St. Anthony’s Triathlon was the first race in 2018 where I was making a return appearance. It really is a nice feeling returning to a race venue that you have been to before. I find everything flows much more easily. I already know the course so I can visualize it much better, and I know the area around the race. All of these things really do make things a lot smoother going into a race.

This event also provided me with the opportunity to catch up with old teammates and many racing friends. I was reminded of how much I love the comradery of the sport and how many great people are involved in it. As much as athletes are encouraged to be “lone wolves” and leave friendships on the start line, I truly enjoy hanging out with some of the other participants before and after the race.

As for the race, we couldn’t have had better conditions. There was almost no wind that day, with the ocean smooth as glass and the temperature hovering about 22℃.

 Paul Higgins

Paul Higgins

I lined up beside Jackson Laundry at the start and hoped we could work together in the swim. In the opening meters of the swim, I worked hard to get a good position. It’s always a fine line between jockeying for position and wasting energy fighting someone for the same piece of water. When everything settled down I found myself right behind Jackson. I made a couple of attempts to go around him but found it was better to sit behind him in the draft till the last 100m, when I moved up beside him as we exited the water. I was now in 10th place as I started the bike, a little further back than I wanted.

The bike course at St. Anthony’s has a ton of corners. I don’t usually race that kind of course, so it’s a lot of fun when I do get a chance to put that skill to the test in a race scenario. Throughout the 40km bike course, I was able to start making up some places. About halfway through the ride, I found myself duking it out with Nic Chase.

 Paul Higgins

Paul Higgins

 Paul Higgins

Paul Higgins

I seemed to be able be able to put a little time on him in the straightaways but he would reel me back in through the corners. We played this game of tag until we got into T2 and jumped onto the run. Nic led me out onto the run and set a quick pace that I had to match if I wanted to move up.

I was already on the move. As I hit the 1km mark of the run, I had made my way into 7th place. Now I was getting my run legs under me. I already knew this Olympic-distance race was going to be short and sweet compared to a 70.3. For a long-course athlete, it feels like it is over before it really starts. Of course, that meant I had to be ready to dial things up; I didn’t have the time or the space to play the long game.

 Paul Higgins

Paul Higgins

The kilometers just flew by, and before I knew it I was coming up on 6th place. I wanted to pass him before the 5km mark so I could shift my focus to running down a top-five finish. With 200m to the turn-around, I made my move into 6th. Ryan Fisher was just seconds up the road. I had to dig in for the last 5km if I wanted a shot at running him down and holding off any one who was behind me. Over the next 4km, I brought back a second here and there on the Australian Olympian, but I ran out of road before I had the chance to catch him.

I laid it out on the course that day and was happy to really feel like I was racing. Sixth place is a step in the right direction, at the very least. After stumbling in my first two 70.3s of the year and struggling through the tail-end of the 2017 season, this felt like I am back on the right path. While there’s still work to be done, things finally seem to be getting falling into place. It’s only upward and forward from here.

 Paul Higgins

Paul Higgins

It was also a good way to close out my winter training and the spring portion of my 2018 season. With three races completed, I’ve returned to Guelph, ON, ready to get to work, as I prepare for my next race and look forward to the next races of my 2018 season. My next race is Ironman 70.3 Victoria, where I’ll look to get back in form and hope for a continue podium finish streak there.

Thank you to Paul Higgins for the great pics. http://www.higgybabyphotography.com/

 

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