Saturday marked the Ontario season opener for the MultiSport Canada Triathlon Series. Pittock Conservation Area in Woodstock Ontario hosted the event and despite some cooler temperatures it was a great day of racing. This is the first time I had raced this particular venue and I went into it feeling prepared after doing my homework researching the course online with the help of fellow athletes Garmin data from previous years and google street view. If you haven’t used street view for your race previews have a look I find it helpful when people talk about hills and sharp turns, this gives you a detailed view into the course ahead of time.
Race Lead Up
My wife Laura and I left London nice and early giving us lots of time to take the relaxing back roads which I prefer to do on race day, just one way to keep the nerves down. About thirty minutes from Woodstock I realized that I had forgot to tape my calf/achilles that has been giving my problems all week. With no options at that point to turn around and being so early in the morning no stores in the area would be open. Trying not to think about it we entered Pittock and parked the car and as soon as we stepped out we were greeted by smiling faces of fellow athletes and you could feel the energy in the air. At that moment it was what I needed to get out of my funk and focus on getting everything setup for the race ahead. Knowing my bib number already from the pre race email MultiSport Canada sent out I took my bike into transition and racked it the proper row. Prakash Pandya (7th OA – Tri) gave me a shout when he entered transition and you could tell he was fired up for the day ahead! That kind of energy is contagious and really gets people fired up! Racking my bike I stuck to my usual routine making sure to be in the right gear for the climb right after the mount line, my shoes were hanging with their elastics in place and water bottle was half full. I am a “flying mount” kind of racer and always leave my shoes on my bike so I can run out of T1 as fast as possible. The transition at Woodstock was a long one in and out of the bike course with a lot or grass between T1 and the mount/dismount line.
After racking my bike I went right over to pickup my race kit and received my body marks. Thanks to the volunteers who were doing a swift job of getting people marked and on their way very quickly.
There were so many people I hadn’t seen since last season that it was a catch up with great people like Darren, Garvin, James, Paula and a whole whack of others who I had only talked to online during the off season.
I met up with fellow Balance Point athlete Chris Marentette and we went out on our run warm up. Chris had raced the course last year and we chatted about tactics and strategy while warming up. Our pace was very leisurely compared to what I knew was coming on the first run, still dwelling on my injured calf I was playing it by ear to see if a longer warmup would be better or worse for it. Turns out that at that point my leg felt fine *knock on wood*. We ran up the hill and out of the park and scouted what would be the decent back to the dismount line. This was supposed to be a no passing zone and unfortunately there was no Triathlon Ontario Official monitoring things, if there had been someone here I guarantee that some penalties would have been handed out. Next we ran out to the dam because Chris had pointed out that there was gravel as well as grass to run on and we wanted to scout the best path to take. Heading back to I made my usual stop at the bathrooms before taking a quick check in transition on my bike one last time it was now only minutes to start time. I ran into Roger Hospedales who was also checking his bike both of us were fiddling with our Garmin watches trying to get them organized. We exchanged pleasantries and headed out to the start line where most people were already to go. Taking my spot at the front just behind Darren Cooney the count down began “30 seconds…..20….10…….HORN” and we all took off.
Run 1 – 5K
As soon as the horn sounded the thundering cheers from spectators was electrifying and Joseph Hunter, Garvin Moses, Daren Cooney and Chris Marentette went off like flash of lightning! The first kilometre was a blistering one and I just kept them all in my sights as we transitioned from grass to gravel and then pavement for the stretch along the dam. After the dam the run has a series of rollers and a slight decent into a treed area before heading back up onto the road for the 2.5k turn around.
Just before the turn I caught up to Chris and Garvin who were pacing together and passed them. I could hear Chris then pick it up and the two of us ran back to transition pacing side by side. Earlier in the week I had talked to duathlon veteran and 2014 Provincial Champion Scott Finch about the course and he spoke some words that stuck with me “its not about the time of your 5K or the bike alone, its about the overall time”. As Chris and I ran back to T1 side by side we watched Darren and Steve in the distance who were chasing down Joseph, he must have laid down a blistering split time and entered T1 at least a minute or more ahead of me. It was difficult to hold back and stick to the plan of saving a bit more for the bike course but I had to trust the strategy because it was too late to change it. I say that but deep in the back of my mind I was also holding back knowing that my calf was not 100%. The mental fight you have with yourself on the race course is without a doubt the most crippling or most rewarding and never both.
Bike – 20K
T1 was fairly quick and the only problem is one that always have and its my helmet strap. I fumble with the buckle because my hands loose circulation due to my heart medication and the fine motor skills just aren’t there. Heart medication sucks. After what felt like and eternity of fumbling I finally clipped it up and grabbed my bike. Leaving T1 I ran my bike out and up a grass hill for about fifty meter before crossing threw some dangerous upright wooden barriers to get to the mount line.
Mounting amongst about 10 people I had to wait behind them as they slowly climbed the hill at about 17km/hr the positive to this is that my HR dropped by about 20bpm helping me catch my breath and as soon as the “no pass zone” was over I hammered off and quickly reached 45km/hr heading north, I was frustrated at this point and looking back at the data my power spiked to 450+W and perhaps wasn’t the smartest thing out of the gate. During the first 4km’s there is only one inclined section and afterwards you turn north east into the headwind. After turning there is a series of rollers and I was able to finally catch Daren who was riding strong with his aero jacket cover #freespeed. Another 2.5k and turned south where I caught up to Joseph who muttered something to me but I didn’t quite know what he said. After passing so many people on the bike leg I had lost track of my position and didn’t know if he kept the large lead he got from run 1 or not. I had the sense I had just pulled into first but it wasn’t until the turn around back towards the pack where Joseph again said something and judging by his frustration I could be sure I was now in the lead.
Now for some DATA!
The first half of the race I averaged 234W and maintained an average speed of 36km/hr. This is taking into consideration the frustrating hill climb out of the park and the turn around.
The second half of the race was 223W and 40km/hr average speed. This just shows that I had to indeed work harder going out into the wind.
My HR was nearly identical and same with cadence while these two values are “normal” my HR was a lot lower than I had hoped for, this indicates that my medication was causing a bigger reaction than I would like but It is what it is. Beta blockers limit the ability of my heart range………also reducing the delivery of oxygen to my muscles.
I am happy about the negative split on the bike heading into the race I knew it was a course similar to lakeside with lots of rollers and not really any hills. My training rides always incorporate hills, rollers and “popping and rocking”. #orangepower Training your legs to handle the shift into a larger gear before you crest the hill takes a lot of time and it is certainly something I use to my advantage when out on the bike.
After hammering back to Pittock Conservation on my Fat 88 wheels from #3SIXTY5Cycling I knew the decent lead I had on anyone else in the Duathlon should be enough to clinch my first ever overall win. The decent into the park was again slower than I would have liked because you had to stay behind the person in front of you and were not allowed to pass.
Run2 – 2.5K
Dismounting without hesitation I ran into T2 as fast as my legs would allow, but when I arrived at my rack it was laying on the ground. I yelled for an official or volunteer but no one was that far in transition to provide any support. I laid my bike down on the grass and to my surprise some gracious and wonderful “relay” athletes rushed over and fixed up the rack for me while I fumbled with my helmet yet again. At this point I had my shoes on and was still wearing my helmet and now that the rack had been fixed I properly racked my bike and removed my helmet. I rushed out on the last run but during the hustle and bustle my insole had become bunched up under my arch and again I had to stop and quickly rip it out, throwing it off the course I carried on to the last run. All of this took up so much time I just hoped that no one had been able to make up time on me in T2.
Out on the run again there was grass, gravel and different kinds of terrain to tackle before turning around and heading back to the finish. Running with heavy legs I mustered all I could to push myself onward and the all to familiar pain from my soleus muscle and achilles started to remind me that I was still injured and that indeed it was in charge not me. I made it to the turn around despite what had turned into a deep throbbing pain and headed back towards the pack of racers amongst the Tri guys was Joseph who still ahead of Darren and running hard wanting to catch me but my lead was just to much. I ran as hard as I could towards the finish line gimped and broken my spirit was soaring with excitement knowing that I was finally going to get my first overall win. Glancing back with 200m to go I was in the clear, this is something I rarely do but last year at Guelph 1 I neglected look back at the finish and was taken by six seconds with just feet to the end. So every race from now on I check with a few hundred meters left incase I need to sprint.
With that I had won and despite a now inflamed and very painful leg I stood one legged in the finish shoot and congratulated my fellow athletes for the great competition and racing. Drinking cups and cups of HEED we all shook hand and swapped race banter while trying to catch our breath. After coming so close last year to a overall win a few times I felt that this was a well deserved win and will long be remembered.
Not having any results from previous years I can’t really compare this race to any in the past so it will remain one that I will do in the future again trying to better my time every year.
I am told that the first win is one that you don’t forget so a huge thanks to everyone who encouraged me to keep my eye on the prize. I am looking forward now to a fairly rested week because next weekend is the Welland Triathlon / Duathlon and I am racing again. Taking it easy this week will involve resting this leg of mine in hopes that it will heal quickly, it feels much better today and should be good come next race.
MultiSport Triathlon Series races are always well done, great volunteers and supporters Saturday couldn’t have been a better day thanks to everyone who works or is associated with the excellent MultiSport organization.
A special thanks to the athletes in transition that helped with the fallen racks you were great help!
- My super wife for cheering me on and my father who made the trip to show his support!
- My Coach – Gabbi Whitlock and everyone from Balance Point Triathlon #OrangePower
- 3SIXTY5 Cycling – Fat88’s – Another race and another fast bike split! Check out their site and extensive product collection!
- Thanks to my physiotherapist John Smallwood owner of Synergy Centre Physio for providing me support and being instrumental in keeping my not so cooperative body moving.
- My RMT Jenna from Pursuit Health Management despite the most painful massage I have ever had…… ever… my soleus / achilles thanks you and without it this race may not have been possible.
- Oxford Dodge Chrysler Jeep – James and Elizabeth Bennett
- Photos are all courtesy or MultiSport Canada and came from their Facebook page here.
- Recharge With Milk – Thanks for the swag and milk at the finish line!!!!!!!!!!!