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