Monday, June 28, 2010

Coteau-du-Lac Pan American Cup

run-ChuckPerreault Yesterday I almost scored ITU points. Again.

Coteau-du-Lac is a small town on the outskirts of Montreal. We swam in a canal, biked out-and-back six times on a road that ran along one side of the canal and ran out-and-back four times on a bike path that ran along the other side of the canal. It felt sort of like racing in an arena that had been designed for the express purpose of hosting ITU-style triathlons.

Our 75-man field spread almost completely across the narrow waterway. We knew the swim would be a violent melee as everyone jockeyed for position. I had a clean, fast start but was boxed in on both sides by the time we hit 150m. I couldn’t find a clean path forward and the pace seemed reasonable, so I sat in. Bad call. As things opened up a bit at 500m I found I could easily swim away from the guys next to me. I spent the last 1000m moving up and bridging gaps while feeling strong and efficient. But the damage was done. I exited the water in 42nd place, 1:47 down on Andrew McCartney and over a minute behind the lead group.

I got through T1 and se to work on the bike, passing a few athletes in transition and catching others early in the ride. We quickly had a group of about a dozen riders driving hard to catch the group ahead of us.  We frequently caught and absorbed stragglers from up ahead but made minimal headway in catching the front group. That group swelled to 25 riders at one point but they stayed organized enough to keep the gap steady. We passed them at close to the same point on every lap, roughly two minutes down. Ours was one of the better-organized ITU packs that I’ve ridden with, but it wasn’t enough.

With 1.5 laps to go, Jordan Jones told me that he was about to attempt a break and asked me to go with him. I had just finished a pull and didn’t think that I had great legs at the moment, so I declined. He attacked out of the U-turn and got a small gap … it looked like he was going to hang out 100m ahead of us and just wear himself out, but then as the group sat up a bit on the final lap Jordan got a pretty nice gap going into T2. I shoulda gone with him!

There was a crash in the front group around this time, reducing their numbers a bit and giving members of our group a better chance at cracking the top twenty and picking up ITU points.

I made a good tactical decision heading in to T2. I sat 3rd wheel as we neared the final turn while getting my feet out of my shoes. Then I attacked just before the turn and was able to cleanly lead the group into T2. Even with a bit of a stumble while racking my bike, I still exited T2 in 5th or 6th place amongst our bike pack and quickly moved up to 3rd.

I wasn’t sure how well the other guys in our bike pack would run, but my quick start on the run gave me a chance to try to go with any guy who passed me.  I did so a few times, staying with Gonzalo Tellechea of Argentina for about 400m (he worked his way up to 14th by the end of the race!) and Christopher Pons from Chile for 3km (he dropped me at 6.25km but only finished one place ahead of me). A few Canadians caught me but I sat in for a bit and then dropped them!

On the first lap I tried to count guys ahead of me and figured I was in about 25th place. I was pretty sure that Jordan was in 20th place at the time – the last guy to get points – but knew that he would likely move up a bit more.  I passed a few guys on the run but still thought I was in about 23rd place starting the final lap.  By now there were lapped athletes all over the place and it was hard to figure out where you stood.  I counted guys who I thought were on their final lap and was encouraged to come up with a total of 19 to 21 … I passed one more athlete during the final km and thought that I might have squeaked in for points … but alas, I was officially 23rd. Oh well.

Dan McKenzie passed me at the beginning of the final lap. At the time, I was running behind a Canadian guy who had caught me. I hoped the Canadian would go with Dan but he couldn’t quite muster the speed, so I went around him but the gap was already there. Dan caught a few more guys and worked his way up to 20th – the last guy to get points.

I thought that I did a good job of pushing and really “racing” on the run. A few times I would get passed and immediately tuck in behind the passing runner, often countering 500-800m later and dropping the guy after getting a bit of a rest. I was hurting a bit at times, but I tried to just think of it as one of those hard track workouts where you just try to hang onto the guy in front of you and you don’t worry about how it feels.

All in all, I felt pretty good about my efforts on the swim, bike and run. That first 500m of the swim really killed me this time around. I need to be more aware and more aggressive early in the swim. But I did a great job of moving up during the last 1000m. Then I rode pretty strong and smart … I’m not sure how much run speed I would have given up if I’d gone with Jordan … then I ran pretty well.

Swim: 20:07 (42nd), leader was Andrew McCartney at 18:20-ish
Bike: 1:00:10 (2nd pack). Front pack went 59:30. Most of the difference must have been on the first and/or last laps.
Run: 35:18 (26th) … the 21st-place split was 35:08 … so it might be interesting to look at more numbers

The best run of the day was about 32-even, from a guy in one of the later bike groups.  The race winner was in the mid- to upper-32s, IIRC.

I have a few pictures from our “homestay.” It was an interesting one. I will try to pull together a travel post if I can find the time.  Thanks for reading!  Next up: San Francisco on July 10th!


  1. Hey Chris I'm a big follower of the blog and I know you must be furious about missing out on points so closely again! Just wanna let you know I love your blog and am really pulling for ya. Best of luck at the Con Cup at San Fran!

  2. Thanks for the support, Sal. I should have another greast chance at finally scoring some points at San Francisco. My fitness is really good in all three sports right now and I know that race course really well. I think this will be my 5th start at the elite race there, after doing the sprint & olympic in 2005 as an age-grouper.

  3. Hey Chris, thanks for another cool race report. It's amazing to hear about what goes on in the peloton and run packs from your perspective. Kudos on some good tactical moves in this race; it must be incredible to make these decisions when your heart is in your mouth, and the pace is blazing! Can't wait to hear about San Fran; hope you crush it down there. Training for IM Canada is going well; should be a good day. Looking forward to Austin Endurance Ranch 2011!!

  4. Thanks, Todd! Glad to hear that your training is going well. Did you see that Brett's girlfrien Victoria won her age group at CDA and qualified for Kona?

    Ben and I have a call today to work out a few more deets for Austin Endurance Ranch 2011! It's gonna rawk! Again!