I'll start this post with a recap of what's been going on since I last raced in Bracebridge in early August.
After Kingston I knew something was seriously wrong with some aspect of my training, nutrition, lifestyle or even something else. I just couldn't put my finger on it. But with series points on the line I found myself starting the Bracebridge tri - it was a race I had to start, problems or not.
I'd done next to no training during that week and managed to find some reasonable speed on race day.
I'd originally planned to have about a month of a long solid training block to lead into Barrrelman in top form. However, that all changed and we've done pretty much the complete opposite. The two weeks following Bracebridge I did very little training, while I spent my time searching for answers on what could be hampering my performances.
The first thing I did in the hopes of getting some easy and quick answers was to get some blood work done. The local sports med doctor said he'd send me in to get everything tested - except the one result that I was most concerned about: testosterone.
There's some genetic history for low testosterone, so I made a point to seek out someone who would be able to order the test for me. Fellow triathlete Tina Rogers was able to order the test for me, and I also had her look at the values from the other tests I had. I have to say it's a huge help when you can go see a doctor or naturopath who's also a triathlete or has competed in a high level of sport as they're much more understanding of what you are going through.
And sure enough results came back that both my Vitamin B12 and testosterone were way below normal.
With the results in hand Tina, coach Rich Pady and I came up with a strategy to get things back on track.
I'll write a follow-up post going into more detail on all of that after Barrelman when we re-test, and I can see if my values have actually increased. But I will say that in the last two weeks I've seen a night and day difference. Not only in my workouts, but in my day-to-day activities. I actually want to do something other than lay on the couch.
Anyway. Now onto the race...
I'll start out by saying that racing in Ontario in September is extremely unpredictable and you could be faced with anything- so come prepared!!!!
Georgina was no exception to this.
We arrived to the shores of Lake Simcoe to see white caps on the waves, and as soon as I saw that, I assumed the swim was going to be cancelled. As much as I would have loved to swim, it would have been a tough day out there even for the more experienced swimmers.
As a side note, if you don’t want to swim, then try to come to races I sign-up for, since this was the second race of the season where they cancelled the swim on me!
The other last minute change they made on us came when they banned all disc wheels. This is always a call that leaves me a little perplexed as there seems to be very little consistency to some of these decisions. They don’t seem to have a wind speed or gust speed where they decide if it's too dangerous. It just looks like it's up to the officials on race day.
Luckily I had a feeling there was a chance of this happening as it happened to me at Wasaga Beach a few years ago, so I was prepared with a back up wheel just in case. However, not everyone was so lucky and they were left panicking trying to find a wheel to use. It's a smart idea to bring a back up wheel to any race because you just never know what could happen - like getting a flat pushing your bike to transition - and sometimes it's just easier to grab your back up.
Duathlons are way harder than triathlon and every time I do one I remember why I decided to invest the time into my swimming. Especially a sprint distance when you're pretty much redlined right from the start.
Knowing the two other guys in the pro/elite category I knew I was going to have to take the run out fairly strong if for no other reason than to soften up their legs for the bike. With second place in the series on the line for all three of us, no one was going to let the other guy get away unless you were going to also hurt yourself.
As soon as the gun went off I went straight to the front with Adam right on my shoulder. I wasn’t going to look back to see if Andrew was there, but sure enough at the 1k sign (it might have been a few meters early) Andrew pipes up from the back with something like “woah guys 2:55 is a little rich” and to that I replied “sub 15 or bust” in my calmest voice to make sure they couldn’t tell I was breathing harder already.
The rest of the run I just continued to focus on what was going on ahead of me and thanking all the volunteers and saying good job to any competitors I recognized going the other way. It's something I like to do because I really appreciate them being out there, but also, in one sense, it's another mind game where if my competitors can hear me talking with ease, they might just think to themselves "wow, he's feeling really good if he can talk to volunteers and other racers". (Note to self: I probably shouldn’t be telling all my secret mind games in here!) And on top of that, there's a second benefit in that it takes my mind off of the suffering for that split second.
Rounding the final corner I looked back to see a small gap had opened up but it was probably only about 20 seconds and when I looked, I saw the finish clock was about 15:50. Not bad, I thought, but I’m definitely going to feel that later in the race.
On the bike I just kept my focus on the road ahead, listening to what was going on around me expecting to hear Adam or Andrew come up on me. With the narrow cottage roads and a lot of people out walking dogs and doing the kinds of things you do at cottages, I made sure to be extra attentive - as they usually are not. Sure enough I had one lady walk right into the middle of the road after checking the mailbox!
I only looked behind me once on the bike, and it was on the short stretch of road just before the final turn at about 17 K. I only saw one person a little back and wasn’t sure who it was, but turns out it was actually both of them.
Just after 19K I heard the click click as someone switched gears and looked over my shoulder to see Adam. I’m so used to guys like Lionel surging past at some otherworldly power I naturally increased the pace not to let him go that close to the finish.
With only a 2.5 K final run I knew things were going to be fast and furious from this point on. As we approached the dismount line, Adam and I were side by side and in my head it was like playing a game of chicken. Who was going to be the first one to ease up and give those centimeters to the other? With maybe 20 metres to go I sensed Adam ease up and I put in a quick push to hit the dismount line just before him. This is probably the fastest I hit the dismount in an race, and it was right into a full sprint as Steve Fleck announced it was a battle for the top 3 as I learned Andrew was right there with us.
Then, 30 seconds later Andrew was leading on to the run, with me right on his heels, and Adam dropped to about 10 metres. With memories of 2013 Duathlon Worlds rattling around somewhere in my head, I knew the last 2.5 K was basically going to be a sprint. And that's exactly how it felt. One long painful sprint. I just focused on the little things: staying tall, pelvis forward, swing those arms.
I managed to open up enough of gap that I didn’t need to find a final gear to kick and I took the win in a time of 54:46.
Now we have an easier week going into Barrelman next Sunday. However, since volume hasn’t been as high as usual and Los Cabos being the “A” race of the fall, we aren’t doing a full taper as originally planned.
Such is life. We push on, with goals and objectives remaining the same, but getting to that point changing from time-to-time.