This was my first time doing the Heart of the Rockies olympic triathlon. It was by far the most scenic short course race I’ve ever done, even amidst the smoky and rainy weather. Kayle and I drove down Saturday, picked up my race package, set up camp with my sister and brother in law and enjoyed the rest of the day.
Race morning came and I did not want to leave the tent. My stomach was in knots and I had zero desire to pack up and head to the race. Not sure what it was but it wasn’t nerves, as this race was the most laid back I had been all year. I felt like that until after the race and Kayle felt the same the next morning. We headed down anyways as I promised myself I would at least go through the motions and get the swim done. If I still felt crappy, I could pull the pin then. It started raining just before the swim started, so I rushed to get my wetsuit on before it got too wet and would be tough to put on. The gun went and I dove in and swam the 1 loop easy and relaxed. I fell off the front quickly but didn’t have any motivation or effort to try and go. Coming out of the water and making the longish run into transition I started to feel good again and knew I would feel good enough to push through the bike and run. When I got to my bike, Kayle told me I was 3 minutes down on Nate Champness. I knew coming into this race he would probably be the only competition to challenge for the win. After thinking I swam 5+ min slower with my slow swim, to hear it was 3 minutes (which is still an eternity in olympic distance racing) I hopped on my bike and was planning on riding as hard as I could to try and come close to matching Nate on the bike. He is a great cyclist and I knew I would have to ride very hard to come off the bike with him having the same 3 minute lead on me.
Out onto the bike I crushed the first long climb heading out of town and was pushing big watts. About 3-5km in I came into a right hand turn way too hot. I hadn’t had to use my brakes up until that point and when I applied them going into the corner, because they were wet, weren’t working! I had to lock them both up hard to prevent from flying off the road and ended up fishtailing and drifting sideways for a few seconds before slowly coming down. It wasn’t a big deal as I had slowed down enough. I was completely full of adrenaline at that point and very happy that I didn’t wreck my bike or hurt myself, but mostly that I didn’t wreck my bike, haha. I knew I should probably be careful for the rest of the race and took the descents and corners very conservative. I knew as long as I could get off my bike in one piece I would still have a really good chance of getting on the podium. I got a split on Nate at the 20 km turnaround on the bike and knew from then that it was a race to 2nd. He had put a lot of time into me and as long as he got to the finish line, he would probably take the win very easily. By the 25 km mark, I had rode myself into 2nd place. Coming back into town on a descent there were 4 cows in the middle of the highway. I had to slow right down going pass them and I think my squeaky brakes scared them. Luckily I don’t think anyone hit them!
After having a quick transition I headed out onto the run. The run course is hilly and hard, which suits me well. I took the first 5 km very hard just to see what I could take out of Nate. I asked a volunteer at the halfway mark how far ahead he was and I had managed to take 2 minutes of of him. Still too big of a gap to take him, I eased off the gas and was able to enjoy the last half of the run and eventually cross the finish line in 2nd place overall. This was the hardest run course I’ve ever done. There are long gradual climbs, single track, very steep climbs and descents, it was a fantastic course.
I was pretty tired after the race because I had only been able to take in a bottle of water on the bike. My stomach hadn’t let me eat any food since the night before and it finally hit me after the race. I forced myself to drink and eat some food at the finish line and enjoyed talking with some of the other athletes after they finished. With a few hours to go until it was time for the awards, we decided to go get some food in us and tour the Kicking Horse Coffee factory in Invermere.
Instead of giving out medals, this race gives beer mugs. A very cool award. Congrats to Nate Champness for winning the race and to Nick Ontkean for rounding out the podium. It was nice to win a little bit of money to pay for the trip. Thanks to race director Bruce Stroud for hosting such a beautiful but tough race. The race was short on volunteers but the ones who did volunteer their time, thank you! I’ve taken 5 days off since the race with the exception of an epic 10 km birthday swim set. I’m taking some time off before I enter a big training block to get me ready for the latter half of the season. Thanks to my sponsors Four Sigma Foods and The Float Shack. You guys keep my body healthy and my mind sharp so I can keep doing what I’m doing.