Hard to complain when we finally receive some warm, summer conditions but when we have not had a chance to train in the heat, you know it will become an issue at some stage in the race. Victoria's Duathlon in Waterloo, Ontario is one of the earlier events in the province so the spring temperatures can range year to year. This concern creates the need to start the race later in the morning than usual (11am) to give those cooler years a chance to warm up. Well on this day, we didn't need the extra time to get up to temperature and we were going to hope our bodies adapted quickly.
After getting registered and chatting with some fellow Falcons, I headed to the car to pull out the new ride. It was so new to me that I had not even had a chance to have it fitted or adjusted. To do a speedy self evaluation of the set up, I jumped on the bike and used the car windows as mirrors. I moved the seat positioning around a touch but was far from dialed in.
Transition set up and warm up went smoothly so I used the last few minutes to wish some others good luck and then went to the line to visualize my race. With a strong 2009 in duathlon, I do have a certain amount of confidence in my athletic abilities but when you toe the starting line with the field that assembled on this day, you cannot help but wonder how you will meet some pre-event goals. There hanging out at the front were some of the bigger local names of triathlon ready to tear up the course. This was going to be a tough day…
Once the horn sounded it was time to remain focused and pick my pace. I settled in behind the main lead group knowing many of them could pull off really quick opening runs. I didn't want to over extend myself and was very comfortable leading the chase.
As we closed on the second km marker, I had a few guys make a move up the left side of me. I didn't panic and stayed with my plan. This paid off as my consistent pace allowed me to pull past those runners near the three kilometre sign as they slowed on the gradual uphill. Even though my legs were feeling super light at this point, I remained content to stay put as I was right around the time I was looking to hit for this leg of the race. After four kilometres of running, I was able to hold that position (12th) into transition with a small six second cushion over several athletes.
I was very smooth through transition and came out organized and ready to put my Argon E114 to its first test. Through the opening stretch of hills I held my ground trying to key on some riders ahead. I ended up pushing past one buy lost that spot to a charging Tyler Lord. He was showing his cycling strength and I was not able to match his talents, as usual. HAHA
As I watched him roll away, I found myself in a line with a couple other fellows. This being the race I was hit with a penalty in last year, I did not want to risk a repeat and carefully kept a safe distance from the athlete ahead. This hurt my momentum, without a doubt, as I had to let up a few times when I slowly closed the gap but knew I would be stuck in the draft with a gradual pass. Didn’t help to learn after the race that he had also been DQ’d very early in the ride for a centre line violation so he probably was not pushing to his limits. I would have lost my mind if I was hit for drafting a DQ’d athlete…
During this chess game, I had one other triathlete sail past me. Mark Linseman has always seemed to be a little ahead of me during Subaru events (he in tri and me in du) in the past. Usually, I am able to stay relatively close but on this day he was crushing the bike. I did not like to let him go but I did not feel the power to chase and this was another minor blow to my race plan as I thought I would be able to respond to these attacks during a thirty km bike portion.
By the turn around, I had found a little space about ten lengths behind Mike Greenberg (a former elite triathlete that now competes in my Age Group) so I just kept him in view as I searched for a boost to match last year’s bike effort. Thankfully, the last five clicks are pretty quick so I added some speed to my average as I happily trailed Mr. Greenberg and a few others that had caught us during a cautious lead in to the dismount line.
Even though I performed another respectable transition and had put myself in good shape in the overall scheme of things, my energy levels were hitting a low point as I entered the final four kilometre run. The heat was really starting to be a factor and I had no room for error if I wanted to reach my time target and placing goals.
As I exited the bike corral, I was sitting in twelfth place but saw several cyclists making their final preparations to jump off their bikes. I knew many of the faces and grew very concerned about my position. Shortly into the run I shuffled past one person into eleventh as we started up the only real hill on the run course about five hundred metres from T2. I assumed this position would be as high as I could go due to the running skills of the people ahead of me. As if that realization wasn't morally draining enough, I quickly lost the spot I had just gained to an unknown competitor and he was not sticking around to chat. I had to kick things into gear.
As I made my way out to the midway turn around, I drew on the group heading home along the final two kilometre stretch. They looked so fresh and effortless in their strides. When I finally had my chance to make the turn, I could see I had a small gap to play with. It was a bit of a relief but I still wanted to finish as quickly as my zapped legs could take me.
For the rest of the run I focused on the back of the runner about three hundred metres ahead of me and tried to hold the gap. I did not have the energy to look back so I used the crowd along the final kilometre to gauge chasing athletes. Thankfully, after they clapped for me there was enough of a pause to take any panic out of the last few minutes of the race.
Approaching the finishing chute, the bumpy grass was just too taxing for much of a final sprint. When the event clock came into sight, I could see I would just barely be under last year’s overall time but I was just happy to show some improvement on this very hot day.
In the end (after you take out the two DQ's), I ended up in tenth spot overall and third in my age group. The two ahead of me in the 35-39 AG have raced as elite triathletes in the past so I will take this result. My two run times were seconds off last year’s postings but many of the top people that did this race in 2009 were slower in 2010. I still would have been a lot happier with some improvement on the final run.
On the bike, I did manage a tiny gain year over year at 38.7 km/h from 38.4 km\h. Not too bad for the second time on this bike and lacking a proper fit.
Another nice surprise was the great transitions. I have yet to practice this element of the race this season but things went well so it is a solid building block to start 2010.
All in all, I have several positives to take away from this race. My confidence in the duathlon is where it should be and something I can draw on as soon as I pull through the water leg in upcoming triathlon experiments.
Lastly, I would like to congratulate all the Falcons (Marko, Shanta and Shayne) and the rest of my racing buddies on their great results. Best of luck in 2010!