Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Toronto Triathlon Festival race report

On July 22nd I commuted with Meredith the 8KMs to Ontario Place on the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto to race the inaugural Toronto Triathlon Festival.  I had the real pleasure to meet the organizing team, referred race announcer Steve Fleck to them, and generally give some advice on minor athlete issues. It was a real honor to be associated with the tireless team and provide however little value I could with the first time race in my city. I was excited and wanted to do well as a thanks to the organizing team who I knew put a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and money into this!

It is extremely hard to get roads closed in Toronto. The TTF not only did that, they were able to close the Gardiner Expressway and Down Valley Parkway east and northbound respectively. This was huge!  It just doesn't happen to get the bike portion of a triathlon on closed roads never mind the main artery for Toronto traffic. We also swam around Ontario Place in a very sheltered and fast section through a marina with million dollar yachts. And finally, we ran along the the Martin Goodman Trail on the shores of the lake that I train on multiple times a week.

Swim: 20:10 (PB) for 1500 Meters.
I had a rocket of a swim! I felt fantastic in my new Highway Nineteen Rogue wetsuit and kept drilling it right to the ramp to exit the water. I was loving the swim and feeling I was on a good day. Some thought the swim was short but my PB was by a slim margin. There were a few turns and the water was a constant depth adding to the speed. If it was short, only by 50M.

Bike: 1:00:23 for 40KM
My bike was interesting. I was turning a top gear and feeling great but wasn't pulling a whole lot of riders back. I know I passed a few in the swim but was fighting self doubt on my bike legs. Turns out I was doing pretty darn good with 5th fastest overall for the day. I was focused and determined to catch the final two guys in sight. I got one just before the no pass zone, and the second I had to hold up for 10 seconds while we went through the no pass zone. Safety first! These ten seconds or so do come up later!

Run: 40:39 for 10KM
I started the run and did my best to stay contained. I wanted to test my nutrition and my issues with stitching. After a KM I opened up and the side stitch issues came and went. I worked through my 3 strategies to take care of this; first, deep breaths from the belly and aggressive exhale from the diaphram. Second, move from left foot to right foot on my inhale and exhale. Third, slow down slightly. Strategy #2 was really working and I picked it up again as Cameron Bush passed me. I tried to hang on but that lasted 10 seconds! The boy can move! Staying within myself I pushed pace and tried to cap a 40 minute 10KM run. Coming to final KM my stitch really bit me and I forced as best I could the pain to the side and ran into the line in agony. I loved it! Awesome run for me!

Overall I finished 4th and won my age group. Good enough to take my spot and join my fellow Canadians at the World Olympic Distance Championships in London England in September 2013! And those 10 seconds? View the results link above and see that 3,4,5 were separated by 2 seconds!!! But, because I am an old guy at 41, I wasn't racing side by side with the other two guys because I started 5 minutes after them in swim wave #2. I am actually quite happy about that, I don't think I wanted that hard a sprint at the time-:) 

Post script:
On reflection it was just so great to race in my home city, on closed roads, with my wife Meredith and little pooch Gatsby alongside. I really enjoyed the race and highly recommend it to my fellow athletes next year. Are there areas for improvement? Of course there is. But overall, for an inaugural event, this was an amazing experience. 

Next up is Ironman Canada. I am ready. Time to put the old weary bones to another Ironman!

Thanks for checking in.