Posted by: bradhammond | April 29, 2013

My First Duathlon

I did my first duathlon on Sunday, April 28.  It was the Mt. Ranier Duathlon in Enumclaw, WA.  There was a long race and a short race, and I chose to try the short one – 1.6 mile run, 14.4 mile bike, and 3.8 mile run.  The bike course has a really long uphill section, and a really long descent, so I knew that it would take me a lot longer than a flat 14.4 mile ride.  Having never done the race before, I didn’t have a specific time goal, I just wanted to go as fast as I could.

The Wednesday before the race, I drove down to Enumclaw and biked the course.  It was a beautiful sunny day and the views of Mt. Ranier were awesome – Enumclaw is so close to the mountain that it seems to fill up much of the sky.  I think the ride took me about 55 minutes.  The climbing is on a small road that doesn’t get much traffic at all, but the descent is on Rt. 410 which is a busier road with cars and trucks going quite fast.  It is only 2 lanes, with a decent sized bike lane, but there are “rumble strips” just to the right of the white line.  These are a series of grooves in the pavement that make a lot of noise and shock the driver awake if they are starting to drift to the right.  I didn’t realize they were there until I moved left in the bike lane at about 30 mph – scared the heck out of me!  After that, I knew they were there and was careful to see and avoid them.

Race Morning – Relax?

One thing you often hear people say before a race is “Relax”.  I’m not one of those people!  I feel like I do best in short races if I am the very opposite of relaxed.  I had one of my best races when I thought I had lost my timing chip (stuck in the velcro of my bike shoe) and found it at the last minute, another good race when I got lost driving to the race, couldn’t find a parking spot in the park, and had to park in a neighborhood and jog in.  A little panic seems to help get me going, but it’s a hard thing to plan or fake.

I got to the race site about 7:15 and picked up my number.  They were starting the long race at 8:00 and the short race at 8:10.  At my car, I tried clipping my bike shoes onto my pedals, but the right one would not click in.  I could see that a tiny little bolt was sticking way out, and I borrowed a tiny Allen wrench tool from a couple of guys parked next to me.  No matter how I turned, the bolt was not actually tightening, and the pedal wasn’t going to work like that.  I tried turning my bike upside down to get a better angle, but it was no use. I thanked them, and decided to see it there was bike mechanic near the transition area who could help me.  As I turned my bike back to upright, I noticed that all of the water had drained out my aero-bottle.  Also, I needed to pee and the pre-race meeting was going to start in a few minutes.  I was getting in some high-quality panic now!  Well, there was a bike mechanic under a tent next to transition, and he got me all fixed up pretty quickly!  I had to run over to the finish area to get some water, but it was probably a good little warm-up.  After the pre-race meeting, the porta-potty line was nice and short, so by 7:55 I was all ready to race.

First Run

There about 90 people doing the short race, and I lined up in the second row.  I was next to Teresa Nelson, and I ran pretty close to her most of the way.  There was mix of paved road, dirt road, and path but it was all very flat.  The rain got harder, and by the time I finished the dirt and grass in the transition were very wet.  Time: 11:40 (7:18 pace)

T1

I was one of last people to rack my bike before the race, so I didn’t exactly get a prime spot.  Some guy was taking his time between my bike and the way out, so I had to go out of my way to get around him to get my bike and then again to run out with it.  My socks got totally soaked on the run out – maybe I should have gone barefoot.  I think I passed a couple of people in transition, and that always feels good.  Time: 1:00

Bike

Soon after I started the bike I caught up to someone in a Pro Club race suit and passed them.  It was quite a ways up to the next rider, but I felt like I was gaining on them.  I got passed by a woman in a BMB uniform, and she talked to the rider in front of me, who also had on a BMB uniform.  When I caught up to him, he started going faster – there were a couple of moments when I thought “Damn it, I think I got my wheel in front of yours, so you should back off!”  Later I figured out that he was only 14, and that the woman who passed us both was his mom.  The next rider I caught up to was a man wearing long black tights and a black or gray jacket.  I’m sure he didn’t drop back after I passed, as he passed me back about 10 seconds later.  A mile or so later, I caught up and passed him again, and managed to open up a gap.

Finally we started the climb.  At least 5 or 6 people passed me during the climb.  I have tried to work on it, but climbing is still one of the weaker parts of my biking.  By the time I got to the fairly flat part at the top, all of the people who had passed me looked they were so far ahead that I would never catch them.  I figured they were all fitter and faster, so I decided that just trying to close the gap a bit was enough to aim for.  As I approached 410 the officer doing traffic control let several cars through, and I slowed a bit to make sure that the cars were really stopping when he waved me through.  I could see two cars waiting to go in my direction – I stayed pretty far right so they could pass me easily.  Later, when I saw their brake lights and was gaining on them, I figured that meant I was gaining on some bikers that I couldn’t see.  My strategy for going down hills seemed to be working – basically once I am in my biggest gear I pedal hard until I am up over 110 rpm, then I just try to get into an aerodynamic position and coast.  After things flattened out a bit, I passed a couple of riders and was very close to several more.  I slipped my feet out of my shoes and pedaled a little ways with my feet on top of the shoes so that I could dismount without completely stopping and not have to run in bike shoes.  This worked well as I passed a couple more guys who were stopping at the dismount line and hobbling in their bike shoes.  Time 47:33  (18.2 mph)

T2

I racked my bike, put on the running shoes and took off my helmet.  The man in front of me dropped something, so I passed him in the middle of the transition area. Time 1:02

Run 2

I was fairly close behind another runner as we left transition.  The course was a little confusing at first, but I could hear the directions that he got, and that helped me figure out which way I was going to be turning.  After about half a mile of winding around on paths and gravel roads, we came back out to the street.  At this point Josh Fitchett passed going the opposite way, about half a mile from finishing.  I figured I must be at least 20 minutes behind at that point.  In another few hundred yards, I started getting passed by bikers doing the long race who were starting their second bike lap.  I assume they were the leaders, but I’m not quite sure.  At about the 1 mile mark I got passed by the 14 year old in the BMB uniform.  Another guy came up beside me, and said “Now the sun comes out!”  I’m not overly chatty when I’m trying to run, but I admitted that the rain drops in my eyeballs made the bike descent unpleasant.  He dropped back and followed me for a while, then came up and talked some more.  He said he just wanted to finish and asked if I wanted him to pace me.  I wasn’t sure how to handle that, so I just sort of declined and let him pull away over the second half of the run.  The next guy to pass me had a shaved head, and he didn’t look like he was running fast, but he looked comfortable and he was faster than me.  I noticed that my quads were hurting, but otherwise I couldn’t think of any reason why I couldn’t run faster.  Eventually, during the last half mile on the paths and gravel roads, I heard some footsteps and someone breathing, and I got passed one more time by a woman with blonde hair.  I finished a few seconds behind her.  Time 31:43 (8:21 pace)

Post Race

I put on some warmer clothes, grabbed a snack, and watched people finish for a while.  I saw several people that I know from swim class.  Eventually they posted results, and I had to see where I finished.  I was 2nd in my age group and 18th overall!  The guy who offered to pace me was first in my age group.  While I was checking results, I saw Amy from swim class, and she got 2nd in her age group as well, so she said “I guess we have to stay for the awards now.”  So we did.  When they announced the men 50-54, I noticed that I would have won that age group, so that made me less disappointed about being 2nd in the 55-59, and overall pretty happy with my race.  I was a bit disappointed to be over a minute per mile slower in the second run, but I don’t think it’s a pacing problem so much as “legs tired out from biking” problem.

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