My first career 70.3 win in Raleigh gave me the confidence boost I needed heading in to 70.3 Mont-Tremblant. Lionel Sanders was of course the big favourite, but there were several others with a legitimate shot at the podium. Brent McMahon, Rudy Von Berg, Taylor Reid, Matt Russel and many other talented athletes were ready to roll, and I was hoping to earn my spot on the podium to improve upon my 4th place finish last year.
Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant has to be the coolest pro race I have ever done. The pros are treated like rock stars by the race director and local community. There were also two jet fly overs done before the race, one at the end of the national anthem, and one moments before the start cannon went. This gave me the adrenaline rush I needed to have a great start, and I settled in to the lead group without any trouble. I stayed there for the whole swim, and got out of the water in 6th place about 10 seconds behind the leader. This was my best swim ever and it put me in a great spot to start the bike.
I had a good transition and quickly caught up with the leaders, Rudy Von Berg, Brent McMahon, Antoine Jolicouer DesRoches, and Sam Betten. Hunter Lussi Passed me after about one kilometer and quickly went to the front of the group. We all tried to keep pace as he was very aggressive for the first 20km or so. I was able to move past Antoine and Sam as they couldn't hold the pace. I went by Rudy and Brent as well, though they were able to endure the watts thrown down by Hunter early on. At the turn around which was about 35-40km in, I passed Hunter and saw Lionel about 30 seconds behind us. I ended up staying at the front until Lionel went by about 10km later, he put in a huge surge and I considered trying to stay with him, but decided it was not likely wise and let him go. Hunter led most of the rest of the bike until the hilly section in the last 20km where Brent showed his legs were feeling good by passing the group. At the final turn around, I saw that we had several minutes on the closest chaser, and that the podium spots would surely go to Lionel and two others from our group. Hunter had some kind of mechanical issue near the end of the bike and I passed Brent to lead our group into transition, with Lionel just under 2 minutes ahead.
I got out of transition just ahead of Rudy and a few seconds ahead of Brent. Rudy quickly went by and I knew his pace was too rich for me to try to hang with him. I was feeling strong but had to be realistic. Brent caught me shortly after, and I had no choice but to try to hold on to his pace and hope it would relent eventually. Running with him felt like a constant acceleration, there was no way to settle into a rhythm or try to recover, he was just too fast. After 5km of that, I couldn't hold on any longer without risking a catastrophic last 10km, so he gradually disappeared into the distance along with my chance at a podium. At the 10.5km turn around, I saw that there was over a 6 minute gap back to 5th place, but I still ran hard for the last half of the run and right through the line in order to minimize the gap to the leaders.
I have mixed feelings about the race (results here). Objectively it was a good performance, with a great swim, and a very good bike and run . I had my second fastest run split ever, and my power numbers were right up there along with my best performances. The overall time was 3:48:40, which is my second fastest 70.3, and typically would be good enough for a podium spot at most races. But I'm now at the point where I am dissatisfied with fourth place. Lionel, Rudy, and Brent all had great races and deserved to beat me without question, but perhaps there is some way I could have gotten a lead on Rudy and Brent to start the run. I need to have confidence that I can put in a big surge on the bike and drop guys who are stellar runners. It likely wouldn't have worked since they both rode very well and probably had more in the tank to stay with me if needed, but I didn't even try it which is what disappoints me. I will have to use this as a lesson for future races where a similar situation will surely present itself.
Overall, It was a really fun trip and I highly recommend the race. It was especially fun because Montana got to come with me, and so did my friend Curtis. We also had a great home stay host Bob Gilmour who put up with all three of us for the weekend. Thanks for the support guys!
I had a quick recovery and just enough time for a bit of sharpening before the NYC Tri the very next weekend.
New York City Triathlon
I had a great week of recovery and sharpening in between Mont-Tremblant and NYC Tri. The trip went smoothly with my buddy Garrick Loewen and his girlfriend Morgan, and we were able to get our race prep training in without any major issues in the big city. The day before the race was a bit busy with the shake-out run at 9am, my interview with Bob Babbitt at 11:30am, the pro panel at 2pm and the pro meeting at 4pm. We were able to stay off our feet for the most part, and I didn't view the busyness as a disadvantage since everyone was in the same boat. The race had slightly different rules this year since it is no longer a USAT event, but the rules were similar to Ironman rules so I was familiar with how it would work.
We dove off the dock and into The Hudson River. Cam Dye and Ben Kanute quickly gapped the field and left a large chase group behind. I was near the back of that group until Spencer Ralston passed me and I got on his feet. We gradually passed most of the group and I got out of the water right on his feet in 6th place, with Garrick right behind me. We were only about 20 seconds back from Kanute and Dye.
I had a strong run to transition (which is about 600 meters away), I was able to get on my bike in 4th place, right beside Jason West and Spencer, about 5 seconds behind Austin Hindman and 20 seconds behind Dye and Kanute. I started the bike with a big surge to get away from the fleet afoot Jason West. I went up the steep hill quickly and caught Austin about 1km later. I could see Cam and Ben up the road about 20 seconds and I was focusing on trying to prevent them from getting too far away. I managed to bike strong for the whole ride and only lost 35 seconds to Cam who had the fastest ride of the day. That put me just under 1 minute behind them to start the run, which was certainly my best bike and run combo for an Oly Tri. Jason was 1:53 behind me, and I knew that with a good run he and I would be very close at the finish.
I felt pretty decent to start the run, I like starting the run on my own so I can get into my own rhythm and find the pace that I feel is right. I didn't feel overly strong, but I kept a fast turnover and could tell I was running pretty well. The hills on that run course are non stop after the first mile, so it is hard to find a rhythm, but I kept trying to push hard up the hills and let me legs go on the descents. I started tiring around half way but pushed through, I was still running fairly well. At mile 4, Jason West came flying past me. This was a huge turning point in the race for me. I thought I was running not bad (and later analysis reveals I was running decently), but when he went by it really took the wind out of my sails. I knew I was relegated to 4th and basically threw in the towel. I ran at more of a tempo effort for the next mile thinking I had 4th locked up, but a shoulder check at mile 5 revealed that I had company. This maed me immediately regret having let off the gas earlier, but it wasn't too late, and I picked up the pace. Santiago still caught me with about 800 meters to go and went by with a surge. He got a gap of about 10 meters, I don't know why I let him get away, I just didn't seem to have the will to fight for it. I did reel him back in enough to give myself a chance with a finishing kick, but couldn't find my sprinting legs either and gave up at the finishing chute.
This is my most disappointing lapse in mental strength of my career. I think a few things contributed to such a bad last 2 miles of the run, but there is no excuse for throwing in the towel like that. I am glad Santiago was there having a good run right to the finish because he taught me a lesson. I will never ease up in a race again until I'm 100% sure nobody can catch me, period. If someone does catch me, I have to fight right to the line. That was 2 examples of mental weakness in one race, I will do everything I can to not let that happen ever again. Kudos to him for having a good day and to the top 3 for showing me where the bar is once again. Results
I'd like to give an Olympic Tri a really good go later this year at Escape Nations Triathlon. I had a really strong swim and bike, and I know I have more to give on the run. I'm planning to have a good training block dedicated to going for the win at that race, but before that comes a couple more half Ironmans. Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa and Steelhead are next for me.
Thanks for reading!