Before diving into this race I should mention I've fallen quite far behind on logging my training. There is a draft post I've got with a rolling update of what's been going on, but I have yet to catch up to the present. It will happen soon!
For a quick recap of cycling related events that occured leading up to this race...
2 weeks ago I wiped out on my bike going about 20mph trying to reach for a spare water bottle in my jersey pocket. I gave myself a nasty case of road rash on my right knee and elbow. There were three total wounds on my knee, one of which bled during the 10 miles I had to ride home. I eventually got a tetanus shot since it had been years since I got one and within 2 weeks, all but the nastiest of the abrasions were close to healed. The final one scabbed over in the days leading up to this race.
Last week I participated in a hill climb time trial, a short 1.0 mile time trial bicycle race up Illchester road in Catonsville, MD. It was my first true bicycle race, and I did pretty well for myself, placing 4th in Category 5, just 2 seconds from 3rd (bicycle racing is broken into categories, first based on experience, then on speed, 5 is for newbs). I also rode to the race, did some riding afterwards, and rode home. It would have been quite the successful day until I got clipped by an SUV's side view mirror while coming to a stop light. The mirror folded in, my forearm took a good shot but didn't bruise, and I managed to stay upright, though the car ended up helping with that.
This past Wednesday, the rear tube on my CAAD8 exploded as I was taking a corner. After some super elite bike handling skills (or a lot of luck), I managed to stay upright. It was certainly an unsettling experience, and it took a while before I stopped being gun shy around corners. I'm also pretty sure my rear rim is shot after it dragged on the road while I was attempting to stop the bike.
So I went into Lums Pond looking to both do well, and have an uneventful bike leg with my SuperSix, which thankfully, has two good rims! This would be my last Du of the season as the only other semi local one I know of is the same weekend as the Baltimore Marathon and of course, my "hometown" marathon takes precedent!!
With everything set to go in transition, and a special someone to serve as my enthusiastic cheering squad (who drove over an hour to see me, and ran between two places to see me as many times as possible!), I was off at 7:45AM. The distances... 2 mile run, 19.5 mile bike, 3.3 mile run.
Last year, this race was converted to a 10K mud run thanks the monsoon that rolled through the day before and day of the race. This year, we got to experience the somewhat unique cross country run courses. Three of us took out the run, going neck and neck most of the way. On the more rugged sections, I backed off a little, trading the lead with another guy who was clearly a runner. The 16 year old that was running with us eventually dropped off the pace. I wonder if his XC coach knew he was doing a DU just a week or two before the season started!!
Anyway, I came through run #1 in 11:34, right next to the other runner. As it turned out, we were not only both on the same rack, but our bikes were right next to each other. I was simultaneously relieved and disappointed when he went for a mountain bike as I grabbed my road bike. With only one other guy even in transition at that point, the race was likely determined.
I busted out of transition in 45 seconds, ahead of Mr. mountain bike, struggling only to get my 56cm frame free from the rather short transition racks. I clipped in, stood out of the saddle to get the bike going, then dove into the aero bars. The bike course was FLAT as anything, with long, long straight aways and roads in really, really good shape.
Such a course is terrible for someone like me who does better on hills, but I was looking forward to the challenge. After having to deal with a police motorcycle that was going way too slow, he finally moved and it was just me, and the lead pick up truck driving far enough ahead not to influence my pace.
I wanted to see if I could hold 25mph, though quickly realized that perhaps 24mph was more realistic. I plowed through about 15 miles of the course maintaining that 24mph average before I started running out of gas. I also got a little sick to my stomach, though was able to fight it off. Regardless, no one ever passed me, or even got close. I also had only one minor incident involving other racers....
The course has one "lollipop" section where you take a right off the main road, then three lefts to get back to the main road, riding back in the opposite direction you came. I hit that right without having to go too far into the travel lane. However, as I was coming back in the opposite direction, racers coming towards me decided they needed to swing so wide as to cross the double yellow line. One guy in particular swung so wide that he ended up in my path.
Besides being completely excessive and unsafe, it's also against the rules. I held steady, never letting up on the pedals and never flinching. I think the other rider got the point that I wasn't moving and he had to either get out of my way, or both our days were over.
Past mile 15, I could see my speed slipping. Rather than fight it, I opted to try and save something for the last run, remembering all too well the suffer fest that was my previous second run after going all out on the bike. I came back into transition first (the triathlon going on at the same time had a 10 minute wait after we started, so I wasn't the fastest bike on the day), hit my dismount well and ran through the timing mat in:
50:29, good for about 23.2mph. Not quite the 24mph I had hoped for, but 1.2mph faster average than the hilly 26 I did at my previous Du, so I suppose I rode well. Better than I would have last year at any rate!!
I had a pretty solid T2, getting out of there in 37 seconds. I realized though that I managed to bust open two of my scabs on my knee, and get a whole bunch of grass and some bugs caught in the wounds. Most of my transition is done on my knees, and unfortunately, I wasn't exactly careful in taking my right knee to the ground...
I started run #2 with a mountain bike leading the way for another cross country style course, which was actually really, really fun. I felt like shit running in transition, but after hitting the first turn of the run, started kicking it back into gear.
The run was uneventful, other than the fact that my heart rate was actually up, meaning my legs weren't so torn up that I couldn't run fast (unlike my last du). I finished the 3.3 mile run in 19:35 good for a time of 1:23:02, a win by over 3 minutes.
On the day, I tied for fastest first run, had the second fastest Du bike leg, and the fastest second run. Compared to the tri, I was top 15-20 on the bike, though only separated by a minute or two, mostly by guys that had actual tri bikes and disk wheels, and only one triathlete had a faster second run than me.
Overall, it was a great way to finish out a rather short 3 race duathlon season. I'm not done with my new found cycling engine though. I've got a road race in a couple of weeks, which I'm going to try and win. The course has "rolling hills" which are only rolling if you live in Lancaster, PA, and not if you are an Adventures for the Cure A rider. As long as there aren't any other Cat 5 newbs that should be Cat 3 because of who they ride with, I'll try and take the race on that rolling section on either the second to last or last lap (the course is 8 laps total, somewhere around 30K) with the intent of breaking away for the win. Cat 5 riders are notorious for taking each other out in finishing sprints since they can't hold a line, so hopefully I can just drop everyone before that.
Oh, and I also have the Annapolis 10 Miler next week. No workouts this coming week, that's for sure!