The HSBC Triathlon Series has one race in our neck of the woods, and it’s a doozy out at Calabogie. With a 4k swim, 123k ride and 30k run, in a very hilly area, it’s a long and very tough race called Multi-Man. There are four participaton options: two very interesting relay formats, the Soloman and, this year, the aquabike. Between the challenges of the distances and the course profile, the feelings of “I hate myself for entering this thing” are easily outweighed by the feeling of accomplishment when you cros the lineand saying “I did it!”.
At about 15 people, the field was small in the Soloman, with a good variety and a fairly high calibre with Eric Roy, Peter Konecny, David Markin, and Yves Fortin all ankle deep in the water for the start.
Each of the three disciplines has 6 loops or out and backs, so we would never really be alone on the course and lots of opportunity to see where the others were.
At 9 AM, the start was given and off we went. I had a good start and swam beside Eric with David on my toes. I purposely swam a bit wide for a while so I could look around to see where everyone was. I could see that I was swimming a bit faster than Eric, but because I was swimming wide, by the time I cut back in on the swim buoys, we’d be beside each other again. Eventually, David jumped off my toes and onto Eric’s, as he was swimming a straighter line. When I saw him move over, on the second lap, I picked it up a bit and dropped them. I swam comfortably quick the rest of the way, eventually lapping many of the swimmers. I popped out of the water, took off my wetsuit, put on some shoes for the 400m run to the t-zone, had a smooth transition, got on my bike and headed out.
About 500m later, I looked at my watch for the first time. It was 9:52. “Wait a minute. How can that be? 52min for 4k including a long run to transition? Crap!! I must have miscounted!! Crap, Crap!!”
I turned around, fully prepared to go back and swim my final lap and get going again when Eric was just coming into transition. I called out to the volunteers asking if I missed a lap. They answered no. I turned around again and started my ride again. One of the things about loops is that one small mismeasurement is amplified considerably, and so it was with the swim. Judging by a 46min swim, it was closer to 3300m than anything else.
Once on the ride, everything went really well: my legs felt great, and every time I pushed on the pedals, the power transfer through the Scott Plasma I’ve had since getting my ass kicked in Smiths Falls was instantaneous and nothing short of inspiring. Maybe a bit too inspiring as I continually went over my pre-set heart rate limit, but on a course like this, being chased by uber biker Eric and aquabiker David who could afford to lay it all on the line with no regard for the run afterwards, it was hard not to and I pressed on. The ride has a net gain of 135m on the way out, but that maes it a difficult start. To add to the difficulty, the turnarounds at both ends are at the bottom of a hill, so you give up the joy of the descent, slow down round the turn and pedal your butt off up hill right away. That gets hard after a while.
I was gaining about 1min per lap on Dave and Eric for the first 4 laps, and, with two laps to go, I had an 8 minute lead. I felt comfortable with that, so I backed off the intensity a bit. Unfortuntely, that meant I also lost momentum and the hills on this course make you pay dearly for a few kilometers an hour slower—they take much longer to get up. I began to lose a bit of time to Eric, who had taken over 2nd spot and was looking quite smooth and strong. I lost about 45sec over the last two laps, but still had a pretty comfortable lead.
Out on the run, I felt awful off the start, but the run course is also very hilly, with a net gain on the way out of about 70m, it’s hard to feel good. Eric was about 2k behind at this point and I knew it was very unlikely he would go the whole way as he told me ahead of time he was unsure how far he would actually run. I continued along, content to do what I needed to get the job done. I began to feel a bit better and settled into a comfortable pace. At the end of my first lap, Peter K, in third spot, was just starting his run. He was 50m in front of me at the beginning and I tried to catch him, but he was running fast. It seemed a bit rich for me. My 5k split was 22min and the simple math told me a projected 2:12 run split was not something I could run on this course. I let him go, and settled into my own pace again. My 10k split was around 44min, still a bit fast, but I was feeling okay, so I continued my day. Eventually, I caught back up to Peter and passed him at 14k (his 9k).
Eric dropped out at 15k, opting to save himself for another day. it’s the longest he’s run in a few years, so it was a very good day by any standard.
As I continued on my mery way, things got interesting on the 5th lap with 2nd place nearly 30min behind. I thought, “okay, time to back it off a bit.” And then my groin started to suggest it was ready to cramp up. It was no longer an option to back off, but a necessity. I managed the pace just right until the final 2.5k when I thought, “time to push the hills a bit get out of your pace management mode.” And then my right hamstring said something along the lines of “Hey!! Not so fast, buddy!!.” So I listened and managed my pace to the finish.
All in all, it was a very good day on a tough course. The swim was short, but it is what it is. The race was well managed and the team atmosphere was very inspiring.
Many thanks to Mike Giles for the company on the drive up, the bottle exchange and the cheering. Thanks to to Nancy and Leslie for driving all the way up there to run an hour or two, and then cheer.
Congratulations to everyone who participated. I have no doubt there are some sore folks out there today.