This past weekend marked the kick off to the MultiSport Canada Triathlon / Duathlon season. The Welland International Flatwater Centre played host to the weekends events.
Set in 411 acres of parkland and 272 acres of water, WIFC is the premiere calm water surface in the heart of the Niagara peninsula
My family and I arrived Sunday morning as I was completing in the Long Course Bike Run event. This consisted of a 56km bike followed by 3 laps of a very spectator fun and friendly run course equaling 15km. The weather Saturday was fantastic and Sunday followed suit with clear skies, sun and some light winds. The winds picked up throughout the day and made it a challenging bike course for everyone.
The atmosphere was electric on Sunday and I know lots of people were there the day before volunteering and racing and the buzz was still in the air. The first waves of the triathlon headed off at 8:30. This is all done in front of a roaring crowd and people cheering and yelling as the Canadian flag is dropped and the horn sounds. With perfect opportunity to spectate for everyone it really made you feel like you were a part of the event. I watched the first few waves go off and then went back to transition where I did another check of my bike, hydration and nutrition. Making sure that my gels and F2C hydration were ready I went out on a quick run to loosen up my legs. I monitored the time and made sure to get in any last-minute bathroom breaks and water before the 9:10 time trial start.
Bike – 56km
The Bike Run race was set to start at that time in a time trial format which means that we lined up by bib number along the side of the course before the mount line. The thirty of us who were completing in the Bike Run all exchanged the usual pre race banter and camaraderie. With a good number of participants in line you could feel the excitement and tension, like a group of caged bulls ready to charge. At 9:10 off went the first racer and then every 10 seconds. The one thing I plan on doing differently next time is starting with my shoes on my bike. This will give me a chance to get my momentum up before clipping in. Every second counts right Daryl ;). I’m sure that after reading this more people will also take this approach at future events. With a low bib number I was one of the first ones to head out on the course and I knew lots of hungry people were behind me eager to chase me down. I set off quickly getting up to speeds north of 40km/hr thanks to a wind form the side. The first 2km of the course took us along the river crossing a pair of train tracks before turning south-west. It was after this sharp turn that riders were met with a headwind. Blowing fairly good by this time people were tucking very low on their aero bars and staying as small as possible. As speed dropped and power increased I knew it was going to be this way for the next 18km. During this time I contemplated how my ride effort was going to effect my run. I remained vigilant and kept a quick cadence pushing just more than I would have liked in the power department. In this situation I had to walk that fine line of pushing higher power with the risk of burning out my legs early. I kept a constant pressure on the pedals and started to overcome person after person as we all pressed on into the gusting winds.
*Training Tip* – Working on your cadence
“Fast feet” is something that is said a lot during training and it resonated with me on this day. Referring to your leg speed no matter if you are on a bike or running. If you are running this is measured in steps per minute (spm) and revolutions per minute (rpm) on a bike. Over the years I have found that my body is happiest and most efficient if I keep a cadence of 90 rpm regardless of terrain and 180 spm while running. Everyone has different speeds and abilities but I encourage everyone to practice on a bike trainer to get your cadence up. You don’t need fancy of expensive equipment like power meters. Once your legs learn this on the bike they will start to adapt and when you run you will see a natural increase also. The simplest method is to get yourself a basic bike trainer and cheap cycling computer that displays cadence, or use your Garmin if available. Set the tension if applicable to something that would be an endurance effort or a pace that you can ride fairly easily at for 45:00. Use this setup with cadence displayed on your cycling computer and work on keeping cadence of 80+rpm. Once you can ride with at least a cadence of 80 rpm try to start incorporating short intervals where you spin up to 85 or 90 rpm for a few minutes at a time. This simple method can be applied over and over and as you get stronger and more comfortable increase both the time of the interval and the difficulty. The goal is to one day be comfortable with short sprint effort upwards of 110+rpm.
For and example of a workout you can do at home try the following:
Cadence Intervals – 45:00
10:00 – Spin @ 80-85 rpm
05:00 – Spin @ 90 rpm
05:00 – Spin @ 95 rpm
05:00 – Spin @ 80 rpm
05:00 – Spin @ 90 rpm
05:00 – Spin @ 95 rpm
10:00 – Spin @ 80 rpm
It doesn’t matter if you are new to the sport or a veteran a fundamental skill like cadence drills is something we can all benefit from.
Turning South now 20km into the bike I welcomed the break from the head wind it was now gusting for the side. A quick mental assessment of my legs and I determined that I had indeed not ridden to hard into the wind. I increased my cadence closer to 100 rpm to flush my legs as mush as possible. Lactic acid buildup and how fast your body can process it only comes from time in the sport. You ride or run long enough and you will raise this tolerance and processing ability as your body and mind learn to “live in the burn”. Also affectionately known as “Shut Up Legs”
After about 2km it was a left hand turn and a new heading of East. This meant that the wind was now coming from behind. I dropped to my hardest gear (54/12) and my speed increased quickly. Hammering forward I was using a lower cadence to turn the big gear and leg my quads do all the work which slowed my breathing and helped me to focus. I was yet again passing athlete after athlete and still no sign of anyone from the Bike Run.
“ON YOUR LEFT”
I was certain that by now some advances would be made as the rest of the racers chased me down but so far so good or so I though.
This short stretch of just a few km is where I went form being the hunted to the hunter. Just after I blew right by the F2C bottle drop aid station I was passed by Peter Schindler! I didn’t need to slow down for any hydration of fuel because I had my aero bottle full of F2C Hyrda-Durance and my second bottle with F2C Glyco-Durance. Alternating between the two I had no need to slow for any reason. I must admit Peter passed me like a rocket ship, I was actually surprised because rarely do people pass me for one and if people do it is never that fast. It was like standing beside a train track and having a VIA passenger train go by…….
I went info chase mode and up shifted as I got my legs ready to try to stick with him. During these short 3 km I was on a mission to stay with Peter but he just kept pulling, he was now 200m ahead of me. I reached the corner and turned left back into that nasty head wind from earlier. By this time if felt like the wind had picked up even more, call it preserved effort or whatever but man was it nasty. My speed dropped and once again my power went up and I for the second time danced that razors edge on my FTP power. I did everything I could staying within reason but he had started to fade into the distance passing athlete after athlete darting in and out. I felt like I was riding in quick sand, legs turning but going nowhere . Now 300m back we turned north and the welcome relief came as the wind was now back to my left. During this 1km stretch I once again dropped into my hardest gear and peddled hard trying to close the growing gap between Peter and myself.
Turning right it was back the way we came but the wind was directly behind us. A welcome relief sure but I knew that this would only increase the speed Peter was going as much as my own. I took in a gel here just around the one hour mark and of course my F2C Glyco-Durance!!!!!!!! For the next 12km I rode hard with an average of 45k/hr but Peter must have been doing 48+ because he just kept pulling and pulling farther away from me. Eventually he did indeed disappear out of view and I did my best to keep pressing on feeling a little aggravated. I told myself “I will get him on the run, I know it!”
Time ticked away and so did the kilometres as I worked my way back towards transition. With 2km to go it was only one left turn and then the home stretch but as I approached the corner I heard a train whistle. “CHOOOOO CHOOOO” Slowing for the very sharp corner I could see the tracks up the road but no flashing lights yet! I hustled hard pushing as much power as my legs could carry at this point but as I got closer and closer so did the train. I barreled towards it but despite my best efforts it was too late, the volunteer waved me down and the lights flashed as the engine SLOWLY advanced across the tracks. This was a little dramatic as I skidded to a stop from a good clip but what could I do I was stuck.
The volunteer was in the right spot and knew exactly what to do, writing down the time of day and my bib number. I huffed and puffed as I sat there waiting for a train engine pulling about 12 cars to go through. As time ticked by I could feel my legs beginning to get heavy from sitting stationary… not good. Daryl Flacks showed up about a minute after and behind him a long string of triathletes. The minutes went by and this was the first time I had seen anyone besides Peter from my race. The train stopped suddenly and then backed up and we were all complaining and miserable as we waited for it to move out-of-the-way. The volunteer was writing down bib numbers as people showed up but there was at least 15 people stuck at the crossing.
With my rhythm broken and my legs angry the train finally cleared the tracks and we all began to ride again. I sped off pedalling out of pure frustration barreling back towards transition. At this point I had no idea just how long I had been there waiting but it was a long time. Dismounting my bike I ran it into transition and racked it. Shoes on and a quick swig of my F2C Glycol and it was out on the run course.
Run – 15km
Leaving transition (T1) it was impossible not to feel good because we ran down along the water in front of the cheering spectators. The run course consisted of 3 loops.
The Run Course is composed of three laps along the fitness paths that border the canal. The course takes runners past the finish line grandstands on each lap which will make for an exciting and energetic finish area!
I glanced down at my watch and realized that I was moving surprisingly quickly. Its hard not to perk up as you run by a crowd of people. I grabbed my first sponge at the aid station before crossing the bridge as we continued north away form the race site. Aid Stations were approximately every 1.5km serving F2C Hydra-Durance – click HERE for more information, water, ice, Flat Cola, Assorted Gels, Assorted Fruit & Pretzels. I alternated between a sponge and electrolytes at almost every one. By now it was hot out but with the wind it was deceiving and you didn’t notice. Being conscious of the fact that I always race better when my core temp is lower I continued to collect sponges and at one point had about four of them stuffed into my race suit. Two in front and two around my neck. At the 3km mark the course turned back south towards the venue and immediately I could feel the blowing wind in my face. It wasn’t too bad the first loop around but as I grew more tired and the wind got stronger lap times started to slow.
The way the course is designed is fantastic no matter where you there is an aid station just ahead. The support for the volunteers with all their hand-made signs and cheering enthusiasm was a welcome relief as time ticked on. Completing the first 5k and glancing once again at my watch I was surprised because my time was right where I had planned it to be. This was a good thing it meant that I was pacing well and my legs were holding up. I had now been racing for about 1:45:00 in total. Keep in mind this is the first time I have raced this long this hard. With just two laps left I was in a great head space but could feel the wind and fatigue creeping in. At the 8km mark on the course it was a head wind and I tried to keep momentum but my right quad and knee was starting to hurt. With the pace slipping I kept exchanging sponges hoping to cool down as much as possible, breathing and hydration was fine and I was nearly on the last lap! Passing athletes I knew and wise versa everyone was in a great mood and exchanged words of encouragement. I saw a few people who were struggling just as much as I was and tried to encourage them to keep going or keep it up! My friend Dany stopped and started a few times out on the course and as I caught up to him I made sure to check that everything was good and encourage him to keep going. His calves kept cramping like crazy but he pressed on after massaging them out.
It is this kind of camaraderie between athletes that you will see at a MultiSport Canada race, just one of the reasons new people and veterans alike choose to race this Triathlon / Duathlon series. Not just emotional support but the feeling that no matter what your skill set, age or fitness is everyone is encouraged the same. We are all equals when we race, remember its you against the clock not just the other people, everyone is working as hard as they can to get to the finish line. If you have a friend that loves to run, bike, swim or any combination encourage them to come to a race and experience it first hand. Do a relay with a friend that just runs and you bike or swim, there are events for everyone so head over the MultiSport Canada website and register today, I promise you will have a great time at any event! http://www.multisportcanada.com
Once again I crossed beside the finish chute and headed out on my last lap. Checking my time and I could see my pace had slipped and I was just over a minute behind my goal time for 10k. Now just over the 2:00:00 mark I was in uncharted territory and reminded myself that there was “just one lap to go, common Spencer” Both my legs were aching now the knee pain was gone but my quads felt like they were full of cement. Racing over the 2 hour mark is something I had only done once before, sure during training I can exceed 2-3 hours at a time but never at this intensity. I started to glance back now and again as I looked for Daryl who was surely hunting me down once again. Racing this format with a time trial start leaves it difficult to gauge where you are in a race especially if you start before someone. Peter was finished at this point and while I didn’t catch him on the run after the run in with the train I did my best to keep moving as fast as my legs would take me. In the last 500m various athletes went by me each time I thought to myself why are my legs so slow!! But with adrenaline pumping I was literally running on empty.
Crossing the line my legs seized up immediately quads, hamstrings and now my calves all tightened and even my toes were trying to Charlie horse! Shaking John Salts hand and receiving his congratulations I downed cup after cup of F2C Hyrda-Durance and was handed my finishers medal. Shortly after Daryl came through the finish chute and we were both beat. Truly a foot race in the end we struggled to exchange congratulations between deep breaths.
I slinked off to the side of the course meeting up with my wife and daughter and collapsed on the grass. Harper climbed on top of me with her little smiling face and didn’t care if I was sweaty or hot she was just happy to see me and gave me a kiss. Its moments like these that remind me why I do this. I race to better myself as an athlete and person. If I can make my family proud at the same time then I feel rewarded. Feeling mentally charged back up I headed over to the F2C recovery zone. They had comfortable couches on had to relax in. After a few minutes there it was over to the food and then back to the grand stands. I cheered on the stream of people who kept coming into the finish chute cheering between mouth full of pizza and bananas.
Awards were done indoors and just before they started the MultiSport Canada Ambassadors were brought up to the front. Each of us took turn describing why we love the sport and why we are a member of the MSC Ambassador Team. Each of us are dedicated, positive and approachable individuals, mixed between Duathlon and Triathlon there is a very cohesive balance and we all have a lot of expertise and experience to share with others. If you are at a race and have a question of concern just ask any of us wearing the “Ambassador Team” shirt and we will find you the answer of help provide you the support you need.
Summary & Results
With the results in and the train taken into consideration I had secured 2nd place. A exciting result and very respectable debut racing at the longer distance. I have been training hard for many months to push myself and my endurance past my comfort zone. Long weekend brick workouts consisting of 70-80km rides and 10-21km runs had paid off. I am constantly wondering what the limits of my potential could be and that is what drives me. Last summer I raced my first ever 2:00:00 trail race (read about it here) and from that day I knew that endurance racing is where my passion lies. Don’t worry Sprint racers you will see me out at a few races throughout the summer after all there is nothing like a Sprint Duathlon, nothing! (read about it here)
Kudos to Peter for riding like the dickens and Daryl for keeping the pressure on me loop after loop out on the run course. Everyone had a great race day and the results show it, close in the end but the clock doesn’t lie.
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, fun and fantastic kick off to the summer race season.
- Coach Gabbi Whitlock – Balance Point Triathlon
- John Salt – MultiSport Canada
- Chris Day – 3SIXTY5 Cycling
- Greg Cohen – F2C Nutrition
- Laura and Harper – Family first !!! Love you both.
#MultiSportCan #MSCDu #MSCTri #Racelocal #Duathlon #Triathlon #MartinsAppleChips #SkechersPerformanceCanada
#f2cnutrition #f2cpoweringchampions #athletefocusedsciencedriven #f2c #first2cross #f2cwillfuelthejourney #whatareyourunningon #whatfuelsyou
#3SIXTY5Cycling #3SIXTY5Cyclin #Fat88 #CarbonWheelsOntario #FastEnoughtoWinTouchEnoughtoRideYearRound
#SummerfieldCAN #TeamSummerfield #bptriathlon