Larry's Blog Pages

September 9, 2008

Cobourg Olympic Du - 2008 Ontario Championsips

A very solid field of duathletes including Team Canada duathlete Kevin Smith of Oakville, 2007 Subaru Series winner Zach Steinman, 2008 Subaru Series leader Bruce Bird and several athletes from Ottawa (that we do not get to race too often) assembled in the small eastern town of Cobourg.

I was not certain of my participation until the morning of the race due to a recent knee injury that had me avoiding running for several days leading up to this highly anticipated weekend. I was out for some interval training when I began my first speed pickup only to have a grinding sensation on the right knee stop me in my tracks and force me to walk home.

This has been a smaller issue for the past month or so but it was only a stiffness lasting only a few minutes during quicker runs. I figured it would either go away in time or explode into a season ending injury but if I wanted to get the races in I would have to train trough it. After personally treating it for the past few days, I was hopeful that it would allow me to compete as I hate to sit out in any sport due to injury. Not a great mindset in this sport but we only have a few events left so there is all fall and winter to heal.

The First 10k
As expected Kevin Smith went out quickly with his great running experience and talent. Ottawa resident, Matthew Pieterson went along with Kevin showing his great speed, as well. The chase group including Zach, Bruce, Adrian Lawson and Randy Fontaine who stayed back a few hundred metres going at a pace more manageable to ensure energy for their bike portions. I ended up solo for much of the run in 8th, taking care not to push the knee too much but maintaining sub 40 pace.

From a few tests this week I knew the injury was not an issue on the rides so I wanting to push the bike as hard as I could on a challenging course. Coming through the final 5k lap (we ran 2 loops of 5k), I picked it up a little but had Guelph native, Ross Horsley, on my tail just 13 seconds behind. He just beat me by two spots in Orillia last weekend so I knew his bike skills were going to be tough to hang with.

I went back to putting on my bike shoes in transition after a disastrous experiment in Orillia but actually felt very good about my change over and left side by side with Ross (had his shoes already clipped on the pedals). I jumped on my bike at the mount line and got rolling in a smooth fashion, able to pass Ross who was having a little trouble getting his feet into his attached shoes.

40k Bike
The first seven kilometres took us out the east end of town and were pretty flat. Ross and I were a minute or two behind most of the top racers so they were slightly out of sight as we made the corner off of Queen Street to the paved country roads. We battled back and forth for the first 10k until his power came into play on a long, winding hill. He was still in reach but probably around 300 metres in front as we negotiated the corners and rollers of the scenic farm lands.

Unlike many Subaru races, the duathletes made up much of the front runners so we did not see many other cyclists until the 17k area when Matthew started to come down the other side of the road leading the spread out group of leaders. By this point, Bruce’s amazing cycling had brought him into second with Kevin a little back in third. I could see the turn-around up on the approaching hill and got a sudden burst of confidence knowing I was staying on pace with all these great duathletes.

In an attempt to keep focused and away from over analyzing the numbers, I did not bring a stop watch or bike computer so I was not sure, until this point, how fast Ross and I were traveling. I was just going as hard as I could and now some of the few top triathletes were getting tracked down by the QR Seduza.

I found my second wind bringing it home and wanted to bridge the gap between Ross before the change-over to our final run. We were both moving at a high rate across the back roads of Cobourg. Patiently I was able to inch closer and eventually overtake him as we hit the flats and then turned into town. As we reached our final turn onto the street leading to the transition zone, Ross over shot the road so I made it to the dismount line first and then got to the rack with him busting his butt to get back on track.

I set up my transition well with a controlled dismount with shoes intact on the pedals, running my bike without stopping forward momentum. This saves a lot of valuable time in tight races and something I have been able to practice and improve on lately. I got my bike on the rack in decent time and then slipped on my racing flats again for the final 5 kilometres. Making my way to the exit of the corral I could tell my legs were rubber, burnt up from the effort to reel in Ross on the bike.

Final 5k
Having a good idea that I would not be able to push my knee into a higher ranking than seventh, I decided to stay close to Ross if he made a move and hopefully have a little kick to keep seventh. I was confident we would have nobody else behind us so my focus was on one person coming out onto the run course.

As we hit the road from the short trail leading from transition, Ross blew by me with great form. This was not good as he was looking incredibly strong and I was going in the opposite direction. I made one sudden push but I did not have his energy and I was now just running to finish without doing any extra damage to my knee.

Without my watch I could not tell my splits but I was probably closer to 4:15 per km than what it shows on the stats page (most athletes were pretty sure the 5k was a little on the long side so this would make sense). This is slower than I would like and could have been an opening for a chaser so I kept my eyes on the bibs after I made the turn at the halfway pylons.

Thankfully, everyone that may have had a chance to catch me was in the triathlon so I was able to relax and enjoy the tail wind that brought me home. I actually made it through the 5k having only Ross pass me so I was happy that I was able to keep a respectable pace without putting any additional stress on my body leaving next weeks season ending Subaru Race a possibility.

Although, this was not my fastest Olympic Duathlon, I was able to take away a lot of positives from this year’s provincials. Last year, I finished in the 20’s with a weaker field after a horrible bike portion in Guelph. This year I made it up to 8th and 2nd in my five year AG.

Guelph Lakes II Sprint Duathlon

The final duathlon of the Subaru Triathlon season wrapped up on the Labour Day long weekend under beautiful, warm morning skies. The race was held at the Guelph Lakes Conservation Area but had to be moved to another section of the park due to poor water quality at the beach the triathletes usually swim in. The temporary GLII venue changed our running courses (2k and 7k) and added to the “in park” cycling distance (slower speeds due to speed bumps and road quality), giving it a new race feel to many of the veteran competitors.

Due to the parking limitations in this portion of the Conservation Area, many people trickled in slowly and the line of cars on the roadway created a tiny issue. The organizing team realized this problem and pushed back the start time fifteen minutes but I was already set in the transition zone when this announcement was made so I figured I would head up to check out the entire 2k run for this duathlon. Although, it was in a new spot the run looked very similar and there were not any unusual challenges until the last couple of hundred metres when we had to come down a grassy trail towards the transition zone to get to our bikes. That part of the run was a little bumpy under our legs but short in nature.

With my knee condition still in question, my game plan was to go out and enjoy the last weekend of racing and not put too much pressure on myself to perform. I had plenty of time to warm up and things were actually feeling very strong and pain free. As the other duathletes made their way up to the line, I could tell the field was much larger than normal and many top names were in attendance. This had me re-position my previous goals for the day and I was now wanting to hit a top five finish, which would be tough with Bruce Bird, Derek Alldritt, John Stewart, David Frake, Pat Menzies and Bruce Grant assembling next to me in the starting gate.

As we waited for our final instructions, the race director came over his loud speaker to announce a Quintana Roo in the first row had blown a tire. As soon as I heard Quintana Roo I knew this was my ride and I would not have time to fix anything, even if I had brought the goods to do so. Before leaving home I had decided that a flat on the course would be the end of my day so I just left my kit on my training bike at home. With the first of two waves ready to head out, I was encouraged by my fellow athletes to go down and check to see if it was my bike. I ran down quickly only to confirm my fears. I bolting into the expo area to see if any of the bike shops were set up but, as per my luck, none of them had made the trip on this day so I was done, flat on the rack.

A million ideas spun around in my head but nothing realistic that I could actually accomplish in the space between the first and second wave. My only option left was to get a fast 2k run in and then cheer on the rest of the guys. I sprinted up to the line just as the second wave of runners were sent off and I quickly got out into the lead of the group that included all the female duathletes and males over 45. I felt a little guilty setting such a blistering pace but I needed to release some angry vibes. I continued to blaze along the course as the first group were making their way back down the other side of the road. As we crossed paths, I could see that some new faces were out in the lead so I became very interested to see how this race would play out. Maybe I would not even have been top 5 if I had raced?

I hit the turn around with some distance between me and Bruce Grant and hammered it down the home stretch, picking off some of the stragglers from the wave ahead of us. I am not sure if this pace would have been ideal if racing the whole event but looking at the times of the first wave, it would have been required to make it to the bike in my usual fashion.

Racing down the cross country section of the 2k run, I quickly looped around the transition zone to the swim entrance where we were all directed to the gate to grab our rides. I made one last wish that somehow my bike was ready but it was not to be as I pinched the back wheel only to feel empty rubber. Damn.

Disappointed, I walked over to the picnic table at the back of the fenced in area and watched the entire field of athletes file out onto the bike course before getting up some energy to go for a run. With the roads blocked off due to the race, I could not leave so I used the time to get an additional workout in so that I would have more family time once I got home. I wanted to get a longer run than 7k so I headed out on the same course as the cyclists and used the marked roads to measure my distance. Before I reached the 5k marker, the leaders were zooming past me and I could see how the duathlon had shaped up into the usual battle with Bruce leading the charge. I then noticed David, John and Derek right behind Mr. Bird, moving at incredible rates as they prepared for their final 7k runs.

When I finally got back to the event site, after a speedy 14k run, the leaders had already crossed the finish line so I made my way down to see how it all turned out. As I predicted, Bruce’s fantastic season on the Subaru Series wrapped up with another impressive win. I thought David Frake would be the one to challenge him on this day but Peter Phillips came out of nowhere to take second. Mr. Phillips was followed David, Derek and John for the top five finishers. I would have needed a strong ride with a very good 7k run to crack this top 5. Although, I missed out on a great race, I now have many goals in place for 2009 inspired by the great competition we have created over the past 10 events.