Attempting To Qualify For 70.3 World Championships
In Muskoka last September I saw a friend and former client have a great race and qualify for the 2014 70.3 World Championships in Mont-Tremblant. I was inspired and a seed was planted. I chose that to be my goal for 2014 and eventually settled on the Syracuse 70.3 race for my qualification attempt. To be honest, I thought Syracuse would be an ‘easier’ place to qualify because it would be less popular and the hilly course would work to my favour. So much for that as the race sold out for the first time and there were 250 guys in my AG (Age Group)! I estimated I needed a top 10 finish to get a spot. This was certainly a stretch goal but with the help of my coach Miranda I was feeling great in all 3 sports and ready to have a very strong race. My training had gone very well and I was uninjured.
PRE-RACE – Nervous as usual but not too bad. My friend Derek was with me, and racing too, and we just made jokes about the stupid things that we do when we are nervous about these races. Seeing 250 guys on the beach for the start was intimidating but mostly I was focused on executing a good race and then see what happens with regards to qualifying.
SWIM – I knew I needed to push a bit in each phase of this race, which is a different mentality than the more conservative approach I’m used to. At the start I was into open water quickly. It looked like I was near the front group of swimmers from my wave. What?!!! Not used to that! I was comfortable with my effort and I knew I could continue at that speed. I just needed to keep my head in the game and not revert to a nice easy comfortable pace. So I kept pushing. I thought about whether I should look at my watch at the end to see my time or not. If I had the time I thought I did it would be a good mental boost but I didn’t want to be disappointed. Ultimately I did look and I was very happy to see it was under 31 minutes. Whoa! That’s new territory for me. 1:35/100m pace. Not a lot of bikes gone from transition as I made my way through quickly.
BIKE – I had been able to train on the course 3 weeks ago so I knew what to expect. The first 15 km is climbing, so it was important to hit my goal power numbers but also be patient and not overdo it. I was able to do that and my legs were feeling pretty good. After those initial hills, the course has some very fast sections and I really felt like I was flying. Through each 10km section I was hitting my goal power numbers (210-220 watts) but it was certainly getting harder as time went by. I stayed aggressive with regards to passing people, rather than backing off and taking a break. My glutes were fatiguing and I knew the run would be a grind. I finished the bike knowing I had ridden well but had no idea what my bike split was or where I stood in my AG. As I came through, I did a quick count of the bikes in transition for my AG, and there weren’t many. I figured I was in a good position but there was still a very hilly 21 km run to negotiate. I was tired but confident that I could still put together a solid run.
RUN – I knew the run was going to hurt and it did not disappoint! It’s a tough run course with very little flat. Within the first 400m, there is an uphill grassy section that put an early sting into my legs. My goal for the run course was to run an average pace of 4:18/km (1hr 30 min). I was on that pace through the first 4 km but that was before the big hill. I had trained on the course and run the nasty hill a couple of times in that training session, and was left with the impression, That’s not so bad, what’s the big deal? That run, however, did not follow a hard bike and that made a huge difference. Somehow the hill had grown and become steeper since I had trained on it! First time on the hill I was going so slow that I decided I’d walk at a similar pace but use a bit less energy, so I walked a bit. Other than aid stations, walking on a run course is not something I do…ever! I just don’t let myself go there because it gets too easy to walk again. But I did need to walk. I was disappointed I had to/chose to walk, but I wasn’t broken and this was not the start of a run meltdown. Everyone was struggling through this section. The 4:18 pace was not going to happen but I quickly adjusted my expectations and aimed for an overall 4:30 pace. Through 10 km I was on 4:22 pace. Through 15 km I was at 4:29 pace. After the last turnaround with 5-6 km to go I tried to re-set my focus and go hard to the finish. I got settled in with another runner who was running about 4:30 pace and I just hung there until 1 km to go then I tried to drive hard to the finish. Run was 1:33:14 (4:30/km pace).
At the end of all that I finished 10th in my AG with a time of 4:44:04. There were 8 automatic qualifying spots for the 70.3 world championships in Mont-Tremblant and luckily for me 2 people did not take their spot, so I snagged a spot! After looking at the results, I am very pleased to have held it together on the run. If I had been just 1 minute slower, I’m in 14th place and I don’t get a spot. I’m very excited to go back to race in Mont-Tremblant!!