Saturday, June 13, 2015

2015 Duathlon Season

Mikey ran his first race a couple weeks ago. It was a totally non-competitive kids fun run across a parking lot, but hey, we all started somewhere.

Check out his sweet starting line game face (he's the one in the yellow pants)...

Back in your hole gopher...

And here he is totally dusting Goldy...

Better running form than me...

I lined up for a few races myself and did pretty well:  Gear West Duathlon (2nd), Apple Duathlon (1st) and Duathlon Nationals (1st).

The Pre-Race Jams

You've gotta love a band like Madball. These guys have been putting out the exact same album since the 90's. If you could reach back into 1994 and magically put modern production on their old shit it would sound exactly like the new shit. It's kind of like my tri training... I've been doing basically the same routine for a decade and I somehow keep getting faster. If it ain't broke don't fix it.

Gear West Duathlon

I kicked off the season with 2nd OA at the Gear West Duathlon. Being the first race of the season I went into it without any real expectations, I just wanted to go hard and see where I was at. I ended up taking 2nd to Patrick Parish, but I made it interesting by taking a ~30 second lead into T2 and making him run me down. This was noteworthy to me at the time because I hadn't spent a single second ahead of Patrick in a duathlon since about 2008. Of course, 30 seconds isn't nearly enough to hold him off on the 2nd run and he proceeded to catch me at mile 1 and then went on to put another 40 seconds into me by the finish, but hell, a relatively close 2nd to Patrick ranks that as one of my better duathlon performances ever, so that was an encouraging way to start the season.

Gear West Duathlon Results

Apple Duathlon

I hadn't raced Apple since 2012 because it never fit into my spring schedule, but this year with it falling 2 weeks prior to Nationals it fit in perfectly. This race is typically the weekend after Gear West and tends to draw from the same crowd, at least at the front of the race. However, since GW Du has a really tough, somewhat technical (and usually wet and sloppy) off road run course, that race tends to favor a stronger runner over a stronger cyclist, while Apple, with a very fast, 100% paved, non-technical run course, plus 3 extra miles of cycling, can be won with less that stellar running provided that you can bring it on the bike.

So with that in mind I started crunching some pre-race numbers and came to the conclusion that if could just not jog through the first run like a giant pussy and keep gap on the first run to Patrick and the rest of the fast runners manageable I could probably build enough of a lead on the bike to really give everyone a hard time, and possibly even win the thing altogether.

With that thought in mind I busted ass off the line as hard as possible and managed to stay with the lead pack almost to the first mile and ultimately ended up covering the 1st run in 16:18, which is a PR for me on that course. But more importantly only lost 35 seconds to Patrick so I was definitely still in the game. Once we got out of town on the bike course and out onto the open road I could see the entire field up ahead with a lead vehicle out front. I made it to the front at around mile 5 and from there all I was thinking about was pushing on the pedals as hard as I could and building a defensible lead into T2.

Heading out onto the run I knew I had a decent gap because I still hadn't heard Jerry announce Patrick's arrival before I got up and over the hill and out of audio range, but even so I was still running scared and was sneaking looks behind at every corner. I ended up taking the win in 1:20:45, which is a 2+ minute PR on that course for me. Cranking out a performance like that 2 weeks prior to Duathlon Nationals, my first big "A" race of the year, was obviously a huge confidence booster.

Apple Duathlon Results

Duathlon Nationals

Going into a championship race as the consensus favorite is a weird experience. For starters, the Star Tribune did a feature on me in the sports section a few days before the race. So yeah... no pressure there. But if there was ever a duathlon course that was tailor made to accentuate my strengths and minimize my weaknesses, this is it, so confidence was indeed high going in.

This is the 3rd time I've raced Duathlon Nationals, and every time the start has been exactly the same... a bunch of maniacs sprint off the line and I'm in struggle-land falling off the back thinking, "What the fuck is happening here? Did I just completely forget how to run? Am I going to finish dead fucking last?" I ended up wearing my enormous GPS watch in anticipation of exactly this. We got a few minutes in and I was already 100+ yards back of the lead pack when my watch beeped a mile split at me and I looked down and saw 5:06. That's a really strong opening mile for me, and knowing that I was actually going pretty good gave me the confidence to settle into my own pace and rely on the bike to get me to the front rather than continuing to run like a maniac and probably die. At any rate, by the end of the first run a few of those guys were already paying the price for that opening mile and I managed to move up a few spots and enter transition in 6th.

I passed one dude right on the mount line coming out of T1 which moved me up into 5th, then fumbled around getting into my bike shoes barely getting strapped in by the bottom of Ohio St. for the first of 3 ascents. I moved into 4th about halfway up the hill then caught sight of my Gear West teammate Brian Sames in 3rd up near the top. I swung around Brian just before starting down the hill back into the river valley. Very near the end of the 1st lap I caught up to Nate Hoffman and Bennett Isabella and moved around into 1st. From then on it was all about keeping the power up and building as big a gap as possible.

T2 went smoothly and right as I was going out onto the run course I heard Jerry on the PA announcing Patrick winning the elite race in 1:26. Hearing that I glanced down at my watch and saw 1:07 and thought, "holy shit... if I run well I can actually do that!"

The first loop of the run was reasonably relaxed, at least by the standards of a 2nd run in a duathlon. My trusty GPS gizmo was telling me I was on pace to beat Patrick's time and with all of the turnarounds I was able to see that I had a good couple minutes on Bennett in 2nd. There was a brief scare on the 2nd lap when I heard Brent Bailey's footsteps rapidly approaching behind me. He ended up passing me about 1/2 mile out of the finish. The whole time I'm thinking, "There's no way I missed seeing this guy the entire first lap, so I must be a lap up," immediately followed by, "Who gives a fuck which lap he's on, you haven't won this race yet so if you're not running as hard as you can you're doing it wrong." I was able to stick with him until the turnoff for the finish, where luckily he peeled off for his 2nd lap while I headed toward the finish chute, eventually hitting the line in 1:24:10 which apparently exceeded the finish line staff's expectations because they were not ready with the finish tape when I came through.

Duathlon Nationals Results

So that's that for the 2015 duathlon campaign. I kick off my tri season at the Capitol City sprint tomorrow and then I'm planning on taking it relatively easy for a week or so before ramping the training back up and trying to peak for AG Tri Nationals in August.

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