Race Reports

Qualifiers, Provincials, and Some Single Sport Fun

Some of you may know that I recently re-launched my little pet project, Canadian Duathlon Central. Back when I first started that project I wasn’t doing anything except training and writing, so I was able to keep up both this site and DC. When I started working again alongside a bump in training, I had to consolidate. I started using this site as a place for duathlon commentary along with my race reports and such. I kept that up for awhile, but what I really enjoy doing is writing about the sport in Canada and not so much my exploits. I have SO MUCH FUN diving into reams of registration lists, race results and athlete profiles, and then writing about them. I feel like I contribute so much more to the sport doing that than just my own adventures, and it always felt a little cheap broadcasting those from a site with my name all over it.

So this is going to be my last big article on this site, for a little while at least. Most of my writing from now on will be over on Duathlon Central, including my own race reports. This site will continue on in its static form, and the archives will remain undisturbed. The tabs above will remain, but if you want to catch up with my writing please head over to Canadian Duathlon Central (linked above). So let’s dive into one last little (late) update!

I raced a lot in July in an attempt to simulate my 3 big goal races, which all fall within an 18 day stretch. I raced two duathlons, a 5k and my first “race of truth” (individual time trial) across 14 days. The big lesson I learned in this stretch of 14 days: short memories are good memories.

GREAT WHITE NORTH DUATHLON
I raced GWN with the primary goal of getting my qualification for Penticton 2017 out of the way. It was the first year GWN hosted a duathlon, and the atmosphere was pretty low-key at the start as the sold-out triathlon started 12km away at Hubbles Lake…a stark contrast to the festival-like finish line atmosphere. I started this race with a vague idea that some dude named Evan Bayer was going to be one to watch or something like that. Boy should I have listened closer.

GWN Run Start

I took the lead right away, perhaps a bit too hard, coming to the turnaround right at 17:45 with about a one minute lead. Coach Kevin was on the course, encouraging me and giving me time gaps, but the struggle started about 2.5km into that first run and continued to be a mental challenge the rest of the day. The gap stayed where it was on the way back to T1 as I slowed, and I headed out onto the single-loop, out-and-back 40km bike with an ~1:15 lead and a tailwind.

GWN T2

That lead lasted until about 19km into the ride, where I had the pleasure of having a freight train named Evan Bayer unceremoniously blow past me. I tried to stick with him and keep within ~20m of him, but alas my legs just would not respond as I pushed underwhelming power (~25W below target), lost sight of my benchmark and bled over 3 minutes in the last 20km of the bike. In hindsight, trying to stay with him may have done me in. The rolling hills and persistent headwind sapped my remaining energy, and the only good thing I can say about that 5k was that I ran just fast enough to hold onto 2nd. LESSONS LEARNED: Give your competition and the standard distance the respect it deserves; 10k/40k/5k is no joke, and neither is Evan Bayer.

GWN Run 2

COMFORTEC RED DEER DUATHLON
Like I said, short memories are good memories. I quickly put Great White North behind me and looked forward to Provincials at my favourite venue on my favourite course at the Comfortec Red Deer Duathlon, 6 days later. Honestly, it was already a perfect day just showing up a provincial championship at an event 100% focused on the duathlon.

Red Deer T2

It was largely a solo affair fuelled by desire. I started at the front and but due to the fatigue of racing 6 days prior I decided to fall right in behind the leading pair until about 1.2km, where I decided to push on. The result was a delightfully even and controlled 3:23/km pace for 5.1km and a 1:45 lead in T1. I screamed through transition and settled right into my cadence straight away. The bike course had changed slightly from a straight out and back to a course with two turnarounds, but that wouldn’t end up mattering much. I blitzed my bike course record of the past year, riding 28:54 for 20km (41.6km/h) and cruised the second run for my second career provincial title. The final tally was 56:06 with an 8:42 margin of victory, my fastest sprint duathlon ever and a mark that should keep me in the conversation come Nationals.

Red Deer Finish

MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT 5K
Like I said in the first section and reiterated in the last section…short memories are good memories. This was the flip side of that, the side where a tempered ego after a good race usually trumps an inflated one. Buoyed by my success in Red Deer, I was hell-bent on sticking with the front group as long as I could at this race. I mean…it’s only 5k right? I wanted to see if I could do it. Turns out…I couldn’t. Going out in 3:03/3:11 hurts when the 3rd kilometer goes up a hill. I went back and forth with a few guys fighting for minor places and ended up 9th place in 16:30. LESSON LEARNED: 5k’s hurt, especially when you go out in what would be close to an SB for 1000m with a bunch of dudes way faster than you.

ERTC ShuTT UP LEGS STRATHCONA TT
Luckily, I didn’t have long to dwell on this one, because Kevin decided that our senior group’s session on Sunday (the 5k was Saturday) would be a 25km time trial in Strathcona County. The local cycling club took a gamble in adding a citizens/single-event license category and our club took full advantage of that, turning out 10+ athletes and filling out the citizens category. I took it way too seriously (per usual), rolling out my trainer for warm-up, pulling out all the stops with my equipment set-up, and hunting down my minute man like a trained assassin. I didn’t end up catching him, but I DID manage to pace the citizen’s category in 35:51 (42.2km/h).

SUMMARY
I chose to look at this block as one, rather than looking at the races in isolation. I trained hard coming into the block, had two great races and two not-so-great ones, and got some valuable experience with back to back racing. Overall, I am happy with the effort put out over the 14 days and am optimistic about having better success later in the season. What have I been doing since then? You’ll have to wait until this week to find out :). As I publish this I am on my way to Penticton for the standard distance National Championships. The race is Wednesday, stay tuned to Duathlon Central for the recap! That’s all for now, thanks so much for reading!

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Great White North & Gravenhurst Weekend Recap

What an exciting last month or so of the duathlon season! I want to start with the first two National Race Series events before getting to the rest. Lots to cover, so let’s get to it! You can check the results of each race by clicking on the bold heading:

GREAT WHITE NORTH DUATHLON (STANDARD DISTANCE)
This race was important not only because it was the first race of Triathlon Canada’s National Qualifying Race Series for the duathlon in Penticton next year (Triple Threat in Winnipeg notwithstanding…we’ll get to that later), but it is also where some important markers were set for the rest of the country in 2016. 2 new contenders each emerged as the winners of the men’s and women’s races, setting fastest times in Canada for the standard distance this year, and also faster than any other athletes in the country have recorded in 2016. Let’s start with the women; Melissa Paauwe simply rode away with this one. She came in 16 seconds behind the fastest runner (Dana Hansen, 41:36 to 41:52) then wiped it all out in transition and rode 5 minutes into her competition. Hansen brought back a minute by running a strong 20:11 last 5k, but the damage was done. For reference, 1:06:08 is fast, and would be the 6th fastest split OVERALL in the race. 2:11:33 has not been touched by a female duathlete on Canadian soil.

Melissa Paauwe

Melissa Paauwe, finishing up a stellar 2:11! Photo credit Ken Anderson Photography

The men’s race was a similar story, though the gaps are a tad bigger and the race was in doubt a tad longer. Luckily for you, I got a front row seat for this one by virtue of being the one wiped out. I ran off the front right away, and steadily opened a gap of ~1:00 by the 5k turnaround. But then…the gap stayed where it was (36:36 to 37:40) and was steadily wiped out over the first 20k of the bike with a fast tailwind. The hunter? Evan Bayer, who apparently is a pretty handy time trialist. He rode 58:00 to the finish, which is no joke on a fair GWN course with a steady wind from the south. Bayer then followed that up with a very solid 18:18 5k to cruise over the line in 1:56:05. This time has only been beaten once on Canadian soil so far this year. By Bayer. The next week. Myself (2:01:27) and reigning National bronze medallist Moritz Haager (2:02:00) made up the rest of the podium.

Evan Bayer

Evan Bayer, off hunting gold medals. Photo credit Ken Anderson Photography

GRAVENHURST DU-THE-DOUBLE CHALLENGE (SPRINT AND STANDARD)
Let’s start with the standard distance, shall we? Since it is the National Race Series Qualifier after all. There were 4 quite compelling races on this weekend, as Triathlon Ontario and Multisport Canada delivered on all the hype this race received. Elite masters runner Charles Bedley was the protagonist on the first run, taking it out in 34:16 on a tough hilly course. However, laying in wait was another strong runner (Sean Delanghe, 35:06), this one with a little better cycling pedigree. He took over the lead early on in the bike, only to give it up to a hard-charging Matt Straatman later on. Delanghe didn’t panic, and put in a race second best 17:28 5k run to come from behind for the win in a strong 1:59:05. Straatman just missed the 2:00 barrier in 2nd, while Andrew McLeod once again showed up at his best, using a race best 1:03:00 bike to claim 3rd. Bedley ran 16:54 to consolidate 6th.

Sean Delanghe

Sean Delanghe, taking the Ontario provincial standard distance title! Photo credit Zoomphoto.ca

The women’s race was a little less back and forth, but still compelling. It was a two horse race at the front, as Jessica Kuepfer used a slightly faster first run (40:55 to 41:03) to lead into T1 before defending Du-the-Double champion Jasmin Aggarwal stamped her claim on the race with a 1:13:11 bike. The second runs were pretty much a wash (20:01 for Jasmin to 20:09 for Jessica), and the win went to Jasmin Aggarwal in 2:15:47. Naomi Lynne Wolfson stormed through the bike to momentarily take 3rd on the back of a race-best 1:12:37, but couldn’t hold off Leslie McArthur’s stronger running legs as the latter took 3rd at the finish line.

Jasmin Aggarwal

Jasmin Aggarwal, defending her Ontario standard distance title just one week after racing hard at TTF! Photo credit Zoomphoto.ca

Back the next day on the tough Muskoka roads was Jasmin Aggarwal to once again contest the double. She was not originally entered due to an injury she has been struggling with, but decided to take a shot regardless. The decision paid off as she led wire-to-wire, recording race-best splits across all three legs to take a 4 minute win in 1:09:01. Karen Ugarte Bravo put in a strong bike ride to hold off 3rd place Kathryn Sherwood by the slimmest of margins (7.1 seconds) and 4th place Lindsay Miller by 21 seconds. Wow!

Karen Ugarte Bravo

Karen Ugarte Bravo, on her way to a silver medal in the sprint. Photo credit Zoomphoto.ca

The men’s race was hotly contested once again, as Matt Straatman was out to avenge his tight 2nd place finish of the day before. He kept the leaders close (again led by Charles Bedley in 16:55 with Delanghe 12 seconds adrift in 17:07) before unleashing a fantastic bike split (31:19 on this rolling course) to take a big enough lead to hold off a hard-charging Delanghe to take a 12 second win. The times (59:28 to 59:40) were truly exceptional to anyone who knows the Gravenhurst course. Defending Du-the-Double champ Brian Moore didn’t come into the weekend 100% and struggled on Saturday, but salvaged the weekend with a steady performance to round out the podium on Sunday.

Matt Straatman

Matt Straatman, on the hunt for that elusive provincial title. Photo credit Zoomphoto.ca

Now this post is getting a little bit long, so I will leave the highlights from the rest of Canada to a separate post tomorrow. Instead of full recaps, I’m just going to highlight some very notable performances from the other events with an eye on drawing your attention to some potential major contenders for future Triathlon Canada Series duathlon events later in the year. Our next one is none other than Standard Distance Nationals in Penticton, with 10 spots per AG available for the World Multisport Festival in 2017 (also in Penticton). If you are interested, the full list of results since Triple Threat in June are in my previous post!

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

A Road Trip to Penticton and a Recap of Some Duathlon Racing Across Canada

My major focus in the early season, and indeed my first major test of fitness, was to be a return trip to Penticton, BC. While the structure of the weekend is definitely unusual and likely sub-optimal, racing the perennially super-fast Bare Bones Duathlon on Saturday followed by the Blossom 10 Miler on Sunday morning represented a challenge that I really wanted to undertake. Click on the race names for the results page, and read on for some recaps!

BARE BONES DUATHLON
My primary focus for this weekend in Penticton was a return to the Bare Bones Duathlon, organized by the Penticton Triathlon Club. This was my favourite race last year, next to the Comfortec Red Deer Duathlon (which incidentally, has been named as the Alberta Provincial Championships for 2016), and the grassroots, no frills atmosphere is the perfect place to lay it all out there and just worry about racing. The course keeps you honest, with flat but technical and exposed 5km (2 lap) runs sandwiched around a tough out-and-back 33km bike that travels along an exposed lakeside road then takes in two long and steady climbs (and the corresponding descents). It is as much a test of personal strength as it is a race.

Leading the way

Leading out the first run, with 2nd place hot on my heels

I came into the race knowing that the major competition would be two-time defending champion Nathan Champness, and that the race in previous years had had one of the deepest and most competitive fields in the country. Nathan had won last year in a course record of a shade over 1:27, while I had finished 5th in 1:31:04. The first run went out as fast as it did last year, but this year I was able to take control (or so I would lead myself to believe) of the race halfway through the first lap. Despite that I was not able to shake Nathan throughout the first run, and though I was able to split 16:11 for the first 5k I had only about 10-15 seconds on him heading onto the bikes.
Heading in from the bikes

2 minutes down coming off the bike it 2 too many

I was able to ride strong, though issues with my Garmin had me riding blind and a little more sporadically than I would have liked. The long downhills allowed for some recovery after riding the hills harder than I would have liked, and I still was able to ride 51:55 for the 33km (37.8km/h and 4 minutes faster than last year). Nathan had passed me 4km into the bike, and had a 2 minute lead on me by T2, so I just focused on running strong and consistent enough to solidify my 2nd place finish. My final time was 1:26:43, inside the course record from last year but well-beaten into 2nd place. Nathan Champness was just too strong on this day…kudos my friend!

BLOSSOM 10 MILER
Though my legs were TRASHED following Bare Bones I was able to get in some decent recovery Saturday evening, doing some rolling and then kicking my feet up in preparation for my longest test of the season. The Blossom 10 Miler was more of a “might as well do it since I am here” race, but I am glad I did it. The race is point to point, starting in the middle of a rural road 1 mile north of Naramata and heading along some picturesque lakeside roads (complete with an absolutely stunning view) and then onto the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. The last mile turns into Penticton, heading along Lakeshore Drive and finishing at the SS Sicamous. The course is almost entirely downhill save for some rollers in the first mile, and the strong wind from the north from the day before continued, giving us a solid tailwind for almost the entire race.

Chillin

Double races in one weekend is hard


Like Saturday, Jeremy Hopwood went straight to the front of the race and I followed him to a small gap on the rest of the field straight off the bat. I was able to get a gap on him on one of the downhills, and from there I used the twists and turns of the course to inject some pace and increase my gap once out of sight. In time, he faded out of contention while eventual podium finishers Hector Carlos and Josh Heinrich made their way up. I kept running strong trying to maintain my pace (~3:38/km) before trying to drop the hammer at the exit of the KVR Trail. In the last mile I had some hopes that I could dip under the 58:00 mark, but I ran out of gas in the last 500m (about 2 mile later than I expected to) to finish in 58:11 for the overall win. It was a solid effort at another fantastic local grassroots event. I will most definitely be back next year!
Got the win!

…but managed to get the win on day 2!


A WORD ABOUT SOME DUATHLONS FROM ACROSS CANADA
Keeping with the new theme of this site, I’d like to recap some of the great duathlon action from around the country. With the World Championships for age groupers being in Aviles, Spain in early June this year, many duathletes are coming out of the woodwork this spring further along with their fitness than in previous years. Lets dive into a few:

UBC DUATHLON
Typically the first Canadian duathlon test, this one usually draws some pretty strong athletes to Vancouver. Nick Patenaude won the 5km/20km/5km race overall, but the real story was Cat 2 female cyclist Morgan Cabot winning the women’s race and placing 2nd overall thanks to a far and away race-best 31:04 bike. That’s fast as HELL, though I guess we should have expected that out of the reigning B.C. provincial TT champion. She beat 2014 Canadian duathlon champion Sara Massie by 5:13. Hopefully we see her in more duathlons this year.

FLOWER CITY CHALLENGE DUATHLON (ROCHESTER, NY)
There was some high placed Canadian content at the Flower City Challenge duathlon in Rochester NY, and it looked like a tactical battle that led to a 1-2 Canadian invasion of the podium. Guelph’s Josh LeBlanc sizzled the first 5k (in 15:52) before Toronto’s Darren Cooney methodically closed the gap en route to a race-best 54:54 for a 30km bike before starting the games. Back and forth they went until Darren took the lead late in the bike and didn’t look back. He took the win in 1:34:38 to LeBlanc’s 1:36:11 despite Josh’s race-best 19:36 second 5k.

IRON HAWK DUATHLON
One of the highlights of the duathlon season, the Iron Hawk duathlon has likely only been matched for depth and competitiveness by the Bare Bones Duathlon that it shares a weekend with. This year, Kirstie Kniaziew once again did her thing by coming 5th overall and winning the women’s race by…a lot, but the big story was a wide open men’s race that was without superstar (understatement of the year) Lionel Sanders for the first time. Liyang Wang took an overwhelming win by running a race best 17:31 for the first 5k and not looking back. He rode a race best 29:55 followed by a race fastest 9:11 (for 2.5km) to beat Brad Reiter and Spencer Summerfield into 2nd and 3rd respectively. 57:41 would have had him rank in the top 5 for duathlons in the past 3 years. Dude looks ready for Worlds, I’d say.

DUATHLON SOREL-TRACY
Last but certainly not least is the defacto “opener” of an incredibly competitive Quebec duathlon circuit. Sorel-Tracy is a 5km/33km/2.5km (approximately) duathlon that usually brings out the best of Quebec multisport athletes. This year, Bathurst triathlete Lee Roy took one step up to the top step, winning this year after finishing 2nd last year on the heels of a 16:02 5k/49:06 bike. The women’s race was taken convincingly by last year’s Montreal Demi-Esprit runner-up Annie Gervais thanks to some strong running. Browsing the results shows many of the big names in Quebec racing, falling right in with the trend of athletes being super fit for Worlds in June.

Let’s hope that continues right through to national championships season in August/September!

I’m heading to Jasper this weekend for a training camp to kick off the second half of the season. So until next time…keep Du’ing it!
Peace out yo!

Transitions

Well readers…yes it has been a little while, but don’t fret! I’m still alive and back in the game. A lot has happened since my last post…I mean it HAS been 8 months (oops). So let’s get to it!

NATIONALS AFTERMATH AND 2015 DEBRIEF

2015 was a banner year for me, capped off by my Canadian duathlon title. Winning that race was the culmination of 3 years of hard work and focus following a decent debut season in 2012. While I didn’t necessarily always get the results I wanted in 2013 and 2014, it was all worth it with what I was able to accomplish in 2015:

2016 Medal Haul

My haul from 2016!

Following Nationals, I stumbled upon this awesome series of cross country races on Wednesday nights called the Frank McNamara XC race series. Set in various places in the Edmonton river valley, I got my butt kicked by some serious trail runners every Wednesday night during some good old-fashioned foot races. It was a great way to finish off the season by going back to my cross country running roots in a fun, low pressure scenario.

LOOKING FORWARD TO 2016

With a positive end to a three year block of goal setting now in my rearview mirror, it is time to look forward to 2016 and beyond. My ultimate goal has always been to race with the elites at Worlds. Mixing it up with the best is truly the pinnacle for me, and seeing the performances that those men and women put together on the grandest stage of duathlon is incredibly inspiring.

While it would be equally amazing to make that debut at the recently (-ish) announced 2017 World Multisport Festival in Penticton, BC, Triathlon Canada’s new requirements for obtaining an International Competition Card (necessary for competing in the elite race at Worlds) will make that goal difficult. So while this does still remain a stretch goal, my focus has turned to the following progression:


2016
Double National Championship attempt (standard distance on August 24 in Penticton, sprint distance on September 4 at home in Edmonton)
2017
Double AG World Championship attempt in Penticton, BC. Use that performance to obtain my ICC from Triathlon Canada
2018
Represent my country and the Maple Leaf in the World Duathlon Championship elite race in Odense, Denmark

This ambitious set of goals is going to require committing to training and living like an ITU pro, which unfortunately is going to require changes to the set-up I became used to the past several years. I owe a lot of the credit for where I am today as an athlete to Tommy Ferris and Ignition Fitness. Becoming a national champion happened under Tommy’s watchful eye, and I doubt I would have gotten to this level without that valuable development time.

My team for 2016

My team for 2016!

My schedule for 2016 is posted under the tab above, with highlights being a trio of races in August and September where I will attempt to defend my standard distance Canadian title before taking on two National Race Series draft legal sprint duathlons in Edmonton and Montreal. Fitting in with these goals, this winter I was presented with the opportunity to join up with the Edmonton Triathlon Academy, an elite development training group in the city. With the ETA, I will have the opportunity to train with like-minded athletes in a team environment, working on duathlon skills just as much as on my fitness. The results have been positive so far, I would say; here are some brief recaps of my solid (if unspectacular) early season races to kick off this season of blogging!

APRIL 17 – ST. ALBERT ROAD RACE 10KM (1st OVERALL, 34:34)

My season officially kicked off with the St. Albert Road Race in mid-April, where I set my personal best for 10 miles last year. This year, my focus has been on running fast over the 5km and 10km distances, so I would be running the 10k in St. Albert this season. I was carrying some very good fitness into April this year, giving me high hopes of a record-eligible course PB. Unfortunately, I took a stupid but painful spill on some gravel during an early training ride that left me with a pretty deep bruise on my hip, ending my hopes of really running fast at this race. My goal became simply to win the race, and with a surge up a false flat 3km into the race, I accomplished just that (only after a lonely 7km around northern St. Albert). Final time – 34:34 for 1st place overall. Not bad for a rust buster.

St. Albert Road Race 10k

Charging to the finish in 1st at the St. Albert Road Race 10k

APRIL 17 – NORTHERN ALBERTA SPRING SERIES #1

Immediately after the St. Albert race, my team and I headed east towards Sherwood Park for the first race of the Spring Series bike races, a series jointly put on by several of the cycling clubs around Edmonton and aimed more at getting in training miles and developing skills than being a full-on bike race. This would be a fantastic opportunity for me to learn some skills on the fly, and to see firsthand how the dynamics of a draft legal bike race plays out. Considering my goals, this seemed like just the ticket despite having raced in the morning. I raced with the C group, which ended up being more like a “learn to race” group. I did manage a little solo break with 6km to go after a long pull into the headwind, which was very exhilerating. However, I was caught and finished with the group, exhausted but satisfied.

MOVING FORWARD

I did one more Spring Series race on May 1, but it was more of a training race than anything. I had planned to leave for Penticton 3 days later, and most of my teammates were racing around the city on the 1st. It was either the Spring Series race or a long solo ride, and I decided to headed to Ardrossan for some more skill development and camaraderie. I raced up a category in the B group, but just hung out near the back and watched the dynamics of the race play out. With the large group, it was difficult to move up without crossing the centre line…and that was just fine with me.

Penticton Road Trip

Some highlights from my Penticton Road Trip! Full report to come.

All of this training and racing has led to possibly my highest training load since I started this absurd sport, yet it has been done in a way that was not overwhelming to my body. Everything so far was aimed at a shot at redemption at the Bare Bones Duathlon in Penticton, where I finished a well beaten 5th last year. This year, I was able to dip under the course record time from last year and improve my finish to a well-beaten 2nd (by just over 2 minutes). I followed that up the next morning with my second road running win of the year, winning the Blossom 10 Mile in a solid (if unspectacular) 58:11. But you shall have to wait for that full report to hear more…

On a final note, I am planning on taking this site in a different direction. While you will still be seeing race reports from my season, I truly enjoy writing about the duathlon happenings around the country, as well as the odd post on training and equipment optimization. With such an exciting season coming up for duathlon, age group and elite alike, I’d like to make that the focus of this site. In retrospect, even my race reports often take the viewpoint of being a commentary on training methods, equipment choices and race dynamics. So…hope y’all are okay with that!

Apologies for the loooong update…it’s been long overdue. So until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Penticton Peach

Peace out! For now…

“Ultimate Redemption” – How the Canadian Duathlon Championships Was Won (At Esprit de Montreal)

14 months ago, almost to the day, my race at the Canadian Duathlon Championships in Toronto ended in bitter disappointment. I went right to the front on the first run and set a strong pace, only to watch it unravel into a mess of lost power and nutrition issues on the second half of the bike. I limped in for 3rd and was lucky to be that. When Nationals were announced for September 2015 in Montreal, I immediately put it on my calendar and Coach Tommy and I set to work building my entire season towards this race. This report will be in two posts, starting with the play-by-play here followed by my thoughts, reflections and shoutouts later.

Coach T and I

Debriefing after 2014 Nationals. Presumably planning an assault on redemption in 2015.

THE RACE
Duathlon and triathlon are much more than just the sum of their parts. It’s not just running, cycling, and in the case of triathlon, swimming…they are their own sports entirely. In 2012, I did my first big-time race. Sure, I had done (and won) duathlons prior to my first standard distance duathlon in Cobourg at the Ontario Duathlon Championships, but this one was different.

I was racing an athlete with multiple pro World Championship appearances on his resume, Kevin Smith. I finished 2nd that day, but Kevin didn’t beat me thanks to any one particularly dominant part of the race. Instead, he took bits and pieces of time from me over all 5 stages of the race (Run #1, T1, Bike, T2, Run #2) that added up to 57 seconds and the win by the end of the race. That day I learned a valuable lesson that I have remembered ever since: every little bit counts.

Mr. Smith showed me the way to win a championship duathlon in 2012.

Mr. Smith showed me the way to win a championship duathlon in 2012.

On Sunday, I put my year of hard training together with the racing knowledge I have gained since that race. Leading into the race, I was shocked at the field’s depth. Though it was missing a few big names due to injury, late season burnout or the dark side (triathlon), over 180 people were still due to race including many of the top names from all over Canada. I arrived on Wednesday to give myself plenty of time to adapt to the time change and humidity.

This didn't last...

This didn’t last…

RUN #1 (9.9KM) – 35:23 (3:34/km, 1st overall)
It rained all night on Saturday but by some stroke of luck, as I was setting up transition the rain STOPPED for the duration of the race. I knew that the first run had a good chance of going out hard despite the choppy gravel stretch to start and I was prepared to follow. Everything went according to my expectations…until it didn’t. We went through the first aid station quickly as a group of 5, one athlete made a joke about Mo Farah swinging wide for water at Worlds in the 5000m, I followed him to grab a cup…and all of a sudden we were 2 off the front of the race. At this point I took control of the race with Garry Mathieu on my shoulder…foreshadowing the day.

Leading the first run like a sucker.

Leading the first run like a sucker.

At this point, the racing stopped and the mind games started. Garry and I started talking to each other…conversing at 3:30/km. It started off nice enough, as Garry offered me his water cup after he saw I had flubbed my own cup (what a nice dude). We went back and forth a bit, and I kept up the conversation throughout the second lap around the basin partially to gauge his effort level (and partially because he was one interesting dude). I got the distinct feeling Garry was doing the same. I was content to run in front, often throwing in small surges that were meant to stretch but not necessarily snap the elastic. Garry had run 13:38 in college…I wasn’t getting rid of him that easy, but I could try to soften up those legs.

Battling hard on my first run in my Skechers Performance GORun 4's

Battling hard on my first run in my Skechers Performance GORun 4’s (ZoomPhoto, 2015)

THE BIKE (39.5KM) – 1:00:58 (includes T1, 39.8kph, 4th overall)
We came into T1 stride for stride, and I dashed to my bike. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him reach down for his cycling shoes that were not clipped to his bike, and kicked it into overdrive. Knowing the run to the mount line was about 300m from our bikes, I booked it across transition, out to the mount line and onto my faithful Felt B16 shod in 3SIXTY5 carbon clinchers. I knew if I could get a gap going onto the bike I would put him in chase mode for the next little while. I only managed to get 5-10 seconds, but that 5-10 seconds took him almost 8 laps (out of 9) to close down. Don’t tell me transition isn’t as important as swim/bike/run.

Riding scared...very scared.

Riding scared…very scared. RETUL Bike fit courtesy of Sweet Petes Bike Shop.

The bike course was crowded, as advertised. Between squeezing through tight gaps while passing people trying to ride the tangents on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and weaving around people who inexplicably decided to ride on the right instead of the left as instructed (pre-race meetings are important, people!), I managed to have a pretty solid ride. There were some sketchy moments, most notably some nasty cramping in both calves early on, as well as some close calls on the slick and crowded hairpins and S-turns. But the games started again on lap #8…

…because at this point Garry took control of the race. I had been seeing his name pop up shortly after mine on the lap board, and he was very close behind every time I peeked during the hairpin turnaround, so I knew he was coming. Once he made the pass, it was decision time: I could keep going my pace and let him go, hoping to reel him back in on the run, or I could burn a match and ride at my limit to keep him within reach, hoping to come into transition a couple seconds behind. I chose the latter, afraid of him going out of sight and out of mind…and it paid off. He threw everything at me, including hard attacks up the small rises, but I managed to keep him within reach for the last lap, and got my legs ready for the run.

Making one of the many hairpin turns on my 3SIXTY5 FAT wheels.

Making one of the many hairpin turns on my 3SIXTY5 FAT wheels. (ZoomPhoto, 2015)

RUN #2 (5.1KM) – 20:12 (includes T2, 3:41/km, 3rd overall)
It was at the dismount that I saw a second opportunity: from about 2 seconds back I saw Garry pull up to the mount line, stop to unclip and dismount. Again I went into overdrive, completing the fastest flying dismount of my life (passing him) and sprinting to my rack spot (stopping only to slide on my Skechers GOMeb Speed 3’s) and then out of transition. This was my opening, and I put everything I had into taking it. I don’t have an exact time on my first mile, but since I saw 3:25 as my average pace for about that distance it was likely under 5:40. This was the decisive moment of the race. The next two miles were not pretty, but the damage was done.

Starting to believe it

Starting to believe it (Parichit Bagga, 2015)

For two miles I struggled physically but fear fueled me to run as hard as I could. In the back of my mind I kept seeing Garry flying around my outside, leaving me in his dust. I refused to let belief creep in until it forced its way in, but when the finish line came into view I began to believe. A shot of adrenaline, an injection of pace, and as I passed the grandstand a wide smile as I heard my pops yelling hysterically. Running through a tunnel of noise, I saw the “Canadian Champion” tape stretched out in front of me and it got very real, very fast. I started pumping my fists like mad , high-fiving people, and I teared up behind my sunglasses.

FINAL RESULT – 1:56:35 (1ST OVERALL, CANADIAN CHAMPION)

FINALLY (Photo credit: ZoomPhoto)

FINALLY (ZoomPhoto, 2015)

As I broke the tape I stretched my arms out wide in celebration and all my emotions poured into one of the biggest smiles to have ever graced my face. I grabbed the tape and hoisted it over my head, looking up to the sky in absolute shock. 14 months after bitter disappointment in Toronto, I had done it: Canadian Duathlon Champion in Montreal. 14 months of painstaking work, long solo training sessions, and foregone outdoor workouts culminating in adding my name to a list that includes (most recently) Sanders, Tremblay and Frake. And it feels gooooooood.

HUGE shoutout to Garry Mathieu for doing his part to make this one hell of a battle. Seriously man, you are one tough dude. Stay tuned for part 2: The Reflection. Until then, keep Du’ing it!

Hoist that banner! (ZoomPhoto, 2015)

Hoist that banner! (ZoomPhoto, 2015)

“Did I just do that?” (ZoomPhoto, 2015)

Your top 3 overall (from left): Garry Mathieu, Jesse Bauer, Moritz Haager

Your top 3 overall (from left): Garry Mathieu, Jesse Bauer, Moritz Haager

“Sweet Success” – Alberta Provincial Duathlon Championship Race Report

Time for a little history lesson. Let’s go back to 2012, my first year as a duathlete. I had circled MultiSport Canada‘s Cobourg stop on my schedule, to qualify for Worlds in Ottawa at the race that had been awarded the Ontario Championships. But let’s be honest…I wanted to win. I lost seconds on each leg and was beaten into 2nd by 57 seconds by Kevin Smith (in 1:59:35).

Duelling with Kevin Smith in Cobourg

Duelling with Kevin Smith in Cobourg

Fast forward to last May: I went to Iron Hawk (the Ontario Sprint Duathlon Championships) with vague designs on getting the provincial title I missed out on the previous two years (Belle River in 2013 didn’t fit into my schedule logistically)…yet on race day I was foiled by names such as Sanders, Bechtel, Forbes and Loewen. On July 18, 2015, however, I would not be denied…even if I was racing in a different province than previous years.

Chasing in vain at Iron Hawk 2014

Chasing in vain at Iron Hawk 2014

ALBERTA PROVINCIAL DUATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS RACE REPORT
I circled the Victory Duathlon a few months ago when I found out the ATA had named it the provincial championships, hoping I could take a shot at that elusive title. Originally, the format was to be a 5k/40k/10k…inverting the runs of the standard distance and making for a good but not perfect prep race for Nationals in September. So the late change that swapped the race distances and preserved the international standard distance was welcomed by me. Not to mention the fact that the massive rainstorm that was supposed to hit on race day came a day early!

Stepping away from the powermeters to get a calibration

The day started early enough, and happening upon a rollover accident, a convoluted construction detour and a freight train didn’t stop me from being at the race site before transition opened. Being the superstitious athlete that I am, I chose to forego my bike mechanical run-through on the road and give my bike a static check on the rack. Then off for my run warm-up on the course with a few race pace accelerations. Ritual, ritual, ritual.

RUN #1 – 35:01 (~9.8km, 3:34/km STRAVA FILE)
I went off strong, but under control. 10km is a long way to go, and I didn’t want to go about biting off more than I could chew by ripping a 3:07 first kilometer. I had some welcome help the first lap of the two lap run course, as a few of the athletes from the sprint race paced off me which helped me to keep the pace steady at ~3:33-3:34/km. Other than that, the run was pretty uneventful as I just tried to hold my pace, focusing on smooth running form, hydration and nutrition. There is still some room for improvement on my running.

Out for my second lap

BIKE – 1:01:30 (T1 + ~39km + T2, 38.7kph STRAVA FILE)
I have to give kudos to the organizers here; they could have given us a course full of long, single loop out-and-back sections, but instead they chose to give the athletes a true Worlds-like feel for this Worlds qualifier by creating a very spectator friendly, looped course that featured a two lap first run, four 10km laps on the bike, followed by a one lap final run. Because of this, my grandparents and my aunt were able to come out to the race, and see me compete throughout the day instead of sitting out in the wind for two hours just for a few sightings!

Starting my ride

On the flip side, this did make for a bike course that was a tad slow. Add to that the fact that the way out featured a net downhill and a hard tailwind, with an uphill drag into a headwind back to transition, and it made for an uneven ride. My average speed would spike above 40kph on the fast section before dropping back to the 38’s by the time I completed each lap! I put in a very consistent ride, coming in with lap times that were very close to the same on each lap, and came into T2 after putting my stamp on the race with another very solid bike split.

Out for another lap!

RUN – 18:23 (5km, 3:42/km STRAVA FILE)
Now, over the course of the bike leg I couldn’t help but notice a figure in black I recognized from the duathlon start line who seemed to be making headway on me on each lap of the bike. This motivated me to push on the bike, and starting the 4th lap it dawned on me that there was a good chance I would stay away for the win (barring a major blow-up on the run). Not knowing my competition very well, however, gave me some impetus to work hard on the second run to secure my first major championship.

Time to suffer

Simply stated…I was a bit of a mess on the second run. To be fair 5 seconds/km slower than the first run is a pretty solid day at the office for me, as I am usually 10+ seconds/km off my first run pace after a strong ride. So to run that close to my first run pace after such a strong ride is encouraging. The second run was a mixture of emotions and pushing through the effort left in my legs from the bike. Coming to the finish felt like a dream, and as I crossed the line I pumped both fists and broke down a little bit. A huge smile was plastered on my face.

A barrel of emotions

FINAL RESULTS – 1ST PLACE OVERALL (1:54:52)

This one was a long time coming, but I did have to earn it. The figure in black I kept seeing on the bike was Moritz Haager, a former triathlete (and blog reader!) who turned to duathlons this year and recorded a VERY solid 1:59:13 finish. This is a name to file away in your memory banks folks, as he put in a very steady all around race. Also of note in 3rd place was Liyang Wang finishing in 2:03. Liyang is from Ajax but is out here in Alberta doing an internship…a name to watch for my Ontario readers. Very solid performances you two!

Sharing the podium with Moritz and Liyang

This was a very big day for me. In a race that was meant to be an international distance tune-up for Esprit, I was able to put together a very solid start to finish performance…can’t ask for more than that! Thank you to the race organizers and Alberta Triathlon who put on a very solid event with a Worlds like feel, an awesome development for a Worlds qualifier such as this. And as always, my equipment and support crew put me in the best possible position to succeed: my 3SIXTY5 Cycling FAT 60 once again helped me deliver the top bike split on the day (across all disciplines)…if you are looking for a good set of race wheels, check them out (and use discount code “jesse-2015” to receive $50 off)! My Skechers Performance GOMeb Speed 3’s have quickly become my favourite racing shoe. And of course, I am proud to represent Ignition Fitness at venues across Canada. Tommy really has helped me reach another level.

Provincial Champion

I’ll be heading back to the Bat Cave for the next 6 weeks to prepare for my next challenges…looking forward to the journey. So until next time…keep Du’ing it!

"I am going to drink so much New Belgium Fat Tire out of this..."

“I am going to drink so much New Belgium Fat Tire out of this…”

The Lowest of Lows, The Highest of Highs

This post has been a long time coming, mostly because I have been trying to keep it simple lately and focus on the bare minimum: working and training. Someone once told me that sometimes you just have to get off the internet and put in the work, so that’s what I did for a little while. It was refreshing, but it’s time to get my thoughts down into a post for my loyal readers…

SPRING REFLECTIONS

This spring was essentially a season of coming up just a bit short of my goals. My focuses for the spring, St. Albert and Calgary, both ended up being less than a minute off my goals for those races. This is understandable given that a really rough winter left me with not much choice but to try to race myself into shape by May. Still, I was able to record some PBs for 10 miles and the half marathon, as well as sharing some unforgettable experiences and races with family that I have been away from for a long time. This year was a growth year, and I really enjoyed my spring experiences despite the results not being exactly what I wanted. And isn’t that the real goal here?

A RUST BUSTER AT FOOTSTOCK

I decided that the Footstock Duathlon would make an excellent rust buster for me. I’ve noticed results of this race the last couple years on Sportstats, and it always intrigued me. One of my favourite childhood memories is driving to Cochrane (the venue for Footstock) for the best ice cream around as a treat, so chalk up another experience for me in my growth year. As an added bonus the race has a 40k bike leg that I could use as preparation for Nationals.

Sailing into transition after the first run at Footstock. Before the “fun” started!

Unfortunately, the race wouldn’t turn out as I envisioned. The course climbs out of Cochrane from the start/finish to the transition zone, then continues to the turnaround on the bike. After a solid run and a good steady bike where I extended my lead to ~5 minutes, I learned a valuable lesson about racing in the mountains: be prepared for anything. Despite 6 degree temperatures and overcast skies threatening rain, I chose to race in just my Champion Systems skinsuit and no warm weather gear. I got caught in a freak rainstorm on the bike, and I had to call it a day at halfway. The official reason was hypothermia, and I spent the rest of the day in urgent care.

REDEMPTION AT THE COMFORTEC RED DEER DUATHLON
(CLICK HERE FOR FULL RESULTS)

After Footstock, I had a chance to re-assess my goals and finalize my race schedule for the summer. The sparse Alberta duathlon schedule limited my options, but I went back into my pain cave for a few weeks, had a breakthrough workout or two, and came out for the Comfortec Red Deer Duathlon with nothing more than getting some race miles in, maybe finally cracking 1:00 for a sprint duathlon, and perhaps finally putting up a respectable bike split.

The true goal on this day was to do my best to execute and then identify some areas to improve, so I could address them prior to Nationals. I picked out the Comfortec Red Deer Duathlon for a couple reasons: (1) I LOVE the idea of a duathlon only event in the summer…even for a start-up event it brings out the whole multisport community to experience a duathlon and increase the level of competition and (2) it uses the standard duathlon distances, a rare idea for Alberta duathlons, and utilized a relatively simple and flat out-and-back course that promised to be fast.

The organizers really went all out to give the race a pro-like feel.

The organizers really went all out to give the race a pro-like feel.

I had already set up my transition when the thought occurred to me that I didn’t take my bike out to spin through gears (not enough caffeine obviously), so I decided to forego it and just run through the gears while the bike was racked. I hung around transition and mingled a little bit with the people who stopped to oogle my bike on their way by before heading out for a warm-up on the deceptively tough run course. It was always either going slightly up or slightly down, making it a little bit tough to get into a rhythm and really roll, and probably 30-45 seconds slow.

RUN 1 (Strava file here)

I went off the front from the gun at a solid but controlled pace, but had some unexpected company in the form of one tough fella in my age group. He put himself on my shoulder and seemed determined to stay there; I would drop him on the uphills, but every time the road went down he dug deep and clawed his way back in. I got rid of him for good with about a mile to go, on the biggest uphill of the run, as I put in a big surge to get ahead.

Heading out on the first run, with some unexpected but welcomed company.

Heading out on the first run, with some unexpected but welcomed company.

BIKE – 29:27 (Strava file here)

I transitioned well, better than I expected, and was out on the bike feeling pretty sprightly. The bike course was flat, flat, flat. The pavement quality could have been a little better, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would come up with the results that I did. I’ve done a lot of work this winter and spring on my bike set-up and position in order to create the fastest and most aerodynamic option I could manage. I made upgrades to wheels, tires, tubes, saddle, and basebar, as well as cleaner cabling and a RETUL bike fit from Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop that is as fast as it is comfortable. A meticulously maintained drivetrain also makes a big difference!

Ready for a ground-breaking bike

Ready for a ground-breaking bike

I started the bike with a mindset that somewhere around 31:00 for 20km would be a huge coup for me. My previous best during a duathlon was 32:59 at Toronto Island last year, but I immediately knew that time was going down in flames. Being solo off the front of the race with clear roads ahead of me and the lead moto to focus on definitely helped, and after turning out of the headwind section at the start of the course, I watched my average speed slowly creep up towards and eventually beyond levels that I had never seen before. I rarely watch my speed during races, instead focusing on maintaining a consistent wattage, but I couldn’t help sneaking a peek every now and then on this day. My power stayed in control, and my NP of 227W was actually significantly below my goal wattage of ~240W for 20km.

Channelling my inner Tony Martin on the bike - note the open mouth!

Channelling my inner Tony Martin on the bike – note the open mouth!

As approached the last turn and sat up to undo my shoes, the realization crept in that I was about to come in under 30 minutes for 20km. I couldn’t help but break out into a huge smile, because never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that this would have been the result. You can click the link above to see the file on Strava.

RUN 2 (Strava file here)

To be totally honest, this last run was just a procession of emotions. I would have had to blow up pretty bad to not break 1:00 for the race. I struggled pretty bad on the last 1.25km, but I had enough time in the bank to fly up the final hill with a big smile on my face. My pace was pretty close to the pace of my first run, which after that strong of a bike is quite a bonus, and I was able to come across the line in a course record and new PB of 57:28!

Full-on suffer mode

Full-on suffer mode

IMPRESSIONS AND REFLECTIONS

For 3 years now, I have been knocking on the door of the next level without quite being able to get there. Since 2012, I have been flirting with 1:00 sprint duathlons and 2:00 standard duathlons, winning a few races along the way but always feeling like I had been sitting on a plateau without a way out. On Saturday, I think I got to that next level: I won on the bike with a legitimate, big league split. The runs were not too shabby, but I started the bike with less than a minute lead, and finished it with over 4 minutes in hand; that is a big deal for me.

Trying to fathom the time on the clock

Trying to fathom the time on the clock

If my extensive research can be trusted, then this is the second fastest 5km/20km/2.5km sprint duathlon in Canada this year (as scientific as that analysis can be), behind only the esteemed Lionel Sanders. I am now buoyed with confidence going into Provincials next week and into Nationals in September as a legitimate contender, rather than the outside shot I considered myself before this weekend. There is a not insignificant amount of rain in the forecast for the weekend of Provincials, but I’ll be going into it looking for a good effort over the standard distance as preparation for the real thing in Montreal. Welcome to the big leagues, JB.

A huge thank you to all my supporters for their continued help this season. Coach Tommy of Ignition Fitness, that one was for you and your continued belief in me even when I was ready to quit. Chris and the guys at 3SIXTY5 Cycling, you guys have been nothing but great. Not only does my FAT60 set-up fly on the road, it gives me one of the best looking bikes in transition. And I continue to fall further in love with the Skechers Performance running shoe line; the GOMeb Speed 3 makes a great racing shoe, and the rest of the line covers all my bases for training. Next week is Provincials, so watch for my next update very soon! Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

1st place overall - 57:28

1st place overall – 57:28

One happy camper

One happy camper

Obligatory bib number shot...complete with my gold medal and brand new Oakley Fast Jackets courtesy of the race organizers for my overall win!

Obligatory bib number shot…complete with my gold medal and brand new Oakley Fast Jackets courtesy of the race organizers for my overall win!