had to be pulled from the water.  The temperatures have been a concern also, with officials only giving a range of 14-16 degrees Celcius.  Most people, myself especially so, were pretty worried.  But - it turned out to be relatively calm, and the water was almost... refreshing.  Definitely wetsuits required, but nothing like Banff which we raced at the beginning of September.   The sprint course is below - the two yellow bouys have to be swum around for one lap total.  The Olympic course is twice as long, but instead of doing two laps, is just extended to a sort of T shape out in the harbour.


Today Caroline went down to watch the Pro Women's race.  They are pretty quick.  You should definitely click on the picture below (a few times) to maximise it to see the whole thing.  That section of whitewater on the right is them swimming.


Tomorrow is the Pro Men's race, and then we check our bikes into transition that night.  Getting close.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

3 Days Till Race Day

This is our first update from New Zealand.  The last few days have gone quickly.  The flight(s) over here were painless.  We arrived at about noon local time, and got right into the New Zealand timing, so jet lag has been non-existent.  Our bikes survived the trip with only minor scratches, so that was a big load off.


The first full day here started with a team bike ride on the race course.  Riding on the left side of the road is interesting, and currently terrifying. Especially starting out in downtown Auckland, you don't really have some time to ease into the concept.  We have a week to get used to it, and to get to know the course as well as we can.  Interestingly though, on race day the course will be run on the right side of the road - so hopefully I can forget what I have just spent a week learning as quickly as possible.  The course looks good though.  Fast pavement, a good variety of hills, and turny enough that being able to handle a bike well will be a big advantage.  The last five or so kilometers are flat and wicked fast back into the downtown transition area, which will be an excellent way to end the bike portion.

We also discovered an open air, salt water, unheated 60 meter swimming pool within walking distance of the hotel.  The unheated and salt water parts are the key parts, because it makes this pool a perfect way for us to transition from swimming in an indoor pool or a warm lake to the cold ocean that we will be racing in.  There is also a long stretch of seawall right next to the pool with a running lane.  Definitely no complaints about the training facilities that are available.

Today was a rest day, so we went and checked out the expo and the grandstand area.  It's pretty cool being able to race in a race like this, with the full ITU set up.  Feels very professional.


And then the athlete parade.  Also a very cool experience.  According to the MC at the athlete dinner tonight, there are 3001 athletes racing the age group races.  Of these, over 600 (20%) are from Australia.  Team Canada has just over 300, so at 10% we aren't doing too bad either.  There is also 1 athlete from Belgium.


I apologize for the crap pictures, by the way.  We'll work on it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

World's Info

So this is it.  We leave Kelowna tomorrow morning for Vancouver.  We will be staying there until our flight out, later on Sunday night.  Then we lose a day of our lives, touchdown in Fiji briefly, and arrive in New Zealand.

Some general information is below.  As we find out more we will update the blog.

Race Times:

Both of our races are on Monday morning, the 22nd of October, New Zealand time.  We will be starting in separate waves:

Matt - starts at 7:03 AM. Hopefully I will finish in 1:15 or less, which puts me in the finish chute around 8:15 AM.  (that equates to Sunday in Canada. 11:03AM start / 12:15PM finish PDT, or 2:03PM start / 3:15PM  finish EDT)
Caroline - starts at 8:45 AM. Caroline's target is 2:30 or less, which puts her in the finish chute around 11:15 AM.  (that equates to Sunday in Canada. 12:45PM start / 3:15PM finish PDT, or 3:45PM start / 6:15PM finish EDT)

Please don't ask me to do those time changes again.  You may want to check my numbers.

You can find the starting list here.  Notice that for the 80+ year old males in the sprint distance, all they have to do is finish to get a medal.  The 75 year old woman is guaranteed gold.  Not a bad way to go into the race.

Race Numbers:

Matt -  1148
Caroline -  4135

Course Maps:

Follow the links below:

Sprint Course Maps (Matt)

Olympic Course Maps (Caroline)

Live Streaming:

We were directed to this link for live streaming information.  It appears that there will be live streaming video of the finish line, as well as commentary and results.  Can't guarantee anything, but it's worth a shot.