Not often I’ve done back-to-back weekends racing. In fact, I’ve only ever done it once before, and that was last year (with these same two races.) They went well, so this year I thought, just for sh*ts and giggles, I’d throw in a third race preceding them. You know how the first went (Squamish report) so here’s a two-for-one of the rest:
Vancouver Half Ironman
This race doubled as the Canadian National LC Championships, and although I was still recovering from illness, I still wanted to perform well. With a few quick guys loading the field, I was ready to give it everything I had.
|Elliot out front at the swim start, Can you spot me? (hint: tiger stripes!)|
With a 10m, steep hill beach start, we hit the water moving pretty quick, instantly filling my right goggle with water. Not willing to stop, I just closed my eye and kept going. It was, as usual, a battle almost the whole way around the first loop, so instead of stopping to get the water out I kept moving. I figured I could empty the goggle running around the beach buoy. I did, but with my luck the goggle filled up again as I hit the water.
|Full steam ahead!|
Coming out of the water not far down, I had no idea how my legs would feel on the bike. Coming out of T1, I started to spin it up, and realizing there was some jam there I just thought, “I got nothing to lose here,” and just opened up the throttle. I rode strong and consistent, catching a few guys but not quite making it up to the guys I wanted to, I was happier than the previous race at my power file. Only 1 watt short of my Oliver Half bike, I realized my health was slowly returning.
Hitting the run course in 4th, I just tried to keep moving forward. My running has been rather sub-par the last few months, so I just did everything I could. On a different day I might have been able to go faster, but I gave a good effort. I thought I’d use my short course race flats out there, and they were brilliant. For the first 12km. Then I started to get a nice little foot rub going, and by the end the bottom of my big toe was completely blistered. A 1:18 run was enough to keep me 3rd in the pro field, and I was happy knowing that first and second went to Andrew Russell and Chris Boudreaux, two experienced and bloody quick pros.
|Pretty happy to be done!|
My new Champion System kit and Gray Cycling Wheels made their debut in Vancouver, and they were both stunning. The kit fit absolutely perfect, and the wheels rode smooth and stable. The focus now became on recovering for Lake Stevens 70.3. I had no idea what to expect.
|Gracing the bottom step with Chris and Andrew|
Lake Stevens 70.3
Coming back to Lake Stevens for the 4th time, I feel like I needed to have a good race. Yet to have a full race that I was happy with, I thought maybe this would be my year. One of my favourite parts of racing is meeting and staying with homestays; they add a whole new level to the experience. No hotels, no restaurant meals, just a like-minded bunch that open their homes to us athletes, always smiling and offering help. The generosity of homestays continues to boggle my mind, I’m always so blessed to find the best of the best, and for Lake Stevens I’ve always stayed with Mary and Eric Gandee, both emergency service workers and triathletes! How great is that?!?
|A foggy swim start. Can YOU see any buoys?|
Toeing the start line a little unsure of how my third race weekend in a row would go, Björn and I just set out a game plan to see what my body had in it. The swim course has a convenient cable that runs along the ENTIRE course, making sighting virtually unnecessary (thank God, because it was so bloody foggy you couldn’t even SEE the next buoy!) It started with a bang, and I was pretty happy to stay on Elliot’s feet for a few hundred meters. As the line of swimmers converged along the cable, it started to break apart into packs. I ended up pulling a few guys through the course, which although not the most energy conserving of tactics, a clear swim makes for less of a ‘Battle Royale’ than usual. Coming out of the water somewhere in the top 15, I knew it was time to really go to work.
|The Nineteen Rogue never lets me down|
|Keeping it loose on the bike|
My bike seems to be coming along fairly well these days, and our plan involved seeing what I could really do over the course of 56 miles. I had a super fast T1, and came out in front of a few guys. After a fairly smooth, crashless flying-mount (the process of running and mounting the bike without stopping, an example HERE,) it was time to get to work. Pulling away from most of the guys, I just put my head down and started to go. The legs were feeling great, the weather was slightly cool, and I was going all gang-buster on the cranks. After about 20mins, the guy who had been behind me came by on a hill, and I got a look at his number.
“Holy JESUS” I thought, “it’s Chris FREAKIN Legh!!!” (an absolute legend!) Staying in contact with Chris, I decided around the 30min mark to start and push the pace. We continued to keep each other motivated, taking turns setting the pace. I felt like Pac Man after eating a power pellet, chasing down the ghosts to some 16bit music and gobbling them up, shooting them out the back. Eventually we came to Chris Bagg, and he joined in on our rolling party. Nearing the end of the bike, I thought it would be fun to ride outside my skin and try to open a bit of a gap. Really, what did I have to lose? I managed to get a few more seconds out front, and that had me pretty happy. This was the first race in my career that I was actually sad to be getting off the bike, I felt incredible out there. My wattage actually increased over the second half of the bike considerably, with a mean split of 306 watts, putting me in 8th place with the 5th fastest bike split.
|After going gang-busters on the bike|
Not bad for a buck fifty soaking wet.
Björn and I knew my run has not been my strong point lately, so I went out on the run course knowing it was going to be a battle for survival. Sometimes, in retrospect, we can easily criticize ourselves, being overly critical on our performance. Looking back, I feel that I raced the first half of the run weak, giving a second-rate effort. But the second half, after a decent portion of the field passed me by, I started to dig. The legs just didn’t have a run in them this day, and I put myself into the pain cave pretty deep. My legs were hurting bad by the end, a good indicator that I really did give all I had left. Apparently, three weekends in a row can take a bit out of you?
|Finishing in one piece|
The most epic part of the race was going out for the second half of the first run loop, only to see Craig Alexander and Luke Bell running shoulder to shoulder, with my teammate Elliot Holtham right on their heels. I couldn’t help but explode with cheers and encouragement!!! He was running like a rockstar, right with them from the start until about 9km into the run. Elliot ended up a fairly close third place overall, a brilliant performance that the whole team is proud of him for, and there was nothing more amazing than having front row seats to witness.
|That’s my Boy, Blue!|
with an incredible learning experience, not just about myself but also race strategy, and most importantly with a big smile on my face. I still love this sport as much as the day I did my first race, and knowing it’s a long process keeps me positive and looking forward to the challenges of each new day. It’s great to see such a big improvement on my bike this year, after a winter/spring of heavy bike work.
Hard work paying off.
Fully recovered and sitting here at my training camp in Penticton, I’m training on the Challenge Penticton course (that’s only just 3 weeks away now!!!) Time to go hit the bike, happy training everyone!!!