Sunday, July 26, 2009

Race Report: Provincial Road Race Aldershot - July 26th, 2009

Race Report: Provincial Road Race Aldershot
78.75km Bike (7 laps of 11.1km course from Aldershot to Waterdown)
75 Participants in Masters 2 Category
Weather: Thundershowers

If there is a single message I can take from what I have learned this year is that my race performance is almost a mirror image of my training efforts. In order to achieve success, my final preparation needs to be very specific to the nuances of an upcoming event. My training regiment for the two weeks prior to the Provincial Road Race consisted of dropping swim training completely and limiting my run training. I had 4 hill repeat sessions where I forced my body to experience the same amount of elevation gain that I would go climb up in the upcoming race. I raced against the clock each time up the Scarborough Bluffs, averaging about 5minutes of near max effort and then cruised back down the hill recovering for just under 3 minutes. I was able to remain extremely consistent throughout the 9 ascents of each training session saving a max effort for the final climb. I was most interested in simulating race conditions especially for the second half of the race where my body would have already been under significant stress for over an hour. I figured that I may be able to separate myself from my competitors during the final 3-4 climbs. I am convinced that I am no faster than the majority of riders in my category and certainly slower than those who specialize in sprinting. Where I am able to distinguish myself in the Maters 2 category, is when my aerobic system is put to the test; during a road race this does not happen until after the 1st hour of racing is complete. My aerobic ability is aided by gradual climbs where the advantage gained by drafting is limited. The upcoming race appeared to suit my strength well with just over 200meters of climbing in each 11km lap.

Thunder and Lightening
The race was scheduled to start at 10:45am on Sunday morning. The early morning weather was dry but the clouds were moving quickly and there were some nasty looking ones coming our way. I was ready to go with my numbers pinned to my jersey at 10:15am and ventured out for a very slow warm up ride focusing more on my mental than physical state. I felt some rain drops and headed back to the registration area for cover under the canopy of some large trees. The skies began rumbling and all of the cyclists in the area (including me) headed for the shelter of the concrete park bathroom structure and the wooden registration area stand. What a site we made dozens of us cyclists with minimal body fat in thin skin tight gear shivering together in the tiny sheltered areas waiting for the storm to pass. The scheduled start time came and went as the thunder and lightening worked its way through the park. I sat down against the wall arms wrapped around my knees trying to keep my focus on retaining my energy for the upcoming race. Some riders had originally continued warming up in the rain, now they were wet miserable; fortunately I was just miserable. The delay lasted 52 minutes.

As the storm clouds passed and the rain slowed a rider came down from the start area and announced that the race would start in 10 minutes. Cyclist began to emerge from the shelters and onto their bikes as they headed up to the unsheltered start area. We all waited shivering in the light rain hoping for the race to start and the break in the clouds to blow our way as soon as possible. The race organizers reduced the race by one lap as a result of the weather delay. Finally the race began and of we all went, initially I was about two thirds of the way back from the head of the peleton. The road was fairly narrow with the yellow line rule in effect; no more that 3 riders could fit across the road for most of the 1st half of the loop. I worked my way up to the near the front of the pack by mid way through the second lap. The course was wet and some puddles had formed. All of the riders were very careful on the 1st lap slowing way down to navigate the slick corners. On the second lap on the way into the finish area there is an ‘S’ turn on a down hill slope, a rider a few ahead of me went in too fast and fell down sliding across the road. The guy in front of me went down as well as began sliding out towards the side of the road. Thankfully I was on the inside of the turn and was able to remain upright. The unfortunate circumstances for the two riders provided a natural break in the peleton and a perfect opportunity to make the gap permanent. I am not sure what the proper protocol is for this situation in a road race, but in the Tour de France the lead riders would have waited for the group except for if it had occurred near the end of the race. I did not follow the Tour’s protocol and sprinted to the lead of the race spurring on the other riders with calls of ‘Let’s Go!’ No one was interested in putting in any extra effort at this point. They may have felt that it was too early in the race to attack or they may have been following an unwritten rule of road racing. I better brush up on the proper protocol or risk being ostracized. I slowed my pace and waited for the group to catch back up.

I now stayed right at the front of the race and struck up a conversation with Carlo Capaldi, one of the top racers in the M2 category. I asked him why he did not join me in attacking; he replied that the time was not right. I knew that if someone like Carlo had joined me we would have had a great chance at staying away for the rest of the race. I had planned to make a break with 3 or 4 laps remaining with Marc Mazer, but I reacted to the circumstances that presented themselves and was now a little out of breath. Another rider went down on the corner leading onto Plains road. Once again I was fortunate to be on the inside of the turn and avoided the accident. Carlo Capaldi flatted just after the corner ending his day, yet he remained and even cheered me on from the finish area. I began looking around for Marc in hopes of signaling a break during the start of the 4th lap as per our plan. Marc must have seen me looking for him as he rode right up well positioned for a break right behind me.

As we started the long gradual climb on the 4th lap I gave Marc the key word ‘Scott’ to indicate attack and I sprinted out ahead of the group. I narrowly squeezed through a gap on the right side, which closed down delaying Marc from joining me off the front. The break failed but I kept the tempo high as the peleton caught back up. Michael Cummings made a non decisive move off of the front of the pack by merely increasing the pace on the gradual climb. I bridged up to Michael unfortunately pulling the whole peleton with me. I encouraged Michael to keep the pace high as he seemed to signal for me to take a shift at the front. I asked him to hang on a little longer while I recovered while following his wheel. I took a shift on the front and then stayed right near the lead as Gary Serra took a long turn in front on the ride back down towards Aldershot. A solo rider took a flyer off the front getting about 100 meters away from the pack heading into the corner on Plains road. After the corner I decided to try and bridge up to the rider. The peleton ignored my move as I was able to join up without pulling any one else with me. I started working with my new breakaway partner, encouraging him to keep the pace high; I noted that he was mostly silent and breathing heavily. He did however mention that we would be caught on the climb, that negativity is completely unwelcome on a break. I glanced back to see what kind of a lead we had on the peleton, and was overjoyed to spot Marc Mazer working his way towards us just out ahead of the group. I slowed my pace to wait as I shouted coordinating messages to my ‘I think I can’t’ partner and Marc.

With Marc on my wheel I now began to pull the break up the climb taking the lion share of the work. As per his own prediction the unknown rider dropped back to the pack on the climb and was replaced by a much more spirited cyclist in white who had decided to bridge the gap to our break-away. The three of us worked together for a short period as we crested the top end of the course. Marc had some front derailleur problems and was unable to keep pace. I offered up my condolences and made a quick decision to press on with the rider in white leaving Marc to his fate (Sorry Marc), as the peleton remained in pursuit not far behind us. The two of us forged on down the hill together, however, the other rider slowed considerably when facing the wind each time that he took the lead, forcing me to get back in front and push the pace. The rider seemed eager to make the break work and was able to keep a good pace while climbing. I began to think that we might stand a chance of staying away from the peleton as we finished the 5th loop. Unfortunately as I got out of the saddle at the steep part of the course just past the start line the eager rider’s front wheel touched my back wheel and he was sent crashing to the ground. There were plenty of people around to attend to him thankfully and luckily he was able to get up and finish the race with a bloodied elbow and knee.

I was now completely on my own with 2 full laps remaining in the race and only a few hundred meters in front of the peleton. I slowed my pace slightly as I contemplated what to do next. It seemed unlikely that I would be able to hold off the group alone for 22km’s with only a slight lead and I had already exhausted so much energy with my multiple attacks. As I turned right onto the beginning of the climb I decided to go for it, pushing myself to my limits as I had done in training. I put my head down and peddled hard not daring to look back until the top of the climb some 5km’s up the road. Fortunately the gap had grown as the peleton what out of sight. I pushed myself hardest on the descent worrying that I would be caught as that is where a determined chase group would have the greatest advantage. As I passed through the start/finish area I was encouraged by many onlookers, which felt great. I continued to put out a maximum effort focusing my mind on the pain that the great riders of the Tour have to go through in order to obtain success. I pressed on through the final lap rising out of my saddle each time I felt my pace slowing and remaining as aerodynamic as possible through the long descent. I crossed the finish line in 1st place with arms raised 45 seconds ahead of the peleton.

I found out later that Michael Cummins had got to within 50 meters of me during the 6th lap but could not close out the final few meters. Michael told me that I had increased the gaps on the descents as the peleton could not organize itself to chase me down and ultimately gave up settling instead on positioning themselves for a sprint for second place. Marc chose a good wheel for the final sprint finishing 5th overall earning him the 1 point that he needed to upgrade to M1. I am thrilled with the result an honored to have won the Provincial Road Race Championships at the Masters 2 level for 2009. The result bumps me up to the Master’s 1 category where I will face an entirely different level of competition. I look forward to the challenge and to working within my new team; Wheels of Bloor.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Race Report: Peterborough 40km Time Trial 7/12/2009.

Race Report: Peterborough 40km Time Trial 7/12/2009.
40km Bike
135 Participants
Weather: Overcast with moderate to mild winds from NW 17-21C

I was extremely excited for the entire week leading up to the Time Trial event in Peterborough. I had never competed in a cycling time trial event. This would be my first opportunity to judge myself against all of the top time trial cyclists in the province and find out where I ranked. I felt as though I had been preparing for this event for at couple of years indirectly by training for Duathlons and Triathlons. In the multisport events over the past year, I had only been beaten by a few competitors and I was eager to find out where I that putt me in relation to athletes focusing specifically on cycling. The week leading up to this race was also the 1st week in a very exiting Tour de France that included two time trial events; one individual and one team time trial. I watched the Tour events closely noting the riders form, cadence and effort.

Joining a Team
On my weekly Wednesday night ride with some of the guys from the Wheels of Bloor team, I got into a break with the shop owner, Radek. After a full lap leading Radek in the break, he asked me to ease off noting that I proved I could go hard. I took this as an opportunity to bring up something that I had been thinking about so quite some time; joining his team. I had accumulated 9 upgrade points in the Masters 2 category, one pore point and I would be eligible to upgrade to Masters 1. Radek’s Wheels of Bloor team is a Masters 1 team competing with a lot of success in most road races across the province. I had been cycling the Wednesday night crew for almost two year’s after having been introduced to the group by Ian; a friend that I met in my 1st race 3 years ago. Ian and I have been moving up through the cycling categories together and now Ian had obtained enough points to be forced into the M1 tier. The higher the cycling tier the more strategy and teamwork are essential components to success. I have increasingly enjoyed the team aspects involved in the higher levels of bike races and look forward to competing in the M1 category next year. In order to compete in the M1 level I would need to be part of a team. I wanted to be part of a competetiveteam of people that I liked. I decided that I would ask use the opportunity during the break with Radek to ask him about joining his team. Radek responded quickly asking me to come down to the shop the next day to get my uniform, I worried that there may not be enough room on the team for me as there were already about 8-10 riders on the team. Radek was very welcoming noting that there was room.

I drove down to the store 2 days later to get some repairs done to my road bike and to pick up my uniform. Radek who is a man of few words told one of his guys to get me a time trial and road uniform; he then told another one of his guys at the cash register that there was no charge. He turned to me and said ‘Kick Their Asses’ referring to the competition in the upcoming time trial race. That was it the message was simple time to perform and represent the team. Of course I had to let Ian know right away that I had finally joined his team and called him from the car. When I got home I put my new uniform and my helmet and showed my family the get up. The last time that I had been part of a team was in almost 20 years ago in university, an experience that I loved. In order to make my college team there were try-outs that lasted a couple of weeks; it took me until my second year at school to make the team. The cycling team was less formal but possibly more exclusive. My try-out had lasted two years where I had transformed myself from a novice cyclist with some strength but zero strategy, to a being able to apply team tactics leading to success during races. I am looking forward to working with the team.

I have built up a strong aerobic base that enables me to compete at a decent level for a relatively long period of time, which should translate well into a time trial event. My conditioning is not well suited to frequent changes in speed and quick high end bursts that you would experience in a sprint finish or a criterium race.

The Race
I had some issues with my front wheel; it was leaking air near the valve. I asked some of the guys parked beside me if they could lend me a wheel and fortunately they did. I raced on Ryan Roth’s practice wheel. Ryan ended up being the fastest rider of the day by a little more than 2 minutes, which is a huge margin for a 40km Time Trial. I am amazed at Ryan’s ability to generate power out of his slight 155lbs frame. At only 26 years of age, I predict that there are some great things ahead in his future.
I rode over to the start area which was located about 1km from the parking area, in order to have my bike measured. My bike checked out okay and I rode back to my car to set myself up on my trainer. I rode in the trainer for about ten minutes then headed out over to the race start area. The race start times were running about 15 minutes behind schedule. I pulled my bike over to the side of the road and sat down awaiting my start time. The start consisted of area consisted of two officials under a tent (in case of rain), one counting down to go and the other steadying the rider. The course began with a 2km slight climb. The riders were starting at 30 second intervals. I took my place in line as per the posted schedule, which had me just behind Carlo Capaldi and 60 seconds back of Andy Leger whom I had worded with in a break in the first race of the season ultimately losing to him in the last km. I checked my competitor’s bikes to see what gear they had chosen to start in. I wanted to choose a gear that would not be too difficult to start in, yet also one that I would not spin out of too quickly either.

As the race official signaled go I rode off out of the saddle getting up to speed quickly before getting into an aero position. I made sure not to go out to hard as per all I had read about Time Trial strategy online. I set my sights on Carlo and settled into a hard tempo. I got my hart rate up to 95% of max which is a level that I was able to maintain for the entire race. I was somewhat surprised at Carlo’s pace as I was not able to make much more than ten seconds out of the 30 second lead by the mid way turn around point. I kept telling myself that the difference would come in the second half of the race when my competitors would hopefully drop off while I maintained a tough pace. I also judged that I had not made up any time on Andy Leger at the turn around. Andy, Carlo and I passed many riders who had started before us and none of us were passed by any riders who started after. I narrowed the Gap with Carlo to 15 seconds but then lost six seconds on the hardest climb. I kept narrowing the Gap with Carlo until I finished just 2 seconds behind him with no sight of Andy.

The Time Trial event is like no other at this level because there is no real way of knowing who the winner is until the results are posted which happened 60-90 minutes after the finish. I ended up waiting on a park bench sitting beside Carlo and Andy outside of the arena where the awards presentation was going to take place. The results were posted on a wall outside the arena just before the presentations began. Andy got up and joined the group that had formed around the list. Andy came back over to the bench and indicated he had won, I was second and Carlo was 3rd. I was a little disappointed with not having defeated Andy but also curious to find out what the gap was in between us. As it turns out I had finished 13 seconds behind. It felt good to get up onto the podium and raise my hands for a quick photo, but I wished that I would have been able to go a little faster in order to get to the top spot.

I gave everything that I had on the course, which my heart rate monitor confirmed. I concluded that the only way to improve my performance would be to change my preparation. I gained a lot of respect for my fellow competitors one of whom at the elite level (Ryan Roth 26) completed the course in less than 52 minutes. I finished 91 seconds behind the top Masters 1 racer (Ilya Petrovsky). This 1st TT race has provided me with a great respect for the discipline and what it takes to truly master the event. I will use all that I have learned in my future training sessions in order to put myself in a position to challenge for the top spot amongst Masters riders.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Race Report: Peterborough Half Iron Triathlon 7/05/2009

Race Report: Peterborough Half Iron Triathlon 7/05/2009.
2km Swim, 85km Bike and 21.1km run.
459 Participants
Weather: Clear and moderate mild wind from NW 24-27C

Race reports are very easy to write, there is always a Beginning, a period of Struggle and an Ending. There is always a hero / good guy and as many bad guys as there are competitors that you choose to vilify.
In order to tell the full story of the race you need to include the preparation. The race itself is a representation of the preparation that was done as well as the competitor’s ability to react to the race day environment. The longer the race, the more reflective it is of the preparation as the extended duration has a way of diminishing the impact of many obstacles that can arise during a race.

Without the benefit of a Triathlon coach I make my own judgments about how to adjust my training regimen heading into an event. Given my most recent results, I needed to focus on the swim. Not only have my times been much slower that my main competitors, but the energy that I have been wasting was hurting my efforts on the bike and especially out on the run. In the past 2-weeks I went out and swam in Lake Ontario near my house 10 times. Each time I put on my wet suit and swam a distance of 2-3 km’s in lengths of about 800 meters marked by 7 white buoys indicating the end of the supervised area just off the shore from Woodbine Beach. I found the experience of swimming in the lake to be helpful in building my confidence with the distance and comfort level in the water. The practice also helped me to adjust to the initial shock of the cold water to all exposed skin. I also received some advice from Paul Cross a good friend, long time Triathlete and coach, regarding visualization and finding a calm place in my mind to go to when panic feelings begin. I spent a lot of time a night imagining the mass swim start and planning how to overcome the stressful situation. I took the images with me into training to reinforce them and ultimately used those images in the race itself.

I was excited about a longer bike portion in the upcoming race as this would provide me with an opportunity to catch up the time I was sure to loose in the swim. I spent a lot of training time on my Time Trial bike over the past 2-weeks, working on my positioning and sustained efforts. I tried to do some run training, but opted out for the most part due to the blisters on my feet that were still healing from the Muskoka race 3-weeks earlier. There is no effort quite like running for pushing your mind to fully explore all options of opting out of a training session. When I finally did get around to doing some run training my heart rate rose quickly and the effort of running at speeds that I could manage easily a month ago was now a strain. Taking 3-weeks off from run training had taken its toll. I convinced myself that I just didn’t have the energy for run training because of a multitude of reasons. I then focused my efforts, both Mental and Physical, on preparing for the Swim and Bike.

The excitement of the race made it difficult to sleep on the night prior. I lay awake for the final hour before my alarm was scheduled to go off at 4:50am, glad for the mid afternoon nap the day before; thanks Natasha. I left the house as the sun was rising and drove 90 minutes up to Peterborough. I had prepared my gear the night before and did not forget anything. I parked my car in basically the same spot as last year for the half iron Duathlon. When I put my wheels on my bike I noticed that my rear brake pad was pushing against the wheel. No doubt something had come askew when I changed the brake pads the day before to prepare for the disk wheel that I reserve for races. Unfortunately I had not mounted my disc wheels in preparation and had left it in its wheel bag, so I had been unaware of the problem. Lesson Learned again, I hope for the last time; check all of your equipment well before the race. Fortunately I had brought along some tools and I set about correcting the problem. It is surprising how quickly a slight adjustment can turn into a high stress event. My backup plan of finding one of the vendors at the race grounds who might be able to help me was quickly becoming my #1 plan. In the process of fixing the problem I cut my finger and blood began dripping onto my breaks. All I could think was that it had taken me a while to produce that blood and I needed all of it to finish the race. I stopped to take a drink of water while squeezing my finger hoping that somehow the water was my way of replenishing what was lost. After the break I realized what I needed to do to get my bike going and made the necessary adjustments.

I rode my bike down to transition and set up in an overflow rack then headed off to registration. The weather was great and there were plenty of people about. There must have been about 1000 people competing in a variety of races all running at the same time; Half Iron Tri, Relay & Swim Run – 8am; Half Iron Du 8:30; Sprint Tri and Du 9am. The swim cap colours for the mass start were to represent estimated swim speed. I asked for a purple cap indicating the 3rd seeded group and a 33-35 minute pace, which is was my time in Muskoka for a similar distance race. All of the purple caps were already handed out so I upgraded to yellow representing a 31-33 minute 2km estimated time. I hurried through all of my final preparation steps, grabbed my wetsuit and headed down to the lake.

By the time I got zipped in I had 5 minutes left before race start. I had a quick warm-up swim and then stared out into the horizon at the race markers, finding that calm mental state that I had been preparing for. All of my focus was now on the swim start, which I had run through many times over the past 2-weeks. The mental preparation had paid off in a big way as I was able to get myself into a race ready state very quickly. My strategy was to go as wide a possible at the start; however, I adjusted my strategy according to the rocks at the bottom of the lake on the far right side. I set myself up where just before the rocky area started, the last thing I needed was more cuts on my feet. Unfortunately this strategy change meant that there was now a row or two of people in front of me, many rows behind, 60 people to my left and now about 20 people to my right. ‘No worries Bruce, look ahead and stay focused’. The horn sounded and the mass start race began. I jogged into the water following the pace of the people in front. I waded in longer than those around me looking for space to open up, eventually a small bit of room opened up and I began swimming. I swam with my head up looking for more open water, but I could not find any. I kept bumping into people, there seemed to be no relief and no way to work into a sustainable rhythm. I was getting short of breath and realized that I needed to change my situation fast. I headed for the outside swimming over many people who were much more focused on heading forward. It was at this point that my recent training paid off as I was able to catch my breath while working into my rhythm. I felt a great sense of satisfaction with being able to make it through the mass-start without any panic incidents and now switched my focus to all of the queues I had been developing to get my into my most efficient stroke.

I had watched a lot of swim highlights over the past 2-weeks on YouTube from ITU triathlons, I was amazed at how quickly the top athletes popped out of the water and began running like gazelles in wetsuits. My experience to date of exiting the water was not dissimilar to what my son looked like when he was learning to walk, minus the giggling. Emerging from the shallow water, I quickly found my feet and balance, then began running down the beach for a second lap; I even passed a couple of people during the short run. I noticed that the people around me were wearing the same yellow colour cap as me, indicating that I was swimming at a good pace. This realization provided me some more positive reinforcement that helped me relax even more on the second leg of the swim. Again I sprung out of the water at the end of the 2nd lap and ran to my bike focused on a smooth transition. My swim time was 31.28 for the 2km distance (1:34/100 meters pace) good for 50th place out of 459 swimmers, which was 2:29 faster than the Muskoka race. I still feel that there is room for improvement not only with stroke technique but also by applying a better starting strategy of either committing to going widest at the start or picking the right person to swim behind and sticking with them for the 1st 100-200meters or so. Eventually I would like to be able to swim away from the pack at the start and then settle into a rhythm, maybe next year after much hard work.

I moved through the transition area efficiently a leaped onto my bike. A race official was yelling “No passing until the road!” There were two cyclists directly in front of me who I would have liked to have passed right away, but a headed the warning and used the time on the park path out to the main bike course to get my feet into my shoes. Once I hit the main road I noticed that the two riders ahead were now getting into their cycling shoes, which made passing them a mere formality. It is difficult to understand the choices that people make which no doubt drag down their times; why not get yourself adjusted properly in the slow no pass section instead of wasting time out on the main course? I felt strong on the bike and proceeded to pick off riders on the ride out which was comprised of quite a few gradual hills on the way out of town. As is often the case with the bike portion, the start is a low point (near water) in the course and the 1st half of the ride contains more climbs than the ride back. At about the 8km mark the course turned right and into a mild wind. I kept pushing myself and was rewarded by catching more competitors. The closer that I got to the front of the race, the more spread out the riders were. I took a second to look back at the riders I was passing to see if I could tell who they were and yell a greeting if I did. After passing 2 riders at the 30km mark I spotted a solo rider in a red jersey up ahead. It took me a good 5-7km’s to finally catch up to Michael Hay, my new arch rival who has been dominating our age category. I spoke with Michael as I pulled even with him; he told me that there was only 1 rider out in front and that he did not know who he was nor could he catch him. I took off after the lead rider as I made my way towards the turn around point. I did not recognize the race leader who was following a pace car as I passed him heading in the opposite direction. That was the last time I saw the pace car or the lead rider.

I stayed in an aero position, but began to feel aches and pains screaming out for me to sit up and slow down. I fought the pains the best I could and sat up only on ascents. I never looked back and kept hoping to see the leader in the distance at the crest of each hill.

While training on my bike outdoors, I often come across policemen directing traffic at road construction sites. I always either wave or say hello. These officers are out in the elements regardless of condition for our safety and I feel obliged to let them know that I appreciate what they are doing. Earlier in the week while driving I cam across a group of officers who had set up a 2-way speed trap. I was well within the speed limit so had no concern regarding a traffic violation, however, I felt obliged again to waive to the officer on the side of the road. As I looked back in the side mirror I noticed that the policemen swung his speed gun at my car to get a reading. Obviously my respectful solute must have been misinterpreted as being of the one finger variety. Maybe I should have taken this as a sign that my message was not well received and that I should stop waiving to police officers on road. At around the 70 km mark out on the bike course, I noticed a police officer up ahead on the side of the road that actually seemed to be waiving at me?! Being the kind hearted person that I am, I took my hand off my bike to waive back as I rode past doing my best to maintain my pace. As I continued onwards it suddenly struck me that there was something peculiar about the situation, there are sometime spectators who waive and cheer at the participants but I had never seen this behavior from an officer. I finally made the connection, he was waiving at me to indicate that I should be turning. I was now a few hundred meters off course and squeezing hard on my breaks. I turned around awkwardly and raced back towards the policemen. I quickly glanced up to see if any other riders were riders were coming into view, thankfully they were not, but I had surely lost some valuable time. I got back on course and dug hard cursing myself for a lapse in concentration and for having given up time that I worked so hard to gain. I used my anger to help spur me onwards, but the energy burst did not last and was quickly replaced by fatigue, enhanced by the realization that I would not achieve my secret goal of getting behind the pace car. I tried to keep my focus on finishing up the bike leg with a high cadence to save what was left in my legs for the run.

Back in transition I did not see any other bikes on the racks for the Triathlon competitors. The cyclist who had come in ahead of me was actually part of a relay team, which I would find out after the race. I moved through transition efficiently taking the time to pull on socks to help prevent damage to my feet during the long run. My running pace was moderate as I my focus was on completing versus competing. I was caught by Tyler Lord at about 2km who asked me what pace I was aiming at. My response was that I had no idea but that it had taken me 1hr36min the year before (in fact it was 1hr38min I discovered later). Tyler said that we were moving at a 1hr24min pace; he wished me luck and then steadily ran past. As he moved ahead I looked to my competitive spirit to see if I could call on it to help increase my pace. The short answer from my spirit was ‘no’. Any fight did exist was crushed by the foreboding 19km’s left in front of me coupled with the unknown of how my body would respond given that I had not run anywhere close to this distance in a year. Then a small gift presented it self as Tyler ran over to a bush to relieve himself while I ran right by. This just goes to show you that nutrition and hydration play a huge role in these races. Even if you have been competing for years you can still get it wrong by taking in too much fluids or much worse by taking in too little. I continued on for another km or so in the lead before Tyler caught up and passed me again.

I took in fluids at all of the stations that were set up along the course. On two occasions when my energy was at rock bottom and my stomach felt the most empty, I consumed a gel pack as well as some fluids. I rejoiced at every km marker at the side of the rode; only 15km’s left, one third of the way through, half way done. Everything past the halfway point was a big struggle I had been passed by 2 more competitors and would ultimately be passed by another two. Darren Walton and Michael Hay both provided me with some encouragements as they past. Peter Kornelsen an inspirational 50 year old athlete passed me with 4km’s to go. I marveled at how fluid Michael and Peter’s running styles were; all of their energy propelling them in a forward direction.

I was thankful for the 20km marker knowing that the pain would end soon. I finished the race in 6th place with a time of 4:19:24 just 14 seconds ahead of the 7thplace finisher. My run time was 1.32.02 shaving 6.06 off of my run time from last year. Of the top 7 finishers 4 of us were in the 40-44 age group. The more I compete in triathlon the more respect I gain for the athletes that have mastered them. Pay just a little less attention to one of the disciplines and it will cost you in the next race as it did for me in the run this time. I am still searching for a better balance in my race preparation that will optimize my results. Next up is a 40km time trial bike race followed by the Provincial Duathlon Championships (10k/40k/5k) the following week.