Another Race, Another Personal Best!

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Welcome to another installment of race reports over here at ActiveSteve.com. This story will feature another exciting tale about me trying my best to climb up a podium in a local triathlon. Don’t bother holding your breath, I didn’t make it up to the top step this time either, but I did have a great race, and felt pretty good about it. Remember, I’m doing it for fun, I don’t get paid, or get any type of perks no matter how well I do πŸ™‚ So which race was it? Well, the 2009 National Capital Olympic Triathlon. Like the last race, it would be a 1.5km swim, followed by a 40km bike, capped off with a 10km run. Easy peasy, right? I’d actually raced this particular race in both 2005 and 2006. I raced it in 2007 as well, but that was in the Kayak tri category. The good news is that I managed to best my previous times, which keeps me motivated. For the full story, read on, but before you do so, why not check out the pics that my beautiful race photographer (Jody) took of me on the course.

Off the heels of my last tri performance, I had pretty lofty ambitions. After all, a mere week after my BC Bike Race performance, I was able to dust myself off and pull off one of my best races ever. I figured that given that I’d had an extra couple weeks of recovery I should be able to pull something special out of my butt yet again. So with that in mind, I did my best to try and rest up before the race. One slight problem. I’d bought tickets to see the Eagles of Death Metal show which was in town the night before the race. Worse than that? I was going with Rob and Matt, and it was a long weekend! That usually means I’d have to be out pretty late and have quite a few pops before turning in. I did my best to resist the pull of booze and rock n’ roll, and did pretty well. I only had 4 drinks over the course of the night, and grabbed a bus home before midnight, much to the disappointment of the lads. Oh well, duty called.

Race morning, and another slight setback. I’m used to eating the same breakfast every race morning, and unfortunately, we didn’t have all any of my staples on hand, so I had to settle for a slight variation on my theme. Certainly not a big deal, but I’m just sayin is all πŸ™‚ Luckily, since the race was in town, there wasn’t any long, early drive to get to the transition area. Jody and I took our time, and I got my T-Zone spot picked out. However, no sooner had I started setting up that I realized I had to get to race briefing. Then, no sooner did that start when I realized I’d have to run back up to get the rest of my gear sorted in order to be at the start line on the beach. Oops. Guess I should have felt a little extra fire under my butt that morning. Just a few more minutes, and I was jogging to get my body marking done and pick up my timing chip. By that point, the race announce, Mike Caldwell, noticed me, and made fun of the fact that I was running the wrong way, and that the start line was by the water. Wise ass.

No time to dwell on that. I trotted down to the waters edge and squirmed my way into my wetsuit while Jody zipped me up. I hopped in the water for a quick splashdown, then lined up on the shore. The swim was a single loop of the course totaling 1.5km, upstream on the way up, downstream on the way down. The slightly awkward part was that rather than running straight out into the water, we sort of ran along the shore at an angle towards the first buoy. This made it hard to actually get swimming and find a rhythm, especially since we’d be turning sharp right to get through a narrow opening before hitting the main swim. That of course also meant lots of contact. Luckily, they’d warned us about that at the briefing, so there were no hard feelings, even though it always sucks getting bashed around in the water. My goggles even got knocked loose at one point. However, after all the thrashing subsided, I was left to get into my groove and stroke my way to the finish of the swim. When I pulled myself out of the water and made the long run up to transition, I was apparently in 25th position, and had killed 28 minutes.

Time to knock one out of the park on the bike course, right? So was the plan, and I had a quick transition to see to it that I had my best possibility of a fast bike leg. After all, the 4 loops were going to be mostly flat, just heading up and down the canal in the brilliant sunshine. I ran off to the mount line, anxious to put foot to pedal. Hopped on the bike, put my head down and started pushing hard. My goal was the same as in the last race. Basically, suffer the whole way, knowing that my body could ultimately take the abuse over the 40km. Everytime I started to feel my pace start to drop off just a little bit, I’d dig deeper and push hard again. My mini-goals were just to pick out bodies in the distance, and try to pull up to them, and pass them. I had some great pacers to follow, some of whom didn’t like being passed by me, but only one person was able to actually put me through the wringer and re-gain his place. I was so focussed on our mini battle that I dropped my only water bottle on the first lap. Due to the heat of the day, I knew that I’d have to stop on the next lap to pick it up, or risk being in distress on the run. I know myself too well.

The only objective on the second lap was to keep my speed high, and minimize the time wasted getting my bottle back off the ground. Fate was on my side for that one, and I managed an impressive recovery option, without even getting off my bike. Yay me. I probably only lost about 15-20 seconds through the slow down, stop, and acceleration back up to speed. For that reason, and the fact that I was able to keep my effort level relatively high, I finished the bike course with the 16th fastest time in an hour an seven minutes with an average speed of nearly 36km/hr. Of course with that performance, I probably wouldn’t win the race, but at least I was having a pretty good race.

Coming into the 2nd transition, I yelled over at Mike on my way in. He took the time to yell a few words of both encouragement and ridicule in the same few breaths. However, it was enough to keep me smilin’ my way through another quick transition. Quick change of shoes, swap of the helmet for a hat, and off I went at a brisk pace. A mere 10km left in this race and I’d be able to relax a bit. I had no idea how fast I’d be able to get through it, but decided that the best approach would be to go just hard enough to be a little uncomfortable without risking a blow-out. Normally, I’d keep an eye on my actual pace, but this time, I opted to just run, and check the time when it was all over.

I could tell right away that my legs were still pretty fresh for the run. I hit the course and was told I was definitely in the top 20, which was a good way to start. Now the pressure would be on to hold, or even improve my position in the overall standings. There was definitely a slightly harder race field in this race as compared to the Graham Beasely, as I know that my pace was higher this time, but I was further back. The run course followed along the pathways all the way. However, there was a couple little challenges on it, particularly in the form of the steep slope heading up and down from Vincent Massey park. This was where a lot of racers would inevitably be forced to slow pace, or even worse, walk.

I made great time on the course, and ended up passing a few other racers as I made my way along the course. At this point, it was hard to tell whether I was racing against them directly, or if they were behind me by a lap, since the run course was a double loop, and people were strung our all along the path. I kept my spirits up by cheering on all the racers that I passed by. Many of them would give a little smile or even a little word or two, but for the most part racers were all in their own heads, and concentrating on their pace. However, even when I don’t get an acknowledgment, I still find that I get a little boost from hearing cheering, even if it’s my own voice πŸ™‚

Before I knew it, I was heading around the final few bends in the track, and heading up to the cheering crowds. Okay, there really aren’t too many people cheering you on, but at least Jody was there, and Mike was calling me in. In fact, he went so far to say I was running nonchalantly, and that I must not be pushing hard enough. Well, that was enough to wrangle out a final sprint from me, even though there was no real reason for it. It still felt good though. When the clock stopped, my total time was 2:21:14, which was over 6 minutes than the last time I did this race, and a full 15 minutes faster than the first time I did this race. I also pulled of a 45 minute 10km run, for a pace of 4:30. Good enough for the 23rd fastest run time, and an overall 13th place finish.

At the finish, I enjoyed a bit of gatorade and water while waiting for the race results to be posted. I had my hopes that I might be top three in my category, but today wasn’t going to be my big win after all. I ended up with a 6th place finish in my category. However, I was very pleased with the result, as I finished strong and still felt pretty good. Time to enjoy the rest of my long weekend. I helped Mike out for a little while doing the race announcing, then Jody and I headed home before the race started. Yup, we were lucky enough to have perfect weather during the race, but later in the weekend, the rain came back to haunt us once again. Not surprising I guess.

Well, that’s about it for the race report. Another fun local race to keep me occupied. I’ve got a couple more weeks now to recover and get set for a trail running race. Unfortunately I’ve come down with a bit of an illness which has taken me out of training contention for a week now. Is there anything worse than a summer cold? I don’t think so! So, off I go to get my beauty sleep. Take care kids.

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