Saturday, May 23, 2009

Apple Duathlon race report

This race turned out to be kind of a big deal. It's a qualified for the 2009 ITU Duathlon Short Course World Championship, which is being held in the USA this year. Even looking at last year's results was intimidating. There would be no sandbagging this race! This was confirmed by the complete lack of hybrids with reflectors and mountain bikes with aero bars in the transition area.

These multisport events aren't cheap, so preparation is important. Sascha and I stayed in St. Cloud last night, and had a nice meal at the Granite City brew pub there. Early to bed, to be up at 5am the next morning, and I had everything planned out. As it turned out, this plan went perfectly. I delivered myself to the start line warmed up, fueled up and ready to do my best.

The run was fast from the start, and I was soon engulfed and left behind by a good chunk of people and left in no-man's land. Wow. Even running at a good tempo, probably good for sub 7 minute miles. Nevertheless, I kept my own rhythm and hoped to make up time on the bike. A smooth transition, and then out into a mild headwind. The only people I passed were slow people from the earlier waves, and still never saw anyone from my wave. Rather humbling. Then passed by the relay people (understandable), then women from the wave behind mine. Oof. I felt so slow, but kept up my tempo.

On the way back, I shifted my breathing pretty radically, from long deep breaths to short, almost hyperventilating breaths. I felt faster this way, and the breathing was similar to how I breathe in a crit, where it's more about aerobic power than muscle power. This may simply be due to switching from a headwind to a tailwind, but I'd consciously tried to pick up the pace at that point, so I'm not sure. Any TTers have any insight into this?

T2 had a little hiccup, as my cyclocross dismount was a bit more slippery on asphalt than dirt, but not a big deal. Second run was, predictably, awkward. Still in no man's land, so no one around me to push my pace. Took about 2K to get a rhythm, then picked it up toward the end.

However, when results were posted, my first run was faster than I'd ever run before, bike time was a respectable 20.1mph, and second run was respectable as well. Nevertheless, that was only good for 10th in my age group out of 23! This would have won my age group in the two other duathlons I've done. What a stacked field!

1st run 5K 20:48 (6:42) T1 1:09 bike 33K 1:01:06 (20.1) T2 1:11 2nd run 5K 24:07 (7:46) total 1:48:19

So obviously I didn't "win" this race. According to a good chunk of the roadie types, that means I'm a "loser." The difference between this attitude and the multisport attitude came into stark relief during the awards. One of the race categories was for disabled; hand cycles, wheelchairs, etc. A wheelchair racer was still on the course, and as he was about to come in, we all went out to cheer him in. He was doing the 33K bike course in a (pretty sweet) wheelchair! Amazing. Really kind of puts things in perspective. There were also people in their 60s and 70s belting out some awesome times. Very inspiring.

No worries, though, I'm not turning into a tri-geek. Cyclocross is still my first love, and I have some circuit races, crits and TTs on the race schedule. I do like the duathlons though. Not keen on the swimming bit.