Ottawa ITU Sprint Premium American Cup Part 1 and 2: Leaving It To Chance

September 14th, 2017

“ITU racing is a game of inches and seconds,” my triathlon coach, Tim Crowley, told me after I expressed my disappointment with my performance on the bike and ultimately my overall race in Ottawa.  We were discussing how five meters or seconds can turn into five minutes or several overall finishing places in short distance, draft-legal triathlon racing.

I should probably take you to the beginning and through the events leading up to this conversation before I give the entire ending away. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada has felt my presence before a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.  I visited Canada’s Capital once before, back in 2012. I traveled with the Army’s Fort Hood 10 miler running team to Ottawa for a half marathon called The Army Run, in preparation for the Army 10 miler competition in Washington D.C.

Plenty of bike trails

Plenty of bike trails  around Ottawa

Just like then, I was hosted by my good friend Catherine Damaris. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Catherine over the years while attending the Armed Forces National Triathlon Championships. The U.S. military always invites our neighboring brothers and sisters from the North to compete alongside us. She went above and beyond this time, providing lodging and letting me eat all her food. She even tried to introduce me to Poutine, but I’m not eating soggy French fries in gravy and cheese curd, even if her hometown invented it.


Ottawa River

This was not like any ITU race I have participated in the past. Actually, the race was the first time for this format in North America.  This race had super sprint (300m swim, 7.5k bike, 1.6k run) qualifying heats, and a final sprint (750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run) event . There were four heats, each consisting of about thirty athletes. The top seven in each heat advanced to the finals with two remaining spots up for grabs for the next fastest individuals from all the heats.


Swim Area

DAY 1:

I was competing in the 4th heat, which allowed me to watch the first two heats to draw some inspiration for my heat. As expected, my swim was not as strong as most of the athletes, but strong enough to put me at the back end of the swimmers exiting the water. I just don’t have that fast and efficient turnover that swimmers who have been swimming since they were old enough to swim. The fastest swimmers were about twenty seconds faster over a three hundred meter open water swim. No matter, I put my head down on the bike and along with Michael Aristha and a couple of other Canadian athletes, we eventually rode ourselves up to the leaders. Finally, I had the opportunity to come off the bike at the front and see how I can run when I am one of the leaders.  I probably could have positioned myself a little closer to the front, but I was still midpack. Better than at the end like in my last race in Richmond, VA.

Slow T2

Slow T2 put me at the back

But when something goes right, it seems that something always goes wrong. In choosing my shoes, I had picked a pair with a thin tongue, which has, in the past, usually made it hard to grab in transition. With a race as short as this one, any seconds lost are exaggerated. Not only were the tongues hard to grab, I also accidently sprayed an anti blister lubricant on the tongue which made it slippery when trying to grip it to shove my foot into. Fumbling with my shoe put me five seconds behind everyone else that I had come off with on the bike. In a super sprint, you only have a metric mile to run. Most anyone can fake a super short run, meaning that those I can crush in a 5k or 10k run can hang on for dear life for just a mile. Having to make up five seconds when everyone is running about the same is easier said than run.

Day 1 Run

Lucky for me, we had a hill coming out of transition and I was making up this time and closing in on the group of front runners. But as soon as we turned to go downhill to the finish, closing the gap became ever more difficult because gravity was working with everyone. For the last section of the run, athletes would turn left, run 150 meters, u turn and then make a mad 100 meter dash toward the finishing line (like an “L” shape).



As we all were running downhill to this section, I started counting bodies. Remember, top seven automatically advance. I counted 1,2,3,…7. Oh crap, I’m 8th. I did not want to leave this up to the chance that I may happen to race faster than any of the other 8th or 9th place finishers in the other heats. I stayed positive and kept pushing. Oh wait, number seven is falling of the pack, we have a straggler and this is my chance. They turned the corner to do the out and back section and turned the corner. Getting closer but this is going to be even harder if I can’t pass him before the turn around. Yep, this has just gotten harder as I made the turn around but still in eight place. It not over until it is over and I sprinted as fast as I could.

I know where I am going for pizza

I know where I am going for pizza

I crossed the finish line…still in eight and only a second behind seventh. I’m thinking to myself, “I hope I did not come all this way to do a twenty minute race and not make it to the finals. Now I have to wait until tonight and bite my nails pending the official results.” Nothing I can do, so I did my cool down and went back to the apartment to refuel, recover and wait for the results. After patiently waiting, one of the other athletes sent me a link to the results. It took me while to look at them, but when I did….Ottawa ITU Sprint Premium American Cup Part 2: It Would Take A Tornado To Keep Me From Finishing

I am a true believer of eating and promoting a plant-based diet for maximum nutrition, performance and recovery. Furthermore, I encourage the pursuit of living life and searching and holding onto quality relationships—be true to yourself and live life with others. Revel in the journey, not just in the destination. I’m pleased to be apart of the club team US Military Endurance Sports and race in The Escape Triathlon Series this year. I would only be half the athlete and man if it were not for the wisdom of my coaches and mentors, Tim Crowley and Louis Tharp and all my family, friends and supporters, like Vasa and Sabble Water Optics. Go chase your dreams too!