Monday, September 6, 2010

Another Close Call

Here is another overdue post on the Kelowna Premium Pan American Cup two weeks ago. I’ve been on the road a lot since then, and totally slacking off in the blog department.

On August 22nd I raced in Kelowna for the 4th time. I love racing there – great hospitality, beautiful scenery, easy travel from Seattle, relaxed “vacation town” atmosphere, all the awesomeness of Canada…

After a rather rough 6-8 weeks it was great to get out and race again, and to see that my fitness is *much* better than I’d thought. I suppose that the emotional and psychological component to this sport is very significant and it can be easy to get down on yourself when you get sick or injured, or when your performance just isn’t quite what you want it to be.

I was very excited to be back in Kelowna and I was happy to have that “game time” feeling once again.

Somehow I got the very last start number for this race, 72. So I started on the far left end of the start line, as far as possible from Mr Whitfield and with a slightly longer distance to cover than any other athlete. But this outside position let me swim in clean water all the way to the first turn buoy! So I had a solid start and settled into what turned out to be the “C” pack. I didn’t get a clear view of where I stood relative to the field until the run-out, but I saw Felipe Van Wyngard’s kit at 500m and knew I was in at least an okay group. I had to work a bit at times to stay with the group, but was also able to conserve energy by staying on feet. I took a surprising crack on the nose around 1000m in. One moment I was comfortably behind this other guy and then suddenly his foot was in my face. Literally.

I exited the water in 35th position at 20:22. A lead group of 12 was at 19:00-19:13 and a “B” group of 10 was at 19:44-19:54. My group of 14 stretched from 20:12-20:25.

I rocked T1 with the second-fastest time of the day. I split 1:16 while most of the field were in the 1:20s. This left me in good position to settle into the “C” pack. I thought it was the “B” pack at the time, but c’est la vie.

We get our shoes on a bit earlier than I expected and then quickly got to work. Our first trip up Knox Mountain brought a bit of carnage. Alexandre Day (CAN) crossed wheels and almost crashed right in front of me. As I tried to get around him, he fell into me and pushed both of us off of the pavement and into the gravel shoulder. Somehow we both stayed upright and chased back on. I had to turn myself inside out on the climb in order to do so, but I was psyched to make it back into the group, and without any road rash. Then the double whammy: Jorden Bryden’s shoe became unclipped and he started swerving wildly right in front of me, almost forcing me off the pavement again and forcing me to cut speed. He managed to chase back on but I was *cooked.* I kept the group close for about a lap but couldn’t get close enough to catch. Eventually I started catching stragglers from the group and we worked together reasonably well at times.

I was glad to feel rather strong on the bike, and more importantly my biomechanics felt good. I wasn’t limited by back pain or hip tightness, so my riding power was actually a fair reflection of my strength and fitness. If only I could have avoided the crash & the mechanical issue. Grrr.


(thanks again to Chuck Perreault for taking and sharing pictures at the race)

Towards the end of the bike I failed to make my usual pre-T2 attack after being on the front with 2k to go. Four guys slipped away and I had to be content enter transition with five guys ahead of me. Getting into T2 ahead of a big group can really help your run performance.

Starting the run, the race looked something like this:

  • A group of eight at 1:24:40 – 1:24:28
  • A group of fifteen at 1:26:40 – 1:27:09
  • My group of twelve at 1:28:41 – 1:28:52
  • A group of three at 1:30:53 – 1:30:56
  • A group of seven at 1:31:21 – 1:31:30
  • A group of six at 1:33:03 – 1:33:11

I exited T2 in 30th position. Three of those five guys managed to stay ahead of me, one very speedy runner caught me from behind and I finished the race in 29th place.

I was pretty happy with my run. I threw up a bit during the first mile but buckled down and ran pretty hard the whole way. I felt like I had good legs most of the time and I did a good job of racing the guys around me. I ran with Matos (BRA) and Chernikoff (ARG) for about the first 5k and then made a solid move at the start of the third lap to get away. I could see Bryden (CAN) and Day (CAN) up the road and I tried hard to catch them, especially after their shenanigans on the bike! But I faded a bit towards the end of the third lap and Matos & Chernikoff caught me again with 2k to go. This was my biggest “dark moment” of the day, with the body feeling ready to give out and the confidence sagging… but I ticked in behind the South Americans and realized that I could maintain their pace. With about 1k to go we passed a hotel where people on balconies were cheering for us. I spontaneously made a rather fierce move there to drop Chernicoff, then 400m later I made another surprising move to drop Matos. I don’t know whether they were surprised, but I sure was! I was so beat up at that point that I expected my “move” to be minimal, but I had a surprising amount of snap left in the legs and I was able to shake both of them and sneak over the line in 29th place.

If I had avoided the bike carnage and stayed with that “C” pack, I would have had to run maybe 20-30 seconds faster in order to get into a sprint finish for 19th/20th and a chance at ITU points. So once again, I was right on that bubble.

Here’s hoping that I can find improved fitness and better luck at Tuscaloosa in three weeks. Woohoo, racing!!

As I wrap up this rather verbose race report, a quick shout-out to our awesome homestay host in Kelowna, Liz Borrett! Liz has hosted me and/or other athletes I know for at least four years and has always made us feel very welcome. We sort of feel like part of the family at this point. Liz is exactly the kind of lady that I’d like to be when I’m in my 70s – racing half marathons, climbing mountains and always socializing with friends and family! She learned to swim a month before last year’s Apple Triathlon in order to race the Tri-It length.


  1. Liz is exactly the kind of lady that I’d like to be when I’m in my 70s


    is a sex change in your future then? ;-)

  2. Nice report, Chris! Great to hear about your finishing run kick; awesome to dig deep. Jorden Bryden works at my local tri shop (, so I'll give him the gears next time I see him... Just kidding; but, coming from road bike racing, I know how tense it can get in a pack. Good job, staying upright.

    Looking forward to your help working on my run this year in Austin at the Endurance Ranch.

  3. Thanks for catching that, Mark. I was hoping that *somebody* would!

    I can't wait to get back to Austin this winter! This Seattle summer started late and ended early. It's in the 50s and raining again already...