Olympic – 2:24:57 – 6th overall, 3rd in age group

Lead up

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about knee pain, there’s nothing to be gained from sitting around doing nothing. So, after the Bluewater blow-out, I jumped straight into physio to get it sorted. I also followed up on a bone chip that was found, but the doctor decided that’s best left alone unless otherwise indicated. Sure enough, physio was the ticket and the knee came back quickly.

Goderich is a great race, never an easy course, but a great community feel, a nice compact transition and finish area, and a nice mix of experienced and novice racers. It was great seeing Carolyn Croxall before the race, a friend from way back who I only see at triathlons these days. Last year I managed a second overall due to a switch to a duathlon, but had no such aspirations this year as swimming is still the Achilles heel. Rather, I was hoping for a top 10 if everything came together. A sunny day and choppy water promised a tough day out, but one I felt prepared to tackle.

Swim 1000m – 22:07 (2:13/100m)

I can’t say enough about a good warm-up swim. In this case it was about getting a feel for the waves, the directions, and the sighting. The buoys used are not the largest around, which in a wavy day means they are often out of sight. So, I skipped the oddly timed race briefing (10 minutes before the gun, in transition???) and played around in the water, getting a good sense of what to sight off, and how to settle into a pace into the waves, across them, and with the waves bringing you in but the sun in your eyes.

Back to the shore to line up and it was 90 seconds to go. Off the gun things were a bit crowded, with less of the usual sorting of places happening before the race that you get in a calm water start. However, I just dug into the waves and found my rhythm early. I always breathe off the look when I sight, so it’s always good times when you look up right into a wave and know you’re going to miss a breath in a second. Around the 2nd buoy and parallel to the waves, I found I had to “aim” a good several meters to the right of the buoy in order to correct for the current trying to push me to shore. Then around the farthest buoy and it was dead into the sun. There was simply no way to see the final buoy (see Mike Cooke’s race report), so I just went towards the shore and ended up getting lucky with the buoy popping into view nearly directly in front of me.

Out of the water and hit my target of low 20 minutes for a nasty swim, knowing this put the leaders about 5 minutes ahead…something I felt I could make back much of on the bike.

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Bike – 40km – 1:10:59 (35.9kph)

It’s a bit of a nasty bike start, up a steep hill from the beach, out of town and you go all the way back down to lake level at a river, then have a long climb back up. After this it’s rolling hills all the way, with the usual head-wind on the way back. I quickly dug in to catching the stronger swimmers ahead.

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I was surprised at about 6km in as I passed Mike Cooke. Mike should have been one of the top swimmers (indeed, he was first out of the water), so I was expecting if I even had a chance to catch him, he would be last and more like at the 40km mark. I wondered, what had happened? A crash? Did he get lost in the swim? I felt sad for him but soldiered on. As the hills began to roll and I passed what I figured were most of the others, I got a great view of 4 riders in a pack quite a way ahead, at least a full kilometer but likely more. These riders became my target as I set to have them be closer each hill they crested.

Around the turn at 19km and I was surprised to have Mike pop up beside me. I hadn’t realized he was pacing off till this time. As he went by he told me that he had been directed off course. Well, now I was filled with righteous anger on his part! Mike should be leading this race! So I decided that not only was I inspired to move myself up into contention, but I was going to ride for the two of us. So I went back in front and set off at a newly motivated pace to catch the 4 ahead and tow Mike with me. What I didn’t realize was I set a too-motivated pace and dropped him, until I turned the corner at 25k and looked back for the first time to see empty space. Oh well, I still knew the race and the chase were ahead of me.

At this point the 4 ahead were quite spread out and only 2 were truly in range for the few remaining kilometers. I believe it was Tanner Tessier I caught around 36km and Matt Barfoot just before the hill at 40km. I made sure to go by at a pace that would discourage anyone to come along for a ride, although there was very little riding left, and much of it was out of aero through corners in town. In hindsight this was probably the time to sit in and stretch out for the run, but the temptation to come off the bike in 3rd overall was too appealing. All-in-all, having some incredibly powerful rabbits to chase the whole way led to the 2nd fastest bike split overall, a testament to riding with Team Kallisto-FCV all year, and definitely the kind of performance I’m looking for as an ambassador for 3Sixty5 Cycling.

Run – 10km – 50:13 (5:02/km)

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Confident now that I can run a sub-40 on demand in a straight running race, the goal was a low 40 on the end of the tri. I knew that if I had a dream race I could hold onto the podium position (although I was reminded after that Goderich only does an overall podium for the lead female and male, not top 3 as I assumed), although I suspected that my realistic pace would see at least Mike running me down. Only way to find out was to dig in.

Well…

Didn’t the side stitches kick in this time in kilometer 1, not kilometer 6. Right in the diaphragm level, I found myself unable to breathe deeply as the stitch would catch at the final 1/3 of the breath. It was absolute torture but I knew my only option was to plug away and hope they eventually faded. At an excrutiating 5:00+ pace I watched Matt, Mike, and Tanner all blow by me. Fortunately after a bit of a walk at the half-way point I discovered that if I bent over part way I could at least pick up the cadence and keep the pace sub-5:00, so this is what I settle into doing the rest of the way.

As an out-and-back course it was great to see so many familiar faces, like Carol Swift absolutely dominating the women’s race, and Chris Dunn, Jay Lehouillier, Soph Katsademas and many others with kind words for me as they went by. I held on for 6th place to the end and down the finish chute my boys yelled at me to jump across the line for a photo, which I managed in spite of the suffering.

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Conclusion

6th overall and 3rd in my age group is a great result and I’m trying to celebrate and enjoy that. Also, 12 minutes off my time from last year is more than enough progress. However, there is that little bit of wonder in the back of my mind…what is going on with the stitches? Am I riding too hard? Wouldn’t that be more likely to affect the legs? Is it a bike fit issue? Do I need to do more bricks? I think for some practical solutions I will make a bike fit at Trek Store London part of my plan for this winter, and make bricks my focus next spring. Until then, I’ll enjoy what was a beautiful day of racing.

Thanks to Middlesex Masters for the hard swimming over the summer, and 3Sixty5 Cycling for the support for this year!

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