After my longest hiatus from racing that I can recall in recent years (~5 months), I signed up for the Duathlon National Championships down in Oro Valley, AZ. It’s not very often that you can enter a National Championship race within your own state so I decided to check it out. This was the age group/amateur Nationals and the Elite Du Nats were a few weeks earlier in Alabama. The race distance was 5k run, 35k bike, 5k run with both 5ks on the same course. I mainly saw this as a ‘C’ race and didn’t feel particularly fit, but after all, my focus for the year is in October, so no reason to be in phenomenal shape yet.
I lined up with my friends Alex Kaufman and Skylar Rubalcaba and as expected, the race started out very fast right from the gun. I *tried* to keep the first run’s heart rate no higher than my tempo ceiling, 177bpm, only going over it briefly at times but luckily didn’t feel like I was going anaerobic. Alex got roughly 20 seconds ahead by 1.5 miles and I figured we’d finish pretty close overall. He had recently placed 4th overall at the Marquee Triathlon in 2:06. I gradually reeled him in and caught up to him during the half mile climb to T1, finishing the first 5k in 17:49. I was shooting for 18ish, so no problems there. After a 46 second T1, I started the bike around 15 seconds ahead of Alex while he was busy knocking bikes over or something…
I can’t hold run tempo heart rate for more than roughly an hour and 15 minutes but I go 5 beats lower for bike tempo, so I stuck with that on the bike (165-172bpm) and averaged 168bpm for the 21.7 miles. I had an absolute blast on the bike. I don’t know what it was; possibly not racing for so long and finally getting to go fast! Faster than expected, actually, with a bike split of 52:24, 24.9mph average. Beforehand, I figured I could manage 24mph, so that was a pleasant surprise. One small factor was a disc cover that I got from wheelbuilder.com (http://www.wheelbuilder.com/store/aerodisc-data.html) which made my 88mm deep race wheel into a disc for $90 and is just as good aerodynamically beyond a yaw of 10 degrees. That thing wanted to GO on the flats and downhills. Anyway, into T2 I went, and 46 seconds later (again), I was out of transition.
On the bike with new disc cover!
Run two felt good from the start and I went hard. I constantly reminded myself, ‘it’s only a 5k, it’s only a 5k…’ After the first turn around, it appeared that I was in the top 13 or 14 and I was hoping to crack the top 10. At this point in a race, I pay no attention to heart rate and just give it whatever’s left. I passed a few people during the run and finished strong with a very unexpected faster run than the first, 17:38! I had looked at last year’s results beforehand and it seemed that a slower second run was a given for just about, if not every, racer. Part of me wonders if I could have gone a little bit faster in the first run, but there’s no way to know for sure. I talked to Janee afterward and she told me I finished 11th…by two seconds…The funny part is that the guy that eeked in ahead of me was not there *physically*, he was actually in a different wave and happened to have a slightly faster time. The other funny part is that I was rapidly closing in on an older gentleman in the final straight who had started in a wave before me, so I wasn’t worried about passing him. I eased up to let him cross the line ahead of me, get his finishing picture, and because, at the time, I didn’t think I needed to worry about place. Ha! I was a little disappointed that I was one spot out of the top 10, especially with how close it was. After getting home though, I checked the results again and it had me at 10th! One of the top guys somehow got a six minute penalty and it bumped him out of the top 10. Crazy stuff!
My finishing time was 1:29:21 which also got me 3rd in the 25-29 age group. This also qualified for Duathlon World Championships in Nancy, France in September, but there’s no way I can afford to wear my fancy pants in Nancy, France with the expense of the Kona trip. I’m very pleased with this race being a “rust buster” of sorts and because I met all of my goals. It really got me fired up to race more, which just so happened to be the following weekend at the Rio Salado Triathlon.