#3… well that sucks, I thought as I found my number on the start list at the MSC Bracebridge Olympic Triathlon. Bracebridge has a time trial format with elites sent off every 15 seconds. As a result, you have to suffer every second of the race since it’s hard to know where you stand relative to the competition. And when #1 didn’t show up, I found myself in the role of the hunted, chased by nearly the entire field.

One benefit of the time trial format is avoiding the usual chaos of a mass swim start. I quickly found my rhythm and went to work catching #2. I was first out of the water with a personal best swim.

My wetsuit and I have had several skirmishes this season, but the battle at Bracebridge was truly epic. It took 30 agonizing seconds to wrestle it off, promptly erasing all of the gains from my swim. I’m going to amputate its lower legs for retribution.

When I finally finished my sojourn in the transition area, I watched the uber-bikers receding up the road. I let them go instead trying to keep pace, a mistake I made at Cobourg. The bike leg of the race is always varying degrees of misery. I consider it a success if I can put out an evenly-paced effort, minimize near death experiences and set up a fast run.

I rolled into transition over three minutes down on the leader. I started crunching numbers (no easy task with an oxygen-starved brain). I had never closed a gap that big before. I realized that my usual high-33 minute 10k probably wouldn’t cut it. I needed more, maybe more than I had. I banished that thought and set to work. Nine and a half fun-filled kilometers later I overtook the leader.

I ran 32:53 for the win (results), not only my best triathlon split, but faster than my any standalone 10k I’ve run. While I’m pleased with my running and swimming, my consistently mediocre biking is disappointing. I guess it’s back to the drawing board. The quest for the perfect race seems quixotic.

One consequence of running relatively well (on the Ontario triathlon circuit) is that everyone—from hobby-joggers to accomplished triathletes—seems to be full of questions; What’s my mileage? key workout? favourite shoe? opinion on barefoot running? I am reluctant to dish out advice for a few reasons:

  1. They assume that I know what I’m doing. Debatable.
  2. The Olympic Games triathlon winner’s 29:07 10k puts my performance into perspective.
  3. If I did have some secret formula, I would be a moron to share it with the competition.

Ok, I’ll let you in on a few “trade secrets”. My go-to workout involves selecting two landmarks separated by an unknown distance (between 200m and 3km) and negative-splitting as many repeats as I can. Either that or a simple, honest tempo run. Highly scientific. All other runs are at S-pace (the ‘S’ is for snail). My view is that if you have to write down a workout or explain it twice, it’s too complicated. Barefoot running is no silver bullet, but I do some token strides once a week mostly for fun. And drills… puh-lease, the sport is already dorky enough! Ever witnessed a gaggle of runners warming up? It’s like every runner is trying to outdo the next with Pythonesque antics.

Next up is the MSC Wasaga Beach Olympic Triathlon, where I hope to collect enough points to win the MSC Elite/Pro Series and, more importantly, Ontario-non-drafting-short-course-sub-elite-triathlon glory!

Tongue out, a la Michael Jordan