I am writing this review in two parts. The first is a short overview of the Lakeside course / event with the second portion being my rather long race report (sorry).
Lakeside Event: (general info)
The sprint event at Lakeside has always been one of my favourites. All MultiSport events are run well, but this one lends itself for an easy day of spectating as everything is centralized (short distances from water to transition area and the various bike and run outs). You can easily watch and cheer on people doing the triathlon as well as the Du. Being late in the season, it is a great event to see how your year has gone. The only down side to it being in September is that it can be really cold depending on the weather. Coming to the event the roads are well labelled with ample parking. I recommend pumping your bike tires and leaving the pump in the car before heading to transition. Drop off your bike and pickup the bands needed for security to be able to leave with your bike. Now that you don’t have your bike with you to slow you down, it is easy to find out your bib number, pickup you bib, race kit, and go through marking. I opted to go the cheap route as in the past, the shirts weren’t great, but the entire year the shirts for the MultiSport races have been excellent and well worth the extra $5. I wish I would have opted for them as they looked good, felt nice, and you aren’t going to be able to get a technical shirt of that quality for $5 anywhere else. The body marking area had many volunteers to help and I found it to be a quick process to get through. Once you have that portion done, head back to the transition area and make sure you rack your bike according to the numbers. Everyone has their morning race routine so I have no recommendations on that except to do what you are use to.
The run course has gentle rollers, but nothing too extreme. There is about 800 meters on a paved surface before the run course switches to gravel roads. If you are running in racing flats, you will feel the rocks so you will need to decide if that is worth it or not. The transition area is small which allows for some quick transition times if you are pushing hard. The bike course is an out and back L shape design with some hills (more down than up on the way out) of various sizes before you hit the middle section which is long an flat. This section can be very windy depending on the day. The last 5 km you hit the same hills but in reverse meaning there is more up than down so you need to make sure you have something left in the tank for those. Stage 3 puts you back on the run course described earlier, but is only 2.5 km so you don’t hit many grade changes which allows you to go all out. The volunteers are great and always professional. There are water and heed stations every few km on the run course and I found them to be nicely spaced.
After the race you can hang around an area close to transition to pickup food, and or course some chocolate milk (the main sponsor). The food for the event needs improvement as the pizza slices are small and not the greatest. The options were Pepperoni (always a safe bet unless you are vegetarian) or a Veggie Pizza (which had black olives…yuk for me, but that is a personal thing). There were bananas, oranges, pretzels, and a variety of drinks (pop and water). Before hanging around this area, I recommend changing as it often gets cold and depending on how fast you are, you may be waiting for a while for awards.
Lakeside Sprint Duathlon – Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 (detailed race report…sorry!)
This was only my second race of the season. My first was in Welland on a very flat course and I used that race just for training, rather than pushing it too hard. I wanted to have a baseline at the beginning of the season so I could see if my training plan had worked by the end of the season. I have done Lakeside for the past three years and improved slightly each year so my plan this year was to race hard and see if I had improved over last year. In 2014, I competed in the National Duathlon Championships and finished 10th overall and 3rd in my age group. That result qualified me to represent Canada in my age group at the World Duathlon Championship which is now only a month away in Adelaide, Australia. I was hoping I would improve once again at the Lakeside Sprint Duathlon, which in turn would give me confidence going into the Worlds that I would not embarrass myself. I also signed up for the International distance (Olympic distance) Duathlon at Lakeside the following day to just get more practice at the distance and some race experience.
The plan for the weekend was to go to Kitchener Friday night with the family, and leave early Saturday morning to be at the event sometime between 8:30 and 9 am. With the help from Todd McCall at 3Sports.ca, I was going to try some new things in the races in order to figure out what would work best for Worlds. Special thanks to Todd for hooking me up with some new cycling shoes (my old ones weren’t salvageable and I couldn’t even keep clipped in), and for tuning my bike. Before Todd’s magic touch, the bike was making knocking noises with each stroke, and I couldn’t get into my hardest gear. Todd changed the crank to a 53/39 (from the compact crank I was using before), he replaced the bearings, and tuned my Di2 Duraace so I could actually use all gears! I was so excited to try this out! Good thing I trust him so much as I only did a short bike ride to check things before packing the bike up to take to Lakeside. The morning of the race came quickly and my wife (Cathy) got up and drove me to the event. It is only a 45 minute drive on back roads from Kitchener so was stress free. We arrived on time and I got everything ready. In transition met up with Spencer Summerfield. He is a great guy and we get along well. I love competing against him and was hoping to push him to possibly his fourth overall win of the season! I never really thought of trying to win. The race was all about doing my best, pushing myself, and seeing if I improved over last year.
After catching up with Spencer and getting my bike racked, he and I decided to go for a warm up run. We headed out onto the gravel course (not my preference, but familiar and gave me some sort of comfort), and did maybe a km out before I turned around. I felt like I was sucking air and it was just an easy warmup run. I thought to myself that it was going to be a long day or at least very uncomfortable!
With 5 minutes left before the start, I made my way to the starting line. I scanned the competition and recognized a few people, but figured it was likely Spencer’s race to win. I did notice Jeremy Carter was there, who I knew from Welland, and knew that he was in the same age category. New goal…do my best, but beat Jeremy! The gun sounded and we were off! As usual, the first km was crazy fast with about 5 or 6 of us completing it around 3:05 to 3:10. I had no intention of keeping that pace for the full 5 km (I am no Jessie Bauer), so just settled into what felt comfortable and kept the leaders in sight. I tucked in behind Jeremy and we slowly reeled in Spencer. To my surprise, I ended up passing Spencer before the 2.5 km mark and yet another competitor on “the hill”. Passing these guys early was great for me as my plan was to conserve my legs and give it a strong effort on the bike. In saying that, I knew that Spencer was incredibly strong on the bike so if I wanted to push him along to his fourth victory, while still improving my time from the year before, I needed to put some distance on him in stage 1 of the run. In the end I came into transition with three people in front of me, and Eric Gareau right beside me. I slowed to let him hit the corners first so that we wouldn’t trip each other. First run down with an average of 3:42/km (according to Sportstats), faster according to my garmin which had the first 5 km as 5.2 km. Either way, officially I was the 5th fastest on the first run and had time to make up on the bike.
Coming into the transition area, I easily found my bike as it was at the end of a row right by the bike out. The race directors had put us in our own little area which was good, but also would make it very tight when coming in off the bike. My transitions are usually around 30 seconds which means if I am close to someone on the first run, I have been able to pass them in transition. Today was no different, I was in and out in 31 seconds which allowed me to pass Eric, and even caught Aniket Hooda who was 13 seconds faster than me on the run (I didn’t realize this at the time)! Looks like the brick training had paid off (or so I thought). I ran the bike out making sure to pass the mount line and others from the triathlon so that I didn’t get stuck behind anyone. I have my shoes clipped in already so I just hop on and start pushing. Once I felt I got up enough speed, I tried putting my feet in the shoes. What the…boy was this frustrating. In my race panic I forgot (as I only got the shoes the day before), that these shoes attach from the inside. All my brick workouts and practicing getting in my shoes went out the window! I fumbled around, losing all my speed and still didn’t have my feet in the shoes. I pushed some more to get back up to speed and tried again. Finally I was successful and made a mental note that I need to practice that more as I felt I likely lost time over just putting on my shoes, running out of transition and getting on the bike. Now that my shoes were on (and very comfortable I might add), I started hammering away and calling out “ON YOUR LEFT”. I was flying by people all the time looking for the red bibs of those crazy young runners (Joseph and Marcel) of the duathlon. I figured that the young guys would be fast, but that my legs would put out more power on the bike. It wasn’t long before I found Joseph and passed him like he was standing still. Not long after that I also found Marcel and passed him. At this point I didn’t know where Aniket was. Either I past him in transition (which turned out to be the case) or missed him OR I had underestimated him and he was faster than I thought. Either way, I decided it didn’t really matter. The race was about me, and beating my time last year. I figured I would need to be around 36 km/hr average to do so. I love the bike course as it is relatively flat (compared to where I live and train, but it would be considered hilly by some especially when compared to Welland) so figured this was doable now that I had all my gears and a harder crank (53/39 versus compact from before) for more power to the pedals. The out and back section on the bike course allows you to get a read on where you are relative to the competition. No sooner did I make the turn around then I looked up and saw a grin on Spencer’s face. Man is he fast! I didn’t care if he caught me, I just kept telling myself, keep pushing and I will beat my time from last year. I continued on, pushing hard and wondering when I would hear Spencer’s voice yelling “on your left” at me. To my surprise, I turned the corner heading into the final stretch before the dismount and he still hadn’t passed me. This was good as it validated that the bike changes must have helped. Considering the trouble I had with my shoes putting them on, I figured I better start getting out of them early. Of course as I fumbled to do so, there went Spencer on my left! I don’t know if he yelled it as he passed me or I thought it in my head, but I swore I heard “too soon”. The good news is I had my feet out of the shoes and was coming in fast. Both Spencer and I use the same technique which is flipping our one leg over and gliding in fast. Then we jump off while breaking and run as fast as we can into transition. I was right behind Spencer coming into transition and knew this was going to be a great finish. I was right on his heals and Spencer overshot the sharp turn only to make a last second adjustment which put us on a crash course. We collided, but neither one of us fell or were hurt from the bump. We racked the bikes, whipped off our helmets, put our running shoes on, and we were off.
At this point my left calf started to cramp but I didn’t care. I just kept my foot pointed as I ran and as we entered the run out my calf relaxed. I knew my time was close to last year and I wanted to beat it so bad. I knew I had beat Spencer in the first run, so maybe I could actually take him on the last run as well! It was no time before I hit the turn around and the volunteer told me I was in first with nobody close to me (that meant I was chasing a ghost and must have passed Aniket without knowing it). Being in first place was awesome, but I kept pushing. I wanted to prove to myself that I was in good shape and my training was solid. The challenge is that I didn’t really follow a proper training plan (as my wife will attest), but I try to get in as much as I can working around her training schedule (she finished Ironman Muskoka in August), the kids, and work. I needed this validation to help me feel comfortable going to the Worlds. I don’t expect to place at Worlds, but I didn’t want to be slower than last year either. I thought I was going fast then I heard someone breathing hard behind me, then beside me and then gone! The guy was a blur he was going so fast. I thought it might have been Jeremy as I saw him not too far behind the turn around and I know he is a strong competitor. Then I noticed the blue bib…the guy was a triathlete, it wasn’t Jeremy, I was still in first. At this time I was back on the paved section of the run and could see the finish line. Determined to beat my time from last year, I didn’t let up. 1:01:41…I did it! I beat my time from last year and in doing so, I took first overall! I waited by the drinks at the finish line to congratulate 2nd and 3rd place which ended up coming in no more than a minute later. Jeremy, Spencer and myself chatted it up and posed for a photo before eventually leaving to change as it was freezing.
After changing, I went to “recharge with Milk”, while waiting for awards. I had a delicious chocolate milk and tried their fancy recovery pants. I had a wedding to go to after the race (not ideal recovery), and as mentioned, was racing the International / Olympic distance Duathlon for more race experience the next day. The pants were like large blood pressure cuffs that would inflate and deflate. I was told that the idea is that they will help clear the lactic acid and aid in recovery. I figured why not try yet another thing new! I figured it couldn’t hurt to try these pants so did! I used them for around 20 minutes until Awards. I would find out Sunday if the pants helped.
All in all it was a great day. I came and did what I wanted to do. I had a great race, didn’t worry about where I finished, and just put out my best effort. The fact that I beat my time from last year gave me a big confidence boost I needed. The fact it resulted in first overall was the icing on the cake. Thanks to Jeremy and Spencer for keeping me honest and pushing me so that I didn’t take it easy.