Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Race report: Subaru Guelph Lake II Sprint Duathlon 2014

So, my multi sport debut!

I had two goals going into this:

1) See if I like multi sport racing
2) Don't embarrass myself

On point two, I was mostly worried about transition, and doing something like setting out on the run course through the wrong exit or while still wearing bike shoes or knocking over a rack of bikes or something. I mean, the reason I don't do team sports is my complete lack of coordination, so transition seemed ripe with opportunities to screw things up, Mr. Bean style.

Transition, registration, etc. Very pretty conservation area setting.
After an easy drive to Guelph (and I didn't even have to leave that early!), I arrived at the race site with plenty of time to pick up my kit, get my body marking, set up my transition area, and visit the bathroom.

First race, no idea what I'm doing, so I copied what the person next to me had done. #cheater I must have looked the part, though, because later on two people asked me how to put the stickers on their bikes/helmets and if they'd set up correctly. Sure, why not.
Met up with Sam, saw Jana, but somehow the hour before the race just vanished and it was time to do a quick check of my transition area and then warm up. In my infinite wisdom I decided to re-tie my ponytail, and of course my ponytail elastic chose that moment to break. PANIC! I managed to tie the elastic ends together and jam my hair into the now far too tight elastic, so it worked out. Not what I needed a few minutes before heading out to warm up, though!

Waiting in the porta potty line, watching the triathletes in their super hero suits.
I took a caffeinated gel as pre-race fuel and did a quick 1k run to warm up my legs. The duathlon had a wave start, with men under 50 going first and the rest of us going 3 minutes later, starting about 10 minutes after the first wave of triathletes got into the water. It all seemed very well organized, and I assume is designed to spread everyone out before they hit the bike course.

The horn sounded, and off I went on my first ever multi sport race!

Run 1 - 2k
Time: 9:57
Average pace: 4:59
5/15 for age group

Since the first run was 2k, my strategy was to just run. Not max effort, but a solid fast pace. It felt like no time before we were running down into transition to get on our bikes.

Transition 1 - 1:16

I did this very deliberately, like I'd rehearsed in my head and in my garage a few times. Kick shoes off, pick up helmet, get helmet on, bike shoes on. But of course during this process my sunglasses fell off my face onto the grass, the guy next to me was all over the place (I seriously thought he was going to drop his bike on me at one point), and I initially tried to put my helmet on over my run hat. Yeah, I am awesome. Still, I got out of there reasonably quickly. Ran my bike up the steep hill in transition (foreshadowing!) to the mount line, which seemed awfully far away. Made it over the line and onto my bike without falling over. Success! And I passed at least one person in my age group in transition that I saw. Amazing how those age group numbers on people's legs fire up the competitive juices.

Not entirely sure why the body marking guy wrote mine on the side of my leg. But you get the idea.
Bike - 30k
Time: 1:01:20
Average speed: 29.3 km/hr
2/15 for age group

Ah, the bike. So the first km, getting out of the conservation area, was a bit of a clusterfuck. Lots of people riding very slowly, on a narrow road so not easy to pass while making sure I didn't cross the centre. Plus every so often a Hardcore Tri Dude would come blowing past screaming LEFT on a fancy tri bike. It was all a bit overwhelming and it took me about 5 minutes to really start to feel comfortable.

I have no idea where this photographer was. Too focused to pay attention to that sort of thing!
Once we were out onto the roads I was able to settle in and start hammering. Since I knew going in my bike was likely to be stronger than my run, my strategy was to go all out and get it done as fast as possible. The second run is only 7k, how bad could it be?

The bike route was pretty much perfection as far as playing to my strengths. Lots of rolling hills and oh my god is it ever good times to blow past people on an uphill! I need to work on my cadence, though, and improve my speed on the flats and downhill grades, because that's where people would catch me. There were a couple of girls racing the tri I must have played leapfrog with a half dozen times over the course of the 30k - I'd pass them on the uphills, they'd catch me again a few minutes later on the downside. Overall I felt like I passed more people than passed me (I definitely passed more women than passed me back), and that felt amazing. In running I'm usually the pass-ee, so it was quite fun to be the one doing the passing!

On a turn at some point? I think?
One lesson learned: practice hairpin turns before doing an out and back bike course. About 10 seconds before I reached the turn around I realized I had no idea how to execute a hairpin turn and I ended up going too wide onto the gravel on the opposite shoulder. Whoops. That's got to be a great place to be the volunteer, watching newbies fuck up the turn over and over and over again.

Yes I paid for all the pictures so I'm using them. This one is clearly near the end because I look really tense through the shoulders.
I loved the bike. I'd been wondering going in if I had a shot at finishing 30k in an hour, and I got pretty close to that. Considering I've owned the bike for all of two months and my training has consisted mostly of riding what I feel like riding when I have time, I'm thinking I've got plenty of room for improvement. And I'm really excited about that!

Transition 2 - 1:32

I'm really surprised this was only 1:32. It felt a lot longer. I got off my bike before the dismount line, like the very enthusiastic volunteer was screaming, and started to run it into transition. Remember how to get out of transition I had to push my bike up a steep hill? Well, now I had to run down that hill, in my bike shoes, with my legs screaming OH HELL NO at me. Plus the duathlon racks were the closest to the run exit, so we had the farthest distance to travel from the bike entrance. I ended up walking because running wasn't happening. Racked my bike, took off my helmet, put on my hat and changed my shoes, and took a few seconds to drink some water. I was in no rush to start running, because I knew it was going to suck.

Run 2 - 7k
Time: 38:59
Average pace: 5:35
6/15 for age group

I had joked before the race to Sam that she would know I'd overcooked it on the bike if she saw me curled up on the side of the road during the run.

That joke was suddenly seeming a lot less funny. The run started with an uphill and it was not good. Not the noodle legs I've felt doing brick workouts, more like every part of my body screaming THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA. I forced myself to get moving, just one step at a time. The course kept going uphill. Fuck.

(the course wasn't, objectively speaking, particularly hilly, but after a fast 30k on the bike the gradual inclines felt like mountains)

In addition to the fact that the flat conservation area had suddenly turned into a Himalayan mountain range, the sun was now out in full force. There's a reason I don't like to run at 10:30 in the morning in the summer! Especially with very little shade! It's horrible!

I made a deal with myself that if I kept running, I could walk the water stations. At the first station I grabbed Gatorade for a quick shot of carbs, and a cup of water to dump over my head. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Bliss for about 4 seconds until I realized I was going to have to start running again.

I started mentally reminding myself #dontfuckitup (motivation stolen from Sam and Mari. Hey, it works!). 7k! That's nothing! Piece of cake! You've run a damn marathon, 7k isn't going to defeat you! And I continued on like that, pretty much talking myself into every step forward. Somehow, my pace wasn't as terrible as it felt. Just after the second water station a woman heading back toward the finish yelled encouragement at me, and I really wanted to trip her. I'm sorry, encouraging lady! I'm a horrible person when in the midst of a rough run!

Eventually I hit the turnaround and things felt a bit easier. My legs were more cooperative, I think there was more downhill (although it all felt uphill), and I wasn't being passed quite as often. I was keeping an eye on the age group markings of the people who did pass me, but it was almost all guys, very few women. I wasn't expecting to age group place in this race, but based on previous year's results I was hoping a strong bike would put me in the top 5 or 6. So I was glad to see that other than one woman who passed me very early in the run, I didn't see anyone else who was my age group competition.

Spotted Sam going the other way and told her I was death marching. It was just a really rough run. Lots of telling myself to suck it up and checking my watch every 500 meters to see how much distance was left (the answer was always 'too much').

The finish chute seemed to go on forever. So long.
Finally, less than a km to go - and this section was familiar because we'd run the initial out and back on this km way back in the first run. Also, finally, blessedly, downhill to the lake. Across the finish! Sweet jesus thank you it's over!

Too tired to smile, but at least I managed to do something.
Total time: 1:53:03.2
Overall place: 57/129
Gender place: 10/41
Age group place (women 30-39): 3/15

After crossing the finish and grabbing some water, I wandered around a bit to stretch my legs. There was a huge crowd around the board where the results were posted that I didn't feel like fighting through, so while I waited for Sam to finish, I pulled up Sportstats on my phone to check my finish time, and then almost fainted when I saw my age group place. I think my grin must have been a mile wide! My overall finish time was a lot faster than I had expected (I was thinking I'd be around 2 hours, as I was expecting the bike to take longer), and to be top three for age group was a huge surprise.
Post race people everywhere!
Sam finished the triathlon (way to go Sam! First sprint tri done!), and we hung out waiting for the awards. No way was I missing out on that, although I wasn't sure how they would do the duathlon awards (only medals for #1? 3 deep? 5 deep?). If there was any chance I was getting a medal, I was going to wait for it!

Post race with Sam

I did get a medal!

And got to stand behind a sign!

It would be weird to wear it everywhere, right? Damn.
So that kind of wiped out all the run awfulness, and I'm pretty much in love with this multisport stuff. But I will have to learn how to pace myself! There's a lot more multi sport races in my future next year, although whether they will be dus or tris is a whole different question. But no decisions right now. First I have to get through the rest of my fall race season.

In terms of the race organization, I have no complaints, and will consider doing more of the Subaru series next year. Very well organized, the price was reasonable, and the shirt is really nice. Thumbs up!

Very nice tech material on this t shirt.
I've definitely started my fall race season on a high note - will it continue? Next race is the MEC 15k, so I won't have to wait long to find out. Although I rather wish that race included a bike component...


  1. Congratulations, what a great initiation to AG placement..nice work!! Loved the recap. You look like such a pro on that bike too.

  2. Congrats again on a great race! Way to blast yourself into the multisport scene!! BTW, what is up with my face in that picture? Ew. LOL

    1. Ha, why do you think I like to wear sunglasses now? So no one can see my weird post race facial expressions!

  3. Well done, great achievement, Emma!

  4. What a great race report! So knew that you would do AWESOME! Congrats!