Had the pleasure of participating in a wonderful race (the Mt. Rainier Duathlon) put on by a wonderful racing company (BuDu Racing) on Sunday, and had an absolute blast. Though certain aspects of my performance would leave me punching something if this were an A race, I was in too great of a mood and having too much fun to let anything get me down.
PRE-RACE: The usual, ham and cheddar egg white omelette, and a cup of oatmeal for breakfast. Was carpooling with my buddy Brian, who was racing the long course event and was kind enough to offer a ride, so had to meet at his place out near Seward and I-90 at 6… to let that food settle that meant a 4:30 wakeup. Thought that sounded awful, until I remembered that that would be sleeping in 20 minutes relative to what I did for four years in undergrad. (Damn you, rowing!)
We got to the venue in Enumclaw in plenty of time to set-up, checked in, etc. Didn’t really get a chance to warmup, which was unfortunate. Was initially wearing an Under Armour shell with my tri-suit, but decided that would be a terrible idea. The sun was already BRIGHT, and I could tell it was going to be a hot one. Pulled it off at the last second, and made my way over to the start line. They started the long course five minutes before us, and seeing them go off, I was very excited to be running only 1.6 miles to start, and not 5.1.
Run #1 (1.6 miles, 9:55; 3/81 OA): The starter also led the course on a BMX bike, and this was the first of many cool things about the event. Right away a pack of three or four runners jumped out front, and I made CERTAIN that I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes I’ve made in running races as of late… I paced myself. Eventually, a guy (who I spoke with later, named Colby) ran out front and took the lead over everybody else. I just kept it steady, ran with a woman who was laboring a little but was clearly a competitor.
We did two loops around the horse farm (or whatever the venue was); I broke away from the woman I was running with, but Colby was already out of sight. Then Lesson #7 (of the title) first came into play: I entered transition from the wrong end, and had to circle around. The lady I had gapped by 15-20 seconds finished the first run about five seconds ahead of me, and first place was already nearly out of transition. Grrr.
T #1 (1:37, 59/81): Are you kidding me? Awful! Shoes came off right away (yea for elastic, non-tie shoelaces), bike shoes on right away, but It literally took me 40 seconds to get my helmet on. I dropped from 3rd to like 15th or 16th. Whatevs, no freaking. Going to eventually get a flying mount down, and hopefully my T1 times will drop significantly.
Bike (41:25, 1/81): The bestest and most fun ride I have been on in my life. I should preface by displaying an awesome picture of my racing steed:
Pretty much how she looked on race day, except I cut the frame pump off, removed the water bottle cage, and zip-tied the loose cables up front to the frame body. She is F-A-S-T. The plan was to average around 300-305 watts for the ride, but nervous energy had me at 320-330 for the first five minutes, and I was getting a solid 26.5-27 on the flats at that power. Settled down and got to the business of PASSING people. Within the first ten minutes of racing, the road suddenly got very lonely, as I passed everyone who had passed at any point in transition, and the lady who passed me when I screwed up transition. I thought I may have gone off-course, but then way off in the distance I could see a guy on a bike, and figured that was my target.
Closer and closer the biker came, and then I saw it was two bikers. We soon hit the base of the road at the bottom of Mud Mountain, and one biker jumped up out of the saddle and attacked right away. I took the cautious approach… I knew from hearsay that the climb AVERAGED a 6% grade over 1.5-2 miles, and had a couple of short pitches that were in the 10-12% range, and also knew that I put way too much power into hills, and weigh way too much to be effective doing so. So slow and steady it was. My average power for the entire climbing segment was about 340 watts, and it lasted somewhere in the 9-10 minute range… a little higher than I wanted to be, but when your largest cassette in back only has 23 teeth, its not difficult to kill the power.
I eventually pulled up to the second biker I was trailing, and it was a guy who appeared to be in his mid-50’s, frolicing and enjoying a Sunday morning ride. He had two pannier bags, a baggy jersey, and two huge water bottles in rear jersey pockets. That it took me a large chunk of the climb to catch and pass him on racing setup makes him totally awesome.
After summiting, I saw then that there was one more biker (Colby), and a motorcycle lead for the race. While the power-less me would have attacked immediately and tried to crush, I remained steady, and realized that attacking after summiting might cause a little redlining to happen, which is the last I needed. Stayed steady, saw jump out of the saddle, and then realized he was riding a cross bike with a fully ventilated road helmet, wearing a cotton t-shirt. Feeling ridiculous in my budget-but-still-over-budget aero gear, I knew I would have to put a lot of time into him to not feel ridiculous. Passed him shortly before the descent down the mountain, and never looked back (until the run…).
Coming down, I felt like I was riding in the Tour de France, trailing the lead motorcycle. Got into the aero tuck, and had a difficult time getting my power above 250, because I was spinning out at 120 RPM. I think I averaged 40-42mph going down the descent, despite a scary episode involving rumble strips and my aero bars jamming forward. Because my bars became tilted unsafely forward, I had to get in the horns, and despite staying low, I undoubtedly lost some time doing this. The descent eventually leveled out, and we made the left hand turn back toward the fair ground; as I entered the parking lot, I got my feet out of my bike shoes while still moving and performed a perfect flying dismount, landing in a run, and entering the second transition.
Ended up averaging ~300 watts, though I admit I took a good chunk of the descent off… haven’t got my NP at my fingertips.
T2 (:37, 2/81): This was awesome… I had the 3rd-fastest second transition out of anybody in the race, and was only beaten by a pro (Rusty Pruden) and some lady who rode a hybrid and didn’t have bike shoes on. Unclipped my helmet as I ran to the rack, got my shoes on flawlessly, and left in a huff, just as second place was coming in.
2nd Run (25:37, 6/81): I was super-stoked at this point, because was nearly a minute in the lead in the first real multisport event of the season… and then it all came to naught. This is where today’s lesson (#7: Learn the Damn Course) comes into play. Leaving the fair ground, I somehow ignored a blatantly obvious sign and took a wrong turn. Thankfully I realized quickly I had come into the dead end of a maze. Unfortunately, I realized this when I turned around and saw two people running the right way. Cursing to myself, I got back onto the main path and found myself a half minute down… an unfortunate swing from the 40-50 seconds I had leaving transition.
The run course was great too, and it was super sunny at this point. A nice run on mostly flat roads, with two carrots in the distance to try catch. While one of them was coming in closer, and I eventually caught him, the other (Colby, who had entered transition 3rd) ran cross country for Gonzaga and can run a 16:00 5k. I tried to put on the burners after a mile and a half, and while I felt like I was inching closer for a half mile, eventually I realized it wasn’t going to happen. Still pushed myself very hard to the end, and ended right at my limit. It was a relaxed finishing chute, as Colby had finished two minutes ahead of me, and 3rd was more than a minute back.
Came back to find my buddy Brian had screwed up his seatpost after finishing the first lap of the bike loop in 4th place, a super impressive feat considering the depth of competition in that event (much deeper than the short course). Pissed at his bike for him, though he seemed in good spirits, probably because of the sun.
Final Thoughts: A great race on all fronts, and I’m super stoked to have another overall podium. Its fun to do well! MVA has me on the right path, and I can feel myself getting faster every week. The event itself was awesome… BuDu does great events, and I look forward to doing more of them in the future! And as far as getting lost, its just another lesson learned… I doubt I would have been able to win anyways (happens when you try race XC folk who go 22:00 over 3.8 miles while taking it easy), but its something to look out for in goal races in the future!
Overall: 1:19:16, 2nd/81 overall, 2nd/81 25-29 AG
Thanks for reading!