Saturday, May 12, 2012

Cascade Lake Duathlon

Since I felt like getting on the bike again, but could use some motivation for such, I decided to sign up for Cascade Lake, a sprint duathlon/triathlon held today.  The event, 1.86 mile run, 15 mile bike, 3.1 mile run looked like a good first duathlon of the season.

After a few weeks of riding where I got my longest to 40, and was averaging 2 rides a week, I figured some was better than nothing.  Of course, without any brick workouts, or for that matter, any mixing of disciplines whatsoever, I didn't really know what to expect going into this one.

So, at 4:30AM I woke up for the third weekend in a row early to head out to Hampstead, MD.  I knew the bike course was going to be rather hilly after driving it the previous week, so I was actually looking forward to see what I could do on a course slightly more geared towards climbers.

After a slight delay because the state police were too busy guarding the parking lot instead of the roads, we started our first run leg just as the first of three triathlon waves went off in the nearby lake.  A bunch of people went hard off the line, but after 0.25 miles, it was down to one guy and me, whom I quickly dispatched somewhere around mile 1.  I wasn't quite going as fast as I could for 1.86 miles of running, making sure to go hard but smart.  After a quick turnaround on the out and back course, I made my way back to transition up a really steep, but short lived hill.  1st run split...


Since I had a low bib # (5), my bike was racked right next to the bike in/bike out chute.  After a quick 48sec transition, I was out towards the mount line.  The ground immediately outside of transition was terrible, sloping downward and covered in gravel.  Perfect for running with a bike, wearing speed play cleats...

I ran past the mount line and actually pulled off a smooth mount, left foot first on the left side, then swing over the top and get the right in.  Immediately after the mount line, the road was in terrible shape with gravel and massive pot holes.  After quickly clearing that, I was off onto the course with a motorcycle ahead of me.

The course had its ups and downs.  I mainly focused on just keeping the cadence high, something I usually get away from in races.  I also tried to avoid grinding the hills too hard, opting to stay seated as much as possible.  Thanks to all the ups, downs, and sharp turns, I stopped using the aero bars after the first couple of miles.  Without staying in them most of the way, their benefit is nil anyway.  As with all my duathlons, the bike is essentially just a "wait and see when someone passes me."  But, mile after mile went by, and there was no one.  By about mile 8, we hit a very sharp hair pin turn which allowed me to get a clear view behind and I could see absolutely no one.

Of course, I knew not to get complacent and kept spinning away.  I was certainly working, but for the first time ever actually felt comfortable on the bike.  Somehow, I was riding a pace that made sense, keeping it smooth and even.  It almost felt like I knew what I was doing!  As the course started to near its end, I did finally get passed by someone (aero helmet, aero Hed wheels, etc).  He actually passed, real, real close to me; and we almost brushed each other.  Regardless, I made him earn his overtake, only backing off when he finally did have me overtaken.  That's what he gets for trying it on a hill...

That was at nearly mile 13, so I pounded out the last 2 miles, almost all downhill, and flew back towards transition.  I had to pass over the crappy gravel pot hole road again and this time, almost crashed as my wheels slid over the gravel.  Great place for a dismount area...  After recovering for that, I hit the "cyclocross dismount" perfectly, still going pretty fast, but never skipping a beat as I hopped off the bike and ran back to transition.

My legs felt pretty shitty running the bike back, but the uneven gravel I was running over and slight uphill probably made it worse than it was.  Bike split...

46:52, just a hair over 19mph.  6th best bike split in the duathlon, and top 15 in the tri.  Not too bad, especially compared to the junk I used to put up.

While in transition the second time, my left hamstring locked up on me.  Of course, knowing I was probably in the lead for the Du, and at least wanted a fighting chance to catch the guy that passed me, I wasn't about to stop.  After pounding the hammy with my fist a couple of times, it cooperated and I did something that could pass as running out of transition, all in 41 seconds.

The run course ended up going down the massively steep but short hill we came up after the first run.  I thought I was going to die running down that thing, as my legs were none too happy.  Once I hit the road though, I started to settle in.  Generally on these second runs, it has been my legs and not my cardiovascular system holding me back.  I'd be out there running, feeling like shit, but barely getting my heart rate up.  But finally, this time, I was able to coax myself into a legit 5K pace.  I realized I wasn't really catching the overall triathlete, as our two lap out-and-back course clearly showed.  However, I could see I had a massive lead on the second place duathlete, and knew I probably had it locked up.

I poured it on, because I always like to shoot for fastest runner out there, went back up the hill and crossed the finish in 1:17:46 with an 18:58 5K split.

Any other year, I would not have won.  But this year, with the people who did decide to show up, I won by over 3 minutes.  Either way, I'll take it!  I was the fastest runner (no contest) in the duathlon, and the third fastest on the 5K when looking at triathlete times.

Most importantly, I felt like I ran a really well paced race.  I worked hard on each leg, but never killed myself on one at the expense of the others.  Each one felt like a good, solid, honest effort.  I was spent after crossing the line, but not a moment sooner.

Overall, a pretty successful day!  This was also my first win at a USAT sanctioned event.  Not bad for someone who actually has an elite duathlete license, earned only because 1 cyclist crashed and 2 others went off course in my final race last year, which ended up big enough to count as a qualifier (Note: I did still have to outrace someone in the last leg, and finish close enough to the winner to qualify).  It probably makes me the slowest elite duathlete on the roster, but hey, they accepted me!

1 comment:

  1. Nice work-especially on the pacing. Running and cycling if used in proper ratios, are a great combo!