I moved out to Calgary, Alberta in late April for a summer job. No sooner than the day following my arrival, I was out in the Rocky Mountains riding with a group of elite athletes. I have been logging consistent weeks of 12-20 hours of training and have been feeling very strong. The decision to sign up for Ironman 70.3 Victoria was made on a whim, registering and booking flights less than two weeks out from race day. I did not taper for the race, in fact I logged my longest ride to date the weekend prior to the race. The plan was to use Ironman 70.3 Victoria as a high intensity training race for Ironman Mont-Tremblant in August.
We arrived in Victoria early Thursday evening and quickly got out for a shake-out jog and stocked up on groceries. Friday was highlighted by attending the Lifesport open water swim practice at Thetis Lake. There were over 50 athletes in attendance, including several Olympians and professional triathletes. It was great to get a hard open water swim workout in before race day. We also rebuilt our bikes and got out for a 45 minute ride prior to checking in for the race. On Saturday we had light workouts in all three disciplines and capped off the night with a family dinner featuring homemade lasagna. Shortly thereafter, we did our nightly stretching and headed off to bed.
The race started at 6am, meaning we were up at 3am. I ate a bagel and banana and drank a cup of coffee, then we headed off to the venue. Once we had our transition area set up, we mingled about before heading to the swim start 20 minutes prior to the start the race. We managed to squeeze in a very brief swim warmup before the national anthem. Shortly thereafter, the pros were off and the race had begun.
As a result of the heavy milfoil in the water, the swim course was shortened to 1500m shortly before the start of the race. Given the swim is my weakest discipline, this was welcome news. This race was my first experience with a “rolling start”, where athletes self-seed based on swim time and are herded out onto the race course in a single line. Rolling starts are intended to be safer than traditional mass and wave starts, but I found that this was the most physical swim I have ever had. The signs directing self-seeding were in terms of predicted swim times for the full 1.9km swim rather than the 1.5km swim. As a result, the swim was very chaotic and physical with the large discrepancies in the speed of swimmers. By the second half of the swim, I was finally able to get comfortable and lock into a pace. I was able to exit the water no worse for wear, and ready to chase down some people on the bike.
Result: 1.5 km, 22:51, 1:31/100m, 115/1476 OA, 6/20 AG
After a slow transition, I headed out onto the bike ready to do some damage. I quickly began working my way through the field and felt really strong. I was racing entirely on feel, and tried to not focus on speed and heart rate. I tried to race at a steady effort, spinning up climbs and hammering down descents. When I approached an athlete in my age group, I would surge past holding a sustained FTP-level effort for a few minutes until they were out of sight. I was able to hold aero position with relative comfort and felt very in control the entire bike leg. I spun out the legs for the final few minutes and began mentally preparing for the run. I hopped off the bike feeling really fresh and excited to have broken 2:30.
Result: 90km, 2:27:36, 36.6 km/h, 55/1476 OA, 3/30 AG
I have had some fantastic brick workouts as of late, and knew I was ready to roll on the run. I opened at an optimistic pace of 3:40/km for the first mile or two, before wisely backing down to more sustainable pace of 3:50-4:00/km. The course was two laps of a trail around the lake, with some narrow and technical sections. The first lap went really well and I was feeling really strong and in control. The second lap was very congested, with slower athletes now on the course. I was continuously barking out “Left!”, or something phonetically similar. I was beginning to feel the effects of the race by this point and was drinking Pepsi at every aid station. By the 15km mark, I began to get tunnel vision and went to a real dark mental space, but I fought through it and persevered. The penultimate mile of the race featured two large climbs which really tested my mental resolve. However, once I got to the top it was all downhill to the finish line. I was physically and mentally exhausted, but I kept the feet turning over and crossed the line with a fist pump before collapsing in the shade of the finishing chute.
Result: 21.1km, 1:23:49, 3:58/km, 21/1476 OA, 2/30 AG
Final Result: 4:20:11, 32/1476 OA, 2/30 AG, 10th place amateur
I am extremely happy with my result. This was a breakout performance for me and by far the most complete race I have ever raced. Despite not tapering for the race, I was able to surpass all expectations and have a strong showing in each of the three disciplines. I still feel as if I have a ton of room for improvement, which makes me incredibly excited to see what the future holds. This race was highlighted by the fact that my family was able to watch – their first time watching me race! It was great to be able to share the excitement with them. I have renewed motivation to keep training and I am excited to see what I’ll be able to do at Ironman Mont-Tremblant in August.
We’re just getting started.
Special thanks to our home-stay, Benjamin (BJ) White and his family. They went above and beyond throughout the weekend.