I'll do this one for Chinook, and I'll do one in a month for Ironman Canada. So here it goes....
Its a small field of about 200 for the half, so seeding isn't quite as important as a larger race. The trick here is just to sight the buoys and pace yourself well. At the end of the first lap you have to get out of the water, run across the beach, and get back in for your second lap. The luxury of a two lap swim is that you know when you're onto the back of the swim and when you can push a little bit harder.
General Tip; Towards the end of the swim, kick a bit more so that you can get blood flowing back into your legs before you get out of the water. Also, don't stand up until you can touch the bottom of the lake with your hand.
The Chinook Half bike course, and olympic bike course for that matter, is pretty hilly, and probably the most technical bike course of any race of that distance in Alberta. The prevailing winds always come out of the west, and since you're riding towards the west (the mountains), the ride out to Kananaskis is going to be a lot slower than the ride back home.
Last year it took me about 1:39 to get to the turnaround, and about 1:13 to get back, and that was keeping power pretty even.
|Chinook Bike Course Elevation Profile|
On these hills, if you need to get out of the saddle, focus on rocking the bike from side to side and letting gravity do the work and try to keep your effort to a minimum. If you find yourself getting short of breath on the climbs on near the turnoff to Bragg Creek, back off, you can make the time up later.
The nice thing about an out and back like this is that you do most of the work on the way out. On the way back in, gravity and then wind should allow you to take a break, recovery, and get some calories back in before the run.
General tip: I say this to runners and cyclists when they're in an endurance race, unless you're fighting for a podium position, you have to pace your race on effort, not speed. So when you hit a hill, focus on keeping your effort constant, and just ignore your speed. If you're on a 90km bike ride in Zone 2, unless you're an exceptionally strong cyclist, or a seasoned triathlete, do the hills in Zone 2. You should be able to talk to someone without too much labour even as you climb the hill.
|My homeboy Keith on the run|
The temperature for the race is never really crazy hot like Ironman Calgary 70.3 can get in late July, but you'll still want to listen to your body very closely. With lower temperatures you may find yourself not needing as much water if you usually take in lots of fluids be sure not to over hydrate. On the flip side, if you're used to working in heat, the cooler temperatures may throw you off and you may not pick up on your thirst. So get dialled in with what your whole body is signalling (too much fluid in your stomach? Back off the water. Getting a little thirsty, drink water. Starting to feel spaced out and a little light, back off the pace for 10 minutes and get some calories and fluid in you asap).
General tip: Your legs will feel wonky after the bike. That's a fact of triathlon, pay careful attention to your pace for the first couple kilometers and don't push too hard. Your stomach can't handle fluids as well when you're running vs biking, and after 90km on the bike your legs will want to turnover at a higher rate than you probably run at. Stick to your target pace and make sure your legs aren't writing cheques your ass can't cash.
Chinook is a phenomenal race put on by Mike Bock who does so much for Calgary's local athletes. Mike is a top notch guy so if you see him be sure to thank him for putting on such a phenomenal race is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Also be sure to thank each and every one of the volunteers on the course. Without them these races wouldn't be possible. A little thank you goes a very long way. They know you're tired and that you're pushing your hardest, which is why those two words really do mean so much.
Have a great race out there everyone and I'll see you at the start line!