This past weekend was the culmination of many months, hours, and seconds committed to being the best athlete that I can be.
It began by moving to Guelph to train with Craig Taylor and my good friend, Andrew Yorke at the Canadian National Training Centre. I must first acknowledge how they have influenced and helped me develop as an athlete. Andrew Yorke retired this year from triathlon after representing Canada incredibly over the past few years, but perhaps none more so than at the Rio 2016 Olympics! There he got tangled up in an awful crash on the bike, but got up and finished the race like nothing short of the legend he very well is. You didn't have to be identified as a rising star at a young age, you didn't have to win every workout, you didn't have to be the strongest in anything besides what was between your own two ears and what was beating in your chest. Andrew Yorke was more than a training partner, and continues to be one of my best friends. He has taught me that many things are possible and there is no such thing as impossible. I look forward to the day when we can do the "impossible" together and do a swim workout in the Hamilton Harbour.
Those same lessons from Andrew have been echoed by Craig while I have been training in Guelph: "Good process. Good process. Good process." Not that I haven't been listening to them, but over the past few months, I've noted a transition from when they were words to where they are actions. Process is a catch-all to describe balancing all the multifactorial components of triathlon - training, nutrition, recovery - while keeping an internally motivated focus for the pursuit of your own personal best. The Relentless Pursuit of Excellence as one Canadian triathlete once called it. Geneviève Lalonde as another. It's training hard when you need to, training easy when you don't. Trusting that progression does not always mean taking steps forward.
Sarasota CAMTRI Sprint Championships was the first opportunity to show what that has all been about.
Back to the race, before it began, I was definitely a little nervous especially with it being the first race of the season. What snapped me out of nervous to excited was a few brief words from another Canadian triathlon legend - Lisa Bentley. I grew up as a young kid idolizing her through triathlon magazines and reading about her blistering runs to win Ironman Canada or another title in some far off country. Her words of encouragement put me instantly back into the mindset I had practiced.
When I stepped on the pontoon, I lined up with the first turn buoy and used my strengths as a swimmer to my advantage. I got into a comfortable rhythm with the lead swim pack and positioned myself to prepare for a hard bike.
There was a small separation between the lead group and the first chase, but just at the end of the first lap our packs came together and formed a lead group of twelve. The hard bike I positioned myself for in the swim turned out to be a little more challenging than I anticipated. Suddenly, I realized that I had a slow leaking flat in my rear tire! I tried my best to stay upright in the corners and keep it hidden from my competitors so the attacks wouldn't be too merciless. Unfortunately I didn't have a spare wheel to exchange at the wheel stop, but the races are so fast in sprint distance, I'm not sure I would have had the time to fix it and catch back up to the pack. Regardless a tubular race wheelset may be a valuable investment in my near future (...Dear Mr./Mrs. Future Wheel Sponsor). I was happy to get off the bike safely and I think the fact that I was able to do so, shows how phenomenal the Cervélo S5 is as a bike that it can compensate for the lost watts to a ever approaching flat tire with superior aerodynamic design (subtle promotion?). Having an always comfortable ISM saddle in spite of some low rear tire PSI was certainly welcome (super subtle promotion!). I also had a sweet pair of orthotics from DKOS in Hamilton, Ontario, which were essentially rocket fuel aboard the Cervélo spaceship (nailed it!).
On the run, I felt surprisingly fresh. I've had a pretty amazing run training partner for the past two years and a bit, so I think that's been adding up. That and she gives me some really sweet kicks!
Which I then turn into this...
On the run course, Rodrigo Gonzalez (MEX), Eli Hemming (USA), Matt Sharpe (CAN), and I (CAN), separated ourselves. I felt like we ran pretty consistent paces throughout the run, although Gonzalez was sure to put in some surges in there every once in a while to keep it honest. I stuck to my own race plan which was to run my own race. The four of us exited T2 together and ran probably 4.5km of the 5km together. In those final 500m our group broke apart. I ended up finishing the race with my fastest run split ever off the bike in 15:32 to finish fourth overall! Obviously it would have been great to step up on the podium, but I executed almost all of my goals for the race and I gave the race everything I had. Good process. It was an honour to race so well at the CAMTRI Sprint Championships and it also meant that as the second Canadian male, I had earned a spot on the top Canadian relay team to represent Canada at the CAMTRI Mixed Relay Championships the following day!
The Canada I relay team was composed of: Dominika Jamnicky (5th), Joanna Brown (1st), Matt Sharpe (3rd), and myself. We had a very competitive team amongst a competitive pool of athletes from the USA, Mexico, and our other Canadian teams. I raced to the 3rd fastest split of the day completing the 350m swim, 6.4km bike, and 1.5km run in 17:31. A decision was made during the race to support the Canada II relay team and give the honours of the top spot on the podium to them. I was just thrilled to represent Canada twice in the same weekend and back up my performance from Saturday the next day. Good process.
Now I am back home in Guelph, and super motivated for the next block of training. I am very thankful for all my incredible sponsors, family, friends, and community for their support of my career and hope that this will be the start of my best season yet! My next race will be on April 9th at the 2017 Hamilton CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup in Bermuda and I can't wait to board the plane!