Larry's Blog Pages

May 28, 2012

Woodstock Super Sprint Duathlon - Race Report

I have been itching to get a duathlon under my belt this season and luckily this past Saturday worked out. The Recharge with Milk series had their Woodstock weekend with the shorter events on Saturday and sprint distance races on Sunday.

I have not worked many bricks into my training to date but have been working hard on both my running and cycling, individually. My competitive side was telling me it was time to combine the two elements to see how they meshed together so I got looking around for a race.

After checking out the schedule at home, work and training I decided the Saturday race would work best, although, I maybe should have re-evaluated that closer to the weekend...

Friday ended up being a lot more crazy than expected so I really was not as well prepared come Saturday morning as I would have liked to be. This would be an issue (bike) later on in the race but everything seemed in fine working order as I quickly tossed the gear into the truck before making the trip west along the 401.

Leaving the house later than desired, I started getting second thoughts of racing as I was not exactly sure how long it would take to drive to the race site. In my opinion, if you cannot be there at least thirty minutes before one of these meets, the rush becomes a huge distraction with registration, set up and warm up. I was not feeling good about my chances, to be honest, but I decided to roll along and try anyway.

Thankfully, the drive went much smoother than I could have wished for and I arrived at the park with almost forty-five minutes to spare. After a quick tour through registration, I pumped some air in the tires of my Argon TT bike and crossed my fingers that it was ready to race. I have not been on this bike since the Niagara Sprint Duathlon last August so it has just been sitting around collecting dust.

I then did a quick visualization of the transition zone and then went up to the start area for a warm up. I ran into a few friends up there (Patrick B, Tommy F, Roger H) so did some catching up and then got into game mode as John Salt went through some last minute instructions.

The duathlon was a super sprint distance of 3k/20k/3k so I knew some of the other folks would be hammering it out on the course. I put down a serious track effort on Thursday night and some silly cycling on Friday. I was not sure how this would come back to haunt me but just wanted to stay up with the front runners, empty the tank and let the chips fall where they may.

Off the horn, I bolted out of the gate up a short, grassy slope as we only had about 50 metres to get up to the first turn. It was a tight one with some wooden traffic barriers planted in the ground so I wanted to be clear of the group before hitting this sharp left and did so with a quick sprint from the start line. I then leveled out at close to 3:30/km pace as I pushed along the loose gravel park road with a few chasers on my heels.

After a kilometre, I reached the bridge across the dam where I could really start feeling the pressure from behind. Kent Keeler, of Team Running Free, was right behind me and seemed a lot more fresh than I was feeling already. With Kent applying the hammer, I kept up the pace and we reached the turn around together. I thought for sure he was going to pass during the spin around the marker but he stayed patient and hung in behind me as we returned over the bridge.

We ran this way the entire distance back to transition. Every time I felt a little surge on my shoulder, I picked up the pace until we reached the timing mats side by side in just under 3:30 pace. This was exactly where I wanted to be but I was hoping to feel more energized in doing so. Oh well, time to see how the bike was rolling...

As we both reached our bikes, I made a smooth switch out of my runners, buckled my helmet and grabbed my ride. I noticed my competition was still in his shoes as I pushed my bike up the long path to the mount line. It was not the most pretty mount (my cycling shoes flipped when I tried to hop on the bike) but I got sorted out and started the slow, twisting climb out of the park.

Most of the first four km were gradually sloping away from the park so the pace was not quite where I wanted it. I was making my way through the triathletes already on the course but was feeling the effects of a hard run effort battling to stay at the front of the duathlon. My bike issue also came to light as I tried to power up just outside the park gates. I am not sure how it moved during the off-season but my seat was now dramatically angled down and I was sliding off with every stroke. Damn!

To make things worse, the heat and humidity were pulling alot of sweat from my body so my hands and forearms were slipping off the bars and I could not hold my butt on the seat. This created a lot of lost power and exhausted a lot of energy as I kept trying to get my rear on the seat and hold a position to create a decent effort. Thankfully, it was only 20k so I did my best and fed off the fact I was still making my way towards the front of the triathlon race.

At the turn around, I could finally spot out Kent mixed in with the swim/bike/runners and he was not too far behind. I put in a solid surge up the slope and then made some strong gains with the tail wind across the top of the "U" shaped course. By the time I started heading back to park, my legs started to feel more like their old self and the last five kilometres seemed to fly.

Everything was starting to come back together and my average pace was much more respectable heading into the park entrance. This 500 metres section was designated a "No Pass" zone due to the downslope and twists that would make it a little dangerous. Unfortunately, I got stuck behind a very cautious rider who was really taking it easy. I lost a large chunk of time (1 full km/h on my bike computer) following him to the dismount line. I tried to politely urge him along but he was not looking very confident with this section. We have all been there so I took it all in stride and just waited for my chance to dismount and fly through transition.

Posting another solid transition split was key to pumping up my confidence for the final 3k run. I eased through the first hundred metres on the grass and then picked out some triathletes ahead to use as targets. I knew they were up near the head of that race and would be hitting decent splits so that helped.

Out on the same course as our first run made it very easy to zone out and worry only about finishing strong. As I passed across the bridge and then hit the turn around I could finally see Kent about 150 metres back just coming off the dam. I told him that he was doing great and knew I could not relax or he would be able to cover that gap.

I kept up the pace and ended up with a strong finish on the mix of gravel and grass to post a win in my first duathlon of the season. Overall, I felt pretty good with the result but have lots of work to do to get to my 2012 goals.

After the race, I was able to do some more catching up with former duathlete, Tommy F ( ), Cam B ( @BigRaceWheels ), Roger H ( @hosspro ), Patrick B, Chris C ( @cdcanning ) and some new competitors like Kent K ( @runbikeraceblog ).

Thanks to John Salt ( @MultiSportCan ) and his crew for the great race and to Steve Fleck ( @stevefleck)  for the amazing mic work during the event!

May 16, 2012

Sporting Life 10k - Race Report

A few months back, a bunch of the Falcons decided we should get a group together to battle it out on the streets of Toronto. Our current president, Colin C, recommended we enter the Sporting Life 10k and within a few days we had several members signed up and ready to chase down some PB's on this super fast course. As usual, some side banter was included in the following days so I knew I had some serious training to do in order to back up my prediction...

As it turned out, many folks could not make it out on race day but a small group of us met early in Brampton to start our journey into the heart of the big city. Peter M kindly offered to chauffeur Colin C, Laura G and myself to the start line as he was still feeling the effects of his solid 3:05 marathon the week before.

We arrived downtown in very good time so I was able to quickly pass through registration to pick up my bib/chip before settling beside the end rails of the long barrier set up to corral all 22,000 expected runners. It was a cool, damp morning so I was not in too much of a rush to gear down to my race clothes.

Eventually, time drew closer to our start so I finally stripped down to my shorts and FMCT tri top and headed over to bag check to drop off my warmer clothing. As I approached the trucks that were hired to carry the bags down to the finish line, I started to see how incredibly long the line of people was stretching. It had to have been 400 to 600 metres long and moving extra slow. I looked at my watch and knew I would be risking a good warm up if I waited in this que. As I was about to head back to see Peter (to place my bag in his van), a man yelled over a loud speaker that a line was starting over on the other side of the road as well. I walked over and saw this was starting to get out of control so as I passed the back of the truck, I tossed my bag to one of the volunteers piling the cargo. Seemed easy enough so I am not sure why the lines were moving so slow.

Getting that out of the way, I jogged down to the start corral for my estimated finish time and started my warm up. Along the way I bumped into Dan H from our club and chatted as I stretched before continuing up to the front of the huge crowd. As I looked around, I was surprised to see very few familiar faces. I was hoping to see a few usual suspects that I could pace with but the only two people I knew were wild cards on this day. John H. mentioned that he was having a hip procedure in a few days so he was going to ease through the run and Evan Mc. mentioned that he had not trained as frequently as desired so he was not sure where he would finish up.

Oh well, with this many people there was bound to be a big group around me for the run, right?

Amazingly, I was in the second row of people by the time the horn sounded so just a couple shuffle steps to get going and then I found a bunch of open room on the left side of Yonge Street. A number of young lads flew out of the gate while I patiently locked into a good, downhill pace that I knew I needed to maintain to create a buffer for the lower flats.

After approximately 500m, the youngsters started to fade and a shockingly small crowd remained just a few metres up ahead of me and a few other people. At this point, a few quick looking guys jogged up beside us. I looked over to see their effortless stride only to notice they both were carrying their backpacks?

They must have sat in the bag check lines when the gun went off and decided to run with their gear. As we passed a police officer guarding a side street, they stopped and tried to unload their stuff with this officer. He would not touch the bags so they picked them up and headed over to a cyclist riding beside our little group. Thankfully, the cyclist found it in his heart to grab the bags and, hopefully, take them down to the finish line. Those guys blasted down the road and got back up with the leaders from that point...

Shortly after this took place we encounter our first, small incline along the route. This was not a difficult uphill in any way but it seemed to break apart out little group and I was no running solo with a tiny pack still ahead with a 50m gap on me. With a slight headwind coming up from the lake I knew I wanted to get in with those 4 or 5 guys but wasn't sure if I could bridge the gap without over cooking my legs too early in the run?

Looking down at my pace, I opted to hang tight and see how things around my played out. Having run this race a few times in my early running days, I knew most of the landmarks and crossing streets and what to look ahead to in order to distract my mind from the burn in the legs. As things leveled out down near Bloor Street, I could see I was going to have to keep pushing in order to break 17:00 for the opening 5k. As I reached the marker I looked down at my Garmin to see I had finally broke that barrier (i know it is downhill...) with less than 10 seconds to spare. This was exciting but the reality was I know needed to run a sub 18:00 second 5k to close out my goal.

Shortly before the Dundas crossing, I had a runner puffing down my neck. As I looked over I could see it was Hugo R, a Saucony runner that I had run against in the 2011 Hamilton Half, and he was moving. I thought I might be able to jump on his heels and get my up the road but he saw my attempt and zig zagged to shake me off. I did not try very hard to hitch on due to his speed so I let him carry on up the road and he came in 21 seconds ahead of me.

By the time the short lived chase was completed, I noticed the small group ahead was starting to string out. Jeff F of Team Running Free was the next runner up the road but still just a little too far to move on. I kept counting down the kilometres to the finish not really worried about placing but just hoping to keep my legs turning over quick enough to avoid any high splits.

When I finally arrived at our first turn, onto Richmond Street, I made the corner with another competitor nipping on my feet. He was a younger runner with a Waterloo jersey (Jordan F) so I wasn't sure what he would have in the tank but I locked in behind him as he pulled up closer to Jeff. By the time we rounded the smooth corner south on Peter Street, Jordan had opened up a gap but dropped me beside Jeff so I ran beside my old Running Free mate along this short stretch and over to Front Street.

On Front Street, I felt a surge of relief and the two of us reeled in Jordan and also another Waterloo racer Darryl B just before another left turn on Bathurst. We only had a short bridge run on Bathurts over the train tracks and then a quick right to our finish sprint on Fort York Blvd. Making the turn, my legs were dead tired but everyone seemed to want to push for position. For some reason, the challenge was too much to resist so I used this spark to make sure I finished up in style as I did not want to leave any seconds on the course.

Our sprint started a little early so it was a long, top speed effort at this stage of 10k. Darryl ended up with the sprint bragging rights with me a second behind and Jordan and Jeff right behind me.

During this final push to the line, I was trying to find the display of the race time (was moving too quick to look at my watch without risking a massive roll over) but the first digital clock I saw made no sense (I think it was counting down the time from the first runner crossing the line...). Finally, just before I hit the timing mat, I noticed the second clock had 34:34 so I had just accomplished what I had set out to achieve and broken 35:00 on Yonge Street.

As it turns out, the chip time was 34:36 (my garmin was 34:34 and 10.04k) and I ended up in 16th place overall of the 17,551 finishers (21,724 entrants, 4,000 people did not start or finish????).

Congrats to all the finishers and PB'ers! I missed so many of you at the park after the run due to the enormous crowds.

Below is a chart that shows my Needed Splits (based on the elevation chart) to get to 35:00 and the Garmin Splits from my watch. Actuals do not add up as the course was 40m long as per Garmin so that took a few seconds to run (within the error range so course may have been perfect and watch off).

May 7, 2012

Canadian Duathlon Championships - First since 2008!

2012 Canadian Duathlon Championships / Championnat Canadien de Duathlon

The Toronto Triathlon Festival is excited to announce that our race weekend will include the 2012 Canadian Duathlon Championships.

We are proud to provide a compelling platform to play host to the first such Duathlon National Championship since 2009 (LB Note - i think they have this wrong as there was no National Champ in 2009!).

Athletes will have the opportunity to experience a truly urban race course in Canada’s largest city. Duathletes will contest a unique bike leg, cutting straight through the heart of Toronto’s core, on its downtown highways. The race format will be Run (10 km), Bike (40 km), Run (5 km).

We are excited to offer 10 qualifying spots per age group for the 2013 World Duathlon Championships in Segovia, Spain, next September (exact date TBA).

Qualification for the 2013 World Duathlon Championships is for the Canadian Age Group Team only – if you wish to qualify for a different federation (e.g. Germany, Great Britain, etc.) please visit the website of the specific national triathlon federation in question.

If you wish to obtain a spot on Triathlon Canada’s Age Group Duathlon World Championship Team, you are required to be a member of your local provincial triathlon federation. For a list of provincial triathlon federations, please click here - .

For more information on Triathlon Canada’s Age Group Duathlon World Championship Team, please contact Joyce Chiang at .

Note: The minimum age for the Duathlon is 18.

May 1, 2012

Tour of Bronte - Race Report

The Tour of Bronte was advertised as tough race on a mix of asphalt and gravel surfaces. Being relatively new to the bike racing community, I was a little nervous about this event as my bike handling skills are not quite as strong as many of the seasoned riders. On my road bike, I try to avoid rough road surfaces like this at all cost so I was going into the race with very little experience riding this type of circuit.

As Richard and I rode along the Bronte Park entrance roads, to get to the registration area, the “Beginner” race was sent off past us moving in the other direction. By the time we got around to the shed to pick up our numbers, the racers had made their way around to our location and were sliding around a hairy turn. From here, we could see firsthand how tricky the gravel cornering was. What had I signed myself up for?

Eventually, it was our turn to roll out and, as usual, I came to the line later than I should have and was stuck near the back of the pack. On a course like this, with an increased risk of riders going down, I needed to be up closer to avoid any breaks caused by an accident.

As the lead vehicle led us along the smoother, asphalt portion of the course, I slowly made my way to the middle part of the group. I could now see the front runners and the volunteer signaling our first right hand turn. This one was a little tight but was still on a hard top surface so we had enough grip to power up out of the turn only to have to brake just a few seconds up this path.

Into the next turn I could see a bunch of rear wheels sliding as many of the riders tested out their bike handling on the loose gravel. I took an inside line here and noticed a vehicle wheel rut on this line that seemed to hold my bike on course. Right after this turn was another sharp right turn that proved even tougher. I was stuck on the inside so had to slow down considerably to negotiate the tree growing beside the pathway. I could not afford to get brave here as I would have wiped out a good chunk of the peloton if I was not able to hold my line.

Getting through this turn standing up was a big confidence booster going forward. The boys picked up the pace right out of this corner but everyone appeared to get on the train and follow the group along the twisting gravel road through the park. There were a few other areas of caution during the rest of the 8km loop but the initial nerves settled and I just started to worry more about getting further up the field to avoid being left behind.

After the first lap most of the group was still sitting together so there were about forty-five (of fifty-one) riders sharing tight quarters moving through the winding park roads. For a few of the opening laps I was stuck near the back end of the peloton but I could see Richard and Phill working up near the front and wanted to get up to help them out. I waited for the group to get through the loose corner near the registration shed before making a move up the right side on a flat, straight section. When I finally got up near the pointy end of the pack I saw a few guys jump off the front. I had just put out an effort to move up to this point so I figured I would sit back and wait for more to bridge.

My slight resting hesitation would be a bit of a mistake. Just as I was catching my breath two more riders broke, including Phill. I just caught him out of the corner of my eye and instinctively powered up. Thankfully, Richard was right beside me and noticed that my weak effort to catch Phill’s wheel would have pulled a train across to ruin Phill’s break. I quickly backed off and gave Richard thanks for calling me off. We then worked the front of the group with another rider (who must have had a teammate in the break) to slow the chase down.

After a minute or so I heard rumblings in the pack that we had a member in the break so they decided to jump around us and pick up the chase. By this time the foursome had opened a good gap so the hunt was on. Richard and I held strong in the group for a number of the next laps as nobody really got organized enough to make a dent in the break consisting of Gaelan Merritt (Waterloo CC), Derek Snider (Indy), Phill and one other rider.

During those laps we were around twenty five riders deep with only one rider going down in the toughest corner. That wipe out happened to the left of my line so I was able to avoid the distraction and power up before getting dropped. It wasn’t too long after this that we started to lap some riders so it became tough to know if the break was still together or broken. When we finally got around to the asphalt section I could see the leaders coming back up the other side of the road but noticed it was down to two guys (Gaelan and Derek) and Phill was not there?

About a minute later I saw Phill sitting up saving some gas. I was not sure what had happened at this point but was hoping he would have the energy to jump back on with us. Thankfully, he had saved up enough to join our group of around twenty guys/girl. Having three guys in the chase gave us a nice edge so it was time to start moving.

After making the U-Turn (near the start/finish line) on lap 7 (of 8), Richard and I got out on the tip of the group. I pulled through but misunderstood Richard’s command as I started to hammer. I thought he was coming as well but he was trying to block. When I noticed a gap I pulled up to let him catch my wheel. Rookie mistake!

The peloton was now strung out heading into the three quick hitting turns. As I got through the corners, I powered up again to see what the group was interested in doing. Unfortunately, not much as they just sat on my wheel for a few hundred metres. Starting a solo break this far from the finish would have been a lost cause (I think) so I decided to save the legs for the last lap and just hang out on the front to cover any other breaks.

As we rounded the “registration” corner on this lap I could see Richard getting up beside me with a smaller group starting to form. I was hoping this would start an echelon and reduce the size of the peloton. Just as I was about to jump in I felt a loss of power in my rear tire. Things suddenly got a little wobbly and I looked down to see the tire had flatted.

Damn, there were only 1.5 laps to go and I was starting to feel very solid in my legs. I yelled out my flat so the group knew I was pulling out and slowly made it over to the side of the path. I was a little disappointed at first but then realized it was out of my control, especially, on a circuit like this.

I walked my bike back to the team’s tent and got into spectator mode to watch Richard and Phill work their magic. As they passed our vantage point, with about 4k left in the race, you could see Gaelan and Derek were not going to be caught but the Kurzawinski Coach/PBNJ.CA boys were looking very good in the chase.

After they made their last pass, we headed over to the finish line on the other side of the parking lot. Gaelan brought it home just fourteen seconds ahead of Derek and then the pack came down the stretch around three minutes behind the leaders.

On the final sprint, I could see Richard up front, battling it out for a podium. They came right down to the wire but he just missed out by a wheel, settling with an impressive fourth place overall. Phill also came in with the pack finishing seventeenth overall. He had fought hard all day (including a crash in corner three before re-joining the peloton) and backed off the sprint when he knew he could get open for safe finish.

Other Notable Finishes (folks I know)…

Open Race

8th – Bruce Bird (Wheels of Bloor/Graywood Development)