“Time to run; do what you do best!”

I had the pleasure of racing the Subaru Shawnigan Lake Half Ironman yesterday as my season opener for 2012. Part of the West Coast Tri Series, it is race number one in their schedule. What a day it was!

I’ve been sick for the better part of the last week, and didn’t really know what to expect on race day. Coughing up all manner of coloured loveliness (not to mention what was coming out my nose,) would leave a ‘normal’ person with rather abysmal hopes for a successful race. Well, let’s start by pointing out the obvious (as those who know me could tell you,) I’m not exactly your average Joe. For some reason, being sick the past week caused me to want to perform even better, and I was sure I would give it everything I had on race day.  It also forced me to sleep and rest more. So, that being said, I termed it “Forced Rest” when people asked about it! Always take the positives.

The good folks at Lifesport were gracious and offered me a homestay, with the ever friendly Camm Lesley, their son Eric, and the rather excited Jesse (the poodle/German Shepard cross, that looked NOTHING like either.) Arriving on saturday full of gusto (and armed to the teeth with a bottle of NyQuil,) I went about race prep with my typical excited flair. Talking to other athletes and teammates, having my race-day ‘chat’ with Bjoern, and all the other important stuff we do the day before a race (like eat eat eat! My favorite part!) After a busy day, I finished it off with the usual crappy sleep I’ve grown accustomed to pre-race.

Race morning was nothing unusual, with my favorite breakfast of oatmeal, I was ready to kick down doors (which was probably more due to the coffee than anything!) Setting up in transition and having a chat with all my teammates and competitors was a good way to set a bright mood for the day. It looked like perfect weather for the day, and I was happy with how my morning warm-up routine went. Standing lakeside waiting for the horn, I was feeling as ready as I could.

Aggressive.

This is how I would describe the swim. Not ONLY aggressive, but I’d say by FAR the MOST aggressive swim I’ve ever had. It was an all-out battle the ENTIRE way, from start to finish. There was a lot of punching going on, and I have to admit I gave my fare share of bumps. But that’s life in the open water. Hence why FINA has a rule against having long finger nails! I felt alright in the swim, but just wasn’t able to really throw down any major power. A month in Tucson really hindered the progress on my swim, as I wasn’t able to stay consistent with my swimming while down there. I’d say the most ironic part of the whole swim yesterday was that I was swimming in a pack of Lifesport Teammates the whole way. Yup, all my friends and I having a ‘blast’ together, beating the absolute HELL out of eachother!

Gutting my way through the bike course

As I came out of the water and through T1, I noticed all my teammates around me exiting the water as well. I pride myself in having a fast T1, and this time was no different; I got my hustle on coming out of the water, and pulled off the fastest T1 time of the day, by a fair amount. Flying out of transition with my bike I went, wearing my brand spankin’ new Bell Javelin helmet from Speed Theory Vancouver; it has some rather impressive wind tunnel testing numbers, one of the many reasons I got it. I decided to try racing in my road cycling shoes; big mistake. They ARE the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever used, but when you do the flying squirrel style mount onto your bike, slipping your feet into a pair of ratcheting shoes is damn tough (especially when they have toe-warmers,) and I don’t recommend it. I’ve already got a set of the new Pearl Izumi Tri-Fly Carbon shoes set aside for me at Speed Theory I’ll be picking up soon, as I don’t want to go through the hassle of fighting into the roadies again. I lost a fair amount of time due to the shoes, as I lost all lead coming out of T1 I had made. The ride itself was a fairly uneventful one. For some reason, my legs just didn’t seem to fire on the bike. The fact that I couldn’t feel any part of my legs probably didn’t help, as I felt like I had no control over them; they just seemed to go at their own pace! I lost the group of guys who I started with, but managed to get near Lance Watson and ride a lot of the bike with him. It was a replay of my Victoria Half Ironman race 3 years ago, when I rode alongside Lance for much of the bike portion. Near the end of the bike, Dan Smith rocked by us, and I fought to keep in contact with him. I lost him, but it was a good hard finish I needed.

Now it was run time. As I started the run, I remember hearing Bjoern say as I passed by, ” don’t worry about the bike, it’s time to run; do what you do best.” And do that I did.

The beautiful Kinsol Trestle

Sometimes we don’t race as hard as we can, and can look back at our efforts with regret, wishing that we had left it all out there on course, that we had raced like a warrior. Well, I may not have had anything in the tank for the bike, but I assure you, I ran like a warrior. I knew there was a substantial gap between me and even the next guy, but I went into that run with only ONE thing on my mind: run like a hunter, and hunt down as many as possible. I was equipped with my all-time FAVOURITE race flats from New Balance Vancouver, the NB1400 (in a sick colour, none-the-less,) and I was making quick work of the soft gravel Cowichan Valley Trail, heading towards the the most exciting part of the run course, the Kinsol Tresle! It was the first turn-around point, and the first time I’d get a chance to see where I stood in the race. I had closed a lot of the gap, but I still had a lot to go. After the turn around, I managed to catch my teammate Lawrence as we crossed back over the trestle. I knew that next I had teammates Andrew and Brendan to contend with. I started to push harder, and eventually worked my way through the field into 4th, right before the second and final turn around point. I was starting to hurt pretty bad, but as I neared the 18km mark, I could see the 3rd place runner. With a few words of wisdom and encouragement from Bjoern, I started to really surge. At the 19km mark, it was as if some internal governing system just broke, like a motor that just starts to run out of control. Something inside said “if you don’t go now, you’re gonna be fourth.” That was the defining moment of my run. I was hurting like it ain’t NOBODIES business, but I decided if I didn’t give it everything I had left, then I wouldn’t stand a chance.

Floating in my NB1600’s

So I went. I went with the effort that makes you get tunnel vision, when your brain starts to revert to it’s most basic of functions, like breathing, and moving forward. It’s all I could do. I couldn’t hear anything, damned if I could see much, and thinking was on a whole different plane of existence than I was at that moment. But I had a target on that guy’s back, and as the 20km mark approached, I knew there was a slim chance I could catch him. I just dumped the clutch, leaned into the gas with all my weight, and finally caught him with barely half a km to go. I just kept going, and practically sprinted to the finish line.

PUMPED about my run!

4:13. 3rd place overall. I was ecstatic. Elated. I was many things, and completely and utterly spent was one of them. I ran like my life depended on it, and I can honestly say I left absolutely everything out there. Even with a so-so swim, and a meager bike, the sickness couldn’t take away my run. What a battle it was.

Made the podium, but just barely!
Happy post-race

I have to give a very special thanks to Bjoern for all the hard work he does for me. For all the hard work I have done, he’s done as much or more behind-the-scenes thankless work for me. He was out there all day cheering for all of us and supporting us. I have to also thank Scott Gix, of Oomph! Multisport, for the awesome custom race suit. It was something that never crossed my mind all race, and that’s a good thing (cause if you’re thinking about it, that usually means it’s uncomfortable or there’s something wrong!) Thanks to the crew at Speed Theory for all the help and work on the P3C, New Balance Vancouver for the speed weaponry I used to take down the run, Eload Sport Nutrition for keeping my energy and electrolyte levels up (being a very salty sweater, I DEPEND on the addition of the Zone Caps to EVERYTHING I take in during a race and while training,) Compressport Canada for the outstanding calf guards (which also helped me crush the run course,) and to Jennifer Bajus of Bajong Bar for keeping me healthily fueled during training, and getting to the start line healthy! Without my support crew, I’d not have had the successful day that I did!

Present from Scott at Oomph! SWEET shirt!

Sore and tired from the effort (and have taken down my share of treats in the last day,) I look forward to the first 70.3 of the season with IM 70.3 Boise, only 2 weeks away. I’ll be working on getting healthy for now, then getting all set to go for Boise.

Happy training everyone, summer is almost HERE!!!

Nathan

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