Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blazing Saddles Duathlon

This past weekend was my second ever duathlon (the first was Fast & Furious back in April).  A few things have changed in the months in between - namely the temperature has risen significantly.  My run "training" has been minimal so I wasn't expecting any improvement in that area.  However, I did anticipate a better bike leg despite the heat.  In the end I thought 1:05 was a good target for this 2miR / 9.5miB / 2miR course.

The race was put on at White Rock Lake, a very popular spot in Dallas among runners (like my sister) and cyclists.  Personally, I've always avoided it because of its popularity.  Cycling at high speeds around runners and other pedestrians, pets, etc. is hazardous at best so why would I seek it out?  In this case, it was a negative as I was likely the only participant who had never ridden the course.  On top of that, it's not a closed course so my first time dodging all these obstacles would be in a race situation while in aero position.  Not ideal.

Race morning went well as I got a decent breakfast, was well hydrated, got a great transition spot (open racking!), and generally felt ready to take it on.  This wasn't a major target so there was no stress.  In fact, I felt free to just "go for it".  I threw in a little warm-up run, had a pre-race GU, and then they announced a 15min delay. WTF?  I'm primed and ready to go!  With as quickly as temps were going up, every minute was precious.

Run 1 - 2mi
Eventually, they gave us the go signal and we were off running.  A 5k race started with us and this worked against me a bit as I got sucked up in the momentum and didn't manage my pace.  Normally, I'm excellent at finding the right pace which should have been around 8:30min/mi for the first run leg.  Instead, my first mile was 7:42 - oops!  That would be fine for an aggressive 5k but not for this.  I slowed up a bit and finished the route in 16:21.

Transition was fairly quick.  No idea what the time was as the official splits haven't been posted anywhere I can find.  My heartrate was elevated higher than I wanted but I figured that would come down a bit once I got in my comfort zone on the bike.

Bike - 9.5mi
The bike started well except for one thing - my HR wouldn't budge!  This would be the downfall of my day.  No matter what I did my HR just did not want to recover.  Ok, ok, honestly I probably just wasn't patient enough to let it recover while out on the race course and I just kept pushing forward.  I had one spot where I slowed to a crawl as I wasn't 100% certain on the route and another where I dropped my water bottle (doh!).  It was a Camelbak Podium Big Chill so I pulled a quick u-turn and grabbed it - couldn't have cost me more than a couple seconds.  Unfortunately, in both instances my heart just kept on beating fast.  In the end I had a decent bike split of 28:17 but felt I could have done so much more had I taken it easy on the first run.

By this point I was hyper-aware of my HR and intentionally took it a bit easier in transition.  I walked instead of running in transition and generally didn't rush anything.  Did it help?

Photos are thanks to my wife.
Run 2 - 2mi
Nope.  Relaxed transition or not, my HR was still up (did I mention the sweltering heat?).  I took off on the 2nd run which actually went the opposite direction from the 1st run leg.  This run was B-R-U-T-A-L.  By the 1/2mi mark I had slowed to a 10min/mi pace with a HR at max.  I had to do something so I walked and focused on my breathing.  I've walked once before in a race and ended up with a 5k PR so I knew walking a short while wouldn't kill me.  My HR slowed about 8bpm which isn't a lot but it was enough for me to give it another go.  I was doing better but still well off pace around 9min/mi then with only 1/2mi left to go I found my legs and was suddenly running around an 8min/mi.  Wow, a 2min/mi variance in the span of a single mile.  I crossed the finish line with a final run split of 17:38.

I crossed the line at 1:05:52.78 meaning I missed my realistically conservative goal by 53 seconds.  It was a weird feeling.  On one hand I was disappointed I missed the mark but on the other it was close enough I didn't think I could get too upset with myself.  It was clear what my issue was.  In my first duathlon my 2nd run was 6sec quicker than the first.  In this one I was 1:17 slower on the 2nd run.  I had clearly gone out too fast.  I knew it and it cost me.  If I had taken as little as 40sec longer on run 1 I would have been faster on the bike, in T2, and on run 2.  In the end, I would have hit my goal.  I know it.  When I got home and looked at the stats it was even more pronounced than I imagined.  AvgHR for Run1?  96% of MaxHR.  AvgHR on the Bike?  98% of MaxHR.  AvgHR for Run2?  97% of MaxHR.  Yeah, essentially I was at 97% MaxHR for over an hour in the hot Texas sun.  Surprised I didn't collapse.  In fact, something unexpected happened ......

Yep, 1st place Age Group!  Well, there was one guy in my age group who clobbered me by nearly 14 minutes (Really?  14 freaking minutes?), but he got 1st Overall so the Age Group award fell to me.  Heck, I don't get these often so I'll take it.  I wonder what I could do if I actually improved my running and had a tri bike?  Hmmm.


Shannon (IronTexasMommy) said...

Great job and great race report! First is first and you have the trophy to prove it! :)

Don't forget the weather was heating up quickly as the race went on and I'm sure that added to the longer second run. Nicely done!

TRI714 said...

cool race report. Conrats on the hardware. I really cant see where a tri bike would have wacked that much time in 9.5 miles as long as your bike is set up properly for you.
As for running it appears we run about the same paces as Ive seen over the last few months. Well when I'm actually running more than 3 x a month. I guess my point is, I have no running mystic advice. I just want to run faster, and I havn't given myself enough time lately.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats on taking first

Ironman By Thirty said...

Congrats on the podium spot!

Big Clyde said...

Congrats on 1st AG! I liked your race report.

MomSwimBikeRun said...

Great job and awesome recap!

Anonymous said...

Wow congrats!! Awesome race report.. Yeah I'm either bold or stupid. We shall see August 7th

Colleen said...

Racing in the heat will jack up your heartrate - considering the conditions - you did awesome! And first in your AG... can't beat that!