This race was not in the plan earlier this year but as soon as it was announced that it would be the Canadian Championships, I knew I had to re-arrange the schedule and build for this challenge. I registered as soon as the race announcement came out so that I would not get lazy and let this one slip past. Hopefully, others in the community would follow suit...
During the last few weeks, Jesse Bauer and I tried to reach out to as many duathletes we knew to see who was coming into town for Nats. We were trying to pump up the event over Jesse's duathlon revitalization project, www.duathloncentral.com , but we were not getting many encouraging emails from out of province. I totally understood as a lot of time, effort and money go into a destination race and Toronto is not the most affordable place to go for a 2hr duathlon.
Thankfully, the Ontario crew of duathletes stepped up and on race day, we had a nice field of racers for the 2014 Canadian International Distance Duathlon Championships. Unfortunately, mother nature was not in a great mood on the morning of the TTF event so we had to deal with a bunch of rain and wind. This pushed back the start of our duathlon and we stood in the corral for an extra 15 to 20 minutes while the organizers sorted things out.
Eventually, it was time to roll. As expected, Jesse and Michael Park pushed the pace from the gun. As we left Coronation Park we ran into the head wind coming from the west. For the first km I was stuck in between little packs with no protection from the breeze coming at us. Luckily, that did not last too long as two younger runners finally joined me and I latched on to Justin Spalvieri as he edged past. I knew from scouting reports that he had a 33minute 10k in his legs recently so I was happy to hold his shoulder for as long as possible without crushing myself.
Eventually, his pace picked up just before the Lakeshore Legion hill and I was once again running on my own but it seemed to be the speed I was targeting (hard to tell without km markers???) so I just kept them in range. As I ran past the Boulevard Club, I could feel someone closing in on me from behind. I was not sure who else was in the field was looking for around a 36min split so I started to worry I was actually fading back, taking it too easy. A few metres down the trail, that long distinctive stride in my left peripheral made it all to clear that Dave Frake was here to play. As he moved up beside he asked me what pace I thought we were running so I agreed with his guess and jumped on for the ride.
When we reached the turn around down near the Humber Bridge, it was time to enjoy some tail wind and a run along the closed right lane of Lakeshore Blvd. Dave and I went back and forth a little over the next km or so but eventually he sniffed blood and started to pull gradually away. I tried to hold close which brought me much closer to Alexandre Beaulieu and Justin. I was not sure what to expect from a few of these runners once they hit the bike but I knew my pre-race expectations were getting much brighter with this run.
Back at Ontario Place, i checked my watch and noticed I was right on time (36:25 for 10k) and feeling pretty good. The course was a touch damp now so the bike would be tough for some but I was here to race and willing to take a few risks along the way.
Entering transition, I could see some of the others slowing down. I raced over to my bike and dumped a helmet full of rain water over my head as I placed my bucket on my melon. I knew this would happen! I then grabbed my bike and ran up the ramp to the mount line. I must have passed Alex B during this section as I did not see him again until the final run. My T1 time was the best in the duathlon which helped me get into a good spot right away, even passing Dave at the corner of BMO stadium, although, I knew this would not last long. I then passed Michael Park on the way through CNE and set my sights on Mr Bauer somewhere on the horizon.
Making the turn onto the Gardner Expressway we had the tail wind to help us get up to speed and, as expected, Mr Frake was zipping past as we climbed up the grade to the top of the road. I knew he was not in play as soon as he got a bike between his legs so I did not worry and just got myself up to power as I made my way through the line of triathletes on the right side of the road. Thankfully, the Gardner is wide enough that I had quite a lot of space to pass all these folks and eventually could see Jesse up the road.
Just after 5k of riding I had made up the time on my young competitor and knew I had to put down the hammer to put enough time in between us while on the bike as he would be looking to chase me down on foot for sure. For much of the ride up north on the DVP, I was pushing 53-11 on the www.3sixty5.com disc wheel Chris and Mark had let me sample for the race. I felt like I was putting down a good effort but hard to tell against some of the triathletes in this part of the pack. When I reached the turn around I started my count down to Jesse and could see I had around 1:10 on him now. This would not be enough.
I knew it was now or never so I pushed my hardest down the DVP. We were now getting a head/side wind that was hitting a lot of the people hard so it made me look very fast. I started to wonder if I was pushing too much of a big gear for the run after or for the massive head wind that would hammer me once back on the Gardner? I thought back to what coach, Kevin, said about the wind and my bike and knew I could not back off.
When I reached the ramp from the DVP to the Gardner Expressway, I took a little breather and spun up this tiny climb. It wasn't much of a climb but did force a change in gearing so I took up the cadence for a few seconds and then jumped out of the saddle and prepared myself for the last 8 or so km on the bike. These were tough kilometres due to the wind and I gradually watched my average sink from 42km/h. I used this realization to set up a mental thought in my head. I will not share it but it is something I have been working on during longer, solo rides and seems to keep me pushing hard.
Well, it worked again and I finally made the curve on the off ramp and started to race through the CNE back to transition. Unfortunately, I got a little too aggressive during the twists and turns and ended up sliding across the pavement with about 200m left in the ride. Thankfully, there were only a few scraps on my knee and buttocks, so I picked up the bike and carried on, ready to run scared.
Once again, I had the fastest transition (somehow?) and worked my way up to a pace I hoped to hold. With the first section out to the west into the wind, I used up a lot of energy to hit that pace. I knew I would have help from the wind back to Coronation Park and just counted down the time I would suffer into the wind. As I neared the turn around, I could see Dave out comfortably in 1st so there was no chance in catching him but I assumed I was fair game with some of the run splits the guys behind me could lay down. So the watch was on as soon as I rounded the turn and I used the wind to stretch out my stride and tried to float home.
To my good fortune, Jesse, Alex, Richard (Eyram) and Daryl (Flacks) were out of touch when I spotted them (according to my math) so I relax a little knowing I was going to cross the line in 2nd Place on this day. As I reached the park, I started to feel the effort in my legs and started checking behind to make sure I could coast a little more into the line and enjoy the moment. I could not see anyone in the rear view and made the corner to the finishing chute. What an unexpected way to end this big block of training and racing.
Congrats to everyone that races in these messy conditions! The duathlon community continues to get closer and I hope I got to say hello to everyone before we ran for shelter! Man that last rain came hard!
Triathlon Canada Championships
International Duathlon - Toronto Triathlon Festival
2nd Place Overall
2nd Place Age Group (40-44)
*Toronto Olympic Club - Kevin Smith (coach)
*Kurzawinski Coach Cycling - Krys Kurzawinski (coach)
*Pedalinx Bike Shop
*Johnny K Sports
and of course Family and Friends!!!!!