bike

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!

Advertisements
Gary the Klein

So I Built a Bicycle…

Last season I spent the year alternating between my Felt B16 tri bike for most of my heavy workouts, and a Kona Jake the Snake cyclocross bike that I thought would be an excellent way to explore some of the gravel and MTB trails in and around Hamilton. While it definitely was awesome for the change of pace, I did not nearly get enough out of my CX’er. All of my training is on a single Powertap wheelset, and it became such a hassle to swap cassettes, tires, and wheels from bike to bike that I just ended up riding my TT bike way more than I wanted to.

Going to a road bike as a second bike just makes sense to me, something built to withstand the long haul and keep me off my TT bike save for the most focused TT workouts. As well, I found an unbelievable deal on a vintage 2003 Klein Q Carbon Team frameset, one of the first bikes with internal cable routing. It’s also always been a goal of mine to build a bike up from scratch, getting to know the inner workings of a race bike in the process. Plenty of Youtube videos and hours reading the Park Tool website got me on my way.

The build went as smooth as I could hope, though I did run into major problems routing the rear brake cable thanks to the internal liner falling out on me, as well as getting enough tension on the front derailleur. In the end though, I was able to get it running well enough. It is nothing fancy, but it is stiff as a board and ready to take a beating as I try to catch my cycling ability up to my run! You can head to Twitter and check out the hashtag #jbsfirstbikebuild to see my progress.

So here it is, my 2003 Klein Q Carbon Team with Shimano 105 5800 11-speed components and 11 speed Williams S30 Powertap alloy clinchers:

2. From Front

The front end was as clean as I could make it for a first attempt. First returns on the new 5800 hood shapes (I’m picky about my hood shapes) are good, and the shifters have a nice, crisp feel to them. A redesigned 5800 front brake takes care of the braking on the front, while a nameless alloy ergo bend bar is where my hands will spend the majority of the time.

3. Front Triangle

Klein frames are known for internal routing before their time and stunning paint jobs. The photo here does not do subtle metallic flecked finish contrasting the matte decals on this garish, flame-inspired frame. Indeed, that is what first caught my eye with this frame, and the finish is what sold me on it being my next bike.

4. Front End

A side view of the front end reveals a carbon fiber fork to help numb the vibrations, as well as providing another look at the internal cable routing. I expect the bars will rotate downward with more road riding in the drops, just to provide me with a deeper hand position for hard efforts. An 80mm FSA OS190 -6 degree stem caps off the look.

5. Front Wheel

My trusty Williams System 30 Powertap wheelset will likely stay on this bike more or less permanently. I have had great success with these Clement Strada LGG 700x25mm tires, also to help numb some of the road vibration, and filled them with some Rubbers Brand inner tubes. I love the idea of including a patch kit with every tube sold.

6. Seat Cluster

My perch is a stock alloy seatpost and a surprisingly comfortable Giant OEM saddle I found in a parts bin for $15 last year. This is also an obstructed look at the rear brake cable routing. It took me a day and a half to route this cable, mostly spent poking a hanger through the channel blindly until it finally found the hole on the other side. Frustrating!

Cranks and FD

Shimano 105 5800 50/34 cranks (170mm) and front derailleur drive the pedals. I love the new 4-arm design of the cranks, which make for a crisp and stiff power transfer. I went with 50/34 rings because I am not yet strong enough to get on top of a 53/39, and the 52/36 configuration is not yet available that I could find. That will likely be the first upgrade (to the 52/36).

The front derailleur cable was my other sticking point, as I spent considerable time re-aligning the FD and pulling on the cable until it finally shifted into the big ring for me. I still haven’t got the front shifting quite right, but it’s getting there. Cheap Shimano R540 pedals are the next contact point for me. I got them free and have since had no reason to upgrade.

8. RD and Cassette

A 5800 medium cage rear derailleur and 11-28 cassette control the shifting. The 5800 group has limited cassette options, I wanted an 11t cog to pair with my 50/34 front gearing, and the 11-32 seems like overkill if you don’t live in the mountains. This will be just fine, though an Ultegra 11-25 cassette may be in my future as I get stronger.

9. Seat Cluster from Rear

The most interesting part of this bike is the seatstay arrangement. It’s beefy, and you can see the joins where the carbon fiber seat stays meet the otherwise aluminum frame. The rear brake mounting bolt was so beefy I had to repurpose the OEM front brake off my B16 into a rear brake here. My B16 got an unexpected rear brake upgrade in the process.

10. Garmin Mount

Of course, my trusty Garmin 910XT mounted on the stem collects all my data for me, and I went with some cheap black Deda Elementi cork bar tape to complete the bike. This bike is likely going to see a lot of miles, and I didn’t want to be swapping out expensive tape every 6 months. Wrapping the bars was my favourite part…it was fun, plus it meant I was done!

I had a ton of fun doing this build. To be honest, I likely didn’t save too much money versus buying a complete bike (maybe $100-200), and the build is not much different than an entry level build you would see in a bike shop (apart from the frame). However, I am immensely proud of myself for sticking it out and not giving up, and I have a ton more knowledge to show for it.

I would recommend it to everyone looking for an offseason project and some new knowledge. Thanks to everyone who listened to my inane questions and gave me advice or parts to use, especially Phil McCatty, for sitting down with me for an evening talking through the whole process and only laughing at me a little bit when I struggled with this, that, or the other.

“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.

“Trust the Process” – Mastering the Recovery Balance

The time for another race is getting closer and closer. I have been laying low since US Nationals, attempting to recover from a double that was more trying than I anticipated it would be. I had some struggles and some challenges getting ready to build myself back up again, both physically and mentally. This period made me consider my slow road to recovery a little deeper, and gave me the idea to put together some blog posts on my adventures, experiences and hardships with recovery from endurance athletics. Throughout this experience I told myself to “trust the process”, even when the process led me down an alternate path that I did not expect to be wandering down. This post will focus on my story, before I dive deeper into the concepts in subsequent posts.

Following my learning experience at Canadian Nationals and my redemption race at US Nationals, I tried to listen to my body and only jump into training when my body was ready (a mistake I made last season between Worlds and Lakeside). I knew that 95km of racing sandwiched around a week of travel to and from St. Paul would have an effect on my body, so I took 3 full days off following the race, and a further week to 10 days of easy recovery and endurance workouts to let the body slowly recover. My first jolt of getting back to training was to begin on the August long weekend, followed by several weeks of longer workouts to get me accustomed to the distance that I will encounter at Lakeside.

Drained

“Drained” best describes how I felt after US Nationals. Physically and emotionally.

Alas, it was then that I encountered a trial of a different sort, one that is as much external to my training as it it internal. The Tuesday following two exceptional workouts during the August long weekend was an exceptionally trying longer run interval workout, though I did manage to survive it with positive results. I hoped a good sleep and and an easy Wednesday workout would get me out of the woods and back to normal, but this would unfortunately only turn out to be the calm before the storm. I fooled myself that I was okay the next day after getting through an easy 90 minute ride without side effects, and deemed myself ready to attempt a tough brick workout on Thursday…where I cracked spectacularly and could not finish the workout.

I have been through this on several occasions in my short multisport career, and I have learned a little more with each experience. Each time, I attempted to re-integrate myself into intense endurance training after insufficient recovery from a block of hard training and racing, characterized by a feeling of overconfidence and invincibility. On all occasions, I now wish I had taken more downtime and tipped the balance that direction a bit more, in order to avoid the aborted workouts and forced rest that would follow. I did not give myself sufficient time to REBUILD (allowing your body time to physically repair the damage of the last block), REFOCUS (giving your mind time to step back and regain lost motivation) and RE-ENGAGE (slowly re-integrate your body and mind into the grind of training).

3 Rs of Recovery

My Three R’s of Recovery

After aborting my Thursday brick mid-workout, I took Friday off and Saturday, Sunday and Monday very, very easy. By Sunday and Monday I was feeling better, but resisted the urge to up the intensity (my mistake before Provincials in 2012). I did truncated “feeler” workouts Tuesday and Wednesday to gauge my recovery efforts, with good results and no “drained” feeling. Again, I resisted the urge to push through and complete the full workouts without knowing if my body was 100% (my mistake in 2013 following my last indoor track season). Thursday was a successful (again truncated) brick workout with excellent results, and another recovery day Friday was followed by absolutely no issues during tough workouts on the weekend and into this week. I feel back to normal, but time will tell if what I did will work in the long run. My race at Toronto Island this weekend will be the next indicator of success.

The full effect of my trials and subsequent efforts to correct them will likely not be known until after Lakeside. By then, I will hopefully have gotten through my blog series about my perspectives and experiences with recovery, where I would like to tackle the three concepts of REBUILD, REFOCUS and RE-ENGAGE separately, and can share some longer term results. My hope is that you, my readers, can learn my experiences and become better racers yourselves, ones who pay as much attention to the recovery process as you do the building process. Thank you to Coach Tommy Ferris of Ignition Fitness for seeing me through this tough period, and getting me through to wrap up my first season as a Multisport Canada/Recharge With Milk Ambassador at Toronto Island this Sunday, and Lakeside on September 14.

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

A Border City Battle – Tecumseh Duathlon Preview

I spend a lot of time with my finger on the pulse of duathlon in Ontario. My role writing race previews and recaps for Ontario Duathlon Central has me trolling results every weekend, and digging through registration lists during the week. One of my favourite races on the Ontario calendar is the Windsor (now Tecumseh) Duathlon in Tecumseh, Ontario. It was my first duathlon in 2009, and I returned two years ago where I was first off the bike on my way to the overall win and a course record on the current race course (1:23:43). Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it again this year (not for lack of trying), but with several excellent athletes planning on attending, there could be quite the battle taking aim at my mark. Here is what each of those contenders may need to do to win (in no particular order).

Author’s Note – The following preview is all in good fun, and will likely be entirely wrong (as I have often been in the past). Much like I did for Welland, I highlight the contenders in the men’s race and how each MIGHT win the race. This is an unofficial preview, and the opinions reflected on the potential outcome of the race, as well as the traits of each athlete, are my own. Take it with a grain of salt as I am not, and do not pretend to be, an authority of any kind other than what I can glean and guess from looking at results and chatting with athletes. So without further ado…enjoy!

SCOTT FINCH (2014 results: 1st at Niagara – 1:21:08)

SCOTT FINCH

Photo Credit – Chyla’s Race Photos, 2013

Strength – Experience. Scott knows how to win duathlons, and has been doing it for years. There are no real holes in his game, as he has done it with the run, on the bike, and with his head. He takes care of the low-hanging fruit and doesn’t leave things to chance. A true winner is a rare commodity, and Scott is just that. And this race will require its winner to be 100% on, gun to tape.

Wild Card – Race fitness. Scott is smart, and he proved his fitness two weekends ago in winning Niagara. However, he has very few races under his belt in the last 12 months, and this will be his deepest test in Lakeside last year. There is really no substitute for racing, and when the chips are down just knowing if and how you will respond to the race can be valuable.

How Scott wins on Sunday – Use his matches wisely. Scott has always had the bike split necessary to lead off the bike, and the running legs to hang on for the win. Race savvy can go a long way, and knowing when to burn matches and when to save them is crucial. A smart racer knows the bullets they have, and uses them judiciously.

DARYL FLACKS (2014 results: 16th at Iron Hawk – 1:03:59, 1st at Leamington – 1:02:03, 3rd at Guelph Lake I – 1:55:39, 2nd at Sprint Nationals (Belle River) – 1:02:31, 6th at Nationals (TTF) – 2:04:23)

DARYL FLACKS

Photo Credit – Chyla’s Race Photos, 2014

Strength – Take your pick. Strong bike, mentally tough, plenty of race experience. Daryl comes in to Tecumseh with more du’s this season than anyone else in this preview combined. His bike is always in the top tier of racers, and he shows up to every race willing to win or die trying. These guys are always a factor, especially with a weapon like Daryl’s bike. Don’t ever count him out.

Wild Card – The run. If there is anything, it is that Daryl’s short course run lacks the bite that it sometimes takes on the last run to seal it. Daryl gets better as the distance goes up and has excellent chops at 10k or longer. But with only 9km of running and a strong short course runner in the field, a winning move on the bike will have to be decisive and final.

How Daryl wins on Sunday – Crush the bike and hang on. Apart from Scott in top form, no one in the field can out-ride Daryl. He nearly executed this strategy to perfection in Belle River, coming up just short (27 seconds) to a very talented CIS varsity runner and elite U23 triathlete, Chris Moyer. Redemption is sweet, and no one there on Sunday has a run quite like Moyer.

RYAN ALLISON (2014 results: 12th at Iron Hawk – 1:02:24)

RYAN ALLISON

Strength – The run. Likely the strongest runner in the field, Ryan has put together an impressive list of running results this season. So far this year, he has recorded a 16:26 5k and a 34:09 10k, results that no more than a handful of Ontario duathletes can match. This race may come down to getting as far away from Ryan as possible on the bike before the second 6km run.

Wild Card – Bike fitness. Apart from Iron Hawk, Ryan has not raced any duathlons this year, focusing instead on running. He has been very open about the lack of time he has spent on a bike. Of course…he said that before Iron Hawk too, then proceeded to outsplit me. The bike is a wild card, and may make it difficult to put a dent into whatever lead he may have off the first run.

How Ryan wins on Sunday – Bike for show, run for dough. This race can be won on the run. With a 3km run to start and a flat bike to come, there is enough time to gap the field early and get lost among the triathletes on the course while keeping the foot on the gas. Being first off the bike may just seal it, but watch out Ryan…the horses will be coming for you to ensure that doesn’t happen.

SHAYNE DUMOUCHELLE (2014 results: 5th at Sprint Nationals (Belle River) – 1:03:52, 2nd at Niagara – 1:22:35)

SHAYNE DUMOUCHELLE

Strength – Tenacity. One chat with this guy and I already know that he just wants to win races. He says he doesn’t plan on being crowded on the bike course, which I could only assume means he has nothing short of victory on his mind. His first two du’s have been a top 5 finish at Sprint Nationals and a narrow 2nd place at Niagara. Improvement curves usually goes up quickly.

Wild Card – Experience. Shayne has the least duathlon experience of anyone listed here…which could very well mean absolutely nothing. Multisport racing has some technical element, and seconds can be had in areas that aren’t governed by mental and physical toughness. This race could very well come down to those seconds…or not.

How Shayne wins on Sunday – Be the last man standing. Shayne is back for a rematch with Scott, and gets some duathlon veterans coming along for the ride. I could tell he was smarting from the tight 2nd place in Niagara, and I gather he badly wants the W in Tecumseh. The skills are there to push the other three right to the line, as is the hunger. Watch your backs boys.

This race could play out any number of ways, and will be exceptionally fun to follow. If I had to guess, I would say Ryan leads the field into T1, with about a minute gap on the group containing the other three. From there, it depends on how he rides. If he rides like he has in the past, Ryan will be tough to beat. By his own admission though, that’s not likely. More likely, he rides around how he did at Iron Hawk, and likely gets caught somewhere on the second bike lap. Me, I’m hoping for Scott, Daryl and Shayne to come into T2 together with a minute or two on Ryan, creating a wild 3-way footrace for the line with a pair of fleet feet chasing hard from behind. THAT would make for some good TV.

Until next time, keep Du’ing it!

“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!

Pre-Nationals Perspective

Humility is a good thing. A good thing that comes with being handed a little bit of perspective when the ego starts to get out of control. I have been riding an exceptional high since my overall wins in Woodstock and Welland. This past Monday, I raced a little twilight track 5000m at McMaster, a race I saw being promoted a bit on Twitter by triathletes Taylor and Austen Forbes, where I knew the guys would be getting after it. At the very least, it would end up being a really good gauge of where my fitness is, perhaps helping to guide my final preparations for Nationals at the Toronto Triathlon Festival on July 13.

Turns out, I got my fitness test and a slice of humble pie for dessert. I ran 16:02.49 for 5k, with kilometre splits of 3:08, 3:11, 3:14, 3:15, 3:14. Here’s the kicker though: I got lapped. Twice. The lead group went sub-15:00, led by Taylor in 14:28 (what an animal!). I settled in to the second group, which I followed until one guy dropped and the other gapped me, right around 2.5km. Then I just tried to fight off the 4th km malaise that has always plagued me. The pace lagged and I was isolated. I managed to finish strong in 72 seconds for my final lap. I’m quite happy with the result, which I figure is good for about 15:40 on the roads, and getting spanked around like that really reminded me that there is still A LOT of work to do to get to the level I want to be on.

Mac Twilight Meet

McMaster Twilight Meet 5000m (16:02.49)

2014 has been a fantastic season for me. Last season, I struggled with injuries and was slow to adapt to the new training program I jumped into in joining Tommy and Ignition Fitness. There were growing pains, some overtraining, a monumentally questionable decision to run indoor track, and the aforemetioned injuries. I raced Woodstock, Binbrook and Welland last year having not been able to run more than 30 minutes at a time, with the odd progression run for “speedwork”. I was able to start grooving a bit before Worlds, but never really got into the condition I wanted to be in, which was reflected in the results. I recorded just one win (in a perfectly executed race) and whiffed on all my rough time goals.

Fast forward to this year: I focused on a steady and controlled diet of endurance volume and hard progression runs through the harsh winter (take that Polar Vortex, then ran my first two half marathons in February (1:18:01) and March (1:16:24). While many were struggling to get in the requisite bike training over the winter, I hit the trainer hard and saw HUGE gains in my cycling fitness. Between November and March, I watched my FTP spike by ~20W, and another 12W by mid-May. As a result, I have been racing on an extra 30W all season, which has resulted in keeping my leads intact deeper into the bike. A phenomenal improvement over last year, when I would nearly overextend the first run, only to get caught while the bike distance was still single digits.

In Aero Position

Thanks Felt Bicycles and Wheels of Bloor for the extra speed.

My run has also improved. Before this season, my duathlon 5k PB was 17:04 (Welland 2013). This year I have split faster 3 times. Each time I have then got on the bike and pushed wattage that would have been absurd last season. I have been able to finally adapt to Tommy’s training program, which emphasizes higher intensity, lower volume and more recovery. I still hate days off…but I am learning their value. I have also finally started to pay attention to the other areas that need it. I used to burn the candle at both ends, and eat terrible food. My diet was primarily processed foods. However, Emma has been helping me slowly shift to a more plant-based diet, and cooking out of a Thrive cookbook. We rarely eat out anymore, and I have been forced to be more careful about what I put in my body in order to get the right nutrients. I feel stronger than ever, and bounce back from workouts quickly!

Thrive Energy Cookbook

Eat clean, race fast.

As a result of all of this, my confidence is sky high heading into Nationals on the 13th. I truly believe that with a well-executed race that I can be a national champion on July 13. Only the day will tell us if I am able to achieve my goal. For this, I have a few people to thank, people that I would not be here without.

ROUGH LOGO 3 blank

Everyone at Ignition Fitness has been awesome, especially Coach Tommy Ferris. It’s taken a little while to get to know each other and to wrap my head around the program, but we’re making huge progress now. Tommy is incredibly flexible, which has been awesome with all of the life changes I have had in the last 2 years. Through Tommy’s hard work, I have also had access to many sponsors that have allowed me to have the best equipment (thanks to Felt Bicycles and Wheels of Bloor) and the best nutrition (courtesy of Clif Bar) to push me into that next level. My teammates have also been nothing  but supportive at races!

MSC

Being a part of the Multisport Canada/Recharge With Milk Ambassador team has been one of the best things I have stumbled on in my career. It started with an article I wrote about the doomed Barrelman duathlon that got me thinking about what I can do to save my sport. I conscripted Larry Bradley into helping me build Duathlon Central and took a more active role on social media and with race directors to create opportunities for duathletes, before being asked by Roger and John Salt to represent duathletes on the Ambassador team. It has been incredibly rewarding. The Multisport Canada crew puts on a top notch event, and I am proud to represent them. Every result means more when the race director is there to be the first one to congratulate you, the venues are second to none, and the race distances are challenging and great preparation for provincial, national, and international championship events. Given the choice, I will travel the extra hour or so to get to a Multisport Canada event than any other race!

Emma and Jesse

Always there for me

Most of all, my family. My girlfriend Emma has been dragged around to more conservation areas at ungodly hours than any reasonable person should be expected to. Yet, when I cross the line I’m pretty sure she is more proud of me than anyone else there. I can’t wait to chase her around the Lakeside Resort in September for her first sprint duathlon! Transportation has always been an issue for me, but her parents have been unbelievable as well, rearranging their lives to get to all the races I can’t get to myself. Finally, I need to thank my parents who, despite living across the country in Edmonton, are always there. They flew in for a week to see me race at Welland, and are the primary sponsors of all of the expenses I will incur for TTF and US Nats in St.Paul.

Obviously, success is a team effort. Without my sponsors and these 5 incredible people, I would have a lot more to worry about and weigh me down! For that I am thankful, but there is still a long way to go. I intend to keep the pressure on for the next 11 weeks in search of a Provincial title, a National title, and a chance to make a name for myself nationally and internationally. Should be fun!

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!