Monday, February 21, 2011

The Texas Motor Speedway Duathlon

Perhaps I should title this post "A Trifecta of Bling".  It's a heart-pumping, leg-cramping, hand-numbing tale of the family that participated in their first ever duathlon and returned with identical 2nd place awards.  The event was The Texas Motor Speedway Duathlon put on by Ironhead Race Productions and the story ..... well, it's likely to get a bit lengthy.

I've been to Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) many times in the past and walked through the garage area and such but this was the first time I ever drove through the tunnel to park inside.  How in the world those big rigs for the race cars get through there I have no idea.  They are very narrow tunnels.  When we emerged we found a nice parking spot on the south side of the garage area.  As we got out and started to unload we spotted Jessica, a fellow Cheesy Riders member.  Julian is always excited to see her as he "finds her amusing".  Gotta love that!  Then just a few spots over, fellow Rockwall cyclist Keith and his family pulled in.  This event was a new experience for all of us and excitement was in the air.

Once we had our gear together we rolled over to check-in where they proceeded to mark us and issue timing chips.  As Julian and I were doing the relay, the timing chip acts as the "baton" by getting transferred between us during transitions.  After that we racked our bikes in the transition area and began mental preparations which for me translated to waiting in the bathroom line, missing the first few minutes of the pre-race meeting, and chugging down some water with a Blackberry Jet GU.  Angelia actually managed to make it to the meeting while taking her Espresso Love GU.

Before we knew it, the time to start had arrived.  Women and all relays started in the 3rd wave with a 4 minute delay.  That meant Angelia, Julian, Jessica, and Keith's nephew Tyler would all be taking off together.  As the final wave started I snapped these photos then made my way over to a fence to watch them on the first lap.
In particular I was keeping an eye on Julian for 2 reasons.  First, he's my relay partner so I needed to be ready when he completed the 2 mile run.  Second, he was the youngest, smallest competitor in the field and could receive no help as it is a sanctioned event.  Actually, being the smallest dude out there gave him quite a following.  A lot of strangers were cheering him on and congratulating him by name throughout the day.
Julian did exactly what we had discussed when we made our race plan by completing the first 2mi leg at his 5k pace in 16:46 (a 8:23min/mi pace).  Nice job!  The transition went well as we got the timing chip moved from his ankle to mine and I passed the bike mount line in 55 seconds.

The bike route was outside the speedway so we exited the garage area through the north tunnel --- kinda cool to ride a bike through there.  There were three 5mi loops to complete for a total of 16.27 miles including the part in and out of the speedway.  My plan for this segment was to maintain a heartrate (HR) around 165bpm for 2 laps then ramp it up a bit on the final lap.  I also wanted to keep my cadence in an efficient range, preferably 85 to 90rpm.  The challenge on this particular day was the wind which was strong and consistent not to mention the fact that riding on a street around TMS meant there were never any kind of trees or structures to break up the wind.  The portion with the wind at your back is all too brief when compared to the headwind and crosswind sections.  All things considered I had a very successful bike leg.  My HR average was 165bpm as planned, average cadence was 86rpm, and I was only passed by triathlon bikes, never another road bike.  I did see Angelia while on my final lap and told her she was doing great.  Shortly after that I made the turn back into the garage area and almost had a major mistake as I dismounted at the last possible second before crossing the transition line.  My foot actually hit the ground on the line --- much too close!  The official bike time ended up being 55:16 for a 17.4mph average.  Not what I had in mind originally but good for the conditions.

4 minute delayed start equals finish of 1:31:16
The second transition went equally well as Julian removed the timing chip from my ankle while I racked the bike.  I made sure the chip was secured to him and he was off on the final 2 mile run leg in just 54 seconds.  The plan for this leg was .... there was no plan.  I told him to run it as fast as he could.  As it turns out that was right around his 5k pace again.  Not surprising as this was the first time he's ever had an athletic effort followed by nearly an hour of rest and then suddenly had to run again.  It's a tough thing to ask the body to do.  After his first lap of the mile loop he definitely kicked it up a notch and there were a number of "go Julian!" cheers to be heard.  By the time he crossed the line he was in a dead sprint.  Key word is "dead" as walking a straight line was a challenge for about a minute afterwards.  Second 2mi run leg time was 17:22, very close to the first leg time.  Our total for the event - 1:31:16.  My hope for us had been 1:25 which with a more cooperative Mother Nature would have easily been achieved.  The difference was definitely lost on my bike leg.

As Julian and I made our way to the post-race refreshment area (a.k.a. the garage) we were looking for Angelia's bike in the transition racks to see what her status was.  At that precise moment we spotted her dismounting the bike and heading into transition 2.  Perfect!  We were going to get to watch her run the final 2 miles and complete her first duathlon.  I took the easy way out by relaying with my 9-year old.  She took on the full challenge.  It showed a bit as she had a bit of trouble unclipping her right foot at the dismount line, a sure-fire sign of tired legs.  She's never been a fan of the wind and I knew the ride was a true test.  When asked later she verified that she wasn't all that happy with the ride.  The wind was a big factor in that but it also paved the way to some calf cramps, a numb hand, and even numb toes.  In fact, the numb hand led to her peeling off her gloves with her teeth while riding!  Not sure I could do that though maybe I should have.  My hands numbed on the last lap as well, a product of holding on for dear life in the crosswinds.

Right around this time, Jessica found Julian and I and we walked over to the fence to watch Angelia's run.  Keith and Tyler were over there already having beaten Julian and I in the relay by 6:06.  Angelia appeared to be running fairly well initially but her hamstring tightened after a mile and she had to walk a bit to work it out.  She resumed pace soon enough and found enough energy to surge towards the finish.  In fact, each of her run segments ended up being at a better pace than any prior race of hers.  She met her main goal of finishing and just missed her goal time by about 5 minutes (that darn wind!).  Congrats Angelia!  By this time the last competitor had exited transition so we immediately began gathering our stuff up and rolled the bikes back to the car.  We had to hurry back to the garage though ...... word is there was an award in someone's future!
Tyler, Keith, Angelia, Julian, me, and Jessica
This was where the surprises came in rapid fire fashion.  We missed the first part of the awards ceremony saying bye to Jessica in the parking lot.  Then all of a sudden we hear, "Athena, 39 and under, 2nd place ..... Jessica".  We tell the race director she had left but was a friend of ours and we collected her award.  Angelia frantically texted her about her result.  No sooner had that happened then we heard, "Athena, 40 and over, 2nd place ..... Angelia".  Wow, both of them managed 2nd place finishes - awesome!

I was taking pictures of Angelia when they began announcing the relay results.  "In 2nd place ..... Tri4Success!"  All of a sudden I'm shoving the camera into my wife's hands and picking up my own award along with Julian who received a very loud cheer.  There we are celebrating when, yep, you guessed it - "in 1st place ...... Rockslide".  That's the team name for my riding buddy Keith.  Amazing, each and every one of us walked away with some bling.  Now I'll admit that there may not have been many competitors in our divisions but who cares?  It always feels good to get some bling!

Relay success!

Jessica received Angelia's text and got her bling too.


Jason said...

Awesome job. I saw you guys out there as I was going in the opposite direction during my training ride. Congrats to everybody on a great race.

Lesley @ said...

Bling is bling bro. Too bad you can't hang it on your tri Sporthook! Congrats on the duathlon!!! (PS. I'm listed in that issue of the mag in the photo... pg 69) Next time, I know I'll see all three of you completing the duathlon without the relay.

Tri4Success said...

Les - yep, saw your name in the back. The next duathlon is April 3rd and no relays. All 3 of us will be taking on the whole thing. 2mi/11mi/2mi ..... so when are you getting on a bike?

Lesley @ said...

When one magically appears with a big bow on the front porch. I can't afford another sport!

Tri4Successmom said...

Jason, where you wearing a blueish jersey? If so I saw you riding. I was surprised to see so many riders riding the opposite direction.