Tuffest Three – the ’08 edition

The race arrived this morning in the midst of mist and cool temperatures. Check in began at 8:00 am and I was there somewhere around 8:05. Simmon showed up at about 8:20 and no other athletes showed their faces in the park until quarter to nine.

Tuffest 3 is a run-bike-run three person relay that traditionally has been dominated by triathlon club in previous years but unfortunately our showing was a bit limited this year for one reason or another. Tom McGrath, Leanne Haney and myself re-entered our winning team from last year in the race this year, hopefully safely winning the co-rec category and in contention for the overall win. Tom had another idea however, he’s trying to accumulate points in the annual Men’s Intramural competition and wanted us to race as a male team so any points we won would count towards his total. I was aprehensive about the idea as I wanted to win a shirt and didn’t want to have to beat Pat Kong, Corey Dawson and Simmon Hofstetter to get it. Tom agreed that he’d compensate both Leanne and I with champion T-shirts from his amassed collection if this was the case…

As the crew of 29 or so teams lined up for the start I rolled out for about a 10 minute warmup. After the first lap Nathan (tri club) was running in second place behind an unknown dude. Tom and Pat were 50 yards back running neck and neck. By lap two of the run the unknown guy had dropped way back and Tom and Pat had caught Nathan. I got set to ride sporting my time-trial kit: my tightest jersey, favorite bib shorts, and my newly acquired Giro advantage2 helmet that I scooped up for about half-price this past week. Tom came in only meters ahead of Pat and I set out for the first of ten laps with Simmon only seconds behind.

I tried to take it easy for the first three laps, 40 kph on the gradual uphill and letting things run up to 44 or 45 on the downhill, as I’d practiced the previous weekend when gauging how fast the ride needed to be when the corners were accounted to split a full 40 kph on each lap. Lap 4 arrived and I got a bit boxed in having to pass a car and 4 cyclists in the same lap requiring a couple pauses in the ride, Tom told me after I had him a bit scared as I dropped a whole 4 seconds on that round of the park. At about that point I was really going hard and the lungs and legs were firing on all cylinders. With three laps left I thought I heard someone shout Simmon’s name as I rolled through the transition area and thought they were cheering for him to go for the pass. I hadn’t checked behind me yet and opted to keep riding my race, he hadn’t blasted past me yet and if he was going to pass me he wasn’t going to pull away much anyways. A couple more laps, when riding the downhill to the finish and trying to push in for the last bit I really could feel my hips starting to give me a bit of grief, and when one part of the legs starts to groan the rest of them do too. Suddenly my feet and glutes were sore too and I was very content to be riding in to the finish.

I unclipped my left foot and ground the spd cleat along the ground as I pulled in to transition to Leanne. The sparks flew and I got a pretty funny cheer from the crowd. Leanne was off running and I laid down on the ground fully spent having clocked a 40.4 kph for 23.4 kms on my own speedometer.

Simmon rolled in about a minute back and Cory headed out in pursuit of Leanne. She wasn’t to be caught though as she ran well and even though Corey ran a blazing second lap he only managed to gain back about 18 seconds on it.

I suppose I can check off in good conscience “Win a race” from my list of life-goals today. While we won as a relay team last year, I was out split on the bike by one rider, this year however I was fastest on the bike and on the right team. The official stats are based on a lap distance of 23.0 kms so It won’t record my speed as above 40 kph but we were prohibited from riding the “tangent line ” as it’s called through the park. We had to stay wide through a couple sections because the road wasn’t completely closed. I did meet the goal of splitting 40 kph. It would be quite something to do that for a full 40 kms… but on a different course with a bit more focussed training at that intensity I think I might be able to do it next year. Riding huge volume with Sea-to-Sea didn’t exactly set me up for super speed on a 1 hour ride… but neither did Simmon’s training for his ride at Ultraman Canada.

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