Sometimes a plan…
…just gets thrown out the proverbial window, and rightly so.
Sometimes, though, it should not.
This is my story.
A bit of perspective might be in order, lest I be accused of egotism. I’m fast. I win races outright and almost always have a shot at the podium. I swim well, ride well and run well. I can race any way and any distance I want, and generally do better than well.
That’s just the way it is and I am very fortunate and thankful to be in this situation.
That said, when I signed up for the Canadian 113, my plan was to take the swim easy enough to come out with a crowd of guys that I could ride around and not kill myself. I actually considered intentionally losing 5min on the bike in the hopes the fresh legs would allow me to run like a demon and catch them all.
That was the plan, even after Barry ‘Konaexpress’, showed up in the t-zone. This is the same guy who out-split me on the bike last year. He beat me by a mere 2 seconds and it has bothered me ever since. I jokingly trash-talked him that all I wanted this year was to beat him by those same 2 seconds on the bike.
In the back of my mind, even through the trash talk, I was further committing to my plan to race from behind.
We all got ready and headed down to the beach. I told myself again to swim easy and with a group.
And then they said ‘go’.
And things changed.
Three hundred meters into the swim, James Young and I were at the front of the swim. After the first turn around, I flipped onto my back to see how much of a gap we had. It was not great, so I pushed things a bit harder. A little while later, I checked again and we had a good sized gap. James has many nicknames in my mind, but they all refer to his tenacity and his frustrating ability to surge over and over and over again. He does it on the skis, the bike, the run and yes, even in the water. He would try to pull ahead, then drop back to my hip, try to pull ahead again, then drop back a bit further, try again, and drop back a bit further until finally, he just got on my toes and stayed there like a good boy.
We exited the water and ran to the t-zone, crossing the mat, and then to our bikes. We maintained our order after donning our helmuts!! Helmut!! and grabbing our two wheeled steeds.
Out we ran to Hogs Back Rd and I jumped on my Kuota Kueen K while James on his LOOK bike and away we rode.
Without really meaning to, I gapped James by the first turnaround and figured I would soldier on a bit longer.
I convinced myself that I would go hard for another lap, then shut it down and let the guys catch up and I would get back to my planned strategy.
At the end of the 1st lap, realized I had good legs on the bike and wanted to take advantage of them. I told myself to go hard for another 2 laps and catch uber biker Eric Roy, who was doing the Iron swim/bike. I caught him at 3 laps and we played chase for a lap and a half. All this time, we were putting good and significant time on the chasers. All of them, that is, except one unknown guy on a Trek, who was actually gaining on us. I thought to myself that, for a guy that was planning to race from the back, I was going pretty hard to stay at the front, just so I could back off.
At 4.5 laps, the guy on the Trek, Dan Litwora from Chicago, caught and rather authoritatively passed Eric and I. We both gave chase and coerced that little extra speed out of ourselves, which was actually quite a lot of effort.
It quickly became apparent to me that extra push was too much and at the end of the next lap, leaving one to go, my good bike legs said “See ya! Wouldn’t wanna be ya! We’re going home.”
Since I had planned on losing time, I gave myself permission to continue to lose time, but ultimately, I was no longer losing it by choice—my legs were done. I struggled on the last lap and lost a lot of time in that 15k.
I ran gingerly to my t-zone spot, no longer really interested in what I was doing. I sat down, put on socks (part of my plan), grabbed my Mizuno hat and off I went. Chris Macknie said I was 2:20 behind. Ouch! In 15k? How did I lose that much time?
“Oh well,” I thought, “I’m a runner. Go get him.”
And so I tried to hammer out that great run, and instead go hammered—I was losing time to the leader like the Bre-X stock lost it’s value. I was demoralized at this prospect but kept pushing.
When I ran through the Zone3sports aid station, I felt energized, which lasted until just around the corner where I could no longer hear or be seen by them. I struggled onward, wondering what was next in my meltdown. How far would I melt?
Barry Dmitruk and Rob McCulloch were 6 min behind and running against each other. Dan, the race leader, was not going to get caught by anyone, especially me. I was 3-4min down on him, and 6 min up on Barry and Rob. I was safe so I backed off a bit and then my brain switched to poker mode and said “I’m out.”
I struggled on the last lap and a half, not letting myself give in to the temptation to walk. Oh, how I wanted to walk.
I looked at my watch and did the math after the last turnaround. I had 3.5k to go. I had a 6 min lead on Barry and Rob going into the last lap. Surely I could take a br…and then I realized a downward spiral was beginning and I could not let that happen.
Surely, I told myself, I can run 3.5k. That’s 15min, give or take a bit.
I composed myself, re-focused on what I was doing, and ran through the Zone3sports station for the last time and all the way back to the stadium to finish in a strong mental state.
My day was not that bad, but I made some mistakes—I did not take the fueling seriously enough, I got carried away with the race and did not stick to my plan.
Next time, I will do better.