Thursday, 27 June 2013

"Well" off the Mark - Welland Half Ironman Race Report

Welland Half Ironman Race Report  (4:15, 6th)

2 weeks. 14 days. 336 hours. Any way you choose to look at it, in that duration, I somehow thought it was a great idea to compete in my first 2 Half-Ironman races. Looking back, maybe I should’ve taken more people’s advice!

The Welland Half Ironman is a 70.3 distance event that takes place in Welland, Ontario in conjunction with the Multisport Canada – Recharge with Milk Series. Welland is an outstanding course for setting a fast time with the bike and run both pancake flat. John Salt and the Multisport Canada - Recharge with Milk Series always puts on great events and I was happy to be able to race with great guys such as Cody, Alex, Richard and company. After the race the party is always great with Hero Burgers and as much Chocolate Milk as you can handle (I got to know the ‘Milk People’ fairly well after the race!).

I’m excited to be part of the Multisport Canada Development Team this year and will be changing my schedule to be able to race with the series more frequently throughout the summer! If you’re ever at a race and want to talk about anything, just grab me!

Welland Half Ironman Photos - Check out Justin Laing's Gallery for pictures of all competitors!

Onto the Racing!


Possibly the most noteworthy part of the whole weekend happened to take place before anyone even dipped their toes in the water. My close friend and roommate Justin Laing and I booked a hotel a couple days in advance. This seemingly great deal ($139 on for $60) turned out to be a rather interesting establishment to say the least! The view from our room was of several ‘classy’ gentlemen’s clubs, massage parlors and an outdoor pool without water. Needless to say, there were nicer places a little further down the road where we would’ve paid less, even by the hourly rate!

A short trip to the outlet mall only yielded pre-race chocolate, then it was back to the hotel to rest up for the hot and humid 70.3 distance race ahead!

Swim (2000m – 32:37)

If you know me personally I’m not the most organized of people. Thankfully, my roommate is and for the first time ever, I had time to set up my bike properly in transition, put on my wetsuit and get into the water before the gun went off.

Being in the elite wave of the race with less people, I figured there would be no reason to be nervous of panicking in the water… lo and behold after about 100m I ungracefully floundered from freestyle to backstroke to breaststroke to eventually undoing my wetsuit and treading water. That feeling of not being able to control how you feel is especially awful when you’re being timed and can see your competition slowly swimming away from you. After I got it under control I carried on with the swim, continuously reminding myself that there was a light (my bike) at the end of the tunnel.

Bike (90k – 2:14)

There isn’t much to be said about the ride, headwind out, tailwind home. With a flat fast course, I thought I would be much faster than 2:14. It was the point when a little kid rode past me on a Big Wheel Tricycle that I knew the legs weren’t feeling quite right today. Nonetheless I carried on with an over 40km/h split which set me up for a decent overall time if I could hold my run together.

Nutrition is something that I need to sort out, still searching for the perfect mix of good taste and great performance. This combination has eluded me too long and I’ll be experimenting more in training in the upcoming weeks!

Run (21.1k – 1:25)

This is where the wheels really fell off. Every time I saw Cody Beals on the looped course I felt like this:

as he gracefully soloed to the victory. With the heat and humidity on the course I altered my visions of the finish where my “finish line” became subsequent “aid stations.” At an aid station one of the age-groupers I was lapping took the water cup I had my eye on, I had to pull a Shawn White and snatched 2 water cups via a spinning 360-grab before I casually resumed running. Knowing pretty early on that this wasn’t my day, I ran it home in a fairly modest pace. Once crossing the line in 4:15, my new heaven became the bucket of sponges that awaited each finisher.

Overall, I’m happy with the experience and there is still much to learn! I know that I can go much faster and just need a little more experience confronting various situations before that can happen. For the next little while, I am toning down the volume of training and really focusing in on writing my MCAT which is less than 30 days away!

Thanks to all the volunteers and organizers that made this great race possible! I look forward to coming back and taking another run at the quick course!

Keep your stick on the ice,

Chris Balestrini

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