Thursday, June 21, 2012

2012 Greenwood Duathlon

Another week, another race. Being a duathlete around these parts tends to mean a whole bunch of early season races, then bag-o, nothing. Oh well, at least I can lay off the training a bit as every week is a recovery week, ha ha.

So off to Greenwood in the Valley this week. This meant getting up and leaving the house shortly after 6 am for a close to 2 hour drive. Ugh. I must like doing these things.

Anyway, I arrived on site, and saw the mad scrambling to get everything about the courses (there were different races happening) set up. This is an active military base, so it isn't like they can get things setup too early. Also the race director had to deal with a lack of one timing mat, which meant the duathletes would have to do some fancy footwork to get over to the swimmers mat for T1. Anyway, after a little delay it was all worked out and we got ready to go.

Sadly the distance to the race, the fact that a major Marathon (or marathalon - inside joke) and its supporting races was happening on the same day, and the fact that most people would rather get wet and not experience the pain of 2 all out sprint runs, meant that the numbers for the Duathlon were to be low. Only 8 people signed up and due to an injury only 7 people raced. Still I knew I had some tough competition and I had to fight to retain my spot as the top 30-39 year old at this race for the past 4 years. That would mean I would have to beat Ed Parker, who beat me at the first race in Shearwater a couple of weeks back. And this race course would be oh so similar.

So we lined up, the horn blew and we were off.

The first run was going to be 3 km. I lead for the first 2km of it before Alan Miner finally pulled slightly ahead of me. But I stuck with him close enough that we ended up with the same time going across the first timing mat. 10:49 for a pace of 3:37. That was fast for me and as I would later find out pushed Alan as well. This also gave me a 1 minute lead on Ed going into T1, a cushion that I knew I would need.

So into T1, and a quick change out of my shoes, and hat and into my helmet and bike shoes, then off I went. It was a quick and nice T1 which I was happy with. Luckily there were not a lot of people around to get in the way.
Then off to the bike course. This was pretty much the same as last years course, though with an altered finish, which I really liked more than previous years.

Alan was a bit ahead of me at this point, and while I had thought to take it easy for the first bit of the ride, I saw him fumble slightly with his pedals, so off I took. I caught him and passed him and like a great guy he obeys the rules dropped back and then built up the speed he needed to pass me. And according to Alan, my speed was just high enough that he had to push a ton to make that pass happen.

The ride was uneventful, I tucked in 10 meters behind Alan and stuck there right outside of the draft zone and pushed as fast as I could go. As this was a 3 lap course, I could also keep tabs on Ed, and I managed to keep the gap about the same for the entire ride.

It was only the last 0.5 km or so that Alan pulled away a little bit. I knew that I had pushed quite hard so I let  up a little at that point to give my legs a bit of a breather to help avoid cramping on the run.

It was also at this point that I decided to give the flying dismount another try. So I slipped out of my shoes right near the end, slowed enough and popped off the bike right before the dismount line. This time my shoes stayed on the bike, hooray, and I ran into T2 with Alan in sight. My final stats were a time of 42:22 for 20 for an average speed of 34.9 km/hr including transition time. Oh and a military cop later told me he had my top speed pegged at 55 km/hr. Nice for a flat course (there was a slight tail wind and a slight decline).

By now the heat of the day was kicking in. The bike ride hadn't been too tough as a bit of cloud had come through. I only had 5 km left to go, so it was time to suck it up.

I ran out of T2 and onto the run course and low and behold, Alan was just up ahead in the distance. Alan is generally a much faster runner than I am, though this season I have certainly made strides in my top speed over shorter distances.  Still I didn't need to kill myself now in an attempt to catch him, not with Ed right behind me.

So instead I paced off of Alan and my Garmin to keep things going. I dared not glance back for fear of pushing myself harder. And as it was 1 km into the run I started to get a wicked cramp in my diaphragm.

The 5 km course to finish was similar to the 3 km course to start but included ducking into some side streets to make up the distance. This made it hard to see anyone else. So I had no idea where Ed was in relation to me, until I was at about the 2.5 km mark and we ran by each other. I was maybe 05 km ahead of him at this point. Enough that I knew if I maintained my speed I would likely keep my spot, but not enough that if I gave into my cramp and had to walk a bit.

Alan was slowly getting a little further ahead of me up the road, and I knew that pipe dream was over. Still I gutted through it, wishing I had a little drink, and closed in on the finish line. At this point 2nd place was all but mine so I dared a glance at my overall time in this leg. I was maybe 0.5 km to the finish and oh so close to 20 minutes. So I pushed it. I really wanted to break a 20 minute second 5 km.

In the end I came in with a 20:33 on my Garmin and a 20:55 official time (including transition). I was happy with that for sure.

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My final time was 1:06:06, just a minute slower than Alan, and a minute faster than Ed. Alan was quite kind to congratulate me and let me know how much I had improved over the years. That was almost better than the finish frankly.

So this weekend is Ingonish and an actual Triathlon. Swimming should be fun this year and I am more ready than I was last year at this point. I have had a few open water swims, and even one with a group. I am still a slow inefficient swimmer, but I do look forward to it.

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