- 1k swim, 30k bike, 7.5k run
- Chip Time = 1:46:02 (click to see Sportstats page)
- Category Place = 3/23 (M 35-39)
- Overall Place = 34/181
- Overall Place (by gender) = 32/132
- Fuel: 1 btl. Perpetuem (pre-race), 1 btl. Perpetuem (bike), 1 pkg Chomps (bike)
What an amazing day!
I’m so happy that my season has begun; it’s as if a huge anchor has been suddenly unshackled from my around neck. Last night, it may as well have been Christmas Eve and I was four years old again for all the sleep I managed to get. Even my cat decided that he’d go it alone in another room instead of his usual spot at the end of the bed for all the tossing and turning I was doing. So by 4:30am and half a toasted bagel with peanut butter later, I was more than ready to get moving.
Time to get a-triathloning, baby!
After arriving with time to spare we secured our spot in transition and set about the business of getting signed in, grabbing our race kit, and getting our body marking done. I don’t know about anybody else, but just the feeling of that cool permanent marker nib gets those initial stores of adrenaline flowing; either that, or it makes me giggle like a little schoolgirl depending on how ticklish the marker is. So with 30 minutes or so left to go until my wave start I went and sat quietly on the bank of Pittock Lake (careful to mind the goose shit) and mentally ran through the race in my mind while listening to my warm-up playlist and doing some light stretching.
Focus on your breathing; make sure you site every 15 strokes or so; high elbows; remember to hydrate; find your cadence; gear smoothly, get out quick on the run; just relax, dipshit – you got this…
- Swim: 750m (13:39)
- Pace: 1:50 /100m
- Place: 29/181
The water in Pittock Lake was as warm as bath water (a rarity here in Canada for this time of year) at a balmy 22° C. This year, however, the swim course was significantly shorter than last years 1200m distance, so it almost seemed too easy going around. After some initial hand-to-hand dueling Mortal Kombat-style in the opening swim scrum I lucked out to find myself on the heels of two other faster swimmers and simply tucked myself in behind and drafted my way through the first 300-400m pretty effortlessly (my apologies to Bib #43 for having tickled his toes a few times).
I managed to site well throughout and managed to end up right on the button at each turn. I also quickly found that form I’ve been practicing in the pool…so far so good. To boot, I also had the driving guitar riff from ‘Mercy’ (Plants & Animals) going through my head and, for whatever reason, that song makes me paddle like a bitch. After rounding the first buoy the water became significantly rougher and I was forced to switch my breathing side to avoid swallowing water (*pats self on back*), all without missing a stroke. Am I the shit or what? By the second buoy I had lost my free ride altogether or, rather, they had lost me (you can read that as ‘they got left behind at the second buoy after veering off course – suckers’).
I emerged from the water with the remnants of the small leading group ahead of me, whom I caught in the final 150m or so, and a bit ahead of the rest of the main pack cruising in behind us.
- Bike: 30k (55:36)
- Pace: 32.4 km/h
- Place: 33/181
- Transition: 1:23
It turns out that all the swimmers I exited the water with were also all racked in my immediate area in transition, so the race was definitely on. I’ve practiced my swim-bike transition a few times this year already and of the group of five I entered transition with, I was the second out, hot on the heels of some uber-fit dude with tree trunks for calves. I decided I really wanted to stay within range of this group as a means of pushing myself so as Hercules ahead of me powered off on his $4000 Specialized rocket ship I mounted up and gave chase. Lucille (my bike) was definitely up to the challenge, but the question of whether Thunder n’ Lightning were up to it remained in question.
In short, the bike was rough! Having completed a rather warm swim and then immediately launching off directly headlong into the cold wind on the bike course was just brutal. For the first 10-15 minutes I literally fought the shivers and shakes while finding it hard to keep my breathing steady; know I know how frozen fish feel. I could also tell from the rasping ahead of me that Hercules was having the same problem and I found this reassuring. I have no idea what happened to the other members of that group, but Hercules and I see-sawed back and forth for the next 15-20k or so. After the turn around point, I was surprised (and a bit disappointed) to see my first peer come into view on the other side. I hadn’t thought of him at all up until that point and now there he was – and much closer than I would have liked. He had either just had the swim of his life or he was well on his way to an incredible bike time and, clearly, he was in chase mode. Time to get moving – so long Hercules – and I powered past.
Fortunately, the next 10k or so was largely downhill and I amped Lucille up to speeds of 58 km/h and made sure to get a few Chomps energy chews into my gasping maw and focused on maintaining my quick cadence. With any luck, I could build a little momentum and overall lead on the downhill portion (gravity favors the fat guy) heading into the second transition and into the run. I would need to be off fast if I had any chance of maintaining my lead over my buddy (or Hercules for that matter, who had also launched a second surge behind me himself). I cruised into transition pretty uneventfully and glad to be out of the wind and was happy to hear some encouragement from another TryForce member who had made the drive up just to cheer us on (thanks, Joanne). Isn’t my training group awesome?
- Run: 7.5k (34:41)
- Pace: 4:34 /km
- Place: 56/181
- Transition: 0:45
I was out of transition quickly – super fast actually. Again, something I have practiced now to be almost second nature. I managed to get off to a fast pace and upon leaving transition a spectator called out: ‘you’re currently nineteenth’. Pardon? Surely this guy had been doing the herbal…but, seriously, me? Nineteenth? Wow.
But my legs and my frozen feet began to protest the quick pace, plus the fact that I was finding it hard to find a solid footing on the loose gravel path heading out onto the main run course was making the going tough; I turned my attention back to my breathing and worked to find something that felt manageable, as ‘comfortable’ was simply going to be out of the question. The 7.5k run course through Pittock Conservation Area is pretty cool and largely runs through a wooded area and along gangplanks across ponds and little river lets. After about 4k or so, my legs began to feel somewhat alive again as they began to warm up so I tried to pick up the pace a little bit again, but they were stuck in the Iron distance mode that I commonly train in.
Now, I know that Jeremy (my buddy) is an excellent runner and I began to think that if he was ever going to catch me, it was going to happen soon and so I continued along as best I could trying to maintain my pace as my chest began to feel like it was going implode in on itself. With only half a kilometer left I began to think it might just be in the bag, so I turned around for a quick peak behind me and there he was – AGAIN – and, boy, was he closing in fast! This provided me the final motivation I needed to up the pace again, even if just temporarily, and hold on to cross the finish line a mere 23 seconds ahead. Now, to put this in proper perspective: Jeremy pulled off a 31:13 run at a pace of 4:07 /km – that’s freaking amazing and he should be extremely proud. To me, that was the feat of the day. That’s a testament to the amazing group that I am fortunate enough to train with as he had literally left it all on the course trying to catch me and I’m as happy for him as I know he is for me. That’s why I love this sport; there are no losers (and I use that word very loosely) – ever. And where I’m pleased with my own accomplishments today, I’m just as happy to have aided others towards their own personal success. How cool is that?
So after cheering for the rest of the finishers from our team (Cathy, our “race mom” came FIRST in her own age group), we scarfed down some burgers, chugged some chocolate milk, grabbed ourselves some schwag and just generally tried to restore our core body temperatures back to something resembling normal. Then it happened:
“And placing 3rd in the Men’s 35-40 age category…”
Yup, you guessed it. Holy shit! ME? I seldom fight the crowds once the race results are posted, preferring to just wait and check online when I get home, so I was surprised to hear my name being called out. I figured if ever a time were to come where I’d hear my name being called over a PA system it would be for trying to evade arrest or something, much less for placing 3rd in a triathlon. What a treat! Now picture this: five lean, wiry, athletic figures and one spongy-looking dude who could be the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man when stuffed into his black and white tri top.
Best of all, our TryForce team placed first overall in the Team Challenge earning us $150 worth of free hamburgers courtesy of Hero Certified Burgers, one of the event sponsors. I expect these will be well received at our team BBQ in a few short weeks as we all prepare to saddle up once again for the Welland Sprint and Half Iron distance races.
All in all, I’m very happy with how the day played for my team at the end of the day and I am looking forward to all my other future races this season…sleepless nights and everything.