My first multisport event! I would not have guessed at the beginning of 2011 that this was even on the radar; afterall I'm still trying to figure out how to successfully run a marathon. I was exhausted and out of gas in the spring, stepping back in May from running the GoodLife Toronto Marathon to "only a half".
It seems fate had other plans for me. The first night out with the Lululemon training group at Gibbons Park, there was Gabbi at the bottom of Grosvenor hill. We chatted briefly about my GoodLife run and my bucket list Goofy Challenge. She asked what I was doing next. "Resting, I need a break." Eighteen straight months of marathon training and I was burnt out. Gabbi suggested it was time to start thinking about swimming, I was sort of thinking about swimming but over the winter. We made plans to email details and my life as a multisport athlete began.
I remember my first 40km ride from Bellamere on my mountain bike and how wobbly my legs were 3km from finishing.
I remember my first run at Lakeside on the gravel road and discovering two dozen turkey vultures eyeing me in the early morning sun.
I remember going in to Cyzzle Cycle with my old (really, really old) English racing bike and Signan's excitement at what he could do for me. And then after proudly taking it out to train, having everyone pass me on the hills in Komoka. Sadly going back to see if there were any adjustments to make, hopping on the trainer and discovering one big adjustment, the bike was fine; it was the engine that was weak.
I watched race results every weekend, in awe of the abilities of the Balance Point athletes wondering how they do it. The time, the effort, the commitment, the amazing results, and finally, it was my turn to line up on the starting line.
Sunday morning in Lakeside was clear and cool, there was talk of delaying the triathlon start until the temperature reached 8C. Arriving before sunrise, I picked up my race packet, got marked up and set up in the transition area, all things that I’ve never had to do prerace. Gabbi led me to a spot for my bike, my “room mate” Erita Smit was the eventual women’s duathlon winner. She commented on how I had, “The best spot” on the bike rack close to the stanchion.
Time to get the show on the road so to speak. I followed Amanda out to warm up on the bike wearing a long sleeve shirt. It was cold and I could feel my back tighten up just a bit. I wasn’t overly concerned because once the sun was up high enough there would be plenty of warmth (or so I hoped.)
The “mandatory prerace meeting” had started as I made my way back into the transition from my warm-up. I changed in to my race shirt and put on my lightweight racing flats for a quick run warm-up. Out on the road I knew the Zoot shoes were going to be a very bad choice. I have had quite a bit of soreness in the bottom of my feet after my training runs most of August and things weren’t any better going in to September. My right heel is very sensitive to touch and feels quite bruised. For the most part, once I get going, I’m OK and it certainly hadn’t affected my ability to train or race. Today, the gravel and larger stones on the road were just a bit too much and I opted to wear my training shoes and older orthotics. Back in to transition to switch shoes and make a quick port-a-potty stop.
I had to keep looking around to figure out where the starting line was located. I’ve never had that problem before, I couldn’t tell, there wasn’t a stream people heading anywhere. I made my way to the road and saw the duathlon start sign and maybe 10 people lurking in the vicinity. What I didn’t know was the duathlon was capped at 50 people. While milling around I remembered that I needed to flip my Garmin over to multisport mode. There was an incredible casualness about the whole starting area that I had never experienced before. Graham and Roy were on the sideline at the start joking with me keeping everything light and loose. I was mentally listing off all the things I needed to remember about transitioning, mounting, drafting or more importantly not drafting, and dismounting.
Our starter counted out the time; 30 seconds, 10 seconds, 2 seconds and finally the air horn to get the show on the road. My race plan was simple, keep the run controlled. Do not go out too fast. Remember, it’s an endurance event. I consciously held back and didn’t look at my watch. My focus word was “control”. Keeping it controlled, through the first kilometer it felt slow, I opened up just a bit to get through some traffic, used the slight downhill’s to keep loose. Making the turn, to go up the hill to the turnaround I was about 12th. Sam was at the water-stop, Always good to see familiar face. The hill felt good, I opened up again on the downhill and moved up a spot and eased back again on the run back in to the 5km turnaround. I remembered to alternate water and Heed early, not too much but I knew fluids early work much better than emptying the tank and getting in to trouble.
I counted noses at coming in to the turnaround, it was strung out, I wasn’t quite in to the top 10 and I wasn’t going to attempt to push up the 75 meters that would get me there.
One more time up “Sam’s Hill” and the 7.5km turnaround, I moved up a place and though I thought I had had comfortably stretched out my lead over the runners behind me until the last 200 meters. Seriously, if you’re going to sprint to make up a place that early on, I’m going to give it to you, particularly if the word of the day is “controlled”.
In to the transition, hit my lap button and holy heck watch out for the triathletes that were getting out of the water and running in to transition too.
First things first, put on the bike helmet. Make sure the number is at the front so you don’t repeat that training accident that caused terminal blushing. Pocketed my gels, and opened up the laces on my running shoes for when I got back, slipped on my cycling shoes, as I opted to clip in on the course. In training I had lots of problems getting my feet in to the shoes with them already on the pedals. Other than the act of actually having to get clipped in, this seemed like the best plan with my current (lack of) skill level.
During that “mandatory prerace meeting”, it was suggested to run out a bit past the mount line to allow other competitors some room. I ran out about 20 meters and got as far over to the right as I could. I made eye contact with one rider who was mounted and let her ride by before I attempted to mount. The plan was to clip in the right side first, so naturally I did the exact opposite, got up a bit of speed and messed around with the right foot before that satisfying “click”. I even remembered to press the lap button on my watch to start the bike timer. I was off on my ride.
It was different to turn right at the intersection in beautiful downtown Lakeside, usually we make the left hand turn and get out of town as fast as we can. It should also be noted that while it may be nice to finish on the down hill after the cell tower, the same cannot be said for climbing that hill in kilometer two.
Once the “add some mileage detour” was complete it was time to bear down and ride. I was still using my “controlled” plan, save the legs for the climbs in the second half. Popped my first gel on County Road 92 before crossing 119. Staying focused I was able to hold a pace above 30kmh for the first 10km or so into the ride, there were lots of people passing me but I wasn’t overly concerned, that was until the turn on to Road 96 and in to the wind. I took my second gel just before crossing 119 for the second time.
We had one training ride with an easterly wind and it was miserable, this wasn’t any better. At 15km, Amanda went by. I’m not even sure she knew it was me. She was a study in pure concentration. When the high priced bikes went by I smirked a bit, there where bikes with back wheels more expensive than my entire ride but the further we went the more people that went past. In all seriousness, I never passed a single rider – not a one. This really sticks out in my mind.
Around 25km I checked my watch, the screen was blank. I really don’t know when it died and frankly other that the thought that “Time didn’t matter” I just carried on. Getting through the hills in Harrington and on to County Road 6 was tough but not terrible. My third and final gel was opened just before making the turn south. My left calf was twitchy but had been much worse on other training rides. I was hoping for a lift on CR6 but the wind seemed to stay right in my face. Really, a southeast wind? C’mon, that never happens.
I made it to the turn at 30km and back on to County Road 92 and the endless “rolling hills”. I was cold, but not frozen, my hips were tight and my biggest concern was I didn’t seem to be really generating any power. I spent most of the time in my smaller front sprocket and tried to keep my cadence up. At this point, it wouldn’t have surprised me to see some kids with handlebar streamers and training wheels go whizzing by, everyone else seemed to be.
I eventually (according to the calendar) made it back to Lakeside, my dreaded dismount and second transition.
My wife took pictures, in one I’m a study in concentration.
In the others I’m an awkward geek but I made off the bike without getting DQ’d. My shoes stayed in the pedals and of course got stuck under the bike. I half-carried the bike into transition and racked it, then took off my helmet, grabbed my visor and tied my shoes just not very tightly on to the correct feet.
Out through the out door for runners and on to the road.
OMFG what happened to my legs?
I knew it was going to take a few minutes, but they were worse than bricks, more like lead pipes. I made it to the 1km sign, still not easing up. Past the water stop and up and over the bump. Ut-oh! Houston, we have a problem!
I’m prone to calf cramps, I had my quads protest during the brick session after some training rides. Never have I experienced my adductors starting to cramp. You know that wall we try to avoid during the marathon, well cramping is my wall. I had three kilometers left and while I wasn’t surprised by cramping I was surprised by what was cramping. Not to discriminate both sides participated.
I shortened my stride even further.
I tried a couple of “high knees” to see if I could open up the hips a bit and stretch out. Not so much.
I broke every rule I have run by this summer and resorted to the Marathon Shuffle
I got to the bottom of Sam’s Hill. Sarah was there cheering, she had a sign I think it said “Balance Point - Death Before Dishonor”
I got up Sam’s Hill grabbing some water from Sam. I would have stayed to chat but Sam was busy.
Around the sign and 2.5 km to the Finish Line and the good news that first half kilometer was all downhill.
I heel struck every step of the way down. It hurt like hell on my bruised right heel. I hope Sarah didn’t hear what I was thinking on the way down
My adductors eased up. I could run- well sorta, kinda, I set my sights on the back of the person in front of me.
I passed them. And another. For the first time in almost two hours I was finally going past people.
The next guy had a 51 on his calf. Buh-bye-bye.
One kilometer left. Tracy and a huge smile and a high five (just like Reach the Beach)
Paved road!! And grass
And the Finish Line, my mispronounced name over the public address system.
I had no clue about time but I did find my wife waiting for me.
And then I found Gabbi (in the no fly zone) I think I squeezed her too hard. She shooed me out of the transition.
I think some rules are meant to be broken.
Lakeside International Duathlon Results - 2:37:00 (20th Overall, 5/7 50-59)
10K Run 45:29
40K Bike 1:24:35
5K Run 25:00
10K Run 45:29
40K Bike 1:24:35
5K Run 25:00