Swim - 2K
Bike - 94K
Run - 21.1K
I've done this race every year since it started in 2008 and have learned something new every time and also improved my race time each year. This year was again no different, and I was hoping to improve upon my time of 4:56:26 from 2010. I thought I could do this by improving each area a little bit, based on the training and racing I've done this year.
I headed up to the beautiful Deerhurst resort in Huntsville, Ontario very early Saturday morning with Scott Dickie from Waterloo. The trip up was pretty uneventful other than the 40 minute delay for a truck fire on Hwy 400
We arrived at Deerhurst around 10am, and since our room wasn't ready, we decided to park and head down to the swim start for a practice swim. The weather was awesome this weekend (sun and warm temperatures) and the water temperature felt great. Scott and I swam out to the first turn buoy and came back for an approx 800-900m swim. After our swim, we headed out for a short bike ride to make sure everything was working ok. When we got back, our room was ready and we unpacked the van.
The rest of the day included getting registered, attending the expo, checking in our bikes and heading to the grocery stored for some dinner. We were staying in a 4 bed condo unit at Deerhurst that had a kitchen, so we could just eat in the room. Scott and I were staying with two other guys from the Waterloo Team Energi triathlon club (where Scott is a member). In addition to the 4 of us, a few other Team Energi guys came over for dinner. There was plenty of healthy carbo loading food to go around, and other than Scott almost burning the condo down and a seagull attempting to steal our food, dinner went great and I was FULL!
It was getting late, and around 10pm, we all decided to shut it down and get ready for bed. I slept pretty well that night and 4:45am the next day, we were up. I once again had my typical oatmeal, banana/peanut butter wrap and some coffee to get the day going.
Shortly after 6am or so, we all headed over to the transition zone to get our gear and bikes ready. After setting up and going for a quick run to loosen up, I was pretty much ready to head down to the swim start.
Once again, it was a long walk to the swim start from the transition zone, but we had plenty of time, so it was relaxing. I was in the 5th wave going off at 8:25 or so. After getting a nice warm up swim and the wetsuit adjusted, it was time to head to the starting line. It didn't seem very busy at the start and before long, the gun went off, and the race was on!
I went out comfortably from the start, and didn't experience very much contact which was good. I actually found some feet to get on relatively early, so I just followed them to the first buoy feeling very good and relaxed. After we made our first right turn, we already started running into some of the slower swimmers from earlier waves, but it was also starting to spread out. I continued to go in and out of drafts while still feeling comfortable and relaxed. I thought I had a good pace going, so I didn't bother trying to push it much more. About halfway through the swim course, I saw I was swimming beside Patti Warr who is a friend from Baden. That somewhat surprised me, as I am usually ahead of her, so she was either having a great swim, or mine wasn't as good as I thought it was. Knowing this, I decided to pick it up a bit, and eventually made it over to the swim exit. After getting out, I checked my time and was surprised to be at about 34 and a half minutes. I figure it must have been a 2K swim, because I can usually do 1.9K in the pool in 32 minutes or so. I left my crocs by the swim exit, so I quickly slipped them on and started the long uphill run to transition. Once I got to my bike, I struggled a bit to get my wetsuit off my feet, but eventually I got all my bike stuff on and was on my way to the bike start. T1 took 3:46, which is a bit slower than prior years, but my AG rack was also further away from the transition entrances this year.
Once I was on my bike, I slipped into my shoes, and started to hammer down the road. The general trend for the first 30K is uphill, so I knew the watts were going to be a bit higher than normal. After 15-20 minutes of biking though, the average watts were close to 290, so I knew it was time to back it off a bit. The excitement of getting on the bike and hammering past other racers, especially those in my age group, was pushing me a bit harder than I should be going, as I knew I had at least 2.5 hours of biking ahead of me.
There was a stretch of road on South Portage that was all tar and chip. It was much like biking down a gravel road, which definitely slowed the pace down. I didn't once go in my aerobars down this stretch, but still managed to pass a tonne of people. Once we got off this stretch and up to Hwy 60/35, I decided to put my head down and just crank it up! Unfortunately this year, there seemed to be a bit of headwind coming out of the south, and the stretch of road going south is a lot more open than when we turn back north from Baysville. This meant that we had to fight the headwind, but when we turned, we were protected from the wind by the trees, etc. so did not get much benefit from tailwind. Oh well, everyone was in the same boat, so deal with it I thought.
Just before the first bottle exchange in Dorset, I finished my aerodrink and put my only bottle I was carrying (double concentrate of Infinite) into my aerodrink and then I grabbed a bottle of water. Along the way, I was taking in a salt tab about every 30 minutes or so. I wasn't sweating at all really, but wanted to make sure the sodium levels were good, because this course can cause cramping, simply because of all the hills if you are pushing hard.
By the time I hit the second aid station, things had really spread out. I could see a few other racers up the road, but by 60K in, I had already made my way past most of the slower riders, and those that remained on the course at this point were a bit harder to catch. At least this year there were people around me still because of starting in the 5th wave. Last year, when I started in the 2nd or 3rd wave, after the Baysville bottle exchange, I swear I spent about 30 minutes biking completely solo.
So throughout the last 30K or so, I just tried to keep a steady effort and pick off any riders up the road one by one. I was really hoping to end up with a 35.5kph average this year (up from my 35kph average in the prior year) and with only 10K or so to go, I thought this would happen, as I was at 35.5kph. However, once we turned back onto North Portage road, I was quickly reminded of the nasty set of hills that we had to deal with. There were times that I thought I could get off my bike and run up them faster, but I just carried on, happy that there were a few spectators out there cheering us on right near the top of the hills. Eventually, I reached the top of the last hill, and it was pretty much downhill back to Deerhurst. I pushed hard through this final stretch, but by the time I got to the dismount line, the bike computer read 35.3kph and 2:39:32. Oh well, not quite 35.5, but at least I was 2 minutes faster than last year and an average wattage output of 268! Pretty sweet!
2011 Muskoka 70.3 Bike - Garmin Data
Once off the bike, I quickly made my way back to my transition spot, grabbed all my run gear and made my way out onto the run course. T2 was decent enough in only 1:06, 3 seconds better than last year despite having a worse spot in transition. This year, I decided not to carry a fuel belt, and just take what was on course. The only thing I used was my salt stick dispenser.
I could tell right away that the run this year was going to be harder than any other year. We started off right into a headwind and the sun/temperature was already pretty warm. At this point, I really had no idea where I stood within my AG. Not too long into the run, I did pass someone in my AG, so that was good.
The little stretch of road on Cookson Bay Cres. was tough, as we descend down a steep little hill that hits the quads hard, run along a short flat stretch before coming back up the hill, which again, taxes the already tired legs. Once back up on Hwy 60 though, I started to get into a rhythm and focus on good leg turnover, forefoot striking and leaning forward. A few guys passed me on this stretch, which I would later pass back in the final few K of the race! By the time I reached Hwy 3, just north of Huntsville, my legs were feeling plenty tired. This is also one of the toughest parts of the course, as there is a pretty good hill at the 8K mark.
With the sun beating down, I just took quick short steps and made it about half way up before I took a very short walking break to stretch things out. I was running just behind a guy at this point, and he never really got much ahead of me. By the time we got to the top of the hill, I was back with him and decided to just run with him, as I hoped that would keep me motivated to keep moving along. We both finally made the right hand turn that takes us down to the 10K point and the turn-around point. At this point, I was actually feeling a lot better, which is good, as we had a few K of downhill running to enjoy before getting on the nasty trail section through the woods.
By this point, I also saw Claudia Johnston (from my IM Austria group) just up ahead. I continued too run with this other guy (sorry, can't remember your name) as we eventually caught up to Claudia at the start of the Fairy Vista trail. I took my time going through the aid station at the top of the hill behind the water treatment facility. All three of us that were running together seemed to take our time through here, so I didn't lose any ground to anyone.
As we continued along the trail and into the wooded area, I eventually pulled away from both Claudia and the other racer I was with. At one point, I passed someone who was being attended to by race organizers and volunteers, and then I passed paramedics heading out to help him. Obviously, something serious was going on, but there were lots of people helping him out, so I just kept going. It's never good to see anything like that!!
I eventually got off the trail and back onto Grandview Dr. and eventually Hwy 60 again. Only a few K to go, but I still had that tough Cookson Bay Cres downhill/uphill to deal with. I must say, the uphill was tough, but I eventually got to the top and it was pretty much a nice downhill back to Deerhurst. This is where I ended up passing the couple of runners who blew past me earlier on the run. Last year I walked a bit of the uphill back to Deerhurst, but this year I was determined to finish strong and I pushed up the hill and rocked my way around the transition zone to the finish line. I really wasn't sure what my time was, but I was able to hold a 4:30 pace that brought me home with a 1:34:42 run and a 4:53:21 overall finish time. The run was almost 2 minutes better than last year, which was good.
I must say, that after this race, I think I felt as tired/exhausted as I did after doing Ironman Austria. The hills on both the bike and run really took a toll, and my left knee was feeling a bit sore. After getting my medal, I sat over in the recovery tent and put a bag of ice on my knee and refueled with some Powerbar Perform and water. Eventually, I made my way out and ran into Scott, who finished a few minutes before I did. We both made our way inside to grab some food and hopefully get a massage, only to find out there was no massage this year...MAJOR disappointment for sure!! In addition, the food was pretty crappy as well. As we headed out to go back to the condo, results were posted, and I finished 4th in my AG (a bit more on this later).
Scott and I eventually made our way back to the condo and we both had an ice bath and hot shower which felt great on the sore legs/knee. Eventually, Joel and Jason got back and we all headed back to Deerhurst for the awards and World Championship roll downs. As I said earlier, I got 4th, but as it turns out, the guy who was in 3rd in my AG had a slow swim/bike and a crazy fast run (like 38 minutes for 21.1K, so something was messed up). Later, he was reported as a DNF, but during the rewards, this still wasn't sorted, so I ended up having to take the 4th place plaque. I've contacted Trisport though, and I think I should be able to get the 3rd place one, which will go great along side my 5th and 4th that I already have.
Scott ended up 6th in his AG! but ended up getting (and taking!) a World Championship spot for Vegas in 2012. I also got a spot, but decided for various reasons that I wasn't going to take it this year.
Overall, the race was another success and I was happy to improve upon my time once again and cap off another successful triathlon season with a good race.
Up next for me is the 100K Tour De Hans bike race in the Kitchener Waterloo area. In addition, I might try to get in a 10K road race and perhaps a half marathon. I'd like to see if I can meet the NYC marathon qualifying time of 1:23 for the half marathon. Now that could be quite the challenge!