Muskoka 70.3 Ironman – Race Report

15 09 2009

This was one of the few races I wasn’t nervous the day before, which doesn’t mean I slept like a baby…

For the first time I had a good pre-race day! My nutrition was pretty good and I was also ready to go to bed at 9pm. Beatriz in the other hand, was VERY nervous and couldn’t sleep. She woke me up at 3am as she was unable to sleep. She was scared to death of the next day race… her first Half Ironman! Who am I to blame her? I was SUPER nervous the year before and also before my full Ironman in June and at both times, she was at my side and patiently tried to calm me down. This time was my turn.

I spend about an hour talking to her trying to get some positives thoughts into her head and getting her to sleep and get some rest… It worked! She did sleep afterwards, although I couldn’t fall sleep again! 🙂

Anyhow, the weather was great! Cloudy, not too cold, not too warm. We got at the transition area just after 7am. Bruno, Carlos, Leandro and Rogerio were already there. I got to my bike, unloaded all my gear, including my 3 water bottles: 1 for the aerobar and two on the back of my seat.  Surprise number 1 – LOST MY ELASTIC BANDS to hold my aero bottle!!!

Leandro, you saved my race just there! He had an emergency kit with everything you could ever need. I think you could actually build a bike with his kit! Anyhow, I used his electrical tape to hold it (I’ve done that before). Many, many thanks Leandro!!!

Second thanks of the day goes to Bruno that took care of help m Beatriz as I was trying to fix my bottle problem!

Anyhow, we got all ready and went to the swim. We walked to the beach, zipped up the wetsuits  and even had time for a quick warm-up. Which brings me to my third thanks… Beatriz tried to close my wetsuit 3 times, but it kept opening, a common issue with my suite. It works great once it is closed, but it pops open immediately after you try to close it. Carlos became an expert after IM France, where he spent at least 5 minutes trying to get it closed. This time it took one try! The Helix is AWESOME, but a bit of a pain with the zipper since day one.

Swim (1.9 km)- 34:43 (Expected 35 min)

My plan for the race was to draft of Carlos as much as possible and then just follow my pace. That worked for about 2 seconds… then I lost him in the middle of 100’s of other swimmers! So, I just did my thing. I went easy, not going too hard, but not too easy either. I wanted to do my 35 minutes and get out of the water in good shape.

The swim went relatively well, until the last turn. When I turn towards the beach (lest leg) I couldn’t really see the next landmark, I was completely disoriented. I saw some swimmers beside me and just took the same direction, which fortunately was the right one! At this point though, for the first time I can remember, there was two guys passing me from the wave that left after me (yellow cap).

When I saw the yellow caps, I thought “Oh shit, I’m doing a really bad swim today.” But, I tried to keep focused and started to kick the last few 100 meters. That keeps me from having cramps after the swim and it also helps me not getting too dizzy when I stand up after the swim…

I got out of the water, checked my watch: 34:45! “OK, those guys were really good, it wasn’t me getting worst.”

T1 – 5:41

Got the peelers, and the two ladies had a hard time taking my wetsuit off, so imagine how long I would take me to do it myself?

Getting out of the wetsuit

Getting out of the wetsuit

Anyhow, they gave me my wetsuit and uphill I went, slowly trying to bring my HR down. As usual, my HR goes up to Max (184) as soon as I stand up after these longer swims. It takes a bit to drop back to normal, so I didn’t rush to the bike. Don’t take me wrong, I was feeling OK, this is always the case, so I don’t get worried about it. I know it will drop during the bike.

Bike (94 km) – 3:05:51 (projected 3:08)

I started the bike still with a high heart rate, 160 bpm as I was walking out the transition area. As I jumped on the bike and start pedaling, my HR was at 175 bpm… way too high. It kept high until the 4th km.

Muskoka 2009 Bike 4kmAt this point I was still keeping a decent wattage (229 W), but I wasn’t pushing too hard as I wanted to bring my HR down first.  Keep in mind that this was a pretty hilly portion of the course, so low wattage wasn’t an option. Then my HR finally dropped and I did a great stretch of 36 km (4 to 40 km) at 161 bpm and a good 235W. I was actually trying to stay at 220, as I thought that I would been able to sustain that through out the bike.

Muskoka 2009 Bike 4-40kmKeep in mind that my threshold is around 250W, so keeping it at 235W is pretty close to all I could do! At that point I was starting to feel my legs. They were pretty sore, not a great pain, but I knew it wasn’t good. The pain however, wasn’t an injury, it was the muscles telling me they were tired. So I decided to drop my pace a bit. My goal was holding a 220W average, which I figured would give me just enough for the 30 km/h that I wanted.

As it turned out, dropping the pace was the right decision. When I got the 70km mark, my legs were REALLY hurting. My HR had dropped, but legs and my butt… so much muscle pain. My power dropped to 212W average, with 154 bpm and a 30.6 km/h average.

I was just calculating my average and thinking “I’m going to make it, I WILL do 30 km/h average!” and so I did! One small victory!

Muskoka 2009 Bike 40-94km

I finished the bike with just over 30.3 km/h, 158 bpm, 222W and 89 rpm cadence averages! I’m not 100% sure if this is true, but I’m pretty sure I was still feeling the overtraining fatigue.  But, I reached my goal, with almost 3 minutes to spare! Oh, that included 2 pit stops (29.4 km and 81.9 km), if it wasn’t for that… my average would have been 30.6 km/h (cost me 1 minute each time!) 🙂

T2 – 1:42

Into T2

Into T2

T2 was nice and easy. I got in, took my biking shoes off, running shoes on, another gel down, cap on and off I went…

Run – 2:05:21 (projected 2:00:00)

As I was starting the run, Craig Alexander was just coming in FAST to finish his race… Well, after the bike I knew three things:

  1. I was well hydrated, as I had to stop yet another time at the run just before 2 km!!!
  2. I was well fed, as I took about 1 gel every 40 minutes, plus 3 big bottles of infinity (which made me go to some many times)
  3. I was dead tired. I started the run thinking “Wow, 21 km hey?”

So I had to make some adjustments to my strategy. I though I was going to go really easy till the turn around (~5:55 min/km) and then trying to bring it up to 5:30 min/km. Well, that wasn’t going to work. I came out of the transition running 11 km/h (5:30 pace) and it was DOWNHILL! Yep, so much for increasing my speed after 10.5 km!

I had done some research about the run walk protocol after hearing an interview on IM Talk podcast, and one of the benefits was that it should be easier to keep your pace if you walk/run, instead of trying to run the whole way. Since I was already doing my pace, I knew that my chances from getting anywhere close to 5:30 pace average would be completely out of the question. So I though “What do I have to lose?”

Slow Start

Slow Start

I did the first half at an impressive 10.2 km/h average (5:52), considering that I walked quite a bit!

Muskoka 2009 run 10.5 kmThen when I turned around, ran for not even 1 km… Who do I see? Bruno! Since he left 6 minutes behind me, I knew that he would or already had passed me! Not much later I see Rogerio. Then I though “$h!t, they all going to pass me?” I was starting to get into a bit of better pace as I also started to talk to a guy, David, that was going the same speed as me… but when I saw both sandbaggers on my tale, I had to give it a good shot.

Both Bruno and Rogerio are much better runners than me, so I decided trying to run a bit more. So I started going much harder (doesn’t mean much faster!) and I still walked and ran, but this time when I walked I looked back, just waiting for a pad in the back from one of them… I ran up to the last km waiting for that pad, thinking “if I keep them up to 500m before the finish line, there nothing in this world that will make me lose them!”

Seriously, I wouldn’t mind if they passed me, but it seemed to be a good “mind game” to keep me going! As it was getting harder and harder to keep the pace (even with the walk/run), I had a little hope that it was getting harder for them too, always thinking “they are better runners, but I can make it at least hard for them to pass me!”

To my surprise, I got to the last few 100 meters and no signed of them! So I did it!!! Another small victory. The interesting was that I kept basically the same pace in both half’s, I only dropped .1 km/h and did the way back at 10.1 km/h (5:56 pace).

Muskoka 2009 run 21 kmSo, no I didn’t do the time I wanted (2:00:00), but I think I did quite well adjusting to race. At the end I knew I couldn’t have done any better that day.

Total Time 5:53:16 (3 minutes better than last year)

Did I finished ahead of Bruno and Rogerio? Well, I manage to beat Rogerio, who did a great job for his first half Iron and Bruno beat me by 2 minutes (Awesome job Bruno!)

Carlos? Well, I saw him at the turn around too, like 4 km ahead of me! Great race dude, great race!!!

Leandro finished not too much later. I can’t imagine how he did it with his injured calf. Man, you are persistent! Now get healthy for next year. I know it must be hard with two little kids, but I think what you need is a bit more consistency, then you wont have that many injuries.

When I finished I was so sore, but strangely not as sore as the year before. I thought it was harder, but probably it was about the same pain as the year before, or even less. It is hard to compare pain and RPE. Especially a year later… Anyhow, I was glad it was over and I was really glad that this season was over. This season gave me a lot to think and one of the lessons is that I need to take more time off!


But my day wasn’t over. On my last 1 km, when I was starting to feel relieved that my misery as going to end, who do I see starting the run? Beatriz! I first felt so bad and worried about her. I was hurting so much and the though that she would still have to go through all of that, really got me worried “Oh man, she is going to kill me for convincing to sign up to this race”. Then we got closer and when she saw me, she had a HUGE smile on her face! She just yelled “I did it! I did the cut off from the bike!”

From that moment I knew she would finish! She still had about 3 hours for her half-marathon but she wasn’t going to give up! That is my girl!!! So I finished my race, walked around a little bit congratulating my buddies and looking for Silvia, my sister-in-law, which I didn’t find, but that is yet another story… Then I took my bike back to hotel and literally ran back to the finish line. I didn’t know how fast Beatriz would, but I did know that I wasn’t going to miss her crossing the finish line!

I ran back to the finish line, about 1 km (hilly km!), and every single person was yelling “are you nuts? Are you going for a run?”… “no I have to see my wife crossing the finish line!!!’

When I got back to the finish line, I finally found Silvia. She told me that Beatriz had not finished yet, so we both walked to the last hill, and patiently waited for her. I tried to cheer every competitor that was coming up that hill. Most of them with a smile, some of them the pain was harder, and other just did hear… they all had one thing in mind “I’m there, I’ll do it!”

As the clock was ticking, I kept asking for the time. Silvia just kept saying “Wow, again? I just told you, she still has 30 min… 25… etc.” Then finally, there comes Beatriz!!! Still smiling, enjoying every minute of her race! I started to run with her the last km and she immediately said “Go away! I don’t want to be disqualified, you can’t run with me! This is costing me way too much to get DQ now!”

Don't run with me!

Don't run with me!

I backed off and went down to the finish line, where I waited for my girl to finish he first Half Ironman! 8 Hours and 15 minutes! That is 15 minutes to spare. She is a “IRONWOMAN”!!! When she crossed the finish line, I was there to hold her in my arms and with tears in my eyes I could only say “YOU DID IT”.

My Ironwoman

My Ironwoman

There are two types of people in this world, the ones who say “I CAN’T” and the ones who say “I CAN”. Beatriz had the guts to go out there and do it, despite the fact that she works 8 hours a day and is finishing her second university degree at night!

If you think you can do a 8:15 Half Ironman, what are you doing in your couch? Go out there and DO IT! Maybe there is a third type of people, the ones who say “I COULD!” 😉

Special thanks to Silvia (Beatriz’s sister) for all the support and pictures!


70.3 Ironman Muskoka Pre-Race

9 09 2009

It is funny that we are now 4 days before the the event and, unlike last year, I’m not nervous at all. It is all about perspective.

Last year was great, but I hope the weather is a bit drier this year and I also hope to improve my time a bit. I don’t think I’m at my best, but I’m sure I’m much better now than a few weeks back. As it turns out, I was overtrained, but I think I got over it! I took a week off, than I cut the training my 40% and stopped any speed work.

Last week I was back to my normal schedule, but that was Tapper, which means that I end up loosing half of my second peak phase after Ironman France. Probably not ideal, but my body just couldn’t handle it. In the flip side, I’m feeling quite good now! Last week I did a 84 km bike ride with an average of 214 Watts! That is my best average EVER in a long ride. The speed average wasn’t that great as we got quite a bit of head wind on the downhill.

2009 Last Group RideThis ride was also the last group ride of 2009. Almost all Sandbaggers were there, except Paulo, Fernando and Chris, which was a pity, we had a great time. We left from Bruno’s house and rode around Brampton through some really nice country roads. Other than the 3 flat tires that Lili had… everything went great! 😉

2009 Last Group Ride MapThe day before I did a long run, which wasn’t bad either. I was actually pretty happy with my heart rate, which I averaged 144 bpm and 10.7 km/h (5:36 min/km) pace. Considering that it was 1 hour and 30 minutes, it wasn’t bad at all, specially because the HR didn’t change at any time, until I did a quick sprint at the end.

2009 Last Long Run

Most important of all, I have NO INJURIES! Knock on wood… not even my hamstring is hurting, which usually happens after a long run. So I guess I’m ready for Muskoka! If not a better time than last year, I’m sure going to have the same fun!!!

This year the following Sandbaggers will be in Muskoka:

  • Beatriz: I wish I could say that my wife was ready for this race, that she had trained like hell and it would be a piece of cake, but she has a different type of schedule and training technique, which I will never understand. Having said that, somehow she always manages to finish, so I’ll be there cheering for her and if I’m not too tired, I’ll walk back and run the last few kms with her! May the force be with you!
  • Bruno: I think he is going to kick my ass in the run. He is really running well this year. I might be able to beat him because of the swim and bike, but I would not be surprised to see him passim me at the end! It would be great if we can cross the finish line together.
  • Carlos (Caca): well, what can I say? The guy always swam better than me, we used to be about the same on the bike and I would run faster… but that was the past! I’m pretty sure he will be faster in all three disciplines this year. He has been training a lot and I think he will be at least 5 min ahead of me on this one. I’ll try to catch up, but I find it nearly impossible. At least I’ll have a carrot to run after!
  • Leandro: I have to say, I didn’t have high hopes for him (sorry buddy!) but after biking with him on Sunday, I was amazed how much he improved! He usually didn’t kept up the whole way, but this time was different… I think he is ready too and will do a much better time than last year!
  • Rogerio: What can I say about him? I think he has the same coach as Beatriz! Although, the last few months he has been training and not only swim/bike/run, but also how to come up with excuses!!! He is definitely the “Sandbagger Master”. Don’t get me wrong, he is the best runner and used to be the worst swimmer, but after swimming with the ladies at the masters… he is another man! I never know what to expect from him, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him at the run too!

Well, that is it. I wish you all the best of luck in the race, it is now time to relax and absorb  your training! You can’t improve in the last week, so carb load and lets have some fun!!