Race morning started well before sunrise at 4:30am. I guess in this situation it was a good thing that most days of the week I’m up at 5:15, so 45mins earlier wasn’t that bad. When I arrived at transition, I was very calm as I meandered through the mud sopped transition area and tried to pump up my tires to specific wet condition pressures while not being able to see anything in the dark. Thankfully I found an unoccupied bathroom and didn’t have to spend 15mins in line waiting (critical for race morning). After joking around with some friends and other pros I walked off my own to get my wetsuit on and finishing my warm up.
When the gun went, the sun had just come up. I tried to get out to a fast start and battled with all the other skinny guys in black suits around me for a straight line. My goal for the swim was to not burn any matches, so I settled into a comfortable pace in a group of 4-5 and stayed relaxed. When I came out of the water I put in a burst of speed to get into T1 before anyone else. This gave me a clear line in transition and I was quickly on my bike with no problems.
Guys worked pretty hard for the first 10km on the bike and I found myself behind everyone I came out of the water with. I knew I had a long day ahead of me, so I just wanted to settle in quickly and find a groove. It was nice having a bunch of guys around me and I just kept thinking “keep in contact”. On the bike I was riding very well on the hills and gaining ground on others, but got crushed on the down hills and the flats. I guess this means I need to work on my flat TT skills! My nutrition program worked very well on the bike and I took a PowerBar double latte gel for the caffeine and calories every 30km. I only threw up twice on the bike, which sadly enough is pretty good for me. There is a disgusting story about the second vomit session, but I will spare your ears. Nutrition was going fine until my last gel exploded. Not only did I lose the nutritional value I needed, but it got all over my bike, hands and suit, which made me just a big sticky mess as I headed into T2.In fact my hands and bars were so messy, I could hardly shift or brake with my right hand. The last 10km of the bike I backed off the gas to prep for the run that was coming up.
Heading into T2 in about 15th, I knew I needed to lay down a solid run. Problem was I couldn’t feel my feet. I hadn’t realized that my feet were completely numb and I couldn’t get them into my racing flats. After several tries, I accomplished what any 3 year old can do and got my feet into slip on shoes. Yeah Grant! Right out of transition I started pushing the pace. Within a few km I passed Kyle Marcotte who told me “nice pace, but don’t go out to hard.” I though about this, because I trust Kyle, and decided this was exactly the pace I needed. As the kilometers rolled by I kept yearning to see someone ahead of me so I could reel them in. I knew I was on a good pace and was hurting a tolerable amount. During the run I was very happy with the amount of pain I was able to sustain and my focus for the run. I put in an effort to get up the Weaselhead hill with about 5km to go. At the top of the hill I was extatic to see my family and friend there cheering for me with a sign that said “Grantelope”.
This was the last high before I really hit the wall with 3km to go. I had brought Scott Curry within 20sec and then my race went down hill. All of a sudden I had no real control over my legs and was worried that I might stop running and start walking or fall down at any second. This is when the mental game really began. One of the keys of racing at a high level is the mind games you have to play especially when the pain becomes intense and your mind is telling your body to do something you don’t want to endure. I thought 3km to go, I can hurt for 11mins. When I hit the 2km to go, I thought, how am I not at the finish line yet. The last km was absolutely brutal. All my mental energy was directed to just putting one leg in front of the over. For a split second my mind wandered back to the 2 years I was out of competition and realized that I was finally back in the game. Then, there was the finish line. The glorious end of my day where I could finally lie down and stop hurting my body.
Finish time 4:08:20, with a new run course record of 1:15:55. I was 8th and the second Canadian. As a whole I’m very pleased, but need to find a way to not lose 3mins in the last 3km. Good learning day, with mistakes and room to grow.