Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tips for Ironman Calgary 70.3

I raced Calgary 70.3 last year but never wrote up a race report on it, so I thought I'd write up some tips for anyone racing it this weekend. And for anyone not racing, they're definitely still looking for volunteers.

  • Make sure you check out the IM expo at the Westin, lots of cool stuff, lots of volunteers, and a cool place to visit overall. Plus I'll be volunteering at the info desk on Friday from 10am-2pm
  • You'll be racking your bike at transition the day before, probably early in the morning, make sure you're tires are below pressure since its going to warm up through the day and you don't need two flats at 5:00am the next morning when you're getting ready to start
  • Run through you transitions several times when you pack your transition bags since it is a point to point
  • The water is cold so to be prepared for that, take a pre-race swim right after the wave before you starts
  • Its a 6-7am start depending on the wave you're in meaning the air temperature will be a little cool, probably around 10C ish. But don't be tempted to overdress, it should warm up.
  • Sight Sight Sight, the buoys are a little far apart here and you swim under a bridge so make sure you've got a good race line when you're in the water
  • T1 has quite a bit of gravel since its not a paved lot, so be prepared for that. I wouldn't go as far as bringing sandals or anything since they lay carpet down, but you might want to think about it if your feet are fragile.
  • Take advantage of the wetsuit strippers, get your wetsuit down to your waist once you're out of the water and the strippers will be waiting for you at the top of the ramp. Once you get to them, just lie down and let them do the rest.
  • Like I mentioned, its going to be pretty cool that early in the morning, but for most people its arm warmer cool at worst. Last year was cold and cloudy with a high of only about 18C and most people were good with the standard tri tank and shorts
  • Depending on your fluid intake and sweat rate, you might be able to get away with just two bottles for the entire course, more likely 3. But it won't be hot when you're riding in the AM, so don't worry about a 3 hour 26C degree ride in the blazing hot sun.
  • Pace yourself, follow your race plan, and pay close attention to RPE and HR (power if you have it). There are a lot of rollers early on in the ride that can shut you down by the halfway if you aren't paying attention to your effort.
  • Once you turn back south towards Cochrane (maybe halfway through the ride) there are going to be some long descents, take that time to drink and rest and descend carefully. Last year there was a crash here and a guy needed to be taken off in an ambulance. This is also where I lost my Oakleys at 70kph... so if you see them... uh nevermind.
  • Coming out of Cochrane is the one real climb on the course (probably a Cat 4 or 5 climb in TdF terms), so just relax, sit up and spin up it.
  • After the long climb is a long false flat. Again, pay attention to your HR or power not your speed.
  • Remember the bike course is a couple km's longer than the standard 90km, so don't sweat it if you're a few minutes off your usual pace. The prevailing winds are generally out of the west though, and the net elevation change is descending, so that might be enough to make up the time difference.
  • T2 is in a grassy field, and your transition bag should be at your rack.
  • The run course is absolutely beautiful, so for the first couple minutes use the scenery and the crowds to calm yourself down for the half mary ahead of you.
  • You're going to run a few km east, then you loop back past the finish line before you run down into the Weaselhead Valley, the crowds should give you a nice boost.
  • Its a steep run into the valley, and once you're down in there its flat and you'll have some good coverage from the trees to keep the heat from being a huge issue.
  • Once you get to the other side of the valley you'll have to climb a steep hill, so be prepared for that, there should be an aid station at the top if I recall correctly.
  • Once out of the valley you have a few km's before the turnaround. On the way out you'll think you were setting a great pace, on the way back you'll realize it was another false flat.
  • Once you're back in the valley after the turnaround you've got about 7km's to go including the climb back out of the valley which is going to hurt but won't last too long.
  • After the climb you'll pass by the finish once more before you actually get to the finish. Pay close attention to your pace, and get ready to dig deep. You're almost home.
  • Smile for the camera as you cross the finish line! And don't step on the finish tape like I did! The timing mat is *before* the finish arch, so you can stop and make yourself look pretty before you get to the line.
Thats all and good luck this weekend! If you're from out of town and have any questions feel free to email me or ask away! And like I said, I'll be volunteering at the info desk Friday from 10am-2pm if you'd like to stop by and say hey!

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