Friday, June 7, 2013

Navy Duathlon 2013

So here are in June and I just finished my second Duathlon of the year, the venerable Navy Duathlon (and Triathlon) held in Shearwater, NS. I have done this race for many years now and still love coming back, even though it changes just a little each year, so it is hard to compare versus previous results.

As has often been the case these past few years, the Duathlons that are teamed up with triathlons draw fewer competitors than stand alone events. So sadly there were only 15 of us at the start line. I guess the allure of the triathlon is just too great and while I certainly do like a good tri, the option to add an extra run is always far more interesting to me. But luckily we had some good competitors still in this small field.

The Du started with a 5km run. At the start my plan was to shadow Shawn A. as his runs have generally been very fast and if I could hang on with him, then that would be great. At the first Du of the year I managed to catch up with him near the end of the run and come in only seconds behind him. After an extremely fast start, the 2 of us started to pull away from the other runners. After about the 1 km mark I found that I was settling into a good rhythm, but by 2km I felt like things were slowing down. We had gone from a 3:30 min/km pace to a 4 min pace. That wasn't gong to be enough for me, as I knew I needed a decent lead from the run to stay ahead of Alan M on the bike and have a shot at actually beating him (I wasn't convinced at all of beating Shawn overall). So at the turn around I decided to pull ahead of Shawn and if he wanted to jump on my heels that would be cool. I picked up the pace and headed for T1.

And for the first time ever I finished the first run of a duathlon legitimately in the lead. Sure I have technically had a few first place runs to start, but this was the real deal. I finished 8 seconds clear of Shawn and a whopping 49 seconds ahead of Alan. And I while I was surely pushing hard, I wasn't dead at all. Still I took a few extra seconds in T1 to calmly get my bike stuff together and head out and allow my heart rate to drop just a touch. Then on to the 20km bike ride.

I had a clean mount and peddled off, adjusting my shoes easily before the big hill to start the ride. I was just about to hit the main part of the ride, about 1 km in by the time Shawn passed me on the bike. I had frankly expected him to pass me sooner, so I was still feeling good. I then proceeded to give it my all. Now while this is generally a flattish course, being a runway and all, the speeds are never usually that high. This is due to the huge hill to start, very technical first /last section and then the fairly strong winds in one direction of the runway. Still I pushed quite hard and could feel some aches in my legs as I did so.

This kind of race allows you to see your competitors and how they are fairing compared to you as it is a series of laps. And I could see Shawn slowly pulling ahead after each lap. But I was watching Alan and also Donald, 2 really strong guys on the bike and hoping I had enough to stay just ahead of them as I knew my second run could be strong. And by the end? Well apparently what I had in me that day was enough as I managed to grab the second fastest bike split of the day, sadly my once upon a time lead was now a 1 min 19 second deficit. But I grabbed my running shoes and headed for the second run, a 3km showdown was about to start.

I knew this was  short run, I knew I had a decent lead over second place, and I knew first was way ahead. So of course I didn't take it easy. Heck no, this is a race and I went for it. I pushed hard, knowing my legs were aching from the ride but hoping momentum and muscle memory would carry me through.

Shawn passed me on his way back from the turn around before it was even in my sights. I knew I wasn't going to actually catch him, but I wanted second bad this day and I knew I had the fitness to push through this. So I made the turn around and took off for home. The heat of the day was starting and I gave one last hurrah and hit the finish line. Second place was mine (first in my Age Group). And I had clawed that 1:19 deficit back to a 1:02. Making up 17 second in 3 km was very impressive in my mind, allowing me to claim the 2 fastest runs of the day and really just increasing my confidence in the training method that I had adopted from Jeff Zahavich this winter. His heart rate zone training is just excellent.

My Garmin had issues with the length of the race course so the officials times aren't exactly accurate, which is fine since they are based on an exact distance and don't take into account T1 or T2. Ultimately my runs were all at a sub 4 min/km pace. My overall time was 1:08:32 and for the first time ever I managed to beat Alan M. So for this year we are 1 for 1 with our next head to head at Greenwood, a very similar race course. I am really excited for that race.

A huge thanks to Sportwheels' super mechanic Sheldon Mcquillan for helping me redesign my Devinci's cockpit. I wanted to get more aero and we redid the stem and aerobars. I think it worked, at least I didn't seem to get slower and felt good for the ride.

My next race though, is this weekend. The ever exciting Cyclesmith Duathlon near Lawrencetown Beach. This years format is slightly different, offering 2 distances to race and I will be racing the shorter one. But more on that later.

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