In 2013 I didn’t have a great day at Challenge Penticton. In fact, due to seemingly endless mechanical issues, I didn’t even make it to the finish line (the details HERE.) I vowed to come back in 2014 to get across the finish line, and that I achieved! Unfortunately, getting to the finish line didn’t quite pan out how I had hoped…..
The lead-up to Penticton went well. I was feeling strong the weeks leading up to the race, but there seemed to be a hint of extra ‘tiredness’ in the days leading up to the race. Whether it was the taper, or some extra fatigue from the previous two races, I have no idea. Jenn and I were hosted by Peter and Vicki, two locals who made sure our experience was 110% outstanding. Penticton really knows how to take care of people!
The days leading up to the race, we found out the water was on the cusp of wetsuit-legal temperatures, and I had my fingers crossed that it would be wetsuit legal. Race morning came (preceded by the standard night of sleepless tossing and turning,) and with it came the ruling that the race would NOT be wetsuit legal.
I’m not a big fan of swimming without a wetsuit, as I’m not a strong swimmer and can always use the extra buoyancy. But I had my Nineteen Frequency Swim Skin, so I was as prepared as I was going to get. We lined up for race start, and as usual, insanity ensued. I had a great dolphin dive off the line, putting myself ahead of the big group. Too bad my swim stroke couldn’t back it up, as I slowly watched parts of the pack go by. I missed the second main pack, and as they swam away, I just kept going as hard as I could. I came out of the water pretty far back from the front of the race, but with a few guys around me.
I had a solid T1 (second fastest next to Symonds,) and out on the bike I went. I was feeling strong and confident, with patience on the front of my mind. I rode with Scott Defilipis and Matt Lawrence for a good portion of the first half of the race, all of us keeping a strong pace. We caught a few guys on Richter, and through the rollers it became a bit of a yo-yo effort to keep out of the draft zone (lots of varying efforts, spending unnecessary energy.) By the time I hit the out-and-back, my glutes and hamstrings were tight and in a lot of pain. I tried to keep the gas pedal down, but the legs were hurting and staying aero was increasingly painful. I fought my way up Yellow Lake, and rolled into town in 10th. I was already hurting badly, which was unexpected at this point. I knew the run was going to hurt, especially since the first half would be into a headwind.
Heading out on the run, I made my way in to 7th. I was hurting from the go, but just suffered through. The local spectators were smashing as always, cheering us on all along the run course, with local coach Jonny Caron hosing us down outside his house, about 7km in to the run! It wasn’t that hot of a day, but a little spray was welcoming.
As I suffered hard through the final miles of the run, I saw Scott Defilipis coming hard. I put in the hardest effort I had in me, struggling to stay ahead of Scott. In the last mile of the run, I watched Scott go by me like I was standing still. It was crushing, but he just had much better legs. I came down the new Main Street finish line, and hearing the legendary Steve King announce I finished in 8th, I collapsed after the line, exhausted but happy to be done. They brought a bit of Europe into this year’s edition of the race, handing me a huge Lagerstein with about 1 gallon of Cannery Brewing ‘Triathlager’ (a brew created just for the race,) to dump on my head. It burned like Hades, but it tasted so good.
I was proud of myself for my efforts. I didn’t have a great performance, having a poor time in all three disciplines, but I fought through to the finish. Long course racing is a continual learning experience, and I learned a lot during that race. My nutrition was great, but my pacing on the bike may have been a little off, creating a negative domino effect later in the race. It takes a long time to get good at these Iron Distance races, and only being my third finish, I still have a lot to learn.
Challenge Penticton put on an amazing show once again, and I’m incredibly excited to race the 2015 edition of the race, as it’s under new management. I really wanted to race a few more times this season, but due to a nagging swimmer’s shoulder that’s plagued me the last two years (preventing me from putting in the swim mileage I need to improve,) I’ve decided to take the rest of the year off to aggressively rehab and heal it. That means I’ll be focusing on cyclocross racing, road running races, and xc skiing through the winter to make myself stronger for next season. I have a new Litespeed C1 (owners of Quintana Roo,) on it’s way to my doorstep, and once Speed Theory Vancouver builds it up for me, I’ll be ready to have some fun training out on the roads.
Thank you so much to everyone who’s helped get me through the 2014 season! Coach Björn has guided me through the miles of training this year, helping me work on my short and long term racing goals. Speed Theory Vancouver has helped keep my bike in solid working order, saving me with emergency repairs too many times to count. The team at Powerbar has kept me fuelled and recovered the whole season, a vital part of successful training and racing. Quintana Roo outfitted me with a slick race rig (and now a sweet road bike) to give me the best advantage while racing (the new PR6 I’m excited to ride next year!) Champion System kept me looking sharp during every training session and race, with incredibly comfortable and performance oriented kit (thanks to Tamasin for the design!) Nineteen wetsuits gave me their top-of-the-line Rogue Wetsuit and Swim Skin, which helped me all season through the swim. Compressport was a vital part of my recovery this year. ECOS Coconut Water helped me replenish electrolytes and nourish me through the year, a drink that I LOVE for my smoothies. Katana Sports and Distance Runwear have provided Pearl Izumi shoes, which are the best shoes I’ve honestly put on my feet. Gray Cycling Canada makes sure I have some speedy wheels out on the race course!
Most importantly, MONSTER thank you to all my friends and family, who’ve supported me through good AND grumpy. Without everyone on my side, I wouldn’t have made it through another race season. I’m looking forward to having some fun and getting healthy this off-season, so I can go into 2015 refreshed and refurbished to race hard. I haven’t decided the race season goal races yet, but I’m certain that Challenge races will be a mainstay in my season, continually putting on impressively inclusive races.
I hope everyone has been having a great summer! Best of luck to everyone continuing their season into the fall, we’re all cheering you on! Stay safe out there!