I haven't done this race since 2011, having done it 4 years in a row up until that point. Each time I have done the race, I have bested my previous time and I was really hoping to do that again in 2016, despite being 5 years older and in a new age group!
I went up to Huntsville the day before the race, picking up a buddy in Barrie and heading directly to Deerhurst for a little pre-race open water swim and short run. It was raining pretty steady the day before, so we skipped the bike and just did the registration, bike drop and headed to the hotel to chill before going for dinner later in the afternoon.
Race morning brought clear skies and a nice temperature. Once in transition and with everything setup, I headed down to the swim start with Steve Good for our 7:10 start in the 3rd wave. By the time we got ready and dropped our morning clothes bag off, we only had about 5 minutes to get in the water and over to the start line.
At 7:10 the horn sounded and we were off. We headed directly into the sun, so it was pretty hard to sight in the first 10 minutes until we made the first right turn. There was a bit of chaos, as there usually is for me, since I'm just not fast enough to get away from it all, but overall, it wasn't too bad.
On the back half of the swim, I found myself off to the left of everyone else, despite constantly swimming to the last turn buoy. Not sure if I had the better line or if I was off course. Either way, I had lots of clean water and just kept moving forward. I eventually made it to exit stairs and when I stood up I saw high 30 minutes, which wasn't too bad. My official swim time was 31:03, good for 10th overall in my 40-44 AG and a new PB at Muskoka.
Muskoka 70.3 Swim
I used the wetsuit strippers to get the wetsuit off quickly and then made the long uphill run to transition. I quickly got my helmet on and was off on the hilly 94K bike around Lake of Bays.
I immediately starting passing lot's and lot's of people. The plan was to hold around 260 watts throughout the entire ride. As usual, I started off a little hot as I was in pursuit of those ahead, but I didn't feel like I was pushing beyond my limit. I hit the lap button around every 45 minutes to track my average power and heart rate during the ride. The first 45 minutes came in at 269 watts.
The next 45 minutes, as I got settled in, I rode 258 watts. It was in this section that I eventually caught up with my buddies Carlos and Steve. By this time, Steve had taken over the lead AG lead, so when I passed him, I was the new 40-44 AG leader. Steve had been riding with a guy for a while, and when I passed him, that guy hopped in with me and together we basically finished the ride together. I don't want to call him out for outright drafting, but I'm pretty sure if I hadn't come along, he would have been much further back when I finished. I kept an eye on him throughout the last half of the race to make sure he wasn't sucking my wheel. I'd say that he spent 75% of the time behind me in that last half of the ride. We chatted a few times and he seemed like a nice dude from Australia (but later through Strava analysis, it turns out he was from NYC), so I didn't let it bother me much. It was just good to have company for the last half.
When we turned in Baysville, I had an average speed of 37.3 kph, but I knew that was going to drop, as we hit the hills and a bit of a headwind back to Deerhurst. In this 3rd 45 minute section, my average power dropped to 241 watts. I purposefully decided to take the last bit easier with a high cadence to hopefully save the legs for the run.
We eventually made our way back to Deerhurst, and my average speed for the ride dropped to 36.2 and an average power of 255 watts and normalized power of 266 watts. The variability index of 1.043 was a little higher than what I would normally do, but with all the hills, it's pretty hard to keep it consistent for the entire ride.
I held onto first place in my AG through until the end of the ride which came in at 2:36:05, a new PB.
Muskoka 70.3 Bike
Once into T2, I pulled a stupid move and couldn't find my spot right away, as I was walking around with my bike. Total brain fart, as I was only one section from the end of the aisle. I eventually found it and started getting my socks and shoes on, but noticed that the headband I was going to wear (Lionel Sanders style) was nowhere to be found. I moved a few things around, but couldn't find it. More time lost. Overall, I bet I wasted 30-40 seconds in T2...really dumb!!
Eventually I just grabbed my sunglasses and headed out for the run.
Once out, there was a small group of guys up ahead and I started making ground on them. At the 2K mark, a guy went absolutely flying by me and sure enough, #41 was written on his calf. There goes the AG win today! I didn't recognize him, but I found out after that he won the Toronto Goodlife marathon this spring in like 2:35, so I didn't feel too bad later on.
I eventually caught up to the pack of 3 guys and we ran together for a large chunk of the race. One fell of the pace around 8K but myself and two others stayed together all the way through town to the turnaround and back to Hwy 60.
At this point, the fatigue and effort of the day was starting to catch up with me. The two guys (who by the way were in younger age groups, so I knew I had at least a 5 minute lead on them) started to pull away a bit and with 3K left, I'd say they had about a 100m lead on me.
The down and back up section at Cookson Bay was by far the hardest part of the race. The downhill hurt the quads and the uphill was, well just torture. I kept the feet moving, except for 3 seconds through the aid station to grab some pepsi, and eventually made it to the top. A short bit more and it would be a nice downhill for a few minutes back to Deerhurst.
Once back at the resort, there was one more climb and then a flat/downhill run around transition to the finish line. Just before entering the chute around transition, a guy in the crowd said there was someone coming up from behind and he was maybe 100 yards back. That seemed like a lot at the time, but as I kept going around transition, people kept telling me that someone is coming up fast. There was no way I could risk an AG spot at this point (even though I didn't know if he was actually in my AG or not), so as soon as I made the final turn down the finishing chute, I cranked it up and hit the fastest pace of the entire run by a long shot.
In the end, I did cross the line before this guy, but only by 3 seconds, and sure enough, he was in my AG, so wow!!! that was close!! I ended up holding onto my 2nd place in the 40-44 AG and in the end, finished 11th overall in the race (note - this was an AG only race with no pro field). My final run time was 1:32:39, and you guessed it, another PB here at Muskoka (although this was the first time doing this new run course, which was likely a bit easier).
Muskoka 70.3 Run
My final finishing time was 1:44:52, which was an overall race PB by almost 10 minutes.
2016 Muskoka 70.3 Results
There turned out to be 5 spots awarded to my AG for the 2017 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and I decided to take the spot. I've never been, so figured it would be cool to check it out.
So overall, pretty happy how this race turned out. Next up is Xterra Parry Sound on July 23rd, so it's time to get back on the MTB to get ready.