What a trip! Rebekah, Charleigh, and I just recently returned from our adventure to Victoria, Canada. It involved many hours of differing kinds of transportation but we had a blast! So here’s how it all went down.
The Trip There
The Wednesday before the race saw us making the drive to Atlanta to stay with my friend Jordan Foster. His place is just a few minutes from the airport and it was super convenient to have a place right there without having to get up stupid early to drive into Atlanta! Thursday morning then began our day of 3 plane rides with an almost 7-week old Charleigh. Flying from Atlanta, to Houston, to Las Vegas, and ending in Seattle went actually very smoothly with Charleigh behaving wonderfully and no hiccups in the flights. Once arriving in Seattle, we made the drive to Megan and Finn’s place who were friends of ours from USC. After a long day, we ate some Taco Time food and passed out.
Friday involved the actual trip to Canada. Our little family made the drive to Port Angeles where we then boarded a ferry that took us straight into Victoria, Canada. Another short drive later and we were settled into our AirBnb at last! I got in a short run to check out our beautiful surroundings before spending the rest of the evening with Rebekah and Charleigh. We even checked out a Tim Horton’s for the first time!
Saturday morning we got up early to join fellow Pro and friend Kevin Portmann for a shakeout swim to check out the swim course. The water was stunning and the temp was much warmer than I expected at about 66-degrees Fahrenheit (apparently about 19C according to the Canadians). After a large breakfast of frozen waffles, eggs, peanut butter, and Canadian maple syrup, I headed out for a ride to check out parts of the course. Luckily, I managed not to get lost, despite not having any sort of physical or electronic mapping on my person before leaving. I did get a little directional help from a friendly Canadian though. We then headed over to the Pro athlete briefing before finally retiring to our AirBnb to prepare and rest for the big day to follow.
Race morning went smoothly traveling to the race site and starting to get set up. It seemed like the potential for rain and freezing temps would be passing us by in favor of being cloudy and about 50-degrees (still Fahrenheit). Then while bending down to set up my bike shoes, I realize that my right leg is getting wet. I realized too late that the maple syrup bottle in my jacket pocket (don’t ask) had opened and all of it had spilled out and down my entire right side! It had gotten on all of my warm-up clothes and my race suit as well. I quickly attempted to rinse it off with water but would just have to accept the fact that I would be slightly sticky and smell like maple syrup during the race.
To get warmed up I used the swim stretch cords I had brought before heading down to the water to get some actual swimming in. After the singing of O’ Canada by the announcer, we entered the water to line up for the start. Specifically, every male Pro seemed to want to line up as close to the left buoy as possible which made things extremely crowded. And with a quick countdown, the cannon was off!
The first 200-meters of the swim was, as usual, a washing machine of arms and legs. I tried to stay close enough to draft but quickly got overwhelmed and got a few gulps of lake water. After coming out of the pack for a few strokes to catch-up on my breathing and regain myself, I headed right back in. This time finding my rhythm and quickly finding a couple others to swim with. The pace was high but definitely sustainable and exactly what I was prepared for. As we rounded the turn-buoys, it became noticeable that we had a pack of 5 of us just shortly behind some other packs up ahead. I continued to plug away and ended up coming out of the water in 14th in a personal best swim of 26:08.
Unfortunately, I decided to take the first transition in a similar fashion to how a turtle might play Jenga. In an effort to not raise the heart rate too quickly coming out of the water, I lost contact with many of the people I was swimming with before mounting the bike. I still did eventually manage to find my way onto the bike, and was off to chase down anybody I could!
I soon had a couple other cyclists in sight and made it my goal to catch them, but to make the pass convincingly enough to not be followed. This succeeded for about 5-6 riders until I couldn’t quite shake one. As I pushed through the “flatter” parts of the course, Stephen Kilshaw (a local to Victoria) stayed about 5-10 seconds back. After a little over an hour of riding, Stephen started to make a couple attempts at passing which I would replicate just a couple minutes later. After the third time, I let him stay up the road for awhile as I knew my energy would be wasted repeating this and he was obviously a strong rider. As we began hitting the hillier parts of the course, I decided to make a move on one of the larger climbs at about mile 45. I hammered up a steep climb and managed to build a gap. Knowing how good of a runner Stephen is, I knew I needed every second.
Not too much later, I arrived to the only out-and-back section of the race which was a short section going straight up a hill reaching 9% grade before coming back down. This was the first time I would truly know my position and found out that I was in 8th place! I was still a couple minutes down to the next person and had more not too far behind me making for a tight race. The remaining miles were a bit more difficult to crank out the energy to ride quickly, but I managed to finish the bike in 7th place and headed out for hopefully a great run!
When I initially signed up for this race, I had one goal. To place top-6. Why 6? Because that is how deep the money paid, and getting to Canada isn’t super cheap. So beginning the run in 7th gave me hope. That with a good run, I could not only pull off my first top-10 in a 70.3, but maybe actually turn a profit. As I started, my low back was tight, but the legs felt relatively good other than a few minor cramps. I head out at what felt like a good, sustainable pace and found myself holding right around 6-minute miles on the trails that were the run course. While I wouldn’t call the trails super technical, there were certainly some winding parts with the occasional short, punch of a climb. Including one longer climb lasting a few minutes which was of course also an out-and-back. I quickly realized that I was gaining fast on 6th place and around mile 4 I made the pass!
With 5th a few minutes up the trail, my mind turned to what was happening behind me. I was still running well, but Stephen was also holding steady about 30 seconds back. Every time I came through an aid station I could hear them start cheering again not long after I passed. But as I finished the first of two loops just under 40 minutes, I was confident and still feeling ready to tackle another. But as the miles wore on my legs got heavier and heavier and started to tighten as they felt all the earlier work.
Around mile 8 is when Stephen finally caught up and made a convincing pass. My attempt to surge and stick with him failed as I watched my top-6 run away. I spent the remaining miles fighting to overcome my dying legs and prevent any more damage from being done. I was eventually passed again by Australian Sam Betten but managed to hold on to the finish for an 8th place Overall (and apparently top American) in a time of 4:10:XX.
While this wasn’t my original intended goal for the race, it is still my best placement to date in a Pro 70.3. I spent some time talking with some of the other racers and volunteers before heading back with Rebekah and Charleigh for some much-needed rest and time with the family. The next couple of days involved more ferries, car rides, and flights to finally return home Wednesday morning before heading to my shift for work. Charleigh did wonderfully for pretty much all of the trip and cried for less than 45 seconds TOTAL on any of the 5 flights we made. We are also super fortunate to have such great friends in Jordan, Megan, and Finn who helped us out with places to stay when we needed them.
Next up for us is our impending move to Denver for 6 months where I will be working as well as training for IRONMAN Canada and of course spending time with Rebekah and Charleigh! I hope you enjoyed the long post and I can’t wait to keep improving and having new experiences with those that love.