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Race Reports

IRONMAN Muskoka 70.3, 2022 Race Report

To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be writing another big race report so soon. But due to silly planning on my part, here we are! Just two weeks after Tremblant 70.3, I raced in Muskoka 70.3. This one was to redeem my first attempt DNF back in 2019 when I didn’t know how to swim or change gears and ride a hilly course outdoors. That’s also when I used to wear elbow and knee pads. Oh, how things have changed! In reality, I wasn’t quite sure what my body was capable of only 2 weeks later. So, I was really surprised to see a similar swim, but better bike and even better run! 

Coaches goals for the race: 

Swim: Swim straight, similar strategy as Tremblant but it’s a wave start so maybe start a bit back of the main pack and a bit off to the side so you aren’t trampled!

Bike: – Focus on going hard into the uphills and make sure you go one gear harder as you crest the top of the uphills

– About 170-180W, HR ~165bpm

  • Stick to the white line or close to the yellow line, avoid the middle of the lane on the 117

Run – pace the uphills, like on the bike use the downhills to get momentum and then steady up the hills ALWAYS feeling like you have a bit more speed for cresting at the top.

– HR < 175bpm for the first 7km, slow and controlled up the first set of hills.

 

The RACE: [Official Time: 05:42:54]

SportStats: https://www.sportstats.ca/display-results.xhtml?raceid=114753&bib=465

SWIM (1.9km) – 43:51 mins @ 2:16/100m

The swim went pretty much how I was expecting it go in terms of pace and obstacles. Where Tremblant had a self-seeded swim start, Muskoka had an Age Group start. I find AG starts a lot more chaotic, as I got kicked in the fast at least 5 times.  Sighting was good except for the second buoy as there was direct sunlight and a mass swarm of athletes, so I had to go by feet initially, but not too long before I got my bearings back. Once around the turn buoys, I felt comfortable swimming back through the channel to the swim exit. 

My swim is interesting, because no matter the distance, ex 750m, 1900m, 5K, my pace is always 2:15/100m-sh. It’s way better than before, so as long as its under 45mins for a half IM, then I’m okay for now. Also, wetsuit strippers were back! Yay! 

T1

Half-rolled socks with baby powder 100% works! 

BIKE (90KM) – 2:58:37hr @ 30.47 km/h

What a gorgeous bike course! Still pretty hilly, but a lot more shade from trees made it very enjoyable and scenic. Took about 5KM for me get my legs firing. Stayed really calm but with steady effort the entire ride. And even got into aero a little bit! The only kind of sketchy part was the very narrow coned aisle in the return to Bayville section. I loved seeing my friends Mark, Shaunna, Noel, and Garth all lay it out on the course! 

T2

Pretty fast for me. Already had my socks on, put on hydration belt, race bib, Omius headband, shades, slurped an Endurance Tap, let’s gooooo!

RUN (21.1KM) 1:51:37hr at 5:19 min/km

Felt good coming off the bike. But BAM massive hill immediately. Wow that’s mean! Haha. I think it was tolerable for me, but saw the majority of people walking this. After this hill though, I actually felt pretty solid for the rest of the run. I couldn’t believe I was running faster here than at Tremblant too. I’d say the Muskoka run course is definitely without a doubt tougher. Hence “The Beast”. Some of the friends that past me on the bike, I soon got my turn to pass them on the run hehe. But the highlight for me was that I got the opportunity to see Miranda Tomenson get into the final 2K of her run and she was smashing it hard! I yelled out FIGHT!! And she won by 20 minutes and beat some elite men too. This fired me up as well to keep pushing hard up all the hills to the finish! 

In Conclusion

First off, I’m so damn happy, that I finally got to rectify my DNF in 2019 this time around. Secondly, Tremblant 70.3 was always the “A 70.3 Race” of this season and Muskoka was a “B Race” to get more open water racing experience, nail down my nutrition / fuelling, and get more confidence on the bike. Somehow, someway, I got a 12 min PB only 2- weeks after Tremblant 70.3! I don’t really have an explanation how that happened. But it’s most likely do the solid training, and precise amount of recovery and taper planned by coach Miranda! 

Now that I have 1 sprint, and 2x 70.3s done. The main target and goal of the year is only 6-weeks away. IRONMAN Mont Tremblant, a longer swim, 2 loops of Duplessis, and a marathon. The full enchilada. Now, I think I can do it. I can do it if I follow the training plan exactly as I can just like before. I just need to remain calm, excited, keep healthy, and stay focused. It will happen! 

Race Reports

Mont Tremblant 70.3 2022 Race Report

After a long yet scenic 6-hour drive to Montreal, Quebec, it was time for the second race of the season. This time for the iconic and hot ticket race IRONMAN Mont Tremblant 70.3! I have two “A Races” this year, and this is one of them.

This will be one of a few redemption events for me. While I did complete Muskoka 70.3 in 2019 within the overall 8:30 hour cut-off time, I was such a weak swimmer and incredibly novice cyclist. I never rode a bicycle in my life until the age of 30, yes not even as a kid. I fell so many times learning and my primary training was all indoors on Zwift, where I developed somewhat okay power, but zero bike handling skills. So I had no idea about shifting gears in Muskoka, walked up 2 hills, and didn’t make the swim/bike cut-off time. I made it a personal mission to improve everything, especially my outdoor cycling skills and swim. 

I spent a lot of time in the later part of 2020 (after I recovered from my broken collar bone surgery, from a bike crash sigh), and the summer of 2021 doing long weekend rides up to 204km on hilly routes. I slowly build up a little bit of road confidence, and had rides with a few friends to loosen up the anxiety. 

Coaches goals for the race: 

Swim – aiming for 45 mins. “Again, the focus on straight swimming here. No number goals, swim based on effort (6-7/10) – enough to keep yourself warm, but not enough to leave you gasping for air. Seed yourself around 35-40min.”

Bike – aiming for 3:30 hr at 170W / 28kph. Use all your gears! No grinding up the hlls in your big ring. You should be little ring in the front, easy gear in the bag climbing duplessis. Try to stay aero as much as possible.

Run – aiming for 2:10 hr. Steady and controlled first 7km. Don’t get carried away on fresher legs here. Stay on top of nutrition. Miiddle 7km should start to hurt a bit, but still know you have an extra gear for the finish. Last 7km the goal is to be the one passing people, not the one being passed.

In our pre-race phone call, coach Miranda and I laid out some pretty doable goals. 

PRE-RACE: 

I’m really fortunate to have friends also racing this weekend. Mark, his wife Shaunna, and my friend Catherine were there to embrace the day. The 4 of us did an early morning bearing of where our bikes were in relation to the swim, bike, run exits and starts, then walked quite a hike to the swim start at the tennis club. 

The RACE [Official Time: 05:54:37]

SportStats: https://www.sportstats.ca/display-results.xhtml?raceid=116458&bib=946

 

SWIM (1.9km) – 43:43 min @ 2:15/100m

This is probably the most concerning leg of the race for me as usual. My intention was to take the steady and calm pace I had in Milton earlier in the month, but apply it to a distance 3 times longer. And I managed to do it! The water was a perfect temperature and pretty still. I sighted often and stuck to a straight line. I’m really happy the buoys were numbered and since I knew how many there were, I just counted them down. This really helped with my spatial awareness, otherwise I couldn’t really know how much felt I had. The only tricky part came after the first red turn buoy. The sun was shining straight in our face and it was almost impossible to sight the next buoy. So for the first little bit I had to follow the feet and splashing I saw.

Once I turned the second buoy, I felt really good because there is only way back to shore! That’s when I noticed I was most calm heading back in. Even though I saw athletes already stand and begin walking on the sand, I swam all the way up until my hands touched the steps out. I quickly glanced at my watch and saw it said 43 mins, woohoo under 45mins! 

T1 (6:09 min)

It was a rather long way from the swim exist to my bike, so I calmly jogged and made sure to not just walk. Got the wetsuit off pretty quickly, but fumbled a little with getting socks on. I guess I need even more baby powder next time. Now off to this legendary bike course!

BIKE (90K) – 03:03.1 Hours at 29.98 km/h

Like every race I do, the main goal of the bike was to not crash, and not walk up any hills. But seriously, this course was a really good dose of toughness and pleasure. I didn’t notice the Montee Ryan part, the Hwy 117 was really fun and thrilling and Chemin Du Plessis absolutely lived up to the hype. I found the most challenging part “the wall” climb on the return on 117. That was a long steep hill with no shade. Whereas, Duplessis had some steep climbs, but they were often broken up with plateaus, a lot of forest shade, and a ton of cheering spectators! It felt really Tour de France style. For some reason, I couldn’t help but cry as I finished the climb. It was beautiful. There was 3 or 4 U-turns, but on one of them, I had a little dodgy moment where I skid onto the outside lane gravel, but made it back onto the bike. Someone yelled out “good save!”, phew! 

The only two bodily issues I had was I noticed my lower back start to have some pain after the 117 climb, but this went away on its own. And that my right foot hurt because I tightened the shoes too much. 

I did noticed quite a lot athletes flatted out, and I only recall seeing about 2 service vans. Pretty scary, so I’m making it a goal to learn and be prepared to fix a flat tubeless setup as best I can. 

The bike course is iconic and maybe I can better pace or bump up my nutrition for Duplessis and in the final 2 climbs, I feel I like I got really close to my legs cramping up, but luckily they are rather short segments. 

With all the climbing, I was really surprised and pleased that I completed this in 3:03hr at 29.98 kph. I could have totally got 30kph average if I didn’t feature on at least two of the descents…next time haha. Good cadence above 80 rpm as well. 

The highlight of this race for me was actually seeing Lionel zip by me!!! As I was heading out on the 117, I saw the pace car approaching from the other direction on the other side of the road. I was like…”omg who is leading?” and surely enough, it was Lionel Sanders himself. Usually, when I get into a dark place in a race, I think of Lionel Sanders training videos and keep telling myself “no limits”. Today was quite remarkable. Just seeing him lead the race and realizing that I was sharing this exact same course with him, and other amazing pros like Tamara Jewett, Jackson Laundry, and Cody Beals gave me such a surge of adrenaline!

T2 (3:35 min)

I guess I was slightly disoriented because I almost racked my bike in the wrong spot twice. But quickly found my spot. Got everything off, put my running gear on, and now it was my time to shine. 

RUN (21.1KM) – 01:58:09 hr at 5:36 min/ km

I always feel the most at home and in control in the run portion of a triathlon. The entire and day to prepare me for the run. I had an initial feeling off the bike to pee, but decided I could hold it and see what happens. Turns out I never needed it. 

This run course was also stunning. And part of it is on the famous Petite Du Nord marathon trail. However, this route did have quite a bit of hills as well. Oh did I mention it felt like 40C?! It was a hot day for everyone. I was lucky that coach Miranda recommended the Omius headband that some of the pros use as well. It’s heat sink tile made from space shuttle material that diffuses heat keeping your head cool. It totally works! 

My goal was to start the run strong but then lock into a steady pace. I only slowed down at aid stations to splash and sip as much cold water as I could. We broke this into 3x 7km segments and I feel like I met it to plan. I picked off other athletes rather quickly and pretty much for the rest of the race. 

There were definitely moments where I felt like run/walking, but I knew I could do better. Every time I looked at my watch I had to keep calculating and knew I had an opportunity to sub-2 this half-marathon. So I stuck to my paces. I was planning to light my match in the last 5km, but the last part was pretty much uphill, where I saw a lot of people break down and walk. So I did light a match, I didn’t quite get a long sprint finish like I wanted, but feel like I ended strong. 

The last 1km back into the Village was absolutely breath taking and wonderful. I roared into the finish chute, crossed the line, and was exhausted and so thrilled, and so very happy. I met my friends in the recovery tent and I cried with them. I did it. 

In CONCLUSION 

This was my first 70.3 in official time!! The funny thing is that I think was racing against the wrong clock because when I finished I saw the overhead clock say 6:27, in which I was pleased to get sub-6:30. But my friend showed me that I actually finished in 5:54 hours!!! Sub-6!! I really couldn’t believe I did that. I think that actually one of the best feelings was knowing that I didn’t have to worry about making any of the intermediate cutoff times like in the past haha. I’m a new triathlete now! 

I ended up doing better than all the goals I had and more so. I learned so much from this experience as well. And this triathlon community is the best. 

I cannot thank coach Miranda Tomenson enough. Her training plan is the exact perfect dose. I trust it, and I trust her. I still have mind games with confidence though. Heck, she probably believes in me, more than I believe in myself! I need to work on this, but it’s slowly coming along!

Future Goals:

Well now I have a Muskoka 70.3 in only two weeks…probably not the greatest schedule idea ever, but we will see how I feel. This will be a “B race” at best and give me a chance to try out an upped version of my race nutrition. 

I still want to swim at a 1:55-1:59/100m pace in open water so very badly! Since I know I can sight and swim straight and calm at this distance, I will try push the effort a little more in Muskoka. 

Race Reports

Race Report: Milton Sprint Triathlon 2022

I have recently completed my first triathlon opener of the year, the Milton Sprint Tri. While, I have a participated in some triathlons before, in many ways, this felt like, and I am treating it as the first triathlon I actually properly trained for. Yes, I have trained for running, cycling, and swimming individually, and poorly. And thought this would be sufficient to do a triathlon, but never with structure and could never put together a good triathlon race. Until this one! 

After my DNF at IRONMAN Florida’s 5K swim in 2021, I knew I had to get a triathlon coach. After researching a handful of all highly regarded and qualified coaches, my instinct kept drawing me to coach Miranda Tomenson of Tomenson Performance & Wellness (TPW). We started working together on my goals for the upcoming race season in February 2022. The main focus was on my swimming confidence, skill, technique, and open water skills, and bike handling skills, getting into aero position, and learning to do brick workouts. 

Coach’s goals for this season opener was:

Swim – I don’t care about speed, I care about sighting and swimming as straight a line as possible. SIGHT OFTEN! Only goal for the swim is to have your watch read as close to race distance as possible. 

Bike – Stay strong, don’t focus on power today, try not to be on your brakes much except down the BIG HILL

Run – Just race this, run strong, run fast.

When I initially read the goals of the race, I was admitted kind of confused and underwhelmed as she didn’t say to hit any kind of swim pace, bike power, or run pace. However, it quickly hit me, and I after the last few months of working with coach, I totally understood what she was doing and the intension of this day. And am so glad she made it so. It took a lot of anxiety and pressure I usually feel for race day. Instead I got to focus on overcoming some very basic, yet incredibly important skills for triathlons. It’s very interesting in that, even though there was no pace or time targets, I managed to PB every leg of the race! Funny how things work out eh? 

PRE-RACE

I did a 10min bike ride on the course to make sure everything was working ex. Shifting. I did a 10 min warmup easy run. And a 5 min pre-swim. Took an Endurance Tap about 20 mins before the start at 9:48AM. 

The RACE [Official time 01:53:22] Huge PB from previous Milton

SportsStats: https://www.sportstats.ca/display-results.xhtml?raceid=114805&bib=226

The SWIM (750m) [Official time 17:06, 2:16/100m]

My goal for the swim was to focus on sighting, going in a straight line, not zig zag, not getting a panic attack, and not resorting to backstroke. I feel like I definitely accomplished this! When I did Milton the first time in 2019, the water was cold, today it was 65F (18C), and while still cool, it felt perfect. I guess previously, I was going so slow, that I couldn’t generate any body heat. 

I used TheMagic5 Blue Mirror goggles and there was no fogging and had a huge field of view which made sighting really simple. I kept my cool the entire swim even when getting kicked in the face and legs getting grabbed on passing. Master Swim club seemed to help with this sensation. All good. I felt like I could definitely swam even longer and put more effort in for speed, but was really happy how it was going and didn’t want to risk potential panic attacks. The little victory today helped boost my confidence for the next race for sure! 

In the past, I would have been passed and be one of the very last athletes out of the water. However, even though I still get passed, I felt like I held my own on the swim. 

T1 [3:37]

Once out of the water, I couldn’t believe it was already done. But a made a little mistake in taking my time and slowly walking to my bike. I could have saved another minute here. I was quickly able to get out of my wetsuit without needing to hold onto anything or sitting on the floor (Miranda made me do transition drills prior which helped a ton!). Helmet, cycling socks, gloves, time to roll!

If there was only ONE taint of the entire race for me, it would be that somehow, someone accidentally knocked by bike over when they were getting there’s because one of my aero bars was angled incorrectly and my chain was off the ring. And this was after I test rode it before. So strange. Anyways, this didn’t frustrate me at all, and kept stoic. I quickly repositioned the aero bars (didn’t end up using them anyways), and got my chain back on. Then it was smooth sailing. 

The BIKE (30KM) [Official time 59:27, 30.28 kph]

The goal of the bike was to not crash, not walk up any hills, and not wear knee pads and elbow pads. I accomplished all of these! Believe it or not, I got my Trek Speed Concept bike at the end of 2019, and never got to ever race on it until today!! FINALLY. 

I felt strong the entire ride and didn’t really look at power or data. As someone who’s only been cycling for 2.5 years EVER which includes 1 year of mainly Zwifting inside and 3 months off from a broken collar bone in a bike crash, today was a HUGE improvement. There was a good stretch of road with gravel and saw some people flat out, which was really sad to see, I hope they fix this in the future. In previous races, I’d always get passed by, but today I got to do a lot of passing especially on the big 6th line climb and on the main course too. It was so fun. Descending still scares me, so when I hit 72kph on the steep descent back down, I just had to remember to breath, look ahead, and balance. It was absolutely exhilarating but did have to tap the breaks a tad, and my eyes watered up by the end, I guess tears of joy I didn’t die haha. 

My XLab Torpedo was the only nutrition I consumed during the race. It was 80g sugar with 525mg sodium. 

T2 [1:43]

I quickly got all my cycling stuff on, kept socks on, but on running bib, and gear. Let’s go! 

The Run (7KM) [Official time 31:29, 4.29min/km]

My goal for the run was to “run strong, and run fast”. All I did was start my watch, and I never really looked at my pace or power, maybe once half way. I ran fast, and went by feel and what I could maintain relatively comfortably for a sprint (slightly longer than 5K usual sprint distance). Pretty hilly and various road, trail, gravel terrain. I only slowed a little at every aid station to take 2 cups of water, one to sip and one to pour over my head and back. In the last 1K I pushed the pace and in the last 500m I passed a group of athletes for a sprint finish. The brick workouts seemed to have really helped out as my legs didn’t even really feel too tired after the bike. I ran almost as fast as a stand alone 5K I did a few months ago too.

In CONCLUSION

I am glad and proud to have found coach Miranda, and am thankful she took me on as one of her athletes. I know I am a lot of work to deal with, but I am very moldable and will do exactly what she says. Also, it was really great to meet the other inspiring TPW team members, new friends, and legends like Lisa Bentley! 

Today I was able to piece together swim, bike, run, nutrition, and hit goals. 

It felt fantastic to FINALLY put together a solid proper triathlon race!

Future Goals: 

  • Now that I know I can sight better, and be calm, I want to figure out how to keep that, but add speed and effort in open water swimming, hopefully at least 2:00/100m in OWS
  • Even though I felt really strong on the bike, I still need to improve my bike handling skills and yes, figure out how to be confident and balanced in aero position. There is a lot of time to be gained here, but still don’t want to risk anything dangerous

Photos by FinisherPix and Amy Lam.

Race Reports, Triathlon

Race Report: First Attempt at IRONMAN = DNF

Definitely NOT the post I wanted to make…Today was not my day. Mother nature won. My first attempt at completing an IRONMAN in Panama City Beach, Florida ended in a DNF (Did Not Finish) from the ocean swim. The first 800m felt really good. I gave it my all, but not too soon after, I just felt like something was off. I was putting in the effort I trained for, but wasn’t going anywhere.

The rip tides and waves were legit. I knew I wasn’t going to make the swim cut-off, I was asked twice by the kayaks if I wanted to call it quits, but refused. I did not give up or quit on my own will. But after coming out of the water, the official took my timer chip despite me wanted to still do the bike and run. It is what is, and was out of my control. As I went to the transition area to collect my bike, I was stunned to see how many were still racked. Apparently 300-400 triathletes also DNF the swim, which was abnormal. I later heard that there was double red flags on the beach, which meant no one should have been in the water to begin with. I really don’t want to make excuses, the swim is my weakness to begin with, and after this it’s well confirmed that I need to focus on the swim. It absolutely sucks, and I’m feeling so many mixed emotions. I cried and hugged many of the other DNF’ed athletes, a lot of them were 10+ veteran Ironman finishers too. Everyone close to me know how much training, time, and effort I put into this over the last 2 years. Even coming back from a broken collar bone. I wanted to be called an “IRONMAN” so badly. Right now, not really feeling clear minded and very doubtful in myself. So, it will take a long while for me to get motivated again. Despite this, I could honestly not ask for a more phenomenal first IRONMAN experience than this entire week. And on the positive side, I can proudly say I swam over 5km in ocean rip tides.

It was a roller coaster of emotions 100%. however I got to meet all of my heroes, even made into a Lionel Sanders YouTube video and got a high-five from hi at the finish line, and made the best people ever. At the end of the day this is all about the community. And it’s a beautiful one. I will finish what I started. I will become an IRONMAN one day. But for now, time to reflect, settle the feelings, and rebuild. Thank you all for all the kind messages and love today. It means the world to me.

On my last day in beautiful Panama City Beach, I ran to where the IRONMAN Florida Finish Line at Pier Park was. I don’t have a medal to show for it. But I’ll always have the good memories. Thank you to all the volunteers, spectators, and race organizers for making this an ironic classic event. In such a short time, I met new friends, Amanda, Chelsea, Marissa, Jenny, Logan, Chris, & many more, who turn out to be some of the most kind and best people on Earth. After about two years of training for IMFL non-stop, I’m officially in off-season! A few weeks of very unstructured exercise for fun and a ton of time to reflect, and recalibrate. Despite not having the race and result I wanted, and leaving empty handed, I got and learned so much more. This will be a week I cherish forever and never forget. I’ll be back Florida, one day, I promise. Peace.

Mark Allen’s thoughts on IMFL 2021:

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