Jeremy Hopwood

Jeremy Hopwood

Friday, October 18, 2013

Challenge Penticton - The Return to Iron Distance racing

So its taken a while but here is my Race Review from Challenge Penticton.

I will cover a little bit more detail in another post about my year and how it unfolded and how my training was set up as that is most likely the more interesting story in the whole picture of things.

To fill in some of the preamble here are some quick answers that give some context before diving into the Swim Bike and Run.

Why Race Challenge

Supporting Penticton and the local community was very important to me. My wife's great grandmother is born and raised in Penticton and still lives there today. So personally for me it was important to support the town and community.

Penticton was also where I fist race my first IM in 2008 and I have done a fair bit of training up there so from a preparation perspective it was a little bit easier than trying to work out a new course from a logistics perspective.

Final Decision to Race

I made the final decision to race about 5 weeks out. My year in 2013 for a variety of factors was not that structured and although I felt I was fit at this point I had not done much specific Tri Training. Having said that I had a think that if I don't race now then when will I race.

One of my fears about racing was that I would have a bad day and go slow and I had to somewhat confront that. In all honesty I could have done with a extra month or so build coming into race day but in the end I though just need to suck it up and go race again and then reset based on the results.

Last Build - 5 Weeks Focused

 So after having made the decision to still race I ended up having about 5 weeks to get ready for an IM. As a bit of background I went down hard on the bike at the end of June so only about 5 weeks out did the body feel recovered from that.

So form 5 weeks out I just tried to dial in my bike effort and while at the same time getting in some run mileage and trying to rehab my shoulder and get some swim mileage in. So my bike sessions often where a quick warm-up then 2-3 hours at IM effort. A bit like the example below

From a run perspective Iw as just trying to get my run mileage in. I was a bit behind the game on this so was doing a lot of mid to long runs (20 to 30km) to try and get some time on feet. My longest run was 17 days out with 37km in the bank. To be honest none of my long runs going into the race felt great in terms of rythm but at about 2.5 weeks felt like I started to get some run fitness. The details of my longest run in the build are below

From a swim perspective for a variety of factors (mainly my lack of swimming) I was bit behind the ball on this. I did have some ok swims in the lead up to Challenge but always knew this would be a week spot.

1 week out I did a 3.8km swim in the pool and took 1:08 so I went into race day thinking that although not stellar I should ahve a half decent swim.

Race Week

Race week in Penticton was awesome with it getting back tot he roots with a Athlete parade, charity 1km and 5km and a whole heap of festivities. I may do a race week in Penticton post later with a lot more detail and some photos but one of the best things about the move to Challenge was the resurgence of the race week festivities.

Ada and I before the 1km Kids Run

Race Day 

Swim 3.8km - 1:18:20

So by all reports with the wind on the day the swim ended up a little long (approx 4.2km) having said that was still a pretty crappy swim for me. Lost the last group in the pro field at about 300m or so and ended up swimming solo around.

My shoulder was a bit fatigued at the turn around but was looking forward to getting a ride back in with the chop but alas it was going across the swim so it was a fight back into the shore.

Upon getting out of the water I glanced up at the clock and saw and 8 in the time and thought that it said 1:08 until I realized there was a bonus 1 in there and had swam 1:18. So not much great about the swim from that perspective. was expecting 1:08 as worst case scenario so at least I go some free motivation for the bike

Not much to take away from the swim really, definitely could have used a more focused swim buildup and year in general but going into race day knew it would be a problem so not stressed about that as essentially got what I deserved from a swim perspective.

Going forward bottom line is a lot more swimming, especially some open water stuff. The aim has to be swimming around an hour and given my pool times I would say are currently about 5 min of that.

Exiting the swim with a look of derision at the clock

T1 - 1:30

Take wetsuit off, put helmet on, run to bike, put shoes on, go ride bike

About to go ride a bike

Bike 180km  - 4:59:18

Nice to tick of a sub 5 hour bike of the list especially on not a flat course. Had been riding a low in 2013 so expected to be able to bike strong. I twas a lonely day out there courtesy of my less than stellar swim. I passed a few of the Women's field on the way to Richter and then was pretty much on my own past that except for seeing the race on the out and back and passing a couple of the Men's field on the road up to yellow lake.

Tactic for the bike was to ride the flats and false flats hard, make to sure to spin up the hills and work the downhills a little. This meant attacking the ride to Richter and keeping effort high. Even though I don't have a power meter on my race rig I have learnt from training with one that keeping the wattage up on the flats is harder then you think where keeping it down on the climbs is harder as well.

That was pretty much the bike - it was a big solo day in the saddle and I made sure to keep working through town as you can definitely lose some time on the ride down Main street if you are not careful.

The key takeaways from the bike is really could have used another few weeks build in an ideal world and got some more IM pace rides especially in the 4 hour range (vs 3hr range which I topped out at). Being able to attack the back section of the course once you hit the rollers is a good way to gain some time, I made the right decision this year in not going to hard through these based on my preparation but being able to ride richter, the rollers and the road to yellow harder in 2014 should be able to gain a bit more time.

On the ride back into town down main street.
T2 - 1:21

Hand off bike, take of helmet, grab bag, put on shoes, grab bag with (number, nutrition, glasses and watch) - go run

Only problem being with above was I dropped my watch in T2 - so got to run a marathon on feel.

About to go for a little run 

Run 42.2km- 3:25:26 

So in retrospect I likely cruised the run a little much but I was a little worried about the back end of the marathon based on the build so didn't want to push it to much. The lack of timepiece coming out of T2 meant that I didn't have a full on guage of what pace I was running.

Sometimes the legs feel good out of T2 - this was not one of those days as they felt pretty heavy from the get go. I just worked on getting into a rhythm, eating some food and trying to work out how fast I was running by trying to see the time on clocks and working out what that meant for my run split and then dividing that by the numbers of km's I had run. Needless to say doing this 7 hours into to your day is a challenge.

In the end I just ran solo out to OK falls. Karen who was second in the women's race passed me at about 5km and not wanting to interfere in that race I just made sure to drop back a little and find my rythm. It was a weird run in the sense it never felt hard work (except for the first 5 or so km's) having said that I am not sure how the legs would have reacted to stepping it up.

I had no real idea about my placing (thought I was in about 11th or 12th) until halfway on the run. I did the count of those coming back the other way (excluding those hitching back on a scooter) and saw that I was in 10th place for the Pro field. This being the last money spot and with the gap to 9th being a little to much to do on my own without them failing I decided to just stick to the tempo in case I was getting chased from behind. My theory was there was always the potential for someone ahead to blow up so to keep a steady effort was likely the best approach.

After getting through the hills coming out of OK falls it was pretty simple in that just focus on nutrition and keep rolling on. The back half of the run just felt like a long run and once I hit the crest in town just tried to enjoy the last few km's

In the end it wasn't a fast run but think it was reflective of my build in that it lacked the last few weeks of polish. The run didn't beat me up to much and I have run faster before so think there is a lot left in the tank form this perspective if I am not coming in underdone. Having said that the execution part was good and it was nice to come back to racing without falling apart on the run which was my fear going into race day.

Running away from town - sunglasses on head so must have been feeling ok

The End Result - 9:45:53 - 10th Male Pro

So in the end I was happy with the day. Going into the race my aim was to make the money and hence the podium at awards and I executed the day to do that. Was it a fast day no but that comes down to my preparation vs my execution on the day.

In the end I was happy to have executed well based on my fitness on race day. The last few weeks before the race I got my love back for the tri specific training and having a good day out there just gave me the confidence to go forward.

It was very special to have a strong day in front of my family in a place with a lot of history and I definitely look forward to racing in Penticton again in 2014 with hopefully a little more solid build coming into race week

Challenge Penticton Red Carpet - A nice place to be

Going Forward

So as tempting as it would be to race again in 2013 it makes more sense to build up for 2014. My aerobic fitness needs some work and I need to spend some focused time in the pool to build for 2014.

I have not worked out a race schedule for 2014 yet but Challenge Penticton will be on the list as a high priority. Knowing that and looking at my results it is pretty clear to have a day where you are in the mix for the top 5 you need to;

  • Swim around the hour mark
  • Be able to push the bike - for me that really means being fit and strong enough to push a little harder up Richter and through the rollers so as not to lose and potentially gain some time on the field through this section.
  • Execute a strong fast run. For this to happen IM pace and effort has to feel like 4:15 min/km in trainign vs the 4:45 min/per km that I seemed to be gravitating to in my build this year.
I got a lot of info from the year and especially the last few weeks of what it takes me to get closer to the above. If that is happens is up to me but I at least have confidence into what I see as the path forward towards getting closer to the above in the next couple years.


Thanks to my family, friends,the challenge family, volunteers, Penticton and the surrounding communities for making racing a race like this possible. It takes a community to put on a race and I was stoked to be able to support Penticton in 2013. Thanks will take a whole other post and as we approach year end I will do one to give it the true justice it deserves. 

Also thanks to my supporters in 2013 with Speed Theory Vancouver, Forerunners and Powered by Chocolate Milk. Is always awesome to work with people who are genuine and committed to sport and active lifestyles and align with what I value personally.

Also thanks to you! If you read this far, or even if you skimmed the photos and went straight to the bottom. If you have any questions leave them in the comments and I will try to answer.

Wrapping Up

One could write for ever and looking at the link of this post I think I have. If there is one thing I would say though that if you are still planning our 2014 race seasons seriously consider Challenge Penticton. 

The sense of community and the events in the lead up make this a fantastic race experience. I am looking forward to racing again in 2014 and now with the addition of the half on top of relays there are so many ways to be part of what is one of the historically great race venues and cities in triathlon.

1 comment:

  1. Great review Jeremy, It is easy to be critical of our own efforts but to post it for the world to see takes courage, then, you always was determined, stubborn and courageous. Well done. I hope it will help be in my own challenge i.e. 1 Lose 12 kg; 2 Compete in the Run the Bridge 10km Run on Sunday 16 February 2014; 3 Complete the run in 70 minutes or less. Can I do it? Let's find out - It will test my determination; my stubbornness and my courage. But If you inherited my genes then I should have the same genes as you. In that case I can't lose.