This past weekend was a test of my fitness to see how I will do this coming weekend in Gravenhurst. Belwood has a mid distance format of 5k,30k,5k and I went into the race knowing
that I should have the base from my existing training to do well despite all the happenings in my life in the past few months. Everything combined like anemic blood levels, low testosterone and the birth of my daughter contributed to lots of emotions. Learning to manage my time, family and training is something I have always taken for granted. I have been on the same work, workout, food and life schedule for years and it wasn’t until all of a sudden that changed and I realized how out of control everything had become. Putting family first and training second has always been something I have tried to do but now with this little girl in my life to nurture and provide for priorities have definitely shifted. Now that its been a few days I think it is safe to say I am using Harper as a motivator when I am out training, I ride harder and run faster just so I can get home and see her and Laura as soon as possible. Emotionally this has provided me some buffer to push myself past what is possible with less than optimal sleep using my family as my primary motivation to keep on going.
After Woodstock back in June I knew that Welland long course was off the table because of my daughters due date. I am happy to report that Harper Summerfield is the latest edition to our family and Laura and I could not be more ecstatic. She is absolutely perfect in every way born June 30th. Training has taken a lower priority in the past few weeks and with sleep patterns all out of sync it has made for some really great workouts and some pretty crappy ones. I had some great bikes earlier in the week and a track workout that were above average and I thought that this was a good thing. What I didn’t realize at the time was I had taken 3 days off completely and the lack of rest had not caught up to me yet. My fatigue level the morning of Belwood was pretty high and getting up at 5:00am to drive 2hrs one way seemed for the first time ever, annoying. This was the lack of sleep talking but being stubborn I buried that emotion ignoring it all together and was determined to give it my best even if my eyes were heavy and I was running on fumes. I have been getting the same amount of sleep most nights (8hrs) the problem has been it is in 2,3 or 4 hour blocks and after a week of no REM or deep sleep I was starting to feel the effects waking up more and more tired.
As with any race the goal is to better the time from the previous year. In 2014 I was third overall, 2015 second overall and I was hoping to make 2016 first overall. I fell short at Belwood this year but still managed to secure 2nd place on the podium even with a bike that was much faster than previous years. The run course in the past has been slightly short for 5km but this year it was bang on and this makes it hard to judge my actual performance compared to previous times but I still managed my fastest time yet.
Run 1 (5k – 19:19)
The first run was almost identical time to last year. The course was reversed to clockwise direction meaning that once the gun went off everyone ran for a long 2km stretch straight out over the dam before turning back towards the venue. As usual our lead pack went out strong and things quickly spaced out and Garvin took his place out font and I sat back and chased him. I knew I wanted to run hard but save enough for the bike because the wind was up a little and the rolling hills are not exactly known for being fast. Garvin led run one from start to finish and by the time we came into T1 I was now in 3rd just seconds behind him and Sherman Lam with a run time of 19:20 for the opening 5k.
Bike (30km – 47:20)
Out of transition it was Garvin with a 100m lead. He has really done a lot of work this past winter because his performances are drastically better than last year! Kudos to you sir! I chased him down by the first 10k averaging 44km/hr @ 244 watts. At the bottom of the hill the course turns back on itself and this is where I shouted at Garvin now just a few bike lengths back. “I’m coming for you Garvin, better pick it up” came out of my mouth and he must have taken it to heart because he took off pushing hard to get away from me. The next 5km we played cat and mouse, him passing me downhill and I would pass him uphill. Despite my best efforts and surges in excess of 330+ watts I could not shake him and after 4 or 5 of these back and forth efforts Garvin took his leading position back. With half the bike course to go and despite my best efforts to keep on the pedals he started disappearing in the distance person by person until he was 200m ahead of me. At the time I thought I was doing fine pushing good power and trying to keep my speed up but my legs were unusually heavy. The entire race up to this point I had a decent heart rate of 150+ bpm but after analyzing the data you can clearly see a decline in heart rate for the second half of the bike. As my legs slowed so did my speed and I dropped below 40km/hr. The last 15km of the bike is what I would consider to be the hardest part of the course because it is a steady climb in elevation and has some small false flats and hills. With 5km left before T2 I was fighting to keep my cadence up around 90 rpm and only averaged 210 watts into the head wind…… so crappy lack lustre performance if you ask me. Riding into T2 I got my bike racked but couldn’t see Garvin who was already out on his second run.
Run 2 (5km -21:45)
This run was yet another tough go for me and knowing that I didn’t have enough time or distance to catch the leader I just tried to keep it together. As I ran through the kilometres I had a mental battle with myself. Mixed emotions flooded my body by the 3 km mark and I had backed off the pace mentally checking out. Exhausted both physically and emotionally, call it lack of sleep or just a mix of hormones but it wasn’t the performance I had hoped for as I crossed the line I managed a smile but was anything but pleased with my performance. We are our own worst critiques and often how we deal with these times determine how well we bounce back. I and the first to admit to being guilty of criticizing myself when a workout goes poorly or a race doesn’t pan out as expected. If took me a few hours after the race to settle down and after talking with fellow competitors and friends my nerves calmed down.
It was great to be on the podium and I am honoured to be amongst the top athletes racing duathlon in Ontario. I know I have a lot of work to do still on my running and I have mentioned it before but my training isn’t translating into race times currently. With the MSC Gravenhurst being host to the International Duathlon Would ITU Qualifier this weekend I have regained my focus and will be approaching that race with more tact and strategy than ever. I am going to try to adopt some long course strategy and talk with my fellow Balance Point Triathlon athletes because the international distance is a whole different beast and our club has lots of ironman and ironwomen in it. I have yet to race a long course duathlon so for the first time in a long while I am feeling a little intimidated… In the same light I am looking forward to hopefully a slower run pace. I have a great endurance base and know I can go the distance it is just a matter of how fast will I have to go to secure myself a spot…. It is getting harder and harder racing sprints because times are just getting faster and faster opening run times of 17:00 or less for a 5k and bike splits at 40+km/hr the competition is getting fierce out there.
I am competing in the Sprint the second day do try to complete my first ever “double du” weekend so fingers crossed. Gravenhurst has two qualifying spots (International Distance) per age group to get on the national team for 2017. With Garvin in top form I know the two of us will be battling it out the entire time. I will be changing up my fuelling strategy adopting a feeding schedule on the bike and more fluids in hopes of extending or boosting my endurance.
On the mend from all my hormone issues I know my body is going crazy getting used to new levels of everything so hopefully this weekend will all work out. After talking with some fellow athletes, friends and my doctor I have learned that there is an adaptation period that my body will just have to get through. It could take a few months before all my systems stabilize and I start to see any benefits from everything I have gone through.
Thanks to all my supporters and family for being a part of #TeamSummerfield, I hope to make you all proud this coming weekend as I race my A race of the year, afterwards I will be racing more for fun than anything. See everyone out at the next race and please come say hi and meet Laura and baby Harper the whole family is coming to Gravenhurst to support me in what will be the most challenging race weekend to date for me!
- Coach Gabbi Whitlock – Balance Point Triathlon #OrangePower
- John Salt – MultiSport Canada & Recharge With Milk
- Chris Day – 3SIXTY5 Cycling
- Synergy Center Physio – John Smallwood
- Pursuit Health Management – Jan & John Barry
- Oxford Dodge Chrysler Jeep – James and Elizabeth Bennett
- Canadian SADS Foundation
- Jennifer Broxterman – NutritionRX