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Monday, July 14, 2014

Gravenhurst- Olympic Distance

Gravenhurst was triathlon #2 for me this year and I was excited to do it. I had never raced here before due to trouble fitting it into my schedule, but had heard great things about it. And it certainly did not disappoint. I would say that this is the best course I have ever done a triathlon on, ever. If you haven’t raced here it is a must-do race.

A little course preview before my race recap: The swim starts in the middle of the lake, with athletes being taken out by steamboat. It speaks volumes about John Salt (the race director), his crew, and the athletes, that we all managed to get organized onto the two boats and out to the course on time. Truly spectacular event management. Athletes jump off the boat and swim over to the start, with the start of the race indicated by a blast from the horn of the steamship. Swimming in an L-shape, athletes make their way to shore.
The bike course is absolutely spectacular. I don’t usually take time to notice what the course is like in a race, but this was hard to pass up. Although described as hilly, the course really rolls through the hills and you can take the momentum of one downhill into the next uphill. I would say that 98% of the course is extremely well-paved, just a couple of spots that could use a bucket-full of tar.

The run course is hard, with lots of hills and little wind. Definitely a challenge but nice to mix it up from the usual flat run courses. I can’t say much more about it because I was so tired that I was basically looking at the ground the whole time.

My race:
I was excited that we were starting from the middle of the lake because by not being able to push off the ground at the beginning there is basically an immediate separation swimmers. We were also more spread out to begin with, so I only had one person hit me really hard near the beginning but apart from that had a nice clear swim. (huge sigh of relief). Many people had commented that the sun could be a problem but I had no trouble sighting the orange buoys on the way back to shore and exited the water in third position. It was super awesome to run up the dock to the large crowd that had gathered there and was cheering loudly, kind of made me feel like a pro. :P

I passed one person in transition and the other almost immediately onto the bike. So here I was leading the entire race for the first time in my life. It was so cool!!! This lasted about 24km, when Steve Vandermolen blew by me with apparent ease (his total bike time was 6 minutes faster than mine so he was moving considerably faster).  I remained in second position for the rest of the bike leg and received cheers from many people heading out in the other direction, which was awesome :D Overall I was pretty happy with the bike split, same pace as last week except double the distance and I felt much less fatigued. I was very conscious of my gearing over the hills and managed to keep the cadence high.

As soon as I started to run I knew this was going to be tough. I was hoping that my legs would loosen up in the first couple hundred meters the way they usually do, but I had no such luck. Things went from bad to worse to horrible quite quickly and I struggled through in a sort of daze. I am not proud to admit it but for the first time in my life I walked during the run (and more than once or twice), even coming to a complete stop a couple of times. I have literally never felt so terrible. I usually take the stance that you can’t let your competitors see you struggling as it gives them far more motivation to catch you. However, this was abandoned and all I could focus on was getting to the finish line. At about 8.5km I could hear someone closing in on me (race winner Jim Sunners) so I really started to push, but didn’t have enough in the tank to make it and basically stumbled through the last couple hundred meters to the finish line. Thankfully there were some volunteers there to douse us in cold water. I could make up a plethora of excuses for the shoddy performance but the fact is that I am nowhere near race weight and seriously lack the run fitness to do a 10km. Unfortunately I can’t push the running or I will re-injure myself so I must remind myself that Edmonton is the goal and it is still several weeks away (but closer than I’d like).

I would like to once again thank John Salt and his crew with Multisport Canada for their support and a truly spectacular event, C3, and my swim coaches Jeff Slater and Miguel Vadillo.

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