August 4, 2009

Patriots triathlon turned duathlon

This Sunday was another race day, nothing big just another B-race to keep me on my toes. I had busy work week so I did not have much time to worry about the race preparation until Friday evening when I got home totally exhausted. Saturday was devoted to packing and relaxation with the family to regain at least some composure before the race. During the week I sporadically checked the weather forecast and it looked like we will have some rain, but no storms were expected in the area until about 2 ours after the start - that is late bike and early run in this race. So I was pretty relaxed about it. Well until I got up on Sunday morning to pouring rain and thunder. Well let's hope it passes. I took few extra large ziploc bags for my shoes, socks and other run stuff and left the house.

I got to the race venue as second or third car - for some reason directions predicted 50 minutes ride, but that turned to be about 35 minutes in morning no traffic conditions. Great I have some time to get setup which is good, because I did not really do any prep during the week - I actually planned my nutrition as I mixed it on Saturday evening. Not ideal. After I got setup and the rain was still on and off I noticed a flash. Oh someone just took picture I thought - until I heard thunder. Well this does not look like we will be swimming at all I thought. After another 20-30 minutes of thundering and rain the race director announced that we will do a duathlon. The sprint race was to start with 1 mile run and out half lite race with 2 miles run. Great I just lost the advantage of my stronger swim. I did get a big trash bag and put all the stuff I will not need into it and left it next to my bike. Packed socks and visor in separate bag not to get them wet from wet shoes from the first run and cleared separate bag for my running shoes so they do not get more wet during the bike. After that I met Leah and saw Erica and Craig pull in to spectate and cheer us on. I did not know at that time that Pete from EnMu squad is racing as well. Only realized that on the run when I saw him for brief moment (so brief I could not even say Hi, but we met after the race and had a good chat). After that Leah and I went for warm-up run and as we were heading back Erica and Craig rushed us to the starting line. Apparently the plan changed and the race was starting 15 minutes earlier. OK we had about 30 seconds to get ready - which meant for me to sprint to the front. Then I heard 10 seconds, 5 seconds, GO!!!. All right this is the best timed warm-up in any race I ever had. I was little disappointed with the weather, but soon forgot about it and kept focused on running hard, but not too hard. The run was mixed road and packed gravel road. The pace in the first 200 meters was too fast and I consciously slowed down to about 6:20-6:30 minute miles on the flats and about 7:15 on the slight uphills. Overall I'm happy with the run although it felt like being in a dream not completely conscious.

I ran into the T1, found my rack, took off my shoes and shoved them into the bag, then I grabbed my bike only to realize I need a helmet, well only to realize I still have my hat on. I tossed it to the ground and put on my helmet. Then ran off with my bike. The whole T1 was little over 50 seconds, but it felt very long for my standard. Need to put this on my practice brick workouts in case I have another duathlon.

Bike was also interesting. In the first curve I noticed that one of the breaks is not fully engaging - not all that good in rainy conditions. Being disoriented I thought it is the read, so I checked the quick release, which was fine, then I tightened the brake cable while riding. I let few people pass me knowing I'll get them later in the bike leg anyways. Only about 4 miles into the bike I realized the front break is the issue and fixed it - the quick release was off from me changing the wheel before the race - good lesson for next time (left brake font - as if I'm on the bike the first time). The rest of the bike was pretty uneventful. The race is done on 13 miles big loop that is scaled down to about 10 miles smaller loop that the half lite riders complete 2 more times. I took the first loop easy to test the waters and see how fast I can go to the curves and downhill. The next two loops I rode more aggressively, but still stayed on the cautions side. No need to have another gash in my thigh and be out of commission for few weeks. During the first loop I basically gained few positions I lost on the first 2-3 miles and kept the position through the whole 2nd loop. I closed the gap a little to the pack of 3 riders, but only passed them through the 3rd loop as people started to experience fatigue. It seemed to me that many riders took the first loop too hard and paid for it later. When I rolled into the T2 Craig yelled to me that I'm in 15th place. Not bad for this race format I thought. As I ran to the transition through the mud and puddles of muddy water the mud kept splashing all over my bike and body. When I racked the bike I was still standing in big pool of muddy water and had a decision to make - socks or no socks. Well it is only 7 miles and my feet are anyways going to have blisters. So no socks. I cleaned my feet in the muddy water and grass and put on my shoes. Grabbed my visor, gel flask and off I was - some 50 seconds again.

That brings us to the run which is pretty deceiving. The first mile and a half is downhill and then you go another 2 miles on rolling terrain that is mostly downhill. I kept my pace just around 7:00-7:15 and felt good. I was not redlining on the run and took time to sip gel just before aid station and took water while walking for 20-30 seconds (not all aid stations - only 3 of them). I knew there is 14 guys in front of me and kept looking for them. The first one appeared fairly soon, but the second one already had about 6 minutes gap on the leader, third and fourth guy were together and the rest were pretty much 10-15 seconds from each other. On the run I did not keep count, but I passed few people and on the way back in the last 1.5 miles I got passed by two guys. Overall I did not gain or lose position, but I was not all that happy with it. When I hit the last mile I thought HTFU and kept going. I checked few times how much gap there was to the guys behind me and did not see anyone. Last time I checked I was some 500m from the finish and there were two guys pretty close. My thought - I did not work hard to get passed in the last stretch and I opened it up from 7:30 mile to 6:30 mile and then on the finishing stretch which was ankle deep in mud and water ran 5 minute mile. They did not pass me and I have no idea if they really attempted. Well here is the only photo I have from this race and as few people said it summarized the day very well. It is me crossing the finish line after sprinting in the mud. Enjoy.


For the numbers inclined crowd, here is the breakdown:
Overall place: 15
Age group place: 4
Run (2mi): 13:24
T1: 0:00:54
Bike (38mi): 1:43:04
T2: 0:00:50
Run (7mi): 0:50:54
Total: 2:49:05

After the race I hang around with Craig and Pete and we cheered on Leah as she finished. Then we chatted little more in the rain an waited for the awards ceremony. Results were not posted due to broken printer. During the ceremony we learned that Leah placed 3rd in her age group (Congrats Leah on job well done in your first long race) and Pete won his age group - well done Pete and great confidence builder for your IM later in the season. Overall despite the rain the race was good. Although I was disappointed not being on the podium I had a great race and ran my heart out. It reconfirmed that the training is taking me in the right direction and that my fitness is definitely where it should be. Looking forward to next race in September. By the way today I signed up for Eagleman 70.3 for June 2010. It is almost local race so I should do it.

Now only if the blisters and chaffed feet would heal fast so I can get back to running. Biking and swimming are OK as I tested yesterday and today.