By Jesse Bauer
2013 Ignition Fitness Athlete Team member
My final race of the season didn’t come without a bunch of uncertainty in the weeks leading up to the race. I came out of Ottawa hungry to take another shot at the international distance, and Lakeside was the last one on the calendar that didn’t conflict with a Tiger-Cats game. Though I was supremely proud of my effort in Ottawa, I couldn’t help but feel that I had left a little bit on the course during the race. I had heard stories about the challenging nature of the course at Lakeside, but I’m stubborn and couldn’t imagine how it could be as difficult as they say. In hindsight, my naïveté might have led me to underestimate the deceptive difficulty of the course…
The plan after Ottawa was to back off for a week, build for 3 weeks, and taper for a week in to Lakeside. Then we were going to significantly cut back on the bike and focus on running some road races in the fall, since I missed my spring running season due to injury/burnout. Part of the way through my build, I had to make my first adjustment to that plan and changed to one fall road race at the Toronto Waterfront marathon (probably a 5k). A few workouts later, I still could not get over the hump and realized that my body had been trying to tell me for weeks that it was finished with 2013. I feel like I’ve done admirably in my races this year despite having no real endurance base to speak of. With January/February devoted to speed on the track and March/April spent half on the shelf, I never really had the chance to build a foundation of strength and had to kind of do it on the fly as I entered race season. Long seasons feel a lot longer without the correct foundation to build them on, and I may have learned that the hard way this year.
So about 10 days out from Lakeside, we decided to enter an extended taper and call it a season on September 15th. We shut right down, with my only real intense workouts being some race pace bike efforts so I could test out my new bike set-up. After reading this blog post by Cody Beals about standard versus compact cranks and thinking about my situation as a smaller, high cadence cyclist who doesn’t cope very well with rolling hills and headwinds on the bike, I decided to make the switch from a 53-39 crank/12-25 cassette to a 50-34/11-28 set-up. Immediately I felt the difference, as I have spent very little time in the small ring since I made the switch, and have felt much more in control of my bike as well. Lots of rest days in the week leading up helped, including an easy jog on Friday and a pretty solid pre-race brick (10’ run/30’ bike/10’ run) early on Saturday morning. The legs were feeling good and rested, and I felt like I had one last good race in me!
While not the best field I’ve faced this year, Lakeside promised to be competitive with Scott Finch making it his A race and 1:07 half marathoner Charles Bedley registered to compete as well. With Charles in the race, I knew it would be a different dynamic, and that there may be a chance that I would not be able to rely on my run and may have to win the race on the bike. The course was also indeed a beast, with tough footing on a gravel road and a significant climb at the midway point of each of the two run loops, and some nasty little rolling hills on a deceptively challenging bike course. I took all of this in on my warm-up ride/run, and I felt like I was ready to force the issue on this course and end 2013 with a bang. The top it all off, the chilly temperatures present when I got to the course warmed up as race time approached, making for some good conditions for what promised to be a tough day.
RUN #1: 36:51 (10.3km) – 1st AG, 2nd fastest overall
The run started off hot. As I expected, Charles went straight to the front and I went straight to his shoulder. I definitely didn’t expect the terrain to take as much out of me as it did. It became quickly apparent that I wouldn’t have the run legs to run with him and still be able to put some semblance of a bike split together after, and I realized I would indeed have to win the race on the bike. I backed off and settled in to a strong tempo pace and tried to maintain about 3:30’s. I definitely prefer running on roads instead of gravel…the surface really made it hard to settle in to one pace. That combined with the hill to each turnaround made it a difficult running course. I had been hoping to limit the damage to ~1 minute after the first 10k. I couldn’t see Charles as I was coming to the end of the run, so I knew I would have work to do. Turns out I had ceded 90 seconds and would need a very strong bike to get back in to the race.
T1: 0:28 – fastest in race
Phenomenal transition spot. By some stroke of luck I was on the Elite Tri rack right by the bike out arch on a direct line between the entrance and exit. In and out, and making up 30 seconds on Charles in the process.
BIKE: 1:05:19 (39.9km) – 1st AG, 2nd fastest overall
I came out of transition flying. There were some triathletes peppered up the short road leading from the bike course to the resort that I wanted to get past, so I didn’t even get my shoes done up until a kilometer in to the race. That said, I really enjoyed the first half of this course. Pretty flat and pretty fast, and I felt like it went by pretty fast. It seemed like I was turning onto the back stretch of the course before I knew it, and I was feeling good. Maybe it helped that I was constantly looking up the road for Charles. Power was holding steady at ~195-200W, though I think I had a little help from the wind on a couple sections. At about 18k I looked up the road and finally saw the back of Charles’ kit and a few minutes later I was moving past him into the lead. Feeling good, I tried to settle in to a strong pace and build a gap on him the rest of the way.
Just as I made the pass, I started to feel some spasming in my right calf. It’s something that’s happened before, and it usually goes away if I put a bit of pressure and a bit of time. I think it has to do with how well I hydrate before and during the race. Wasn’t a huge deal but I spent the next kilometer working out the kink, during which time I was mildly surprised to see Charles pass me back! I guess he wasn’t going down without a fight that continued for the rest of the bike leg. I kept the pressure on to establish enough of a gap so that I could neutralize his strong run (weird feeling for me), and he somehow stayed close by. It stayed like that through the tough little rolling hills in the last 10k of the bike until I decided to shut it down and make it a foot race. No sense draining my legs trying to get a 30 second gap for the run…
T2: 0:29 – fastest in race
So Charles actually had a bit of a gap on me coming up to the dismount line, but he had to stop and awkwardly dismount his bike. My smooth ITU dismount (that I have spent every brick ride working on for the last 2 years) closed that gap right down, and my speedy transition actually gave me a 20-25 second advantage leaving transition. My message to any newbies in this sport is to pay attention to the details! Time can be EASILY found in transition if you just don’t overthink them but you do practice them. Every brick ride I do I start with my shoes clipped in so I can practice getting into them on the fly, and I finish the ride with an ITU dismount at an imaginary dismount line so I can practice that as much as possible too. Those seconds really do put pressure on those in the race who overlook how important they can be!
RUN #2: 20:08 (5.27km) – 1st AG, 2nd fastest overall
This was a bit of a mess. I found a good rhythm right away as I tried to hold onto my lead. I managed to stay away for about a mile before Charles made the catch. At that point I tried to attach myself to his shoulder, but I just didn’t have the legs on the tough course and he started to gap me. I was still holding 3:38-3:39’s for the first 2km and was hoping I could hold it, but the hill up to transition really did me in. I fell apart on it and just muscled my way up. Charles’s lead doubled and I saw that I still had a big gap back to Scott. At that point, there really wasn’t much I could do to change my 2nd place standing, so I just tried to cruise in. The overall win was too far up the road, and though Scott did put in a hard fight to catch me, I had managed to bike well enough to have enough of an advantage on the last run. A hard fought 2nd place on a tough course with the best bike of my career to date that leaves me hungry to get my run back up to par for next year!
I will say it was a little disappointing to see Charles only 1 or 2 bike lengths back every time I looked over my shoulder on the bike. I have absolutely nothing against being beaten fair and square in a race (aside from being hard on myself), but I do value the integrity of non-draft duathlon as well. I think Multisport Canada and Triathlon Ontario usually do a great job at maintaining this integrity. Even when draft packs develop (like in Binbrook), they are very proactive in making sure it doesn’t happen again. However, I have found that the front of the duathlon can sometimes get lost in the MOP masses of the triathlon. The top triathletes are usually out front, in full view of officials to ensure that the final outcome of the race is determined by who was best on that day. However, once you get into the more dense parts of the race, it gets harder to pick out individual instances of following too close. Since the first duathletes don’t get on the bike until 30-40 minutes into our race, there’s an overlap of about 10-15 minutes of triathletes that kind of relegates us to that more dense part of the race that is understandably susceptible to such oversights. While I completely understand how difficult it must be to police a race of 200 or 300 competitors, it is kind of disheartening to know that an infraction that could change the outcome of the duathlon could get lost in the shuffle like that. But still…I love the work that the guys at Multisport Canada do to put on a fantastic event at great courses across the province with some great competition from the guys! Larry, Erik, Scott, Harold, Kevin, Bert, Richard and Kevin, I look forward to doing it all again next year!