Larry's Blog Pages

June 26, 2012

Welland Half Iron Du - Race Report

This one is a little bitter sweet. It is always nice to win but when you don't reach your expectations it takes away from the celebration. This is even more exaggerated when the racers beside you (the triathletes) are sailing past with ease on the same course.

Leading up to this race, I was not sure if I was prepared for the Half Iron distance so I had originally planned to do the Saturday Sprint Du for a quicker result on the flats of Welland. But, between my desire to complete the entire course (DNF in the triathlon a few years ago) and Tyler's words of encouragement, I decided last week that I would give it a shot.

I then did some research to see who else would be hitting the Half Iron duathlon and found out one of this season's most consistent racers, Florian Ong, would be in the field. I knew he had been both running and cycling speed so I was curious to see how I matched up at this point in the year.

Race morning was calm and uneventful so I was ready to race when they summoned us to the start line. As usual, the field was not very big for the Half Iron Du so we had a lot of room to move out there. On the horn I bolted out with David Cook and we set the pace early as we crossed over the first patrolled crossing on the river front pathway. I felt at ease with the pace and continued to keep it level as I pulled away from Mr. Cook. The drop in weight and taper made the 3:30 pace feel very controlled as I followed the lead bike.

I held my form right up to the turn around and noticed I had a decent gap opening as I turned back towards transition. It appeared most of the competition was saving up for later in the race so I just went into cruise mode and smoothly followed the bike back along the asphalt trail to the arena. As I approached the crowds cheering on the swimmers, I could see I would hit the bike even earlier than the elite triathletes. Wow, this doesn't happen for us duathletes very often.

With a few hundred metres to the timing mat, I let off the gas even more and sailed through the opening 5k in 18:00 on the dot. I then got to my bike and slipped on my cycling shoes ( I decided to bring my cycling shoes instead of tri shoes as they are a lot better quality and should have added a little power) and made my way out to greet the police motorcycle for my escort out of town. I figured this would not last long with Nigel Gray and Len Gushe chasing out of the water so I just enjoyed the attention while it lasted.

During the first quarter of the ride things felt pretty easy hovering around 39km/h so I just tried to keep the pace around this mark and let the strong cyclist from the triathlon chase me down. I was actually surprised to stay out in the lead for so long as I ended up going 44k with the escort before Nigel finally took over the honours from me. Unfortunately, that was not the only thing that was going away as my hips and legs were feeling a sluggish. I was not sure if the wind was a touch stronger than it felt or what the issue was? I had stuck to my nutritional plan and was much more attentive to my intake than any training rides over the last few months.

After a few zig zags on the west side of the course we finally got to the short out and back section. As I made the turn around the pylon I could see Len was next in line to make a move with a couple smaller groups not too far behind him full off the top riders (Rhys Spencer, Jim Sunners, Jakub Macel, etc.). With the way I was feeling I was just hoping the chase groups did not include any duathletes so I checked out all them as I past by and did not see any red bib colours.

I was now back out on North Shore Road with just under 35k left in the ride and Mr. Gushe made his move as we climbed the only upslope visible on the course. As he went by I was surprised that I was not falling back too fast on the incline but my decision to rest on the downhill on the other side is when things started to stretch out and I was alone again but assumed the chasers would be on me very soon. At this point I was very uncomfortable in the saddle and having a hard time holding my average pace near 39km/h even with the slight tail wind on the way home.

After a few easy corners I was back on Feeder Road but things were not well. My gluts felt absolutely dead and I was not able to fire up the legs. I tried standing up, stretching, different positions but nothing seemed to be working and I was losing a lot of time. I was so frustrated and hoping the next set of riders would pass to motivate me but I was the only person around for as far as I could see. I continued to spin and stretch for 10 to 15 minutes thinking the race was over for me when I finally got a little action back out of the gluts and my legs started to push again. It was not pretty but I was moving along in the low 37's and counting down the kilometres to transition.

Finally, I made the last few turns to the dismount line just as Jakub hit the line with me. As I got off my ride I could tell the run was going to be a challenge. I had nothing in the back of my legs so I took my time in the zone to see if I could recover with some liquids and cool water on the body. During this rest break Jim and Rhys exited the zone so I decided it was now or never.

I got a shuffle going out of the arena parking lot and followed Rhys down to the path for a short 200 metres out and back before heading east to the main portion of the run. Just after getting around the turn marker, I slowly made my way past Rhys and started to think things may improve as I now set my sights in Mr. Sunners and Mr. Macel only 50 or so metres ahead. This chase continued for the next few kilometres as we navigated a few town side streets before rejoining the waterfront path system.

Nearing the 4km marker I could see Jim was getting his legs and Jakub appeared to be holding his side. I was thinking this would be a great time to bridge up to Jim and move past Jakub. I was not sure what our pace was at this time (as my stupid Garmin 405 froze due to sweat on the ride) but I knew I was not on my expected pace so running with a top 3 triathlete had to be an improvement.

With a little push I closed the gap on Jakub but Jim was still pulling away. It was on this surge that I started to cramp like I have never felt in a long time. I had to slow up to relief the pain and hope the next aid station could offer the right fluids to calm things down. Unfortunately, the water, Heed and Coke was not working so I had to start to worry about who was chasing me now. When I got out to the far end of the path for the first loop I watched the line of runners coming back. I finally found Florian who appeared to have a decent run going but he was a little more than eight minutes back. I was hurting a lot but didn't want to throw in the towel as the race leader.

On the course I had great encouragement from people like Richard Pady (on his bike cheering on his team), K Jacobson and her man Tanker (amazing volunteers at an aid station), as well as many friends racing along side. I knew they would understand if I called it quits (due to my cramping condition) but thankfully my legs would not let my brain take over and they kept moving, sometimes at a walk, towards the finish line.

For the last half of the run I just kept counting down the kilometres mixing in some average running with some walking just hoping it would be enough to hold off Mr. Ong in second place. Finally, I wrapped up the second loop of the Merritt Island section and headed back into town with only a couple km left. During this stretch I had a few more triathletes (Derek Virgo, Matt Barefoot, B Habermehl) pass me which definitely showed my lack of long course endurance.

So as I approached the finish line, even though I knew I was going to take the duathlon win, I did not show very much excitement as I fell very short of my pre-race expectations. Sure I can take a great training day out of the experience but, if you know me well, you know I expect a lot out of my race performances.

Congrats to all the amazing athletes who competed this weekend all over. Also, thanks to John Salt and his awesome Recharge with Milk MSC crew and volunteers for putting on an incredible race weekend!

Having a few days to let this race sink in, as well as speaking with a few people, it is clear that I need to narrow my focus on one sport. I am too critical of my results to compete all over the sports map as it just leads to unsatisfied feelings when I reflect on my performances.

This being said, I will try to keep to my schedule for the rest of this season (it is too late now to expect much of a change) and sit down with Coach Tyler to tackle 2013 at full force. The long term goals I set out when I started this journey in 2006 are fast approaching so if I really want to hit them I have to either get serious soon or just relax and abondon those lofty target?

Thanks for reading and supporting!

PS - I know some out there may question, "where is the fun?". I still love to get out and socialize on a group run or ride as much as the next person so it is not all work and no joy ;)

June 18, 2012

Am I Ready?

After a brief conversation with Tyler, I talked myself into the Half Iron Distance this Sunday in Welland. I have not been running quite those distances but my bike training is in line for a 90k race. Thankfully, the first run is only 5k this year so not as crazy as the 12k they had last year (I think that is what I saw in the results.) but still much more than the 2k I am used to from Peterborough.

Unfortunately, the duathlon at this distance does not usually pull too many athletes out but I hope some of the top guys show up as it will be nice to have a push out there. I say that now but come the mid-way point of the race I am sure I will be wishing it was just an easy training pace. HA HA

Hope to see a good group of duathletes in Welland this Sunday!

June 13, 2012

Midweek Crit - 6/12/12

This was my first opportunity since obtaining an OCA license to get out for the famous Midweek Crit series and it was everything I had been promised. As expected, the first race was very large with many riders looking to put in a solid training effort after a short one day rest from the weekend's events.

With registration running long, our race was a touch late starting out so they announced that it would be shorter this week with around 30 minutes of riding and then 10 laps of jockeying for final position. 

Well, their was nothing tame about the first 30 minutes as a few guys decided to take it out quick in the second lap and then I got a little boost of energy and hammered a few laps. With the strong winds out of the north bashing us on the tougher (not too tough but relative to the downhill on the other side of the short 1k loop) portion of the oval course, I knew I would be playing with fire trying to maintain my pace so I dropped back into the pack and chilled for a second.

My timing was very poor as the pace picked up again and for a large number of laps and I slowly dropped back deeper and deeper into the massive peloton. Eventually, I settled down and caught my breath and started to look for Richard, Kane, Jon and Kohei to see where they were situated. They all appeared to be playing it smart, hanging just off the front so I tried to get back up in the middle of the action with them.

After a few more laps of edging up through the crowd, I was surprised to hear we only had 9 more laps. Once again, the pace picked up and I moved even closer to the front to see what was going to unfold. By the time we received the 8 lap sign, I had joined the pointy end of the group (with one guy in a break only a few seconds ahead). As we hit the back side of the track, I pushed past Kohei to allow him some rest and then decided to keep on the pace to catch the break, thinking he may work with me to get away.

When I caught him on the up slope, he didn't seem too interested in holding that speed any longer so I just moved past him and kept my head down. My effort was pretty solid but it wasn't long before I had the entire peloton following my lead. Oh well, I tried.

I figured I was already in TT mode so why not just go with it, burn out some other legs and hope one of my buddies could take the win. I am no where near a sprinter so I knew if it came down to a sprint, I would be dusted so I might as well have some fun with this.

I continued to pull the group along as I counted down the laps. 6, 5, 4 and then 3 before the others finally had enough of me leading the race. I was just starting the small climb up to the start/finish line (with the lap 2 sign in the RD hands) when the masses made their move and swallowed me up, literally pushing me back through the pack.

My legs were blasted by now so I was not sure if I should try a quick recovery or just fade out of the race. I caught on to the end of the large lead group and tried to rest one lap. I could see things were starting to get exciting up front but knew I would not have the power to enjoy a top ten but wanted to make a final charge. On my second last climb up the hill, I got a little closer to the front and put in a decent effort over the last portion but was in no shape to contend with those guys on this night. I happily hung on with a middle of the lead pack finish and found out the rest of the boys had solid results so my efforts were not a lost cause.

This weekly race is definitely something I will re-visit. It was a little confusing trying to figure out who was still in contention as you are able to rest and rejoin the race if you fall off the back but the problem I saw was guys I noticed resting for a few laps (and then jumping back in) were back in the mix for the sprint at the end. The rule clearly states that you should not re-join that close to the front but I think several riders are just not concerned with rules. Add this to the ongoing 'yellow line" violations during weekend races, and you can see there is a major issue with the integrity within participants of the sport.