Monday, August 31, 2015

Wasaga Olympic

For the fifth time this season Ang and I were at another one of MultiSport Canada's excellent races. This time we were in the beach town of Wasaga Beach, ON for their olympic distance race. Every year as the season starts to wind down I find myself starring at the point standings and doing some math on what I need to do to move up in the series standings. This season Jack Laundry and I have been battling it out in the series, but we have only faced off head-to-head once. He beat me in Woodstock when he absolutely left me in the dust on the bike portion, but with his short course specialty we haven't squared off in any of the longer series events. Once again I knew this race was going to come down to the bike.

Race morning in Wasaga started a little later than normal with the blessing of a 10:30 am start time, but Ang's mom was racing the try-a-tri so we arrived plenty early to cheer her on and get set up for the race. It was quite shocking this year that it wasn't raining and the wind, while present, wasn't at hurricane type speeds. Moving the race up from September to August paid off for the MSC crew. The swim at Wasaga beach takes place in Georgian Bay, and any time the swim is in a larger body of water there is always a risk of waves, and we definitely experienced some chop. Because we don't see this often in Ontario I am always worried the officials will cancel the swim, and it wasn't until the 10 second to go warning that I was 100% sure we would swim.

Swim - 1st out 21:50

The waves felt much larger than what the picture suggests

With the waves coming at us for the first 730ish meters my plan was to swim that section basically as hard as I could. It is much harder to draft off someone when the water is choppy so I knew if I wanted  to get out first and secure some bonus series points I had to open the gap early. Andrew Bolton and I started on the left of the start line while Ang and Jack started on the right. Warming up I figured out I could take 3 or 4 dolphin dives before the water was at a depth where swimming is faster than diving then about 10 strokes before hitting a sandbar. At the sandbar I would have decide if I wanted to do a few more dolphin dives or just keep the head down and keep swimming. When the horn went I was off, and I wasn't waiting to see what anyone else was doing. I jumped as far as I could got my arms streamlined to crash through the first wave as efficiently as possible. As my fingers made contact with the sand I pulled as hard as I could, got me feet firmly planted below me and once again jumped as far as I could. After one more dolphin dive I hit the water swimming. My first breath was to the left, and I could see, thanks to my Vorgee goggles, Andrew had already dropped back a bit, my second breath to the right to see where everyone else was. Sometimes it is difficult to judge exactly where you were, but I thought I had a lead so I skipped the dolphin dives at the sandbar and just focused on trying to get through the waves as best I could. My swim stroke is generally a bit more kick heavy then most triathletes, and over time I have developed a bit of a "gallop" to my stroke. I'm not sure if this is the most efficient of styles, but on this day it worked well and I was first to the turn buoy. On the way back in I just focused on keeping my hips as high as possible with my feet near the surface trying to surf the waves back in which was made easier by my Nineteen wetsuit. Breathing to the right  I could also see when the some of the bigger waves were coming in so I would pull harder for a couple of strokes to try and catch the waves. The last 200m or so I eased off on the kicking knowing my legs would be needed during the bike. About 100m from shore I hit the shallower waters again and tried to run a bit, but I found it more tiring than swimming so I dove back in and swam basically right up to the shore. I was rewarded with about a 30s lead on Ang and about 80s on Andrew and Jack.

The Bike - 3rd 59:15

Great photos heading in and out on the bike by the My Sports Shooter team

From racing Andrew a few times already this year, and seeing some of Jack's other race results I knew the bike was going to be where the race would decided. I talked to Rich the day before as I was driving up and we agreed that no matter what happened when I was caught on the bike I had to give it everything I had to try and go with Jack. We have both always run similar so anything more than a handful of seconds would be tough to make up on the run. Sure enough in true Wasaga Beach fashion we had some strong winds and a bit of rain, but my Smith sunglasses kept my vision clear and eyes protected. There is really only one hill on the Wasaga course at about 15k, and I was really hoping to make it up this hill before I was caught. Sure enough though I was caught right at the base you make a right hand turn directly into the start of the climb. I'm not sure if the guys behind me were able to carry more speed into the hill or if they were just that much stronger, but I gave everything I had but to no avail. I was out of the saddle mashing the pedals and saw my power was about 470w (up until this point I was averaging about 230w). I was well over 300w for the rest of the climb, and tried to close the gap when the road levelled off a bit, but I just wasn't strong enough. When my legs gave up I spent what felt like several minutes riding at about 200w trying to get things going again but the gap kept growing. I think at the next turn the gap had increased to about 30s, but my legs were starting to come back around and the caffeine in my custom Infinit sports drink started to kick in. By about 30k when we made the turn to head back towards town I measured the gap to about 20s (I looked at my clock when they made the turn and then again when I made the turn), and it gave me some motivation that I might be able to get back on. When we made that final turn though it was right into the headwind, and almost instantly my power and pace dropped. I ended up arriving to t2 about a minute down.

The Run - 2nd 34:33

Heading out on the run. Another great shot by the My Sports Shooter team

Getting onto the run being about a minute down I knew it was going to be tough to close the gap, but I was going to try my best to do it. I caught Andrew on the first little uphill as he had to take a walk break, I guess he slipped on a wetsuit in t2 and landed on his hip pretty hard making it difficult to run.   On the first of 2 5k loops I could every now and then catch a glimpse of Jack off in the distance, but it turns out I wasn't actually making up much time at all. I thought I was keeping the gap pretty similar, but it turns out he might have actually been pulling away a little bit. On the second lap as we started to mix in with racers on their first lap I couldn't see him at all, and as the saying goes "out of sight out of mind." I think this messed with my head a little bit because my pace started to drop off a bit during that second lap. Good news is that I felt a lot better than I did a Bracebridge, but I think I have now run 34ish both times I have done the full 10k here, and I've run 34:xx way to many times in tris.
Good looking guy with a good looking moustache

Next up will be a few weeks to focus on Barrelman before I decide what the rest of season will hold or if I will just pack it in and start focusing on 2016.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bracebridge Olympic

Been a little slow to get this blog up, but training is in full swing for Barrelman (you can still register if you are interested in racing this awesome race from Welland to Niagara Falls. Anyway back to Bracebridge. Bracebridge is a great venue with a time trial start. The pros and elite age groupers started 15s apart and the other age groups started 5s apart. I'm not a huge fan of tt starts because I like racing head to head against my competition, but it was a good opportunity just to race fast from the gun.

I was number 1 and first to leave the dock. I wanted to get out fairly strong so no one could swim up to my feet. Mikael started 2nd, Kristen 3rd, and Sean 4th. Heading down the river I just focus on keep a nice long stroke and keep the hips up. There isn't a huge current in that river, but you can still take advantage of it. On the way back I focused on trying to keep the turn over a bit higher. I exited the water first, but Sean had made up about 45s on me. Team Nineteen hammered that swim.

I had a good transition and got into my rhythm pretty fast trying to hold off Sean. I knew that if he could catch me that I would be 1 minute down, and it is easier to hold onto someone then it is to catch them. I was waiting for Sean to catch me, but at the turnaround I actually had gained a little bit of time on both him and Mikael. The 2nd have was fairly uneventful, and I just focused on holding numbers.

The run I just focused on getting it done. We haven't been doing a lot of 10k pace work, and I could tell in my legs. I felt good, but I just couldn't pick up the pace. All in all I did what I had to do and got the win.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

K-Town Long Course

Well if Muskoka was the "perfect" race K-Town Long Course was the opposite. Someone can go ahead and tweet this to @triexcuses because I have a pretty long list of things here. I don't like making excuses for why I wasn't at the front of the race, but I think people can learn from some of the mistakes I made.

The swim was rather uneventful for 1900m. The last 100m though was a 3 way sprint between who I believe was Marc Prud'Homme and Larry Hasson with Ang right behind. All I was thinking about was the bonus points for leading the swim because it is looking like it will be close race between myself and Jack Laundry for the series. I think I managed to touch the dock first, but the timing mat isn't the dock. My terrible upper body strength let me down, and I rolled onto to the dock something like a beached whale. There is my first excuse, but from now on at swim the end of swim practices I will jump onto deck instead of being so exhausted I have to use the ladder.

Excuse number 2 - When taking my wetsuit off my chip came off with it. In 99% of my races I will put a safety pin through the chip to make sure it stays on. I was lazy this morning and decided not to and it cost me. Lesson 2 don't be lazy with race set up, it doesn't matter how important a race is.

The plan for the bike was to go out a bit harder than half-ironman (him) pace then ease into him pace during the second half. The first 20k of the bike was going really well. My normalized power was about 230w which is about 10w over him pace and right where I wanted to be, leading the race. Excuse 3 - However, at about the 20k mark I hear a whistling sound, and the first thought that came into my head was that I had a tack or nail stuck in one of my tires. I slowed down and pulled over to the side of the road checked my front tire, didn't see anything and it felt normal. Felt the back tire it felt normal gave it a spin to see if anything was sticking in it, and that is when I saw the sticker that covers the valve hole in my disc came off and got stuck in my brakes. This once again goes back to just being a little bit carefree and not paying attention to small details when setting my bike up. Looking back at it I have used that sticker for all the races this year, and should have just replaced it. Looking at my Strava file it looks like I was on the side of the road for just over a minute and during that time Andrew and Jordan flew by. The next 5k I put the hammer down riding about 240w trying to catch back up. I think I managed to close the gap down a little bit, but just after making the turn around my legs went POP! If you missed it that was excuse number 4 and the lesson here is that if something happens during a race don't panic and stick to the plan. The power steadily dropped over the last 20k of the race, and Marc caught me at about 40k.

My last mistake. Running out of transition I was carrying my number, hat, a gel, and my watch as I was still panicking and trying to catch up. During my panic I dropped my watch and had to stop and go back for it. Once again panicking doesn't make anything better relax and do what is in your control.

Leaving transition I was a little bit surprised to hear I was 4:30 minutes down from the leaders as I was expecting maybe 2-3. At this point I thought about just tossing in the towel and saving up for next weeks battle in Bracebridge, but I told myself I need to get a longer run in anyway and my as well do it on a supported course. At the turn around I was about 2 min behind Andrew, and thought I had a chance to catch him. Jordan's lead stayed pretty steady so I knew I wasn't going to catch him. With about 2k to go Andrew's green tri suit stood out amongst the short course racers heading back in, and I found an extra gear. About 200m from the finish I came up on Andrew's shoulder just as he was receiving the news that him and Jordan missed part of the course and were being dq'd. I guess the missed the sign for a small triangle section that added on maybe 1k I'll make excuse number 6 for them that the sign wasn't very big, but you should also have a rough idea of the course route. I'm sure MSC will have some much larger signs next year as they do a wonderful job at their races and do a great job listening to feedback to make the races even better, no one is perfect. In the end I got the win, but you never want to win because someone got dq'd hopefully I can race these guys again soon and none of us make mistakes and we will all be in for a great battle.

Kingston is one of my favourites races in Ontario with its urban setting. I find it really motivating to races when there is a ton of people around cheering throughout the entire course. I want to thank all my sponsors. Vorgee for their amazing swim equipment, Nineteen for a speedy wetsuit, Infinit for simplifying my nutrition, CicloWerks for keeping my bike running smoothly, Smith Optics for keeping my eyes safe, MultiSport Canada for allowing me to race on a pro triathletes budget, and Franklin Terrazzo for their support.

Here is an interview Ang and I did with Roger from Triathlon Magazine Canada. Always great chatting with him after a hard day of work

Monday, July 6, 2015

Muskoka 70.3

Someone pinch me I think I'm dreaming . . .

Sunday I competed at the Muskoka Ironman 70.3 in Huntsville, ON which many of you know was a redemption race from last year where I crossed the finish line absolutely broken and disheartened. I was hoping last year this race would be my big breakout.

The week going into the race was your typical taper. I felt good in my swim and bike workouts, but my legs felt like lead bricks. Even race morning I was a little worried about how I was going to run. The night before when talking to Rich he assured me this was a good sign, but I think he just wanted to give me confidence going into the race. Race morning came quickly with a 3:45am alarm to allow plenty of time for breakfast (rice cakes with pb, banana, and honey along with a bottle of Infinit custom) to settle. Sitting in the hotel room waiting to leave I was getting a bit antsy so we left for Deerhurst a bit earlier than planned, but I find setting up transition calms the mind and removes any nerves I might have.

Swim - 4th out of the water (26:37)
This was one of the first times I didn't scout every name on the start list, but I knew there were a few I recognized as strong swimmer especially fellow Nineteen Wetsuits team member Antoine and Brazillian Igor. I tried getting onto their feet but before I knew it the gap had opened. I thought only 2 or 3 had gotten away so this left me leading the chase pack. Going around the first turn buoy I did a quick backstroke turn to see where the field was behind me and make the decision on if I should keep pulling the pack or save a little energy in the last 2/3rd of the swim. I noticed there was a little bit of a gap so I just kept pushing myself trying to limit losses to the group ahead. I came out of the water 4th about 3 min behind the leaders and about 10s ahead of a small group just behind me. The first climb from the water to T1 is probably one of the hardest, but I told myself to relax and not spike the heart rate to much. The race wasn't going to be won or lost on that climb. After slipping out of my Nineteen Rogue I was off on the bike.

Bike - 7th into t2 (2:30:05)
Onto the bike a trio of myself, Jordan Monnink, and Nicholas Chase soon got to work chasing down the guys ahead. The improvement of my bike fitness has allowed me to stay with the guys I typical come out of the water with, but I don't have the power to make a move and get away. I spent most of the day at sitting 2nd or 3rd wheel stressing about staying the legal distance as we had an official motorcycle beside us quite a bit of the ride, and with the saw tooth profile the gap was constantly growing and shrinking. I was trying to keep the power as steady as possible on that course knowing what happened last year, but every uphill there would be a surge. I would fall back a little bit then fight my way back on during the descent. I had to take a couple risks early on a couple descents where I got dropped on the climb before. In the last 15k it seemed like the surges the other guys were putting out got even bigger, and I made the decision at that point just to let them go and cruise in knowing that any gap made in the last 15k of the bike could be made up on the run. Most 70.3 the bike would be around 2:15, and I can use just my two custom bottles of infinit nutrition and a gel, but with the extra 15 minutes on the bike I added an extra gel and grabbed one bottle of water from the 2nd aid station.

Run - 2nd! (1:16:34)
Coming off the bike it was a quick transition and onto the run. I was in 7th starting the run and only handful of seconds behind 5th and 6th. I was telling myself one thing and it turned into the theme of the run, "Be Patient!" As I mentioned earlier the thought of last year was in my head, and I did not want to blow up in the 2nd half like I did last year. I took it particularly easy on the first couple of steep downhills before you get onto the highway. Just as we dropped down into the neighbourhood (~2km) I moved into 5th, and at the time I thought that was as far up as I would go. As anyone who has done the course knows, this course can crumble you. People out watching told me I was looking the best out of anyone except Lionel, and I thought I could make out someone way down the highway. By the first turn around I had just caught Igor, Kyle was about 3 min up, and Ian about 90s. This was the first time I thought I had a chance to run my way into 2nd, but it was also the first time I felt a little twinge in my quad. From that point on I started grabbing more gatorade from the aid stations instead of just pepsi and water. I caught Ian just before the 2nd turn around and Kyle not long after that. Once I moved into 2nd I started to get excited, but still told myself there was a long way to go. Anything could happen in that last 7k. It wasn't until the last kilometre I knew I was safe and I embraced the moment. I knew I was capable of a run of this calibre I just needed things to come together. 2 years ago at Challenge Florida I ran 1:17:xx, but last year every race something happened before the race (crashes or illness) or during the race (over biking and cramping). I think the improved bike fitness has allowed me to run closer to my potential this year. Each race this season I have run a bit better. I am looking to forward to following up this result with many more this season. Finish 2nd to Lionel made this feel like just another local race.

I was talking to someone the day before the race and they asked me what it was like to race Lionel, but having raced him for probably the last 5 years in tri and were probably at some of the same high school track and cross country meets. When he is in the field it is almost a calming sense of any race being like a local race.

Killing time pre race with my number 1 fan

Toughest climb in the race is going from the water to transition. My Nineteen isn't only good for swimming

Coming into T2

Start of the run

Finish chute

I've been finishing 2nd to Lionel for many year. 



Friday, July 3, 2015

Mine Over Matter - sprint finish number 2

Figured I should write a quick race recap from Mine Over Matter before Muskoka gets here and I'm two races behind.

Mine Over Matter is one of my favourite races I do, and I have done it the last 3 years. I find the mountain biking to be great cross training the compliments road tri and especially road tri at the professional level very well. One thing with mountain biking (or maybe I'm doing it wrong) is that is seems like things are either full gas or backing off for a technical section or corner.

After Welland took an easier week to recover from racing back to back weekends, but Rich wanted to get in one more solid week of training before Muskoka as it the big A race for the first part of the season. So the training load going into Mine Over Matter was a bit higher than typical races. I managed to get out to Milton a few times before the race to pre-ride the course. The first time had some race efforts chasing Rich Pady and Sean Bechtel, but there were a couple sections I wanted to ride again. I went back up on the Wednesday before and did an easier ride to really focus on some of the technical parts and try a couple of different lines through them. Pre riding the course multiple times for an off-road race is essential. If you are going in blind all I will say is good luck. Each year things get a little more technical, but each year I have enjoyed the race more. Riding cleanly through a new section is a great feeling.

The other thing I love about off-road racing is that things seem much more laid back. You don't have that nervous tension throughout the transition area, and it leads to a very low stress race.

Going into the race Karsten Madsen and Sean were the pre-race favourites, but I wanted to make things  a bit more competitive than past years.

3rd out of the water. Fast in the Nineteen Rogue and Vorgee goggles.

Heather Pady on her way out on the bike
Karsten hammering out the bike on the way to victory

Rich coming into transition

Heather cruising to her 3rd national championship

Aero is everything even on the bike. New Smith Overtake helmet

Rich trying to close the gap on me

Swim - 3rd out of the water
The plan was just to get on to the feet of either Sean or Karsten and stay there for as long as possible. After a bit of confusion at the start, due to someone ringing a cowbell and some people thinking that was the horn to start, I was a bit slow to get going. The first ~400m to the turn buoy I felt like I was swimming strong, but I felt like I was all over the place with no rhythm. Once we made the turn I lost the feet and swam solo the rest of the 1000m.

T1 - 3rd onto the bike
Usually my transitions are super smooth, but I just haven't figured out the best way to do it on the MTB. My shoes have boa dials and no heel loop so I tried doing a flying mount and putting them on at the beginning of the bike. I couldn't get my foot in and eventually gave up stopping, pulling my shoes off with my hands, and putting them on on the side of the road.

Bike - 7th off the bike????
I think this was the cleanest year on the bike I have had. In the past I would get fooled by an obstacle and have to unclip but I rode everything clean so that was a big positive. It took Rich the first lap to catch me and then we exchanged leads a few times before he attacked me climbing the ski hill. I think I rode well overall but took it a bit slower on a couple parts as finishing in one piece the weekend before Muskoka was the number one priority of the race.

T2 - 7th out
All smooth on the t2 front

Run - 3rd across the line
When I was coming out of transition I thought I was in 4th and could just see Rich leaving transition as I came in so I had my first target to chase down. However, just out of transition I passed an unknown runner and then about 100 meters later RTC coach, Craig Taylor, told me I was in 7th and it took me off guard for a second (turns out a few people made wrong turns on the bike). Hearing the news didn't change much of the race as I was in chase mode anyway. I passed Rich at about 4k when we entered the only real technical section on the run course. About 3 steps after making the pass I rolled my ankle on a root and went crashing to the ground. I really expected if I was going to hurt myself it was going to be on the bike, but here I laid on the ground  with my ankle screaming and a few scrapes. The adrenaline kicked in, and I popped up quickly and started running again. It was short lived as I felt like I couldn't put any weight on that foot. I started walking/hobbling a bit trying to fight back thoughts that I messed things up for Muskoka. When things go poorly time slows down, and it felt like I walked hobbled for 5 minutes but it was probably more like 90 seconds before I started to try and run again. I took thing really easy especially on the descents because I wasn't sure if I could handle it, but as I kept running things started to feel better. I could feel my legs slowly picking it up and when I was able to see another guy that passed me when I was hobbling the switch in my brain flipped and the chase was back on.

The finish 
One of the best/worst parts about the Mine Over Matter course is that you basically come back to transition just to run about another ~1800m around the quarry.  I could just see Rich up ahead, and I thought there was a small chance I could catch him. 3 years ago when I first did this race I was running neck and neck for 3rd when I got dropped in this last section so I wasn't going to loose here again. With about 400m to go I caught Rich and was in for my second sprint finish of the season. I thought I had passed him with enough authority he wouldn't come with me but as we approached the finish line everyone was getting really noisy. I didn't even have to look over my shoulder to know Rich was coming fast. I found another gear and was able to hold off coach for a small 0.5s margin of victory.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Welland Half

At the beginning of the season Rich and I had picked out Welland as one of the local races to focus on this season. I had 3 goals going into this weekend 1 go after Cody's record, 2 if I fell short of that I really wanted to go sub 4, and the last one was to get the win. Especially after coming second last weekend I REALLY wanted a win. However, things got flipped on their head about mid-week.

Wednesday morning Ang woke up with some pain in her stomach, but we didn't think about it to much. The pain intensified all day and that night around 12:30 we decide to go to the ER. We left the ER around 5:30 in the morning with orders to return at 8 for an ultrasound because they thought it might have been gallstones. The ultrasound didn't show anything so they shot her up with some drugs and sent her home. The pain wasn't gone for long and before you know it we were back at the ER to figure out what was going on once and for all. A CT scan revealed that her appendix was inflamed and before we knew it she was in surgery. All of that was a whirlwind of 48 hours of going back and forth to the hospital. Not the ideal taper before a race, but sometimes life comes first.

Saturday was the first time I was able to workout so I got in a quick bike and run with a couple of race pace intervals. I was pretty close to throwing in the towel and skipping the race. My bike felt like i was pedalling through slop, and my calves started getting tight running just 60s at race pace, but after much debate and Ang pushing me I decided to suck it up and race.

The Race
Driving to the race I was texting with Rich, and we kind of decided to scrap goals 1 and 2 and just focussing on getting the win. If I just focussed on that the times would come if they were meant to. My dad and Ang's mom got a bunch of pictures so I'm just going to use those to describe the rest of the day.
Swim start - there were only 6 people in the elite age group/pro wave and we started a minute ahead of the 39 and unders

It was pretty overcast and chance of rain so I went with clear Vorgee Missiles to compliment my Nineteen Rogue

I came out of the water 3rd. After trying to make a couple moves and shake Andrew I decided I should just conserve some energy and moved to Andrew's feet. Some guys from the wave behind us caught us at about 1500m and we moved onto their feet for a fast last 500m.

The ride was pretty uneventful. I pulled away for about 60k, but Andrew reeled me back in around 65-70k. I sat in for about 10k before making my final push for the finish. Once again with the cloudy skies I swapped out the lenses on my Smith PivLocks for clear lenses just in case it started to rain again.

Heading out on the run. 1st 10k were pretty solid before it started to fall apart. I've been getting a tingling left foot in the last 2 halves so I think I will try to loosen my shoes a bit next time. Hopefully that will be one less thing on my brain.

I kept checking my watch as I knew the 4hr mark was close. I could hear Steve Fleck counting down, and I tried to pick it up for one last kick. We thought I broke 4, but later found out the clock started with the age group wave 1 minute behind me. I just missed sub 4 going 4:00:40.

Breaking the tape

Celebrating what we thought was a sub4 performance 

The cheering squad. Mom, Dad, and Ang

Once again Multisport Canada put on an excellent race, and it is always fun racing with so many friends. There are always things you want to do better, and I think I have the ability to go sub 4. My swim was 90s slower than last year, my bike power was a bit lower than Knoxville, and I think I lost some mental focus on the run when it seemed the win was locked up. My next chance to really break the 4 hour barrier will be at Barrelman, but before that I will be racing Muskoka.

Thanks for reading. I will try to update things a bit more tomorrow with power numbers etc, but I wanted to get something posted before calling it a night.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Woodstock Race Report

This morning the Ontario triathlon season kicked off with the Woodstock Tri. Woodstock will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first "real" triathlon I competed in way back in 2010. Luckily my last name is mis-spelled so my result will always be a secret . . . Over the last 5 years I have steadily improved with a big time improvement when the race was shortened from the Ontario distance to the tradition sprint distance. I have won this race twice as well and was going for the threepeat this weekend. If you want the short race report I ended up 2nd after winning a sprint finish between Andrew Bolton and Mikael Staer Nathan while Jack Laundry was up the road. Full results are here. Here are some pictures from the race, but if you want to read more about the sprint finish scroll beyond the pics.

Entering T2 thankfully no crashes this year. Thanks Ryan Power for the photo.

Winding up the kick. Another photo by Ryan Power

My bro captured this one turning the corner into the finish shoot

@multisportcan posted the picture of the pro podium

Now the long version of the blog . . .

Ang and I arrived as usual with lots of time before the race. I love getting to sleep in my own bed the night before the race and with only a short 40 minute drive to the race I slept in a bit 5:15. However, it was like a family reunion at the race. Being the first race of the season I found I spent most of the morning catching up with friends I had not seen in probably 8 months. Racing locally seems much more laid back. About 50 minutes before the gun was to go off I went out for a short warm up run with 2 athletes I have been coaching, Andrew Flanagan and Ben Snider-McGrath. Next, I slid into my new Nineteen Rogue and headed down to the water for a nice swim warm up.

Swim - 2nd 10:12
Every year at this race Ang and I start on the far right side and all the other guys start on the far left. I'm not sure if I am picking the wrong spot or they are. After about 5 strokes I had clear water all around me, and so I kept the head down and kept pushing for about 200m. I generally use 200m as the point where I look around (thanks to my Vorgee goggles I feel like I can see everything) and get my first idea of how the race is unfolding. Today, one swimmer who started on the other side had already opened a gap, and I was swimming even with the next group. I thought the swimmer up ahead might have been Jack because I heard he was swimming well this winter, and he swam further than me at the indoor tri this winter. I didn't want him to get to much of a gap as I knew he was a serious threat on the bike. Usually I would be one to sit in the draft and try to save some energy for the bike, but I decided I would take charge and try to chase. There was no pulling back the lead swimmer, and I exited the water in 2nd. As I entered transition I was glad to see the lead swimmer wasn't Jack and that they only had about 30s on me.

T1 - 37s the race is on

Bike - 30:53 3rd into T2
The Woodstock bike course starts with a nice climb right out of the park. This is where you get to see just how hard you swam and how your legs are feeling. Mikael was right on my wheel up the hill with Bolton and Jack just behind him. Once at they went by me one at a time, and I told myself I had to go big here or kiss the race good by so I just pushed the pedals as hard as my legs would go. I was just holding onto the back of the group of Andrew and Mikael but Jack was already pulling away up the road. After the first turn my legs were starting to come around so I surge past Mikael and would stay in 3rd for pretty much the rest of the ride. Coming down the hill into t2 I eased off a bit more than usual, but after crashing there 2 years ago I didn't want to do that again.

T2 - 33s always seems a lot longer than that

Run - 16:34 2nd (fastest run)
Leaving transition Andrew had a bit of a lead and Mikael was right with me. Mikael and I were in the situation a few times last year at both Syracuse 70.3 and Toronto Island, but a new year means new fitness and you never no what the other guys really did over the winter. On the first section of gravel road Mikael pulled just in front of me, and then I reposed again on the bridge. We were slowly pulling Andrew in, and I could just see Jack off in the distance. I knew to pull back both I would need to have the run of my life and hope they both imploded terribly. The next kilometre on the crushed gravel from the dam to the road not much changed. I finally pulled up beside Andrew just before the turnaround, but Jack I guessed Jack had about a minute on us and the gap wasn't coming down fast enough. With Mikael still right on me, and Andrew running stronger than in the past this is where the race started to get tactical. We had already swam (7s separated us in the swim) and biked (about 10s separated us) together so no one was going to let the other get away on the run. This is where having raced the course so many times came into my favour I think. I tried putting in a small surge after the turnaround, but it didn't do much. When we got back on the crushed stone I eased up a bit and Mikael went to the front. I knew if someone was going to try to make an early attack it would be on the small but steep climb up to the dam. I was prepared to cover the move, but it never came. The part was the dam; the dam always seems to have a headwind as you run across it. I was just biding my time and trying to have as much patience as possible sitting at the back of the pack. I was feeling relaxed, but it was hard to tell how the other guys were feeling. You could almost feel the tension as we approached the 1km to go sign. Andrew was the first to go basically as soon as we hit the 4km mark, and I went with him just sitting on his hip. I wanted to counter attack this move, but I told myself it was to early. I was still feeling good, but I wasn't sure about a 1k kick. Andrew's surge let up about 150m later, but it was short lived. He quickly attacked a second time with about 700m to go. With about 500m to go I said now is the time! I counter attacked. I was pumping my arms as hard as I could and just put the pedal to the floor. It's probably been about 10 years since high school track where I had my last heads up kick (I got out leaned in a tri a few years ago but I was kicking from behind and rand out of room), and during high school track I had my fair share of wins and loses in these kicks. One thing when your kicking is there is no 2nd or 3rd chance. When you commit you have to go all the way, either you make it to the finish or you tie up before and risk not making it. All I thought about was go go go. When it started to hurt I told myself go some more. Do not look back just keep running! Coming into the final turn I made a quick shoulder check just to make sure I could take the tangent, and it wan't until here I knew I wrapped up 2nd. I think this is probably one of the funnest and most exciting races I have had in my tri career. There is nothing better than going head to head to head with 2 other guys for about an hour with never more than 10s between you.

After the first race of the series it looks like this summer is going to be a great one in the MultiSport Canada Series. I can't thank John enough for giving us the opportunity to race in an elite series for prize money. It has elevated the weekend to weekend racing so much in the last 3 years. Last year we had Lionel and Cody put on a clinic, but Jack was only 3s off lionel's time from last year, and I think today was a tougher day with some chop on the water and wind on the bike.

I'm looking forward to the rematch with Andrew next weekend over 4 times the distance at the MSC Rose City Half in Welland, and hopefully there will be a few more awesome match ups over the summer.

I'd like to thank Nineteen Wetsuits for the brand new Rogue wetsuit, it felt fast on the swim today. Vorgee goggles make open water swimming much easier when you can see where you are going. Smith Optics for keeping the sun out of my eyes before during and after the race as well as helping with my style. Rich from Healthy Results for whipping me into shape this year, I'm looking forward to the future. Lastly, my family, I had the whole gang out to watch today mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, my brother, and of course Berlin, who cheers the loudest.