Race Report: Bracebridge Sprint Duathlon, 10th OA, 3rd AG, 1:06:08

Saturday was host to the Bracebridge Sprint Duathlon and the weekend proved to be challenging with a stacked field of very talented athletes. It was a special weekend because it was also the following:

-World qualifier for the 2016 National Team  (2 spots per age group)

-Duathlon Provincials

-Du-the Double ($500 Prize)

– My “A” Race of the year

Despite some drizzle the weather was cool which I prefer to hot temperatures for both the run and bike. A stacked field for the race included Brian Moore who was making his debut, Liam D, David F,Matt S, Larry (the falcon) Bradley, Kyle S and Shayne D, Steve B, Garvin M, Harold W and myself. The prediction from Canada Duathlon Enthusiast’s own Jesse Bauer really hyped up the bunch of us and while setting up in transition there was a buzz in the air about who would take the day.

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The results for me were anything but spectacular and I fell short of my own personal goal by over 4:00. I had not raced Bracebridge before but after reviewing previous years results and talking with others I was fairly confident in my goal of 1:02:00. I knew that the bike course had two main hills to worry about but the rest was rollers, while not a flat course I still expected to average 38km/hr. The run was a light down hill before levelling out 1km from the turn around, again nothing crazy but enough to hopefully slow down some speedy runners and even out the playing field. Just squeaking into the top 10 for the day I was shocked that no one broke an hour in this competitive bunch so perhaps others also had a off day like I did.

 

Race Lead Up

The week leading up to the race Laura and I were on vacation at the cottage so I was able to get some extra rest days mentally which helped with long hours at the wheel driving all over the province. Following my usual race week rituals, I stuck to my guns and training plan even though I was hungry for a good result in Bracebridge.  Arriving a day before the race I scouted the course and transition and planned my run and bike meticulously, every hill, pothole and gravel section was committed to memory and I knew that race day I couldn’t have been more prepared.

Saturday morning brought overcast skies and some drizzle but not until I was out on the bike, staying just 5 minutes away we arrived to the park early and ready to go. I racked my bike and got my body markings, chatting with Shayne and Larry who were already in transition when I arrived. I did my bike warmup with the usual surges, easy riding and testing of all systems before returning to do my run warmup. After getting back form the warmup I heard that the race was delayed, this is no big deal really but more of a frustration for organizers and racers alike who made an effort to be early and prepared.  For me this just provided more time to chat amongst my fellow athletes until race start.

Run 1 – 5K

The first run was off to a fast start running up the grassy hill out of park to the public road. After leaving the park we ran along the sidewalk along a bridge and then down a sloping turn it leveled out with 1k to the turnaround. The first 2 km were a respectable 3:30/3:40 pace but at the turn around I started to feel a little sluggish and did my best to not think about it. Blocking the negative thoughts for my mind I kept glancing down at my watch which I don’t usually do but I was shocked as my pace fell off completely and I was passed by some fellow athletes that I had beat numerous times in races before. I felt like I was running harder than ever and people were just pulling away from me as we ran back the last 1k to the transition I let the frustration in, this moment of weakness only shows that I am human like everyone else and every race can’t always be amazing. Returning to transition I was determined to push much harder than originally planned and make up some time on the leaders who were around 3:00 ahead of me. That is not a impossible amount of time to make up in a sprint race but it would require a big effort on my part. I quickly breezed through T1 and headed out on the bike determined to catch and pass some people that were stronger on the first run. I am custom to doing exactly that in a race, I know my run is no sub 17 for a 5k (yet) so I make up for it with my usually strong cycling.

 

Bike – 20K

Leaving transition, you had to run your bike out and up a grassy incline before mounting and then ride out the the park along a path with speed bumps on it so the first 500 meters is slow for everyone.

The first 5k was solid riding and even though I was producing a lot lower power than I expected 223W avg I was still able to keep my average speed above 38km/hr that is including the first notorious Santa’s Village hill.  I was able to keep with the stronger riders I was hunting until this point and then again for the second time in the day I watched as people road away from me uphill where I am usually strongest. The next 5k was a series of rollers and I kept my cadence high and attacked just before the crest of every one to carry my speed up and over the top of each one.

I reached the turn around but buy this point everyone I was chasing for the first 10k had already passed by me despite my average speed only dropping a few km/hr. Wattage was still really low and I knew something was certainly off because my legs just wouldn’t give me any more, they were full of cement slow and heavy.  All the way back to T2 it was the same story, I pushed what felt like harder than ever but why legs were just not having it. This was the first time this year that I have ever felt like I had to ride way beyond threshold to keep any kind of speed. For the first time in a race I pulled out to pass someone and and just couldn’t, I had to duck back in behind and ease off failing adhering to the non drafting guidelines. This happened a couple times during the race and I found the most frustrating part to be that my mind was so committed to pass but my legs were just not there. I felt like my body had let me down, first it was the run and now the bike and for yet another time in the day I let the negative thoughts and frustration built up even more. 

 

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Run 2 – 2.5K

R11834746_10153431950096233_2967136881270747689_oeturning from the bike I knew that I had made up maybe 1:00, no where near what I needed to make back any time. Breezing through T2 I s
tumbled out on what was sure to be a “death
march” of a last run. Right out of T2 was the grassy hill that was now wet from rain but lots of spectators were cheering everyone on which always helps. People could see the frustration and anguish on my face as I ran past and tried to be supportive by encouraging me to push hard but no matter how hard I tried to move my legs faster and faster they did just the opposite. That was by far the most difficult run of the year for me and not being able to break a pace of 4:00 was devastating as again I watched the few people I had managed to pass on the bike reel me in and leave me behind.  I finished the race but missed me personal goal by over 4:00, and it goes to show you that no matter if you have all the planning and strategy figured out you never know what race day will bring.

Conclusion

The race was a disappointment in myself but I have taken away a learning experience that I think everyone needs to go through to truly understand. Even with all the training and preparation you don’t know what will happen on race day and that’s just how it is. Learning to roll with the punches so to speak is something that I do well now, a few years ago I would have been a lot more upset about everything.  Even though I didn’t qualify for the AG team I know I won’t be going to Spain in 2015 as I have my sights set on Penticten BC in 2017!

It is ok to be frustrated and disappointed it is all part of the sport but how we choose to deal with these feelings is what defines us as winners.

While pleased that I managed to squeak in the top 10 I am disappointed in the race times themselves. I have three weeks now until the next race and coach and I have gone back to the training notes to come up with a strategy for the future. See you all out at the next one in the mean time safe and fruitful training to my fellow duathletes!

 

 

Thanks To

 

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