The Quick Version
I broke my goal and went sub-6:00, had a horrible swim, solid bike and awesome run. The course is hard and made me very sore. The End.
Not enough for 'ya? Then read on...
It's a real gem. Deerhurst is lovely, and the scenery around here is some of the best Ontario has to offer. Race organization was second to none, just a great time.
I have been dreading this swim, and my performance lived up to my dread.
It is not a difficult swim course, basically three turns. Lake is calm and the current is weak to non-existent. A competent swimmer should be able to set a fast time.
But I haven't been hitting the pool nearly enough - once a week more often than not. You can't expect to do well over 2000m when you haven't put in the time, and I haven't. So I got what I deserved, a dismal 51:07 swim.
The only positive was that I kept my cool and left the water feeling not too horrible - I didn't fight the water, just slowly and calmly swam. This paid off later.
Swim Result: 51:07 (2:41/100m) 808/863 overall, 129/133 Men 35-39
Transition 1 (Swim to Bike)
I had a slow transition, but most of that time was getting from the water to transition - 300m straight uphill! Crazy.
This bike course is legendary for being very difficult and hilly. Everyone I know who has ever done it tells tales of quad-busting horror... I was braced for a long and painful ride.
To my surprise, it wasn't that bad. The worst part is the stretch coming in and out of transition, which you do once in each directly (about 8km each way). After that, there are hills - some steep and horrible - but there are also long stretches of high-speed high-gear spinning. The last 30km or so are rolling and occasionally quite tough, but I felt really good the whole ride.
I do a fair bit of off-road stuff (mountain biking and now cyclocross) so I'm probably a bit more prepared mentally and physically for that cycle of hard/recover/hard/recover. It just felt like a very good and fun bike ride, I overtook a few people in my age group who got ahead of me during the swim.
Bike Result: 3:06:07 (30.3km/h) 323/863overall, 60/133 Men 35-39
Transition 2 (Bike to Run)
I racked my bike in the wrong spot at first... once I got that sorted out it was quick and unremarkable.
The run course is exactly as hard as people said it was... harder, maybe. It was so hilly, and this time truly start to finish. There are some very steep sections, too, along this recreational trail and on some of the roads. And once again they save the worst for the start and end of the run!
I decided not to focus on pace, since the hills were so unrelenting it was completely meaningless. I just focused on keeping my heart rate around 160bpm, if it went too much higher I'd back off. This seemed to work out really well, as I felt strong pretty much start to finish. I walked a few of the steeper hills in the 2nd half, but more to conserve energy than out of necessity.
During my run, Lisa Bentley (past Ironman Champion and race organizer) pulled up on her bike and was wishing everyone well. Everyone greeted her with a "hi Lisa!" as if they'd known her their whole life. She's just that kind of person, always so friendly and smiling, that you feel instant comfort meeting her. Great ambassador for the sport!
Run Result: 1:52:26 (5:19/km) 277/863overall, 45/133 Men 35-39
Overall Result: 5:57:04 - 373/863 overall, 68/133 Men 35-39
When I started this sport, biking was my strength, running was something I was working on, and I was a bad swimmer.
I still feel at home on the bike, but my running has come a long, long way. They're pretty much equal disciplines for me now.
I have room to improve on the bike, maybe more focus on training rather than just goofing around... nah, sounds like work! This is supposed to be FUN, right???
Swimming - I think I will take a few months off, or at least limit my swimming to one-offs until I get the desire back. I don't find I look forward to the pool, and while I never miss a chance to run or bike, I never miss an excuse not to swim... that's either got to change or I'll have to become a duathlete!
All in all, a fantastic event and I'm pleased with the result. I plan to do this again someday.