My 2016 Duathlon race season has officially started. Saturday was the 5th annual Iron Hawk Duathlon located in Harrow Ontario. This race is the culmination of the Iron Hawk campaign at Harrow District High School. The campaign promotes mental health through the participation in various activites including yoga, zumba, meditation, music, reading, running, biking and self-defence. All proceeds from this event are donated to the Soaring Hawk Fund at Harrow District High School.
Every year I look forward to this race because it attracts such a diverse array of athletes. From pro triathletes to high school students you will find them all located in one place. With the absence of defending champ Lionel Sanders the door was open this year for someone else to have their name put on the winners trophy. Lionel was busy winning the IRONMAN 70.3 North American Pro Championships, kudos to you sir another job well done. The venue was well organized with lots of smiling volunteers dressed in bright yellow shirts. The temperature was perfect for racing and the usual winds were indeed blowing.
RACE LEAD UP
Laura and I drove down early in the morning the mood in the car was quiet yet excited. To be honest waking up at 4:30/5:00am just plain sucks after a winter of training in the evenings and not early hours of the morning. With this being the first race of the year the nerves crept in a bit the night before which meant very light sleep and I didn’t exactly wake up feeling rested. Arriving on site the energy was high and the sun was out. People were excited to race you could tell. After a long winter season it was nice to catch up with friends like Brad, Shayne, Michael and Miguel that I haven’t seen since last year. I took up a spot in the 3rd row from the front and racked my bike. Going through the usual prep I clipped my shoes in the pedals and put my helmet on the bars before heading over to get my number / timing chip. Once that was done I changed into my new sleeved speed suit. This is new for me this year with full sleeves and a front zip I am actually more comfortable in it than the sleeveless version. This one has much less “wedge” than last years so I am happy with that! A speed suit is faster over longer distances and being someone who is always on a quest for aero watts or free speed I figured why not try it out.
Back in transition I grabbed my bike to go check the first 5k of the course and do warmup. Immediately on the bike course you could feel the wind blowing strong from the South which meant no long tail wind sections for this race. With the short out and back course there would only be a 1k stretch with a tail wind, on the flip side this meant there was only 1k of headwinds to deal with so I guess glass half full. Returning into transition I racked my bike for the last time, hung my shoes from elastics and set my Garmin on pause. Time for a run warmup. A few laps of the soccer fields out behind the pavilion area and it was race time and for the first time in years I was feeling nervous. This years field was not as crazy as last year but with familiar faces like Brad Reiter and Shayne Dumouchelle on the start line I could tell that it would be a good race. Young guns Liyang Wang, Stevie Blankenship and Robert DeMarco were also ready to race and we all chatted a bit before the countdown started.
Run 1 started off at the usual brisk pace and I settled in 3:30km quickly as we ran right into a head wind. That south wind was strong and slowed the whole pack down a bit. Just before the 1k mark Liyang went sailing passed and it was clear he was out for a win. The run was 2 loops of the 2.5km course which meant about 2km of running into the wind total. Despite keeping a solid pace on lap one I started to fade on that second lap. I kept telling myself that everyone else could feel the wind too so keep on pushing. Easier said than done and looking down at my watch I couldn’t believe it with the wind at my back I was struggling to maintaining 4:00/km pace. Coming into transition in 5th I was about 1:30 down on the leader and knew to bridge that gap I was going to have to pedal hard.
I was confident I would reel in the leaders knowing I have been training all winter with great power numbers. I settled into a steady cadence of 95-100rpm keeping my speed right on 40km/hr. This first stretch is 5km and I pushed hard averaging 250 watts before the first turn. This turn was the only tail wind I was going to get and being short (1km) I took advantage and eased up on the power to make sure not to cook my legs to early. I wanted to make sure to catch my breath/drink before the next turn. Turning off the wind assisted section I got back on the power keeping my cadence at 100 rpm I averaged 42km/hr for the next 4km down to the turn around. Liyang had already turned and shortly behind him was Brad both riding like they stole something. This was the 10km turn and I had to pick it up if I wanted a chance to catch up Brad. I thought the wind had moved slightly now and it seemed to be coming from a South South West direction. My speed slowed under the 40km/hr mark but as soon as I turned South it was clear the wind was still due South. Riding into a what felt like a wall of wind my speed slowed to 34km/hr and I struggled to keep my watts at threshold and not above. On the plus side Brad was also feeling the wind and I was only 100m behind him as we turned for the home stretch. With 5km to transition and finally out of the wind I passed Brad and kept my quick cadence pushing 42km/hr back to transition. Thanks to Darek Kawa for being a bike marshal and taking some pictures along the way!
Heading into transition I thought with I had a good chance at second place. This was short lived as I exited T2 because Brad had caught up and was hot on my heels. Brad is a strong consistent runner and once he passed me I knew he would not let me catch him. I mustered all I could but my pacing was erratic, heart rate all over the place. It felt like I was running in mud and the times confirm I was only running tempo pace. This last run was frustrating to say the least.
Brad ran his way to 2nd place with a time of 1:00:25 behind the leader Liyang who set a awesome time of 57:41 for the day. I would round out the top 3 men with a time of 1:01:16. With congratulations all around Liyang Wang, Brad Reiter, myself, Steve Blankenship and Kirshe Kniaziew rounded out the top 5 for the day. Kudos to Kirshe the top woman of the day with a time of 1:02:48.
I had steady pacing for the first run with a high cadence. Heart rate was “as expected” bouncing off my limiter and holding solid at 160pbm. Slower than my expected pace it was still a solid run.
I tend to ride a higher cadence in windy conditions because I feel more attached to my saddle. When it is calm out I will ride around 85 rpm and turn a larger gear but with unpredictable gusts of wind I would have been blown around. A downside to being a light (62.5 kg) rider is that high wind can be a little crazy. Heart rate shows a similar story to the first run up until the end. After 24:00 of riding my heart rate started to climb with spikes over 190bpm. I could feel my heart pound in my chest and I wish I knew why it decided to do this but not much you can do during the race. I try to lower my heart rate in the last few minutes leading to transition so that I can concentrate on dismount without being out of breath. Cadence was right where I wanted it with quick pedal strokes and perfectly even left right power balance 50% / 50%. All winter I have been riding my computrainer and making sure to keep even push/pull pressure in my legs so I guess it has payed off. The drop outs in cadence and power are spots where I was coasting while taking a drink or cornering. I was very satisfied with the bike time and managed the second fastest split of the day.
The second run was erratic and all over the place. Brad caught up to me by the time I exiting T2 and we headed out on the second run. The data does’t lie my pace fell off and slowed tremendously with a run cadence that was up and down like a yo-yo. My heart rate doing the same thing Brad passed me only 200 meters out of transition. This run was the most frustrating because I was not planning on having to deal with such varied heart rate levels throughout the race.
To be honest I am happy with the overall result but not pleased with my run performances. I will be digging deeper into the data this week to try and figure out why after 24:00 on the bike my heart rate spiked and the up and down began. If you are not familiar with my story have a read here about me and my heart rate saga “Training with Beta Blockers”.
With the first race in the books I feel that the cobwebs are gone and the season has started, I have another build phase before the Woodstock Sprint Duathlon Next month. This race is the kick off to the 2016 MultiSport Canada Triathlon / Duathlon Race Series and always has a great number of participants and spectators. A huge thanks for Mike McGill for the rear wheel as a loaner. My regular wheel is off being rebuilt / upgraded at 3SIXTY5 Cycling.
- Laura my beautiful wife and baby girl due in June ! Your cheering on the sidelines and videos always make me smile!
- Coach Gabbi Whitlock – Balance Point Triathlon #OrangePower
- Craig Linton, my father, Holly and the rest of the cheering squad! (Congratulations to Ella Linton on your awesome “Do a Du” victory!!!!)
- Chris Day – 3SIXTY5 Cycling – Fast reliable wheels and at an affordable price point! Looking forward to getting that rear wheel back and putting down some serious power.
To the following thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to #TeamSummerfield
- Synergy Center Physio – John Smallwood
- Pursuit Health Management – Jan & John Barry
- Oxford Dodge Chrysler Jeep – James and Elizabeth Bennett
NEW FOR 2016
- Canadian SADS Foundation – The Canadian Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes (SADS) Foundation, a registered Canadian charity, is the only patient advocacy group in Canada dedicated to supporting families affected by inherited cardiac rhythm disorders.
- Jennifer Broxterman – Registered Dietitian & Sports Nutritionist, NutritionRx Founder & CEO
Jennifer has helped me become a much healthier athlete and I can’t say enough good things about her, pleas check out her site.