Reflections on Texas 70.3

I constantly ask myself the question: Why am I doing this? The reason has changed over the years. In the beginning, it was a form of self-rehabilitation. I was in a crappy head space and needed an outlet for mental, physical and spiritual growth. As I started to become more secure with myself and who I was becoming my motivation began to change. I started to do it to see how far I could make it. Could I minimize the deficit enough on the swim to still be a factor in the race? Could I be competitive at the professional level? Could I win a professional race? These were all motivations at one point.

I’ve now reached a point where many of the more external motivations no longer suffice. What motivates me now is a particular moment in time. Everyone at some point in their life has experienced this moment in some way, shape or form. It’s the moment when you are operating at your absolute full capacity. When every ounce of energy you have is going towards the task at hand. When the task feels so challenging that every voice in your head is screaming to stop. It’s too fast, it’s too painful, it’s too much, it’s too hard- are common thoughts in this moment.

In the beginning, when you reach this moment in time, it often is too overwhelming and you are not able to persevere very far or long. But there is something captivating about the moment, something thrilling, something that draws you back. That is what motivates me now. I love that moment. I love the challenge of seeing how long I can persist in that moment. My legs are on fire, my feet hurt, my lungs hurt, every voice in my head is screaming stop- and yet there is something behind it all that says “this is fun, let’s go a little further.” When you are able to persevere in the moment for a length that was once thought to be impossible, the fire is lit and you find yourself dreaming of the next time you will have an opportunity to see how far you can go. Texas 70.3 really reminded of how much I love this moment.

The water temperature was 77 degrees so it was a non-wetsuit swim. This was my first pro race without a wetsuit. I had absolutely no idea what effect this would have on my swim time relative to my competitors. I had mentally prepared myself to hear a deficit that was greater than usual. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that I was only 4:30 back to the leader- who I presumed was Andy Potts. I thoughts this was interesting as it was pretty much the same deficit I had to him in Oceanside, where I wore a wetsuit.

On the bike, my intention was to hold a lower power output than in Oceanside, but hold it dead steady. Unfortunately, my power meter did not work the morning of the race (water had seeped into the battery compartment the day before) and so I had to ride completely by feel. I rode hard, but controlled. I tried my best to keep the power output steady. Approaching the turnaround I saw the lead biker, someone I did not recognize. I did some quick math once I reached the turnaround and was surprised to find that I had lost time to him. I didn’t think much of this though as I knew the race would very likely come down to the run.

At about 75km I caught the main pack of cyclists. I immediately went for the pass. I started the pass holding to my plan and passing with steady power output, but then my natural tendencies took over. I threw caution to the wind and burned a match or two. Once on the front I rode hard for a good five minutes. As we were entering the winding section of the course through the city, I looked back and saw that I had not been able to shake the pack. My handling skills are not very good so I was pleased when Andy Potts came by me, allowing me to follow his line. Greg Bennett also came by with about 2km to go.

A group of about 6 of us all entered transition together. We got a time split that we were about 7:30 back to the leader. I still was unsure who we were chasing. Immediately, Andy Potts, Cody Beals and myself went to the front of the pack. I was hurting pretty bad from the get go. At about 2 miles the moment I spoke of above began to present itself. I could tell that Andy and Cody were also in similar headspaces, so I took solace in the fact that I was not alone. At one point we were running 3 wide, bumping elbows despite the width off the road being more than sufficient- it was great fun. I kept persevering and around mile 4 I started to feel the others starting to crack. I held steady and over time I could feel that they were starting to fall off the pace.

I kept getting splits for the time gap to the leader. At about mile 7 the gap was down to a minute or so. Around mile 8 I made the pass. From then on I kept the pace as honest as my body would allow. I knew from Oceanside that Andy Potts is one of the best closers in the sport, so I didn’t want to send any signals that I may be faltering. I crossed the finish line in 3:45:39. Having got two flats in this race the year prior, and being a complete non-factor in the race, crossing the finish line this time round was deeply satisfying.

I’ve got to give some major props to Davide Giardini. He was the dude who went off the front on the bike. Super impressive biking. I certainly will not forget his name from now on. I look forward to racing again in the future.

I also want to say thanks to everyone for cheering and following along. Knowing you are watching gives me strength to continue to persevere in the moment. I also hope you will visit some of my sponsors as they are the ones who allow all of this to happen. I am very grateful for their support: Freshii, Louis Garneau, Cycle Culture, Skechers, C3-Kinetico, CompuTrainer, Nineteen Wetsuits, and Sportstats.

Thanks for reading!

14 thoughts on “Reflections on Texas 70.3

  1. Thanks for sharing again Lionel and especially thanks for letting us feel what that special moment feel like. All the best.

  2. Awesome racing Lionel. I hope you keep logging your journey in the blog as you move up the ranks in the PROs.

  3. Great insight into your thought process. I really enjoy your write-ups of your interval workouts on the bike and run. Keep them coming. This is your year.

    Jason

  4. Thanks Lionel…. I enjoy your post about training and races. Great. Great commitment, you deserve these results. BRAVO! (writing from Italy)

  5. Great job this weekend Lionel!! I raced it as well and saw you crushing it. Amazing closing run pace in that 97% humidity. Well done and I am certain you are now on every pro’s radar!!! Keep up the great work and don’t worry about trying to catch Andy in the water…just let a little seep into your power meter from time to time and you’ll do fine! Best of luck in the future and many more victories.

  6. awesome article Lionel… i think we all know of that place, we’ve all been there at the end of our races… learning to embrace that moment is oh so tough, but seeing how you process it and then leverage it into another strength is both impressive and inspiring… keep up the awesome work, go Canada!

  7. Thanks, Lionel, that was a great read. Pulling for you this year. Can’t wait to follow you at IMTX in a few weeks. PS – it’s hot there! I mean really hot! I’ve done it twice and it’s a great event. But it’s hot!!

  8. Great post and great race they just keep getting better. Always a great motivator for me after I read them. Keep it up!

  9. Pingback: Sanders sets the record straight in Texas | HamiltonScores

  10. Pingback: Sanders sets the record straight in Texas | dunlop squash dunlop tennis

  11. Great effort and results in Texas! Congrats on the victory. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the race and I really enjoyed the opening description of the mental battle that goes on in racing. Just like the race, you nailed it! Best of luck in your training and at IM Texas.

Comments are closed.