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Peterborough 1/2 Ironman Duathlon

Date: July 8, 2007

Description: 1/2 Ironman Tri (2km/90km/21km) & Du (2km/90km/21km)

Location: Beavermead Park, Peterborough

Race Name: Subaru Triathlon Series: Peterborough Half Ironman

Sport: Triathlon & Duathlon

Race web site:

I woke up this morning so sore I could barely get out of bed…..ahhh, the tell-tale sign of a hard effort!  

I decided to do the Peterborough 1/2 Ironman Duathlon on Saturday morning, the day before the race.  Having already done 3 races in the last 2 weekends, my original plan was to skip this race, even though it was in the neighbourhood, and get in some good training instead.  Somehow though, I let myself be convinced by a teammate of mine, Len Gushe, that the race itself would be a great “training” day for me in preparation for my goal race of the season, the Long Distance Duathlon Championships in Virginia.  At first I thought he was talking crazy, especially since my training through the week included hard efforts on Thursday (bike hill repeats) and Friday (run intervals) giving me only one day of relative rest before the big “training” day.    However, I felt pretty good Saturday morning and just couldn’t resist the challenge.  This would be my first race (oops, I mean training session!) at this distance and I was curious to see how I would handle it! 

Once the decision was made, I had tons of questions: how should I pace myself?  what was a good nutrition plan?  90km is a long way on the bike…should I wear bike shorts for more padding?  do people take bathroom breaks in a race of this length?  how does the bottle exchange work?  You get the picture!  Luckily, Len was able to answer my many questions via email throughout the day and quelm most of my worries and anxieties! 

The Course

The 90km bike course remained the tried and true rolling out and back from Peterborough to Hastings mostly along nicely paved county rd #2.  Winds are typically gusty from the West and this was true for race day as well.  

Subaru featured a new run course in Peterborough this year.  Never having done this race before, I can’t compare it to the previous course, however from speaking with a few athletes I get the impression they like the new course much better.  The old course was an out and back along the sprint bike route that offered no shade and could get quite hot and lonely.  The new course had you running several flat km’s along grass and paved trails in Beavermead Park before heading out onto some quiet rolling county roads in the opposite direction of the bike course.  It was a 2-loop course, and that, combined with the km’s that coursed through the park meant there were a ton of athletes & spectators to help keep you motivated.  There were also plenty of water stations with a variety of fueling options (water, gatoride, pepsi, powergels) and one station where you could be hosed down or grab some ice, if desired.  Personally, I enjoyed the new run course, although I question the accuracy of the distance with all the running done on the grass and trails of the park.   

The Weather

In previous years, the weather has always been the story in Peterborough.  Sunny, hot and humid combine to make difficult (and dangerous!) conditions for the 1/2 Ironman racers.  This year in the days leading up to the race it seemed this would be the case once again, with forecasts of sun/cloud, gusty winds, chance of thunderstorms, and a temp/humidex of 36 degrees!  In reality, it was not so bad!  Cloud cover dominated for most of the day, and although at times the wind became quite gusty and the skies looked ominous, only a few rain drops fell here and there…I actually welcomed them out on the run!  It was warm, but could have been much worse had the sun been shining the whole time. 

The Race Plan!!

I mean…the “training” plan! 

I got some good advice from Len and followed it to the letter. 

2km run: very easy, basically use it as a warm up for the rest of the race to come

90km bike: take first 45km absurdly easy; little to no pressure on the pedals, just spin.  Second 45km start to push the pace; work hard against the wind; be more aggressive.   Len promised that all the people who would blow by me during the first 45km would come back to me in the second 1/2.  The hard part would be letting them all go by!

21km run: basically stay in control, especially during the first loop; let the “racing” begin with about 5km left in the race!

The Race!

I arrived in Peterborough at about 7am…too late for a good parking spot in the park!  After heading through race day registration and setting up in transition, I had just enough time for a 15min jog and some drills before the 8:30am start. 

2km run:  I wonder who decided that the 1/2 Ironman Du should start with a 2km run versus the 2km swim of the triathlon??  This just does not seem equal to me.  We should be doing a 5 or 7.5km run to start.  Anyways, I took this initial flat 2km (located entirely on the grass in the park) very easy, according to the plan. 

Time: 7:45 (3:53min/km)

T1: Kind of slow, but I wasn’t particularly concerned with my transitions for this event/practice.  I opted to wear my bike shorts over my racing shorts for (hopefully!) extra comfort on the bike.  Got through transition with no major mishaps!

90km bike: Here we go…….as per the plan, took the first 45km very easy.  Kept the cadence high and the effort low.  I wasn’t even breathing hard on the climbs!  As I was warned, I did get passed by what felt like pretty much the entire field, and found it VERY difficult to resist the temptation not to go after people, especially other women.  At this point, with all this easy running & cycling, I felt more like I was out for an easy training day, not racing in a 1/2 Ironman!  I was a little worried that I was taking it too easy, but as this was my first time at this distance, I figured it was better to be conservative and learn for the next time.  FINALLY hit the turnaround at 45km and that was when the “racing” really began.  I immediately let loose!  I had the opportunity to see exactly who was ahead prior to the turnaround, and by how far, and this gave me some motivation and goals to work towards.  That second 45km was awesome!  I had so much fun!  Whereas the field had flown by me initially, I was not passed by a single person on the way back, and got to enjoy reeling in and passing what felt like hundreds of people!  It was great!  Not even the gusty winds could damper my spirits, I barely even noticed them!  My legs actually felt better over this long distance then they did for the 20km and 40km race distances I have done lately.  Usually my quads are just screaming throughout during a shorter race, but I guess with the lower intensity of the longer ride, the effect was not the same.  As a result, my legs felt surprisingly good off the bike!   The only major issue on the bike was pain from existing/new saddle sores in the groin, which was anticipated as this has been a major problem for me this year. 

Time: 2:39:02 (34km/hr)

T2: Stripped off the bike shorts to my racing shorts underneath.  Stuffed a couple gels in my top, grabbed my hat, and was off on the run.  First on the agenda though: a bathroom break!  The porta potties were full so I ducked into some nearby bushes to relieve myself…and boy, did it feel good!  I had been holding my bladder for the majority of the bike ride!  Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that while the legs were feeling fine, my gut was wanting to rebel.  As a result, I ran the entire 1/2 marathon feeling sick to my stomach, with on and off cramping, and wondering if I could manage to hold my bowls until the end!  Not a nice feeling, and one that I’m sure many people out there encountered!  Concentrated on keeping a nice high turnover on the run and just staying strong.  I was really helped along by all the cheers and words of encouragement from the race volunteers, spectators, and fellow competitors…..thanks everyone!  You all helped to push me to a great run!  Because of my GI issues, I stuck with water for the entire first loop.  Every water station I would take some sips of water and then pour the rest on my head or body.  The lap/finish area was a bit confusing with lots of twists and turns…..that part of the race was a bit longer than I thought it would be…fortunately there were lots of volunteers and they did a great job of keeping everyone on course and heading in the right direction!  I did duck into the bushes again at the start of the second loop but was unable to produce under the time pressure, so after 30secs or so I gave up and kept running, hoping now that my bowls would be okay until the finish.   About 3km into the 2nd loop I was definately starting to fatigue so I dared to take a gel and a few sips of gatorade…not sure if this made the GI issues worse or not!  I pushed the last couple of km’s….my incentive was not finishing the race as much as making it to a bathroom!!  Which is the first place I headed as soon as I crossed the finish line! 

Time: 1:26:41 (4:07min/km)

Total Time: 4:15:48

All in all, my first attempt at this distance was a huge success.  I am so glad that I stuck to the race plan as it enabled me to have such a strong finish.  I ended the race as 1st Female and 2nd Overall in the Duathlon.  My 1/2 marathon time was the fastest overall in the duathlon and 6th fastest of the day.  Whew!  I am so thankful that I was able to have such a positive experience and survive this day with no mishaps…mechanical, mental, physical, or otherwise.  I know there were many people who were not so lucky, and my heart went out to those that I saw out on the course dealing with various issues beyond their control. 

A Note on Nutrition:

Breakfast: muesli at 5:00am (race start was 8:30am)

Bike: carried 2 750ml bottles with Gu2O, and drank both while on the bike combined with a total of 4 Gu gels.  I had my first gel immediately after the start of the bike and at 45min intervals thereafter

Run: carried 2 Gu gels with me but due to GI issues stuck with water until the 2nd loop when I had one gel and some sips of gatorade. 

Results: even though I had GI issues, I wonder how much was due to effort, heat, and diet of the last few days.  My energy level throughout the race was great, and it was a good sign that I had to relieve my bladder both during and after the race. 


I enjoyed a dip in the lake….that and walking around a bit served as my “cool down” after the race.  Scarfed down my cheese pizza from the food tent but later wished I hadn’t (my GI issues continued for most of the day….) and enjoyed the quick awards ceremony.  

Next up: A weekend off!!!  Next race will be the McKellar 1 Triathlon in Parry Sound on July 22nd. 

Thanks for reading! 

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  • Melissa,

    That is an incredible result! Very well done and excellent game plan. Your 1/2 marathon is amazing and something you should be super proud of. I run with a lot of those people and they are quick so for you to post the top time is ultra impressive!

    “Go Running Free Go!”

  • Geez!
    I shudder to think how much faster you might have gone without the GI issues, and not taking it so easy on the first run and 1/2 of the bike.
    I can only wish for that type of run speed.
    Way to go.
    Now just one more thing, what the heck are “bowls”? : )

  • Thanks guys! I had such a good time doing this race…even with the GI issues. The legs felt great. I found the bike-to-run easier than with a shorter race since my quads weren’t as trashed from the bike… Definately very happy with the run time!

    Bowls…..guess I should read over my reports before I post them!!!! Spell check wouldn’t have caught that one!

    Congrats on all your races, lets keep it up!!

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