I went into this race with no idea what my result would be. Training has been very sporadic since the spring, and especially since the birth of our second child on May 5. With a 22 month old and a high maintenance newborn in the house, free time has been at an ultra-premium. I wanted to do the Welland race since it was close to home and would require little in the way of logistical planning to get there. It was also my first race as a Team Running Free member. I figured if Jeremy agreed to take me on as an “abroad” member, I better actually do a few races, regardless of how hectic my home life was!
I got to the race site with a decent amount of time for registration and transition setup, but before I knew it we were being called over to the start area. I felt good starting out the first run and decided to try and hold my faster than expected pace and see what happened. I was surprised that I had moved to the front in the first few hundred meters. I sat in 3rd until just after 1 km and then moved into second where I spent the rest of the race. I was happy to be able to keep my run below a 4 min/km pace and I still felt good for the whole run.
First transition was ok – something i need more experience and practice at. This was my first duathlon of the year (and 4th multisport race ever) so I don’t have transitions dialled in yet – definitely something to work on for the future.
Heading out on the bike it was a hard initial effort to get into a good rythym with the effect of the headwind immediately once on the road. I focused on the positive fact that at least it meant there should be a tailwind the whole way home. If I pushed hard to keep my speed up to the turnaround, I would have the final 15km for a bit of recovery. The bike was uneventful – it is a nice quiet and flat course. It was a strange situation for me to be close to the front of the race. I knew the first place du racer was in front of me, and at the 15km turnaround I saw that there were also 1 or 2 tri racers ahead but that was it. I am used to having a ton of people ahead and behind me on the bike and I use them as motivation, trying to pass as many as i can while getting passed by as few as possible. In this case I couldn’t even see anyone on the course in front or behind me. I had to keep reminding myself that if I push harder, I reduce the risk of anyone gaining on me and I am making up time on anyone behind who is easing up. My only issue on the bike was my right foot that seemed to be falling asleep, but I knew the run would wake it up. It wasn’t long before I was coming back into transition. Unfortunately I forgot to finish the ride with some high cadence pedaling which I like to do to wake up my legs for the last run.
I made it through transition without incident (except I forgot to grab my visor) and I was back on the run course. Immediately I could feel both calves were cramping – the result of going hard on the bike in a single position for the whole flat course. I debated stopping and trying to stretch them out, but instead kept going and hoped they would sort themselves out. The route was the same as the first run which helped me mentally. I was definitely tired by this point but knew there wasn’t much further to go, and if I kept pushing I could finish 2nd overall – my first duathlon podium! I managed to push to the finish, and ended up 2nd overall, and 1st in the 30-34 age group. This was a great result for me given that I had no expectations coming into the race. More importantly I was quite happy with my time, given the stress and lack of training over the past few months. I think I’ve written this before, but I am still amazed at how much better I can perform in a competitive environment, even though I don’t see myself as a competitive person.
After the race my wife and kids came down to meet me – we hung around for the awards ceremony. It was a little disappointing that many of the people on the podiums (both overall and AG) didn’t stick around. I was also surprised that they don’t do medals or prizes for the overall winners of these races. The top 3 in each age group receive a medal and a free electronic photo award which is a cool prize to remember the race.
I am definitely glad I did this race – it was very well organized on a good course. Hopefully our home life will settle a little bit over the summer and I can get to a couple more duathlons before the end of the season.