Racing in Bracebridge with MultiSport Canada will always be special to me. I consider my first “competitive” race to be in 2011 racing in the Standard Distance Duathlon as part of the Recharge with Milk MultiSport triathlon series. I will never forget this day – I finished 4th overall in 2 hours 19 minutes behind the eventual winner, David Frake, who was known on the circuit as “The Frake Train”. He crossed the finish line over 20 minutes before second place and a couple minutes even before racking my bike in T2. Frake was known for downplaying his running fitness, which I still thought was bordering superhuman at the time, and for his devastating bike splits.
This was so motivating for me seeing standing on my first podium knowing that speeds like this are achievable. It was fuel for my fire knowing that if I trained hard and ate my vegetables I would could go speeds like that.
Now six years later, here I am, competing in less than a week at the World MultiSport Championships representing Canada in the Standard Distance Duathlon. One thing I have learned since my first competitive race is that a Standard Duathlon hurts just as much as it did the very first time. I guess it goes along the lines of what Greg LeMond, three time Tour de France Champion, said:
“It never gets easier, you just get faster”
I have this quote along with Jens Voigt’s, long time Tour de France domestique, classic “Shut Up Legs” visible in my 'pain cave' where I do most of my bike training. It’s something about running a total of 15 fast kilometers split up by a 40km time trial bike that just does a number on your legs and is an all-around lung buster of an effort. With all of this in mind, I still said “yes, this will be my distance”. Endurance athletes are a complicated species.
With all of the talk of Duathlons, I didn’t actually compete in the Duathlon this weekend. I didn’t want to risk too many hard running miles just a week before the race. Running tends to be the sport that breaks me down the most, so knowing by body, I opted for the Sprint Distance Triathlon instead of risking myself not recovering fully in time. This idea behind this was that I could get a good 5km run off the bike race simulation before next weekend where my race would finish with a 5km run. This ended up working really well and here’s how it happened:
Geordana, myself and my friend Shawn left on Friday evening for our journey up to cottage country where we would stay at my Dad and his girlfriend, Nicole’s, cottage on Six Mile Lake. That is another thing I love about MultiSport Canada races; you will always have an excuse to spend a weekend up in cottage country. Spend a morning racing and the rest of weekend you can hang out on lake – need I say more.
As usual, I got off to an early start on Saturday morning which began with some simple stretches, a small breakfast and a brief inventory of my race bag. We left the island by 5:45AM so that we would arrive in Bracebridge just over an hour before race start.
Once setup and transition I took a quick warm up lap of the park with fellow Queen’s Triathlon Alum, Jasmin Aggarwal. We had done a bunch of training together over the past couple weeks as she’s also racing at World’s in the Standard Duathlon and also will put me through my paces on any day. We’re hoping to share the top step next Monday night in the 20-24AG race – one step at a time.
After then struggling in to my wetsuit I met up with Geord, Shawn and the rest of the cottage crew down at water’s edge. They wished me luck and I hopped in the river and took my place in the line.
Swim 750m (00:13:01 T1- 1:03)
Given the width of the river and the rectangle route we have to go, it makes sense for this race to have a trial start to reduce the volume of swimmers setting off all at once. With this format, athletes will set off individually every 3 seconds based on bib number. So bib number 1 starts first, then 2, then 3 and so on. I was bib number 34, so knowing my strength in the water I would probably always have someone to chase given that the 1st athlete would have started their race around 2 minutes ahead of me.
Once I set off, I made my way through a handful of athletes and before I knew it we were at the turnaround; that felt really quick. Now full of this false confidence, I quickly realized that we were swimming against the current coming back to the swim exit. I finished the swim in just over 13 minutes at a 1:44min/100m pace, aka my terminal velocity in the water. More pool time for me in the near future.
Bike 20km (00:31:33 T2-0:55)
After a decent T1 I grabbed my bike and made my way out of transition, up to the mount line. With my shoes already clipped into my pedals I mounted my bike on the move and started slipping my feet into my shoes. I had the absolute worst time doing this – after watching my GoPro footage of the ride, it took me over 2 minutes trying to slip into my shoes. My insole fell out once, the straps came loose, shoes came unclipped – everything that could go wrong, went wrong while doing this. And obviously while doing this you aren’t pedaling and therefore aren’t moving particularly quickly. So I believe I wasted around a minute and a half while dealing with my shoes. Something that I’ll definitely have to practice a bunch of times before worlds next week. Once I set off I had a great bike ride – I worked my way through the field and by the turnaround I was less than a kilometer down on the lead cyclist. This would amount to even less time due to the time trial start.
Factoring out the shoe mishap, my average power over the ride was 368W which is right where I’d want it to be at this point in the race season over this distance so I was pleased with that. I also the new Strava KOM on the Bracebridge Sprint Triathlon bike segment so I’m pretty pumped about that. As I made my way into T2 I saw Geord, Shawn, my dad and the rest of the crew and they said that I was about 45 seconds down on the leader. Now I could’ve been satisfied with this knowing that he had started over a minute before me, so at this point I would be in the ‘virtual lead’. This obviously would just not be good enough so I racked my bike, whipped off my helmet, threw on my shoes and started chasing him down.
Run 5km (00:17:21)
Now the run, for me, I considered the most important part because I wanted to get a good race simulation of a hard run off of the bike that should set me up pretty well for Duathlon World’s next weekend. So I knew that to get the best training effect, I had to throw down a devastating run split.
All this aside, I ran up the hill out of transition feeling really fresh; this was a good sign. I turned the corner onto the sidewalk going towards the bridge, looked up the road and there he was. With the lead runner in my cross hairs I ignored my watch and just focussed on reeling him back. I caught and passed the lead runner, Emrys Halbertsma, just after the turnaround. At this point I started looking down at my watch to get an idea of pacing now that I didn’t have anyone to chase. My goal was to maintain the 3:30min/km pace that I had ran for the first 3km.
I crossed the finish line in 1:03:54 after finishing my 17 and a half minute run for my first ever triathlon win – and the elation set in. Most importantly, I am very happy with where my run off the bike is ahead of Duathlon World’s.
Shawn and I decided to stick around and volunteer at the Give-It-A-Try races happening later that morning. It’s always a great time helping out new athlete’s starting their triathlon journey – I am always more than happy to share my advice and experiences.
And as I said earlier, it always great racing up in cottage country knowing that you get to spend the rest of the weekend on the water. Stay tuned for updates next weekend at the Penticton World MultiSport Championships. We are less than a week away and I am beyond excited!!
Til next time,