We spoke about entering the Guelph Lakes Olympic race as a relay quite some time ago and made it official a few weeks ago as Ang, Richard and I got organized and completed the paperwork. Just like my FMCT teammates, I was coming into this event a little tired due to the large hours of training I was able to accomplish in the past seven days so I was a curious to see how the legs would perform over 10k. Thankfully, with the run being at the end of the triathlon, I had plenty of time to warm up and enjoy the amazing atmosphere around the event.
For the first leg of our race, Richard and I were able to watch Ang work her magic in the water. We stayed down on the beach for the first loop and cheered her on as she ran across the sand for her re-entry into the lake. We then headed back up to transition so Richard could suit up for his bike ride and I could start my nutritional intake and stretching. I wasn’t long into this routine before our super swimmer entered the bike zone and passed the chip band over to Richard to send him off on his ride through the Wellington County side roads.
I figured I would now have just a little over an hour before my part so I started to prepare as I chatted to Ang about her adventures in the water. Time passed so quickly and before I knew it the leaders started to make their way back into the park. Following the elites into transition was a cyclist who surprisingly placed his bike on the other relay rack across from our spot. You could tell he put in a monster effort by the way his team was reacting so I was curious as to where they were out of the water. As I started to ask them about their positioning, I noticed Richard’s yellow Cervelo coming into the dismount area on the far side of transition. The countdown was on.
Mr. Westwood had thrown down a mighty performance of his own and we were now just a little more than a minute back in second. After a slight hesitation, watching Richard rack his bike, I finally swapped the timing chip over to my ankle and sprinted out of transition. Usually, I don’t get to leave T2 feeling this fresh during a regular duathlon so I got a little excited and hammered across the first rolling portion of the run.
In the first kilometre, I passed a few of the top age group triathletes but could not find my relay target in the winding park roads. I had set my watch the night before to capture the splits every km so when I got my first reading (3:27) I knew I better settle down. We were running into the wind at this point and still had a grassy section to negotiate in the middle of the run so I didn’t want to blow up before reaching this point.
Shortly after passing this first marker on the road, I came to a straightaway on the course where I could finally see the lead runner in our race. He was a few hundred metres up the service road running with a couple of individual triathletes. I started thinking over a few strategies on my approach and figured it was best to continue the attack with limited knowledge of the talent of the runners behind me. If one of them posted a sub 35 minute 10k, it would probably be enough to catch me so I could not let up. As I inched closer, I was confident that the lead change would happen soon so I could then work at picking off some more of the overall leaders as they could keep me inspired to go fast. Although, they would blow the doors off me if they had not already swam and cycled!
As we hit the 3k sign, I made my way past the “Speedplay A” Runner and complimented his effort before carrying on towards the first turn around. During this tiny uphill piece, I caught a number of other triathletes but was not really motoring as quickly as I imagined. The passes were becoming tougher and tougher as I moved closer to the top ten of the overall race.
Just after 5k, the course sent us down a loose gravel trail that lead into a rough section of farm land. We were running on a soft path that was cut down about the width of a tractor. When I ran the route in 2009 (in a duathlon) we did this portion but I was expecting a right turn in the first field down to the forest. I guess they decided to change this and we were now sent out even further into a second field. I was working to stay on the tractor tire marks and keeping an eye out for other racers coming down the trail as it was a free for all for positioning.
Finally, I got to the back of the second field and saw that we were heading towards a clear cut in the forest. It seemed like this new section was running longer than the older course and I was starting to wonder how deep we would be sent into the bush. Thankfully, the turnaround popped up just a few feet into the trees and I could now visualize the finish of my run.
With my splits getting slower during this cross country adventure, and the gravely uphill just a few hundred metres ahead, I pushed as hard as possible to keep my tempo up. I eventually made my way back onto the tar and chip park roads and tried to force my form to resemble the track efforts I held earlier in the week.
This seemed to get me closer to my desired pace and I kept the pedal down all the way back home. After spotting Richard out on the course cheering me along, I got another boost for the final 1000 metres and arrived at the hilly section knowing the finish was very near. I used my climbing abilities to hammer up the slopes and tried to feed off some recent descending tips I have been eating up from the guys I have been running with of late. It all worked really well and I had a strong finish to hit 37:32 for my 10k.
In the end, Team Chocolate Pie Buttertart put in a very solid team effort with everyone making huge contributions to our Olympic Relay victory. Thanks to Ang and Richard for making the day so fun! I can’t wait to team up for our next race, hopefully, with some more FMCT teams in the mix showing off the Falcon colours!
Also participating in the same relay race was a very good friend of mine, Paul Galbraith, with his dad and sister. I grew up with Paul and his family so it was awesome to see them in their triathlon debut. Paul’s dad, who turned to swimming for exercise last year, has lost some serious weight and it was the Highlight of the Day to see him come into transition way before his expected time! Great work Team Galbraith!
Congrats to all the blog readers who competed on Sunday! Patryk B., Darcy B., Glenn C., Sean D., Stuart S., John E., John S., Paul G., Vittorio S., Duncan M. (hope I didn't miss anyone!)