Race Reports

Road Trip To Penticton…And A Race! My Bare Bones Duathlon Race Report

This weekend my family and I made the pilgrimage from the Prairie flatland that is Edmonton, down through the foothills near Calgary, into and out of the Rocky Mountains, and finally into the vineyards and hills of inland B.C. and Penticton. All for 90 minutes of racing. Yes, I dragged my parents 2 days and 13 hours total of driving, one way, so I could run and ride my bike around Penticton for an hour and a half. On Mother’s Day weekend. Aren’t I a great son? That said, it was a fantastic experience that was a great way to start my duathlon season.

I knew going in that I was going to be pretty tired. I would also have been in the car for 7 hours on day 1 and 6 hours on day 2 before racing on day 3, which led to some tired legs on the morning of the race. I was not overly concerned however, because (a) I have ridden only 2 times a week on the trainer for the past 7 weeks and (b) this race was more about the experience than it was about anything else. The road trip alone was worth it. It was, in a word, stunning…I think I am smitten with the town of Golden, BC. The road up to Banff, through Golden and into Penticton was punctuated by way too many “Holy crap”‘s and “Oh wow”‘s from my seat.

In awe of Golden, BC

In awe of Golden, BC. Mom was just glad I didn’t get eaten by a real bear while I was out for a run.

Upon arriving, I pulled out my race set-up and went to recon the course. This was the first time I have ridden my TT bike outdoors since Lakeside last year. Note to self: if your first ride outdoors is on a twisty course, feet from a drop-off into a lake which then turns and climbs up a big ass hill with a corresponding sketchy descent, then you’re going to have a bad time. After riding the course, I was a tad terrified of what Saturday would bring. And by “a tad” I mean quaking in fear. It turned out that ride was just what I needed, because I was MUCH more confident riding the course in my aerobars on Saturday having done that on Friday.

Set up and ready to rock McLean Creek Road!

Set up and ready to rock McLean Creek Road. Pro tip: Always pre-ride the course if you can! Aluminum brake tracks and a shallow front rim were a confidence booster for me on this day.

Saturday dawned after a surprisingly good sleep and a very smooth lead-up to the race. I was the first one at the race site, as usual, and was set up with plenty of time to spare. After my recon ride, I decided that I would be undergeared with an 11-23 on the rear, so I had put on my 11-25 the night before. I was still under-geared…so I bought an 11-28. As it turns out this little grassroots race draws a pretty good field, with some of the local long course and ITU pros making their way out for a shot at the prize purse. Wandering around the transition area, I saw plenty of fast set-ups and evidence of sponsored athletes, so I knew that I would be in for some tough competition in my first du of 2015!

Hot on the heels of the leaders.

Hot on the heels of the leaders, in my Skechers GOMeb Speed 3‘s and Nineteen race number belt.

Fast forward to the start, the pace went out pretty hard. Not absurdly hard, but there were a few junior development athletes in the race who took the pace out pretty hard before turning a bit earlier than the full distance racers. I tucked in to the back of the lead pack of about 8, right on the shoulder of a dude in a Mexican ITU suit with Lesser printed on it. Apparently the dude is pretty good. Not to mention that Nathan Champness, Justin Birks and Chris Young were all waiting in the weeds, ready to pounce on a demanding bike course that they knew very well…

Heading out, terrified, onto the hilly and demanding bike course.

Heading out, terrified, onto the hilly and demanding bike course. A slippery looking front end on my B16, GOMeb 3’s awaiting my return to transition…

I entered T1 in 2nd place after averaging under my goal first run pace of 3:20/km on the twisting two lap run course. My intention on the first run was to get myself onto a clean course on the bike, and not have to worry about weaving in and out of traffic while I got some fluids in and got comfortable on my aerobars. After a solitary ride along the lakeshore, Champness passed me at the start of the climb, and Birks came past near the top. To be honest, after starting the climb it became a battle between me and the course. It was a tough grind, but I felt like I went 12 rounds with it and came out only slightly bruised and bloodied.. I was passed twice more during the ride, coming into T2 6th and in a decent spot to run my way into the top 5. Which would be a solid finish considering the pro field that turned up for the race!

Done! Time to run!

Done, time to run! Similar speeds to 2014 on a tougher course and lower watts. A testament to how slippery my new fit courtesy of Taylor at Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop is. Just need some 3SIXTY5 wheels to cap off my set-up!

Starting the run, I was about 30-40 seconds behind the 5th place athlete (the top 4 were pretty much long gone). I guess knowing the course like the back of your hand has some value (as well as being able to ride 40kph+). I focused myself on bearing down on 5th place, ready to call it a hard-fought battle if I could make the pass. The gap closed slowly (he was one tough dude) but I would not being denied. I eventually made the pass at the turnaround on the second lap, then kept the pressure on the rest of the way. I ended up finishing the race in over 1:31, with the extra climb on this year’s bike course likely adding 3-4 minutes compared to previous year’s results.

5th place, 1:31:04 for the 5k/33k/5k course.

5th place, 1:31:04 for the 5k/33k/5k course.

I can’t in good faith publish this report without a glowing report about the Penticton Triathlon Club and the organizers and volunteers at the race. It was a small race, a grassroots race, but it seemed like it was as much a part of the community as Challenge Penticton. I saw them out working hard to mark the course the night before, and I found out later that the local pros who raced also helped to design and mark the course. After I finished the race, the guy who won (Nathan Champness) sought me out and thanked me for making the trip to come race. I didn’t know I was such a well-known oddity at this race! At the awards they seemed to have more draw prizes than people at the race, so at the end the RD walked around and picked people at the bar to go up and grab a draw prize. He made a special effort to seek me out before I left and have me go and grab a draw prize. Then he made a point to talk to me for a little while, and complement me on my race that morning…even though he was in the middle of giving out awards!

Completely spent

Completely spent. Both myself and my gear.

The course was incredible scenic, and once I got over my fear of toppling into the lake it really was quite beautiful to ride along the shore for the first and last 7k. The hill part was BRUTAL, but the experience was something that I cannot get in any other place that I have raced. And the feeling of community was incredibly refreshing. Even the people just enjoying a day at the beach who made a point to stop and cheer us on while we suffered in the heat made it a great experience. If I have a chance to go back, I definitely will. I might have to go back just so I can get in the money! All in all, a great duathlon debut for 2015, and diversion from my heavy half marathon build. Thank you to everyone near and far who supports me in this journey, including my wonderful supporters Ignition Fitness, Skechers Performance and 3SIXTY5 Cycling (who have been amazingly supportive and patient as I chase after these foolish running goals during the spring). I was especially happy that my Papa was able to finally see me race a duathlon. Hope you enjoyed it! I’m in action again…tomorrow! In Red Deer for a quick 10k tune-up before starting my taper for the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Calgary.

So until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Great to share this race with my Papa, who took a road trip of his own to support me!

Great to share this race with my Papa, who took a road trip of his own to support me!

Oh, and we stopped in Canmore on the way home so I could do a long run at 4600 at the Olympic Nordic Skiing Centre. Where it rained.

Oh, and we stopped in Canmore on the way home so I could do a long run at 4600 at the Olympic Nordic Skiing Centre. It rained.

So It Begins! St. Albert Road Race

ARGH!! My writing game is way off. I have 3 drafts 95% of the way done but can’t seem to push them over the finish line, and here we are 1 official race into the season. If nothing else, I am prompt with my race reports so let’s get back on track with the St. Albert Road Race 10 Mile Run.

THE LEAD UP

When Tommy and I set my schedule, we did so knowing this year would probably be a growth year. With nothing really that big on the schedule until Duathlon Nationals in September, it would be a good opportunity to try some new races and experiment, and have some fun in 2015. So I’ve chosen races based on going back to my roots, and heading to locations that I have always wanted to go but have not had a chance. You can see my race schedule here.

The journey started on Sunday, back in the place where (amazingly) this all started. I still have a Polaroid somewhere of 10 year old Jesse in his very first cross country race, sprinting to the line through a snowstorm. So on Sunday, I went back for the historic St. Albert Road Race for the 10 miler. I did a little tune-up the weekend before this one, a small 5k that I won as part of a 20km day and after 10km steady in 43:00, but this was the official start to my year.
MEC 5K

THE RACE

Historically, this race has always been pretty quick. It has a very pro feel to it, with wide lanes coned off the whole way around the course. I also woke up to nearly perfect conditions of sun, 7 degrees and very little wind. Little did I know that this would be one for the ages. From the gun, I was part of an 8 person lead group that was quickly clear. The pace was probably a tad too rich for me right now (~5:20/mile), but there was no way I was about to put myself in no man’s land.

Waiting for the start horn

Waiting for the start horn

So I tucked into a pace I knew was probably too fast for me, praying that someone else from the group would eventually want to drop back with me…and soon. To my relief, at around 2 miles just that happened. We dropped back and worked well together through about the hill at the 4 mile mark before I set off alone. I felt very strong on the hill, which bodes well for future races, but from then on it would be a solo mission of suffering and limiting the damage.

Finishing up the south loop of the course

Finishing up the south loop of the course

The leaders were long gone by this point. I was holding out hope that someone would pop and come back to me, but that just didn’t happen. Those dudes were fast. In the past I have struggled and bled time when left alone, and I especially thought that would be true in this one. Though I did positive split (28:04/29:13), and I did slowly bleed time between 5 and 8 miles, I was able to rally in the last two miles. I even ran my last mile almost as fast as my first one (5:26 vs. 5:24)!

Pretty spent at the end of my first 10 miler

Pretty spent at the end of my first 10 miler, but helped along by my Skechers GOMeb Speed 3’s.

All in all, a successful season opener, 57:17 for 10 miles. Good race, fair course, and a new personal best. Going under 57:00 would have been nice, but I won’t complain. I raced a solid race, start to finish, and toughed out a long solo effort without completely cratering. My splits at 8km (27:58) and 10km (35:20) were also very encouraging. Thanks to all of my supporters and sponsors, especially to my parents and friend Steve for dragging themselves out of bed to cheer me on, and to Skechers Performance and Ignition Fitness for suiting me up and getting me ready. Next up for me is a rust buster duathlon in Penticton on May 9, before I test myself over 10km on May 17 and the half marathon on May 31. Hopefully I can keep the good times rolling and meet my goals of sub-33:00 for 10k and 1:15 for the half in those races. Should be a blast!

Cheers to good friends! Thanks for coming out Steve.

Cheers to good friends! Thanks for coming out Steve.

2014 Season In Review

To my readers, thank you for being so loyal this year. I don’t know exactly how many of you there are, but I am pretty sure I haven’t visited my own site over 3000 times since the beginning of the year…so thank you! I know I owe you a Season in Review post, considering the fact that my last race was 6 weeks ago!

2014 was a pretty wicked year. I won a bunch of races, held on for a bronze medal at Nationals, got humbled by the best the USA had to offer, felt the highs of peak fitness and the lows of the recovery doldrums, ran two HM’s and a 5000m on the track, started this website and got a solid following, started Ontario Duathlon Central and got a huge following, got muddy at Paris to Ancaster, then built a road bike. Wild ride!

I was going to use a “3 highlights, 3 low-lights, 3 lessons, 3 goals” format, but then I remembered where that idea came from…Cody Beals’ blog! Since he is a regular reader, I opted for another format. Month-by-month, here are 12 notable happenings, at least one for each month. I’ll wrap up with some broad goals for the next year in all areas of my life (because balance is key!).

JANUARY Race(s): None

Anecdote: January is cold and snowy. Training for your first half marathon is hard. Mixing the two can lead to some very sketchy long runs. Often consisting of several mind-numbing laps of the same short, semi-clear route. Or a retreat indoors to the treadmill. Luckily, this summer I work at a hotel with unlimited access to their treadmill and pool!

FEBRUARY Race(s): Grimsby Half Marathon (3rd, 1:18:01)

Highlight: First Half Marathon. I have never run anything longer than a 10k race, and even those have been few and far between. So the idea of a March half marathon felt daunting. Even moreso when, because of the dearth of tune-up options in February, my tune-up for the Chilly Half on March 2 would be a half marathon 2 weeks prior! I mainly solo’ed my way through awesome weather to a 1:18 HM debut.

MARCH Race(s): Chilly Half Marathon (19th, 1:16:24)

Lowlight: Second Half Marathon in snowy, -20 temperatures. After tentatively declaring my first half marathon (a controlled, monitored effort) a success, I took to the streets of Burlington two weeks later for the Chilly Half Marathon, hoping for a 1:15:XX clocking. I held strong through 10 miles (~57:30) before falling apart the last 5k. I have never wanted a race to end so badly as I slogged through slush and wind to the finish.

Martin Rd

APRIL Race(s): Harry’s Spring Run-Off 8k (15th, 27:21), Paris to Ancaster 65k (tons of fun!)

Lesson learned: Sometimes it is best to just back off, put in some hard training, and do some fun races to break up the monotony of the hard work. April was some of my biggest training volume of the entire season, and I came into both races pretty hot. Harry’s is a favourite course of mine, with two killer hills in kilometers 4 and 8. Paris to Ancaster has been on my bucket list for sometime, and I had a blast slogging through the mud, towing groups of “cyclists” along the rail trail, and getting dirty. Having those two “races” to look forward to made the training easier.

In Aero Position

MAY Race(s): Iron Hawk Duathlon (7th, 1:01:05), MSC Woodstock Sprint Duathlon (1st, 1:00:25)

Lesson learned: Sometimes a bit of forced rest can pay dividends. Before Iron Hawk, I had a sharp pain in my right foot, diagnosed as peroneal tendonitis. Recovery can take weeks or months, but rest, a massage, compression socks and some faith that I had done good work in April got me to the line. The pain stayed away for 61 minutes, and I held my own against pros like Sanders, Bechtel, and Forbes for a 7th place finish.

Welland Finish 2

JUNE Race(s): MSC Welland Duathlon (1st, 1:24:24), McMaster Twilight 5000m (10th, 16:02.5)

Highlight: Repeat victory in Welland. Despite missing coach Tommy’s course record again, I successfully defended my title in Welland against a strong field. Save for super-cyclist Grahame Rivers, I would have been first off the bike after a 16:34 opening 5k run and a PB 46:58 30k ride, and I made the pass barely 1km into the last 5.25k run. Well-executed final tune-up before a big double in July.

US Nats Bike Cornering

JULY Race(s): Canadian Duathlon Championships (Toronto, 3rd, 2:01:45), USAT Duathlon Championships (St. Paul, 9th, 1:21:12)

Lowlight: Toronto Triathlon Festival. Despite an early season focus on short course racing, Nationals has always been a dream of mine, so I set of to Toronto for the race. However, complicated logistics, poor weather, stupid pre-race decisions, poor nutrition, and a sub-par first run put the nail in the coffin. I had thoughts of calling it quits after sitting up the last 10km on the bike, before limping home with a 3rd place finish.

Highlight: USAT Duathlon Championships. 6 days later was US Nationals, so a short memory was required. Redemption was sweet, as I stayed within myself on the first run, navigated the technical bike course, and flew through the field on my way to the 3rd fastest second run. The trip was an amazing experience. It was Emma’s first time out of Ontario, and my dad made the surprise trip from Edmonton to watch.

TO Island First Run

AUGUST Race(s): MSC Toronto Island Sprint Duathlon (1st, 1:02:28)

Lesson learned: Proper recovery is an underrated, often overlooked, but incredibly important factor in endurance training. After my Nationals double, I underestimated the time it would take for my body to get back to normal, needing a few extra recovery days here and there. A sketchy performance in Toronto and compromised recovery in the following weeks led to an inconsistent and sporadic build up to Lakeside.

Mass Start

SEPTEMBER Race(s): MSC Lakeside Sprint Duathlon (1st, 1:01:46)

Lowlight: Switching races in Lakeside. After spending a ton of time promoting and pumping up the international distance provincials at Lakeside and looking forward to being a part of it, I was forced to switch into the shorter, sprint distance race due to not feeling ready…both physically and mentally. It was quite a blow to have to miss the race, but I was able to finish off my MSC season undefeated, with 4 overall wins.

New experience: Watching races is actually quite a rewarding experience. After switching races, I had the opportunity to go to the Sunday races (the sprint was on Saturday) and represent Ontario Duathlon Central and MultiSport Canada by live blogging the event. I had more fun spectating than I did competing all year (possible exception being St. Paul). It was great to see the guys I wrote about all year in action.

1. Complete Bike

OCTOBER Race(s): None

New experience: Building a road bike! After using my CX bike as an ill-suited road bike all year, and riding my TT bike entirely too much, I sold it and used the proceeds to accumulate the parts to build a road bike, including a 2nd Powertap. I took a vintage 2003 Klein Q Carbon Team frame and fought for days with my new arch nemeses, internal cable routing and cable tension, and came out with a sweet road machine!

2014 SEASON SUMMARY AND GOALS FOR 2015
So despite some bumps, I would consider my 2014 season a success. I doubled my career win count. I got my feet wet at the national and international level, and delivered some good results there. I took a leap of faith, quit my relatively comfortable job in professional sports and ventured into the abyss of life as an athlete.

Next year will be about taking the next step, seeking out some competition that I have never faced before and finding out where my limits are. I had my eyes opened this season as to what it takes to do this sport successfully, and my major focus this offseason will be about setting myself up for success in 2015. My three broad goals for 2015:

1) Become a more well-rounded athlete. Worlds in 2016 may very well be draft-legal for non-elites, and part of the reason I wanted a road bike was the develop the skills needed to be successful there if I choose to go. I also would like to dabble in the new Powerman USA series, likely at the September 27 event in Frankenmuth, MI. And finally, my training may end up being a little less…dry than it has been in past years.

2) Develop my brand into something attractive and lasting. It’s no secret that self-branding is almost as important as training in this sport, and I think 2014 was a good start. 2015 will be about kicking it into overdrive and leveraging my brand, sponsorship packages and intrinsic value into a strong network of support relationships.

3) Work on the forgotten aspects of training. I have an offseason strength training program, but it is more or less forgotten once race season rolls around. This is something I would like to continue deeper into my 2014 season. Starting in 2015, I also want to create a more stable routine, including consistent sleep hours, a predictably scheduled day, and a wholesome nutrition plan, building on the steps I took this year.

A season review post would not be complete without a HUGE thank you to my sponsors and supporters:

Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for some fun features the next few months!

Until next time, keep Du’ing it!

“Unbreakable” – MSC Lakeside Race Report

This past weekend was a big one for duathletes in Ontario, and I was fortunately able to be a part of the entire Multisport Canada Lakeside Weekend. Saturday was for the sprint duathlon (results here), which I participated in, and then Sunday was the Ontario International Distance Duathlon Championships. Racing Saturday was a ton of fun, a throwback to my cross country days, and left me free to mingle and meet the duathletes I write about every week on the Sunday.

Number and Medal

Still undefeated in MSC events this year, mud and all.

Originally, I was slated to compete in the international distance event as my fall A race, but my struggles with recovery in the months following USAT Nationals in July left me a little bit short, physically and mentally, of where I wanted to be on September 14th. After tanking a couple of key longer workouts, we decided that it was best to have some fun with the sprint distance instead of suffering through a race that I did not feel ready for. The further upside was I got to be a spectator on Sunday, and live blogged the event for Multisport Canada and Duathlon Central.

Lakeside Bike Set-Up

My bike was ready for the big one, complete with a new Aerojacket, but I was not.

Switching to the sprint had some downsides, namely the weather. Racing on Saturday meant waking up to gloomy skies, chilly temperatures and driving rain, conditions that didn’t really let up until halfway through the race. Though it was chilly, Sunday was not as wet and even had a few brief moments of sunshine. Saturday’s rain also made a mess of the run course, giving the race a cross country vibe. Lakeside’s run course is on gravel access road, and it can get quite torn up in the rain. 2 solid weeks of rain made for sloppy running…my kind of fun!

Ambitious Goals

I had ambitious goals for this one, but the conditions made it tough going.

The race itself was an enjoyable one, despite the difficult conditions. A solid field showed up, and I would face tough tests from Spencer Summerfield, Aaron Putman, Chris Marentette, and a few other strong athletes. I found myself right at the front joined by Chris and another younger fella (Joseph Hunter). I dispatched them heading downhill after the 1km mark, but soon after I was joined by a relay runner who pulled up beside me heading down the hill. We worked well together the rest of the run and I hit transition first of the duathletes in a time of 17:23.

Mass Start

Braving the rain and the cold (Photo Credit Mike Cheliak/My Sports Shooter 2014)

The bike course was slick and crowded, which had the effect of slowing down my bike time. Many triathletes out on the course ahead of me seemed to be skittish about riding through the puddles on the road, creating the need to continuously spike my power to surge past groups of slower athletes. I also had the misfortune to get stuck behind a car…AGAIN. Maybe I can hope for some better luck with vehicles next year. I missed my goal time for the bike by 1:17, coming in with a bike split of 34:17. Not ideal, but not bad by any stretch considering the conditions.

Onto the Bike

Heading out onto the bike, covered in mud (Photo Credit Mike Cheliak/My Sports Shooter 2014)

The last 5km of the bike portion of the race was mainly spent looking over my shoulder for Spencer Summerfield, who I assumed would be charging hard. Fortunately, I think I was saved late by an ~1 mile long No Passing Zone at the 18.5km mark. At that point, I became confident that I would be first off the bike for the second time this season, which was indeed the case. Switching from using my Garmin on a quick release strap to a Timex on the run while keeping the Garmin on the bike led to my best transitions of the season.

First off the Bike

First off the bike! (Photo Credit Mike Cheliak/My Sports Shooter 2014)

The great thing about the 5km run/20km bike/2.5km run sprint duathlon is the format. Unlike other duathlons, I find that a 2.5km final run can be fueled purely on adrenaline. Rather than holding back on the first run, you can treat the first run like an open 5km run then throw whatever is left into the bike, treating it like a 20km time trial, and still not cost yourself much time (if any) on the 2.5km run. I ended up slipping and sliding my way to a solid 9:07 split and my fourth win of the season, in a rain-soaked time of 1:01:46.

Full Flight

In full flight towards my 4th win of 2014 (Photo Credit Mike Cheliak/My Sports Shooter 2014)

As a final race of the season treat, I was able to get my new Skechers GOMeb Speed 2 racing flats some action. It was a real treat was trying out a shoe brand that I have been following for several years. The shoes were light as a feather but still substantial enough to withstand the beating I put them through on the Lakeside course. I just received a second pair of Skechers, a pair of glow-in-the-dark Nite Owl Edition GORun Ultra’s, and I am very excited to log some training and racing miles on these shoes this winter. Look for a review right here in the coming weeks.

Skechers Collection

My training shoes for what will hopefully be a solid winter of training. Some speedy GOMeb Speeds for racing and intervals, and Nite Owl GORun Ultras for the long stuff.

In advance of a season recap post, I must give thanks to my girlfriend Emma for once again braving the cold, rain and wind to be there for me once again. To Coach Tommy Ferris with Ignition Fitness for being so accommodating to my constantly changing mind. To Multisport Canada for giving me the opportunity and forum to learn and grow as a duathlete. And to Felt Bicycles, Clif Bar Canada, Nimblewear Canada, Wheels of Bloor, Big Race Wheels and My Sports Shooter for all of the support you give me and other Ignition Fitness athletes. Y’all are the best!

Congratulations also go out to my friends and competitors who raced on Sunday, especially provincial champion Scott Finch. Given how hard this guy has worked to come back from some injuries, he definitely deserves to cap off his season on top.

I am now taking a few weeks of much needed R&R. Season recap post to come. Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Lakeside Sprint Podium Shot

(Photo Credit Mike Cheliak/My Sports Shooter 2014)

“Battling Through Adversity” – Multisport Canada Toronto Island Race Report

This past Sunday, I headed to Toronto Island and see what I could do about shedding a little bit of the rust that had accumulated since US Nationals. The lead-up to this race has been less than ideal, as I fought a battle with recovery for several weeks. I also spent the 8 days leading up to the race in 5 different cities, logging multiple hours on airplanes and in cars along the way. Despite this, I managed to come away with my third win in three tries on the MSC Series this season, in an above-average time of 1:02:28.

MSC Toronto Island Overall Podium

On top despite strong charges from Garvin Moses (on my immediate left) and Phil McHatty (third from right). Great races for 4th and 5th from Darren Cooney and Chris Marentette round out the top 5 men.

My far from ideal lead-up continued into Saturday, through no one’s fault but my own. I slept intermittently despite a comfortable homestay provided by Parichit Bagga and Garima Takyar, underestimated the walk to the ferry, and completed registration like a rookie, leading to two missed ferries I planned to be on. Finally on the Island, this gave me 30 minutes to set up transition, listen to the briefing, and warm up. It goes to show how valuable the information in that pre-race report can be, even for experienced racers.

TO Island Mass Start

Note: the times & distances quoted below are my Garmin distances, and like all GPS data, should be taken with a grain of salt.

RUN #1 (4.95km) – 16:53 (3:25/km, 2nd overall)

The first run was led out quickly by Mitchell Valic of Etobicoke, and my legs did not wake up in time to follow. It took me the first two laps (of four) to work myself into the race, at which point I dropped my companion Chris Marentette and went off after Mr. Valic solo. I would end up entering transition about 30 seconds back, followed by Chris and a formidable trio containing Garvin Moses, Phil McHatty and IMO the most improved duathlete in Ontario this year, fellow Ignition Fitness athlete Darren Cooney.

TO Island First Run

BIKE (19.5km) – 32:50 (35.6kph on 211AP/204NP, 4th fastest)

Oh boy, where to start on the bike…

Easily the worst ride I have had all year. I have been struggling with consistency on the bike all year, and unfortunately this ride is just one to shake off. No excuses, because the course is the same for everyone and bad luck can happen to any athlete at any race. It is the athlete’s responsibility to deal with it. I could not catch a break on Sunday and I did not handle it very well…perhaps fortune will swing my way in Lakeside. Here’s a look at the charts, with the points of interest highlighted:

Toronto Island Bike Leg File

I tried to settle into my target power of 230-240W for the stretches that I could, though I spent a lot of time up out of my aero position making tight passes. One day I will have the nerves of steel to make these passes tucked down in aero! I also battled some nasty cramping in my calf for a portion of the bike. Thankfully that cleared itself up before it came time to run, though I am ashamed to admit those three nasty letters (D-N-F) did cross my mind at some particularly frustrating stages…

TO Island Bike

RUN #2 (2.95km) – 10:15 (3:28/km, 2nd overall)

Garvin and Phil both put in excellent bike splits and passed me right before my second maintenance vehicle mishap, providing the spur I needed to will my calf cramp away. Thankfully, once back on my feet where I can better control the outcome I quickly moved into second and then into the lead as we hit the roads for 2 loops. Rather than taking my foot off the gas, I was determined to keep pressing all the way to the line. I was pleased with this effort to finish strong and very nearly negative split the run segments.

TO Island Second Run

FINAL RESULT (officially) – 1:02:28 (1st overall)

So…still undefeated in MSC racing this season despite what I consider a subpar race effort. Lessons learned from this one:

  • Plan for logisitics. Races are up front about these, so they are not an excuse.
  • Shake off adversity. Stuff happens that may or may not be in your control.
  • READ THE PRE-RACE REPORT. Live it. Breathe it. Know it. Seriously.
  • Cody Beals doesn’t care how comfortable or convenient your aero road helmet is.

You can check out my post-race interview with Multisport Canada media guru Roger Hospedales by clicking here. Sorry for all the pauses, I’m still refining my interview skills :).

Thanks to my girlfriend Emma for taking these awesome pictures, and for being the loudest one on the Island. Parichit and Garima for opening up your home to us on Saturday night. To Coach Tommy Ferris and the Ignition Fitness crew for the constant guidance and reality checks I need. To Multisport Canada for another great event despite all the challenges. And to Felt Bicycles, Clif Bar Canada, Nimblewear Canada, Wheels of Bloor, Big Race Wheels and My Sports Shooter for all of the support you give Ignition Fitness athletes.

Until next time, keep Du’ing it!

TO Island Cooldown

A very engaging cooldown with two domestic superstars, Cody Beals and Alex Vanderlinden.

“Redemption” – USAT Duathlon Championships Report

Note from Jesse: This report will be a bit longer than these reports normally are. This trip had such a large impact on me, and not just from an athletic standpoint, that I’d like to dig a little bit deeper on this one. The duathlon community in Minnesota is absolutely incredible, and the event was exceptionally run by the organizing committee. I will touch a little bit on each of these, and am planning on expanding this into full articles over on Duathlon Central in the coming months. Enjoy!

“Redemption” is how I would describe my experience at the USAT Duathlon Championships in St. Paul, MN this weekend. After a rough race full of trials and tribulations in Toronto at the Triathlon Canada Championships (while still bringing home a bronze medal), I had the race I knew I was capable of in St. Paul. It validated all my concerns about just not having the requisite training for the international distance (which was the plan all along), as well as my nutrition struggles. Indeed, in briefly chatting with Tommy we agreed that my training had been much more focused on doing well at US Nats, with a good performance in Toronto being more reliant on brute strength and luck. I now feel much more confident that I will be ready for the international distance for Lakeside in September.

Coach T and I

Talking things over with Coach T after TTF. I love this picture! (Photo Credit – Emma Parker, 2014)

BEFORE I GO ANY FURTHER, I need to thank a few people. First, I need to thank my parents, who funded everything  but my entry fee and wheel rental for this race. My dad also surprised me by making the trip to St. Paul for the race, joining with Emma to be the best support crew I could ask for. Mom, I wish you could have made the trip as well…we missed you and I raced extra hard just for you! Second, a huge thank you to Emma. Emma, you put up with me taking us in circles en route to our final destination, and likely winging one too many things during the weekend…for that I am super appreciative. She also funded my wheel rental (a Hed Jet 6/Powertap Disc combo courtesy of Big Race Wheels). I have been having trouble with my disc cover rubbing, and it would have been a shame for my day in Minnesota to end due to a mechanical. THANK YOU!!

Support Team

I had some great support out on the course! Emma made her first airplane trip just to be there for me, and my dad flew in all the way from Edmonton. Thank you! Just wish Mom could have made it too…(Photo Credit – Emma Parker, 2014)

Since this report is a tad long, feel free to use these quick links to jump straight to certain parts:

TUESDAY/WEDNESDAY – THE ADVENTURE BEGINS

Our adventure started on Tuesday, when I took the train out to Long Branch to meet Cam and pick up my wheels. The rest of the day was a bit of a whirlwind, as even with my front brake opened all the way, I could not fit the wider front wheel into the fork. Luckily, I had an extra Ultegra brake lying around that I threw on. The reputation that brake has for consistent stopping power proved very true, something that would pay dividends on the course I was due to face. After a few trips back and forth to Nate at Noble Cycles (King and Locke in Hamilton), I had the bike dialed in and ready to pack up…which was quite the adventure. This would be my first duathlon outside of Ontario, and my first that I would have to fly to. I must have packed and re-packed my bike 3 or 4 times, trying to get it just right so that I could fly in peace without worrying about dealing with a broken bike upon arrival! Thanks to Cody Beals for all the help (and for convincing me to bring my aero helmet along, despite the inconvenience).

US Nats Bike Set-Up

Thanks to Big Race Wheels, Felt Bicycles, Wheels of Bloor and Noble Cycles for setting me up with this beauty for the race.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY – PRE-RACE IN ST. PAUL

After a flurry of packing, cleaning, and one last workout on Wednesday, we set off for Pearson on Thursday morning for what turned out to be an uneventful trip (my bike made it in one piece!). Thursday night we rented bikes and rode around Harriet Island (where the race would take place on Sunday), and checked out the set-up. The transition zone and the finish line were all set up…and they looked absolutely incredible. Transition was decked out with every state flag and duathlon specific scrims and signage, and the finish came complete with 100m of red carpet. Every turn in the course was marked with gates and fences for 50 feet on either side, and it was wide open and easy for spectators to be a multiple points on the course…you could really feel that they had pulled out all the stops to give the race a championship atmosphere.

USAT Transition

You could feel the championship atmosphere!

I rode and ran the course the next morning (course maps here). The run course was stunning…a two lap course along the Mississippi River, on flat and smooth surfaces that were begging for speed. The bike course, though picturesque, was the only complaint many competitors had about the weekend. I’m not complaining though, since technical courses are to my advantage by narrowing the spread between the top guys and myself. Each of the three ~10km laps starts on awful pavement up a 500m hill across the Mississippi. The hill deposited you at the top of a harrowing downhill on equally bad pavement, through a dark tunnel with a sharp 90 degree right at the end. The next 7-8km couldn’t have been any more different…flat, fast and smooth out and back along the river, an awesome place to make up the time lost at the beginning of the lap. However, each lap ended with another sharp uphill and harrowing downhill, on the same poorly maintained roads. This would have a marked effect on my cycling strategy and bike split.

Rough Pavement

Rough Pavement!! (Photo Credit – Emma Parker, 2014)

After checking out the course, I headed to packet pickup. Normally, this wouldn’t be much to speak about, yet I feel the need to do so here. In Toronto, nothing in the race kit made any mention about the race being the Canadian Championships, and to commemorate the event we got…a white Gildan t-shirt. By contrast, in St. Paul I received a custom USAT Duathlon Championships running hat and quarter zip jacket, socks, and a TYR drawstring bag. And instead of body-marking, everyone got USAT tattoos with your race number. Quite the contrast, and a stunning example of the role duathlon plays in the US multisport community.

USAT Race Kit

Awesome swag in the race packet, courtesy of USA Triathlon. First rate event.

SATURDAY – RACE MORNING DAWNS

Race morning dawned unspectacularly. The time change played in my favour, because the early 7:45am start felt like 8:45am. Staying in a hotel across the river from the race site also was an excellent call, as there was no commute to the race necessary. I got my timing chip, set up my transition, and talked to Alex Arman for a bit. Alex is an Illinois triathlete/duathlete who I have been following the last year or so, and talked to him a bit leading up to the race. He also was the 8th overall finisher at Age Group Worlds in Ottawa last year. We did a little warm-up on the run course, and I checked my nutrition bottle before getting race ready. I have been having trouble with my nutrition in previous races, as taking in gels while redlining in shorter races just did not work. I didn’t pay for it in shorter races, but definitely did in Toronto. For St. Paul, I decided to mix a Razz(berry) Clif Shot in with my electrolyte drink, and get it all in liquid form. This plan worked perfectly! I would end up finishing the bottle and the race without the cramps and other nutrition issues that have plagued me in the past.

US Nats Transition

Setting up transition in the morning. Focused! (Photo Credit – Emma Parker, 2014)

RUN #1 (4.6KM) – 14:37 (3:12/km, 7th overall & 1st M25-29)

I positioned myself in the 2nd or 3rd row back at the start line. I didn’t really knew what I was up against, and didn’t want to get drawn into the gun-slinging that I have seen too many American races devolve into. Luckily, St. Paul pro Dan Hedgecock (who would go on to the overall win) positioned himself right in front of me…I just followed the wedge out at a controlled pace. That course was FAST. I slowly picked my way through the field, moving through the quick starters as they inevitably faded. I ended the first lap in around 9th feeling great, and picked my way through the field over the second lap until only 3 other athletes were ahead of me. And I was making 3:12’s look easy as a cruised my way into transition…worlds different than the struggle that was my first 10k at TTF. Transition was ugly, but I had a tough spot right at the Run In/Out, and had to run quite a long way with my bike.

US Nats First Run

Heading out on the first run. In tough against some good competition! (Photo Credit – Emma Parker, 2014)

BIKE (31.2KM) – 50:48 (36.9km/h, 29th overall & 3rd M25-29)

The bike was…interesting. In fact, the way I was forced to pace it, the race felt more like an ITU race than a TT. As I mentioned in the course description above, there was never more than 7 or 8 consecutive kilometers to establish a rhythm before having to punch it uphill to be first to a tight corner, or to hang on for dear life down a suicide hill. As well, the course was quite crowded with large packs forming following at a legal (usually) distance, an unavoidable side effect of putting 350 athletes on a 3 lap bike course even with well-spaced wave starts. A unique course like this required a different strategy than I was used to on calm, quiet Ontario roads. I decided to just tuck in on the rough downhills, and recover a couple times each lap  before trying to make up time on Shepard Rd while cruising past the packs. I also seemed to always be stuck behind a big group going uphill, and had to punch it in order to be the first to the turn to avoid having to come to a stop going around it. It made for an incredibly uneven ride, where I was going back and forth with 2 athletes from my wave while weaving around older athletes. I was shooting for an NP of 230-235, which I hit right at the high end (235W). However, that came with an AP of 213W and an awful VI of 1.10. Luckily, I spun up the last hill and coasted the last long downhill right before transition, which helped to get the crap out of my legs heading into the final, decisive run.

US Nats Bike Cornering

Heading in for another lap on the bike. (Photo Credit – Emma Parker, 2014)

RUN #2 (4.4KM) – 14:37 (3:20/km, 3rd overall and 1st M25-29)

The last run was a tad shorter than the first, due to the difference in position between the start and finish lines. My transition was again sloppy, as I had to navigate much more tired athletes who were entering transition ahead of me. Out on the run, I knew I had lucked out despite my uneven bike pacing. I started absolutely FLYING out of transition, running the first kilometer in under 3:10 straight off the bike. The legs came right back. I did not pass anyone, but I made up huge chunks of ground on the guys ahead of me. Around the first turnaround, I caught a glimpse of Alex, who had passed me early on in the bike. He couldn’t have been more than 20 seconds ahead of me, which was a huge surge to my confidence. I kept my eyes on his back and made the pass at the start of the second lap, taking 3 other guys from my wave in the process. One guy latched on, which just spurred me to keep the pressure on the rest of the way. I ended up putting almost a minute on those guys over the last lap, as I dashed to the finish. My final second run split was only 3 seconds off the fastest in the race, yet I came across the line charged up.

Strong Finish

They rolled out the red carpet for my strong finish! (Photo Credit – Emma Parker, 2014)

FINAL RESULT – 1:21:12 (9th overall, 2nd M25-29)

Overall a fantastic result, one that gained me back all of the confidence that I had lost after TTF. For the first time all year, I fueled myself well, started the run controlled and worked into the race, rode smart on the bike leg, used the course to my advantage, and came up with an exceptionally strong second run which would actually end up as my second fastest run of the season, both before and after the bike. Huge improvements in all areas of the duathlon race, just 6 days after struggling my way to the line in Toronto. I am proud to have been able to deliver such a great result, putting nearly a minute on someone who beat me by 6.5 minutes in Ottawa last year, in front of Emma and my dad. Thank you guys once again for the awesome support.

The Final Tally

The Final Tally (places would change as later waves finished)

Thank you’s also go out to all my sponsors and supporters. Coach Tommy at Ignition Fitness for staying the course and helping me to stick to the plan even when I felt like everything was falling apart around me. Felt Bicycles and Wheels of Bloor for setting me up with my speed machine and equipment for this season. Nate at Noble Cycles for fixing all my bike issues resulting from my poor wrenching abilities. John, Roger and the Multisport Canada crew for giving me the opportunity to hone my craft at their fantastic events. Clif Bar & Company for fueling my training and racing. And Big Race Wheels for coming through in the clutch with a wicked fast set of wheels for this big race. The second phase of my season is now complete. Coming up next is some rest, a solid training block, a rust buster on Toronto Island, followed by a shift in focus to the international distance in preparation for the Ontario Duathlon Championships at the Lakeside Resort…both races brought to you by Multisport Canada.

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Silver Medalist

9th place overall, and 2nd in the M25-29 age group.

“No Excuses” – National Duathlon Championships Report

No excuses. That’s my mantra coming out of the Canadian Duathlon Championships in Toronto Sunday morning. Lots went wrong, but there is nothing and no one to blame for my performance except myself. Racing is about taking what the day hands you when you wake up and turning it on its head into something positive. Sunday, David Frake and Larry Bradley were on another level and were just too much for me. Still, I pulled in to the finish as the bronze medalist at the Canadian Championships, a result that I am exceptionally proud of despite the hand I was dealt today. Full results can be found here.

TTF Bronze Medallist

3rd place in Canada, and M25-29 National Champion

The days and hours leading up to the race were a whirlwind. The logisitics of the Toronto Triathlon Festival are difficult at the best of times, and downright complex for someone who relies on public transportation to get from point A to B through C. I went to the mandatory briefing on Friday to get the ins and outs of the course. Emma and I had originally planned to stay with her friend at Yonge and Finch on Friday and Saturday nights, with me going to a Saturday briefing after watching the Toronto Pan Am Cup in the morning. However, the financial impact of that was too significant and I went looking for other options. It was here that I need to send out a HUGE thank you to Larry Bradley. Thanks to Larry’s generosity, Emma and I stayed at the Fairmont Royal York on Saturday night in relative luxury.

However, the morning was a bit of a whirlwind. The nerves kept me awake until around 11, and we were up at 4am for breakfast and check out. I tried to get through my normal breakfast, but I had a bit of a nervous stomach which didn’t help. I brought more than enough fuel for the race, so I figured I would just get it in during the lead-up to the race. Upon arrival, I did a little spin on the bike down the trail before getting body marked and setting up in transition. Then I headed out for a little run warm-up with some strides. The forecast called for rain and wind all day, and sure enough the skies opened up during my warm-up. To my displeasure, it started to rain pretty hard…but everyone races in the same conditions, and champions make the best of the hand they are dealt! I finished up, reset my transition and checked my bag, then headed out along the trail for the 1km walk to the start, where I found out (during the downpour) that the start would be delayed an additional 15 minutes to better align with the Olympic triathlon!

Transition

TTF transition zone as the sun comes up (Photo Credit Emma Parker, 2014)

RUN #1 (10KM) – 35:22 (3:31/km, 1st overall)

Finally, we got started. I knew there were a couple other quick runners in the field that I hoped I could pace off of. I also did not believe David Frake one bit when he said he was in poor running condition, so I downgraded my chances just a little bit. However, the race did not play out as I had expected. One fleet-footed runner came with me, but the other did not. We held ~3:25/km to the turnaround, but that proved to be a bit too much for my running mate, Mike Park. After the turn, he dropped off my pace and I was left alone for the remaining 4km. I watched my pace slowly drop from 3:25’s to over 3:30’s along Lakeshore Drive, and my stomach started growling. I tried with no luck to get a gel down, and decided to wait for the bike…

BIKE (38.8KM) – 1:04:14 (210NP/199AP, 5th overall)

After an awful transition brought on by some poor pre-race preparation, I was out on the bike weaving through triathletes. Now, at this point I question the race organization for starting us when they did. During an international distance duathlon, the top runners usually run ~35-40 minutes, while Olympic triathletes swim ~20-25 minutes. However, both of us are high caliber athletes who can ride at a similar rate. Why are races not set up so that we reach the bikes at the same time, instead of 15 minutes later?! Here I was, pushing 45kph (on a pleasant 210W), and weaving around triathletes going 35kph. How does that make sense? That went on for much of the bike, and I just had to grit my teeth and deal with it. The way out on the Gardiner and then onto the DVP was solid, as I averaged ~38.5kph up the hill in <220W (which was about my target for the race).Frake passed me at 5km, with Larry following close behind. With all the weaving and the poor road conditions, I had a hard time getting enough nutrition in. I am going to experiment with liquid nutrition prior to Lakeside to combat this issue I have been having all year.

The last 20km of the bike were a disaster. I struggled with the wind to maintain my wattage from 20-30km down the hill, though I was able to hold my speed to the Gardiner while passing huge hordes of triathletes. I recorded a personal best time of ~46:15 through 30k…but then I cracked. The headwind kicked up, and my lack of calories came back on me with a vengeance. I struggled the next 5km, and actually sat up to keep the dizziness at bay for most of the last 5km. I seriously debated racking my bike and walking off the course, despite sitting in 3rd place off the bike. I have only 6 days to recover before US Nationals and I was concerned about digging myself into too big of a hole to complete my double. However, I felt I needed to at least try to hold my podium for everyone who has supported me on my journey. So off I went! After the race, I discovered that I was only 35 seconds down on Larry at the turnaround…yet I would start the run nearly 5 minutes behind him. Ouch.

RUN #2 (5KM) – 19:41 (3:56/km, 7th overall)

By this point, winning was out of the question (Frake ran 36:10 and then out-split me by nearly 10 minutes on the bike), and 2nd was incredibly unlikely (chapeau to Larry, he backed up a phenomenal bike with some very solid runs), but I could consolidate a podium spot with an okay run, a result that is definitely something to be proud of. I left my Garmin in T2 in my daze, so I ran blind. Good thing too…I really did not want to know how slow I was running. I ended up running the 7th fastest second split of all duathletes, which is very abnormal for me. I was outsplit on the second run by more people than I have been outsplit by in all of my domestic races…combined. Yet, I still managed to finish third in a very respectable 2:01:45 time. Not nearly what I wanted, but still admirable!

Coach T and I

Talking it over with Coach T after the race. (Photo Credit Emma Parker, 2014)

FINAL RESULT – 2:01:45 (3rd overall, M25-29 National Champion)

Despite the race not being what I wanted, I am incredibly proud of my final result. 3rd in Canada at my first Nationals is something to be proud of, and the splits leave me hungry to get back after it in St. Paul. On a good day with some good help, I may have been 1 minute faster on the first run, and with some better preparation and nutrition, I may have been another minute faster on the bike and 2 minutes faster on the second run. That would have put me at 1:57-1:58, and within striking distance of Larry. Lots of work to do, but I’m ready for it. Thank you so much to Larry Bradley and my girlfriend Emma for making this weekend possible, and to my coach Tommy Ferris and awesome sponsors Ignition Fitness, Felt Bicycles, Clif Bar Canada, Wheels of Bloor, Nimblewear Inc., Big Race Wheels, My Sports Shooter and Multisport Canada for all the great support! Bring on the best the US has to offer!

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

TTf Podium

Canadian Duathlon Championships Overall Podium (L to R Larry Bradley, Dave Frake, and me; Photo Credit Emma Parker, 2014)

Thanks sponsors!

Thank you to all my sponsors!

“That’s Two in a Row” – MSC Rose City Duathlon Report

It’s been a tough 3 weeks of training since my last race in Woodstock, but I came in to my favourite venue at my favourite race series on an emotional high. The final result (click here to view) is best described by Lou Brown in Major League 2.

Welland Pre-Race

Chatting with Larry Bradley pre-race (Photo Credit Emma Parker, 2014)

However, my second win of the 2014 season started off with a little bit of a scare. After a good warm-up and little recon of the course (ie. getting to know which potholes to avoid if I wanted to keep my front wheel intact), I was heading out to the start line when I caught a glimpse of the great Dave Frake racking his bike. As he had just come off setting a course record at the Real Deal Gears Thursday Night Time Trial, I was a tad relieved to hear that he would be competing in the duathlon relay (where he put up a stunning 41:24 split on the 30km bike). The target on my back was quickly apparent when series director John Salt called out in front of the entire field asking Larry whether he was going to run me down or not!

Welland Start

Pushed to the front off the start (Photo Credit Emma Parker, 2014)

RUN #1 (4.98km by my count) – 16:34 (3:19/km, 1st overall and duathlon 5k PB)
Run gear – Nimblewear custom Ignition Fitness trisuit, Saucony Type A5 Racing Flats, Zoot compression socks

Before the horn, I could definitely tell my strength on the run was well-known, as I was basically pushed right to the front. I had PLANNED to let someone else take the lead across the bridge before taking over as we hit the fitness path, though this seemed to signal otherwise. Luckily a new face, Mike Park from Clinton, swooped in and surged to the front. I was more than happy to work in tandem with him on the first run, and it was actually quite nice to get to know this dude. Some strong running today from him (stealing my R2 bonus in the process!)…some more miles on the bike may make him another 20-something to watch in Ontario duathlon! We cruised through, clipping off about 3:18’s before I drifted away from him with about 600m to go in the first run. I rolled in to transition with a very strong 16:34 5k (that felt a little too easy to be true) and a healthy lead over my major competitors in the race.

Welland First Run

On my way to the bikes after a 16:34 opening 5k (Photo Credit Emma Parker, 2014)

Welland Bike Exit

Heading out onto the bike on my Felt B16 (Photo Credit My Sports Shooter, 2014)

BIKE (29.77km) – 46:58 (3rd overall, duathlon 30k bike PB, NP 235W/AP 230W)
Bike set-up – 2014 Felt B16 (courtesy of Wheels of Bloor) w/ Bontrager Aeolus 5 carbon clincher front/Williams S30 w/ Powertap hub and Dyma wheel cover rear, Michelin Pro Race 3 tires (23c front/25c rear), Lazer Tardiz aero helmet, X-Lab Torpedo BTA bottle, S-Works Trivent triathlon shoes

My transitions in this one could have been cleaned up a bit, though the duathletes had a tough rack spot in transition. Each transition involved a U-turn close to the run in/out that resulted in a longer run to and from our bikes, but as they say, it’s the same for everybody! Mother Nature definitely had her say on the bike. The winds were gusting over the canal today, which led to some nasty crosswinds on the short jaunt along the canal before the first right turn…straight into the headwind. Headwinds are made for the super-cyclists of the world, not for the 125lb rabbits who are just looking to minimize the damage on the bike. I attempted to settle into a groove, and found a semblance of one on the way out. The time trial start of the triathlon really helped to reduce the congestion on the course as I rode terrified of the monsters chasing me from behind. Surprisingly, I managed to make it to the turnaround with my lead intact, but the bad news was coming…Dave Frake, Larry Bradley, and Grahame Rivers, all in quick succession, less than a minute back. The tailwind helped keep them at bay for another 4-5km, but Grahame made the pass just before 20k, followed by Frake closer to 5k. Though Larry was charging hard, I managed to hold him off as we entered transition with a new 30 duathlon PB.

Data nerds, click here for my Strava file. Definitely much better pacing on this one than in Woodstock, undoubtedly helped along by the flat course profile!

RUN #2 (5.35km) – 19:31 (3:38/km, 2nd overall)

Emma fed me the time gap heading out of transition, so I was out on the run knowing I had a 75 second gap to make up on Grahame after his wicked duathlon-best 42:04 bike split. My legs were feeling the strong push into the headwind on the way out, but I was confident. Training has been going fantastically, and even though all my charts said I should be tired I know I am strong right now…especially on the run. After cruising over the bridge and navigating the tight turns around the cones, I went hunting. I made the catch just after the first turnaround (tons of credit needs to go out to Grahame here…to ride like that after a tough first run is stunning to see, and to know that he went from 5 minutes back over a shorter distance three weeks ago to 2 minutes back today is impressive…and a bit terrifying). From there, I just followed the lead bike back to the finish line where I crossed in a time of 1:24:24, shy of Tommy’s course record but with some gas left in the tank.

FINAL RESULT – 1ST OVERALL (1:24:24)

Welland Finish

Thanks to Ignition Fitness, Multisport Canada, Felt Bicycles, Clif Nutrition, Wheels of Bloor and the rest of my sponsors and support team for making this win happen (Photo Credit Emma Parker, 2014)

Welland Finish 2

Celebrating a second straight Welland Duathlon win (Photo Credit My Sports Shooter, 2014)

Duathlon Central Boys

Duathlon Central partners in crime go 1-2 in Welland! (Photo Credit Emma Parker, 2014)

Saturday was exceptionally special because I got to share it with some of my biggest supporters. Not only was Emma there, my rock and number one fan, always cheering her heart out and taking fantastic pictures (not easy to do both apparently!), but my parents were able to fly in from Edmonton to see me race for the first time since Worlds in Ottawa last year. You three are always there for me when it gets tough, and this sport can be incredibly tough, so thank you. And I hope you enjoyed that win Pops…Happy Father’s Day!

Big thanks to send out to Coach Tommy at Ignition Fitness, I’m proud to wear the yellow flame for you at all of my races. John and the gang at Multisport Canada, you did it again. Another impressive event…I’m proud to fly the MSC flag as part of the Recharge With Milk Ambassador team.  Felt Bicycles and Wheels of Bloor, I’m loving my new Felt B16 more and more with every race and training ride, and I live and die by my Clif Bars and Shots for nutrition during training and racing. Next up for me is MY BIG RETURN TO THE TRACK, as I take on some trackies in an assault on my 5,000m PB at McMaster on June 23…what better place than where the Canadian high school record was set? After that, it’s back to the batcave for my final prep for the Canadian Duathlon Championships at the Toronto Triathlon Festival on July 13 and my destination race of the year, the USA Duathlon Championships in St. Paul, Minnesota on July 19. Exciting times lay ahead!

So until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Welland Podium

MSC Welland Duathlon Overall Podium (Photo Credit Emma Parker, 2014)

Welland Final Results

MSC Rose City Duathlon Final Results

I Came, I Hurt, I Won the Race – Woodstock Report

The Multisport Canada season opened up on Sunday with the traditional season opener in Woodstock. I came to this race for the first time last year, and despite a terrible race I thoroughly enjoyed the course. I was eager to come back in 2014 to make up for my 2013 race, and after a strong performance I look forward to making every effort to get this one on my schedule for years to come. Awesome venue, deceptively difficult course, and now the memory of adding my first overall win of 2014 at the course will keep me coming back!

Full results can be found here.

As usual, Emma and her family rearranged their weekend to make sure I could get to the race as hassle-free as possible. I promised everyone who sponsored me with transportation a poem on this blog at the beginning of the year when we started planning my race schedule…well, I definitely owe Jayne and Roger a whole song at the end of this season! Thankfully, upon arrival there were no last minute mechanical panics, allowing me to focus completely on the task at hand. None of my usual competition were able to work Woodstock into their race plans, but there are always a few wild cards on the first race of the year. Time to get after it!

Woodstock First Run

Leading the way onto the course

RUN #1 – 16:58 (3:23/km, 1st fastest OA)

The first run was fueled partially by adrenaline, as I knew there was a reigning Provincial ITT champion in the field (Grahame Rivers). His presence provided fuel for me, because I was not totally sure what he could do on the run and my experience with Erik Box taught me not to write off the uber-biker! I took off on my own basically from the gun, and grabbed a lead that I would hold onto more or less for the remainder of the race. Thankfully, after pressing on my own for the first mile, I was joined at the front by someone who later turned out to be Bruce Raymer, course record holder at the Mississauga Marathon 5k until Jamie Switzer and I broke it in 2012! We worked together on the way back to transition, swapping the lead, and rolled in with a healthy minute on the rest of the field.

Out on the Bike

Heading out onto the bike after a strong first run

BIKE – 33:03 (36.7kph, AP~215, NP 232, 2nd fastest OA)

The bike today was all about continuing the trend of the run of staying away as long as I could. The course at Woodstock does not favour me, as I tend to do better (relatively) on very hilly, very flat, or very technical courses. Woodstock is none of those, and is rolling to boot. I did know that if I pushed the first half that I would be able to back off a tad while maintaining speed on the way back, as it is slightly net downhill. I thought I executed quite well, even though my wattage was significantly lower than in Harrow. I will chalk that up to having actually calibrated my Garmin for this one! I kept the foot on the gas the whole way and didn’t see another duathlete until the turnaround. I kept pressing to transition and actually made it into transition with my lead intact. First off the bike for only the second time in my duathlon career, and a 1 minute improvement on my Harrow bike split!

You can check out the data from my ride here for those interested in this sort of thing, just be warned the averages are affected by more than a few annoying Garmin dropouts in the first few kilometres of the bike.

Back on the Bike

Heading back in to transition

RUN #2 – 9:10 (3:40/km, 1st fastest OA)

After another quick transition (0:36, 2nd fastest by a mere second!), I’ll admit I took the foot off the gas a bit. Though the results look pretty, I was at 90% at best today. I was fighting my body for a lot of the first two legs, and though I wanted that elusive sub-1:00 overall finish time, I have higher priority races up ahead, along with a big training block. I knew having the lead out of T2 had put me firmly in the driver’s seat, and I felt confident knowing that if I was caught, that I would be able to fight back and have the finishing kick to take the race. I settled into a brisk but comfortable pace and wound my way out to the dam, where I saw I had a pretty comfortable lead in the du. I cruised right on in to the finish (as the first person across the finish line in any race) with a new sprint duathlon PB and my first win of 2014. Satisfying! And there is always the Island in August that chase after that sub-1:00.

Finish Line

Cruising into the finish!

FINAL RESULT – 1st overall (new PB 1:00:26)

I feel comfortable knowing that I executed relatively well today while identifying some areas that still need work. Big shout-out to Bruce Raymer for the push all day long, and for a great finish in his first duathlon. Looking forward to having this guy to push us all year! Another big shout out goes out to fellow Ignition Fitness ambassador Darren Cooney, for his awesome improvement this season. 2 solid PB’s out on the roads, and then a 9th place overall finish here today. Living proof that hard work pays off.

Happy Camper

One happy camper chatting with fellow Ignition Fitness athlete, Darren Cooney, after the race.

Thanks go out to Multisport Canada and the Recharge With Milk Triathlon Series for putting on such a great event and allowing me to represent your brand. Thanks also to Coach T, Roger and Ignition Fitness for giving me the tools to pull off such a result (including my rocket fast Felt Bicycles B16). Congrats also go out to my fellow MSC ambassadors, especially Lionel Sanders for being such an animal. Hard to imagine that just 4 years ago, the two of us occupied two tiny rooms separated by one thin floor of a university house in Windsor. And as always, thank you to the amazing Emma Parker, for once again dragging me out of bed and into the car, then chasing me all around the race site to get the great pictures I post in this blog. Couldn’t do it without my team!

Woodstock Champ

MSC Woodstock Duathlon overall podium

Until next time, keep Du’ing it! Pictures will be added to this post in the next day or so…

UPDATE 5/26 5:43pm – Check out my post-race interview courtesy of Multisport Canada.

“I am Iron Hawk”: Provincial Duathlon Championships Race Report

Last Saturday I participated in the Iron Hawk Duathlon, which doubled as the Ontario Sprint Duathlon Championships and made for a fantastic season opener for duathletes in Ontario. You can check out the race recap I wrote about the race for Duathlon Central here. Needless to say, the race more than lived up to billing, and I was treated to a race against the most competitive field of athletes I have ever raced, and I think it brought out the best in me. The lead up to the race wasn’t the best, as I dealt with some injury issues, an important bike part left in Hamilton, and some last hour mechanical issues, but I was still able to pull off a 7th place finish in one of the fastest Ontario duathlons in recent memory! Enjoy.

Running

Heading out onto the run course

LEAD UP TO THE RACE (Not pretty!):
The week going into the race was a bit of an adventure. I felt a twinge in my foot on my Saturday long run a week out that ended up being a bit of peroneal tendonitis and left me limping around the house for the rest of the weekend.A few days off it with some aggressive icing and stretching, and I was able to get through some runs later in the week without much pain. I declared myself ready to race. I drove down to the race Friday night with Emma and her parents, where we stayed at a friend’s place in Leamington. Upon arrival, I was putting my bike together and discovered that my rear skewer was…still on the sidewalk in Hamilton! D’oh…luckily fellow competitor Brad Reiter happened to live three blocks from where we were staying, and had an extra skewer. Thanks Brad! Surprise #2 came after I had set up transition on race morning. There’s a reason I always take my bike out after setting up to make sure everything is okay mechanically. Turns out I had so little clearance between my rear wheel and the frame that as soon as my tire picked up some dirty, it started to rub on the inside of the frame! So 45 minutes before racetime, there I was with my bike up on the mechanic’s stand, adjusting my wheel to sit a bit further back to solve the rub! I got it sorted out in good time and was able to get a good warmup in. Ready for the race of my life.

Pre Race Fix

Last minute mechanical work on my Felt B16

Everything was right in the world when the gun went off. This was excellent. I started in about the third row because everyone in front of me was just so fast! I had a plan to let the guys take off and just hook up to Rui Xu, who I know is around my level, for the first lap, and then see what happened. I was able to do exactly that, ran a very strong first lap, then I found that I had the legs on the second lap to gap him and chase a couple people down. Through that second lap, I moved from 11th to 7th heading into T1 with a 17:10 split. The first run was about 250m long, and my 5k split was somewhere between 16:25 and 16:30. An awesome first split, a duathlon run PB, and feeling great to boot. My foot wasn’t even yipping at me like I expected it would, and actually allowed me to focus on the race instead of the pain. Great start!

RUN #1 (5.25km): 17:10 (9th fastest)

Aero Position

Tucked into aero to get out of the Essex County winds

The bike has always been my weak point. After a sloppy transition where I had trouble with my watch and my new helmet. I was out on the bike with a fire in my eyes. The course was entirely flat, but the wind more than made up for the lack of elevation change! Every lap of the two lap course had a headwind section, a crosswind section and a tailwind section before a 180 degree turn. My lack of outdoor riding really showed here, as I was constantly having to slow down to navigate the many turns on each lap. Racing guys on road bikes has its perks, as I was able to make up most of the ground I lost on the turns during the headwind sections. I spent the bike going back and forth with Colin Lavigne and Paul Kolb, and flipped into race mode on the second lap as I tried to stick with them. The time was a 2 minute 20k duathlon bike PB, but still some work to do here.

BIKE (19.9km): 34:03 (13th fastest)

Dismount

Heading into T2

After a much better second transition, I was back out on the run course in 8th position. I most definitely brought my run legs with me to Harrow, and my experience as a duathlete came through for me. Against a very elite field, I still put up a 5th fastest second run split, and posted my first ever negative split second run. Nothing really much changed in the race during this second run, as it was more a formality for the majority of the top 10. However, I came out of T2 hot on the heels of Lavigne, and dug deep to reel him in. About 1km into the run, I pulled up alongside, put on a burst of speed and tried to distance him. I couldn’t help but smile coming around the last bend, as I held onto 7th place in this competitive race. A new Sprint Duathlon PB of 1:01:05, a fantastic race and a great sign of things to come for my 2014 season (once I get this foot 100% again!)

RUN #2 (2.75km): 8:51 (5th fastest)

Finish Line

Pulling in for 7th overall

Shout out to Lionel Sanders, Austen and Taylor Forbes, Sean Bechtel, Garrick Loewen and new du-er on the scene Sjaan Gerth for the great races! Y’all are fast! Next up for me is a pair of MultiSport Canada races, in Woodstock and Welland. Then it’s off to Toronto for Nationals and St. Paul for US Nationals (with maybe a 5k track race thrown in). Thanks go out to my coach Tommy Ferris with Ignition Fitness for getting me in the shape to drop such a great result, and to Felt Bicycles for my fantastic new race bike and Clif Bar Canada for fueling me. I also want to thank John and Roger at MultiSport Canada for setting me up at the bulk of my races for the 2014 season. With the uncertainty in the Canadian duathlon calendar as a whole, it is awesome to know that I will be taken care of at my races. But of course, the biggest thanks goes out to my girlfriend, cheering section, and race photographer Emma, and her family for giving up their weekends to get me to my competitions. I cannot express my gratitude enough! You can find the results of the race here.

Until next time, enjoy a few more photos…and keep Du’ing it!

Cooldown

Out for a short cooldown jog

Happy

It’s finally race season!!!

Ice Cream

Post-race rewards