As my hometown race and spectacular course, Ironman Calgary 70.3 (#IMYYC) has become one of my favourite and largest races of the year. No other race carries the pressure from myself or others than this one. Once again, 2014 brought a competitive field of male pros including Olympians, World Champions, Ironman and 70.3 winners. Heading into the race I was extremely confident and the right amount of nervous.
The swim started out perfectly. I knew the course really well and the long shallow entry made it tricky for others. When the horn went, I took several running strides before a few dolphin dives and started swimming. To my surprise, I was leading Andy Potts on my left and Will Clarke on my right. This lasted maybe 100m before I got swallowed up by the pack and settled into my groove. Everyone must have taken their happy pills that morning because the swim was ridiculously gentle. I didn’t get bumped or hit once…new record. Half way through I made a tactical error and let the guy in front of me open a gap to the pack as we headed into the sun. I came out just behind the pack after swimming the rest alone…what a loner!
Running into T1 the only thing I really remember is someone yelling “You’re 3mins down on Potts!” My thought “Crap, I just swam 1900m in 23mins…thought I swam well” The bike was also very cordial for the first bit. It took me 30km to catch the guy in front of me and I couldn’t see anyone else on the road. When I caught him we proceeded to shift leads every couple minutes so we would have a carrot to chase. By this time my stomach was a little upset and I had started throwing up my nutrition. This is why I only eat liquids on race day! The ride home was super quick with a tail wind and I came into T2 in 8th place.
In T2 my coach, family and friends were all yelling at me from 2 feet behind. I’m listening for info as Jon Bird and JVD yell “No one can run like you” “It’s time to Unleash!” “Go Hunting G-Force!” I headed out of T2 like I had nothing to lose. One of my cue words for the day was “Unleash” on the run and I started with a quick tempo right away. The legs felt heavy and tired but based on the couple people I saw, I knew I was moving. At the 10km mark, I was in 6th place and 1km down on 5th. I kept the pressure on and embraced the pain of the race. I longed to see the Talisman Centre’s Aid station at the top of Weaselhead hill at 17km. Combine this with seeing Hillary, my family, Birdman and JVD and I knew I could catch 5th. The pain was there, the legs were heavy, but thankfully I had enough to move into 5th with 2km to go.
I finished in 5th place in 3:54:25. I had the fastest run split by 1min, clocking a 1:14:03. Overall, I’m happy with the day, but definitely need to become a better cyclist.
Thanks for reading and for all the support from family, friends and sponsors, especially Paul at Centaur Subaru.