Sunday, September 25, 2011

Naylor's Beach Duathlon...These Races Hurt as Much as Marathons!

I already knew the day was going to be interesting when I left my hotel at 7:20 in thick fog.  Thankfully, most of it had burned off by the race start at 9am but it was still overcast, muggy, and wet out.  I believe this race ties for the largest multisport event I've done, though in this case, it was because there were so many different races going on at once:

-An Olympic Duathlon...2 mile run, 26 mile bike, 6.2 mile run
-An Olympic Triathlon
-A Sprint Triathlon
-An aqua-velo (swim, bike)

The only thing that mattered for the duathletes was to make sure to ride the olympic bike course (26 miles) and not the sprint course (12 miles).  At about mile 5.5 or 6 there was a turn off for the sprint course.  As it turns out, knowing that would be very important.

The field for this race was rather small, proving to me that I need to get into triathlons!  There were about 40 people total, though the top 5 or 6 people in any of these races always make it a good race.  We started at the same time as the Olympic Tri, meaning the fastest duathletes would get to transition before the fastest triathletes, but it was open season on the roads as there were certainly a lot of fast bikes racked in transition.

At 9AM we were off for a 2 loop 2 mile run.  I took the lead easily and managed a 10:50 as I ran into transition.  I'm not sure what my lead was in time, but I managed to get out of transition just as the next runners were finishing up their last lap.  I've got transition almost down to a science though I'm not very graceful mounting the bike.  I kept it simple this time, I'm just not coordinated enough and am usually too tired to do something fancy like jump on the bike.  I figured I had a minute or more on them.  Not bad for only a 2 mile run..

It was definitely still wet out on the roads, and my tires were rather soaked since the transition area was on grass.  It only took 3 miles for someone to pass me on the bike.  As it turns out, he basically rode a record time for the bike course, doing 26 miles in 1 hour and 2 minutes.  He averaged almost 26 mph on a course with 3 good hills, truly amazing.  No wonder I thought it was a car passing me at first.

A couple of "interesting" things happened on the bike.  First, at that sprint/olympic break off, the volunteers at that intersection apparently didn't know duathletes were supposed to do the 26 mile course and were trying to direct people onto the sprint course.  I ignored them and continued on the olympic course as most people did, though a few did go the wrong way.  Moral of that story, always know the course.

A minute or so later I went to take my first drink.  As I've done way too many times in training, I botched putting the water bottle back in my cage and dropped it.  In USAT events, leaving any equipment on the course results in a 2 minute penalty for the first offense...........

if you get caught

I immediately decided to just leave the water bottle.  By the time I stopped, turned around, stopped again, dismounted, picked up the bottle, remounted and rode off, I would have lost way more than 2 minutes and all my momentum.  I also happened to notice that I didn't get caught, so I just kept going.  Even if I did get docked, it would not have changed the outcome of the race.  I did have a second bottle to drink from, so my hydration still went as planned.

The excitement was far from over.  As I continued to ride, I could hear a dog barking and next thing I knew, a medium sized dog that was not leashed came sprinting out of someone's yard on my right side.  It was kareening towards me rather quickly and lunged out just as I came even.  That freaking dog must have been inches from hitting me.  Thankfully once I got past it, the dog couldn't keep up as it chased after me for at least another quarter mile.

I'll go off on a slight rant.  I HATE DOGS.  I know, I should be blaming the owners (they suck too), but this is the second duathlon in a row that a dog nearly caused me serious injury.  If I got knocked over by that dog at 22mph, that would be the end of my carbon frame and probably a broken bone or two for me.  To all dog owners...keep your DAMN DOGS UNDER CONTROL...

Anyway, after the dog incident, I got into a pretty good groove.  I'm glad I rode the course ahead of time and knew what to expect.  I could ride the downhills all out knowing what was coming up and take the corners real fast since I knew what was on the other side.  Taking fast turns doesn't help a whole lot in races like this, but its fun and my bike is designed for it, so I do it anyway!

At about mile 15, I got passed again by another duathlete.  My road bike with clip on aero bars and 53 mm wheels was serving me well, but this was the second triathlon bike to pass me.  The first guy had a rear disk, this guy just had deep rims on the front and rear.  However, this particular rider never put significant distance on me, so I rode as hard as I could to keep it close enough.

After cresting the biggest hill after mile 18, I knew the rest of the course was flat and fast and decided to drop the hammer to put myself in the best position possible.  The only time the guy who passed me gained distance was on slight downhills.  Any time we made a turn, I gained a ton of ground because he slowed a lot while I flew around those suckers without even tapping the brakes, and only coasting just long enough to keep my inside pedal from scraping the ground.  I love the sound my bike makes when I take fast turns...

As we flew towards the end of the bike leg, I got passed by another disk wheeled rocket triathlon bike.  However, he had a black bib on (instead of the red duathlon bib), so I knew he was an olympic triathlete.

I flew over all the speed bumps in the last half mile of the course, coasting only going over the bumps, then sprinting between them.  As I went to dismount, I didn't realize I was holding the drops instead of the hoods of my handle bars, so when I jumped off, the rear wheel came up.  Talk about an adrenaline rush...

The duathlete that I had kept in sight was having trouble finding his stuff.  I ran right over to my rack, switched into my running shoes and was out rather quickly.  I was shocked at how smoothly it went.  I didn't even need the run to pass that guy.  My bike time was around 1:12:30, somewhere in the 20's for average speed.  Certainly not Earth shattering, but apparently good enough...

The 10K run was positively awful.  Though I've done my share of run-bike-run workouts, they are just not the same as racing.  Part of the problem is that you cannot mimic the quick transition of races since you have to stow your bike during a workout which takes time.  I certainly was not running as hard as I could, as my breathing rate was not very high, but my legs were just completely dead from the bike, so there wasn't much I could do.

I managed to pass the triathlete who passed me; he was very impressed with my running when we spoke after the race (so I guess I was running fast enough).  The first duathlete that screamed past me early had way too big of a lead on me, though I had cut it down to 6 minutes by the finish.

Regardless, I managed to cross the line in 2:03:31, 2nd overall.  Third place was almost 5 minutes behind me.  My legs were done, I was completely drenched in sweat, but aerobically, I had more left.  In fact, I was really hitting my groove on the second half of that 10K.  I don't have mile splits for it, but clearly, I need to get into events with longer running legs (like triathlons....).

Overall, I'm pleased and certainly look forward to reduced mileage this week.  My left quad has been a bit tight the last few days, so I'll give it at least the morning off tomorrow.  If it still feels tight in the afternoon, Monday will just be a complete day off.  I'm trying to make Thursday my day off since I may need to take a day trip to Cleveland (from Baltimore) for work, but we'll see how that goes...


  1. Great result - didn't know you were racing this weekend! And don't worry, not ALL triathlon/duathlons are that small, usually just the ones at the end of the season!

  2. Thanks for the shout out in the blog! The small field was fine, I still got to duke it out with a few people along the way.

    Once I can swim, I'm going to get into triathlons which in general are bigger/more competitive than duathlons.