2015 World Duathlon Championships – Adelaide, Australia
After my “double du” performance with back to back wins at Lakeside (the sprint, then Olympic Distance), I found myself ready for the season to be over! I try to fit in as much training as I can while balancing work, kids, and my wife’s training schedule, but I just wasn’t feeling it after Lakeside. I managed to accomplish what I wanted, which was to go into the worlds in as good of shape or better than when I qualified. It wasn’t until I boarded the plane to go to Australia that I once again got excited.
I flew out on Sunday so I could arrive in Adelaide, Australia by the Tuesday. All athletes on the Canadian Team were asked to arrive by then in order to get used to the time change and minimize the effects of jet lag. Lucky for me I received good advice from a friend who has made the 21 hour flight many times, so I actually did not find the jet lag bad at all. Once I made it to Adelaide, I checked into my room, and set out to put my bike back together and then met up with a few other Team Canada athletes. The following morning (and every subsequent morning until race day), we had a mandatory bike and run which allowed us to scope out our race course. It was also a great opportunity to meet new people. The bike and run was typically done by around 10:30a so it gave lots of time to do other things. The only problem is, for as nice as Australia is, there wasn’t really a lot to do in Adelaide itself unless you wanted to go on wine tours. There was a nice nature reserve that some people went to, while others skipped a day to go to Kangaroo Island. For me, I just took it easy before the race. I did the bikes and runs that were recommended, and even ended up joining some other teams for those portions. I biked with the US team and ran with both the GB team as well as some from NZ. On one of the bike rides, we actually rode to the ocean instead of doing the course. It was a slow ride to the ocean, but once there, we found some empty road to push it on and make sure we could still get some speed! The best part of the ride was having the time to stop, take off our shoes, and go into the ocean.
I went to a grocery store and picked up some fruit and vegetables (my mother would be proud). I also picked up some items so I could have breakfast at the hotel for the week. Typically the group would go out for dinner, or sometimes we would have smaller groups go. Food seemed expensive but when you actually think about it, I would say prices are similar. When you order at a restaurant, the price in the menu is the price you pay. It includes tax and enough profit to pay the staff a decent wage (you are actually told tipping is unnecessary).
Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty low key, except on Wednesday was race kit pickup. That made it real! On Thursday, things started to pick up. We had our usual bike and run, but later in the day, there was a meet and greet for the entire Canadian team. It was an organized event with drinks and snacks such as fruit trays and sushi. After the meet and greet, we had our race briefing where our team manager went over all the rules for the race. One rule that really stuck with me was the focus on having at least 10 meters between you and the bike in front, as well as only having 20 seconds to pass. This may sound arrogant, but I have never really worried about this before. In past races, my bike is usually my strong point so I just end up sitting out to the left calling “on your left” and passing people. With strong competition from many countries, and the fact the bike course was 4 loops of 10 km with multiple 90 and 180 degree turns, I was getting worried. After the race briefing, we headed to the Glass Bridge at Elder Park for a team photo, followed by the Parade of Nations. To be honest, as cool of an experience it was to wear Team Canada gear with all your teammates, in a parade with all the different nations, it seemed rather anti climatic and something that you would do at a summer camp. To celebrate the opening ceremonies, there was a pasta dinner. If you had a guest, you had to pay $35 for a ticket for them. Knowing this price, I was excited to get a nice pasta meal. When we got there, we received a small amount of pasta in a pre-packaged plastic container. That’s it. The pasta was slightly warm and I was a lucky one. Most people complained theirs was actually cold. Either way, it wasn’t very good and a big disappointment, especially for those who actually paid $35 for something I could have made for a dollar or two.
On Friday we did another bike and run. This was the day I ended up running with a few members of team NZ. I was surprised that they didn’t seem to know their way around and I guess it just showed that we had good leadership with the Canadian team. After the typical workout, I had a quick bite to eat and went to the airport to surprise my wife Cathy, as she was flying in that day to join me. It was great to see her and made things feel right. The race was just the excuse to get us to Australia, but I was really looking forward to spending the rest of the month with Cathy travelling all over Australia.
Saturday was uneventful as we did shorter run and bike sessions since the next day was race day. I wanted to keep off my feet, but had to rack my bike in transition. After that, a few of us went to Edler Park to watch the pros race. All I can say is the pros were impressive and very fast!!!! The races didn’t take long due to their speed, but it was still time on your feet, that by the time we got back to the hotel, I just wanted to order in dinner. In the end, my wife and I joined two others on a 30 minute “10 minute” walk to an Italian place. At least the food was delicious and exactly what I needed since my homemade spaghetti lunch bombed, due to the fact I bought tomato paste, and not sauce. Upon returning to the hotel, I made sure I had everything set for the morning and went to bed in decent time (by my standards).
I woke up Sunday morning ready to go! I was both nervous and excited. At my previous 2 races, I just went by feel and didn’t worry about what anybody else did. That was going to be my plan again for this race. I knew I was not going to win, but at least I could enjoy the experience and put out a solid performance.
I set up my transition area and then headed to do a few sprints to get ready. Each age group had their own starting time. Mine was at 8:06 (wave 6) and was only 2 minutes after wave 5, which consisted of Women 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, and 70-74. I wasn’t sure what the logic for this was, as usually the Men 35-39 is one of the fastest groups and often produces the race winner.
The race start was a cool experience. It was fun looking at each other, sizing everyone up. I stayed with my fellow Canadian team members, but also said hello to David from GB who I had run and cycled with earlier in the week. The gun went off and everyone took off like a shot. Every race I have been in, the first km has always been fast, but this first km was crazy fast! My watch beeped and we had done it in 3:06! I am a decent runner, but not a person who can keep that up, so I adjusted my pace to something I felt was more manageable. My goal was to just go by feel and I hoped that I was under 40 minutes for the first 10 km. The run course was two loops. It was great to run by the start line and hear the spectators cheering you on. I felt pretty good at the 5 km mark, and continued a steady pace. At this point, I would say I was around the middle of my age group. I knew I had one Canadian Team member, Mathieu, ahead of me and another team member, Mitch, just behind me. The second loop was identical to the first, but this time I had to run into transition. I ended up finishing the 10 km in 38:06 (which is good for me). I knew my T1 wouldn’t be fast compared to other races as you had to run up a hill, run over to your rack, grab your bike, run down the hill, turn, and run back up through the middle. This was done so that every athlete had the same distance to run with a bike. You were either running more at the beginning with a bike (which was my case), or more at the end. With all this bike running, I was worried that the elastics on my shoes (that hold my shoes to the bike to make for an easier transition) might break and cause issues while running in transition, but lucky for me they stayed in place. Unfortunately, by me mounting my bike, the elastic broke too early, so the shoe fell with the pedal. I ended up having my shoe hit the ground as I pedalled, but it didn’t come off and didn’t make me fall off, so that was good. In the end, I made it work and just need to keep practicing!
Before I even had my feet in my shoes, I had to do my first 180 degree turn. As soon as I had that completed, I quickly got back up to speed and put my shoes on. I love the bike and figured I would just leave it all out there on the course. I had put my watch to multisport but obviously hit the button one too many times, as I was back into a run screen. I really didn’t care as my effort was what it was, regardless of how fast I was going. Even though I was with such high level athletes, I was catching up and passing the faster runners. I knew I would have to put distance on them on the bike since they would close the gap again, once on the run. I made sure not to draft and really paid close attention to the 10 meter rule. It ended up that there was a competitor from GB and one from AUS that seemed to be at the same pace as me. We played by the rules and would pass each other at various parts of the course. In the end, I averaged close to 40 km/hr for the 4 laps which was amazing considering the constant turn arounds and corners. I made sure that during each lap, I kept saying to myself which lap I was on so that I wouldn’t screw up and do an extra one! As I came into the final stretch of the bike, I make sure to dismount before the line, and didn’t go in as fast as I did at Lakeside where I ended up braking too hard and wiping out.
The run with my bike to the rack was shorter so I just racked it, took off my helmet, put on my shoes and ran. The last 5 km seemed much harder due to the fact I had the 10 km run and 40 km bike now under my belt, but I just kept pushing and was hoping to come in around 20 minutes. The guy from GB who was in my age group and similar on the bike as me, was out in front and I didn’t have enough left to challenge him in the run. With 1km left, I saw an athlete from Brazil cramp up, ahead of me. He stopped and it seemed like he was just going to slowly walk in. I yelled at him (not really thinking if he could understand me), but also gestured to come on! I told him we only had 1 km to go. I side stepped beside him yelling encouragement and it seemed to work. He altered his gate and was moving pretty good even though he was still ginger on the right calf. Obviously it released and then before I knew it I was looking at the back of his uniform! Oh well, I continued on and knew I would see others from Team Canada who had done the sprint, as well as my wife, cheering me on, up the final hill towards the finish. As I came to the hill, I was in such good spirits, that even though I was exhausted, I did an exaggerated “pulled the rope” with my arms like Tenille (our team manager) said to do to fight my way up that hill. Once at the top, it was a quick turn the right, run for 100 meters or so, turn right again, and run back down the finishing chute! What a feeling! I had just competed in and finished my first World Duathlon Championship! I forgot to stop my watch as I saw my wife after crossing the line, but later, I found out I set a new PB at 2:03:48! I was not only the fastest Canadian in my age group, but also the fastest Canadian overall! It was a great way to end a long season. Now for a trip of a lifetime with my wife!