In my third year of racing, I am starting to realize that I have to expect the unexpected. If I don’t, I am going to walk away from almost every event in a negative frame of mind. I have decided that I need to start enjoying the races and be thankful that I have the ability to take part in this great sport. That being said, here is my upbeat race report from the 2009 Milton Sprint Duathlon.
Triathletes and duathletes alike were met with very windy and cool conditions when we gathered at Kelso Conservation Area in Milton, Ontario. On this particular day, I was very thankful to be a duathlete and not have to take the plunge into the chilly waters. This was a frequent comment made during my pre-race chats with friends in the triathlon. Sorry fellas.
Off to the race, the first 2k run was pretty quick out of the gate. I wanted to get away from the crowd to find some running room and, before long, three of us had surged to the front with Brent McMillan (a great duathlete that doesn’t show up to many Subaru events) out to the lead showing off his smooth, efficient stride. I did not know that this was him until I saw the results page and recognized the name from my internet readings. The other racer, Tommy Ferris, was also a new face to me so I had to be careful and stick to my pace instead of trying get out in front.
The bumpy, trail run went relatively as per my pre-race visuals. I was not sure who would show up (you never can be sure who will appear on any given weekend) but was very happy reaching transition in third place in 7:37, only fifteen seconds behind the leader.
In T1, I had a major issue as my helmet must have blown of my handle bars due to the crazy wind. I could not find where it landed and panicked looking around the racks for it. Compared to my second transition time I think I lost a full minute in my search. Ouch!
Finally, out on the bike and I was in damage control trying to regain spots from the athletes that got out during my helmet fiasco. The strong winds were coming out of the north so I was expecting a slow first half of the ride. I put my head down and pedaled my butt off which ended up costing me once I reached the 6th Line hill as I did not climb as well as I had hoped. I saw some other familiar faces on the hill so I knew I had to get faster. At the top, I pushed to get back up to speed, eventually passing those duathletes (seen on the climb) and making my way through the mass of triathletes on course.
At the far end of 6th Line, I continued to look for more of the leading duathletes but could not recognize any jerseys on the riders up ahead. On the short East to West section, at the top of the course, I was moving rapidly and tried to get even faster. In an attempt to crank out with more powerful strokes, I switched down a few rear rings and ended up dropping the chain off the big front ring as the chain jammed along the frame in the back end. Opps.
I tried to kick the chain back on the front ring with no luck. I was losing too much speed and not watching the road so it was best to stop and manually spin it back on. I had a few triathletes pass me on my pit stop but made short work of picking them off again once I started up. I think this may have been a thirty second drama that caused a lot more stress at a time I did not need it.
With the wind now on our backs, I watched my bike computer as the average started to move up to respectable levels. I passed a lot of people during this stretch and approached the downhill with a lot of space around me to get my line and cautiously descend. The wind gusts earlier in the ride left some fear in the back of my head so I was glad to have room to focus only on the road and not people around me.
Now I was less than 5km from the run and had a feeling that I was getting back some time on the field. This was even more evident when I saw Brent around 2.5k from the end of the ride. I was not sure of this athlete’s (McMillan’s) cycling abilities at this time but, as the leader going onto the bike, I assumed I had to be close to top five. Looking back at the results, my bike time was fourth best with an average of 36.2km/h. I was expecting faster because of previous years but the wind threw a curve into my forecast.
Thankfully, everything was smooth during T2 and I only saw a few bikes on the racks before me. Getting the cycling gear off, I was now getting my head ready for the last portion of the race. The final 7.5k run in the Milton race is one of the toughest in the series as you have an uphill battle to the turn around. The wind would make it even more of a leg burner on this day.
My goal was to go sub-thirty minutes for the last run, a twenty-two second improvement over 2008. Coming out of the transition, up the tester hill immediately out of bike zone, I could feel that I had used up much of my legs in my aggressive ride. In the first five hundred metres Brent had blown by me. I tried to match his pace but he was looking very strong on his feet again so I just attempted to keep him in sight. This tactic increased my foot speed and motivated me to go faster. I ended up passing a couple others but in the end, two tough kilometres (1 and 3) on the way up to the Hilton Falls turn around cost me too much time and I came short of my goal, posting 31:13 for the last stage of the race.
In the end, I finished the race in fourth position overall with the potential for a much better showing. After taking some notes from the lessons learned, and add in some better luck in the future, and there are many reasons to stay positive. I am very satisfied with my early season progress in 2009, especially on the bike, but I also realize that I have a lot of room to grow (mentally and physically) but comparing my times against some experienced duathletes has justified my training efforts.