This isn’t going to be a super well-formed or organized post, I think. I’m probably using this post more as a way to process a sub-par race than as any way to find meaning in the race (usually my goal), so if it’s a little more raw than usual, forgive me.
Challenge Penticton is a race very dear to my heart; this was the 7th year in a row I raced here on the final weekend in August. Penticton was where I completed my first Ironman, back in 2009. It’s been the site of my biggest success in the sport. I know many people in town. Amy took second at the Ultraman race here in 2014. In short, it’s mostly a second home for us. It was always going to be harder for me to get a result here this year, as the race organizers moved the pro purse from the full distance to the half distance (no issues with me on that—race promoting is a brutal business, and you do what you have to do). I am very happy to know that next year and in 2017 the race here will be a true long-course race again (if not a full 140.6 mile/226k race), as Penticton will run the awesome ITU LD format of 3-4k swim/120k bike/30k run. As half-iron racing always reminds me, I really need more distance to be competitive…in any case, a quick report from this year’s race:
Swim: I set a goal to swim around 25 minutes for this race, and I did it (25:25) so that’s success, but I lost 75-90 seconds to the guys I would hope to swim with, Matt Lieto and Trevor Wurtele. Although I’ve practiced it a bunch this summer, open water swimming remains mentally and physically tough for me. Revving the engine is always hard for my bigger body, it seems, and this time it was even worse. I struggled to breathe for some reason, and even got panicky for a few minutes, thinking “If I take a mouthful of water right now, I’d be in a lot of trouble.” I don’t know if it was the smoke, a nascent cold (this morning, I am definitely on the downslope into sickness), or mental stuff, but it was tough. Still, if you set goals and meet them, you should take solace in that fact.
Bike: the highlight of the day. I came out of the water with Nathan Killam, and resolved to ride with him because he rode away from me at Wildflower this year, after I’d overestimating my ability to get back late in the race. I hung onto him for forty minutes and then flatted. I have been enormously lucky with flat tires in my career, so I’m not going to get too bent out of shape about this one. I fixed it and was moving again within three minutes, so not the biggest penalty. Looking at results and my “moving time” from the bike file (below), Nathan ended up riding about two minutes faster than me (and about five minutes faster than me with the flat included), so I think I lost about five total minutes due to the flat. Still, my goal was to average 315 watts, and I met that goal.
The Run: this is where the goal-meeting fell off. I aimed to run 1:17-1:18, which, on the new Penticton half run course (flatter than the older classic course along Skaha Lake) seemed doable. I ran high 1:21, so about four minutes off my goal. It wasn’t a lightning-fast run, however, with the really fast guys (Brent McMahon, Trevor Wurtele, and Jeff Symonds) running in the 1:13-1:14 range, but I do think I have the ability to run quicker. I tried to stay positive after the flat and keep building my heart rate over the course of the run, which I did, so from an execution point of view I did as about as well I could have done—there just happened to be a bunch of faster guys out there.
Overall: I’m disappointed. If everything had gone perfectly to plan (no flat, 1:18 run), I would have been around 4:01, which would have had me challenging for the top five, which would have been awesome. So I need to hold onto that possibility, rather than the sub-par result I ended up turning in. I’m taking my mid-season break over the next seven days, before starting on the 2016 campaign (I’m aiming for Kona next year, which means collecting points this fall at Los Cabos 70.3 and Ironman Arizona, so I’m saying that next season starts next Monday, September 7th, Labor Day—how appropriate!).