Duathlon is a tough "beast" of an event. Before you slap me for saying this I have never tried a Triathlon so it maybe next step up on the "beast" scale.
The University City Duathlon was composed of three parts: a 5k run, 20k bike ride, and 3k.
Like I said in a previous post I didn't have any real goals for this race. I just wanted to get one under my belt to shake off a year's worth of rust since my last Duathlon.
Yesterday evening I went by the Bike Line store to pick up my race pack. This morning the only thing left to do was get my chip.
They were just opening the transition area as I rolled into the parking lot this morning. There were a few guys that I knew that cross over between sports– also I got a few congratulations on my Boston effort but overall, I went unnoticed.
Checked the tires and racked my bike before heading out for a 3 mile warm up. This was a good opportunity to explore the course and learn exactly where the turnaround points would be.
Around 7:50 AM they pulled everyone together for a few prerace instructions. Interesting this being such a small event, they spent a great deal of time on drafting. Even more interesting, they enforced these rules because next to the finish results, they posted a list of the athletes incurring a time penalty. I guess my luck held because I didn't see 113 listed on the penalty list.
The race started with a swift downhill start. My first mile was 5:28 and I moved slowing into 2nd place. The 2nd mile was part road and part gravel path on the Greenway. My split for this mile was a manageable 5:48. The 3rd was all on the gravel part of the greenway and include a steep uphill section.
My Garmin had already told me that I had run 3 miles and I hadn't even started the hill yet. The hill was tough and as I cresting the top, I realized that I would be doing this same hill again after the bike leg. Sometimes, it just takes a while for certain things to become clear.
The guy leading was just gone. Before I entered the transition area he was already headed out on his bike. That was the last time that I saw him.
My cycling has been a struggle with Boston training so I just don't the same cycling legs that I had last year. The sweat was pouring off my head and I was churning up the first hill in the business park.
I don't know why but the thought crossed my mind at that point "Why do I do this stuff?". This was one of those moments where something just doesn't sound like a good idea anymore. My legs were having a rough transition from the run to the bike and it took nearly 4 miles before my heart settled down and I felt like I was riding well.
I made it through the first of two laps and no one had caught me yet. On the second trip up the hill in the Business Park, I could see a number of riders struggling to climb it. I was passing them but I also took the time to shout out encouragement as well. We were all feeling the pain of the climb.
Just after I turned on to Harris Blvd., I got passed by another rider. He was making a surge and I was attempting to hold him close.
He was clearly a better rider and was gapping me pretty well heading up the hill on Mallard Creek. We made the turn on Prosperity Church Rd. I was trying to search ahead to measure the distance between us, but I didn't see him.
On the downhill back into the park, I was trying to dig deep and hold it close for the run. I didn't know him so I had no idea how fast he could do the last run leg. I turned on the final uphill before the transition area. I started looking for him so I could get a final gauge of the distance heading into the run. All the way into the transition, I kept looking for him, but no sign. I only did a quick scan of the transition area and was headed out for the run. I could not believe that he had gapped me by this much in the last couple of miles.
All the way down to the first turn of the run, I was still looking for him. I made the turn and headed back. 200 meters up the trail here he came. I could only assume at this point he made a wrong turn or had trouble in the transition area.
With only about a kilometer or so left to run, I focused on staying smooth and relaxed. I climbed the last hill but with no one near, I ran it a lot easier than I might have otherwise.
Topping the hill, the course has a nice downhill slope to the finish. With no one insight behind me, it was just cruise control to the finish.
The lead guy had laid waste to all of us. He had bested us by 8 minutes. My cumulative time was an hour and seven minutes to finish 2nd overall. I hung out in the finish area long enough to see the next several competitors arrived. When the guy who passed me on the bike finished, I asked him what happen. He had laid down his bike in one of the corners. I never even saw him. He had cuts on his arms, rear, and legs and possibly his back. I gave him all the credit in the world; he finished out the bike and run. I am sure he will be quite sore come tomorrow.
The run course is pretty good and with only one major hill it could be fast. I suspect it needs to be measured again at least based on my Garmin. The bike course is tough with two long hills. However, traffic was never an issue as they had it coned off fairly well with police at the major intersections.
The only part of the race that may need to be tweaked is the return to the transition area during the bike leg. I was catching a lot of riders during the 2nd lap and it was tough to navigate across for the right turn to the transition area.
They gave awards for the top 3 overall, top 3 masters, and top 3 age groups in 5 year categories. I won a set of ProDesign Areo bars and a plaque.
The Power Bar guys were out and with lot of new flavors of Power Bars and Gels. The Lemon and Tangerine packs I picked up to try. There was plenty of water and fruit after the race. The Great Harvest Bread guys were giving away bread but it was one of the funkier types. I tried a piece but I didn't much care for it.
Overall, these event organizers did a good job for a first time event. They had a good turn out and I everyone was generally happy with everything from the course to food to the awards.
I hope they have this one calendar for next year.
Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner