Sunday, September 11, 2011

R U Able Duathlon Race Report

For this weekend, I traveled to Wyomissing, PA to participate in yet another duathlon.  After the weather screwed me out of trying my bike upgrades in my last Du, I had to make up for it with another one.  My training for the week was completely derailed by the weather, but mostly consisted of easy runs and a few bike rides.  I made sure to give myself the week to recover from that 20 miler because it was certainly taxing.

By mid-week my running legs were back under me, but it took until Saturday before I felt good on the bike again.  The race was on Sunday, so it gave me a chance to run and bike in Wyomissing on Saturday.  I'm glad I did because the scenery is awesome up there.  I ran a hilly as crap 13.8 miles at an average 6:44 pace and later that afternoon, went for an easy 35 on the bike at around 18mph.  A lot of roads in the area were closed due to flooding from all the rain and I nearly got lost on the bike as a result.  However, after riding through one of the closed roads (which was barely flooded) I found my way back!

But anyway, on to the race....

This one was set to be a 3.1 mile run, 14.5 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run.  The race was put on by the I am Able foundation, which empowers people with disabilities to lead an active lifestyle.  They had divisions for athletes who ride push rim and hand crank chairs, and it is always awesome to see chair athletes out there, their arms are usually 2-3 times the size of my legs!  The best part of this race was the ratio of cycling to running miles.  At a 2.3:1 ratio, this race by far had the most running of any one I have done to date.  That would give me, the runner with a bicycle, a huge advantage for a change.

I got there early and made sure to rack my bike right at the bike out/in area of transition so I wouldn't have to run far with my cycling shoes on.  All the other fast bikes (mostly faster than mine) were on that rack too.

After the push rim athletes were sent off, they started the main pack which consisted of individual duathletes, relay teams, and a 5K race.  A whole bunch of kids blew out the first downhill along with 3 other people.  I just went out at my pace and kept it steady waiting for the inevitable "return."  Everyone dropped out of the picture save 2 runners: a guy in orange, and another in blue who actually passed me during the first mile.

As we approached the turnaround, I was feeling decent and had managed to pass the guy in orange, leaving just me and the guy in blue.  It turns out guy in blue was doing the relay, handling all the running for the day.  He was definitely a legit runner.  I let him go towards the end as he powered into transition.  My first transition was pretty smooth, a couple of minor changes made everything go quick.  I can also run pretty fast in cycling shoes now.  I did have significant trouble mounting my bike though.  I was still breathing hard from the run and couldn't really focus, causing me to lose all kinds of time trying to get on my seat and clipping in.  After what felt like forever, I finally got out onto the course with a 50 second lead, rather massive for a 5k.

The bike course proved to be very unique.  It all took place on one two lane road that had a grass median in the middle.  Each lane was wide enough for about 3 or 4 bikes.  At the end of each road, you had to hit a sharp U-turn to go back up the other side.  The course was 6 laps total with 2 hair pin turns per lap.  I got real low to the ground on some of those turns.

There were a couple of small hills that mixed up the pace a little bit, and some dicey sections with rough roads and manhole covers.  They also had a timing mat (aka speed bump) to help keep track of laps and I definitely almost crashed once running over it while in my aero bars.

Regardless, I tried to keep my speed over 21mph on all flats and as high as I could on the hills.  The lowest speed I saw was 17.6 mph and as the laps wore on, I fought harder on the hills to eek out a little more speed.  I took a Gu shoot on the bike and 2 big swigs of water.  I had also taken water twice in the 5K, so for once, I felt rather hydrated.  I knew from experience all of that intake would keep me strong for the last run.  My body accepts more intake on the bike, so I've started taking advantage.

Once all the riders were on the course, things proved interesting with all the crowding.  It was crazy around the turns, but I just kept pedaling as much as I could to keep my momentum going.  With about 3 miles to go, guy in orange (who placed 2nd last year) caught and passed me.  I was expecting someone to pass me, even with my massive lead.  I was figuring to be only the 5th or 6th fastest cyclist out there, and I was probably right.  It's still frustrating to be so much weaker on the bike!!

I rode the last lap and a half as hard as I could to stay somewhat near guy in orange.  After my last lap, I flew off the course towards the dismount area and was practically sprinting to the line.  I unclipped my right foot, swung over the side and jumped off probably still going near 15mph and just kept running as I sprinted into transition.  Just as I was entering, I saw guy in orange running out.  That meant he probably had about a 1 minute lead on me.

T2 went very smoothly, I calmly racked my bike, switched out my shoes and took my helmet off.  I did bash my right knee on the ground during the process and drew some blood, but I didn't even realize until after the race since I was so hell-bent on getting back into first.  Without hesitation, I blew out of transition to try and run down guy in orange.

It took 3/4 of a mile, but I caught him running hard but controlled.  It only took a minute or two before I could feel my running legs under me again.  In the past, it had taken upwards of 5 minutes or in one case, my legs never came to.  A combination of all my training and that Gu shot probably made the difference.  After I passed guy in orange, he made an effort to keep pace, but I knew the race was mine at that point.

I kicked it up a notch and finished hard, nearly a minute ahead, meaning I got my minute back, for a 1:16:02 overall.  I don't have splits or pictures yet, but that's coming soon!

I do know my first 5K was sub-17, and my average speed on the bike was 21.5mph.  I've still got a lot of work to do on the bike, but my time in the saddle is slowly starting to pay off.


  1. You ran 14 miles and rode 35 the DAY before this race???

  2. Yes I did. The Du was flat and short so I figured, eh I need the mileage.

    I actually thrive on relatively high mileage, just as long as I stay away from the danger zone of 85+ for more than a couple of weeks.