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Who Will Emerge? Ontario Duathlon Championship Preview, Part 1

This upcoming weekend is a much-anticipated event on the Ontario duathlon calendar: the Provincial Championships hosted by Multisport Canada at the Bracebridge Triathlon/Duathlon weekend. It’s a weekend full of intrigue, because not only is it a provincial championship on a difficult course that is as sure to throw a wrench into your plans as your competitors are, Triathlon Ontario has added a bit of sparkle with the Du the Double Challenge. No doubt this will be a wild card in the races as several will be attempting to brave a tough standard distance course just one day after a wire-to-wire 60 minute thrill ride on Saturday.

SATURDAY SPRINT DUATHLON – MEN
When I first started thinking about this preview (ie. before I found the Sportstats “Preview Athletes” function), I thought it was going to be a two horse race between the latest sub-1:00 duathlete in Ontario (Brian Moore) and Larry Bradley with Spencer Summerfield lurking and ready to pounce. I was wrong. It’s not. Far from it in fact. Here are some names I found who are racing (you can see the start list here):

  • Brian Moore (59:42 sprint duathlon)
  • Liam Donnelly (Runner-up Ontario Junior Championships)
  • Spencer Summerfield (Woodstock/Welland winner, 1:01 sprint du)
  • Kyle Smith (This dude making his duathlon debut)
  • David Field (Multiple World AG wins)
  • Larry Bradley (Belwood winner, 2nd place 2014 Canadian Championships)
Spencer Summerfield - Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

Spencer Summerfield – Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

Throw in steady performers Shayne Dumouchelle, Matt Straatman, Garvin Moses and the immeasurable Howie Walker, and you have yourself one heck of a race! Smith has the best running chops in this race, though his bike is an unknown. He coaches with the Toronto Triathlon Club though, so he might very well surprise. I see him and Donnelly (16:25 5k this year) taking the run out hard on the mostly flat course, with Moore (a varsity high school runner) trying to go with them. Stronger cyclists (Bradley, Field, Summerfield) must toe a delicate balance here to save legs for the bike while not sleeping on these guys, as 20km is not a very long distance to make up minutes (unless your name is Frake). Especially with Moore, a junior elite cyclist.

I’ll still take my man LB in this one, but it’s going to be close and he’s going to have to dig deep to do it. Moore and Smith are going to be right on his heels creating a massive battle for the podium spots. Donnelly will be right there too if his TT skills are up to snuff, while Field and Summerfield can’t be underestimated either. Any one could win on their day and I wouldn’t be surprised…but I think it’s going to take one heck of a breakthrough race to do so. And Dumouchelle, Straatman, Moses and Walker will be waiting to pounce on a top 5 spot if anyone falters. Is it possible that a sub-1:00 doesn’t crack the top 5 on Saturday? Ooh boy…

My pick to win...in a barn burner - Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

My pick to win…in a barn burner – Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

SATURDAY SPRINT DUATHLON – WOMEN
The women’s race is usually an enigma with me, because I usually don’t have quite enough information for a decent preview. This race is a little different, so I am going to give it a shot. The start list has quite a few athletes who I see have gone ~1:18-1:20 in sprint duathlons, with a few a cut above the rest. Anna Fiorito and Michelle Sheehy have both recorded sprints under 1:15, while Karen Bravo is a strong athlete from Team LPC. Bravo has been strong across three disciplines this year, and if I had to make a call (and that’s kind of the point) I would tip her for the win as the stronger of the three.

I think it will be a back and forth battle all race between these three and likely 1-2 others for the leader on the road position, however. If any of the three falter, then some combination of Karri Beck, Tara Mcaninch Mclaren, Annie Renaud, Christine Elliott or Chelsea Lye will be ready to pounce. All have recorded solid sprint duathlon times this year and could very well be poised for a breakout race. I will take Canadian duathlon supporter Karri Beck to be the best of the rest behind the three above, with junior Lucy Panko the dark horse to sneak into the top 5.

It should be noted that last year’s winner and Canadian Championship bronze medalist Isabelle Sauve lives 90 minutes up the road and is usually a gametime decision for races, so there is a decent chance of her making appearance on one or both days. She would be a serious favourite if she chooses to race!

Karri Beck - Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

Karri Beck – Photo Credit My Sports Shooter 2015

What I LOVE is the 61 athletes signed up for the international distance and the 81 signed up for the sprint. Those numbers are sure to bump up on race day as well. Great work supporting your provincial championships Ontario! Check back later today for that standard distance preview. Until then…keep Du’ing it!

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!

Changes…

Well folks, it’s time for a little bit of an update. It’s been a busy last month for me…some good things, some unfortunate ones and tons of distractions! Training is trending upwards for sure, albeit slowly. With a bit of luck, I might surprise myself when I open up my duathlon season in May. As well…fantasy baseball draft season started. So that’ll be a time suck for the next month or so! But now onto the heavy stuff…

Something that has been official for about a month that I have not had a chance to officially announce is my partnership with 3SIXTY5 Cycling for the 2015 season. I have always been impressed with the level of support they have offered their athletes. Chris and co. are great guys, and they have nothing but enthusiasm and commitment to any athlete they come into contact with. AND they offer a custom product at prices that can’t be beaten. This year, I will be continuing my quest for marginal gains on the bike by (likely) riding the FAT 88 front wheel, complete with a Novotec hub and Sapim CX-Ray bladed aero spokes. It is a little deeper than I have ever ridden before (38mm to be exact), but going with the 88 is all about picking up that extra bit of speed…crosswinds be damned! At the very least, I can give it a shot during my early races and assess from there heading into September and Nationals…

And now for something a little more sobering…something that has come up in the past month or so that means big changes. Folks, I have a bit of a bomb to drop on you. At the end of February, I will be moving back in with my parents in Edmonton for a little while.

It’s a little snowy in Alberta’s Capital (ALS Global)

It is with my deepest regrets that I leave the Ontario duathlon scene behind, at least temporarily. This was a very difficult decision for me to make, but things have gotten to the point where I need to head home for a little bit, spend some time with family that I haven’t seen very much in the past several years and reset. There were a lot of factors that played into the decision, but that has not made it any easier. I am very proud of everything I have accomplished in Ontario these past years of racing duathlons. The duathlon community is gathering steam, and elites and enthusiasts alike and meshing together to make one strong community that is a ton of fun to be a part of. Y’all are going to be fine without me for a little while. With Nationals going back to Quebec this year, and being at a perfect time of year for a focus race, I’m confident that it’s going to be another competitive year for duathletes in Ontario. And hopefully Triathlon Ontario’s new National Qualifying Series will be a draw for duathletes across Canada.

I will continue to work with Tommy and Ignition Fitness. We have a good thing going over there, and I am excited to bring the “heat” to the western provinces. I will also be bringing along my awesome sponsors Skechers Performance Canada and 3SIXTY5 Cycling. Both have been awesome in the early stages of this transition, and I look forward to representing them in my new base. Regarding my work with Ontario Duathlon Central…I hope to keep that going, hopefully in a more collaborative fashion. I know more than a few will step up in my absence. Just seeing the excitement of new people who find our Facebook group has been incredibly rewarding. I’ll keep the site as functional as I can without being present on the scene for a little while…maybe even with a little bit of a western flavour…

Hopefully my Skechers gear and GORun Ultra's will keep me warm and upright out west...

Hopefully my Skechers gear and GORun Ultra’s will keep me warm and upright out west…

My race schedule is officially TBD, but there are a few gems out there I have been able to find that would be can’t miss experiences. I will likely start off my duathlon season in Penticton, at the Bare Bones Duathlon that Graham Hood, Malindi Elmore and some dude named Jeff Symonds have been known to frequent, supplemented by some road races and the Footstock Duathlon on June 14. I fully plan on making an extended trip back east in August/September to race Wasaga Beach as a key tune-up for Nationals in Montreal on September 13. In between, I will likely sprinkle in some single sport running and cycling races to stay sharp in those disciplines, while experiencing some of the destinations that the West has to offer. Obviously, it is with great sadness that I will not be racing on the MultiSport Canada circuit (ie. the “best darn race series in North America”) in 2015, but I will most definitely be preaching the good word to anyone who will listen to me out West.

Making an important stop at Sweet Pete’s before I leave.

So what’s next? I’m tying up some loose ends on the Ontario end of things and getting everything ready to head west. My last weekend will be pretty busy, as I am tentatively heading to Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop on the 24th to get RETUL fits on my two bikes. On the 21st, I’ll head to the Dundas Bike Swap to unload some spare parts, and then Sunday is the next Ignition Fitness Big Training Day, which will be my “last hurrah” in Ontario for a little while before heading west…

If you have any questions for me, please reach out. I’m ALWAYS available to chat and would absolutely oblige if you want to pick my brain. And please let me know if you are in the West at all this race season…I’ll be the one living like a monk and training like a maniac in my parents’ basement! My contact info is listed on the left of the page.

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Hitting Reset…

The primary reason I started this blog was as an outlet. When I feel pressured, stressed or down, I like to write…writing just makes me feel better, it has cleansing properties for me. Writing race reports and sponsorship announcements are all well and good, but sometimes when things just aren’t going my way.

And well folks…it’s been a bit of a rough winter. After an extended “mental break” during the fall, where I just rode my road bike a ton, I started to ramp up the training with a 6 week endurance block as the weather cooled down. Alas, while out for an easy 45 minute evening run, I felt some discomfort on the inside of my knee that quickly locked up my lower leg and forced me to walk 4km home from Princess Point. I was confined to the bike for a few weeks until I could run again, and even then we decided to use the opportunity to put a heavy focus on the bike and keep my runs to the 20-30 minute range as a secondary workout of the day. As a long-time runner I have 10 years of running base built up beneath me to fall back on, but this is still a tough pill to swallow…because I love to run.

PMC Chart

Bonus points if you can pick out (a) my week off from injury and (b) my time off being sick! Ugh.

Then, just when I was starting to groove and move away from the endurance focus towards the nitty-gritty high end training in the middle of December…I got sick. It was a nasty cold that took up residence in my chest and would just not go away for a long time. Riding indoors wasn’t fun because the stale air made breathing tough, and doing anything outdoors in the suddenly cold air was just as difficult. I brought my bike and trainer all the way to Emma’s parents’ place in Walkerton, only to do one short ride in the basement then call it a week. From start to finish, it was a good 10 or 11 days before I was able to get back on the bike/run.

Endurance Progression Chart

Things started turning around again on this little endurance progression…that last 15 minutes sure did hurt though!

So I’m pressing the reset button. The illness took a lot out of me, so I feel like I am almost starting from scratch. The first few rides back were a huge shock to the system. The effort level on my first run back felt like the pace should have been 20 seconds/km faster than it ended up being. Near the end of the first week the good sensations started to come back a little bit, through the middle of this week I struggled a little bit but made it through well enough, and it was only this weekend that I finally felt like an elite athlete again. 7 hours on the bike and 40km of running is on the low end for me, but there was a lot more intensity on the bike than I’m used to and hey…it’s the best quality week than I’ve been able to put together since last season. As far as I’m concerned, everything at the end of 2014 was just “base”, and real training kicked off last week. Fresh start, new leaf.

On Wednesday I’ll see where I am, as I have a threshold test on the schedule. I’ll be trying out my new tri bike configuration in its first big test since I did the final tweaks, and I’m kind of excited to see where I am again. The part of testing that is absolutely fascinating for me is the unknown…that feeling of not knowing whether you’re in for a surprise or not. I guess we will see on Wednesday!

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

A blog shout out to the first one who can spot the 4 differences. And a prize to the savvy eye who can spot the 5th difference! (Hint: it is a variation on one of the other 4 differences). Wheel differences don't count...that upgrade is still to come! Here is a shot of the original set-up.

A blog shout out to the first one who can spot the 4 differences. And a prize to the savvy eye who can spot the 5th difference! (Hint: it is a variation on one of the other 4 differences). Wheel differences don’t count…that change is still to come! Neither do bar tape and bottle cages…I expect better of my readers ;)! Here is a shot of the original set-up.