Posted by: pursuingsub17 | August 9, 2010

Calgary 70.3 Race Report

So sorry guys! This is a week late. But here it goes – I sent this to my virtual team mates and Coach Mark last week:

The morning started off great. I was very calm – had been all week and even the night before. It was raining so Marc said I better drive to Ghost Lake with him rather than sit on the yellow school bus that they were using to bus the athletes to the swim start – about 45 minutes away. I had oatmeal before we left and a banana on the way. The rain made the grounds muddy and sloppy but I was still calm. I knew what my routine was going to be – fill aerobottle, put other bottle in cage, relax to some music, wet suit on, stretch. Focused briefly on the race – 1.9k swim, point to point 94k bike and a half marathon at the end. I’d visualized it – I was prepared. But when I got to the swim start, things happened that I didn’t visualize.

In short, the race went well but there were some good lessons learned. I was a little slower than I thought but I think a lot of that had to do with the run and a slow T1 due to my “misplaced T1 bag” by either a volunteer or another athlete. Thankfully, common sense told me to start shouting “501!” and they found it finally at the front of the 400s. It was with the 500s before the race.
I learned a valuable lesson for bike preparation. Change your tubes a week or so before the race. After the race, I remembered both were 3 years old. The front tire valve stem broke off while I was inflating and a medical tent volunteer came over to see if I needed help. Just told her I have one spare tube when the back tire blew. As a look of horror crept over my face, she said “I’ll get help!” She found another tube, changed the back tire and a pro, Brendon Halpin, offered to change the front while I got ready. Whew! Half hour left to prepare – maybe show up earlier next time. Hats off to the med tent volunteer (she’s volunteering at IM Canada in a few weeks so I’ll look for her there to thank her again) and to Mr. Halpin who took the time a half hour before his swim start to help a nervous newbie!
Swim was pretty good once I calmed down from the bike debacle – but I think next time I’m going to move up into the pack more at the swim start. The swimmers in the back couldn’t sight, all swimming into each other, hyperventilating, shouting for help and general chaos. I got away by doing breast stroke. Front crawl was impossible in that mess. From there, I alternated between front crawl and breast stroke and calmed down after about 500 meters. Finish was 43:47. Pretty much what I wanted. And using the wet suit strippers was extremely valuable.
The bike floored me. I actually did pretty much what I thought I was going to do. There were no issues here except a dropped chain before mounting but that only took me seconds to fix (on my own). Kept a comfortable pace, drank water mixed with Gleukos every 10 mins, gel every half hour, and took water at the two aid stations (plus a bottle on the cage below). There was one porta-potty at each aid station (2 in total the entire bike course) so I kept going because there was a line-up. I’d proudly tell you how I managed bathroom breaks on the bike but that might be too much for some of you. Let’s just say, I mastered another skill on the bike Winking smile.
Why am I surprised that I met my expectations? As any of you who have been reading this knows, I am not a biker – I trained on flat ground except for two short bike rides that involved hills and windtrainer exercises during the winter/spring (the bike course was full of steep climbs) and the altitude was higher than what I trained in. Goal was 3:45. Actual bike was 3:55:37 thanks to my stupid T1 mishap. T1 was 7:26. Grrrr. But I discovered I rock on the climbs. Hills don’t scare me. Well, going down them does a bit but I definitely have the legs to do hills.
Run was good at the start. Last 7k was tough. Last 3k, I hit “the wall”. If it was just tired or sore legs, I’d understand but I was actually nauseous Sick smile. I had horrible gut cramps and I was…um…a little gassy. I needed a porta-potty badly but there were none on the run. This nausea halfway through a long run has been going on for the last month. I found out one reason why the next day and it was obvious – but it took a comment from Marc to make me realize what I had been doing wrong. Don’t eat oatmeal at 3:30am before a long race. It’s like clumping kitty litter in your colon. I did feel better later – almost instantly Angel.

I’ve been doing a little research since I got back and I think the second problem was taking on too much water. I’ve been drinking a lot during my runs lately and it has been making me sick. Too much water, thus lowering the sodium in my blood, and maybe not enough salt pills.
Other than the lessons I mentioned, there’s a few things I might do differently. My feet got cold during the bike due to wet socks from soggy grass in T1 and rain. I might pack dry socks for the run. And I would continue to use the wetsuit strippers if there are any. They had that thing off me and on my way in no time! What else? More training on the bike to improve my speed and thus improve my run. I’m going to focus on more strength training in the upper body and core over the fall and winter too. I’d also like to drop about 5 lbs.
Any questions, let me know! I’d definitely do this distance again next year but I don’t think I’ll do Calgary – especially if I sign up for Ironman Canada – too close together. But I must add that the volunteers were amazing and so were the police and fire department in Cochrane. They made the day.



  1. WOW! So awesome to read about your experience. Making mental notes for myself…when I finally get to the triathlon level… 🙂 You should be proud of yourself!! A GREAT accomplishment. You’re a rock star… 😉

  2. I know this comment is really late, but I just stumbled upon your blog. Congrats on your half-ironman. My goal is to do Calgary 70.3 in 2012, right before my 30th birthday. I would love to ask you some questions about your experience and training. Is there a way to get ahold of you? For me this is a personal victory, not a competitve race. Most sites and blogs are from multiple ironman competitors who have a vested interest in the sport that is much different than mine. Hope to be able to chat with you soon!!

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