Just like my last race, this was only a "training race". That being said, I wanted to put out a good "speed" effort and see how things went. I was not well rested leading up to this race, as the Saturday before the race (the duathlon was on Victoria Day Monday), I did a 180K ride and a 10K brick run off the bike. In total, it was just over 6 hours of training. By far the most I had ever done in one day. On the Sunday, I just did some family stuff and got ready for the race the next day.
The start time was a casual 10am start. I got to the race site a bit before 9am to get setup, registered and do quick pre race ride and run.
About 9:45 or so, I made my way to the start line. I decided to start in the first wave as an elite age grouper. I do this in most races now, as I think I deserve it. It gets you out on the course with the rest of the other speedy racers that also move up.
At 10am, the horn blasted, and we were off. I found it a bit crowded at the start, but eventually found some open space and started cruising. You start by going down a decent hill and then immediately going back up one and making a right hand turn down towards Laurel Creek. The first K marker was just around the corner and I went through it in 3:41. Not blazing fast, but pretty quick. The second kilometer went downhill slightly before leveling out to the turn-around. The 2nd K marker was right at the turn around, and I went through this one in 3:47. The next 2K is simply retracing your steps back to the transition zone. It's slightly uphill on the way back and these K's were around 3:52 each. I spent most of my time running with Scott Dickie, a local athlete that I've done some training with around here lately. We basically got back to transition together and headed out on the bike portion together as well.
T1 was just over 40 seconds, as we hustled over to the bike mount line. I struggled a bit more than normal getting on my bike, as one of my shoes was dragging on the ground and caused me to lose my balance a bit. Eventually, I was on, strapped in and cruising down the road.
The wind was strong today and coming out of the south for the most part. The bike course is primarily west/east, so there were going to be some strong cross winds. The wind was never really an issue until we made the left hand turn off of Kressler Rd. I decided to use my disc wheel today, but looking back, it might have been better to use my Zipp 808. The disc certainly did seem to catch a lot of wind, and I had to get out of my aerobars on a few occasions to ensure I didn't crash. Scott had an incident with a race official at the left hand turn off of Kressler Rd., and this where I caught up to him, as he was starting to pull away a bit. From this point forward though, we did a bunch of cat and mouse moves, where he would lead and I'd stay "legally" close, and vice-versa. The speeds heading west were actually pretty good, as the average started moving up closer to 36kph. We were definitely fighting with the wind though at this point.
Eventually, we turned left again and headed toward Bamburg. This part was directly into the wind, but sheltered at times by trees. Luckily, it was short, and we quickly made the right hand turn in Bamburg out towards the turn-around point, approximately 5 or 6K out. A few k west of Bamburg, I eventually passed Scott, and started picking off a few other racers. It was pretty spread out at this point, so there wasn't a lot of passing going on. I just stayed aero and kept the pace up as hard as I could. I was definitely feeling some fatigue in my legs, but I just kept pushing.
The turn-around point was up at the top of a large hill. At this point, it looked like I was somewhere around 10th overall. Given the wave starts, you never know for sure, but I was definitely feeling good about my efforts so far to this point.
After the turn-around point, we get to go back down the hill, and I used this to pick up as much speed as I could and to try and hold it for as long as I could. I don't think I passed anyone on the way back to transition, and with approximately 5K left, Scott passed me at the top of a hill. We remained pretty close the rest of the way back, and as we were within about half a K of transition, I passed him back one more time, as I decided to wait for the last 100m to get out of my shoes. He started doing this a bit early in my opinion, which allowed me to get ahead of him before T2. I got off the bike in about 47 minutes which was worked out to about 37kph. The course is about 1K short, so the results had our average speed at about 38.4kph, which is not true. I had no issues in T2 and was pretty much in and out of there in 35 seconds.
Starting the run, my legs were feeling heavy. It didn't take Scott long to pass me, and I tried to stay with him. I pretty much did for the first K, which I did in 4:00 (20 seconds slower than the first time). At this point, he started pulling away and I couldn't go with him. I was feeling pretty tired at this point, and just focused on running my race. Just past the turn-around point, I saw another athlete (Ming Chang Tsai) who I knew was in my AG. I tried to hold him off as long as I could, but today, the legs just didn't have a lot of kick. He eventually passed me at about 2.5K, and surprisingly, didn't pull away much. I ran fairly close to him back to the transition zone and finish line, but could not catch him. Eventually, he finished 9 seconds ahead of me. At the finish line, I was absolutely finished. I had a good kick for the final K which I ran in 3:51, despite being totally out of gas. I needed to hold onto something once I crossed the finish line in 1:19:10
Eventually, I recovered enough to chat it up with other athletes. The general consensus was "now I remember why I hate duathlon's". It was a hard effort in less than ideal conditions. Shortly after finishing, it started to rain, so I grabbed some food and drink, went and picked up my gear bag by the fence and went over to our van to get changed into some dry clothes.
Once in some dry stuff, I made my way to the food tent and had a great pulled pork sandwich. Thank you very much Pig Out Roasters!! After wolfing down my sandwich, I made my way inside to see how the results shaped up. I was happy to see I finished 4th in my AG and 19th overall. This was a much better effort than I was expecting, so I was very pleased.
Up next is the Grand Rapids half ironman on June 5th. I hope to be a bit more rested for this race, as I would still like to put forth a solid effort once again, despite it only being a "training" race in preparation for IM Austria on July 3rd.