It’s been a while since I have written a race report but I think this race warrants one.
I went into the 2017 Long Course World Championships as ready to race as I have been in several years. I had almost no injury issues, I was healthy and fit. My training had been consistent and going well. I had no expectations regarding my finishing place or age group results, but I did expect to have a much better race than my race at Nationals a year earlier. I was a bit worried in the week or so leading up to the race because the forecast was for hot weather and I do not race well in heat.
Race morning the weather was perfect at 5:45 as I walked with a group of my HPR teammates to the race start. I did not experience the usual onset of race nerves as the start approached. I felt confident and ready. When the horn sounded for the swim start I charged in to the water with several hundred olds guys and was surprised by how little punching and kicking there was. I got into rhythm and enjoyed watching the sun pop over the mountains as we swam away from the beach. The first real issue I encountered was as we turned into the sun to round the end of the swim course. Note to organizers: Don’t give yellow swim caps to old guys with bad eye sight when the marker buoys are the same colour. I couldn’t tell which were buoys until I was almost on top of them. Luckily there was enough splashing that I just aimed for the centre of it and made it around okay. Swimming back to the beach I started to get some shoulder pain but I was also able to find a set of feet that I followed for the rest of the swim. T1 went smoothly. Both my transitions were smooth as I had spent time before the race mapping my exact route from entrance to exit.
The bike started off great. I felt strong and I was passing people steadily for the first 40-50 K. I started to settle in as we approached McLean Creek Road for the first time. There were a few draft packs that I encountered along the way, embarrassingly made up mostly of other Canadian athletes. For the rest of the first loop on the bike I kept up the pace and felt pretty good. On the second McLean Creek climb I started to experience some pain and tightness in my lower back. I had to sit up more often and couldn’t hold my aero position as well. This wasn’t too bad, however, as there was very little wind so being aero was not quite as crucial. I finished the bike still feeling pretty good and by the time I was leaving T2 I was already running okay.
The first half of the first loop of the run was good. I got into a rhythm and felt my speed increasing as my stride lengthened. The second half of the first loop of the run is when I really started to feel the heat. It has happened to me at every hot race I have done in the past 15 or so years. My body temperature spikes and my run goes in the tank. I tried to fight it for a few kilometres, then started walking the aid stations to get in as much fluid as possible. I was nauseous and light headed for most of the rest of the run course. By the third lap I was also walking between aid stations whenever I got so dizzy that I thought I would throw up. By half way through the run I stopped thinking about my time and just concentrated on finishing the damn race. My finish time was 7:32:43, exactly 6 minutes slower than my race at Nationals a year ago. F*&$.
There were many positive aspects to my race. The loop course provided the opportunity to see my team mates often. My daughter Jennifer was out on the course the whole day with “Go HPR” and “Go Dad” signs and lots of cheers. Aside from the heat the weather and the views were amazing. I was racing against people from all over the world which is always cool. On the down side I have concluded that racing in the heat is just not for me. I am officially retiring from long course racing unless we decide to do a team race in Iceland or NWT. All in all I definitely suffered during the race but I can’t think of a better group of people than my HPR team mates to suffer along side.
(photo credit: Dan Smith)