My Summer Recap – The Good and The Bad

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This recap has been a log time coming and with my down time from training I now have some free time to write this. This past summer was the busiest to date I raced 10 duathlons, 2 running races, battled small injuries, hormone problems, my daughter was born and my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  All this happened in such a short period of time that it has felt like a very long season.

My season started with a 10k road race to test my winter training and it was anything but fantastic. This was April and I had a bonk in my training in March. It was around this time my bodies hormones were so screwed up I was barely hanging on. After the 10k it was Iron Hawk Duathlon which annually I race as my season opener. This race also did not reflect all the hard training I had done all winter and I started to have heart rate issues as I battled running and cycling while on beta blockers (suppress heart beat).

 

Woodstock rolled around early June and that was the MultiSport Canada season opener, I won last year and hoped to defend my title again. I fell short of the podium by only seconds and had another bad race. My heart medication again combined with my hormone imbalance was turning into a huge limitation and reflected largely in my performances.

 

The end of June I took another shot at the overall win at Guelph Lake 1 Duathlon (Club Championships) and managed a 2nd place.  My biking all year was fantastic despite all the challenges physically. I had the fastest split of the day at a lot of races (pro or armature).

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July meant that the MSC Belwood Duathlon was back. The format of the race has to be one of my favorites (5k,30k,5k). By this time in the summer I was starting to feel better and had corrected my hormone imbalance, but my heart rate was still an issue. My daughter (Harper) was born June 30th and luckily the lack of sleep was not hindering my performance. A huge motivator now the birth of my daughter changed my outlook on life and realigned my priorities. I train harder and smarter so that I have more time to spend with my family.

 

I should mention at this point that my buddy and fellow competitor Garvin Moses was quickly becoming my immediate rivalry having placed behind him in every race of the summer. Props to him for obviously working really hard all winter because he was performing at a level which I was striving for. I chased him every race until he had a mild cycling accident late in the summer and that ended his racing for the season.

 

MSC Gravenhurst Duathlon weekend rolled around and the family and I made the trip up north where I would compete in my first ever International Distance Duathlon (10k,40k,5k). This weekend was my “A” race weekend, Provincial Championships, Du the Double Challenge and ITU World Qualifier. Both days I finished with the same results 5th OA and 3rd in AG. My debut on the long course was a huge success in my mind and I proved that I could be strategic and execute a race plan that produced excellent results. Saturday was the long course and Sunday the sprint and despite leaving everything I had on the course Saturday I still managed to keep going on Saturday and race competitively. My negative bike split on the 40k just instilled confidence in my bike training and even to date this was one of my fastest average speed bikes of the season sprint or international. Despite not qualifying for the 2017 Worlds by only minutes I have taken it in stride and learned from the experience.

 

After that race weekend I was able to reflect on my experience and it opened my eyes to the fact that long course racing is where I want to be. I can ride just as fast for 20k as 40k and who knows maybe longer! My running was a struggle and after this weekend I stopped taking my beta blockers. These performance decreasing medications are the devil when it comes to running or cycling. This decision while it sounds easy to make was not. Taking beta blockers was to “keep me safe” while I competed, but at the same time they were what was holding me back from running the times I needed and performing to my true potential.  After I cut them out you will see just how much my results improved below.

 

The end of July I raced a duathlon that has always been on my radar but never fit my schedule until this year. The Blue Water Duathlon. I must say that after I failed to qualify for worlds in Gravenhurst I was very upset and used this frustration in every remaining race of the summer. I was 1st OA and set a new course record with a time of 51:04. (1.4k,18k,4k) and it was a scorcher of a day which slowed everyone down. This marked the first break in my season and I had about a month before my next race.  Having already raced 7 duathlons at this point I was feeling the strain on my body. The plus was that I was running times that I knew I was capable or running being off my heart medication.

 

In this 4-week period I went back to my regular training because as you can imagine when you race every weekend or every other every week in between is taper or maintenance with no real intensity. Back at it I had a 4 week build of speed work, intervals and high intensity efforts as I prepared for the last 3 races of the summer.  I used a lot of this time to devote to my family and we had a lot of fun in August enjoying the summer weather.

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The end of August rolled around and I was racing the Goderich Duathlon with a huge goal in my head. I was determined to beat the previous course record by 10:00 and I managed to do exactly that. A format of 5k,28k,2.5k meant that with my faster run times and the bike being longer than a sprint I would do well. I left everything on that bike course that day riding sideways at times just to stay up due to 40+km/hr winds I set a new course record and was feeling great about my bodies performance.

 

August 30th the day that my life changed forever. This was the MSC Wasaga Beach Duathlon and I was returning to defend my win from 2016. This race was particularly emotional and I almost didn’t finish because of an injury I had sustained a few weeks prior. I pinched a nerve in my foot and limped across the finish line holding in tears of sadness.

What most of you don’t know is that just hours before my race I learned that my mother had cancer. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung cancer. I can tell you first hand that out on the bike alone with your thoughts all you can do is cry sometimes. I raced that day for her and did indeed defend my win from the previous year placing 1st OA.

I am an emotional person and have always used that in my running or cycling to improve myself but when we learned of the cancer my world fell apart.  I have always considered myself a mentally tough individual but I had finally met my match. Cancer of all things in a healthy (non smoking) lady in her 60’s… the world is just an unfair place.  I have been rocked to my core and truly feel that the world is testing me to see just how much I can take. Being a true believe that how we as people handle difficult situations in our lives either makes you or breaks you, I thought this was it…… Part of the reason this post is so late is because I have not felt ready to talk about this issue. Now I am, accepting that your mom may or may not be around in 10 years is not easily process.  I am thankful for every day I walk this earth with her and she is a fighter and while there are good days and bad I have had to quickly learn to take everything one day at a time.

 

September now and MSC Lakeside Duathlon was the last of my race season. I have been chasing a win here for years and finally managed to clinch a 1st OA. Using my own personal pain, I struggled to make it thought another bike without tearing up thinking about my mom. Learning how to focus my emotions into training has always been easy in the past but this struggle and sadness is very different form anger. Sadness is a much more powerful emotion.  Every run, every bike heck every day I fight the urge to just yell at the world. Processing my sadness has been a challenge and I have tried my best to channel it into frustration which I can use while running or biking.

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After my duathlon season ended I ran my first ever half marathon and it was up the Bruce Trail at my cottage. It is a “trail” race but anyone who knows the Bruce Trail can tell you there is more climbing and walking than running on the course. It was now the end of September and just one day before I was to run this race my mother had a series of TIA’s or mini strokes. At this point she had radiation on her pelvis but a stroke…. This was not an easy decision to make but we drove up, I raced and drove back the same day. When she had a stroke in my arms it was the scariest thing I have ever experienced. I am so glad I was there to call 911. This was like another emotional kick in the teeth and I learned that night just how to channel sadness into anger that I could use while running. I pushed myself beyond my limits on the trail run and with a whole new outlook on pain I managed to run my way through boulder beaches, rolled ankles to the victory line.

 

Just to cap off the summer in the first week of September my car was hit by a 30,000lb high-reach forklift while it was parked at work and still to this day I don’t have it back from repair….

 

A huge thankyou to my wife, daughter, brother and father for keeping me grounded through all this. The summer from hell is an accurate title. I feel like I have aged 10 years in 3 months but with time to reflect back I can say I have honestly enjoyed the summer despite all the crappy things that have happened. I will resume my off-season training starting November sometime. I can’t wait to get back on the computrainer and treadmill and see just how capable my body is this winter.

 

Stay tuned for updates all winter long, I will have live training sessions on the weekends of treadmill sessions and indoor biking. Click here for my seasons results.

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There are so many people to thank that it would take a whole post just to express my thanks so I will list you all below:

  • Laura, Harper and my family – Family first, forever and always.
  • Gabbi Whitlock and everyone at Balance Point Triathlon – Such a supportive group
  • John Salt and the crew at MSC – Thank you for a summer of great memories and safe racing.
  • Chris and Laura Day (3SIXTY5 Cycling) – Your family is most gracious, thank you for everything.
  • Elizabeth and James Bennett (Oxford Dodge)- without your support I would not have been able to race as many times as I did.
  • Jan and John Barry (Pursuit Health Management) – Such an emotional support what can I say I love you and your family so much.
  • John Smallwood (Synergy Center Physio) – John always there to help me repair my broken body, thank you for keeping me moving all season long!
  • Jennifer Broxterman (Nutrition RX) – What can I say you changed how I look at food and it has made me a better father, athlete and person.
  • Pam Husband (SADS Canada) – Such a support community for my heart condition, thank you for everything.
  • Melissa Henderson (RMT) – Without you I know for a fact I would not have managed to race back to back weekends and survive all season long. Thank you for being the best RMT ever!!!
  • To everyone that volunteered at any race event and even all my fellow competitors thanks to all of you for being a part of something greater than all of us. I have many memories that I will cherish forever thanks to you all.

 

This list is long I could go on forever so for anyone else I didn’t mention know that I appreciate your support over the years and have been honored to have you on #teamsummerfield.

 

 

Plans for next year.. you will just have to wait and see…

 

Thanks for reading,

Spencer

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MSC Gravenhurst Weekend: Du the Double Challenge, Provincials & ITU Qualifier – Part 1

Over the weekend of July 16/17 the town of Gravenhurst played host to what I would consider my new favourite venue for Duathlon and triathlon. The major showcase this year was certainly on the duathlon racing because the following was taking place: ITU Qualifier for Standard Duathlon (Saturday) #penticton2017 #tricanQ Provincial Duathlon Championships both Saturday […]

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