The weekend of my third race, I had booked a weekend getaway for my wife, daughter and I. I hadn’t been to Wasaga Beach since I was very young and was excited to spend some time at the boardwalk with my two girls. We pulled into our motel and checked in and I couldn’t help but notice a hand full of athletes had also pulled into town for the race as early as we did. As we settled in and fired up the BBQ, one of the other racers came over and introduced himself and his family. We talked for hours about everything Triathlon, Duathlon and bikes in general. It was a really nice touch to our mini vacation as we built a great friendship with the couple and their children and I had a fellow roadie to converse and train with in the early hours of the morning.
My new friend Justin and I had analyzed the race course and picked up our race kits, two days early. This race would be a true test of what I was capable of. Wasaga Beach played host to the Triathlon Ontario club championships and each club had sent their best athletes in each discipline, with the goal of taking the number one spot and prize purse. The day before our race, was the Olympic distance triathlon and duathlon. the weather was miserable, windy and had rained off and on. I took my bike for a ride about an hour earlier then the race start time so that I could make it back in time to catch the athletes as they headed off onto the course. The wind was so strong that they were debating cancelling the swim portion of the triathlon as the waves crashed into the beach. I cheered them on as the gun went off then pedalled back to our motel, hoping that the weather would change for our race the next day. When I got back to our motel, I pulled all of my gear out for a final inspection and offered to go over Justin’s bike as well, which was a very good thing seeing as he was running his tire pressure at under 60 psi in the front and rear and his bike needed some tlc to get him from A to B haha. 5 am on race day, I woke up and set out my nutrition package, which was a little different this time around. I had been talking to an elite level triathlete who had better educated me on what I should be taking, when and how much of each throughout the race. I had two water bottles, premixed 12 ounce of pre race, only one bottle of the EFS electrolyte mix, two stinger waffles, two clif shot gels and justin had given me a GU energy gel with 35mg caffeine boost which was going to come in very handy on the bike portion during the race. My wife and I ate breakfast before packing up all of my gear and making our way down to the race site. As we pulled into the parking lot, I could see all of the team tents full of athletes going over their race plans with the coaches. As I made way into the transition to drop off my bike and set up my area, I had noticed the duathletes had been partitioned off to the far end of the area with a separate entrance for the bike in and run out to manage the chaos of both the triathlon and duathlon going on simultaneously. I quickly swung by Justin’s area to say good luck. My wife and daughter gave me a good luck kiss and I headed down to the mass start line, which was directly on the boardwalk next to the beach. The weather that day was nearly perfect for a race, as it was cool out and only about 18km/h winds. I went for a light run about 4 minutes to start time, to loosen up my legs and then took my place at the front of the pack.
The gun went off and I fought to keep a decent pace, without losing to much ground on the lead group. The first run was fast and I flying into the first transition with a time of 26:08 and in 41st out of 69, but by the time I had thrown my gear on and hit the bike course I was in 49th. This was not going to be a battle for minutes, but rather a battle for seconds amongst these fierce competitors. I hit the bike course hard and with something to prove. I had my speed up to 45km/h for the first 10km and had gained over 4 minutes of lost time on the lead group while passing other racers every few minutes. I hit the turnaround and lowered my pace so that I wouldn’t blow out my legs for the last run. My knees had began to swell and I noticed a large group of riders ahead of me. I gave it one last, all out effort to clear myself of the pack and had noticed justin amongst the group. I shouted ” good work man, keep it up” as I passed him. I flew into transition two with a time of 36:56 for the 20km ride with an average speed of 32.48 km/h and in 31st, after dodging a triathlete that came in to the dismount line hot and crashed. My transition was fairly quick and I hit the run with everything I had left, while fighting off everyone that I could. I hit the turn around and noticed my training partner heading out on his last run of the triathlon. He started yelling to me, ” You’ve got this Mark! You have two threats coming up on you fast. Time to burn it, your at 1:13:00″ As he passed, we through a high five and I took off sprinting. My knees where swollen and shaking, but I was only 1000 meters from the finish . I blew past four more people and hit the line in agony with a time of 1:23:40 in 43rd out of 69 and had secured my second 3rd place podium of the season! The tears started to flow as I hugged my wife. All I could say to her in between panting was “it hurt, but I did it!
After the Race we packed up my gear and heading back to the motel. I could barely walk at that point and knew it was time for a couple weeks recovery till my next race at the Lakeside Triathlon Weekend. Stay Tuned, thanks for listening!