After a very busy year, it’s definitely time for a Cozumel U23 World Championship and yearly recap!
To start off, Cozumel itself was quite a crazy ride: with its extreme temperatures, slippery roads and the whole Mexican experience was once again pretty wild. On race day, with a planned start at 3 p.m., one hour before the race we were told everything was delayed by one and a half hour. Come by 4:30 p.m., everything was on track to dive in the 29 Celsius degree water, and after a very long 1500m, close to 24 minutes for the fastest, we were out of the water. I found myself at the very limit of what would be the first pack, some 10 seconds back of the guy right before me, so I found myself sprinting my way into transition, already having cramps in my quads and calf, and rode hard to bridge back up as quickly as possible. Within the first kilometer I was in, and I joined a small 8-man group, who was actually collaborating quite well (with one exception as always). Unfortunately, we were caught after a 3-lap effort, first by the second group, then by the third group one lap later, which made for a truly massive pack on this tight course. A good placement coming into T2 got me out in the top-10 out of second transition onto the run. After a bit more than a kilometer, I caught two of the guys who broke away on the last lap (the last one went on to win the race), but the problems started, with low energy levels, cramps, stomach issues, the first three laps were very challenging. However, almost magically, I ‘’found’’ my legs on the last lap, and managed to catch 8 guys and move up to 9th place at the finish line, and straight to the medical tent for quite a bit of time, pretty close to a heat stroke. A very satisfying race, as I know I put it all on the line and gave it every single bit of what I had in me.
With another race left to the calendar, a World Cup the following week in Ecuador, unfortunately I got sick… Even with my best efforts, I wasn’t able to recover in time for the race, so I made the hard decision to not take my start. I’d have to say it was very disappointing, definitely not the last race I had hoped for, but I’ll just save this for the start of next season!
I have to say this was definitely a crazy year! A touch more than a year ago, after I failed to finish U23 Worlds in Chicago and completed my first ever World Cup, never would I have guessed that I would go on to take part in 4 WTS races, achieve 1 top-20 in Edmonton, and finish 9th at U23 Worlds in Cozumel! In all honesty, expectations were pretty low, so all of this came a bit as a surprise – assuredly a pleasant one. With my first ever altitude camp at the end of January, followed by a good 2nd place at Clermont American Cup and a bit of a surprise win at Sarasota Pan-American Sprint Championships, I suddenly had enough points for a solo trip to New Plymouth World Cup and surprisingly in my first WTS in Gold Coast. This last race, even though it ended with a not-too-glorious 44th position, was an eye-opener for me: For the first time, I was able to see the real world-class level, and it was a bit of a shock, but it ended being a hugely motivating moment. This helped me to complete, later in the season, 2 pretty successful WTS races (in the middle of a massive 9 back-to-back race block), in Leeds and Stockholm, on two super challenging courses, and later in the season to a great race in Edmonton, and the cherry on the top, Cozumel.
I can assure you that even though it seems like everything went pretty close to perfectly, it was one heck of an emotional roller-coaster ride. I have got to say, there was some very low points in 2016, moments who were very hard to overcome but that made me evolve (hopefully) into a better athlete and a better person. Bad habits can come back quite quickly, so it’s definitely better to change now than later, and change the way I act towards myself and others, so I hopefully don’t repeat past mistakes.
Finally, it would be impossible to end this blog post without thanking all of the people without who more than half of this wouldn’t be possible: Obviously my parents, who have to cope with me half of the year but have always gave me an unconditional support, my coaches, Kyla Rollinson and Javier Cuevas, the architects of this seasons success, Triathlon Canada, Triathlon Quebec (who make me so thankful I’m a Quebecer!), Saputo and the Fondation de l’Athlète d’Excellence du Québec, Tri-O-Lacs, my club since the very start, the Fonds d’Investissement et de Développement Athlétique, the Clinique Chiropratique de Pierrefonds and André the magician, Vaudreuil region’s best cycling boutique in Le Suroît Cycles et Ski and Jogx Vaudreuil and Bernard’s indefectible support!
As of now, I’m enjoying my off-season to the maximum, refreshing the batteries in order to make the 2017 season a memorable one. I simply have to say I cannot wait to face a whole new world of challenges!
All the best,