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!

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Rose City Showdown – MultiSport Canada Race Preview

Next up in my Ontario duathlon preview series is the Rose City Duathlon in Welland…let’s start with a look at the course. Welland is flat. Dead flat. The run: flat. The bike: flat. The second run: again…flat. Note that I didn’t say easy, because it’s not. Flat courses mean you are on 100% of the race; there is no opportunity to recoup some energy, because there is no let-up. It’s fast, but the odds are very good that whoever wins on Saturday (and Sunday) will have to go very deep to do so. The course record here is held by Tommy Ferris (my coach), a 1:23:33 clocking set in 2010. My old rival Erik Box has the second fastest time at 1:24:04 in 2012, followed by my own 1:24:24 from last year and 1:24:34 from 2013. 1:25 should be considered a gold standard time for the men’s race.

THE CONTENDERS – MEN’S RACE

The men’s race has turned into quite a deep competition. Possibly deeper than this race has seen for a couple of years. The last two years have seen some intense 3-up battles where the finishing order was a complete reversal of what it was coming off the bike, and while that might not quite be the case this year (though it may very well be), the battle for the top 8 (and maybe even the top 10) should be intense. Let’s break it down:

THE FAVOURITE
Larry Bradley

Based on resumes alone, it’s hard to bet against this guy. If it wasn’t for a world champion freight train named David Frake, Bradley would have been the national champion at the international distance last year. A man with an always stellar bike split, word is that he is running better than he has ever been right now and that is bad news for the entire circuit. A fantastic ambassador for the sport, the only thing that should hold him back is his propensity to start seasons slow and needing a race or two to get into a groove. That and humidity :P.

Larry Bradley

Larry Bradley

THE CONTENDERS
Spencer Summerfield
Andrew McLeod

If Larry falters, one of these two will be ready to pounce. Summerfield is coming off the emotional high of his first duathlon win. He has consistently shown a strong bike, but has only attempted this 5k/30k/5k distance once last year in Belwood. Momentum is a valuable thing to have, however. McLeod has proven to be an exceptionally consistent racer, racing sparingly but never showing up in anything less than top form. The battle between these two will be one of strength vs. speed, and it could push them right to the brink of turning this into that three horse race with Bradley. Barring something unexpected, this should be your men’s podium.

Spencer Summerfield

Spencer Summerfield

THE OUTSIDE SHOTS
Jeremy Carter
Howie Walker
Garvin Moses
Aaron Putman
Andrew Duquesnay

While not necessarily as strong as the above three, these five have all shown flashes of brilliance and will be in the mix for the top 5 at least, and likely all have the podium on their minds. Carter has the momentum of the 5, narrowly missing the podium in Woodstock before winning in Milton the next day. Walker has the pedigree of a legend of the sport (in my mind at least), but is coming off a year off racing for his health. Moses, Putman and Duquesnay also have all shown flashes that tell me that on their days they could crack this very tough top 5.

Jeremy Carter

Jeremy Carter

THE WILD CARD
Mike Park

His name is on the registration list for a “duathlon” and he raced here last year, so this youngster may once again make an appearance here. Loaded with potential, last year Park front-ran his way to a 16:38 opening split before struggling with the winds on the bike. A year of experience and riding that bike would make him a legitimate threat here…but that’s a big question mark. What we do know is if he races, he will try to put his stamp on the run.

PREDICTIONS
Hmmm…how will this one play out? Bradley should win if he trusts the fitness that I know he has and doesn’t do anything brash. If Park is there, Larry can pace off him then unleash a strong bike on his way to a comfortable win. Summerfield and McLeod will battle for 2nd, and I think it will go wire to wire. It is hard to make this comparison but McLeod did go 1:04 for 40k to Summerfield’s 32:59 for 20k at Lakeside last year, so if Mcleod can get a jump on the bike he may stay away for 2nd given his strength at longer distances. Momentum is a killer though, and Summerfield has that on his side. Carter also has the momentum right now, and Mr. Walker always finds his way into the mix. So I’ll go with this:

1. Bradley 2. Summerfield 3. McLeod 4. Carter 5. Walker

Duathlon Central Boys

1-2 at Welland 2014 (because I love this shot)

THE WOMEN’S RACE

Though not nearly as deep as the men’s race, there will be a pretty decent battle on the women’s side, health permitting for some of the contenders. Let’s have a quick look:

THE CONTENDERS
Jade Carrington
Bethany Timmerman
Garima Takyar

None of these three have raced each other recently. In fact, only one of these three has raced this year, and Bethany raced twice last weekend. Jade is the two time defending champion here, so she knows the course and always rides strong. If Jade can put together the race here that she did last year, she should make it three in a row. The other two are pretty tightly matched. Extensive results trolling showed me two very similar and consistent athletes. The battle for 2nd SHOULD come down to whoever runs the best off the bike, and I’ll give the nod to Bethany here, on the strength of a slightly stronger recent run result at the Yonge Street 10k. But it could go either way here. Of course, as with most women’s races someone that I am not familiar with will come out the woodwork on race day and break up the party, it’s just a matter of where they slot in…

1. Carrington 2. Timmerman 3. Takyar

Bethany Timmerman

Bethany Timmerman

THE BIKE/RUN

Before I sign off, a quick word about the bike/run. There was not much information out there that I could find, but I do know long distance specialist Daryl Flacks will be racing on Sunday, and there is a good chance defending champion Tammy Purdy will be racing as well. If the latter is true, look for these two to take convincing wins in the race, likely on the strength of a strong bike split (Daryl) or a stellar run split (Tammy).

My only regret is not being able to be there for this race. Even if just to spectate. Oh who am I kidding…I want in on this action! It will be fun to follow along.

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Welland Podium

Welland Duathlon 2014 Overall Podium

Spring Racing, Canadian Half Marathon Championships and More…

This year has been a year of experiences. This weekend I capped off my spring season in Calgary at the Canadian Half Marathon Championships, my first national championships for running since cross country in 2008. In the past several weeks, I’ve taken in some races and venues that I’ll never forget, and most importantly I have been able to share this thing that I do with some family members that have never been able to see me race. It’s been incredibly rewarding to have such amazing support from all corners of the country, and I believe these last few months have made me a stronger athlete and person. So let’s recap!

WOODY’S RV WORLD MARATHON WEEKEND (10KM) – 2ND PLACE (36:01)

A week after the Bare Bones Duathlon, I wanted to do a 10km tune-up before Calgary. While I may have benefited from using the weekend for one last long run or tempo workout, but I had heard great things about the Woody’s RV World Marathon and wanted to take part. It didn’t hurt that there was a pretty decent prize purse on the line for all of the races. It was…an experience. Kieran McDonald showed up to race his hometown race, so I knew the win was likely going up the road as he put 4 minutes into me in St. Albert. I was coming into this one pretty hot at the end of my last big half marathon block, so my focus was to put in a solid effort, and maybe put up a decent time. However, after a solid pace for 4k those plans were scuttled by Mother Nature. A family of geese decided that it would be a good time to cross the course just as I was about to run by. As some of you know, I am TERRIFIED of geese. Petrified. I did what anyone would do in my situation…I stopped and waited for them to cross or someone to come to my rescue! Eventually a lead bike came back to scare them away, but not before Mama Goose and I had the stand-off of the century. I ended up cruising in for 2nd in 36:01, though my moving time was slightly closer to my half marathon pace (~34:55). At least I’ll have a story now!

Starting the Woody's RV World Red Deer 10k - 2nd place overall (36:01)

Starting the Woody’s RV World Red Deer 10k

CANADIAN HALF MARATHON CHAMPIONSHIPS – 21ST PLACE (1:15:51)

After Red Deer, it was half marathon time. The excitement slowly built while my training slowly tapered off, due to Calgary representing my spring focus. Though my #1 goal this season is a good performance at the National Duathlon Championships, it has helped to have a goal to strive towards this spring, with a bit of rest to look forward to afterwards. I love championship racing, and the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Calgary fit the bill perfectly as something that I could get revved up for. It would also serve a dual purpose of providing an excuse for building up a ton of volume base in the spring before scaling back and sharpening up my speed during the summer. It would also give me a chance to spend some time with my youngest cousins in Calgary, and as I would later find out, to race the event with my Uncle!

I took the weekend off of work so that we would go down Saturday morning to the expo and pick up my race kit. I also squeezed in a quick race prep workout to scout out the start/finish of the race. With the Stampede Grounds getting a retro-fit for the weekend to create finish line right in front of the grandstand, it promised to be a heck of a finish! Race morning dawned EARLY due to the 6:30am start time. Like ungodly early. Good thing I slept a lot Friday night and Saturday afternoon, because 3:30am comes ridiculously fast. I am thankful for the early start though, because we woke up to perfect conditions (slightly overcast, 9 degrees, and calm wind conditions). The morning cool was a perfect calm before the storm, as I got in a good warm-up and was in a great headspace leading into the race. The race itself was a tale of two halfs: the first 7 miles, and the final 10k to the finish.

Working hard through 7km

Working hard through 7km

THE RACE

During the first half, I was feeling GREAT. Maybe it was adrenaline, or maybe I was just experiencing a perfect collision of peak physical fitness and a great headspace. After an initial surge the first 400m, I settled into a solid pace just under 5:40/mile (~1:14:30 pace). I was passed by the lead women’s pack (who started a bit more sensibly than I did) at about 5k, but from there I had a steady stream of casualties of the hot early pace up the road to drive me forwards. I also had the eventual bronze medalist in the women’s race, old university friend Dayna Pidhoresky, to push me and provide some motivation to keep the pace high for much of the race. I reached the 10km split in 35:24, and focused on the second half of the race.

It was around this point that I noticed two things: (1) that my legs were starting to rebel against me and (2) that I was struggling to get as much oxygen to my muscles as I am accustomed to. I expected the first, but glossed over the second in my preparations. I was still on my pace goals, but I knew that I was probably short a long run or two that would have made my preparations perfect. So I knew that the second half would be tough. What I didn’t account for was the altitude. Hamilton and Windsor are at sea level, while Edmonton is at ~2000′ and Calgary is at ~3500′. I’m still trying to adapt to training in a location higher than sea level, and racing in Calgary with the extra altitude and accompanying dry air was a bit of a struggle. I had wondered why results and records in Calgary were typically a tad slower than I knew those runners were capable of, and this is likely the answer. Browsing the results afterwards confirmed that it was indeed a tough day.

The stretch from 7 to 10 miles was a physical struggle. I just kept telling myself to keep the pace as steady as I could until 10 miles, and then anyone can suffer through the last 5km. I just put my eyes on whoever was up the road and focused on reeling them in, before moving on to the next athlete. Just before 10 miles, I turned to Dayna and huffed out “Let’s just get to 10 miles, and then there’s only 5k left”, which I think we both needed to hear at that point of the race! My 10 mile split was 56:54, a full 23 seconds faster than my time in St. Albert, but I was in a world of hurt. All I could do was grit my teeth and focus on getting to the line as fast as I could. That last 5km were a blur as I poured everything I had into it, and before I knew it I was re-entering Stampede Park and the last stretch. There were still two half marathoners just ahead of me as I entered the last corner, so I launched my final sprint and crossed the line in 1:15:51…a new PB which would be good for 21st overall at the National Championships!

Gutting it out to the finish in Calgary

Gutting it out to the finish in Calgary

FINAL THOUGHTS

I unexpectedly made a few appearances on the Athletics Canada live stream of the race, which you can view here. You can see me in all my glory at 10:55, and from 32:55 to 34:25. I also uploaded this race to Strava, so that you can check out my progress mile-by-mile.

While this result did come short of my goals, my philosophy is that you can never complain about a PB. I cam here to run fast, and I ran faster than I have ever done before in my life. Sounds like mission accomplished to me! Reflecting back on my spring season, I wouldn’t change a thing. I have a few days off to reflect and recover and this post is already getting super long, so expect a reflection post with my thoughts in the next week or two. I would like to thank all of my amazing supporters from all corners of the country, including my amazing team at Ignition Fitness, Skechers Performance Canada, and 3SIXTY5 Cycling. But right now I want to talk about an issue that popped up this weekend that is very important to me:

GETTING “CHICKED”

Honestly, ^^this^^ is likely the only time you’ll ever hear me use this phrase, which often comes out when a male is beaten by a female in a race…because I hate it. I think it’s something that we as endurance athletes need to exorcise from our vernacular, because it creates a stigma where there really shouldn’t be one. The thing I love about this sport is that it is 100% black and white. Regardless of our differences, all runners can be boiled down and compared via a series of numbers, and those numbers are simple and pure. Let’s look at some personal bests:

  • Runner A – 31:46 (10,000m)/31:49 (10km)/1:10:47 (HM)/2:28:00 (Marathon)
  • Runner B – 31:41 (10,000m)/31:59 (10km)/1:11:20 (HM)/2:35:16 (Marathon)
  • Runner C – 15:11 (5km)/31:35 (10km)/1:16:24 (HM)

Based on those numbers on paper, how would you expect those three runners to finish in a half marathon? If you guessed the order they are listed, then you would probably be right. And here’s the kicker…on Sunday you would have been: Runner A is Lanni Marchant, Runner B is Natasha Wodak, and Runner C is myself. I finished 21st overall behind these two ladies in Calgary…and there is no reason to believe anything else would have happened. In fact, without having Dayna (another incredibly talented athlete who is also faster than me on most days) to push me for most of the race, I likely would have finished even further behind. The fact of the matter is that I finished 21st at the Canadian Half Marathon Championships, behind 20 truly speedy Canadians. Nothing more, nothing less. So let’s remove this phrase and the attached stigma from our language, and appreciate these strong, talented and occasionally world class ladies for what they are: some seriously fast runners who work just as hard as you do, and who may beat you on one day or another. And there is not an ounce in shame in that :).

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Thrilled to be able to share this one with my Uncle Dennis, Aunt Jean, and cousins Karl and Jakob.

Thrilled to be able to share this one with my Uncle Dennis, Aunt Jean, and cousins Karl and Jakob.

The Final Piece Of The World Duathlon Puzzle, And Why It’s Important To Duathletes

After a wave of announcements that rolled out from the International Triathlon Union last week, the final piece of the puzzle for duathletes has finally fallen into place: the location of the 2016 World Duathlon Championships. Strangely, the location of the 2017 event actually came out first, during the first wave of announcements. As part of a new ITU initiative, a World Multisport Festival that combines duathlon, aquathlon, cross triathlon and long distance triathlon, the 2017 event will be a part of a week long festival in Penticton, BC. I don’t think I need to say that this is GREAT NEWS FOR CANADIAN MULTISPORT ATHLETES, including duathletes. Having just spent several days in Penticton and doing a race there, I can say that it is a fantastic location for an event like this. And I am sure the thousands of athletes who have participated in the old Ironman Canada and its successor Challenge Penticton will echo my sentiments.

Now, strangely absent from this impressive list of announcements of last week was the location of the 2016 World Championship event. We had a location for the 2017 and 2018 World Multisport Festivals, the 2018 Grand Final, the 2016 World Cross Triathlon Championships, and a new addition to the World Triathlon Series (Leeds). But no 2016 World Duathlon Championships. I could fill a separate blog post with speculation on why exactly this was, but that’s beside the point today. The point is that we now have a location for the 2016 event: Aviles, Spain.

Aviles is an…interesting choice. It’s a town in the north a Spain, a short 25 minute jaunt from Gijon (who hosted the 2011 event). It is also a 3 hour drive from Pontevedra (who hosted the 2014 Worlds) and a 4 hour drive from Segovia (who won the bid for the 2013 event before retracting their bid, forcing Ottawa to step in in the final hours). That’s right…4 times in the past 6 years, a city or town in Spain has won the bid for the World Duathlon Championships. If it wasn’t for Ottawa stepping in for 2013, it would have been pretty slim pickings for North Americans since Corner Brook, with 2012 being in France and 2015 in Australia. A release by USA Triathlon (of which a screenshot is pasted below), the finalist for the 2016 was Oklahoma City…which makes this news sting a little bit more for North American duathletes.

USAT

This throws a little bit of a wrinkle into the decision making process of North American duathletes. Thankfully, in Canada we are not so hard off as our friends to the south, many of whom have likely paid for flights and accommodations in St. Paul in anticipation of perhaps qualifying for Worlds in Oklahoma City in 2016, only to find out that they will be heading back to Spain. Luckily, up here we have until August and September to make our decisions. Spain is a trek and many who make the trip annually have been there before, so some may opt just to put all of their eggs into qualifying in 2016 in order to race in 2017 (myself included, I’ll admit it).

Another thing throwing a wrench into this is the fact that the 2016 sprint event will be DRAFT LEGAL, without a non-draft race for those sprint athletes who don’t own or want to own a road bike, or who prefer to test themselves against the clock (which would not have been the case in OKC). So draft legal is here, and yes there will be bugs. Triathlon Canada is sending athletes to the draft legal event in Aviles without a draft legal qualifier, and is putting the onus on the athletes to ensure they are prepared for the race. Who knows how many other federations are doing the same thing? (Good on the USAT for hosting a separate, draft legal qualifier for their athletes, y’all take good care of your athletes.) Some athletes may very well choose to use that as another reason to skip the race in 2016. Let the kinks get worked out in Spain and then race it hard in Penticton. All of this is completely valid. I’m with you. My next Worlds appearance won’t be until at least 2017, for all of the reasons I expanded on above. But here’s the thing:

Regardless of where Worlds is in 2016, the 2015 qualifiers still need our support.

Racing for a championship is an incredible experience, and an honour to participate in (at least for me), but let’s say you decide to take the year to build into it, and not race the qualifiers. You decide to try to qualify next year (2016) for the race in Penticton. You’re making an assumption there: that there will be qualifiers for you to race. If those events get the same kind of support that they did last year, then the work needed to secure them could all be for naught, and our supporters may not be so inclined to fight for these events going forward. Because three groups have worked incredibly hard to ensure that duathletes have a full slate of races in 2015:

ESPRIT TRIATHLON ORGANIZING COMMITTEE

This group has always supported duathlon in Canada. Always. It seems like every time someone is needed to step up and host Nationals, Esprit is there to do it. The numbers are always great, and it is in an excellent location to draw the best of the best that duathlon in Canada has to offer. Despite the course being a tad slow, the horses always show up and the times are always fast. They’ve never really had issues with numbers, and there is no reason to think they should this year. But in a time when groups that support duathletes are so few and far between, and where races are disappearing like crazy, don’t those that do deserve our support? I think so. I’ll be there in September, and though I can understand that Montreal is a tough ask for many of you with families and careers, I hope you will find a way to join me in “la belle province”.

TRIATHLON ONTARIO

Remember back a month ago? When you were waiting for an announcement on where the Ontario Championships would be? It was a bit frustrating, but lo and behold Triathlon Ontario came through. In a BIG way. From what I have gathered, most provinces and races were just not interested in paying what Triathlon Canada were asking for World Championship spots (espcially for duathlon), and were content to go forward with provincial championships without qualifying spots. So be it. Triathlon Ontario could have done the same…but they didn’t. They kept forcing the issue with Triathlon Canada, and wouldn’t make any announcements until they had their spots, or at least until they were sure that there was no way they could be offered. And guess what? They came through. Bracebridge will have not one but TWO qualifying spots for Worlds in Aviles. That’s a hard work and dedication to athletes that needs to be repaid with the kind of turnout at provincials that will make our governing body proud.

The start of the 2014 Ontario Duathlon Championships at the Lakeside Resort.

The start of the 2014 Ontario Duathlon Championships at the Lakeside Resort.

MULTISPORT CANADA

And last but certainly not least is a group that has NEVER stopped supporting duathletes. Ever. Last year the National Duathlon Championships at the Toronto Triathlon Festival drew 97 athletes. So they packed up their toys and went home, and are not even hosting a duathlon this year. The Ontario Duathlon Championships at Lakeside, hosted by MultiSport Canada, drew just over 40 people. So this year they bid with a race a little bit earlier in the season for athletes, and will be hosting both the sprint and standard race. If that’s not enough support, they also worked with Triathlon Ontario to come up with the “Du the Double” challenge, offering a cash prize to the best of those brace enough to race the sprint on Saturday and the standard distance on Sunday. So if chasing a provincial championships isn’t a draw for you to head to Bracebridge and race, I hope that the incredible support that MultiSport Canada continues to offer to duathletes will be. If airfare didn’t cost as much as I make in a month, I would be there in a heartbeat!

SO…WILL YOU BE THERE?

There you have it: three groups who have proven time and time again that they go to great lengths to ensure that duathlon is well supported and able to survive. Without them…we may very well not have much of a sport. It definitely wouldn’t be as lively as it is now. Yes, Aviles is a long way to go…but Penticton is going to be a hot ticket for Canadians. Maybe not as hot for Ontario athletes as Ottawa was, but I’m sure it will be close. Penticton really is a beautiful place for a race. And it would sure be a shame if a poor turnout this year is the last straw for these groups who support us so well. Nothing is guaranteed in this world. So please, support those groups that support us and do your best to attend these events so that we can keep going to them for years to come. I’ll be racing the Alberta Championships in July and then flying to Montreal for Nationals in September, and I hope you will too!

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Being a provincial or national champion is pretty neat too. Don't miss your chance!

Being a provincial or national champion is pretty neat too. Don’t miss your chance!

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.

2015 IRON HAWK DUATHLON PREVIEW (MENS RACE)

Another duathlon season is upon us, and it kicks off this weekend (in Ontario at least) with a favourite on the circuit, the Iron Hawk Duathlon in Harrow, ON. Last year, the race was also the Ontario Sprint Duathlon Championships and carried some prize money, and drew a stellar field as a result. This year the prize money and the provincial championship designation are no more, yet the field still promises to be one of the more competitive ones of the season. Add in the flat course and the incredible crowd support you can usually count on from the Windsor/Essex County multisport community and we’re in business. Let’s take a look at the competitors:

THE TWO YOU’D HAVE TO BE STUPID TO BET AGAINST
Lionel Sanders

IM Texas next week notwithstanding, Lionel’s resume speaks for itself. No one is on his level in Canada. The people in the WORLD on his level are world champions of various flavours. Kudos to Lionel for supporting a local race that’s close to his heart when he clearly has bigger fish to fry next weekend.

THE PODIUM FAVOURITES
Thierry Guertin
Prakash Pandya

After Lionel it gets a little more muddled, but these two are my bets. Thierry is a beast on the bike, and would likely be the odds on favourite in any other race. Course record holder on the local TT courses, Thierry should be able to run just well enough and ride his way onto the podium. Prakash spent most of last year injured, but he has the pedigree for a strong run when healthy, and recent TT results seem to indicate that his bike is coming along as well.

THE WILD CARDS
Ryan Allison
Robert DeMarco

These two are more unknown when it comes to form, but are genuine podium threats on their best day ready to pounce if anyone has a bad day. Ryan’s exploits are pretty well known in the duathlon world, as he dominated in Tecumseh and Chatham after spending the year honing his run form. When healthy (which has been an issue this winter), he can run with anyone in this field. DeMarco had a strong performance at last year’s Iron Hawk and is actually the highest finishing returner not named Lionel.

THE LOCAL CONTENDERS
Daryl Flacks
Shayne Dumouchelle
Brad Reiter

These three mainstays on the circuit are all be strong enough to challenge the top 5 on a good day. But betting against Daryl Flacks despite being a long course specialist just revs him up to prove you wrong, so he’s probably going to be the one to find his way into the top 5. Brad and Shayne are cut from opposite sides of the cloth, with Brad being a slightly stronger runner and Shayne a tad stronger on the bike. The local knowledge these three have of riding and handling a bike in the Essex crosswinds could mean significant seconds gained.

THE BALANCE POINT BOYS
Spencer Summerfield
Chris Marentette

It will be interesting to see how these two young talents stick it out with the veterans above, as their improvements in their weaker disciplines are a real wild card here. Spencer is pretty handy at riding a TT bike, and Chris usually runs with the front group and was a very solid high school track/XC runner. The question with these two is will they be able to limit their losses. From what I’ve heard, the BP crew has had them working hard so with a little luck and a lot of suffering, these two could surprise on Saturday.

So how will this race play out?
This being Essex County, the wind will ALWAYS be a factor, so the order of finish will depend on who handles the wind the best. Lionel will win by, like, a lot. Him, Prakash and Allison will likely be out in front early, dragging Marentette, Reiter and DeMarco along, and then Lionel will be gone forever and the rest will have to fend off Guertin, Flacks, Dumouchelle and Summerfield, who will be charging hard on the bike. From there, it’s who can suffer the most for 10 minutes. I’ll take this for my top 5 (with a slight nod to Prak to round out the podium in a battle with Allison based on recent results):

  1. Sanders
  2. Guertin
  3. Pandya
  4. Allison
  5. Flacks

Top Female – Juliette Barrette

Podium Wild Card – Ryan Allison (if his form is better than he claims, as I suspect is true, then he could run his way as high as second)

Breakthrough Performer – Brad Reiter (who will surprise everyone and run his way to a huge 6th place finish)

I apologize for the lack of pictures, or a women’s preview. This was wrapped up in the car on my iPad on my way to Penticton, and I was not able to find pictures or enough information to do a women’s preview. Just remember, this is all in good fun. I have a ton of opinions, and most will be wrong. Feel free to prove me wrong on race day :). All I’ll know is that it will be fun to follow. Someone PLEASE snap a picture of the results and tweet them out to me (@duitjessebauer) so I can catch up after my own race. And have fun!

Until next time, keep Du’ing it!

Emerging from Hibernation

It’s been a little while, but the first race report is out of the way and I think it is time for a little update on the rest! There is a touch of irony in the title, considering we got 5 inches of snow in Edmonton overnight, but I need to get my writing game back on track. So here is an update, and perhaps a tad about where I want to go…let’s do it!

MOVING AND TRAINING IN EDMONTON

The big news of the past month or so is that I moved from Hamilton back to Edmonton. I made the move at the end of February, and it took me a little while to re-adjust and adapt to the different lifestyle and slightly higher altitude, but the move went pretty smooth and the weather has been (mostly) spectacular. The shortage of paved, quiet roads closeby to ride on is kind of a bummer, but I’m taking it as an opportunity to get some solid quality in on the trainer with the occasional foray outdoors. The adjustment period from the move was quite smooth training-wise, and I have been working hard to be ready for 2015.

Skechers Performance, my amazing supporter for 2015, has been taking good care of me so far.

GROWTH YEAR IN 2015

I am about 90% of the way to finalizing my race schedule for 2015 (it can be found here). 2015 is going to be a growth year, where I kind of take everything in stride and focus on enjoying the journey. Apart from the Canadian Duathlon Championships in September, I am not going to focus as heavily on results as I have in the past. Sure, I’ll probably get a little revved up as the day of a race gets closer, but I am going to try to use race days experience new venues and to get a little bit of that “for love of the game” feeling back.

Racing officially started about a week and a half ago (MEC 5k rust buster notwithstanding), as I went back to where it all started for me with running. My first running race ever took place at the Lacombe Park Lake in St. Albert, and on April 19 I came full circle and looped past that same lake during the historic St. Albert Road Race 10 Miler. You can read my report on that race here, but the gist is I ran a new 10 mile PB (57:17), and got thoroughly humbled by some fast dudes on my way to a 7th place finish. BUT…it was a ton of fun and a great race experience to kick off my season. (Side note…a surefire way to kick your season off on the right foot: race a new distance and get a guaranteed PB!)

Finishing up the south loop of the St. Albert 10 Miler

Finishing up the south loop of the St. Albert 10 Miler

Pieces are coming together bit by bit. I just started a new job, and I am making my way through a big training block in preparation for the Calgary Half Marathon (which I have finally officially registered for, by the way). I am pretty confident in my ability to carry my good vibes from St. Albert over to my upcoming races, and I think running fast is actually very realistic. Next I will be heading to Penticton for some fun at the Bare Bones Duathlon and then hitting a 10k in Red Deer for my last tune-up race before racing the best in the country. With a little bit of luck, I am hoping that I can accomplish my spring goal of running 1:13-1:14 in Calgary.

MARGINAL GAINS

Bare Bones will be…a bit of an adventure to be honest. It will be a great opportunity to see where my ability to redline for a couple 5km runs and a 50 minute TT is. My numbers on the bike have slowly been creeping in same direction as my run recently…slowly. The race takes place on the hills of Challenge Penticton, and has some long uphill grinds and some quick, twisty downhills; the perfect barometer to also see how much work I will need to do on handling a bike after a long winter on the trainer, and also to test out my new position on my TT bike. Two months ago, I went in to Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop in Toronto to update the RETUL fit on my time trial bike.

Elevation profile for the Bare Bones Du...should be fun!

Elevation profile for the Bare Bones Du…should be fun!

It was a new bike last year, but my needs have also changed since my last fit so it was just time for an update. I believe that a proper bike fit is the number one piece of low hanging fruit on the tree, as well as piece that is most often missed. Fit is king when it comes to aerodynamics. Surprisingly my fit didn’t change all that much, though I have noticed that my fitters seem to relish my “aggressive” position; Taylor, my gracious fitter at Sweet Pete’s, seemed positively gleeful when he announced that he was taking out ALL of the spacers from under my stem. I ended up toeing the border of an aggressive triathlon fit and an upright time trial fit, while still keeping my hip angle sufficiently open to facilitate breathing and a strong run off the bike.

Before and After. A tad lower and sleeker, and a bit more comfortable. Thoughts?

Before and After. A tad lower and sleeker, and a bit more comfortable. Thoughts?

Another look

Another look

LOOKING FORWARD…

There`s a lot going on in the world of multisport right now. Equality is a hot button issue that keeps coming up all of the triathlon media. Bike fitting and equipment choices are taking on more and more importance as more information about it gets out there. My awesome supporter Skechers Performance has a whole line of shoes that I`m putting to a hard test, and hope to get some reviews out in the near future. And finally, duathlon in Ontario still has a soft spot in my heart. Some of these I might write about, others I might not, but they all resonate with me to some degree. I guess you`ll have to stay tuned!

Regarding Ontario duathlon, I will at least be writing some race previews for a few races this year. I`m currently looking for the names of people who plan to compete in the following races, since privacy issues have made it very difficult and tricky business to find these names elsewhere:

  • Iron Hawk Duathlon
  • MSC Welland Duathlon
  • Subaru Guelph Lake I Duathlon
  • MSC Belwood Duathlon
  • Ontario Duathlon Championships (Bracebridge)
  • Canadian Duathlon Championships (Esprit in Montreal)

If you are reading this and are competing at one of these duathlons, or know someone who will be, then feel free to shoot me a note at my contact email above. The information would be greatly appreciated. This is all in good fun, and is in the name of building up some excitement for the sport in Ontario, so the more information I can get means I can write a better preview! Pictures to accompany your section are also excellent.

Until next time…keep Du`ing it!