I was feeling fantastic in the days leading into this race and was expecting to smash this race and keep my winning streak going. In the week prior to the race I did everything to make sure I was ready. I did a float session at the Float Shack in Red Deer to relax and visualize (not sure what floating is? see previous post here). I also had a great hot yin yoga session at Red Deer Hot Yoga and even had a massage to make sure my legs were loose and had no issues. I nailed all my sessions in training too- I was hitting all my goal paces and feeling fast!
With the race on Sunday, we made the 5 hour drive to Wasa Lake Saturday morning and went straight to the swim start. I put on my wetsuit and swam 1 km easy with some short efforts up to race pace. After that we went to pick up my race package. Package in hand, Kayle and I drove to the highway so I could ride part of the course. I headed out on the highway and rode 20 km of the course, happy to see that it was feeling easy to push race watts. After that I transitioned into an easy 3 km run with the first kilometre being at race pace. It all felt good and I was ready to shut it down and call it a day and make our way to our camp site. We stayed at Premier Lake campground, which was about a 30 minute drive from the race start. It was the most beautiful campground I ever stayed at. Nestled at the bottom of a valley with an incredible lake next to the sites, I was happy Kayle found this little gem! We roasted some veggies over the fire and had a fun and relaxing night. It was a good chance to test out all of our new camping gear, especially since we are camping for a lot of my races this summer.
Race morning came at 5:15 am and I was happy to have had a good sleep in our very tiny tent. We packed up, had a small breakfast, and headed to Wasa Lake to set up my transition area and get body marked. We arrived at the race start at 6:15 and I had lots of time to get set up and warmed up before the race start at 8:30. Setting up transition went by fast- I managed to get a great spot (it was first-come-first-serve in transition). There was a Kicking Horse coffee truck right by transition, so with 90 minutes to go until the race, Kayle and I bought some hot drinks and headed to a bench by the water to have some quiet time. It was nice to sit and relax for about an hour before the race and enjoy my coffee. I always try to find some time to be by myself before a race and to get away from all the nervous energy and chatter of the transition area. I was focused and ready to hurt by the time I headed back into transition to get ready. With about 30 minutes to go until the race start, I put on my shoes and headed out for an easy 1 mile run, just to raise the heart rate and get my body ready. After that I put on my wetsuit and headed down to the water, got in a short 5 minute warm up, and waited on the beach for the gun to go off.
The first 200 meters of the race went great. I was right in the mix of the small front group, with only a couple of guys off the front. I knew there would be some sub-20 minute swim times, so it wasn’t a big deal to see them go (not that I could do anything about it!). By the time we hit the first buoy I had already started to fall back from the group, not being able to find any strength to pull them back. I swam completely solo for the rest of the swim, knowing I probably had quite a few minutes to make up. Making the long run to transition, I decided to use the wetsuit strippers. Normally I wouldn’t use them, but that morning I couldn’t find my body glide to help with getting my wetsuit off. I figured laying down and having them rip my suit off was worth the few extra seconds in case I had troubles once in transition. That was a big mistake. I ran up to two ladies and laid down so they could pull my wetsuit off and they couldn’t! They tried a few times and could not pull it off, and then there were issues with my timing chip getting in the way. It took about 30 seconds but eventually they got one leg off while I reached up and got the other leg off. Running into transition, Kayle was standing right by the entrance and told me I was more than 5 minutes down on the leader. I was pretty devastated to be down that far, knowing I really dropped the ball in the swim. I shook it off by the time I got on my bike and flew through the first few kilometres very strong. Then just like in the swim, all of a sudden it felt like I lost all my power.
A guy I had passed early on the bike passed me back at that point and I had no answer for it. I watched him get smaller and smaller in the distance, while just grinding it out. I ended up riding 60 minutes for the course and was only able to push the same amount of power I would over a half Ironman 90 km ride. I had a fantastic transition time in T2 and headed out onto the run course. Kayle was waiting for me to give me another split to the leader. I knew it wasn’t going to be good and wasn’t sure if I even wanted to know. I called out anyways and she said, “About 10 minutes, just run hard anyways!” It was a bit of a boost to hear her being so supportive, even though she knew I was having a bad day. Just like the swim and the bike, I didn’t have that Olympic gear on the run, but knew I could probably run into the top 5 and grab some of the prize money. I kept focusing on keeping my cadence high and just to keep it steady through each kilometre and slowly eat some time out of the guys in front of me. I held 3:25/km steady from start to finish and ran my way to 5th, finishing way back from the top 3. My 34:30 effort on the run felt the same as running a 33 min 10 km.
Not entirely sure why I had the day I did. Sometimes it’s just not your day and this race definitely was not. Because we had to be back in Red Deer for 6 pm, I packed up my bike soon after I finished and we started the 5 hour trip back home. I’d like to thank my wife for putting up with a very disappointed triathlete for that drive back home! It was nice to have someone listen to me for many hours while I broke the race down and keep asking what I should have done differently. I’m excited to get back to the grind and start focusing on my next race, Great White North half Ironman, on July 5th. I’m changing up my training completely for the next 3 weeks; hopefully this will make sure I have a much, much better day in the swim and on the bike in my next race. I’d like to thank race director Charlie Cooper for putting on an incredible event. I think this was his 15th year running this race, and it shows! Even though I didn’t personally have a good result for myself, I enjoyed the event and I hope to return for the 4th time next year. Thank you to the volunteers, who on the run course, were some of the most enthusiastic I’ve ever come across! Lastly, thank you to Four Sigma Foods for keeping me fueled by ‘shrooms! I’m grateful to have their support and they are one of the only companies which I use everyday. Whether it be for my immunity or performance, I take my ‘shrooms!