This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be racing yet again…it was the Guelph Lake I 5150 (Olympic Distance) Triathlon this time around.
I have raced Guelph a couple of times before, in fact it was my first triathlon back in 2012 when I did the Try-a-Tri. It is a great venue with the swim in a lake big enough to accommodate a single-loop 1500m swim, low-traffic country roads with a few rolling hills for the 40K bike and a 10K run that winds through the park. Kennedy and Michelle were tagging along as my support crew/cheering squad on Saturday morning and we were on the road bright and early at 5:30. We pulled into the park shortly after 7 which left enough time to comfortably get set up in transition and take care of all of the logistics before my wave started at 8:03. In no time at all I was grabbing my wetsuit and heading down to the beach…it was race time!
Swim - 1500m
24:27 (1:37/100m), 4/29 AG
My swim start wasn't great when I raced Woodstock a couple weeks ago, but I managed to scope out a better starting position this time around. I had space to work in right from the start and somehow avoided elbows and flailing arms so that I could get off to a quick start. The swim loop here at Guelph is great as you swim all the way across the lake, hang a right, swim along the shoreline, then a right turn back to the other side of the lake where you started from. Plenty of buoys (5 on each side I think?) make sighting really easy too. I was cruising at a good pace, breathing easy and never feeling panic. I was in wave 2, 3 minutes after the first wave, and I was coming up on wave 1 swimmers about 400m in. There were a few other red caps (wave 2), but the majority around me were purple wave 1 caps…definitely a good sign. I tried to draft off of some feet, but found that was slowing me down as I wasn't able to find any fast swimmers to work with…that will be my swim takeaway from this race, find the fast swimmers in my wave and stick with them from the start. As I got back to shore I lapped my watch to record just my swim time as the chiptime is recorded heading into transition, which is a bit of a run away. My actual swim was 23:36, good for a 1:34/100m pace…fourth out of the water in my age group and my best ever!
Bike - 40K
1:07:29 (35.6 km/h), 2/29 AG
I made the run up to T1 and peeled out of my wetsuit…I was encouraged to see a full rack of bikes still there knowing that my swim had set me up for a good bike. I got my bike shoes on, strapped on the helmet and took off across the mount line with a running leap…still not a full-on flying mount but still a lot quicker than years past. T1 was 1:23, pretty happy with that as my T1 transitions have always been closer to 2 minutes. I was off to the bike course and was promptly passing people as we made the 5K climb on the only section of really rough road on the course. I was hoping to ride the course around 35-36 km/h and I was keeping the pace right there the whole time. There are a few turns on the course but I was able to hold some decent speed through them…I'm starting to build some handling ability as I get more and more comfortable on the bike. I was riding up through the pack and feeling good with a quick and easy cadence…my average for the ride was 102, even quicker than last time out. The hills weren't all that tough and I was able to get through them with good gearing while holding aero, in fact I only had to come out of aero for the corners. I saw the leaders on their way back to T2 as I was about 5K to the turnaround and I was surprised that there really wasn't a whole lot of people ahead of me despite being in wave 2. I hit the turn and speed back to transition and was finally passed for the first time by a couple of guys in the last 5K, when we were back on the rough surface. There's my bike takeaway, learn to hold my speed on poor surface. I slipped out of my shoes as I got back to the park and made the running leap off my bike just before the dismount line (scraping my long toe on the asphalt in the process…ouch!)…I wrestled my bike around the sharp turn and into T2 with the second fastest bike in my age group, and right on target of where I had hoped to be.
Run - 10K
40:04 (4:00/km), 1/29 AG
The run is where it all went wrong for me last year in this race (long story short, I cut the run course short by about a kilometre, resulting in reporting myself and getting a penalty). The run in general was also my weakness last year in my return to triathlon…I would push too hard on the bike and have spent legs once I got to the run. I figured it out in the last race of the season at Lakeside, where I ran a 20:07 5K after I took it easy on the bike, and then again in the first race of this season at Woodstock where I put up a 19:33 5K after a quick bike where I was spinning quick and not pushing the big gears. Those were both 5K's though and I was now facing a 10K, and was coming off a 40K bike instead of 20K. I really wanted to go sub-40 minutes off the bike, but I knew that was a tall order. T2 was a quick in and out as I slipped into my New Balance 1400 flats and hit the run course. Michelle and Kennedy were there to cheer me on as I made the turn out of T2 on my jelly legs…unfortunately I completely whiffed on the high five from Kennedy.
I really wasn't feeling great on the run, but I was moving at a good pace. It is always such a strange feeling to be running fast but feel slow, but that's the triathlon run. I ran through a few guys as my first three kilometres were all under 4 minutes. On kilometre 4 I turned off the park road and onto the goat path…this stretch is a grassy, gravelly mess of a path to run on and just isn't fun. I kept pushing though as I was now starting to tire a bit…I hit the 5K point and my watch showed me my split of 20:01, ever so slightly below that sub-40 pace I was looking for. As I made my way back to the road I made a left turn (instead of the right I made last year) and set out on the section of the course I had never seen before. As I came up on the turn I could see how I missed it last year…I was running alone again this time with no one else around (ie no one to follow) and there were no volunteers there directing traffic either. No signs marked the turn, only pylons that could be confusing if you didn't really know the course. This second out and back section quickly peeled off the road and took you down a loose gravel path to a 180° turnaround, the second such turn on the run course. You ran down a somewhat steep hill to the turn and then went right back up it. I was keeping my pace right around where it should be, but these middle kilometres saw me slowing just a bit. I was back on the road for the homestretch and dropped the hammer and gave all I had for the finish. I clocked another sub-4 9th kilometre and then finished up with my fastest split of the day, a 3:49 10th. I made my kick down the chute as I heard cheers from Michelle and Kennedy. The clock was showing 2:17:xx and I knew that I would go under 2:15, which was the goal time I was aiming for. My run ended up just shy of sub-40 at 40:04, but it was the quickest of the day in my age group.
I crossed the line with an official time of 2:14:34, which was good enough to place me second in my age group and 19th overall (in a field of over 400 athletes). I also managed to beat my "cheater" time from last year by almost 2 minutes. I felt great! We stuck around to cheer on other athletes, fill up on the postrace food (Subway!) and collect some hardware up on the podium.
Once that was done we packed up the Jeep, dropped the top and set off for the cottage to enjoy the rest of the Father's Day weekend. The kids even got me this awesome card…
Thanks for reading guys! Next race on my schedule is the Bluewater Olympic Tri on July 25, can't believe I have to wait another month to race again