So when the first race on the Recharge with Milk Multisport Canada came calling, I was a little hesitant to answer. I usually am not prepare for Woodstock during a good off-season and this spring I felt even farther behind schedule.
When the duathlon chatter started up a few weeks before the event I knew I had to get down to business and take things a lot more seriously. The results at Iron Hawk a month prior had set the tone and I could see a number of athletes were already in great shape. If I wanted to be ready for Provincials in Gravenhurst in July, I knew I had to write some early events on the calendar and let the others know I was interested. Otherwise, I just get lazy and skip events and there is nobody to call me on it.
Therefore, when I continued to mention I was excited to race Woodstock, I felt obligated to get there no matter what obstacles popped up. Thankfully, Garvin Moses was kind enough to help with the challenge of getting to the event as my family was busy on that date with a dance competition. So that was the start of the morning, driving over to the race with Garvin and Mel which was nice as I usually over think the upcoming hours and get stressed when travelling alone.
After a few administrative duties were wrapped up and some catching up with the lads, it was quickly time to hit the line. The course was a lot different from the past Sprint Du I had completed a number of years ago at this location so I could not totally draw off experience and just race on feel today.
Off the gun, I actually let the race come to me and hid back in the field a little. To my surprise, a few young guns really to the charge up and did not look to fade. Oh oh, what had I gotten myself into!
With a true 5k run, 20k bike, 2.5k run Sprint Duathlon set up on the menu, I could sense my legs were going to be butchered for the bike if I tried to keep pace with these two speed demons. Unfortunately, the usual suspects were pushing hard behind with the likes of Garvin, Spencer, Jeremy, Finchy, James and Mark hot on my heels. In fact, Mr.Moses was right on my shoulder and looking stronger than ever on the run.
So, I had to ditch all strategies and go back to my old duathlon method of just go as hard as possible and hope the finish line welcomes me first. And this is what I did.
The first 5k run was a mix of grass, gravel paths, asphalt roads and a concrete damn with a few little twists and turns laid across the rolling land before us. I was holding 3rd place on this run but did not feel comfortable for one second as my stride was shorter and choppier than recent training so I felt like I was just spinning my wheels trying to hold a respectable pace. Eventually, we got through 4k and I could tell I was not the only one feeling the burn as Garvin started to ease off a little and let me hit T1 alone in 18:35 about 1:16 back of Daniel Toneguzzi with Aniket Hooda sandwiched in at 17:49.
I then showed some sloppiness in transition as I wasted time on my helmet before running the bike up to the mount line. Garvin took advantage of this and closed the gap as we both headed out of the park but were forced to slowly get the rides rolling due to the no pass rule within the park entrance.
As soon as we hit the roads racing, we cleared the triathletes holding us up and Garvin made his move right away. Damn.
I took this brief moment to get my one cycling shoe on as he finished his pass and then I quickly got up to speed, thankfully, having the power to pass him back but I was cycling scared. So scared that I only put the one foot in and my right foot was still on top of the other cycling shoe. Not wanted to stop pedaling, and worried about the crazy cross wind among a large amount of triathletes on the road, I didn't see a good place to slip it on so I just pushed on.
Within the first couple of minutes on the bike I was relieved to spot the two young racers having their issues in the wind. Having caught them early enough in the 20k bike, I was hopeful they would not be a factor on run number 2 and it looked like it was going to be the 30 plus guys with a little more cycling experience that would be jockeying for podium spots.
After a few kilometres on the first road, we turned right and enjoyed the strong tail wind heading east. As fast as I was going, I was still worried about the chase behind so continued to hammer away as best as I could through the stream of triathletes. Another few km's down that stretch came the next right turn on this "U" shaped bike course. We were once again into the powerful cross wind and the effort was really crushing the legs so I was really interested to get down to the half way turn around to see what was going on behind me.
Maybe, I should not have been so interested as my view going around the pylon was not pretty at all. There in my sights were Garvin, Spencer and Finchy and the toughest parts of the course were just ahead. I thought for sure I was doomed.
Heading back north, there was a slight incline, and with the cross winds, it was crushing the bike average and my spirits. I never look back on the bike but was just waiting for those two to pull up along side. When we got up to the next turn we ended up getting some relief as the head wind was not doing as much damage as I assumed. My legs were hurting a lot but I was able to push forward and was still holding off the guys behind.
Near the end of this stretch, I was getting prepared to make my turn when I heard a siren coming from behind. I was already in turning position so I could not get back to the shoulder and was not sure if the police suv was going to turn with the course or go straight. If they turned with me I would have been forced to pull over to respect the law and allow them to safely get to the emergency. Luckily, they went straight and I was able to continue on as I know stopping with this much pain in my legs would have been race over for me. There would not have been enough motivation to get back into race mode after a pulse in the action.
So along I went feeling a slightly refreshed heading downhill towards the park on very smooth asphalt. I was pretty hopeful I could pull off a podium spot at this point even if one or two caught me this close to the park so this helped push me up to the park entrance.
Thankfully, the dismount was much better than the out portion and I was a little more smooth getting back to the run course. It was much warmer now and humid but I feel 2.5k should be manageable under any condition so I tried to use a few of the top triathletes now on the course to grab a decent running pace.
I'll admit, it wasn't pretty and Garvin sent a little fear into me when I could see him closing at the run turn around, but with around 25 seconds and 1 km to go, I was feeling confident that I could now pull this off. And to my relief, I was able to listen to Steve Fleck announce my name as a duathlon winner one more time. I hope I can keep breaking the tape as I age but with all the fast guys growing in the sport, it is not something I can take for granted.
Congrats to all the duathletes on this fine season opener!
Thanks to all my Sponsors and Support Team
- 3Sixty5 Cycling ( 3sixty5cycling.com )
- Recharge with Milk / Multisport Canada Triathlon Series (multisportcanada.com )
- Biosteel ( Biosteel.com )