The 2010 New Balance
Victoria Half Iron Triathlon

John tells his Half Iron story a third time!

Click on any of the thumbnail photos for a higher resolution image

Photo Montage of the full day - 9 Mg .wmv file

Preparation for the Race

Since this was the 3rd time that I was going to take on this Half Iron challenge, there was really nothing new for me this year.  Due to my 3-month deployment to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics from Jan-Mar, I was a little concerned that I might not be properly prepared for this race.  When we did our pre-operation exercises in fall 2008, spring 2009 and fall 2009, we were working from morning to night.  I was never able to run or bike, and was only able to get to the Watermania Pool for a swim about every second day.  But, on the actual deployment, we had full shifts of personnel, and we did not run continuous scenarios like we did during the exercises. 

I bought a membership at Watermania, and swam 5-6 mornings per week.  After the first week in Vancouver where I was dependant on the military or city bus to go everywhere, so I brought back my mountain bike, and used that to commute to work every day.  That was not as good as the Wed & Fri bike outings that I would normally have in Victoria, but at least I got some biking in every day.  The weather was wonderful, and I tried to go for a run every work day in the afternoon.  There was a nice 6K course that took me along the banks of the Fraser River, and I was fortunate to have some of the other guys run with me on most days.  Also, during the deployment, I found out that I had won a lottery spot into the '2010 Escape From Alcatraz Tri' so I was extremely motivated to train hard.  Upon returning to Victoria in April, I spent a month getting ready for that demanding Tri.  Even though it is not as long as a 'Half', the swim is in the ocean with cold water and strong currents, the bike is in San Francisco with steep hills and sharp turns, and the run is all 'up and down', with time on sandy Baker Beach and the famous 'Sand Ladder' steps back up to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Before the Swim

Again this year, Sunday June 20th was 'Fathers Day', I told the kids that the best present that they could give me would be to come out to see me start the Tri, and support me before the start and when I came out of the water.  They both showed up to support me at the crack of dawn at Elk Lake.

The Swim

This year, they attempted to keep all 456 starters (401 triathletes and 55 relays) huddled together on the beach at the start line.  I went to the left side right at the front.  When the gun went off, I sprinted about 150m, and ended up in a pack of good swimmers on the left side.  If you have a look at the video, you will see me with the light blue cap with a black line down the middle, a sleeveless wetsuit, breathing every second stroke to the left, and a watch on my left arm. Here is the link to the swim start video taken by Patrick.  It is a .wmv file that runs 5:44 and is 16 Mg to download. 

After the first turn, I picked up Lynn Yearwood, a good freestyle swimmer from Vic Masters who was doing a relay swim, drafter on her, and I tried to concentrate on stroke efficiency.  On the 800m return leg, the pack broke apart, but I stayed right on Lynn.  She seemed to zigzag a bit, so I tried to average out her track and continued to watch her bubbles.

I came running out of the water in 19th place (16th among Males), and I saw that I was just over 28 minutes, which made sense because I took the swim a bit easier this year, and the distance was a bit longer than last year. I heard the announcer, Steve King, saying my name and "from North Saanich" and he also mentioned that the 3rd place woman had just entered transition.  You can see the finish of the swim and T1 on the video (12 Mg .wmv file).

The First Transition (T1)

My T1 was acceptable, but not quite as fast as last year.  I struggled with my wetsuit legs a bit more and spent more time getting my socks and bike shoes on, and had trouble clipping the latch of my bike helmet. I hustled off with my bike in 21st place (still 16th among Males) and knew from seeing all the other bikes still racked in the 650s/660s/670s area that I was leading the M55-59 age group.

The Bike

This year, I did not borrow the hi-tech light weight 4-spoke front wheel and tubular track tire.  I took off about the same speed as last year, and averaged 31.1 km/hr for the first lap.  On the first lap, Patrick filmed me on the nasty Cresswell hill.  You can see 'ride by Lap 1' video (2 Mg .wmv file), you can see me dump a Gatorade bottle and struggle to get up the incline.   On lap 2, I slowed down a bit in lap 2, and ended up averaging 30.1 km/hr for the entire race.  You can see the 2nd   'ride by Lap 2' video (4 Mg .wmv file),  on Cresswell Hill again.  It is quite entertaining to see Patrick run up the hill beside me and interview me during the race.

I finished the bike with a time of 2:53.15 and was quite happy with only adding 3 minutes with the 2 nasty hills added.  I had an almost 20 minute lead on the 3,4 & 5 athletes in my age group, but this year, I was trailing the leader by 13 minutes.  I had not even noticed a person with '55' on his leg go by me early on the bike.  Here is the end of the ride/T2 video (8 Mg .wmv file), and you will enjoy seeing me try to set off on the run with my bike helmet still on!

The Second Transition (T2)

My 2nd Transition was the worst in the 3 years that I have done this race.  I was a little disoriented and was unsure where my spot was.  Two of the later swimmers had put their wetsuits over the rack with the numbers on it and I ran past my spot.  Then, even though we were told "no helmets on the run" at the pre-race meeting, I took off with my helmet and sunglasses still on.  Fortunately, a woman at the end of the row was screaming "You have your helmet on", so I turned around, headed back to my spot and dropped it.  You can see me getting ready to head out in the photo to the right!

The Run

I started my first lap off a bit slower than last year.  You can see from the splits that I was out in a 56 high as opposed to a 56 low in 2009 and 56 high in 2008.  But, this year, things would be different.  In 2008, my time ballooned up to 63 minutes, and last year, I tried hard to come home fast, but my last split was 58+.  This year was to be different.  Even though it seemed to me that I did about a 4 minute negative split, my last lap was 1 1/2 minutes faster.  Patrick filmed me as I ran by after the first 10K loop.     Here is a link to the file (3.5 Mg .wmv file).  As I approached the end, Patrick again pulled alongside me and filmed me as I approached the finish.   Here is a link to the file (2 Mg .wmv file)

The Analysis

Even though my time was 4 minutes slower than last year, and I placed 2nd instead of 1st in my 55-59 age group, I think that this was a better race.  I paced myself better in the swim, and even with the added hills, I was able to control my speed on the bike and relaxed a bit more on the 2nd cycle lap.  The highlight for me was dropping my run time by more than 2 minutes from 1:54 to 1:52, as that is the sport that I need to work on the most.  There was no way that I was going to close the gap on the leader as his bike and run pace was far better than anything that I could sustain. 

The Official Results for M55-59 - Top 5

1/18 M5559   654  Dave Hobbs          Surrey           BC   24 4:48:08    59 32:28  1:43   55  2:17   55 34:45   20 2:36:56  33.3   24 3:11:41   62  1:43   24 3:13:23   38 1:34:46  4:45 (48:37/46:09)   24 4:48:08         

2/18 M5559   664  John McManus        North Saanich    BC   90 5:19:07    16 28:49  1:31   68  2:29  16 31:18  102 2:53:15  30.1   75 3:24:33  118  2:10   77 3:26:43  131 1:52:25  5:38 (56:55/55:30)   90 5:19:07  

3/18 M5559   652  Jim Cambridge            Victoria       BC  131 5:36:13 149 37:51  2:00  176  4:21  157 42:12  139 3:01:21  28.8  147 3:43:32   72  1:46  145 3:45:17  126 1:50:57  5:33 (53:22/57:35)  131 5:36:13         

4/18 M5559   655  Patrick McDonald      Kamloops      BC  159 5:49:33   121 35:58  1:54  182  4:31  130 40:29  153 3:03:17  28.5  148 3:43:46  216  5:38  155 3:49:23  162 2:00:10  6:01 (57:59/62:12)  159 5:49:33 

5/18 M5559   657  Dan Morrow            Redmond      WA  160 5:50:31   215 46:11  2:26  183  4:31  214 50:42  137 3:01:19  28.8  174 3:52:00  204  4:00  174 3:56:00  138 1:54:31  5:44 (57:06/57:26)  160 5:50:31         

Race Total Time
Age Group Rank
Swim T1 Bike T2 Run
2008 Victoria Half Iron 5:35:54
29:23 4:17 2:59:46 1:49 2:00:41
2009 Victoria Half Iron 5:15:02
26:15 1:50 2:50:21 1:56 1:54:41
2010 Victoria Half Iron 5:19:07
28:49 2:29 2:53:15 2:10 1:52:25