Next time, I will do better. That’s what I told myself after the Canadian 113.
And so it goes.
After not sticking to my plan and running out of gas at the Canadian 113, I once again was reminded that I need to be more thoughtful in my races when it comes to these longer outing.
At this year’s edition of the Demi Esprit, I actually planned my caloric intake. This is a very novel concept for me as I tend to finish my races on fumes.
Due to logistical considerations, the field this year was split into two waves: men 18-39 and 10min later, men 40 and over plus all women and relays.
This put a few of the potential race winners in the first wave, and a few in the second wave. It would be very interesting to see how this played out. The good thing was that there were some very good 40-45 year old guys that would keep the pedal to the metal and drive the pace. The young bucks up front would not be able to relax at all. In the first wave was uber biker Jarome Bresson and Tyler Lord. In the second wave was former Esprit course record holder and 9:36 IMUSA finisher this year Pierre Heynemands who has been racing up a storm, and Marc Flageole, another very fast old guy.
At 7 AM, the first wave went off and 10 min later, our start was given. One guy lead out the swim as I matched Marie Danais stroke for stroke on his toes.
He lead all the way out, then drifted left as we started to catch the tail end of the first wave. I held my line and stayed on the buoy line, weaving my way through a few swimmers from the first wave. A 10 min separation was quite ideal.
I thought I lead out of the water, but apparently, I was second. There was a guy 20 seconds in front of us. This I learned on Sunday. Oh well. I ran to my spot, donned my non-aero helmet and ran up to the mount line, got on the Kueen K and was gone.
One guy went past me early and seemed to be getting away, but then he stalled and started to come back. This would make sense as he was the first out of the water. I must have passed him in transition. Pierre H caught me on lap 2 or 3 of the bike and I could not match his pace, so I let him go and held my effort in check.
He put 20 seconds on me and then stayed there. I could see him on each lap as I approached the hairpin turn. I was getting splits from Alexander Albuquerque “20 seconds! 22 seconds! 25 seconds!” he would yell, and then I’d step up the effort and close things back down to 20 seconds. In between splits, I was able to say very quick hello's to Dev, Neil, Brenda and Sheri as well as a few others from Ottawa, but I bet they sounded more like grunts.
I managed to stay 20-30 sec back of Pierre for the rest of the ride, and with 3 laps to go, decided to dig a bit deeper and try to close things down. “15 seconds! 10 seconds!” Alex yelled. On the last lap, I caught Pierre and we entered the t-zone together with another guy and a relay team. I had my bottle of calories within the first 90min of the ride, then a gel and another one on the last lap. That is the most I have ever taken in a race this short.
We all transitioned very quickly and were off.
My run legs felt great, having had my first two ART appointments in a few years earlier that week (thanks to Duane Smith). I felt loose and relaxed as I ran along, quickly catching everyone who tied their shoes faster than I did, and pulling away from Pierre. I was passed by a relay, who went by hard, but then stalled about 20m in front or me. I fed off his energy and pace, then as my legs warmed up some more, inched him back, passing him at 3k. I looked at my watch for the first time and saw 10:20. Three sub 3:30 kilometer splits explained why I caught him, and why no one was passing me.
It also woke me up and my better judgement told me to slow it down a bit.
My next kilo was 3:40 and was more reasonable.
I ran very steadily for the next 10k, knowing I had a good chance of beating the old guys if I stayed in one piece, and most of the young guns. There were only 3 people in front of me on the course, and they started in the first wave, 10min ahead. I needed to finish within 10min of them to beat them and as I passed the people who were a lap or two or three behind, I could not muster even a "good job". I was in my own little world of self-induced discomfort and was not planning to come out until after the finish.
Alex was giving me splits on the run and going into the last lap, told me I was 50 seconds down from first. I looked at my watch and I had roughly 16min to beat my dream goal time for the day. I had one lap to go. 4.2km in 16min. Hmmm. There was so much to think about, and unfortunately, I started calculating and getting distracted. My mind drifted until I realized I had to get back to the task at hand—running hard, no matter the finish time.
I charged on, passing the women's leader Marie Danais, who encouraged me to dig deep and chase “ne lache pas!”
“Never,” I grunted and continued onwards. I had been developing some blisters on the balls of my feet for the previous 20min or so and they were really beginning to bug me, and affect my foot plant and stride. I forced myself to run taller. To plant my foot under my body and get rid of the side to side movement that was causing them.
The blisters were no longer an issue and I wound things back up, or at least tried harder.
With a kilo to go, my watch told me I had 2min to go to that dream goal. Without a bit of nitrous oxide, It was out of reach, but I would be very close to my predicted time from the night before. I took solace in that, still not knowing if I had taken over first place in the race, therefore not allowing myself to back off even a bit.
I pushed on and crossed the line, strong and totally in control, but glad the race was over. I congratulated Jarome Bresson and Tyler Lord, the only two guys that had started in the first wave I had not caught on the course.
“How old are you?” Jarome asked.
“43. I left in the 2nd wave.” I answered.
I sent this report out to a group including Alex, my angel split giver. Apparently, he meant to say that I was actually 50sec ahead of Jarome with one lap to go, not behind. Hees English eess no so good.