Now that I had the first race of the season out of the way and my bike disaster was finally all sorted out, I was looking forward to the race at the new Welland international flatwater centre. The day before the race I had gone for a ride out to the bike course to do some inspecting and made a point to report to fellow athletes on any potential hazards we may occur. I was far too excited to get a good nights sleep and settled for a quick 5 hour snooze, before race day.
I had planned on racing the sprint Duathlon on Saturday and volunteering on Sunday with a friend. 6:45am Saturday, my wife and I arrived at the race site and I made my way to the tents that were set up for bib, race kit pickup and body marking. I picked up all of my essentials and stopped by the registration tent to grab my awesome, new Multisport Canada Race jersey from the event staff. There were a lot of athletes on site already and transition began to fill up quickly. I found my rack and set up my area, before running into Larry, Garvin, Jeremy and a new addition to bunch, Sean, whom would surprise us all and take the win. We joked around for a bit before the racer meeting started. The new race site was beautifully set up and had a world class feel to it. Our race had been altered to start with a 2.5km run followed by the 20km bike and would finish with a 5km run. This new configuration would work in my favour, as I would much rather go full tilt on the bike and suffer through the last run, which was definitely my weakest discipline.
8:39am we waited for the sound of the horn at the mass start line. The horn sounded and we were off. I jumped on the back of the 4 man lead group and tried to keep pace with them. I made it about 1km before slowly falling off of them and getting swallowed up by the much stronger runners. It was worth a shot haha. The beauty part of a mass start is if I put in a strong first effort, I will put myself in a great spot for my stronger bike and then fight to keep my place on the final run. As I approached the run in, I could see my wife, daughter and family cheering me on!
I came into transition in 24th out of the 54 athletes and had a quick transition onto the bike. We ran through the very long bike out, before making it to the mount line. I had kept a fairly low heart rate for me, on the first run but immediately into the bike I had looked down at my garmin to see It was now sitting at 195bpm. Whether it be the heat, or pure adrenaline, I know I was giving it my all from what I had just seen, but you can’t help but be concerned when your riding above threshold for long periods of time. I had that beautiful aero machine with full disc rear wheel and 5 star front wheel, soaring between 36-40km/h for most of the 10 km to the turn around and once on the way back I hit a slight headwind before turning into a strong crosswind. Not your ideal conditions for this wheel set, but I had to hang on for dear life, if I wanted to make it back in one piece lol. I was able to keep the effort at 35km/h on the return while carefully keeping the swaying bike on the road. I flew into the dismount line and ran into transition 2 in 17th, having caught 7 athletes on the bike. It’s unbelievable how much difference the time trial bikes truly make on your aerodynamics and overall effort. Now I just need to become more comfortable on a foreign bike with new obstacles to overcome. I knew I was in 4th place in my age group, seeing as the the top 3 were in the lead group of the race. I had seen the other two athletes who were gunning for me, out on the bike as I blew passed them.
I quickly changed into my shoes and took a big drink before darting out on to the final run. I just had to hold off the athletes I had passed and those who were hot on our heels behind them. I immediately started to cramp in my abdomen about 400m into the run and my heart rate had came down to 190 at this point. Still worrying me, but better then it was. As I hit the turn around I could see one of the athletes about 2 minutes behind me and passing several people on the run. I had to really hold it together and fight through the never ending cramps If I was going to keep him behind me. About 800m from the finish I could hear someone gaining on me and sure enough it was him. I tried to speed things up but didn’t have anything left in the tank. He took his place in front of me and I ran as fast as I could to the finish, passing by my cheer squad consisting of my wife, daughter and family and leaped through the arch, doing a jig while hearing Steve fleck commentating on my graceful entry haha. I finished 20th overall, 5th in my age group and only 34 seconds behind the 4th place athlete. John Salt was there to shake each and every ones hands as we all crossed the line, which is my personal favourite touch to a great day of racing. I was thrilled with the result and had shaved 7 minutes off of my personal best Sprint Duathlon. A great start to my race season and I can feel my training paying off.
I stayed and helped the give it a tri athletes with preparations for their own race which was going to start shortly. I had helped three of my customers sign up for the race and made sure to go over the details with them all beforehand. Once the racer meeting was over I headed down to the awards which were taking place directly on the docks in front of the grandstand seating of the facility. What an amazing venue all around. Once the awards were done I headed to transition and grab all of my things before paying a visit to Rob at the Blade Carbon wheels booth and thanked him for the wheel set rental. My wife and I headed over to her mother’s to pick up our little girl and then home. I was going to volunteer in the morning for the long course triathlon, so I was going to need some much needed burgers, relaxation and rest, from the day.
I woke up at 5:15am Sunday morning, ready to cheer on all the amazing athletes that would be racing throughout the day. My friend and I jumped on my two beach cruisers and headed over to the WIFC race venue, which was a short 4 Km’s from my house after grabbing a quick coffee from Tim Hortons on the way. We arrived at the race site and for the first time I was able to take in all of the fine details of what goes in to making each and every one of the races a reality. I do not normally have a chance to notice these things amongst the chaos that is race day. The event staff were hard at work and you could hear the chatter over the radios, as they all were sorting every aspect of the organization of the day’s events. I made my way over to meet with the volunteer coordinator, who told us where we would be needed for the day. I was lucky enough to be the welcoming face as the athletes entered the transition area. I was thrilled to point them towards the registration area and to answer all of their questions, as I watched the hoard of athletes pour into the venue. The transition area filled up quickly and once the pre race meetings were complete, I made my way down to the water where I was to direct the triathletes up the stairs and into transition, as they came out of the water. As a Multisport Canada Ambassador, this role was very important to me. I could be helpful, but at the same time I could cheer on and give words of encouragement to each and every one of the competitors who were out their testing their limits and going after their own aspirations!
There were so many great moments, throughout that hour. You could see the pride and determination on everyone as they passed by. One moment particularly, with our series founder and president of Multisport Canada, John Salt, touched my heart and I would like to share it with you all. John had made a point of introducing his wife to me earlier on that morning and I could sense the pride in his voice. This was the pride I have for my wife, when I talk about her. John’s wife, Anne Nicolussi, was routinely an age group podium finisher and race winner locally, having placed 1st and 4th at Ironman Lake Placid, 2nd at Ironman Wisconsin and finishing 8th at Ironman Kona, to name a few of her accomplishments. Anne has always pushed herself to be the best in everything she does, while embodying, humility as a person and athlete.
June 30, 2012 – Leaving next day for Challenge Roth in what was to be her 10th and final Iron Distance. Anne was in, perhaps the best race shape of her career and was hoping to leave with a podium in Germany. Anne went out for her final pre-trip and race ride before leaving for Germany and was hit by a pick-up truck, taking the full impact to her. Her helmet saved her life. In the past four years she has set goals, recovered and moved on from her horrific encounter. Anne raced today just to prove to herself that she could and used a road bike, as it would be to difficult to get back on a tri bike, after her devastating experience. I had the honour of, sharing in John and Anne’s emotional and inspirational moment as he awaited her exit out of the water. John had literally, spotted her in the water nearly 400m from where we were standing, all based on her swimming style. That is a man, who knows his wife! You could see the emotions, excitement and tears, start to pour out of him, as she exited the water, ran towards me and into transition. I can only imagine the long, tough road that they had just been down all of those years and the pride that John, had just shown me, was unlike anything I had ever experienced firsthand, before. That is what this sport is all about. Pushing passed you personal obstacles and chasing you own aspirations, however difficult they may seem. I made a point of standing at the bike in as I watched the athletes enter, so that I could cheer Anne on, as she came in from what I am sure was the most mentally challenging leg of her race. I spotted her as she rounded the corner to the dismount line and cheered her on to the transition. I could see the smile on her face as she ran in, with what I can only imagine was a feeling of accomplishment and honour. Congratulations Anne! I may have just had the pleasure of meeting you, but I am very proud of what you have overcome and I wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavours.
I had a wonderful experience, volunteering for the Multisport Canada Recharge with milk triathlon series and I invite you to volunteer throughout the season if you can! My next race will be at the Toronto Island Triathlon/Duathlon weekend. The training continues and I thank you for listening