Larry's Blog Pages

July 27, 2009

Competing for Team Canada (duathlon) – Is it worth it?

In writing this little piece, I hope to get some opinions from other out there to help make a decision. I will include a little background first and then add some of my questions.

I started competing regularly in duathlons in 2007 after a few years of running. Before that, I was an overweight, beer drinking, hockey goalie that couldn’t finish 1 kilometre of consecutive running. I actually started running in 2005, at the age of 31, to get back into shape after more than a decade of beer league sports. In the fall of 2006, I bought a cheap road bike and completed two duathlons near the end of the season. I didn’t do that well but I was hooked.

The challenge of improving and finishing in a respectable fashion pushed me to train all winter and spring to see what a full year in the sport would bring. My progress was pretty quick for an older athlete and my love affair with the sport continued to grow. As I looked for more information about duathlon and triathlon, I read about the Canadian Duathlon Championships taking place in Parry Sound, not too far from Toronto. I noticed the championship was open to all athletes, and offered qualifying spots to the Worlds for the following year, I decided to take a run at it and see just how much work I needed to put in to match up with the best in the country.

At that point, Triathlon Canada was offering 8 spots per 5 year increments so this seemed thrilling and something I would have to race well to achieve. I was doing much better at the start of 2007 than my initial 2 races in 2006 but I realized I would have to increase my training if I wanted an opportunity to represent my country so early in this sport. By the time the event rolled around they had placed all the World Duathlon qualifying spots on the line in this race, therefore, 12 people from each age group could go to Italy in 2008. With only 13 duathletes in our age group, it took the suspense out of the race for me and left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I decided to travel up to the race anyway and ended up having my best performance up to that point, finishing 23rd overall. This was good enough for 6th in my age group, easily grabbing a spot for Italy. Reading about those extra spots a few days before the race, and the expense it would cause (my wife and I had just started our family and saving for a house); I had already decided that I would pass up my spot, as did many others I spoke to at the event.

In 2008, the World Duathlon qualifying spots were once again reserved for those racing at the Canadian Championships. The national event was held in Montreal and the spots would give you access to the Concord, North Carolina race in 2009. I continued to grow as a duathlete and was having a solid sophomore season on the Subaru Series leading up to the Canadians. With both venues (Montreal and North Carolina) relatively close to home, I was saving my pennies and confident that I could secure a spot to wear the Canadian uniform. That was until a knee injury flared up weeks before my trip to Montreal and I ended up having to skip this race to make sure I did not damage the area any further. When this happened I was more bummed to miss the chance to race against the guys from outside the Subaru Series and not too concerned about a slot for the worlds. I had seen how the spots were left up for grabs after the 2007 race and figured they would not fill up.

Now in 2009, I am still improving and have been in touch with Triathlon Canada after reading their posting a few months back regarding the open spots for North Carolina. I have been on the fence about applying for a spot for a number of reasons. I wanted to make sure I was physically going to hold up to another year in the sport. I took on a lighter race schedule and spread the training into two parts per day which seems to be working. Also, I wanted to make sure I could compete at a decent level if I was to make the trip. I think I would do OK and finish top 20 in my age group so I am happy with my racing.

Here is my dilemma. In the sport of duathlon, where almost anyone that shows up for the qualifying event can make the national team, is it really that much of an honour? Also, is the price associated with being on the team really worth it? So far I have seen a $300 Team Canada Membership fee, $150 late application fee (for not qualifying and for not signing up within a week after the qualifying event), $200 USD event entry fee, a few hundred dollars for a Team Canada uniform, and hotel, food and travel costs.

I am very proud of my achievements and love the sport of duathlon. I would also love to be able to wear a Team Canada uniform against the best in the world and show it off at future multisport events. That being said, I have a battle inside my head trying to justify the costs associated with being on this team. I realize multisport does not have the funding to assist us too much but you would think some of these costs could be eliminated or reduced to make the experience more feasible.

Let me know your thoughts? The good and the bad, I can take it!

Thank you,
Larry Bradley

More soggy training...but that is OK!

I think everyone has felt the effects of our horrible summer weather of late. It may be unpredictable and wet for the most part, but training must continue, especially with the foods I have been eating after the Provincials. I think a lot of stress and pressure had built up and now the release is in the form of a sweet tooth.

This past weekend was very bad in particular so I had to spend some extra time on the bike and in the runners to burn off all the junk. With a few weeks between duathlons I have a little time to get back into form. Funny thing is that I have actaully dropped a few pounds??

On Saturday I headed out for a 2 hour ride. I knew I was in for some stormy weather so I took my slower cross bike with some tread. Great call as I was slipping making my way up the hills in Milton even with those tires. I really pounded the pedals on this ride and felt great about the ride, as soaked as I was when I returned home. At night, it kept on raining so I just kept things indoors and worked the core and upper body for an hour.

Sunday was starting out slow in the city so we packed up the kids and headed to the country to visit the inlaws. The weather was much of the same, although the lightning was a little closer. I headed out for a mid after noon run. It took about 5k to get moving due to a few extra slices of pizza at lunch but eventually I got up to pace and had a great 20k run on the super hilly back roads. With all the rain the gravel roads were very spongy and made some of the run feel like quick sand. Not going to complain as it was a perfect strength run. We stuck around for supper as well so by the time we arrived back in Mississauga, it was close to bed time for the kids. As free time became available, I didn't really feel like taking the bike out in the wet again (too much work cleaning up afterward) so I put in another core workout.

Tonight is TT night with FMCT and the forecast is looking good which is nice as I do not like to roll out the tri bike in the rain too often. Was going to run at lunch but may need to save them for the TT. My times have been going in the wrong direction as the summer wears on so I would like to break that trend tonight. Under 17 minutes (12k) would be very nice.

Pics from Gravenhurst-

Happy training!

July 19, 2009

Ontario Duathlon Championships - Race Report

This past weekend I participated in my third provincial duathlon championship. The 2009 edition took place on July 18th in the very scenic Gravenhurst, Ontario. For the second year in a row the HSBC Triathlon Series picked up the event and threw another challenging course at us duathletes. The international distance consisted of a 10k run over rolling, twisting roads just outside the town’s limits. Next was a 40k bike ride to the other end of town that included many turns and smaller than expected hill action. The final 5k run covered half of the original run we travelled to start the race which was mainly up one steady climb, down the other side to a flat stretch where we turned back to climb and then race down to the finishing section.

Being the Ontario championship, a very respectable field assembled for the race and marked the first time since Victoria’s that many of the top duathletes would be in the same race. This was expected so I knew I would have to really be on to be able to keep up with the elites and top age groupers.

Out of the gate Kevin Smith took the lead on the 10k portion of the race. Kevin has represented Canada as a pro for several years and is a very solid runner. Most of the other duathletes recognize this and we all let him go as trying to stay on his heels would surely lead to a blow up early in the event. I settled into a very nice pace and let a few others surge past as I knew would they had to offer and did not want to get off my game plan. During this feeling out part of the run I was kept company from another blogger who shares my passion for the sport, Tommy Ferris. We have been following each other’s progress this year and match up pretty close when you look at our stats.

We hung together for a large majority of the opening stage as we cruised along the cottage road trying to stay in reach of the leaders making sure to save something for the rest of the duathlon. Shortly after the turn, halfway through the run, we heard the footsteps of Bruce Bird as he found his stride. I figured he would not want to be too far off the chasers in order to make his move on the bike where is dominates. Bruce used the downhill grade of the last half and made it back to transition in 5th overall, 20 seconds ahead of me. Tommy put in a little surge as well to get to his bike 5 seconds before me, although I used a quicker transition to even our time as we mounted our bikes out on the main road.

Once on our bikes, I could feel the run had tired my legs and Tommy quickly put some distance in between us as we negotiated some of the turns through the town streets. We eventually made our way out to a branch of the route that was almost too weather beaten to ride. I had to take my chances and stay close. This aggressive riding cost me my straw and splash guard from my Gatorade bottle and would make my decision to use this aero bottle a bad one.

I usually have a bottle under my seat in a cage but wanted to see if the other setup would grab a faster time. Without the straw I had nothing to drink from and had to rely on gels for the rest of the 40k on the bike. Oh well, others have gone without so I would not let it mess me up now.

For the next few kilometers, Tommy and I fought back and forth for what was now 4th spot as we had made our way past a couple of the faster runners. The only people ahead of us now were Bruce Bird (elite), Kevin Smith (elite) and David Frake (my age group). These guys are all great duathletes and would be very tough to catch. If I wanted any chance of being in the top 5 of the age groupers I would have to lay some tracks down now to make sure I was not caught by too many of the runners once we finished the ride.

Thinking the second half of the ride was going to be a lot harder (as per the announcer before the race telling us to save some energy for the climb into town); I started to turn on the jets a little more. I had soon put a small amount of space on Mr. Ferris and was hoping to get rolling even more. To my surprise another Duathlete made a move past the two of us (the HSBC series has a different colour of numbers bibs for the tri’s and du’s, which is awesome!) and at this point I could only read “David” from his name below his number.

He had made very good time to get past us but once he got a little bit in front of me I started to work even harder. I stayed pretty close to him for much of the ride back but lost him on a set of rollers about 10k from the end of the bike ride. I actually ended up going through the intersection at one point not knowing if we had to turn or not. It was not very well marked and I had to stop dead to look down the road to see which way the other athletes had gone. Thankfully, I picked the right way. Daniel Cain was not as fortunate and ended up putting on an extra 5k to his race (something I found out after the race when talking to him to see how his day went).

To be honest, I don’t think this cost me anything in the end, maybe 5 to 10 seconds. Once I was back on track, I headed for the last turn around on the course where I could see that I was too far back but either was Tommy. I might have had only a minute on him at this point so I could not let up as we made our way through the multiple turns marking the path back to transition.

After a very smooth dismount, I got the bike onto the rack and slipped on my shoes and had to grab a quick swig of Gatorade from the bottle I kept beside my shoes. At this point I heard the announcer remark that David Field had just left ahead of me. This was the athlete that had past me on the bike and I now knew exactly who he was. I have never been this close to him in a race so I assumed catching him was a long shot.

Actually knowing this may have been a bad thing. Mentally, I conceived that spot because of his name. If I didn’t know the name I “may” have dug deeper as I am usually more confident in my final run. It is hard to tell for sure as I seemed to be struggling anyway. I think my choice of training this season was the major factor. I told Syd at the start of the year that I would be focusing on sprints and kept the workouts a little shorter. I did add a second workout to most days so I train hard but I think, for this distance and above, I need to put in longer sessions to keep the edge over a two hour period. This is my mistake and I cannot regret my decision to place my family time ahead of my training time. I have many years left of racing and as the kids get older, I am sure I will have plenty of time to improve.
Anyway, back to the race. I continued to follow David Field along the run course by about 200 metres or so. When we hit the turn I then saw Tommy moving very smoothly up the other side. Yikes, he was cooking. I tried to find a way to move faster but I just didn’t have the legs. I made my way back up the hill and started to descend back towards the staging area. This downhill was helping to get me there but I was not alone and my lead was shrinking. The last 500 metres of the run was flat but forced us to turn down a side street and then through some gravel trails into the back of the park to the finish line. As I went to turn on the side street, with Tommy about 5 metres behind me, the police officer did not stop the car coming through and I had to break stride to avoid the front of the car. Tommy also had to make the wide turn as we made our way through the confused traffic not knowing how to handle all the runners on the road.

It was along this last portion of asphalt that Tommy motored past me. He looked way to fresh to catch and my legs were absolutely finished. I wanted to hold that spot so badly but his heart was so much larger than mine on this day. I hoped to keep him closer to make it a sprint at the end but he opened up too much of a gap in mere seconds. I finally saw the finishing corral and the clock was only at 2:02 and change. My previous best at this distance was still in reach. Even that could not motivate a final sprint across the grassy mounds.

The good notes, I finished 6th overall at the provincial championships, 2 spots better than last year. It was good enough for 4th place among Age Group Duathletes and 2nd in my age group. My time of 2:03:27 is 29 seconds better than my previous best for the international distance (posted at Guelph Lakes 1 a month ago). The opening 10k was on a challenging course that I was just hoping to break 40 minutes on (after my survey of the terrain the night before) and I ran 37:31. My bike time was also respectable and the 4th best in the race behind Bruce, David Frake and David Field.

On the down side, my final run was way off and hard to explain. Most of the 5k times were bad so breaking 20 minutes was tough for most but I still expect it any time I suit up. I obviously don’t like to give up spots in a race but I have to tip my cap to Tommy for putting in a fantastic final run. He really deserved it and I know, from his blog, that he has worked very hard to make huge improvements over the last year. I also had some doubts during a few parts of the race and my mental game was a little weaker than usual.

In the end, I had a very good race and am very proud of the path I have taken to reach this level. There are a lot of positives to take from this experience and still much room to improve. I have yet to beat any of the guys that finished ahead of me but have reduced some of the gaps between us. The race was great but the highlight of the event was getting to know more of the people that love this sport. It is refreshing to finally get to know the other racers and find out they all seem to share the passion.

A special thank you must go out to Mark Botelho who allowed me to proudly race in the FMCT Falcons colours. I hope they got some great photos of me racing in it as I was very happy to represent our club for the first time in a race. Richard Westwood also offered up his jersey so he should get a round of applause as well!

July 16, 2009

Taper Material - More reasons why I Du!


As an Age Group athlete that would like to be the best I can be, I have to stay away from many influences and products that lead to trouble. For example (for almost all the guys I talk to), no drinking, no smoking and no consumption of mass amounts of junk food. Although, you may not realize the impact it has on others, just watch your kids and some of the things they pick up from what they see. I am certain my habits will create a much healthier childhood than it would if I did not correct my lifestyle. Thank you multisports!

My kids as scene stealers as my wife takes position shots for me...

July 14, 2009

FMCT TT (Mid Season Race)

In my first year with FMCT I have been very active in their Monday night TT's. It is a great, very tough 12k workout. We all have someone that is pushing us hard and the fear of being caught from behind and the desire to catch the person ahead really gets the heart pumping. I have been lucky enough to put up some solid times (for my ability) but the regular training outside of TT has been slowing my times down since the start of the season. Need some fresh legs if I want to hold off Coach Rob. Damn is he a machine even with our weekly, windy conditions. Great racing all you Falcons!!!

July 13, 2009

Count Down Is On

Well here it is, Monday of the big race. I think I have put in some really honest work getting ready for this event. Obviously, you can only expect to improve by so much for each test but I am certain the extra training will pay off.

The run portion is my main focus leading up to a possible trip to the worlds in Septemeber and all indications are that I am making progress. With the hills we will encounter, I have to remember not to get too discouraged looking down at the watch. The pace will be slower than I would expect for the distances but everyone has to compete over the same terrain. Not being able to pace by watch, I am going to have to pick some athletes I know and pace with them. Some of the elites, if they show up, will be too quick and I must stay out of that mix or I will burn out (similar to the 2007 Nationals when we blistered through the first 5k of 10k run before I realized the pace was too quick).

I have some big goals for myself for overall position (minus the elites) but I will keep that a secret for now. Now it is time for two more solid work outs (TT tonight with FMCT and track session tomorrow) and then shut it down for a few days to rest up.

Wish me luck!

July 12, 2009

My Pic with Lisa!

Just was flipping through my digitals and found this again from 2008. Another great Canadian ambassador to the sport! A few weeks ago in Guelph she was just out riding and walking around the course cheering us all on, smiling the whole time. Simply awesome for us recreational athletes to have a legend clapping us on...

July 10, 2009

We are only a part of something much bigger...

Actually, I was going to get a little deeper but decided this is not the forum and maybe some things should remain inside. I had some good material from my run last night and still wanted to post some quick hits that I thought about while running freely last night as my mind wandered...

1. Don't take your life for granted and work hard for the things you really want.

2. There is something inside us that is more powerful than anyone can imagine. We have gifts of strength, spirit and mind that we can sometimes tap into to perform remarkable acts. The trick is to dig deep enough inside to find them.

3. You can overcome any obstacle if you really want to. Many of us just don't want to.

4. Something else has to be out there. Look up at the sky at night and find it. It may not be want you think it is.

5. It is amazing how many times your instincts are correct.

6. Don't always block out the things that annoy you. Pay attention to all the details and you will be a lot wiser in the end.

7. Are some people unlucky or have they just been picked to conquer bigger challenges.

8. Resources come in all sorts and sizes and need to be properly developed to be correctly utilized in the future.

9. Is where you go after where you want to go or where you deserve to go?

10. If you want to learn more always ask Why...

11. IS there a wrong answer to the question "Who am I?"?

This list may be just a bunch of ramblings to most but it is nice to open your mind occassionally.

July 7, 2009

One Big Reason I Love the Multisport Community - Sportsmanship

Over the weekend, I witnessed some incredible acts of sportsmanship and I was ready to write a little posting about those moments. I then became a little busy at work so I had to put it off for a couple of days but when I saw Mat Reid's posting on the Trisport Canada website I was inspired to stay up a little later tonight to put it down on paper. Here are just a few sites I took in over the past few days that makes our sports (tri and du), and the athletes, so amazing.

One of the most memorable moments was when I saw my coach guiding his visually impaired athlete through the finishing chute. They posted a great time and it was awesome to see them work as a team to finish a very tough event. Well done Syd and Ryan!

In another display, I noticed a triathlete closing in on the finish line but as he was turning his number around for the announcer (to call out his name) the number fell off. The athlete right behind him could have easily ran past and climbed up one spot but stopped and waited for the man to pick up his number and finish in front of the thoughful gentleman.

On several occassions, families would join in the final run with mom or dad as they finished this long distance race. Sometimes this leads to a little traffic in the finish area but you can tell how special it is so I say let it continue. In one particualr instance, though, the father picked up his little infant and politely stood to the side as five or six other runners passed him. He was being extra thoughtful not to be a distraction to the others and waited for a gap to carry his little one across the line.

Mat Reid, although I do not personally know Mat I know of Mat, was running much farther back in the field than I expected. I asked one of my friends if he knew what had happened and he told me he saw him out on the bike course with a flat. I guess this happened a few times to Mat on the ride (i believe 3 flats) which would have driven anyone of us of our bikes but Mat continued and finished his race. A couple days later, I see a posting on the Subaru Tri site asking anyone if they had helped Mat along the way to please contact him as he was greatful for the parts to make a finish possible. Here we have several great examples of sportsmanship. Not only for Mat wanting to thank strangers for their assistance but also to those who took their minds off their own race to help a fellow competitor.

During the course of the day, I also witnesses many instances where athletes would stop along the run course to high five, hug, kiss or even chat to their friends and fans. The appreciation these racers showed for their supporters is beyind words and reminds us that this is just a hobby for the majority of us and we should be thankful that we have the physical ability to complete such a tough endurance event.

In a blog I read after the race, posted by Tommy Ferris, he spoke about his race and the DQ of David Frake. Mr. Frake had finished second with Tommy in second but David, for some unknown reason, was DQ'd to move Tommy into second. Apparently, the duathletes started their race at a time that put them in the mess of the slower triathletes and Tommy thinks maybe David was forced to cross the centre line to keep his racing (this is often an issue that duathletes are presented as they are often an after thought to an event) momentum. Ferris stated that this DQ would be unfortunate as David Frake was having a very quick race and Tommy's respect for David was evident as Tommy still considered his compeititor as the second place finisher.

Lastly, not only are we racers but most of us are great fans on the course and after our race. How many times did I hear other athletes encouraging others on as they crossed paths. Countless. Many racers finished their event and hung around to cheer on their friends and co-triathletes as they completed their race.

I hope these examples of sportsmanship continue with the next generation of athletes as it is these acts of fair play that makes our sport so great.

Weekend Wrap

Instead of racing this weekend I decided it would be better to train and spend time with the family. After watching the Peterborough 1/2IM, and the pain involved, I am pretty sure I made the right choice.

We drove up to the Kawartha's on Saturday, with a visit to the Zoo for the kids (and myself-the big kid) along the way, and then settled nicely into a hotel within walking distance of the race site. What a lucky find to have a room left that close to the park. The bonus was that they had a pool that kept us busy for the night. Once the family went to bed it was time for a nice long, tempo run along restaurant row in Peterborough. The run felt so good that I kept on going into the dark country side over to Hwy7. Not too many cars on this road so I was able to run the shoulder of the road and keep a quick pace.

On Sunday, the family got fueled up at the hotel breakfast and then packed the car to head over to the park. When we arrived the Sprint leaders were just going through so we watch a bunch of the mid pack runners make their way around the 5k course. I met up with Andrew (FMCT member) and, as we stood and chatted, the pace car came back with the 1/2IM riders in tow. I did not recognize the leader (he was in the relay) but Bruce was second into transition and leading the triathlon. Tyler Lord was right on his tail followed closely by a bunch of other solid triathletes that would be tough to hold back on the run. Unfortunately, Bruce was not able to keep the lead as Bruno Lafontaine ended up hittign the tape first but I was really impressed with Mr. Bird's 6th place finish in his first year of swimming.

I saw a lot of friedns and fellow competitors on the course and many of them had great days. Big congrats goes out to Syd for guiding Ryan to a very impressive finish in their first race together. It is always so cool to see someone overcome the obstacles in their life and achieve their goals. Tom and Kevin each took a ton of time off their results from 2008. Paul B. won the AquaBike race with some very quick splits! Mark Keating hit top 10 in the 1/2IM Duathlon. Patrick B. had a very solid race and ended up 16th overall. Peter H (another FMCT member) had the whole family out cheering on his great result! Laura and Natalie (FMCT'ers) were both 3rd in the AG in the AquaBike!

On the sprint du side I saw that most of the du'ers decided to keep it short with defending champion, Jason Lacombe, slightly winning over David Frake (who eventually DQ'd) and Tommy Ferris. This, on paper, looked like a very close race and puts the heat on me to have a huge day in Gravenhurst. I saw Tommy standing at the awards but it was so load (and my daughter was excited about going to the playground) that I would not have been able to talk so I will introduce mtself at our next race. Great racing Tommy!

As usual, I could chat all day about multisport but should end this post to get back to work. Just thought I would send out some very deserving congrats to all that raced on the weekend! It was tough to be there on the sidelines but I had a lot of fun following the races and cheering you all on! Plus I got in some swimming lessons so the wheels are in motion for tri's next year...

July 3, 2009

Peterborough Race Weekend

Although, I will not be participating this year, I am working with my family to see if we can make a trip down to cheer on some friends. I actually just read that this is a World Qualifyer for the Long Course Duathlon. Once again, a little disappointed in the amount of advance warning we get from Triathlon Canada as that may have changed my schedule if I knew this earlier. I know this was not on their calendar for very long as I have been checking it very regularly. Oh well, saves me some money...

My coach, Syd Trefiak, will be guiding a visually impaired triathlete so I would like to go lend my support to their great athletic accomplishment in the 1/2 IM distance. Also, Tom and Kevin (training pals of mine) will likely be down as they make this race one of their must do family weekends. I am also sure to bump into some fellow Du'ers as they complete the sprints or 1/2 IM distance themselves. I know Mark Keating will be in the starting line up. Bruce Bird is rumoured to be in the long course triathlon field so it will be interesting to watch his amazing talents out on the course.

I have been ramping up for Gravenhurst so things have been all about hills and speed work. Hope to hit the track today for a nice 5 x 2k session so we will see how that goes. I hope the legs and lungs are up for the challenge.

Good luck to everyone in Peterborough! I will give all you a nice cheer as you pass by on the runs!