The MSC Gravenhurst Sprint Duathlon, full of mental and literal ups and downs!
This was a race weekend that I will most likely, never forget. I would like to first and foremost, thank John Salt, the entire Multisport Canada team and all of the volunteers, for providing us with an exceptional level of safety and organization on both the run and bike courses. Now if only I could have been on par myself with the top notch experience… get ready for a bit of laughter and probably some pity.
We arrived to beautiful Gravenhurst, the 4th race of my year and second stop of the Multisport Canada Triathlon/Duathlon Series around 3:30pm Saturday and after a quick check in at the hotel, we went to meet up with fellow MSC ambassador, Spencer Summerfield who was flying solo and recovering from his own unpleasant, ordeal from the race earlier that morning. All though he is still yet to pin point the cause of his race from hell, always be very cautious of what you eat or drink leading up to a race or when visiting new destinations, the result may not always be enjoyable.. We took a walk around the race site and being my first ever visit to Gravenhurst, we got a good lay of the land. If you have never been to this race before, I suggest you add it to your list of must attend events. The venue is located right in muskoka Wharf, with a massive grass park and splash pad, playing host to the transition, expo, finish line, run course and it’s only about 100m from the docks leading into gorgeous lake muskoka!
We grabbed a quick bite to eat and some bevy’s at the Boston pizza located conveniently across the street before heading back to the hotel for what I thought would be a great night of sleep.
So it begins….
Anyone with kids will be able to relate to this next part. I am an athlete, with a pregnant wife, 2yr old daughter and a lot of travelling/racing on the calendar. You can imagine how things can and will, get complicated. I Rolled into bed at 10:00 pm with a long day ahead.
12:54am rolls around and my daughter Fiona kicks me in the head.
Fiona: “Daddy! Where is Mommy?”
Me: “from the looks of it she changed beds, because you probably kicked her, too. Your dreaming, go back to sleep sweetie.” Success, for now…
2:49am rolls around. I wake up to Fiona doing a windmill break dance in the bed, startling me enough that I fall onto the floor. Let’s try this again..
5:10am rolls around. Fiona wakes up balling her eyes out, wanting to sleep with mommy. Quick change of beds and we’re back to sleep. Now I’m all screwed up and wake up a few more times until my alarm goes off at 6:45. I get up, feeling like a zombie, get myself ready and then start packing everything up, because of course our hotel didn’t have a late checkout available.. one more obstacle for the day lol. We finally make it out the door at 8:15am and head to the race site. After a quick handoff of parts/tires by Rob from BLADE Carbon Wheels, we park and start the journey to race time.
It’s the usual race kit pick-up, body marking, time chip pickup and then find my spot in transition. I get my gear all set up, say hi to the familiar faces, throw on my new Skechers Performance GOMeb Razor’s and then head over to the start line. At this point I’m disoriented and thrown off my game, but i came here to race and have fun, so let’s get it done.
5 seconds to race start I look down to make sure my laces are still tied up and… “oh @$&#, umm where is my timing chip?”. I turn around and frantically search for the timing chip board, where it was originally, in the expo (it was at the Duathlon start line right next to me the whole time lol). Finally I see it where I was standing initially, run over hoping to scoop a chip and sort it out with Sport Stats, later on. I must of dropped it or not even put it on my leg in transition haha I can’t remember, it’s all a blur. Thank you to who ever found my chip and brought it back to the board. I owe you a cold one! I scooped my chip up, quickly explained the situation to the volunteers. I contemplated calling it a day out of pure frustration, but shook myself out of it and flew through the start line, catching fellow BLADE team mate And Multisport Canada Employee, Nathan Nicholls off guard, as I zipped by and started hunting athletes. Thank you for sorting out my debacle, Nathan!
I spent the first 2 km’s running down competitors, way above my desired pace. I managed to get myself from dead last in 58th up to 28th, over 5km’s of some of the most challenging rolling hills of a run course, that I have ever experienced. If your looking for a event beyond your normal Sprint, International, or Olympic Triathlon/Duathlon, then this is the event your looking for. I’m a nut for technical and this course has both a beast of a run course and a severely technical bike course. Introduce some wet roads into the mix like we encountered and your in for one hell of a ride.
My transition was smooth and quicker than normal. I had to use the porta-potty, sooo bad, but I knew I couldn’t afford to lose any time. Now I was fuelled by an uncomfortable feeling and could not wait to get this race over with ASAP haha. The rest of me felt ok, but knew I had burned some serious energy in the chase. I ran about 20m past the mount line and leaped onto my bike, staying out of the way of the other athletes and headed out, determined to keep hammering away at my botched, race start lol. First turn, I muttered hello to fellow MSC ambassador and BLADE race team mate Matt Straatman, who was spending his day controlling the intersection, making us safe and toughing it out in the torrential rain that was to come. It got nasty and all of you volunteers, kept the smiles on your faces and made it all come together. The bike course is a tough one and even though it had been altered the day before, due to some unforeseen circumstances, we ended up on the old bike course. A series of winding roads, quick descents, constant punchy climbs and unpredictable weather, were the story of the day. It was chain drop city for a lot of the athletes and I’ll be the first to admit, even for someone who’s very comfortable with their bike handling skills, I was playing it safe. I could feel the bike drifting as I made the curved descents and kept pulling back the reigns. The object is to make it from point A to point B as safely and quickly as possible, without injury and I did just that. I had managed to pass another 9 athletes on the bike course, coming in to T2 in 19th overall. I had caught 39 athletes in the span of just over an hour. My confidence was restored, I was focused again, but my legs felt like bricks. DO NOT start a mass start race from the very back, if you can help it lol.
Things could always have been a lot worse. With a busy life and a lot of changes happening quickly for our little family, my training has been limited. I had recently switched all of my sports nutrition over to F2C Nutrition, our series sponsor and after a few weeks on the products I have felt a huge improvement in my performance. No cramps on the runs, my energy levels are increasing and my recovery time is at an all time, high. I’ve had to adapt to less training time and taking the right, clean nutrition is making it possible. Definitely give them a shot! http://www.f2cnutrition.com
A quick transition and I was back onto the final run, dreading the hills that were in the distance. I was slower than 5 athletes coming out of transition, but kept them in sight. I struggled to turn the legs over km after km and once I hit the final aid station, I knew the next closest athletes that could knock me off the podium, were about 2 mins back. I put my head down and just kept pounding asphalt, literally… 1km from the finish the skies opened up hell on everyone. I ditched my sun glasses so I could see, crossed the final road onto the gravel trail heading for the finish and cheered on the athletes as I passed. They were heading out onto their final run and were going to need the encouragement, for the uncomfortable weather the would be enduring, until the finish. The crowd was electric and loud, as I rounded the last corner into the finish chute, giving it that true race feel and excitement.
I crossed the line to the greeting of Steve Fleck over the race announcements and the token, John Salt handshake. A quick vent to Spencer, who was standing in the medic tent hiding from the rain, about my fudged start to the day and then went off to find my wife and daughter. I had pulled it off, finishing 24th overall out of 58, 2nd out of 12 in the 30-39 age group and 2nd in the 30-34 age group. Talk about salvaging a crappy start to the day!
The rain wasn’t giving up as we ran to the car to take cover and change into something dry for the awards. Had I hit the goals I had set for myself this year? Not quite, but I had secured my first podium of the year on a tough day and had as much enjoyment as I could doing it.
No matter how much you prepare for something (face palm), things can go south in the blink of an eye and it’s the way that you adapt to each situation, that will define you in your endeavours.
Thank you to my very patient wife Sam, for always having my back and supporting me along this journey. I know this was a tough one to get through, for all of us. Thanks to Sport Chek, Skechers Performance, Multisport Canada, Blade Carbon Wheels, County Cycle (Garneau) and F2C nutrition for your continued support and making some seriously stellar products, that keep these wheels turning towards the finish, race after race!
Now for some rest and a month of focused run training before we are off to the MSC Toronto Island Triathlon/Duathlon! Visit http://www.multisportcanada.com to come join us and give-it-a-Tri for yourself!