This past Sunday I raced back in my old hometown of Kingston, Ontario. This is a really special race because it is the race that really caught my attention back in my hockey playing days. As my days on blades were winding down I saw this race and thought I would like to try it one day. Hard to believe that 15 years later I have won this race 5 times. It is not the biggest race in the world (although the list of winners on the trophy is pretty impressive and I am honoured to have my name on their with them) but it is a race with a rich 26 year history and to be a part of it again this year was special.
Those that have followed this blog over the past year have known that I have had some ups and downs with injuries in 09. I have managed to stay pretty fit throughout the year, but I haven't been healthy enough to race as often as I would like to. I feared this weekend was going to follow an all too familiar pattern with an injury flaring up right before the race. Actually an injury did flare up at the end of last week as my IT band tightened up again and made running difficult. I took the week easy and hoped that things would be alright by the time I traveled to Kingston. Unfortunately I tweaked it again on Friday and it went into lock down mode immediately. Luckily my coach Randy has been in sports long enough to know what to do and he was stretching out the IT band and knee the day before. We got it to where I could run for 10 minutes and I thought OK, I can do this. I went to bed Saturday with faith and hoped that it would be ok.
Race morning arrived and the knee was still not co-operating. I ended up in the back of John Reid's truck 40 minutes before the race getting Randy to strip out the IT band once again and get it to where it was loose enough to run. I might have been a bit more stressed were it not for Tony O'Keefe's running commentary which had us all laughing.
Long Story short, I made it to the start line and did the best I could with what I had. The swim was very rough and when the knee gets like this it is actually painful to kick hard which made for a very poor swim. I managed to get out of the water and onto the bike a couple minutes back of Mike Greenberg (who it is great to see racing so well once again) and then it was onto the bike where the knee was really sore. I hate to do it, but this is when I started what would turn out to be a pretty steady diet of Advil over the next couple of hours. The two Advil kicked in about 10km into the bike and I was able to get rolling and get to the front of the bike around 25km. Once I was at the front I worked hard to build up an advantage that would hopefully allow me to run (if I was able to) somewhat conservatively. I hit the bike/run transition with close to a 3 minute lead and started out the run in a downpour. Luckily the knee was not a concern. It held up well until I had about 3km left when it started to tighten. Luckily I had held the 3 minute advantage and was able to run it in while Ryan Grant held his pace and put some time into me. All in all, it was just great to race again and see a finish line.
This race would not have happened were it not for my coach (and masseuse) Randy Zabukovec. Thanks Randy!
Thanks to John Reid for the pictures!