Monday, August 21, 2017

2017 Goderich Olympic Triathlon Recap

Posted by CheapRunnerMike

Short version…I swam well, I biked well, I ran well, but I raced like crap.

Long version, read on.

While just about everyone else I know was racing at Ironman Mont Tremblant this weekend (huge congrats to everyone who took part!), I had the Goderich Olympic Triathlon on my schedule. I did this local race a couple of years ago and knew that it was a challenging course with a tough swim, lots of hills on the bike and a run along a beautiful rail path that was a long steady climb the entire way out. A really great course that makes you earn every minute of your finishing time.

The race was on Sunday morning and we were up at the cottage for the weekend, so the drive up was only an hour or so. We arrived at the race site with lots of time to get my race bib and timing chip and then go set up my transition area. Michelle and Jackson came up to cheer me on and Jackson had a friend there with him as well. We chatted with some familiar faces and I got a quick warmup swim in, checking out the waves that were crashing into shore and the rollers out on the water. It was going to be a tough swim today!


Swim – 1000m
18:55 (1:54/100m), 1st OA / 1st AG

The Goderich swim is usually tough, probably one of the reasons it is only 1000m instead of the typical 1500m. There were huge waves when I did the race a couple years ago and last year was even worse, causing the swim to be cancelled. There were plenty of waves again this year but not enough to stop us from getting the swim in. We all lined up just a few feet into the water and the race began. Almost right away I could tell that I was at the front or just a couple swimmers back at the most…it was hard to tell as the waves were crashing on us heading out and the swells were bobbing us all up and down. Sighting was difficult but it was easy enough to spot the orange buoy that we had to turn at. I hit the first turn and was now pretty sure I was the lead swimmer, not that I would have even been able to see someone out ahead of me with the swells. The waves were coming from the side know as I set out for the next swim buoy. I kept cruising along focussing on good form, keeping myself small with big arm swing. I sighted as best I could as I went up and down the waves but it was not easy. It seemed like I was staying on course but as I made it to the second buoy I realized I couldn’t see the third and final buoy anywhere. I started swimming head up trying to find it with no luck. I looked all around me and there was no one…a whole bunch of swimmers were coming up from behind but I was a good way out ahead of them. Maybe I had missed the second buoy? Easily done in these conditions I suppose. Then I spotted some race officials nearby on a Jet Ski…I started waving at them and yelled “Do I turn to shore here?” They came over and said yes, I was supposed to turn back towards shore so off I went towards the yellow flags on the beach marking the swim exit. I was going at a good clip now with the waves pushing me in, but it wasn’t long before the Jet Ski came up to me and said “You need to go around that buoy!”, pointing in the other direction to the third swim buoy that I couldn’t see earlier. Crap. The swim pack was nearing the buoy so I hightailed it the other direction and narrowly made the turn just before the pack, then busted it into shore where I somehow managed to still be first out of the water despite my bonehead mistakes. This was mistakes number one and two. More to come.


Bike – 42.5K (if you stay on course that is)
1:16:11 (33.5kph), 7th OA / 3rd AG

As I ran from the beach up to transition I was stewing about the mistakes I had made. I saw transition and turned to run in but then someone yelled that I was going the wrong way, transition was the next entrance. Seriously?? I guess we actually run across the run finish chute before going into T1 and there wasn’t anyone blocking off the chute, so I just thought that was where we turned. Ya, it wasn’t. Mistake number three. I turned and headed into the actual transition area and was halfway to my bike all the way at the far end when they started yelling at me again. “You missed the timing mat! You need to go back!” Oh come on, this was just getting stupid now…I had no choice but to laugh as I turned around and raced back to the mat. Mistake number four. Then off to get my wetsuit off and head out on the bike. Officially my T1 was only :59 seconds, so at least that was good…of course that doesn’t count all of the other time spent running around touring the race site (that was all hidden in my swim time!). Anyways…out on the bike.

The bike is hilly and there is no easing into it. The first hill comes right away and it is a pretty steep climb up from the beach. I started the climb and once I made the top of the hill started putting down some watts, trying to put some distance between the chase group and myself. I was zipping through the neighbourhood when I came to the first busy intersection just under 2K into the ride. There were a couple of police officers who were at the intersection to control traffic…or at least that’s what they were supposed to be doing. Instead they had their cruisers parked on the side street and they were out of their cars just chit chatting with each other. I came speeding up and had to come to a complete stop when the one officer asked me if I was the lead bike. Uhm, yeah. “Oh sorry”. He got in his car, hit the lights and went out to stop traffic and then proceeded to direct me straight through the intersection. Straight. Not left. Which was where the course went. Seriously. Mistake number five for those playing along at home. I went through a couple more unmanned intersections and was pretty sure I was now off course in a town I don’t know at all. I did know where the course went though, but I couldn’t tell you the street names. I was able to head north and back west though and then I saw streams of cyclists going by a few blocks ahead. Geez. An extra one and a half kilometres of sightseeing but I was back on course, with who knows how many people now ahead of me. Nothing to do now except put my head down and get to work.

I was able to pass a number of people heading up the climb along the highway and made the turn east. A couple more passes and then I saw my buddy Carol up ahead looking really strong (she went on to take first place female!). As I went by her she was like, “What happened to you??” I gave her the quick and dirty on going off course and got back at it. Very shortly afterwards another familiar face came along, this time it was Abe passing me (the only guy to pass me the entire day). He went by looking like a beast and knowing how strong he is on the bike I decided that right outside of his draft would be a great place to spend the next 25K or so. Abe continued rolling and I was feeling really good pacing off of him, but when we began to head south we had a 90 degree turn with an immediate climb. This slowed Abe enough that I entered into his 3m draft zone meaning I had to pass him. Until this point I was almost positive he had no idea I was even there, which was what I had wanted. As I went by I made some sort of comment about hanging on his wheel and almost right away he went by me again, but this time he hammered it a bit harder and really pulled away in an effort to drop me. I didn’t even bother chasing as I knew that I was already on the fringes of where I wanted to be power-wise and trying to stay with Abe would only torch my legs for the run. Mistake number six. From that point on in the bike I was solo, with only the hills to keep me company, until we merged towards the end with the duathlon and try-a-tri. The best I could tell there were four or five guys up ahead on the bike, but I really had no clue. Back into Goderich we came and finally, with only 2.5K left we go, we were done with climbing. Yup, this is a tough bike…and riding 44K while everyone else only does 42.5K doesn’t make things any easier!


Run – 10K
42:21 (4:12/km), 2nd OA / 1st AG

Empty racks in transition so at least that was a good sign. In and out in :44 seconds. As I was finishing up the bike I had seen Abe already out there as well as Cason. Cason is super fast, so I knew first overall was no longer a possibility…I would be running hard, hopefully for a podium spot. I left T2 and saw Spencer coming in to finish (and win) the duathlon. He got a high-five from Jackson so I decided to grab a high-five from both of them as well as I went by in the opposite direction. As I passed the family Michelle asked me if I was okay and what happened, knowing that there must have been some sort of bad thing on the ride. I just grunted and shook my head.


The run begins with the same big hill as the bike, but halfway up the hill we duck off the road and onto an old rail trail. It is a beautiful run with a couple of bridges to run across and lots of shady spots. I came up behind Tanner, yet another Splash n Dash buddy doing the race and he asked what happened to me on the bike…seemed to be the question on everyone’s mind! He was actually second out of the water and never saw me on the bike, so was a bit surprised seeing me behind him. Next up was Abe, who had slowed down with a nasty side stitch…the consequences of a hard bike he would later tell me. Abe said that the podium was right ahead and I could see third place there for the taking. I was able to pass third shortly afterwards and focused on moving up to second place, but the two leaders were nowhere to be seen. I would have to wait until the turnaround at 5K to see what sort of gap I was still looking at. The legs were feeling good and if properly motivated I was ready to run them down. Well, Cason went flying by me on his way back towards the finish and I could see how strong he was looking. I told him he was crushing the run and there was no one in sight behind him…he was way out in front. I glanced at my watch and saw that he was almost 2K ahead of me…no chance. It wasn’t long before I saw second place coming by and the gap to him was also pretty insurmountable at nearly 1.5K. I wasn’t catching second place today either, but I would keep running strong and see what happened. I made the turn at 5K and began making my way back towards the finish and cheered people on the whole way back. I made sure to keep going hard enough that nobody was going to catch me but I wasn’t really motivated enough to push hard and make it hurt knowing that the guys ahead weren’t about to be caught. I made the turn off of the trail and gave it a good final kick to the finish line where I heard Michelle cheering me on. I crossed the line with a time of 2:19:08 which gave me third overall and first in my age group…a really solid result in spite of all the mistakes I made during the race. Overall I had to be happy with my performance but also knew that I needed to do a better job in the future with a few aspects of my mental game.


After the race we hung around for a bit and were able to catch up with friends to see how their races went. I was able to congratulate both Cason and Carol on their great wins and was happy to see so many Londoners and Splash n Dashers up on the podium collecting hardware…you were well represented Coach Sheri! Thanks everyone for reading and special thanks to Michelle for the great race day support. Next up, 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga!