The Return of the Smiling Assassin: MultiSport Canada Toronto Island Duathlon 2016

I've been on a blogging hiatus for, well, the last eight months.  Rather than explain that now, I'm diving into a short report on MultiSport Canada's Toronto Island Duathlon.

In the coming days, I'll share a couple more posts - working in reverse chronological order - about the experience of racing at Worlds in Spain in June, followed by a bit of an explanation about my hiatus paired with a quick look at the early season.  But first, a brief report about my hometown race, the Recharge with Milk / MultiSport Canada Toronto Island Duathlon, held on Sunday, August 21st...

I steeled myself the night before, as forecasts called for thunderstorms and, depending on the meteorologist, either heavy rain or between 1-3 mm hourly.  Thankfully, rising at 4:30 a.m., I awoke to dry pavement.  I recalled that, despite the nearby location for the race, getting to the ferry docks for a 6:30 a.m. departure requires a painfully early wake-up call.

Arriving at the race, I wondered how many familiar faces I'd see, because a lot of athletes were racing elsewhere this weekend or heading to Penticton later this week.  I shouldn't have worried because in quick succession, up popped Larry Bradley (MultiSport Canada ambassador and pillar of the duathlon community), Mark Cullen (recent convert to multisport and someone who tears up the run course) and Mark Lawrence (another ambassador who tears up the bike course).  Very soon I ran into my old friend Michael Telpner (we met during the Toronto to Montreal cycling event, the Friends for Life Bike Rally), Team Canada 2016 duathletes Karri Beck and Dave Farrow, and the ever speedy - though currently on the injury list - Garvin Moses.

All smiles with Coach Roger and Garvin Moses.

One of the great things about the Recharge with Milk series is that it is truly a  tight knit community of athletes.  I'm grateful that I decided to try this event in 2007, which got me hooked on the sport.

This time around, high winds forced race director John Salt to cancel the triathlon and make it a duathlon.  The waves were fierce and I agree it was the best choice for everyone.  About 20 minutes before the race started, the clouds unleashed a quick downpour, as if to reinforce John's decision. 

My favourite response from a triathlete to the decision to convert their race to a du.

And the race itself?  For months, I have been largely on a running hiatus, as I fought my old nemesis, stress reactions.  In fact, I haven't done running speed work since spring - with the exception of competing at Worlds - and about 96% of my training since May has been on the bike.  That in mind, my plan for the race was to aim for 4:00 min/km on the runs, monitoring for any pain, and then push as hard as possible on the bike, working for a 40 km/hr average.

I fairly easily managed the run pace and even picked it up on the final run (despite what Sportstats says).  My transitions were rocky, revealing I hadn't practiced in ages, as I forgot to attach my watch to my bike in T1 and forgot to put it back on my wrist in T2.  Oh, and my pedals spun as I entered T2 and unbeknownst to me, my right shoe flew off.  (Thanks to Larry and Mark for returning it later!)

Unfortunately, despite all the work on the bike this season, I somehow laid out my slowest bike split since 2013 - in other words, before I started getting duathlon coaching.  (Looking at my power output later, Coach Roger wondered whether one of my brakes was dragging or if there was some other issue with my bike.  Something to investigate...)

Me on the bike.  But really, I shouldn't be so hard on myself.

Despite that issue, the return to the island was a fun experience, overflowing with camaraderie.  I will try not to overdramatize the bike split, seeing as I made it onto the podium with a fourth place finish, second in my age group. 

More importantly, my legs held up well enough that I'm confident I can race once more this season.  That means I'll be registering for the international distance duathlon at Esprit in Montreal, with the goal of a top five finish in my age group to qualify for Worlds 2017, to be held in Penticton. 

Happy racing!

The return of the Smiling Assassin.
(Photo courtesy of Mark Lawrence.)