Race Report: MultiSport Canada Binbrook Duathlon

I was anxious in the days before the Binbrook duathlon, as my legs were acting up. My shins complained with the familiar pain of shin splints throughout the week -- even after I took Wednesday off completely from exercise, they still ached the next evening. Seemingly out of nowhere, I had pain and stiffness in my quads as well as sharper twinges of pain in my right glute. So I zipped in for a Friday afternoon massage, with a focus on working out those issues, and donned my 2XU compression socks for the evening.

Having raced on this course once before, I was generally familiar with the layout of transition. I unfortunately didn't arrive early enough to get a bike spot at the end of a rack, but I found one that would be a direct line from the entrance to transition following the first run. As usual, the volunteers and staff of Multi-Sport Canada kept a watchful eye on our bikes, having implemented a new security process following thefts elsewhere in the world of triathlon.

Until this season, I haven't been one to look closely at the competition, as I've been racing purely for fun and self-improvement. Now, with lots of volume and coaching under my belt, I'm racing for fun, self-improvement AND ideally, a podium finish of some sort. The line-up for this duathlon had several speedy athletes that competed at Worlds in Ottawa last summer, including Larry Bradley, who had returned to defend his title at Binbrook. I briefly plotted strategy, knowing I couldn't keep up with Larry (yet!) and so instead picked out an athlete to trail, using him as a pace bunny and eventually, passing him, if possible.

The mass sprint from the start line.  I'm about a dozen people back on the far left, 
in the Ignition Fitness uniform with the yellow flame.

I felt a bit rushed the morning of the race and I didn't to through all of my usual routines. Moments after arriving at the start line, the horn blew and away we went. I started about 12 people back from the very front and quickly passed most of them, moving into fourth place. (Note to self: I can position myself closer to the front next time.) Larry immediately moved to first place, followed by Garvin Moses. I sat in fourth, hanging off of Parichit Bagga's tail until just after the run turnaround point, where I outpaced him and started gaining on Garvin.

Again this race, the humidity triggered my asthma, but I carried my puffer onto the course and used it on the run (20:51). Maintaining a focus on Garvin, we both flew into transition and I followed him to the bike racks, only to look around and... realize that I had gone down the wrong row. I hadn't practiced that element before the race and I made this elementary mistake. While I spun and ran to my bike, Garvin grabbed his and departed. It only cost me nine seconds in transition (total: 44 seconds) compared to his 35 seconds, but when compounded with his stronger bike legs, I had lost him.

While I hadn't done a warm-up run prior to the race, I had done a warm-up ride to check out the topography. The pre-race report over at Ontario Duathlon Central had warned of choppy pavement conditions and I wanted to see it and put my mind at ease. Hitting the roads, I kept my lead and was not passed by any duathletes. For about two thirds of the course, I picked off triathletes and didn't see the duathletes ahead of me until I neared the turnaround point. This was possibly my fastest average speed in a  race to date and my plan is to experiment in the weeks ahead to see just how much further I can push it, ideally without sacrificing strength for my second run.

Heading out onto the bike course

My second transition (32 seconds) was fastest overall and my second run time (21:17) was actually a minute faster than Garvin's, but he had built up almost a two-minute cushion on the ride and was well out of reach. I kept an eye on Parichit over my shoulder and even though he pumped out a faster second run, I held my lead and finished third overall and first in my age group.

Huffing and puffing, not feeling excited about running another 5 km

I'm happy with my overall results at Binbrook, how could I not be? I've And despite my very real concerns about my shins (big fear) and glute/quads (moderate fear) in the days preceding the race, they weren't a significant factor and felt mostly fine after. Next stop: national championships at the Toronto Triathlon Festival!

 A top 3 podium finish, accompanied by some very strong athletes!