Mid Season Race Update
It’s hard to believe we’re only halfway through the month of June and race season is already halfway done. The season started with a couple warm up races for me with the North Shore Sprint Triathlon and the Shawnigan Lake Trestle Challenge. This past weekend I had my first “A” race of the year, Ironman 70.3 Victoria.
Despite being warm up races, the North Shore and Shawnigan both went really well. At the North Shore Sprint Triathlon I went ALL IN on the bike this year. Not much different from any other year but some group workouts I’d been doing in the lead up (pretty much all out bike races) were teaching me how to suffer on another level. When I came out of the swim behind the speedy swimmers I was on a mission to catch them as fast as I could. I absolutely dropped the hammer on my new Felt IA and biked about 2 minutes faster than the next fastest bike split. I finished the race almost a minute faster than last year and took the win in the amateur race.
I’ll touch on Victoria next as it went rather seamlessly and there’s not much inspiration to draw from it other than consistent hard work pays off! Even though I had zero opportunity to draft in the swim as I was caught in no man’s land, I swam a personal best of 26:24 taking over a minute off my best time from last year.
On the bike my legs felt amazing from the start, I was instructed to go by feel, I took this as “Lay the smackdown!” I don’t actually think that’s what Noa meant but it definitely sounds a lot more badass. I had an outstanding bike, paced it pretty well and it was second only to Matt Lieto’s race best bike split by 23 seconds. When I came into T2 I saw Stephen Kilshaw racking his bike and considering the pros started a minute or two before us amateurs, I took it as a huge confidence boost.
The run course was a bit more challenging than anticipated. I ran the first lap with big intentions to run the second lap faster but I ended up spending a good portion of the second lap just trying to hold it together. I’d end up running a 1:26:03, not great but not bad either. A big improvement considering I have never run under 1:31 in a half ironman before. I would finish the day in a time of 4:09:58 placing as the 1st amateur and 4th overall. This was a huge result for me and gives me tons of confidence on what the next couple of years will bring in my development.
The inaugural Shawnigan Lake Trestle Challenge was the weekend after the North Shore Tri. It was my first time racing there and I was pretty impressed with location for the race. Besides the rough roads and lousy weather, the trails that the run course ran along were amazing, the bike was on a super fun rolling looped course and the swim was in stunning lake with decent swimming temperatures. More importantly though there was a great little coffee shop with some delicious gluten free pastries. In fact, I missed the post-race awards because I was in there busy replacing calories! The race itself was an interesting format, it was Olympic distance for the swim and bike followed by a half marathon. This format really took away from my strength but I won’t cry about it too much as in any other race the bike is the longest segment. My race went relatively well, I came out of the water after a decent swim a little over 3 minutes behind the leader.
I jumped on the bike intent to make up the time and try to build a gap on my competition going into T2; my body, however, had its own agenda. It was taking my legs a while to get going on the bike, I didn’t panic though as I was sure they would come around. My power output for the first lap was ok and I had grand plans to pick it up on the second lap. Rather than seeing my power numbers go up, they started to drop. Very quickly into the second lap I started to have trouble shifting as my hands were so numb. I started shivering from the cold wet weather and soon my neck and upper back were starting to seize. I had caught a couple of the pros part way through the lap but I couldn’t bring myself to try to build any kind of gap on them, the body just wasn’t responding. I decided to sit in behind, follow to T2 and focus on having a great run.
T2 was rather disastrous, if you’ve ever seen that clip of Macca in Kona trying to buckle his helmet up, I did a pretty good impression trying to unbuckle my helmet.
With clumsy numb fingers it took me a good thirty seconds trying to get that thing off. Meanwhile I’m watching both guys that I came into T2 with bolt out onto the run. I finally made my way out, kept my cool and started chipping away. I’ve never run a half marathon in a triathlon that I’ve been really really happy with. I ran my first straight up half marathon in February this year and it was an absolute tragedy, the wheels came off at the 9k mark and the next 12k felt like I was trying to finish an Ironman. This time was going to be different, or so I hoped. At the turnaround at the Trestle about 6k in, I got a look at where the leaders were, Kilshaw and Boudreaux were too far ahead, but there was a group about 1:40 ahead of me including James, Ryan and Relu, I kept positive that if I kept chipping away I might be able to pull some of them back. I’ve never been one to move up places in the run, I’ve always been running scared trying to keep from getting caught by the guys behind me. In order to reach some of my short term and long term goals though this HAS to change. What I’ve been working on in training with my coach obviously has had and will have a big impact on my running, but just as important as the physical aspect, there is a huge mental component as well. I have to work on changing the mentality from “I can’t” to “I can”.
“I can catch those guys in that pack ahead of me”.
If I was to let negative thoughts come into my head saying “I can’t”, like I have in the past, then I may as well have called it a day and been happy just to hold on to the position I was currently in. Honestly though, I was in a great position, 3rd place in my age group and 6th overall is a great result. It would have been so easy to run comfortably and not battle with my body for the next 15k. Though there were no guarantees, I was stubborn and chose the more painful option.
By the 15k turnaround I had started to make up some time. Ryan was a little over a minute ahead of me still and Relu was sitting around 35-40 seconds up. My legs were surprisingly feeling good so it was time to empty the tank. By 17k I made my pass on Relu and kept pushing the pace. Another kilometer up the road I caught a glimpse of Ryan in his red trisuit. This gave me another boost and I kept pushing, slowly but surely he was coming back to me. I knew this was the longest triathlon Ryan’s ever done so I was hoping he was falling apart, don’t get me wrong, he’s an awesome guy and I love training with him but this was racing! Just past the 20k mark I was getting very close, about 20 meters back. Right where we turn off towards the finishing shoot a volunteer yells, “You can catch him, you’re running faster!” At this point Ryan looks back, sees me and bolts. It was an all-out sprint to the finish but Ryan would hold on with a stellar performance crossing the line 5 seconds ahead of me.
I was finished, nothing left… and I was so stoked! Winning your age group in races is great but nothing beats the feeling of knowing you got everything you could out of your body on the day. When I think of races that I’m most proud of, it’s not the ones I’ve won or the ones where everything seemed to click, it’s the ones where I’ve had to overcome adversity or had to dig really deep. I set a huge PB on the run that day running a 1:22:23 half marathon, placed 2nd in my age group and 5th overall. Though the swim and bike weren’t half ironman distance, it was a huge step forward in my running and I’m confident now that with more hard work and some, I mean a lot, of patience I can eventually develop into the runner I know I can be.
A huge thanks to all my sponsors and supporters. Without you guys I wouldn’t have the opportunity to continue to chase my dreams and I definitely wouldn’t be able to do so with the incredible gear I get to train and race with.
Time to refocus now and put in the hard work in preparation for the BIG race at the end of July, Ironman Canada in Whistler, BC.