Race Report: Belwood Duathlon, 2nd OA, 1:30:50

MASSSSTART

 

Saturday I was back racing at #Belwood Lake Conservation Area for my second time at this #MultiSportCanada Duathlon event. The weather called for a calm day with West winds of 7-10km/hr, this meant perfect cycling weather and fast times but with temperatures reaching 27 degrees by mid morning, it was sure to be a hot one.

 

19425116768_1bacd5ffc6_oThursday night I discovered an issues with my rear wheel, while not a big problem was certain to slow me down and we can’t have that. Friday was spent getting
everything sorted out with Chris from #3SIXTY5Cycling and after a failed repair attempt we decided that I would use a spare wheel that was issue free and would solve my problem immediately. The spare wheel was an 88mm skinny-fat 23mm wheel and was rock solid performance wise. I covered it with my aerojacket wheel cover and didn’t think twice about it after that.  A HUGE thanks to #3SIXTY5Cycling for having such fantastic customer service and caring about their athletes so much. If you haven’t already checked out their site and amazing wheels, please do here. I promise you will not be disappointed by the quality of products and honest service that comes backed by Chris and the guys at #3SIXTY5.

I saw a lot of #3 SIXTY5 Wheels in transition and out on the road yesterday so props to all my fellow athletes who were rocking them Larry Bradley, Jade Carrington, Karri Beck and myself all part of the top 5 overall male and female winners.

 

Traveling down the night before my wife and I stayed in Guelph with “Coach” and her husband this meant we only had a short 20-minute travel in the morning to the race site and you can’t beat that. The night before any race I stick to my usual fish dish of some kind and relaxation, which was swimming of all things in the hotel pool. We swam and bobbed in the pool keeping strategic conversations to a minimum which is how I like it, no reason to over think things the night before a race and if you have put in the work you will be prepared for what lies ahead. After the pool it was off to bed and I fell asleep watching the opening ceremonies to the 2015 Pan Am Games.

 

Race Lead Up

Race morning was an early one as usual and I was up with the birds around 5:30a.m., going over my checklist for the day making sure I had my fuel, water and shoes all ready we left the hotel around 6:40 a.m.

Arriving at Lake Belwood there was a calm in the air, I thought to myself could this be the day for a third 1st place in a row? Parking the car and unloading the days gear I made my way into transition racking my bike in a neutral spot between the bike in and run out banners. I was greeted by fellow athletes Larry Bradley and Howie Walker. Bradley was back to defend his 2014 win as the course champion, I placed third behind him and Chris Marentette who was absent this year.

The usual friendly banter commenced and we chatted for a few minutes before heading over the the race kit pickup, body markings and timing chip.

Race Kit pickup was quick and speedy thanks to the wonderful volunteers of the day so my hat is off to you, thanks for being so well organized as usual. Heading back to transition I grabbed my bike and headed out on a warmup which consisted of some easy pedaling and a few power builds taking around 15 minutes to complete. I went over all my usual bike checks brakes, gears and gadgets (Garmin) ensuring that everything was race ready I returned to the transition area and racked my bike for the day. Next was run warm up, out over the dam and down to the 1k marker I went through my usual routine (warmup stretches, builds, easy run, sprints, easy run). Everything felt good and looking out over the calm water on the lake I was getting pumped up to race!!!  Little did I realize at this time but the hot sun was beating down and the temperature was going up by the minute.

Heading to the start line with 8 minutes to spare people gathered around at the start line and the announcement was given over the loud speaker that race start was approaching.  Larry, Mike and myself took up our spots in the front and it was go time. “30 seconds” …… dead silence and calm fell as the “good luck” wishes were thrown out by everyone “10 seconds”… HORN!

 

Run 1 – 5K19606234342_e95e86a7e3_o

Larry and Mike quickly took off with me hot on their heels as we headed out over the dam and through the gravel. 800m into the run we kept right and headed down and grassy trail to the first turn around which was at 1.2k. Mike was first at the turn around and Larry only a few meters behind him. As I rounded the turnaround I kept Larry in my sights and tried to keep the gap from growing between us.  Running back the way we came for 800 meters we all turned again now out on a straight away that was 1.2k the the final turn around. After turning onto the straightaway about 200m down the trail I could see the gap between Larry and I stretching out and my pace had fallen off a lot. As that gap grew larger, I could see Larry slipping away…I got more and more frustrated.  After the last turn around it was exactly 2k dead straight back to the transition area and by now I committed to just keeping my pace even and I told myself I can make it up on the bike.

Running into transition I quickly grabbed my bike and took my time trying to block out the negativity that had crept in. Having no issues with my helmet buckle it was out onto the bike course without issue. With a flying mount I slipped on my shoes and quickly got up to speed. It was time to close the gap that had formed on the run and I knew it was going to be difficult to catch the leaders but not impossible.

 

 

 

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Bike – 30K

Once you left the park it was 1.5k down the the first turn where I was able to stretch out my legs and ride hard for 6.6k before turning again.  This section was fast and with the wind assisting I averaged over 42k/hr down the the first turn keeping my power stable at 250W.

What I didn’t plan on happening was the giant bug that flew into me around 5k and went straight into me helmet vent hitting me on the head. (PIC) Riding at speeds like these when you hit the smallest bug it feels like a small rock being flung at you and what I didn’t know at the time was that it was a bee. Sure he wasn’t happy that I had ridden into him but he didn’t care and after a minute of crawling around in my helmet he couldn’t find a way out and decided he would sting me on my hair line. It has been years since I have been stung by a bee and once it happens all you can do is try and not think about the pain.  Even after I was stung the bee was still in my helmet for a good five minutes before leaving and at one point I almost took my helmet off mid ride to get it out but as soon as I reached for my strap a Triathlon Official went by on his motorcycle and I decided against that tactic.  What I ended up doing was loosening off the tensioner in the rear of the helmet and shaking my head sided to side until the bee fell out FINALLY!!!!

After that frustration kicked in for the second time in the day and I put my head down and used the aggression to power on. Turning right and now heading 2.5k downhill I eased up on my power while maintaining an average of 43.5k/hr down to the third turn. This turn takes you back the way you came and is all uphill with rollers and steep sections of up to 9% grade. These are short but steady climbs and I kept my cadence up nice and high heading into the hills and shifter down just before the top to power through the crest.

 

This is a technique I use in training all the time “pop it and rock it” as coach says, you always want to shift to and easier gear before you need to on the hills don’t wait until you feel your legs slowing down, if you wait then it’s too late you will not be able to carry the speed you have over the hills as easily.  Keeping an average of 38k/hr during this section and using a high cadence of 100 I kept my power from spiking for the most part.

I did get boxed in just over the 14k mark by some riders “blocking” as we climbed a hill and I found myself free wheeling behind a group of riders for a good 10 seconds before there was enough room to pass. Out of frustration I let my wattage spike as I hammered past them uphill for a good 20 seconds I averaging 370W+ which at the time felt right perhaps wasn’t the smartest thing. “Heat of the moment”

Reaching the 15k half way mark I looked down at my Garmin and it indicated 19606177032_044f0cfe7a_kan average speed so far of just over 40k/hr and I though this is great now keep it up. I must have passed Mike earlier on because I don’t remember seeing him from that point on and I was so focused on the Falcon in red I forgot to watch out for the man in blue (Mike). Larry, he was wearing his MultiSport Ambassador Jersey and red shorts and I kept searching for that red suit on the horizon every time I crested a hill.  Which by the way never happened because Larry was riding like he was being chased by a tornado…. so I never did catch him.

With 15k to go my legs felt ok not great but I knew I had been pushing hard and I needed to suffer some more to make up as much time as I could. From the half way point until about the 17.5k mark is a uphill battle with rollers and just as fast descending sections with speed in excess of 60k/hr before the second last straight section of 7k. This was the toughest section of the entire race and after talking with fellow athletes after we all agreed it was just rough. I averaged 34km/hr and 218W for this section dipping into 25k/hr at a few points this seemed to be where I started to fall apart on the bike. The uphill rollers made for slow going and I had developed a throbbing headache from my annoying bee sting earlier. By now it was 25+ degrees out and I looked down during this section at my water bottle and realized I hadn’t taken in half of it yet…. Instantly I started to realize that my headache was part bee sting and part dehydration. When I race sprints I normally do not use aid stations on the runs and rely solely on fueling on my bike (liquid only). Saturday was no exception and like I mentioned earlier the run was hot, little to no shade and the temperature was going up by the minute. Not adding the additional 10k and 2.5k I would be racing I just fuelled for a standard sprint race with HEED and electrolyte tabs. This turned out to be a rookie mistake and hindered my performance dramatically.

Rounding the last corner, I had 6k back to transition I managed to kept my speed 40K/hr + but only produced an average of 187W……well below normal and I knew something wasn’t right.  I was dehydrated and despite trying to take in the rest of my water bottle before heading into transition I still only managed to ingest about (400ml) for the ENTIRE RACE! If you know me well I can get “hangry” when I don’t eat or fuel properly and unfortunately I was in the mode…

At the dismount line I was stuck behind numerous slower riders and after a quick dismount I had to sprint my bike through a group of people to get into transition.

Once I got my bike to the rack I could see that Larry’s bile was hanging there as if it had never left. The race announcer confirmed I was in second place but that the leader (Larry) was almost 2:00 minutes ahead of me still.

 

Data Time, here is a look at some of my ride data where you can see my average speed dropped during the second half  where my headache and dehydration kicked in.

Bike (0-15K)

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Bike (15-30K)

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Run 2 – 5K

With a sense of disappointment in my self and frustration I pushed out onto the run course for what was sure to be the hardest 5K run to date. At the 1K mark I finally saw Larry for the first time since the beginning of the race and we cheered each other on as we both breathed heavily passing one another.  He looked as tired as I was and I though “there is still a chance”. It was tough going down to the last turn around where it stretches out and you can see the finish line 2K away. I looked down at my watch at the last turn and couldn’t believe my eyes I was running considerably slower than any race before. Even at Iron Hawk I managed a faster pace with a few times of walking.

I kept my stride even and steady but seeing Larry disappear into the distance for the second time in the day I knew it was just not possible to catch him with the remaining distance. I think in that moment realized that hope was lost of catching the leader and part of me said “that enough” just run it out, just finish… I did have a good lead over third place by 3:00+ minutes and I gave into the heat the throbbing in my head and everything that came crashing down in my mind. Crossing the dam people were cheering athletes on from both the du and tri and that perked me up but only enough to cross the line securing my podium spot and taking 2nd place overall behind the man of the day Larry Bradley.

finishlineMentally that has got to be worst I have felt on a run and I was so glad when it was over. Crossing the finish line, I managed to get my arms up to flash two fingers at the
camera man and that was it I was spent…… A medic even asked me if I wanted to sit down because he could see the pain and anguish on my face.  There standing on the side of the finish chute was the winner and defending champ Larry Bradley and we exchanged congratulations and tales of our struggles on the course all the while I guzzled cups and cups of fluid at the finish line.  Coming in behind me was Howie Walker and we made up the top 3 men of the day in the Duathlon.

 

For those of you who are thinking “did you fuel at the air stations along the way” the answer is no, by the time I realized it and knowing that the only aid stations on the run weren’t going to help me so I ran past them out of sheer frustration and looking back perhaps I was punishing myself a little for such a simple mistake.

 

 

Conclusion

I am very happy with the result but will have to wait until next year to see is I can take the title away from the champ. Here are the top 10 of the day!

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Something I didn’t talk about in the rest of this report was my heart rate and I will summarize it all now for you.

Run 1 – 178bpm avg.

Bike   – 170bpm avg.

Run 2 – 176bpm avg.

While I stuck to my usual race plan leading up to race day Saturday’s lack of hydration and excessively hot 27+ degree temperature made it that much harder to keep cool so performance suffered even with a high heart rate. I can only imagine that I would have felt even worse had me HR not reached 170+ bpm.

 

 

Thanks To

  • My super wife for cheering me on and both my mother and father who made the trip to show his support. Now you know what it’s all about mom, thanks for the family support it helped through the struggle and heat.
  • MultiSport Canada Triathlon Series for what I am told was a record attendance wise for the Belwood race venue, even though they were shy a few volunteers the ones that were there to help were both pleasant and cheerful another successful and safe race weekend, see you at the next one!
  • My Coach – Gabbi Whitlock and everyone from Balance Point Triathlon #OrangePower
  • Ken Milner – Photos and support for Balance Point Triathlon, check out the flickr photos here.
  • 3SIXTY5 Cycling –  Fat88’s – Another fast bike split and solid performance from my dependable race wheels!
  • Thanks to my physiotherapist John Smallwood owner of  Synergy Centre Physio
  • My RMT Jenna from Pursuit Health Management, see you in the coming weeks for a “overhaul” of my left IT band its still tight.
  • Oxford Dodge Chrysler Jeep – James and Elizabeth Bennett
  • Photos courtesy or My Sports Shooter view more on the Facebook page here.
  • Recharge With Milk – Thanks for the swag and milk at the finish line!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

Last but not certainly not least congratulations to my fellow athletes from Balance Point Triathlon Club who raced in the triathlon and swim/bike Saturday and kicked but! You can never have to much #orangepower on the podium!!!

 

See you all at the track on Tuesday for those wonderful speed repeats and pyramids.

 

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