Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Calgary 70.3

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to race Calgary 70.3. Recovery from Vineman went well and after a few days I was eager to race again, this time with Bae!

A group of 7 of us from Fort Collins drove up Thursday for the race on Sunday. We had been planning to break the drive into two days, however, once we realized it was still light out at 9 pm, we opted to finish off the drive. A few inconveniences with campgrounds left us looking for a hotel at 1 am, but eventually we struck gold and found accommodations with a decent price, and a waterslide.

Hotel water slide = playtime
Friday we arrived at our rental house with time for a short ride. The house was about a mile from the bike course. The rolling hills weren’t too challenging and the views were incredible. Aside from the green open space around the roads, at the top of each hill you could see the mountains spread out in the distance.

Bike course views
The next couple days were much less hectic than those leading up to Vineman. We all prepared for the race by doing some short workouts, checking out the swim venue, and dropping off gear for race day. On the original start list, there were a few names that had firepower, however, a few of these guys never showed up to the pro meeting. A few races I’ve been to this year have had similar turnouts and it can be a little frustrating in preparing mentally. A few missing people can significantly change the dynamic (and positioning) at any race!

The crew ready to rock!

Bae's set-up
Sunday morning I did my usual pre-race routine: wake-up 3 hrs before the start, MBK run, then breakfast. The point to point logistics of the race had us all crammed into one car driving to the start. We arrived and immediately went to work setting up our bikes. Race organizers had set up the pro transition area separate from age group athletes out on the street near the mount line. This meant a lot of people were watching us get assemble our gear.

The line for the bathrooms had become a quarter mile long by this point so I did my warmup run over to a local coffee shop we’d visited the day before. Next, I put on my Maverick X, handed over my morning clothes bags, and headed down for a swim warmup.


The swim course at Calgary is a bit short because it’s in a residential lake. As we lined up for the beach start, I realized there were maybe 10 of us racing. After a 10 second countdown, we were off.

Athletes essentially swim around the perimeter of the lake.

I sprinted into the water for about 20 feet before gracefully belly flopping and beginning to flail my way to the first buoy. At first I thought that maybe I’d for once gotten a good start (I wasn’t drowning) then I remembered there were only 10 of us. The first buoy had a sharp turn and was around 100 yards away. As we neared it, I thought I picked out Josh Amberger (Australian ex-itu athlete, aka part fish) only 2 body lengths ahead of me and everyone else.
There was some contact at the first buoy before we straightened out. 

After turning, I was swimming in the middle of two other guys. The guy on my left kept smacking me with every stroke so I crossed over and took a line that allowed my elegant stroke the space it needed. After a few hard minutes I had settled in and thought I was towards the front of the main group. As we swam around the deformed circle, I was feeling decent, so I tried to push myself more than normal as the swim was shorter. Halfway through, we began swimming straight into the sun.

A few times I had to completely stop to find the next turn buoy. It would be awesome if there were lead second-pack paddlers that would lead us around. After finding the buoys, I headed back to complete the loop around the lake. I was getting sick of swimming, so I tried to focus on finding a good rhythm with sighting and breathing. I didn’t feel anyone touching my feet and could only see a guy about 50 yards in front of me, so I knew I was swimming alone. After some confusion about the last turn buoy, I finally sighted on the finish arch and made my way up onto stable ground.

Running up to Bae, the announcer said that I had exited in 5th place. As I arrived into transition, Matt Lieto was just finishing taking off his wetsuit and grabbing his bike. I hurried up, grabbed my stuff and was off in a controlled pursuit.


After mounting my bike, I realized the Oakleys I was wearing had fogged up from the chilly morning. I knew they had vents so I was hoping they would clear up, which they did after 20 seconds. I got a split that I was 40 seconds down on Lieto. I knew the course once we got onto the main highway, but wasn’t as familiar with the turns in town. A few volunteers hadn’t told me anything so I ended up going straight through an intersection instead of turning left.

I quickly u-turned and corrected to find that a group of four had caught up. They all immediately cut in front of me and set a pace. It felt pretty slow, especially compared to the suicidal effort I’ve experienced at the start at a lot of races this year, however, for a few minutes, I couldn’t do anything but stay behind at the legal distance as we were turning and the area closed for us wasn’t very wide.

Eventually, the road opened up and I upped my effort to pass the group. This was my first race riding with a power meter where Mace had given me the “OK” to race. (Basically, that meant that I could ride however I wanted but would have some numbers to look at if I wanted to during the race and we could analyze after.

I could see Matt Lieto up the road a bit. It took me a few miles, but eventually I worked my way past Jarrod Shoemaker and up to Matt and another athlete. For this race, I chose to ride my Enve 3.4’s with Specialized cotton turbos. Even though the HEDs that Bae came with are deeper, I really like how the Enve’s ride. And the brakes sound cool. I also had a 53 tooth for my big chain ring. Because of the set-up, I knew my speed difference with others would be a bit less on the flats and downhills.

Bike file: strava
Eventually, a gap opened up between Matt and the other athlete. I let the distance increase so there was plenty of room and eventually followed Matt. Again, it took me a while to catch back up. A few times Matt looked around. I couldn’t tell if he was looking at me or if he was checking behind to see if I’d brought other athletes up. When I finally looked back too, it looked like we had a decent gap to the next athlete. 

About 45 minutes in, I moved past Matt to take a turn setting the pace. I didn’t have a specific power number I was going for, but I used the numbers to make sure I didn’t crush myself going uphill. Several times I spun out going downhill and just remained as aero as possible. I’d committed to riding my own pace for 15 minutes after going past Matt hoping we could distance ourselves from those behind us as we were riding in 2nd and 3rd place. Josh was long gone at this point and I knew unless he had a mechanical, we wouldn’t see him.

At the top of a hill 15 minutes later, I glanced back to see where Matt was and he’d fallen off a bit. I decided to commit and try to ride the rest of the bike solo. The rest of the ride was a straight shot into town. The slope was slightly downhill even though it looked flat. I knew that without a disc or deeper wheels, I’d need to make the most out of my effort and get my body as aero as possible. I moved over from the shoulder to riding on the white line and put my head down. I focused on keeping power throughout my pedal stroke and relaxing my upper body.

Pretty soon, I recognized the area leading up to transition and realized that I’d ridden decently fast (compared to previous year’s splits). Spinning to the mount line, I stretched a bit and tried to mentally shift to running. In transition, it was confirmed that I was second off the bike which got me excited. As I got my run gear sorted out, Matt entered transition about a minute behind me and a volunteer told me I was 7 minutes down on Josh. Wow.

When Josh rides a 1:58...

After a quick pee stop, I ran out of transition just behind Matt. I wanted to run with him so I sped up to match his pace. He told me that Josh had ridden a 1:58. I just shook my head. Incredible. As we were running together, a photographer on roller blades skated by us taking a video of us running. We ran together for a few minutes, not saying much before Matt asked the photographer to let us carry on. He wished us luck and off we went.

My legs did not feel great, but I’d committed to running with Matt. Looking back, I should have took my time to settle in, take account of my energy levels and take in nutrition. I didn’t question my pace too much as Matt soon was running on my shoulder and then dropped off. The somewhat challenging run in Calgary is made slightly more difficult (for me) as the aid stations are spread out about every 1.5 miles. The first 5k felt like it took a long time. I blasted down the big hill and tried to find a rhythm.

Running data with power by Stryd: file
The kilometers ticked away. I stayed conservative on the hills and tried to keep things rolling on the flats and down hills. The run course was very pretty. We ran around one side of lake on a bike path surrounded by trees. By 10k, I was starting to hurt and new that I’d have some suffering ahead of me. I tried to slow down and get more fluids from the aid stations as they were further apart. Josh went by heading back to the finish and I gave him some encouragement even though he looked fine. Finally the turn around came. I glanced at my watch so I could estimate time gaps to those behind me. I was pumped to be running in second, but wasn’t sure how close everyone else was or how they looked. I was hoping that my riding had given me a bit of room.

Heading back, I was expecting to see Matt first. After a few other runners had gone by, I realized Matt must have pulled out at some point. Instead, I saw Sam Long, 20 seconds back up the path. He was making up a lot of ground on the run. The first few miles heading back had a slight uphill. I refocused and tried to force higher turnover. About 3 miles later, Sam still hadn’t caught me yet. I knew the hills would hurt a lot and I needed a kick so I switched to Coke at the aid stations.

**need more run pictures**

The sugar helped a little. On a short downhill around mile 10, Sam caught up to me and pounded the downhill. I knew he was having a great run so I told him to keep it up. I kept the distance to Sam even on the uphill but he began to pull away as we reached the top. I grabbed a few cups of Coke and pushed on. There was only 4k left. I knew I wouldn’t have anything left at the finish line. My legs felt awful, but I really wanted to keep my third place. Finally, the last aid station came and I grabbed more Coke and muscled on. My rollerblading friend joined me, documenting my painful journey to the finish. Finally, the barricades came into view and I crossed the finish. Josh was there and immediately congratulated me on my first podium. I feel bad that I made him wait around 10+ minutes for me to finish.

After getting some food, I waited for the a few others from our group to finish. We then rallied, picked up the other car, and got cleaned up for awards. Several people in our group earned spots to Chatanooga 2017. We went downtown to try and find a place to eat. After walking out of a Thai place that was taking too long for us, we found an incredible shawarma restaurant. We inhaled our wraps then went and explored Prince Island Park in downtown Calgary.

Downtown Calgary

Matt, enjoying his dinner ;)
The next day, we drove a bit so see Banff national park. Banff is ridiculously pretty. We had a lot of fun taking pictures and seeing some of the more famous areas.

The lakes were so blue they looked almost fake.
HAD to take Bae for a ride in Banff!

One thing that is really awesome about triathlon is that there is always something you want to work on. I’m very happy with the outcome of this race and my season so far. I feel that I’ve raced very consistently and enjoyed each opportunity. Still, there are several areas that I know Mace and I will want to work on. There aren’t any quick fixes and this will take time and consistent hard work to improve.

Massive thank you to the CSU Tri crew (and alum) Tori, Sierra, Matt (thanks for organizing the house), Ryan, Steph, and Erik for a great weekend. Congrats to all of you on your races!

Thank you to Mace for outlining the training and guidance.

Thank you to Brent Phinney at WindsorEye Care and Vision Center for helping my brother out this past weekend when he scraped his cornea. If you ever have any vision needs, please check out Brent. Not only is he great at what he does, but, being a triathlete, he understands athletes and is incredibly friendly.

Thank you to Enve for making sweet wheels.

Thank you Roka for unleashing the Maverick X, check out their new run gear! If it’s anything like the cycling bibs, you’ll probably never take the shorts off…

Thank you to Patrick at Rocky MountainMultisport for always helping me out with Bae and the drama we sometimes run into.

Thank you to Green Events for putting on the Horsetooth Tri Training series. I look forward to the events every Wednesday and love that I can count on a no-pressure, fun training session every week that lets me practice important triathlon skills.

Thank you to NoCo Endurance Center for providing an excellent environment for quality indoor training!

Up next, I’ll be taking some time to recover and focus on training. I’m also really looking forward to cheering on Rachael and several other friends as they take on IM Boulder August 7th! Look for the Mantell brothers on that first hill, encouraging 500+ watt surges ;)

IM Boulder hill #1 KOM sprint...
Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about Calgary 70.3, Banff, triathlon, or how many blended iced mochas I got from Tim Hortons while in Canada. If your racing Boulder, send me your name and (bib) number and we’ll be sure to yell at you!

You can follow me on social media:FacebookTwitter : @steve_mantell, Instagram : @stevemantell37, Strava, Snapchat: stevemantell37 

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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