After a disappointing race in Tremblant a couple weeks ago I knew I wanted to do another race race before I dove head first into Ironman training for Maryland.  The original plan was Muskoka 70.3, but opted to do Toronto Triathlon Festival instead.

TTF was my first triathlon back in 2012 when I did the Olympic.  I finished the race 3rd last overall, last in my AG, and almost double the winners time in 3:46:42.  I’ve come a long way since then, and I was keen to see what I could do on that same course.

Pre Race

The day before the race there was a swim course familiarization.  It was a 300m loop in the lake near Ontario Place where the race would take place on Sunday.  I had heard rumblings that the water had turned and become frigid, so I wanted to get into the water to see if this was the case.  It wasn’t, the water was fine.  I did 3 loops of the course and felt pretty good and ready to go for tomorrow.

After the swim Lisa and I headed out for a late lunch/early dinner of pasta.  After that it was back home to relax.  I was hungry in the evening and ended up eating a bagel and a half.  I had planned on getting to bed around 9:00PM, but I wasn’t tired at all, so I did some work and didn’t get to bed until 10:30PM.  Friday night I had got a really good sleep, so I wasn’t too concerned about only having a few hours the night before the race.

Race Morning

4:00AM came early, I didn’t climb out of bed until after 4:30AM.  I had a bagel with almond butter and honey, and some water.  We just had to bike 2k to the race start, so we pumped tires at home, packed what we needed to bring, and rode to transition.

After racing 4 times at Triple T I find transition a lot easier to set up.  First the first time in a long time I planned to leave my shoes clipped into my bike.  Lisa and I had got to a parking lot to practice the previous week and I felt comfortable doing it.  I almost forgot to put vasoline in the backs of my bike shoes, but remembered just before transition closed.

As per usual I didn’t do much of a swim warmup, and there really wasn’t much space to do one.  I likely swam 40m to make sure my wetsuit was on right and my goggles weren’t leaking.  All was good, I was ready to race.

Swim

There were only 3 athletes in the elite wave, then a minute before a paratriathlete went, and then 3 minutes later it was my wave.  I positioned myself on the front line towards the left side.  I waited for the gun and we were off.

My goal was to swim my first 40 strokes as hard as I could and then evaluate where I was and settle into a pace.  In Tremblant I feel like I got off to a poor start, and I didn’t want that to happen again this time (Tremblant was a beach start compared to a deep water start here).  After my 40 strokes as I settled into a rhythm I was surprised to find I was in 3rd in my wave.  I’ve never known where I was in the swim because there were so many bodies all around and in front of me.

During the start water had got into my goggles, so I quickly flipped onto my back, emptied them, and then kept on swimming.  This slowed me down just enough to move from the hip to the feet of the 2nd place swimmer.  I focused on staying on his feet.

The swim first heads west, and then two left turns have you heading east with the sun in your eyes.  Spotting buoys was pretty hopeless on the way back.  I used the bridge over the lake, and the sea wall on my right as reference points as I swam.  I was able to draft the 2nd place swimmer most of the way back (I don’t think I went faster because of him, but I was able to swim with less effort), but he ended up missing the last buoy, and turned towards the exit early.  The last buoy was very difficult to see because of the sun, but I recalled it being there when I looked at the swim before the race.  I rounded the final turn and was headed to the exit feeling good.

1500m Swim – 21:02, 1:24/100m

T1

Fortunately T1 was uneventful.  I got on my helmet, grabbed my bike, and made the run up the ramp to the mount line.  I had a GoPro on my bike, and I was able to turn it on as I ran through T1.  My mount wasn’t exactly ‘flying’, but it was without any drama and I was off on the bike.

T1 – 1:14

Bike

I hadn’t done any specific training for this race, so I didn’t have a wattage set in stone for my ride.  Based on benchmarks I wanted to hold 290-300W.  It’s a relatively flat ride, and I knew the lanes were wide so pacing and congestion should no be a problem.

The first bit of the ride winds through the Ex grounds, which can be a little slow and bumpy.  I picked off 1 of the 2 people from my wave in front of me here.  After that it opens up as you go east on the Gardiner, and then north up the DVP.  When I first got onto the Gardiner I didn’t pay too much attention to my power, and instead just tried to ride strong and see where my power was at.  Unfortunately it was a little lower than planned, in the high 270s.

Besides my power being a little lower than I hoped my ride went well.  I passed the other person from my wave as I headed up the DVP (2 people from the elite wave were still well up the road).  From there it was completely clear roads.  I focused on trying to stay low in a god aero position, and riding smooth.  Around 25k I passed 1 of the 2 athletes from the elite wave who was at the side of the road with a mechanical.  There was now only 1 more athlete up the road, but since I was in one of the earlier waves I had no idea how many athletes were ‘virtually’ hot on my heels.

The bike finished for me without incident.  I had a gel as I climbed up the ramp from the DVP onto the Gardiner, and drank a bottle of Gatorade throughout the ride.  I felt ready to run.

38k Bike – 56:17, 41.2km/h, 278W AP, 282W NP (The TTF bike course is notoriously 2k short) GARMIN FILE

T2

T2 was without incident.  I was able to rack my bike, slip on my shoes (no socks), and go.

T2 – 0:58

Run

My goal for the run was to hold 3:45s.  I was pulling this pace out of thin air.  Realistically I was hoping 3:45s felt manageable, and then I could empty the tank from the turnaround to the finish.  I liked that I was running on a familiar route.  I’ve done many runs on the paths the TTF run course uses, and although I wasn’t quite sure where they put the turnaround, I had an idea where it would be.

I started the run feeling strong, but it wasn’t the effortlessly fast opening km I was hoping for.  It was just over 3:45.  I felt strong throughout the run.  I was never super light on my feet and completely zoned in on my run like I’ve been on a few occasions (Mid-Summers Run and Harvest Half in 2013, Quassy Half and Barrelman in 2014), but felt way better than I did at any point on my run in Tremblant.  I split the first 5k in 18:37.

As I approached the turnaround I saw Andrew coming towards me.  I took note of the time, and I was about 5:00 behind him.  I started 4 minutes later than he did, so I had about 1:00 to try to run down.  I tried to tighten the screws and up my pace, even just a little bit.  If he slipped at all I wanted to be able to take advantage.  I continued to push right to the finish line.  My final 2 km splits were 3:34 and 3:32.  I didn’t catch Andrew, but I was really pleased with my run.

During the run I had a couple of sips of water, and thats it.  The water was mostly because my mouth was getting dry.  I didn’t feel like I needed anything.

10k Run – 36:27, 3:39/km  GARMIN FILE

TTF Award 2nd place

Race – 1:55:56, 1st AG 25-29, 1st Amateur, 2nd Overall

Post Race

After the race I learned I finished 0:37 behind Andrew.  I was happy with my race, across all 3 splits.  I don’t know if the swim was accurate, but I liked that I was towards the front of my wave.  I didn’t light up the ride, but I had a good bike, and was able to run well off of it.  And I really liked that I was able to finish the run strong.

The great thing about an Olympic is after a few minutes of resting at the finish line I wasn’t in a deep state of lingering fatigue that you can get in longer events.  I walked out about 500m from the finish to cheer in other athletes and watch out for Lisa (she won her AG and was the 5th female).

Beginning Monday the focus moves to Ironman Maryland.  We have 12 weeks to prepare.  Over though 12 weeks I’ll plan to do 2 simulation workouts, and a half (potentially Esprit in Montreal in September).