After a 2 year hiatus from Coronation, I decided to give it a whirl again in 2015. It was an absolutely gorgeous day for a race, if just a little warm. The race is now being run by Multisport Canada, which has a signifcant amount of experience putting on running and tri races. While generally, the organization was good, and the volunteers excellent, their handling of body marking and swim organization left something to be desired. In years past, organizers had an excellent system for placing swimmers in the appropriate lanes, with the similar paced athletes. The organizers have shifted to a system of “waves” whereby athletes were sorted into approximate swim times. Unfortunately, these waves were very large, and had a fairly significant time differential. Based on my estimated swim time of 20:00, I was placed into wave 4, along with 125 other athletes with an estimated swim time of 19-22 minutes. There was no further sorting or fine tuning after that. Communication about start time was also lacking, in my opinion. I lined up amongst the rest of the 4th wavers and hoped for the best.
I was a bit uncertain about the swim this year. Given the proximity to work, I had been doing most of my swim training at the YMCA downtown, which has a 25 m pool. It was only a few weeks ago that I went down to the Kinsmen one night for a swim, and I realized that training in a 25 m pool is quite a bit different from training in a 50 m pool, which I had always done previously. I found my times drop a bit so wasnt sure how the race would pan out, given the Peter Hemingway Pool is 50 m. I managed the 1k in about 19:40, a bit off my best for Coronation. I will point out, as I have in years past, tight, crowded pool swims in triathlons do not lend themselves to making friends of the other swimmmers. That’s all I am going to say about that.
It was a little before 10 when I got out of the pool, so not too hot, but I could feel that in an hour or so, it was going to be a scorcher. Given a last lap surge to try and make a pass in the pool, I was quite a bit more out of breath than I would have liked coming out of the pool.
No T1 issues and I was off on the bike! My training this year included very little time on my TT bike, but it felt great! I keep telling people this, but the ability to bomb down Groat Road on new pavement, with no cars on the road is worth the entry fee alone. Luckily, I wasn’t hit by any bent, falling girders. In 2012, the last time I did this race, I had my best bike leg ever. It was one of my goals to beat that time this year. I had planned my splits and the approximate pace I’d need to meet that so I was working pretty hard on the uphills. Each lap as I neared the top of Groat, I would tell myself that I really should coast a bit on the downhill, rest, and get my HR down some. But every time I’d start down the hill I couldn’t resist gearing up and continuing to crank down the hill. Then I’d go through the same thought process near the top of the hill. It was like some Triathlon version of groundhog day, without Sonny and Cher, and the funny. Seemed to have worked though, as I ended beating my 2012 bike time by almost 2 minutes.
Back to T2 and I was off on the run. By now it was getting pretty warm, and I could just not calm my HR down. There was apparently a price that was a going to be paid for going hard on the bike. Running is really not my strong point, so I never expect too much. I know from years past that the key is to make time while you can on the downhill section of Groat, because coming back up as the last thing you do in the race, will never gain you much time. I started off moderately, but gradually built up the pace and before I knew it, I was at the turnaround. I won’t lie, it was a tough slog back up, and I was suffering. Dead legs, a HR that just kept going up and up, overheated, upset stomach… you name it! About 20 painful minutes later, I was rounding the bend near the pool to head back to the finish. No word of a lie, I swear they moved that corner further down the road. Bastards.
All in all, a great race. Even swim, faster bike, slower run (they moved the corner!!!) led to within about a minute of my previous best overall time. What satisfied me most about this race was the run though. I pushed through a lot to keep running and try to keep my goal pace. I’m a bit of a Strava geek, and when I got home and checked things out the numbers confirmed what my body felt…basically i spent 96% of the race in HR zone 4 or 5. Strava also has a feature called “suffer score” which takes some formula based on activity time and HR (as far as I can tell) and give you a number. I was “pleased” that this turned out to be my highest number ever, so some somewhat objective confirmation of exactly how crappy I felt. I just re-read that. Essentially, what I think I just said is that I felt like absolute crap on a run for 43 minutes, but I’m happy because I felt like crap, and furthermore, an electronic measurement of a bodily function transferred via blue tooth to a wrist computer, and then ultimately transferred to another computer to input on a website, confirms that I felt like crap, therefore increasing my happiness. Weird times my friends, weird times.