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CoachCal's Toronto Adventure

Monday, 22 July 2013 17:40 |
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My trip to Toronto had its bumps. Because of lightening strikes, I was stuck on the tarmac in the plane for 1 hour at Pearson Airport, waited for bags for another 2 hours and finally got to accommodations at 4am Toronto time.   Not a great start to prepare properly some 30 hours before my big race. Because of the lack of sleep, I slept till 12 noon the next day and had a nap, which ultimately cause a sleepless pre race day (literally). Honestly I don't think I ever fell asleep. I just wanted the morning to come.

AM of the race I misplaced my timing chip and had to scramble to find timing and get a new one.  It was actually latched on to my gear bag and out of site.  I think the extra stress and running all over helped me in the swim for a warm up.

The water was chilly then warm depending where you swam in the Lake Ontario Harbour. No warm ups were permitted. I had a smoking swim, going around 22.20 on a course that had lots of turns and slightly long.  Most of the fast younger guys would swim 18-19 minutes and were barely under 22.  It felt like I was holding 1:20-22 pace per 100m and came out of the water in the top 4 in my wave (40-49 largest wave in the race).  I knew it was going to be a good day after 200m as that piano never did jump on my back....  I went out hard but within the first 400m I would just remind myself to relax and throttle it down. It really helped and as I said, I never had that fatigue that comes after a fast start. I was swimming smooth and strong (something I rarely experience). I pushed up the frequency of my swimming and I thank you LANE 1... for pushing me hard each and every time I swim with the group.

The mount line for the bike was quite a run which included a steep slippery up ramp to a pedestrian bridge.  As I neared the mount line I hear someone say my name as he mounted his bike.  It was my good friend Mical Hay from Toronto.  We go way back racing head to head at big events.  The last time we raced against each other was in the 2008 World Triathlon Championships in Vancouver.  The race actually turned into a duathlon that year. Mical and I ran the first 3 km together, road the 40km bike in Stanley Park near each other and turned the outcome into a run off.  We passed the USA and New Zealander to roll into first and second. I was leading till about the 7km mark and Mical pushed infront. I stayed with him and dug as deep as I could only to lose the World Championship by 12 seconds.  I ran a sub 36 minute 10km that year off the bike. What more could I have done??!  That race still to this day reminds me of how deep you can push if you believe you have a shot at winning or at least being proud of yourself for trying. I always ground all my races to that battle.

Deja vu.....  we swam the same, and I was motivated to keep this monster in my sights on the bike (I knew I have been riding well all year, thanks to the power training we all have done this winter season).  The winds were strong on the way out and we had to push hard....  after exchanging passes many times to stay out of the draft zone, I decided to allow Mical dictate the pace as I grew confident that he was not going to outride me. I knew what was coming.... the same head to head battle on two feet like in 2008.  I also new it was going to hurt and I had to believe.

I had to keep telling my inner voice to calm down and not settle for SILVER before the run.... I had to believe that he was not as fit or capable of running fast off the bike (he stands at 6'2" and often these big guys are stronger bikers than runners.... I also had to block out that past as the past did not represent the present.... do you remember what happened in 2008???).

We exited transition with Mical ahead and not running that fast (smart tactics as too fast could really backfire). I settled into my pace that I knew I could maintain and allow for a least a couple surges.  As soon as I pull up beside him around the 800m after T2, he literally sprinted and did not allow the pass. Then the race was on. It was almost like he was a waiting for me.... I ran 2 strides behind him for 5km, making sure he knew I was there. He surged 2 times during that time which I was able to match or at least eventually pull him back.. His paced slowed and I decided to test him and pushed hard and actually sensed I broke him. But after 10 seconds of leading the event, he surged back and tested me. It was the perfect tactics as I was a little gassed from my surge and he actually broke my string.  From 6-7.5km I ran 5 meters behind him fighting hard to keep the string with the hope he would fade... Again the inner voice was telling me Silver was fine, "let up, it hurts too much" plus there no one behind us for 5 minutes in our AG. I had to keep fighting to the end as my own personal challenge and wanted him to know I was still there.  Funny all the while this battle was going on, we were passing other younger athletes who started in the waves ahead, but we did not ever notice them.... many of them tried to stay with us, but none could. We were both in our own little world racing hard and nothing else mattered.

With 2km to go, running into a head wind and up a slight uphill, I saw Mical's pulling further ahead and I could not respond. I counted a 15 second lead with 1km to go but decided to finish the deal and commitment to myself with a last 1000m push (we do it all the time in training and knew exactly what was left (under 4 minutes).  I could actually see Mical coming back to me and that inspired me more (hope). But with 400m to go and the finish line in view I knew he had beaten me again, some 5 years later.  After crossing the line I thanked him for such a tremendous battle and the pure feeling of racing beyond your beliefs. He reflected the same and we chatted for a while.


Racing truly is a gift.  Being healthy and in control of your life choices is precious, Racing against someone who brings out the best in you is priceless.  Thank you Mical and I can't wait till we meet again.... ok, maybe give me a couple days to feel that way!

I know many of you have the same experiences in all of your racing.   Some people comment on how easy some of us make racing look... but just know that we experience the same negative thoughts and struggles you do. Believe in your abilities and position your thoughts into a winning outcome.... even if you don't win the battle with your competitors, at least you win the battle with yourself.

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Calvin Zaryski

CoachCal has been coaching for over 30 years. Not just focusing on athletes, but on individuals whose goals range from climbing Mount Everest to recapturing the power of active living.

Website: criticalspeed.com

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About Criticalspeed

Criticalspeed provides a multisport training system that maximizes your time and stimulates improvements. The process includes a social and supportive environment to maintain consistency and motivation.

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