After 2 months of training it was finally time to get at my first real race. My coach Mike Corona suggested this race to me and even though I won’t normally be doing duathlons it would serve as a good test to see what condition I was in. I’d never done this race before so I knew I’d be a little slow because I lacked course knowledge.
The day got off to an early start with a 4:30am alarm. To tell you the truth I was tired as I didn’t really fall asleep until about midnight. Never the less I had to get up because I wanted to be on the road by 5:00am. I had an hour drive to the park and Mike wanted me to get in a half hour warm up before the race. My stomach was feeling a little unsettled during the drive and I didn’t eat anything other than a glass of chocolate milk before I got on the road. I did manage to eat a granola bar during the drive. I brought 3 energy gels that I planned on taking all before the race. The plan was to take one before my warm up then 2 before the race.
I got to the park at 6am then went and changed into my tri suit. After that I went over to the transition area to see where I needed to go to pick up my bib and timing chip. By this time, it was just about 6:30am and I was still feeling a little tired. It was overcast with temps at about 62 degrees. Great weather for a non-swim related race. Mike came over and gave me a pacing strategy for the race…that was cool because I’ve never had one of those so I knew what to do for the race. By the time I got my bib and chip it was almost 7:00am so I had to hustle so I could get my warm up done because the transition area closed at 7:45am. I got my bike put together and setup on my trainer but only managed to get in 15 minutes on the bike. Then rushed to get the bike setup in transition. Getting into transition so late didn’t give me an opportunity to get a good spot but I wasn’t worried about it as this race was more about the run and bike.
The race start was delayed 15 minutes to 8:15am so I took a quick 5 minute run so that I could make it back for the athletes meeting. While we were waiting for the start it started to sprinkle and the winds picked up a bit. I wasn’t too worried about it because I didn’t see any rain in the forecast. This was actually going to be the first time I had my bike out on the road this year. While there have been plenty of sunny days to get out on it there was just still too much sand on the roads near my house and a fall in that stuff could stall or worse end my season. I was also looking forward to seeing how my new helmet felt out on the road. I’d been using my old helmet for 3 years and because of its teardrop shape the point in the back of it would dig into my back when I got really low in my aero position.
Run – 5k (22:13)
I got off to a good start and ran with the lead group for a short period but as Mike told me, “let the fast guys go and run my own pace”. I saw 2 guys in my age group go by me but I let them go also. The run course was around 2 lakes and was probably 90% trail. It was fairly flat except for one hill that was short but steep with some exposed tree roots. It came early in the race at about a mile into the run so I had no trouble getting up it. A few faster runners passed me but I was intent on holding my pace. I finished the first run with a 7:08 pace which was right where I wanted to be.
T1 – (0:37)
Could have done better here. I pulled my shoes off and grabbed my helmet. I lost a few seconds putting my helmet on trying to put the clips together. I didn’t grab the straps right so one of the clips wasn’t in the correct direction when I tried to clip it. I finally got it on and was headed out.
Bike – 17 miles (47:20)
As I was running out a guy was yelling mount line right here. I ran to it and just as I got to it I jumped onto my bike (bike shoes were already clipped to my pedals). When he saw me do that he yelled “Now that’s how you mount a bike”. I got my feet on top of my shoes and pedaled out of the parking lot. I knew a hill was coming quickly so I wasted no time getting my feet in my shoes and getting the straps fastened. Mike warned me not to go hard on the hill getting out of the park so I paid close attention to how much power I was putting to the pedals. I didn’t push it over 230 and that seemed to serve me well as it also gave me time to let my legs recover from the run. After I got out on the main road it was time to get at it! Just as I got going a thought popped into my head…I hadn’t taken any of my energy gels!!! No food and no gels, I knew I was going to hit the wall at some point. My only hope was that the big meal I had the day before would be enough to get me through. There were 2 guys’ not far ahead of me and I wanted to catch them. I caught one of them fairly quickly at about 2 miles into the ride. Turns out it was my buddy Will, he was one of the guys who passed me on the run. He’s not in my age group but he’s a good runner and he beat me in my only other official duathlon in Rochester last year so I knew I needed to put some distance on him on the bike. The next guy wasn’t as easy to catch. It seemed like every time I’d start to make up the gap I’d hit a hill and lose my gains. We had to loop the bike course twice which was great because on that second loop I had gained course knowledge from the first time around. I used that to my advantage and decided to catch that guy on the long flat section of course. Suddenly out of nowhere a guy passed me. I don’t know how long he’d been back there because I don’t look back when I’m riding. After he passed me I just stayed with him. We were on the long flat section and I actually had to back off my pace not to get to close to him because I didn’t want to get a time penalty for drafting. We both caught the guy I had been chasing and went by him. After we hit the hilly section the other guy pulled away from me. I caught and passed one more guy before making it back to the park. As I got close to transition I pulled my feet out of my shoes and sat them on top of them. As I approached the dismount line I did a running dismount heading into transition.
T2 – (0:34)
A little better than T1 but still slow. I should run into transition instead of trotting! I got the bike racked, helmet off and running shoes (I felt a slight cramp coming on while twisting to put my shoes on but it never materialized) on and I was outta there.
Run – 5k (25:33)
My thighs were aching; I could barely muster up an 8 min pace. I knew that if I kept going though, that my thighs would loosen up. Really early in the run a woman passed me. She was going pretty good and had a nice high leg stride to her run, my thighs were not allowing me to do that…lol. I passed Mike at the first water station a mile into the run. I grabbed some water from him and he yelled out “2 miles to go”. After that came the hill. It was a lot harder to get up the second time around. I couldn’t lift my legs high so it was slow going getting up it. After I crested the top there was a slight downhill grade and I used that time to relax and get control of my breathing. My hips were starting to ache now and I didn’t know how much further I had to go. A guy passed me that I remembered passing on the bike. He had this odd running style and I remembered him passing me on the first run. I wasn’t sure how much further we had to go so I matched his pace just in case we were close to the end. But after a few turns I realized that we weren’t close at all so I let him go. There was a building that was close to the end of the run and when I saw it I was glad. I knew I would be done soon. Just as I hit the paved section of the path a guy passed me. He wasn’t in my age group but I’d decided that this dude was going to beat me. He started to pick up his pace as he knew the finish line was just ahead. As we made the second to last turn going to the finish line a guy was pointing out where we needed to go (he yelled out to the guy ahead of me…” that little guy is going to catch you”. I set that guy up good for the pass. Just as he started to round the corner I dashed to the inside and set him up for the sprint. He didn’t have a chance! The weird thing is I forgot about all the pain I was in and was able to get going when I needed to.
So I finished the race in 1:36:20 in 14th place overall out of 47. 3rd in my age group. I’m OK with the first run and my bike pace of about 22mph but the second run was a too slow…I need to be able to push through that pain the same way I do in a sprint!!! And by the way, the race director was hilarious…he let that guy that I passed have it during the awards ceremony.