Due to some hackery of mischievous individuals I have been locked out of my blog for over a week now so my apologies for the tardiness of this article. I am finally back in and things are almost back to normal on the inter webs.
Well the last stop of this summers MultiSport Canada Skechers Performance Triathlon Series was Lakeside. A personal favourite and local race being that the venue is just 30 minutes from home. Saturday and Sunday were both jam-packed with races for adults and youth alike. It has been my plan to stick to any long course or standard distance duathlons all summer but I had to change that late in my season. I had a great summer but as time went on I had a few issues that forced me to drop back down to the sprint distances in order to keep racing. I will talk more about those reasons in my summer recap article that will be out soon.
Race lead up:
Saturday was a very cool morning around 6 degrees but the weather said it was going to warm up as the day went on. With sun and mixed clouds in
the forecast I opted for long pants and a jacket for the first time all year. Heading out the door I had everything packed from the night before so it was a quick 30 minute drive to the venue. Arriving early enough to deal with a mis registration I was able to get my bib switched back into the Sprint Duathlon. Thanks to Michael for spotting the error the night before that had shown me in the Sprint Triathlon….. not this year, sorry triathletes. I racked my bike prior to getting my new bib number and then went and moved it to the corresponding rack that matched the new number. The transition area is always well laid out with lots of space so navigating transition be it T1 or T2 is easy. Now racked in the right row I headed back to body marking and race kit pickup where I collected my safety yellow MultiSport Canada hat.
Now marked it was back to transition to meet and greet new and familiar face alike as people arrived. This is always a fun part of the day because everyone is all bundled up like you are and there is a calm over the entire race site as everyone slowly wakes up and warms up. After helping some newcomers get the lay of the land and explain the transition area it was pre race meeting time. The usual announcements about safety and the race site were given and any questions answered helping everyone feel comfortable with the venue for the day. Some times when you are racing you get tunnel vision (I am guilty of this … a lot) and it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the race finish, bike, run and swim ins/outs. I always take time to run the finish chute and run/bike points so that in the heat of the moment I won’t have to think too much about where I need to go.
The announcement came over the speakers that it was 10 minutes to race time and I had already done a gentle warmup so I was ready. Being a colder that usual morning I went with a longer slower warmup than usual to help the legs loosen up. 5 minutes…… “All duathletes out to the road please” and we gathered out at the start line. The run course is predominantly gravel with only 400m of paved road right at the beginning. Having done this same race for 5 years in a row I was familiar with the gravel, thank goodness it was only cold and not wet like years prior. I can remember years when the pot holes were so full of water that you couldn’t tell where they were from rain… this led to many ankle rolls and near trip accidents. I have also fallen at the 2.5k mark turn around before because of some loose gravel but mostly a poor shoe choice. This year I opted for my go to competition running shoes from New Balance the Hand S, which have a soul that is rubber nubs and has no pockets that larger rocks could get stuck in. These turned out to be an excellent choice for traction and I had no slips or issues with rocks stuck in the soul.
Run 1 – 5km
With the count down 30….15…..10…HORN! the Lakeside Sprint duathlon was off and I set out on a mission to defend my win from last year. With most of the big names racing Sunday in the standard distance I was not sure who would be out to give me a run for my money. You never know who will show up race day and that’s is exactly what happened. Phillip MCCATTY a name that people in the triathlon scene are familiar with decided to race the duathlon that day and I didn’t know this until the last 1.25km in the race by the way… Young gun Joel GAMBLE was hot on my heals and kept me in check from the very start. He paced right behind me and we ran nearly identical opening splits. He was just second behind me as I crossed into T1 at 18:26. About 10 seconds behind him was Phillip top three for the day all sub 19:00/5k. This was my second fastest 5k split all season and I was happy to see the times post race because these are the split times I had expected after working so hard on all winter on my running.
The run is out and back and after a sweeping 1km of flat running and transitioning from pavement to gravel we start to run a slight decline (one of the two on the course). The only turn on the course we turned left and its 500m steady incline, turn and 500m down before turning back towards transition. Back up the first incline its kilter 3-4 that’s a steady rise before flattening out back to transition.
As I mentioned above the pitter patter of foot steps was right behind me the whole time and I have not been the hunted almost all year-long. If you have been tailed on a run or lead a pack around a track during training there is something motivating and terrifying about hearing those foot steps behind you.
Bike – 20km
After a quick transition it was out on the bike and I felt like I was riding in my backyard. Despite the bumps, cracks and humps in the road that get worse with every passing winter I still really like this bike course. Rolling hills and a guaranteed wind at least one way this bike course is fairly challenging to ride fast. I knew Joel was right there on my heals but when I saw he was riding a road bike it gave me a little hope that my tri bike was going to be faster especially if we ran into wind. Riding out of the lakeside community it is about 1 km until you turn out on open road and the first steady incline / bumpy road appears. For the next 3.5 km it is rolling declines and inclines some are fairly decent grade and I was happy that the wind that was out there was not blowing head on. Turning once again he headed south now with a tail wind where its more of the same rolling course for about 5km. This is where I made most of my passes and road a steady 41+ km/hr down to the turn around. At this point I had no advances and thought I was free and clear but once I turned around there all of a sudden Joel.. he was maybe 800m behind me (easy to spot in his bright green cannonade cycling kit). To be honest I was surprised typically a road bike is not as fast as say my tri bike. I had to remind myself that sure it could be if the riders engine is big enough!!! So with that in mind I tucked in extra low and pedaled harder upping my wattage around 20 watts as we headed back into the wind and rolling sections. As we worked our way back into the wind towards T2 I was confident because now at the 15km mark I could not see Joel anymore. The last 5km is a series of more rollers but the whole way is a steady incline. My legs at this point were starting to get comfortable and I felt like the had just warmed up. Down the last little decline it was one turn before 1km of flat riding that would take us to T2. With the crowd and transition area in sight I was in a good place mentally and physically and was ready to run the last 2.5k with whatever my legs had left. A quick dismount and run through T2 and I was back out on the run course.
Run 2 – 2.5km
After racing and training longer distances for most of the summer my legs were just warming up at this point. Similar to Wasaga Beach I knew that my legs should have enough to give me the sub 3:50/km without question. I headed out with the goal to run as hard as I could with two goals in mind. 1) Be faster than last years time, 2) Defend last years win. Heading down the sweeping gravel road I ran passed the first aid station (thanking the volunteers for their support) to the 1.25k turn. It was about 50-100meters later that I saw Phillip for the first time. He was clearly wearing a blue coloured tri bib but for someone his caliber there was no way he should have been at that point on the race course….unless and sure enough he turned at the duathlon turn around! Without question now I knew that he was indeed in my race! Closely behind him was Joel and I knew there was no time to let up if I wanted to keep Phillip off my tail. I turned it up and tried to negative split the last run. With sure a short run leg at the end it is usually not enough time to catch someone in a footrace but you never count on that. Now just 800m to the finish I gave it my all, glancing back to make sure Phillip was not gaining ground. The finish chute in sight and a wave of relief as I ran down crossing the line with my goals met. Phillip ended up only 12 seconds behind me which just goes to show you that if I had made any mistake on the bike or had not run as hard on the first run 12 seconds is not a lot of difference. Kudos to both Joel and Phillip for keeping the pressure on the whole race.
I mentioned above that one of my goals was to beat the time I had set in previous years so here are we go:
2012 01:11:33 (6th OA)
2013 01:06:55 (2nd OA)
2014 01:03:14 (2nd OA)
2015 01:02:38 (3rd OA)
2016 01:01:36 (1st OA)
2017 01:01:23 (1st OA)
You can see a trend of faster racing from year to year despite things like weather, health or whatever. What I tell people all the time is that it takes years and years to improve your fitness but stick with it and you will see times drop. Like most people I saw the largest drops earlier on in the sport and as the years went on the increases become more and more marginal. For example I worked a LOT harder over the last two years honing my cycling and running only to drop about a minute overall …
If you feel discouraged or think that the gains aren’t coming fast enough remember its you vs the clock, be the best version of you. Stop comparing yourself to others of you will only see shortcomings.
Like everyone in the world I have my fair share of ups and downs that have happened or are still happening so remember to step back and look at the big picture, have fun and enjoy what you love to do.
All that being said I was ecstatic to finish my duathlon season with a defending win. Sorry to my fellow athletes in the standard distance I would have loved to race with and against you on Sunday but my volume has not been great since my falter in Kingston. Again more of this will be covered in my summer recap to follow shortly. A huge thanks to John Salt and the entire staff, crew and amazing volunteers from MultiSport Canada. Lakeside was a fantastic weekend and brought out large numbers both days so hats off. The safety, organization, positive attitude and awareness of “customer experience” is what keeps me and a lot of athletes coming back race after race with MSC.
On a similar note John Salt thank you for having an ambassador team once again this year, I know that personally I always find it rewarding to help others either with directions, flat tires or general advise at every race this summer. Having athletes available and approachable at every race has improved communication and the overall customer experience for sure. I hope that the ambassador program has delivered on everything you asked for this year and I encourage everyone no matter your skill level or qualifications to apply when the call goes out for 2018. If you want to give back or feel that you have something to offer the multisport community then don’t hesitate apply when the notice goes out!
SUMMER RECAP COMING SHORTLY, THE LINK WILL BE HERE WHEN ITS AVAILABLE.
For full details and data click on the icons below to check out the STRAVA data.
Huge thanks to all the support volunteers, Police, EMS, F2C Nutrition and the entire MultiSport Canada Team for yet another safe.
- Laura and Harper – Love you both.
- Coach Gabbi Whitlock – Balance Point Triathlon
- John Salt – MultiSport Canada
- Chris Day – 3SIXTY5 Cycling
- Greg Cohen – F2C Nutrition
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