So my buddy Brian, realizing I love to race as much as humanly possible, sent a list of races for race company I've never raced before and it included a Duathlon just minutes from my house. Literally like 15 minutes from my house. I NEVER get races that close. Um, how could I NOT do it?!
Now I know that part of Massachusetts ain't flat...I mean I do live out here...but the race director, in my opinion, went out and found a challenging (read ball busting hilly) course. I downloaded and reviewed the course map and it looked hill but no big...right?...right?! Wrong! But I'll get to that in a bit.
It was a little chilly out and J suggested using arm sleeves. Throwing on my set of Zensas was the perfect choice for racing. I normally wear light long sleeve compression and overheat by race end but the sleeves were just right for the day. Setup in transition was a breeze. It looked bare compared to a triathlon transition area but that left plenty of room for my P2 to stand out in all it's glory! There were a few "legit" bikes around me so I knew this wouldn't be a walk in the park with the competition either...and as we got to the start line it was pretty obvious that there some serious duathletes there. Plenty of folks "kitted" out in tri/race branded gear.
So...time to think seriously about a race plan. Today was the first day the aero bike was setup since last season and this is the first Duathlon I've done in 2 years (yes, it's been that long...long story) so I need to manage expectations. How should I approach this? How should I attack each leg? Really? Have you met me?! Let's just go leave it out on the course and see what happens!
Run - 1.5 mile - 9:44 - 6:29 pace
The course started up a windy figured 8 loop and had a slight downhill back into transition. We hit the 1/2 mile mark on a 5:15 pace which I thought was fast but figured I could hold it...and then I realized that this wasn't a 5k, I still had a ride and another run ahead of me. Maybe I should think of a strategy. Time to be smart, lay off a bit and prepare for the upcoming legs. I could see the pace car with the leader and figured I'd settle in with the group I was with and try to gain places on the bike. The leader, never let off that 5:15 pace. Ugh...time for more speed work sessions for me.
I was lucky to get a spot right at the front of transition, which made it easy to get to my bike. Pretty smooth transition that led me getting in and out relatively quickly.
Bike: 9 miles - 30:27 - 17.7mph pace
I mentioned the course was hilly right? Ya, that 17.7mph average certainly shows it! In the offseason I've been trying to stay in the saddle and using gears to conserve energy rather than getting out of the saddle for climbs. Getting out of the saddle on a tri-bike will work for short roller hills but not for hills of any real grade. I wanted to focus on sliding my hands back a bit in aero and using the gears to get up and down the hills.Within the first couple of miles, while easing off and cussing to myself, the guy behind me caught up. Realizing my momentary lapse, I raised my cadence and separated from him on the next downhill. Ya, aero bikes can fly down hills. I kept trying to catch the guy ahead of me...which I finally did with 2 miles to go...at the base of a hill...when he promptly got out of the saddle and sprinted away on his road bike. Sonuva! Guess I need to do more hill work in aero.
T2: 54 secs
The second transition went relatively well. I was a little gassed coming off the bike and it took me a minute to get my bearings to throw on my shoes and visor (a cool one from my bud Ron at Punk Rock Racing which has become my new good luck charm).
Run: 2mi - 14:45 - 7:23 pace
So, an uphill climb to the 1 mile make...that should be fun! I could see the leaders ahead of me and at each turn on our way to the turn around point I thought the course would flatten out...but no such luck. Nothing to do but bear down and get to the turn. The turn, which consisted of a young man standing at the top of the hill, with the 1 mile marker cone on his head, yelling run around me...was the highlight of the race. It took all I could to not belly laugh (which would have led to my throwing up from exertion) but that kid was hilarious. Ok, only thing left was to get to the finish as fast as I could. I ended up crossing the line 7th overall and 1st in my age group. Not a bad showing for a race picked kind of last minute. While I have been doing hill training, its been mostly on the treadmill and trainer so now that the weather is nicer it seems I'm gonna have to get out and do it on the actual road because I'm not where I want to be. However, taking a top ten and an age group win at my first duathlon in 2 years ain't too shabby. Its a nice way to start of the multi-sport season. Good thing I've got another one in a couple weeks to see how much better I can do...