It’s official, on July 24 I will be racing in the Calgary Half-Ironman! With a 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run, this will be by far the longest race I have ever completed (it’s actually about 4x longer than any previous triathlon I’ve raced in), and is definitely going to be a huge challenge!
Today is March 30, and it is a little over 16 weeks until race day. I do have a pretty decent baseline of fitness established as I am a pretty active guy, but if I want to race a competitive race that I am satisfied with, I am going to have to embark on a serious training program. My goal time for this race is going to be 6:15, and to achieve that I will be embarking on a rigorous and disciplined training plan over the next four months.
My previous Triathlon experience has all been in Sprint Distance Races (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run), which is still an accomplishment for sure, but you can complete with a basic level of fitness and some half-effort training. I know this from my experience over the few years. With the Half-Ironman it is a whole new ballgame. Let’s break it down by discipline.
The race starts with a 1.9km swim in the manmade lake of Auburn Bay in south Calgary (swim map). My average swim workout is 1.5-2km, and I have covered this distance many times, plus it is at the start of the race, so it doesn’t worry me at all. The swim should take me about 40 minutes to complete, and being a man-made lake, the water will be fairly warm. As long as I don’t get caught up in a swim mob at the start, I don’t really see many issues there.
The bike course heads west out of Calgary along Highway 22x to Bragg Creek, and then back into town along Highway 8 to Glenmore Park over the 90km. As you can see from the bike course map, the first half of the race is basically a climb out to Bragg Creek gaining about 400m in elevation, oh and it heads West, which is often the direction the winds come from in Alberta. That is going to be a grunt! I figure it will take me 3-3.5 hours to complete the bike depending on the conditions and how much I improve my bike speed. Historically in races I have been able to average 29 km/h, but that is only over 20km. The longest training ride I have ever done is 50km, so this is definitely going to be a stretch. I see many long training rides in my future over the coming months!
Finishing off with the half-marathon length run (21.1km) along the Glenmore Reservoir after having already been racing for 4-4.5 hours is going to be the capper (run map). The longest running race I have ever done is a 10km, and even when training I’ve never run further than 12km or so. So not only will I be doubling my run distance, but also will be doing it after a 90km bike ride! My goal for this run will be to run an average pace of one km every six minutes. Slower than my 10km race pace of about 4:45/km, but I think a much more achievable goal given the distance I will have already covered.
Talking about each segment of the race, it maybe doesn’t sound quite so bad. However, when you string them all together, that is a massive undertaking I think!
So why am I doing this to myself?
- To challenge myself – I have been doing Sprint Distance races for three years, and have those down pat, I need a new challenge. Completing a 113km race? Challenge Accepted!
- To force discipline – I’ve been having troubles getting disciplined in my routines and habits. By undertaking a major distance race like this, I have to take the training seriously, and I believe that discipline will spill over into other areas of my life as well.
- Improve nutrition – I’m going to be training ~10 hours/week over 6-8 sessions, and the long workouts will be 2-4 hours. That will burn some serious calories, and I am going to have to fuel my body properly. Over the last few months I have fallen into some snacking habits I’m not a huge fan of. I know when I am training hard, I will want and need to eat right.
- To raise money – I am a huge believer in giving back to the community, and love to raise money as part of my athletic challenges. So, for this race I am setting a goal of raising $2,000 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation (more info on that below).
As mentioned above, I am going to use this race as an opportunity to raise money for a charity that is near and dear to my heart, the Alberta Cancer Foundation. Every one of our lives have been touched by cancer in some way. I personally have lost two grandparents to this terrible disease, and also have family and friends currently fighting their own cancer battles. I will be racing in their memories and honor, and will be doing my part to raise as much money as possible to continue the fight against Cancer.
If you would like to support me on this journey, please head over to my Personal Donation Page, any donations over $15 will receive a tax receipt from the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
At $2,000 I know I am setting the bar high for fundraising, but I believe the size of the challenge justifies the size of the goal! I know there are no shortage of great causes to support in this day and age, and that not everyone will be able to donate. However, any support you are able to offer will be greatly appreciated, this is a battle we can win!
I am quite interested to see how my fitness improves over the course of training for this race, so every four weeks I will be completing a time trial on the same route for my swim, bike and run. Below are the results from the baseline tests I did three weeks ago:
The next four months are going to be quite a journey for me, physically, mentally and emotionally. Based on my soon to be finalized training plan, I have about 130 training sessions planned totaling about 150 hours of training. I know there will be bumps and twists along the way, and I will learn a lot about myself as this is going to be HARD. I’m going to be keeping a training journal as I go, and will be sharing weekly updates on this blog for anyone who wants to follow along!
If you would like to join me in this race, register today! The more the merrier!