Toronto Triathlon Festival – Olympic Distance
What a nice treat to have a race literally down the street! This made the days leading up stress free for the most part not having to worry about travel, packing or accommodation. This came very welcomed as the past few weekends have all included some sort of travel, so was definitely a nice change of pace not having to worry about any of those logistics.
On Saturday, a day before the race, Geordana and I walked from our apartment down to the transition area where they had an expo with vendor tents, race briefings and race kit pick up which was our main goal of the day. In order to pick up race kits, every participant had to attend a pre-race briefing which essentially outlined all of the ins and outs of the course highlighting any changes from the previous year. While attending the briefing we had met Olympic Triathlon gold medalist, Simon Whitfield, and what an honour that was! He is an excellent ambassador for the sport and an all-around very down to earth guy – was great talking with him.
After spending a couple of hours at the expo we made our way back home for a relaxing evening. I then as Geordana puts it, “very methodically”, got all of my gear ready for the race. This takes care of all the thinking that you don’t want to be doing race morning – if you’re rushed you forget things haha. With a freshly waxed chain and newly polished BLADE wheels, I was ready to go.
After around 4 hours of restless sleep I woke up 3 hours pre-race to eat breakfast. With my scheduled start at 6:58AM, this had me getting up a little before 4AM. This is my usual routine to ensure I have enough time to sufficiently digest my food before gun time. With a little more convincing than usual, Geordana and I were up and out the door by 5:15AM.
The transition area was a little more congested than usual so I was really glad I had everything packed and ready to go in the order I needed it the night before – No thought required!
Before I knew it, we were 20 minutes away from race start so I struggled my way into my wetsuit, met quickly with Geordana where she wished me luck, and I headed down to the water where I did a short warm up.
Swim 1500m (0:26:14 – T1: 1:47)
The swim took take place in Ontario Place’s West Channel swimming 700m east, then turned left swimming 20m south, another left coming back 700m west and the remaining 80 or so meters were diagonal towards the exit ramp where we would finally get out and run towards T1. The water this time of year in Lake Ontario is still pretty cold and suspiciously green so it was an easy decision opting for the wetsuit on this one. This race in particular was a wave start – so the pros started at 6:50AM.
Gun time for my age category, 24 and under, was at 6:58AM. This was also the 4th wave of athletes to start so I knew that I’d have to be on the lookout for slower swimmers in the preceding waves. Being an “in-water” start, as the horn blew we all stopped treading and started swimming; the race was finally on.
Once I escaped the washing machine effect of everyone fighting for position, my swim was more or less pretty uneventful. The swim course was pretty straight forward, I had a small group to swim with for the majority of the time and there were no issues navigating through the stragglers from previous waves. Before I knew it, I was peeling off my wetsuit while running up into transition – that wasn’t so bad! I finished the swim sitting 80th overall in a little over 26 minutes at a 1:44min/100m pace which seems to be my terminal velocity in the water at the moment. I’ll definitely have to looking into strategies in pushing past this plateau moving forward.
Bike 40km (0:57:04 – T2: 0:42)
After a very lack lustre performance in transition, myself and a group of others ran our bikes up the hill out of transition, across the man-bridge over Lake Shore Boulevard where the mount line was located. What happens next is probably the first, and thankfully, the only hiccup of my race. As I began to mount my bike, one of the guys running up to the mount line with me lost his balance and deviated from his line stopping right in front of me. This caused me to then lose my balance and I fell straight over my handlebars. Luckily, after some on the fly diagnostics, my bike was fine and I escaped with just some minor cuts and scrapes. I swallowed my pride, remounted my bike and started hammering.
After the first 30 seconds of riding I could already feel that this was going to be a better race than the previous weekend in Gravenhurst; I felt strong, my power numbers looked promising – I was off to the races. It’s a very surreal feeling seeing cyclists rather than cars on the Gardiner Expressway and the DVP. This was something that I tried to take in as much as possible as this is a very rare opportunity for anybody.
The bike course was out to the Eglington Avenue exit and back to Ontario Place. Having commuted for work a handful of times up this way, I knew that the way out would be a gradual uphill. With this in mind my strategy was to push a little harder than I was comfortable with on the way out and dial things back slightly after the 20km turn around. The idea behind this was that, being a heavier athlete, it would be inherently easier for me to gain time going downhill rather than uphill; that’s just math. The opposite would be true for a lighter rider who does not have to fight gravity as much as I would going uphill.
I wish I had something more exciting to write about here – the bike course went just as I planned. My power figures going out and back were around 365W and 330W respectively. I finished the bike course now sitting 10th overall, clawing back 70 places in a time of 57:04 going just over 42kph which also got me the best bike split of the day. I could now breathe a sigh of relief – my power is back!
Run 10km (0:38:14)
After a smoother T2, I set out on the run course feeling fairly fresh. I caught a glimpse of Geordana and a couple of our friends who were kind enough to make out early on a Sunday to cheer me on – this was a great motivation starting off on what I was anticipating to be a pretty painful run.
The run course at TTF this is a lapped course – so you ran 2km out along the lakeshore and to transition twice. I set off on a modest pace initially until quickly deciding I could go probably go a little faster. I ran to the first turnaround moving at a 3:37/km average pace. There is a slight 500m downhill (which happens to be the ONLY hill) just before the 2.5km and 7.5km turnaround. I knew that this hill was going to be pretty painful on the second lap so I began mentally preparing myself for that.
One of the benefits that I saw this race as part of the wave start is that I could pretty much bank on me always seeing athletes up the road. This plays a huge role psychologically because you always have someone to chase, despite the fact that they may not have started in the sane wave as I. So I began playing this game of leapfrog which I believe really helped me out on this run. Before I knew it I was at the second turnaround now starting to climb the painful 500 meter hill for the second time. At this point you start having to reason with yourself just to keep turning your feet over. Between fire in your legs, your lungs ready to burst and your heart trying to beat out of your chest – as long as they’re not injury related, you’ve gotta fight these very strong bodily instincts all telling you to STOP.
Being a pretty reasonable guy I told myself now at 2km left, you have less than 8 mins left if you continue at this pace and there was talk of beer at the finish line (its 9AM lol) - this seemed to be enough to keep me slugging along in what I like to call “the hurt house”. Being familiar with this state of mind, I threw on my best pain face and soldiered on to the finish line. I completed the 10km run in 38:14 at a 3:49/km average pace finishing in 8th OA and 2nd in my 20 – 24 age category. My overall time was 2:04:03 – for a Provincial Championship, I’ll take it!
After analyzing my run stats, I must’ve pushed myself pretty hard because it has been a little while since I cracked 200bpm. I have my max heart rate currently calculated at 205bpm so this is getting precariously close to the red line. Though dangerous to sustain this heart rate for any length of time, I jumped up to 200bpm momentarily in the last 50m of the race after my brief stint in the aforementioned “hurt house”. Needless to say, if the race were any longer I would’ve hit the wall.
And we’re done! It felt like my runner’s high lasted the rest of the day. I caught up with Geordana and our friends, and we then saw a few other Queen’s Triathlon Alum compete in the sprint distance races. It was nice to have Simon Whitfield handing out medals at the awards presentation – that’s not something you get to experience every day!
Now after a few solid weeks of races and the corresponding preparation, I’m gonna take about 10 days of “active recovery” before my last big training block ahead of next month’s Duathlon World Championships. The next stop for me will be MultiSport Canada’s Bracebridge Sprint Triathlon as the last tune up before my big day in Penticton.
Things are starting to get real – less than a month away!
And finally, it’s not easy dating a triathlete so a huge thank you to my girlfriend, Geordana, for her endless support and being there with me every step of the way.
Thank you to my other supporters – BLADE Carbon Wheels, MultiSport Canada, and Brown’s Sports
Till next time,