Monday, April 4, 2011

A Fast and Furious Duathlon

On Sunday, the time had arrived for me to truly join the world of the multisport athlete at the Fast & Furious Duathlon.  No relay team this time, I was going to have to put the run and bike together myself.  Julian had a different type of challenge ahead.  He has done a kids triathlon before but this would be his first adult multisport event.  The course length would require a more sustained effort than he's accustomed to.  This recap, however, starts the day before .....

The Day Before - Scouting the Course
If you've followed this blog for any time at all then you know there was no reason to doubt Julian could complete this event athletically.  My concerns were in relation to course awareness (i.e. making the correct turns, holding good lines, not creating hazards for fellow athletes, etc.).  It's too much to ask a 9yr old to absorb all the information in a 10 minute long pre-race meeting so the decision was made to scout the course the day before.

No cars, no worries,
except the wind.
The transition area was already roped off and Jack from Ironhead Race Productions was in the process of marking the routes.  We asked him a couple questions and then casually rode around the 2mi run course.  There were 2 distances at this event so I stressed to Julian the important spots where he may see someone go one direction while he needs to go another.  When it came time to ride the bike route we encountered a "Road Closed" sign at the dam.  Was that going to stop us?  No.  I lifted our bikes over the gate and we took off riding (we encountered other cyclists who had done the same).  The nice thing was we basically had a closed course for our scouting ride --- sweet!

After navigating the bike route I asked Julian to lead me on a final tour of the run route before we'd head home.  There's one spot where it can be difficult to discern whether the road goes right or left due to the way the parking lot is situated.  Julian was unsure, made an adjustment too late on the turn, caught some loose gravel, and ...... joined the road rash club!  He stayed tough afterwards and still managed the ride back to the car.  My parent card got revoked as I forgot to bring a first aid kit.  Luckily there was a couple prepping their boat that gave us supplies.  Once we got back to the car I found a Walgreen's and finished the job.  The photo is actually from after the race the next day.

Race Day
Connor's relaxed pre-race ritual.
Ah, race day has arrived and with it ..... Mother Nature.  The winds accelerated overnight with sustained speeds around 20mph and gusts around 40mph.  Going across a dam there is no shelter from what would be a crosswind both ways.  Now the question of whether Julian could stay upright on his bike created more worry than the previous day's crash and ability to navigate the course.  He was still ready to give it a try but I gave him clear instructions on what to do if the winds got too dangerous for him.
Transition area ready.  Racers ready.Early on the first 2mi run.
The first 2mi run leg was perfectly paced for me.  Julian hung with me for about a mile before easing ahead (as usual).  I was however surprised to be passed before the 1 mile turnaround by 3 racers who were doing the long course with a 3 minute delayed start.  Really?  I'm not going THAT slow.
Julian about 1-1/2 miles in.  I'm circled in red.Julian at the mount line.
Ah, the bike.  Sweet relief for my legs which still aren't used to pounding the pavement.  Notice the smile in the photo below.  I swear I have the heartrate data to show I was still working hard.  I passed Julian before the dam - told him he was doing great and reminded him to hold his line to the right.  At first the wind didn't seem as bad as I had prepared for mentally.  Then I passed the tower in the middle of the dam ..... yikes!  For a brief moment you're sheltered completely and then the wind smacks you incredibly hard.  I had trouble holding on and was very worried about how Julian would handle it.  A few miles later I was glad to see him at a point on the route where he had already passed the tower.  Excellent!  Now he just has to pass it the other direction.  It turned out to be more difficult than that.  The wind was getting worse by the minute and the return leg was much tougher in that regard.  Not much I could do other than continue to race my race and hope for the best for Julian.
Run = pain.  Bike = smile.Making a pass near transition.
A quick wave to Angelia and Connor.
So, off I go on the 2nd run leg.  I was holding a similar pace to the 1st run leg -- a good sign.  Near the turnaround point a mile in, I came up behind 2 runners side-by-side and noticed something interesting.  All 3 of us had the same race age on our calf.  Perfect!  I now had a real race scenario to keep me sharp and focused to the finish.  One of the two guys I recognized as we had gone back and forth twice on the bike leg. He pulled ahead of the other runner and soon after I did as well.  The pace was comfortable so I stayed back a bit and planned on making a move in the last 1/2mi if I could.  Around that point I heard a voice yelling out from across the park - "Go Julian!"  I had begun to worry as it's an out and back course and I expected to see him earlier on.  Angelia's voice calling out to Julian allowed me to keep my mind in the game through the finish.  I wasn't sure if the yell was for him coming in on the bike or already out on the run.  It turned out he was rounding the corner headed towards me.  I told him he was doing great and to keep it going.  The time had come to make my move.  I gently accelerated past the other runner I had been trailing.  There was no need to look back.  I had chosen my pace for the final stretch and if he countered with a surge past me then so be it.  The final 1/8th of a mile is right along the water and the windiest spot on the route.  It took a lot to maintain a good pace through there but I finished strong about 6 minutes below my goal time!
For once I get to be the rabbit and someone else the carrot!Connor excitedly rooting me on as I cross the line.
Once I crossed the line we knew it wouldn't be long before we spotted Julian.  Just a few minutes later he came around the corner still looking solid.  As is always the case at these events, he picks up a lot of casual fans and there was plenty of cheering for him on that final stretch.  He ended up crossing the line at 1 hour 21 minutes, right on the time I projected for him ...... before accounting for the wind!  Needless to say we we're very impressed with his effort.  A crash the day before and a crosswind that gave seasoned riders trouble were overcome in full stride.
Heading out on run number 2.A strong finish from a determined athlete.

The official time splits:
Run1R1 PaceT1BikeSpeedT2Run2R2 PaceOverallOverall Rank
Chris17:068:33min/mi01:2434:1119.3mph01:2617:008:30min/mi01:11:0934 of 85
Julian16:318:16min/mi01:1245:1614.6mph01:3416:418:21min/mi01:21:1560 of 85

Remember those 2 age groupers I passed?  That moved me up to a whopping 7th out of 10.  What do you expect in an age group that boasted 3 of the top 5 overall?  Julian of course faired much better taking home 1st place honors in the 10&Under division.  In fact, only one competitor under the age of 21 had a faster time - a 13yr old who was only marginally faster on the run but held a strong edge on the bike.
This was my primary event for the first part of the year and after a success there are always thanks to be given.

To my wife Angelia: Thank you for all the loud cheering and the massive quantity of photos.  Your voice carried over the entire run course.  A simple call of "Julian!" over the wind let me know everything was going well and allowed me to focus on the task at hand.  Your enthusiasm was infectious.

To my son Connor: Thank you for hanging in there on a 5am wake-up call just to hop in the car and stand around watching other people do their thing.  I heard you cheering for me every time the course came near you, and you were the first to greet me at the finish line with more excitement than I could muster for myself.

To my coach Joey: Thank you for seamlessly transitioning from cycling coach to duathlon coach.  It's hard to believe I've barely been running for 2 months but the plan you laid out worked perfectly.  I felt ready to go and confident on race morning.

To race director Jack of IRP:  Thanks for taking the time to answer all my questions.  I have no doubt it played a crucial role in Julian and I having such a successful race.

And to my son Julian:  Thank you for showing the strength to persevere through the road rash and the wind.  I know from first-hand accounts you inspired many to keep going when they wanted to give in to the elements.

1 comment:

Dawn said...

This is Awesome!!!! Love the details of the race. You all rocked out there:))) Woot!