Sunday, September 8, 2013

Challenge Penticton - bike

Team Vernier represented well at Challenge Penticton.  Our team was John on the swim, myself (David) on the bike, and our coworker Ami on the run.   I'll let John tell you about the swim, but needless to say conditions were tough and the course seemed to be a little long.  Even the pros were 5 minutes slower than normal.
The bike went well for me.  I've done this course 3 times before so I knew it quite well.  Still I learned some thing on our drive of the course the day before.   In my mind I had broken the course up in to sections.  1) long slight downhill (with the exception of one short but kind of tough climb) usually with a tailwind for the first 40 miles.  2) The long climb up Richter Pass, 3) the 8 "rollers" (really more than that) after Richter.  4) The 14 mile out and back section, 5) the climb up to and over Yellow lake, and 6) The downhill back in to town.
Unlike previous times I have done this course (during IM Canada) the road was mostly empty for leg 1.  It gave me a chance to just focus on the riding and get in to a nice rhythm.  I took it easy up the first climb at 10 miles.  I learned from years past that it just isn't worth it to hammer up that one.  At the 40K point I was at 59:10, and at the base of Richter I had a 25.0mph average.  Now the challenge was to lose as little of that cushion as I could.
Richter wasn't too bad, especially since I started catching a lot of people by that point.   The 8 "rollers" after that are just hard.   It's still too early in the ride to go too hard, but it's awful hard to get over those things without expending a lot of energy.
The out and back seems never-ending.  But, that was expected so I got through it OK.  I was feeling really good up to this point, but could start to feel the fatigue coming on here.   This is 70 miles in so it's expected to start getting tired.  The key is to balance your effort through the Yellow Lake climb so you don't blow up.
The gradual climb up to Yellow Lake is always hard.  It looks flat but its hard to keep a 19mph average through this section.  Thankfully I knew the course well enough to expect this.   But, I really started hurting here.  
When I finally started the main push up to Yellow Lake I was a pretty delirious.  I was cramping everywhere (ever get a jaw cramp??).  My 42/25 was not enough and I was angry at myself for not putting a 26 on there.  But, I misjudged the climb and it ended well before I thought so that was a HUGE relief.    The flats and little bit of climbing after Yellow Lake have been horrible in years past due to the winds, but the winds were calm for me so I was able to keep moving pretty good in this section.
Then, the long downhill back in to town!  In an Ironman I would take it easy in this section to prepare for the run, but I went all out this time.  I knew my PR on this course was 5:18 so I pushed it all the way in to town to try to beat that.   In the end I fell 5 seconds short!  Ha ha.  Still I ended up with the 4th fastest relay bike split and that got us up to 25th place in the relay which I'm happy with.
I handed off the chip to Ami and off she went!  
That was a huge effort.  Probably one of the 4-5 hardest rides I've ever done.   I'm writing this 2 weeks later and still don't feel quite right.
Ami had never run a marathon but she paced herself perfectly and actually seemed to be enjoying herself (?).  What's up with that?  :)
She said she wanted to go under 5 hours and did way better than that with a 4:34.   John and I were able to join her to run across the line.  Mission accomplished.

That was a great race.  Much smaller than Ironman but I enjoyed the scaled down hoopla.  Both of IM and Challenge are different, but I like both in their own ways and I think they will both do quite well.

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