I can't say for sure if Vancouver was the best race of my life but I can definitely say that it was the biggest win of my career. This race was also very special to me as it coincided with a family tragedy that happened earlier in the week. Hopefully my race was able to bring a little happiness in a tough time for my extended family.
The race was held at Spanish Banks and rode around UBC, so it was a course I was very familiar with. I got some great advice from 2009 race winner Jordan Rapp as well as fellow Canadian Brent Poulsen.
My plan for the race was to 1. get a lead on the swim
2. Bike strong enough to stay with the lead group but not torch myself
3. Run the fastest split of the day
I knew going into the race that my swimming had been going really well. I wanted to take advantage of this and have a lead coming out of the water over the other strong runners in race. I had hoped to get on Ian Young's feet but he took off like a bullet and I missed that train. I was able to get on the feet of former Olympian swimmer and fellow UBC Alumni Mark Johnston who was there doing a relay. Mark wasn't out there to kill it and swam at an even pace and dead straight. When we made it to the beach I could see Ian just ahead running into transition. After a quick transition (fastest of the day, I have learned well from Kevin) I was right behind Ian going out onto the bike course.
I traded off leads with Ian as we crested the hill and rode along South West Marine. We hit the first turn around and it was now time to see how much damage the swim had done. I was thrilled to see that we had opened up a substantial gap to the next two guys (Steve Kilshaw and Chris Boudreaux). Part 1 had worked. I traded off leads with Ian for lap 2 and then took the lead for good at the start of third lap. I felt really good and rolled with it. I could see that I was putting time on everyone and knew that when I rolled into transition I would have some breathing room. The only thing that slowed me were the 12 no pass zones. Given that it was a four lap course and there was also a sprint distance race at the same time, things were understandably hectic . I wasn't sure the exact rules so I kept it as honest as possible and didn't pass anyone. I lost a fair amount of time in there probably (2 min) especially on the last lap where I was forced to ride behind a woman on a mountain bike for over a Kilometer. I was definitely very thankful to everyone that went over their threshold to rider faster in these no pass zone after they heard me yelling. It was definitely a cool feeling to be at the front of the race with a police escort and the Rogers sports net people buzzing around on motorbikes. I could get used to that.
Part 2 of my race strategy went better than expected as I had about 2 minutes on Ian and about 5 on Steve. I probably pushed a little too hard on the bike as my legs felt trashed for the first 6k of the run. Finally I settled in and started getting into a rhythm. I could see that Steve was gaining on me so I made sure I pushed things to keep the gap open. My body felt better and better as the race went along and I ended up with the fastest run split of the day (mission accomplished) and spitted the second 10k over a minute faster than the first. Definitely something to work on there, but gives me huge confidence in my ability to close out a race hard. I crossed the finish line in 3:50 and Couldn't have been more happier. Steve ended up finishing second and Trevor Wurtele had a great race finishing 3rd. Next year they won't have to list Trevor's race credentials as "Heathers Husband and also a pro himself". Mike Neill was fourth and is looking good to grab a Kona spot in Lake Placid on the 27th. I was really hoping that Heather Wurtele would be able to make it an Okanagan sweep. She came so close to taking the win finishing second by about a minute but lost to some pretty stiff competition. A big thanks to everyone that came out to watch. Hopefully I will have convinced some of the UBC XC alumni who were out watching to hop in a half Ironman sometime. Ben, Shane, T-knuckles? How about it?
On a side not it is really cool to see the guys that you were battling it out with on the local scene progress to the point where you are battling it out with them on a World Class level. Steve Kilshaw is the best example of that. We battled it out on the Peach and am sure we'll be battling it out for many years to come. I also think he's going to podium at IMC (you heard it here first). On that same train of thought..... Here's an interesting result before Trevor and I both started taking this triathlon thing seriously. http://www.winningtime.ca/results_ubc_031106/olymaleoall.txt
I guess now it's time for me to go off the grid for a couple of weeks and get ready for the next race the Calgary 70.3 on August 1st. Robbie Smith asked me while working at the Bike Barn "We'll that good but how do you go faster ?" The question caught me off guard but I thought about it and came up with an entire list of answers to that question. It really hit home that I may have won the race on Sunday but I am still a rookie in the sport. Kevin has a great program and today is the start of a hard 16 days and then its taper time. I am excited to get back on the Ironman 70.3 circuit and see how I stack up after a great few months of training since Galveston. I have a feeling I am going to surprise more than a few people out there.
(I have posted some race photos on Facebook, so If anyone reads this and wants to check them out feel free to add me.)