With 3 Half Ironmans and 1 non-drafting Olympic distance tri under my belt this season, I was really looking forward to a change of pace at Nationals. The draft legal super sprint heats and sprint tri finals format was totally different from previous years (usually Olympic distance) and very exciting! I was eager to see what kind of speed I still have.
The super sprint heat went as expected. It was a 300m swim, 7.5km bike, and approximately 1.6km run. The first turn buoy was only 105m from the start and about 10 of us got there at almost the same time, we battled our way through the rest of the swim and got out 20-25 seconds behind the faster swimmers who had better speed to the first buoy.
I went to work on the bike, got onto my draft legal aero bars and hammered to catch the lead pack of 7. I passed about 6 guys on my way, Francis Lefebvre and Dylan Pust were able to hold onto my wheel as I caught them. Francis helped out with 2 or 3 short pulls and Dylan was just hanging on. Unfortunately Dylan got dropped just before catching the leaders, Francis and I made it after 5km and sat in the pack.
The 9 of us started the run more or less together, I was 6th to start the run after a decent but not great transition. I ran hard for the first 700m or so, then at the turn around I saw Hunter Lussi right behind me but a big gap behind him to 8th. I decided not to run too hard for the rest, allowing hunter to pass but cruising in for the 7th and final qualifying spot.
The sprint tri A final was the next day, and the conditions would prove challenging. It was hot, but a bigger factor was the strong wind. It was also the toughest competition of any ITU race I have entered.
The swim went well, I had a strong start, and always had people nearby during the swim to draft off of. I came out of the water with the chase pack, about 45 seconds behind the lead pack. Apparently, during the swim our last turn buoy blew away and had to be retrieved but wasn't brought back the whole way. This may have caused the swim to be a bit long, but relative to the competition it was certainly one of my best swims ever.
The tough bike course and relentless effort shattered our group. It started as about 15 riders and turned into only 5 of us at the end of the bike. It was a 3 loop course, with 3 180 degree turns and a decent hill each lap. I worked hard at the front trying to bridge up to the leaders. We made up time but ended the bike about 20 seconds behind lead pack. The strong crosswinds made it hard to recover even when drafting, and I wasn't sure how my legs would feel on the run as a result.
The run was as one might expect after such a hard bike, very tough. It felt like I had no strength in my legs, but I ran as well as I could with the energy I had. Garrick passed me early in the run, I couldn't go with him but was able to match his pace once he had a bit of a gap on me.
About 2km into the run I started feeling stronger and picked it up a bit, I passed Garrick around half way and tried to go after the American in front. He built his speed and pulled away, and I held my position finishing 16th overall and 10th Canadian. Garrick finished right behind me.
Reflecting on the race, I probably would have finished a couple places higher if I had not pushed as hard on the bike and saved more for the run. However, I have no regrets going as hard a I did. I know that sometimes it doesn't pay off, but other times I can bridge up to the leaders, or I won't close the gap fully but I will still have a great run. Ultimately, pushing the pace on the bike is going to work out well more often than not, and its how I will continue to race.
Now its time to focus on Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant! Thanks for reading!