My feet hurt. And so do my legs, and my sunburnt skin, and pretty much my entire body. The Welland Long Course Tri, despite being a flat and fast course, was tough. Mother nature certainly took its toll. Do I have any regrets about racing? No way.
Apparently when making summer plans I can't tell the difference between June and July. I found out on Friday (June 24th) that a daylong outdoor concert I got tickets to wasn't July 25th like I thought, but it was June 25th, aka tomorrow, aka the day before Welland. I didn't want to miss the concert, and there was no way I was missing Welland, so I went to the concert and was 'that guy' sitting in the shade, drinking water and eating a carb-loaded beaver tail. I may have been a buzz kill to a few rowdy fellow Billy Talent lovers, but I was able to not get too much sun, stay hydrated and take in a bunch of carbs from the various food vendors. And yes the show was awesome.
After a solid 4.5 hours of sleep it was off to Welland. I was feeling strong and ready to go. The Welland Long Course Tri (and the Kingston Long Course Tri) is a unique distance: 2k swim, 56k bike, 15k run. Although I've only done this distance once before in Kingston last year, and although my body doesn't currently agree right now, I think it is my favourite. It presents all of the aspects of long course racing that I enjoy, but doesn't actually take all that long to do, relatively speaking of course. Not to mention the Welland venue is fantastic. Smooth swimming in a canal, a super flat and fast bike course, and a 3 loop run along the canal.
My swim is certainly not my strong suit, and this is a long race. Therefore, the goal for the swim was to not start too fast, maintain a smooth relaxed rhythm, and try and catch some feet to draft. I never really found anyone to draft, but stayed smooth and relaxed (maybe a little too relaxed) and came out of the water feeling fresh.
The goal for the bike was to stay strong and relaxed. It's a fast course and I wanted a fast time. The first half of the bike was into the wind and I was moving well and felt strong. On the way back we had the wind at our backs so it felt a little easier. I was moving well and was on pace for a fast time. Nothing was going to get in my way. Except for a freight train. Not metaphorically. With about 3k to go in the bike there was a train sitting across the road. Luckily the driver must have realized there was a race, so he backed up to let us by, and I didn't end up sitting there for that long. According to my watch I biked 1:26:50 (38.7kph), whereas on Sportstats my time is 1:27:54, so I must have been stopped at the train for about a minute. Despite this unexpected incident, it was handled well by Sportstats and the race crew, they just ended up subtracting the short time we were stopped at the train from our overall time. Overall it was a strong ride and I felt good heading into the run.
The goal was to open the first 3k no faster than 3:50s, then build throughout the race. In a long course race, especially when it is almost 40 degrees out, the first 3k of the run are in my opinion the most important part of the race. It's easy to take them too fast and doing so will make the remaining 12k much slower and very painful. I opened my first 2k exactly as planned, but at that point I got a sharp cramp under my right rib. I slowed it down a bit and ran a 4min k, and it went away so I picked it back up again. But at the 10k mark it came back and stuck around for the rest of the race. I'm still not sure what caused the cramp. If anyone has any ideas let me know. I drank a bottle and a half of sportdrink on the bike, although I guess it's possible that wasn't enough. It could have been because I was riding hard in the aero position for so long and it made my ab muscles tight. Or it could have simply been an unavoidable consequence of the heat. If anyone has experienced anything similar please share.
Despite being broken, beaten and scarred by mother nature and my first long course race of the season, I had a great day. The race was really well organized, the venue is awesome and I love the unique distance. If there's one thing I can say for sure, it is that for as long as I am doing triathlon, I will be racing the Welland Long Course and Kingston Long Course races. Thanks to Multisport Canada for putting on a great race and having me as an ambassador for the sport, and to the LPC hurdle project for the continued support. Next up is the Multisport Canada Gravenhurst Olympic Triathlon, after of course the Canada Day fireworks at the LPC time trial this Friday.