Sooke Pro Pursuit Race Report

The first of it’s kind for me (and hopefully not the last,) the chase race format was an exciting concept to me. Letting the women start 15mins before the men, and then having the men ‘chase’ them to the finish line. I thought 15 minutes would be a ridiculous gap to try and bridge, but evidently not (at least for some of the men!) What fun it was, here’s how it all broke down:

Another early morning race start (7am,) I was up UBER early to make sure I had time to get breakfast all sorted out before the gun went off. I’ve totally forgotten that 4am actually existed, but when my alarm went off, I knew it was time to jump to action. Having some trouble sleeping lately, pre-race night was no exception. But I felt pretty good, and the only issue I was having was a nagging foot problem that caused a lot of pain when running, especially barefoot (and since we run at least twice barefoot over rough ground, I was prepared for some pain. It IS a race after-all!!) Off to the race start, I prepped my bike and T1 area, including my typical pre-race joking with my fellow racers. I knew that no matter what it would be a fun day, as many of my friends were racing, as well as spectating.

Warm-up in the water went well, and the water temperature was PERFECT for me! It was as warm as a pool, which is perfect for me. I like it warm, but I knew in the same breath that it would get pretty cold on the bike today, as it was foggy and cool out. Standing on the pontoon, minutes before the start of the mens field, the women’s field swam by to begin their second loop of the swim. With the TV cameras on us, we were prompted to heckle the women as they passed. You know, give something exciting for the cameras. So I indulged, along with some of my competitors, to give some friendly heckling to the passing swimmers (knowing full well that a lot of them were swimming far faster than I can!lol) The gun went off for us shortly after, and it was ON! My first ever pontoon start went well, I dove in and swam like mad. I held on to the pack for a bit, but my extreme lack of swimming experience saw me slowly drop off the back of the main pack. I was happy to be in my Nineteen Frequency though, it kept me buoyant and moving as fast as I could.

Coming in to T2

Into T1, I could see I was a bit behind. The thing about triathlon transitions, you can always tell how well you’ve done coming into T1 and T2, by the number of bikes either left, or returned, to their spots. Well, suffice to say, there weren’t many left, so I knew I had some catch-up to play. For some reason, I don’t bode well in the cold AT ALL. I was freezing for the first 30 minutes on the bike, my legs were just useless stumps that I couldn’t feel! I’m sure everyone’s done a race where the legs are completely useless for a while, and this was the case for me. But as I descended the final hill to the turn-around, I realized how close I was to the main pack! So, back up the hill after the turn-around, I started to turn myself inside-out to chase down some of the pack. Slowly I began reeling people in, passing one at a time, and about half-way back started catching some of the woman field. I was giving everything I had, and it was slowly paying off.

Heading out to ‘hunt!’

The hard push to the finish line!!

Into T2, my feet were hurting pretty bad. I mean, they were frozen solid, so it was a bad sign that I could feel the pain shoot through as I ran to my shoes. Struggling to get them on, I was VERY surprised to see Scott Curry just leaving T2. I thought, “Man, I must’ve ridden better than I thought I did!!” So on went the shoes (after much cursing under my breath to get them on,) and the hunt began. I ran like a man on a mission (okay, maybe a boy on a mission,) and starting closing the gap on guys right away. By the half-way mark, I was able to finally feel my feet again, which turned out to be a bad thing, as they were in HUGE amounts of pain. But I kept on pushing. I could see Carlos Lesser and Elliot Holtham a ways ahead, and I had targets on them. But they saw me coming, and I never was able to run them down. After a final hard push to the finish, I managed one more pass in the final few hundred meters, and I finished strong (actually, due to the thick wood chip patches and hill at the finish, I probably resembled a drunk ox stumbling along, more than a strong runner.) Due to my weaker swim, my race strategy is one that I playfully refer to as “hunting.” As such, I mentally put targets on the backs of my competitors and give chase the whole race. Around the 2-3km mark, I was in full-on hunt mode as I bore down on the next few racers, and as I descended a hill, a mule deer popped out of the bushes to my right. Immediately I had a laugh, as I was ‘hunting,’ and here was an animal that would normally be associated with REAL hunting! The best part was, it hopped along the side of the road, giving me a little more motivation to run faster (see: ancestral hunting instincts.) Something a little different to lighten the day:)

They helped me to a new PB!!

Post race was a happy occasion, with Rachel McBride having an outstanding race, rounding out the top 5 podium! It was awesome to see that 3 of the top 5 spots were Lifesport teammates, and two of them were also Compressport Teammates (Rachel and the increasingly amazing Jeff Symonds.) I was very surprised to see I had the 5th fastest run of the day, a 33:10 clocking (a new PB,) and the 8th fastest bike of the day. Considering my issues out there, I was VERY happy with these numbers. This also being my first race with a power meter on the bike (which I find HIGHLY useful for training, and using power numbers from the race to analyze my performance,) Coach Bjoern and I were very surprised and happy with the numbers shown. Thanks to Ivan Jelic for the use of the EDGE wheels!

Hanging out with Rachel @awards

Thanks to Laura Byrne for her hospitality in hosting me at her house during the race, and for the awesome meals she prepared!! I think the Volunteers at the race deserve the biggest thanks, they were so outstanding at every turn, working so hard to make sure that we had the best experience possible! Also thanks to Subaru and Lifesport for putting on such a fantastic race, as well as the city of Sooke; they are vying for a 70.3 title, and based on this years race, I would say they are well on their way for next year! Thanks to Jonathan Kisiloski of Compressport for all the ‘support’ (no pun intended,) as well as Eload for fueling me through this race. Thanks to all the sponsors for making everything possible, it was a TON of fun, and I look forward to next years race!

Every race is a learning experience, some more than others, and I yet again learned a lot today. I’ll be taking my lessons, good and bad, in stride, and making good use of the knowledge for Lake Stevens 70.3, and the rest of the season.

Also, cant forget to thank Coach Bjoern for coming out to support all of us, what a great day! Happy training everyone, and even happier racing:)

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