Tuesday, July 23, 2013

CheapRunnerMike's Bluewater Duathlon Recap

Posted by CheapRunnerMike

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to take part in my first ever Duathlon. I had competed in four Triathlons last summer of varying distances (including the Bluewater) but never the Du. Honestly I had planned on doing the Olympic distance Triathlon, the same race I did last year, but with our cottage just up the coast on Lake Huron, I knew how cold the lake had been. I wasn't looking forward to the swim and didn't feel like investing in a wetsuit. Plus I found out last year that I'm a terrible swimmer haha...it really sucks knowing that you're out of the race already by the time you come out of the water. So I settled on the Duathlon, figuring I could focus on the running, which I obviously love, and the bike, which I really enjoy as well. It is also a lot easier to fit run and bike training into my schedule while there is no way I can fit in swimming.

The day didn't get off to the best start for me as I came down with a cold/allergies on Friday (still have it...still not quite sure what it is) and I woke up every 20 minutes through the night. Awesome. I ended up rolling out of bed at 5:30 and grabbing a coffee and an english muffin with peanut butter. We stayed up at the cottage since the race is in Bright's Grove, which is only about a half hour drive. Michelle and my sister also did the Sprint Du, so I had to load up three bikes into the Jeep...surprisingly, the was plenty of room for three bikes, three adults and all our other crap gear. We were on the road by 6:30 and arrived with plenty of time to get registered.

In line for packet pick up

The race is held at Bright's Grove Public School, which is right on the shores of Lake Huron...not a bad playground for recess! Registration was smooth and we got our bikes racked in transition, so now it was time for last minute instructions. Ken Walker, the race director, took the mic and officially announced that due to the rough water conditions, the swim would be cancelled and the triathlon participants would now take part the duathlon. Not a big surprise to be honest...as we were driving in we caught a glimpse of the lake and commented about not wanting to swim in those conditions...the waves were pretty big. So now my small race had become a big race...oh well, nothing you can do. The organizers did a great job of communicating the change and making necessary adjustments. It seemed to me that everything went off without a hitch.

I headed down to the start line for the first run, which was about a kilometre down the shore from the school. The women's Olympic distance started at 8:30 and the men and relay set off 12 minutes later at 8:42. The race consisted of a 2.8K run, followed by 40K on the bike and a 10K run to finish. I didn't really know what to expect for the first run, and had asked some advice from one of the guys at Multisport Zone here in London (where I picked up some new TYR Tri shorts and a sleeveless jersey for 50% off...sweet deal) how to tackle the first run. He suggested I run it at my regular 10K pace then go hard on the bike and second run, so I figured I would try to run it at about a 4:10/km pace. The horn went off and I just stayed with the crowd to start. I looked at my watch and I was going way too fast...everyone around me was in a sprint and I knew I couldn't/shouldn't be, so I tried my best to slow it down. The first run went down the shoreline on the paved path, past the school, then out on a short loop around the neighbourhood before coming back along the shore to the school and transition. It didn't take long for a bunch of the front runners to slow down and I was able to pass a few people on the way back to transition. I ran faster than I had wanted to but didn't feel like I was pushing too hard...I completed the 2.8K run in 9:56 for a 3:33/km pace, 35th place.

My Zoots...they don't smell like flowers

Transition was smooth as I had worn my Zoot triathlon shoes...they have a sock liner, pull tabs on the heel and tongue, and elastic pull laces to help get them on and off quickly. I grabbed my bike and took off...I only had to yell at one meandering couple that were taking a leisurely stroll through transition while a race was on (seriously???) and I was through T1 in 1:03...by far my quickest T1 ever. That could probably be attributed to no swim-to-bike transition, but the biggest factor was that I actually felt good! Normally I feel like puking/passing out when I come out of the water...I can't even run in a straight line. Last year's T1 at the Bluewater was 4:03, a full 3 minutes slower!

With Run 1 behind me, I was in more familiar territory...the bike and the second run were both the same as the Olympic Tri I did the previous year. The bike course is a great flat course...you take a quick jaunt through the neighbourhood before a nice straight 8K shot. We then turned off into the countryside where the wind became a bit more of a factor before hitting a pair of turnarounds and heading back the way we came. Last year I did about 30km/h on the bike and I was hoping to improve this year and get to around 32.5. I had added clipless pedals and aerobars to the bike, and the biggest addition -- a bike trainer to work through the winter. I saw some real improvements and really noticed a big difference getting into aero position (or at least my version of aero, however I looked haha). I'm one of those guys that likes to encourage people out on the course and today was no different...I usually had something to say to people as I went by them or they went by me. As I passed one girl around the 32K mark, I told her she was doing great and she said "You too Brotha!"...I had caught up to Emily :) Unfortunately I dropped my new water bottle towards the end of the bike though...I figured I could find it on the run, but no luck.

I got back to the school and entered T2 with a 1:08:38 bike, 35km/h (yay!), good for 31st. T2 was really quick too as I was in my Zoots in no time and was out on the 10K run course after a 59 second transition.

The Bike Course - defines Fast & Flat

Once I hit the run course I knew I was back in my element...I think any runner doing a Du or Tri loves this point of the race, while everyone else dreads it. It takes a little bit of time to actually feel your legs, but I was still able to get off to a decent start despite the jello legs. The run went down the shore again and made a turnaround about 500 metres down the path, then took off back past the school and out along the Old Lakeshore Road. I saw Michelle at the first water station and gave her a pat on the back and some words of encouragement, and saw her again a couple minutes later after I made the turnaround and we high-fived each other. It was a real nice road to run along as you had the lake and beach right beside you. There were plenty of water stations along the way and they also had volunteers with hoses that would mist you if you wished (took advantage of that a couple times)...at the halfway turnaround the water station also offered ice water, and it was amazing! The temperatures for the race were a lot better than the suffocating heat and humidity we had been experiencing, but it was still pushing 90°.

The craziest moment of the entire race came as I was on the back end of the run...we were all running along the right-hand side of the road (both runners on the out and the back) and the road was "semi"-closed. I was running along at a decent clip when all of a sudden a pickup truck with a trailer decided to turn right in front of me! He made a right-hand turn through a (non-existent) gap in the runners, forcing me to slam on the brakes and come to a stop. I was MAD. I wound up and smacked his trailer (hard) and yelled at him "What the hell are you doing?!?". He then yells back at me that he can't wait here all day, to which I respond "YES YOU CAN!". He didn't like that so he told me to %@#^ off, so I told him what I thought of him right back. The other runners around me just kinda stared in disbelief.

I got back going again and pushed as hard as I could to the finish. You run back towards the school and veer off into a little park where the finish line is set up amongst the trees...a great shady location to crash after your race. Rhoda was able to catch a couple pics of me making the last turn and finishing...I wanted to finish the 10K in 45 minutes, and did it in 45:07 (4:31/km), 28th place.

Making the final turn

Crossing the line

My goal time was between 2:10:00 and 2:15:00...I ended up with 2:05:41! I finished 29th overall and 5th in the 30-39 Age Group. And since the triathlon was rolled into the duathlon, the awards went 6 deep...so I placed! The age group awards were unique, we got coffee mugs...something I will actually use :) I was even the second name called for door prizes so I scooped up a $25 gift card for the Running Room. And if you read Michelle's recap yesterday, you already heard how amazing the post-race food spread was...you simply can't beat church ladies for feeding a crowd!!

Mugging with my Mug

I was curious how I would have done if the swim hadn't been cancelled and it turns out I would have won my age group and finished 3rd overall...really shows the talent that is out there running the triathlon! I enjoyed the Duathlon immensely though and will definitely do more of them. I'm already looking forward to next year's Bluewater and it sounds like I may have even more company as both Rhoda and my Mum are talking about giving it a try, as well as my brother-in-law. The CheapRunners will be taking over Bright's Grove! Kennedy will do the Ironkid as well, she was really disappointed that it was sold out this year.

The Fam Post-Race

What is the most unique prize/award you have won at a race?

What is the craziest event you have witnessed (or been a part of) during a race?



  1. Sugar Coated SheridanJuly 23, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    Congratulations!! And what a stupid truck...I mean seriously!

  2. Congrats on an incredible race!!!
    I would have been pissed for sure at that idiot in the truck!!!

  3. Thanks Beth...yes, a stupid truck indeed!

  4. Thanks a lot Kim...and boy was I pissed! I mentioned on your post about being a good sport last week that I am pretty competitive but had mellowed of the years. There was no mellow for that truck!!

  5. Charlotte@CommitnessToFitnessJuly 23, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Congrats!! i love reading race recaps. what the F was that driver thinking?! that's beyond. and i love getting new mugs, i legit get excited whenever i get a new one because its something i'll actually use :)

  6. Yes mugs are great! At first I thought, what an odd prize...but I realized very quickly hat it would be the most used race prize I've ever received. Already had a couple coffees in it, it could turn into a go-to coffee mug at the cottage

  7. Great job Mike! Hope I can join you next year!'

  8. Wow, amazing job!

  9. Congrats brotha - so proud of you! It was such s great experience and am looking forward to total cheap runner/ Cooke/Quehl presence next year!

  10. Congrats on completing your first DU & placing! How awesome is that! I love how your whole family & Rhoda is involved and cheering you on. What a fantastic example y'all set for them.

  11. Thanks Em, I'm so glad you joined us this year :)

  12. Aw, thanks...Kennedy is already looking forward to her kid's triathlon in September

  13. Awesome Recap!!! Congrats! You are a rockstar!

  14. Thanks Teresa! Glad to see you signed up for your first Du, way to go!! I'm sure you'll love it :)