The weekend began getting up early to be in Denver for a group brick with the TNT folks, followed by the 'Tri 101' clinic. Being a coach this time, I got to stand up in front of the group and share my two-cents worth of knowledge and suggestions on the details of racing a tri, all the way from eating days before the race to after the race. After sharing as much as we could without completely overwhelming the TNT triathletes, Shannon and I headed up to Boulder. She was doing the race as well, and we were going to stay with her boyfriend up in the mountains outside of Boulder.
The first stop in Boulder was Bicycle Village as I forgot my energy gels in the fridge. I had so diligently prepared the flask I was going to use and put it in the fridge. Out of sight, out of mind. At least that was the only thing I forgot. Also picked up some chain lube since I had run out.
Next stop...the Boulder Res for packet pick-up. Gave the water a quick toe test (brrr!) and then let the registration people know we were switching to the duathlon. Hung around for a few minutes to be at the mandatory(?) pre-race meeting. The USAT officials usually go over the rules (no drafting, helmets must be worn, etc). but they weren't able to make it. Instead the race director gave a very abbreviated version and we were on our way up into the mountains.
Let me just say, the drive to Chris' place was fantastic! Up old stage road and left hand canyon was just fantastic. I bet we passed about 30 cyclists on the roads up there. 40 minutes later we were at his house on what I believe is 1200 acres. He doesn't own this land, just works there - it's an educational retreat for kids called Cal-Wood. But my goodness is it gorgeous! We had a well-deserved relaxing afternoon and evening. Early to bed to rest up for the next day's race!
I slept pretty well considering it was the night before a race and sleeping on a couch. But I think not having to swim took a layer of stress/complexity off of the pre-race mental prep! At 6:45am we headed out down the mountain to get to the Res. It was a small race, probably less than 300 competitors, so finding a convenient transition rack wasn't too hard. I was surprised at all the wetsuits I saw. Not surprised that people would swim with a wetsuit (I do all summer long out here in Colorado in a race) but the fact that most people had opted to swim! Granted it was a short 500m swim, but still. Brrrr!
At 8:45am the transition area closed to competitors and we headed to the start line. There was probably about 30 or so 'sane folk' lining up for the du. In the middle of the starting line chit-chat, a lady with a microphone calls out 'duathlon - go!' Guess we were supposed to start with the airhorn that signaled the first swimmers, but couldn't hear it up the beach. Mid-sentence for most of us, we looked at our watches to hit the start button and headed out on the 5k out-and-back course.
Run 1: Wanted to keep this one easy, somewhere around 8:20-8:30 min/mile. Some guy was running pretty much the same pace, so we chatted along most of the course. That helped keep the pace in check, as it is really easy to take off like a bandit. But I had a bike ride and another one of these runs to do so there was no sense in getting tired early! According to my GPS, it was a 3.2mile course and I did it in about 26:45, so right on pace.
Transition 1- Pretty quick here - about 1:30. Just had to get the bike shoes and helmet on and grab the bike.
Bike: I need to work on my mounting skills. Nothing bad happened, I'm just not a 'flying mounter' yet. I'm more of the stop-clip-go type. Once I started pedaling, it was time to see what I could do. I am pretty familiar with the course, having ridden it a few times in other races and training. For some reason my heart rate was pretty high on the ride (about 172). I was a little disappointed in my time (57ish minutes) as that is the same pace I rode my long course race last year at about 10bpm less. But, training race = no taper. And since I've never run a tempo paced 5k then hopped on the bike, my body was probably saying "what the heck!" But overall a good ride. Except when I choked on some water - I was using my 'gel-bot' water bottle that has a space for gels and water to make it easy to consume. Well, the bottle is tall and when I tipped my head back to get some gel and then drink down some water, it didn't go down the right pipe. This on top of a higher heart rate (hard breathing) made drinking a little more challenging.
Transition 2: Hopped off the bike and slipped my running shoes back on. Even remembered to take of my helmet! Took a few extra swallows of my electrolyte drink (HEED) since I didn't get as much gel calories on the bike that I had planned. Then out for run #2!
Run 2: Goal for this run - maintain a strong but comfortable pace. I set my sights on a couple women in my age group (as with most races of this sort, your age is written on your calf so you know what age group people are in). I picked them both off by mile 1 so just wanted to maintain this pace. I didn't look at my GPS to see how I was pacing on this one - just wanted to run. So after another 5k, I crossed the finish line and successfully completed my first duathlon!
A great strong training race for me in some great Boulder weather! The official results are a little messed up, as they have me still in the triathlon results. I was supposed to get switched, but it didn't get done. I even mentioned it to the race director after the race when the preliminary results came out and he said he'd take care of it. I don't think I was the only one with this goof. With the time offset for different wave starts, it's hard to know who really did what. But that's what my watch/GPS was for so I know how I did.
So there you have it - a duathlon! I'd say it was harder than a triathlon since your legs aren't fresh getting on the bike. At least after a swim, as long as you don't kick too hard, your legs feel pretty good. I'd do another one for sure. I think I'll do one on July 12th called the Cabbage Head Duathlon. If anything, it's got a great name!