Back on April 25th, I competed in the Duathlon National Championships in Richmond. I did this race last year and it went pretty terribly, so I had high hopes of a big improvement.
The distance was 5k-38k-5k (last year the lead off run was 10k) and I knew a fast pace would be set as the first mile was downhill and funneled into a relatively narrow concrete bike path after a mile. In preparation, I had done some decent workouts on the track to get the speed back into my legs.
The weather called for rain on race day. The rain came overnight, leaving the course wet and slippery. The 25-29 AG started with the 20-24 AG so it was a decent size field. I started in the 2nd row and got out fast. I went through mile 1 in about 20th place with a 4:58 split. Mile 2 was flat and I came through the 2 mile mark in 10:20. I started picking people off at this point as the last mile was all uphill and I wanted some space for T1. Fortunately I had a good transition spot and got through smoothly. On the bike, I got past by a few guy off the back who decided to start riding as a pack. A bunch of these guys were racing for the U.S. Army, and they were teaming up to ride together. I saw them working together all over the course and was a bit shocked that they would do that in their team kits with everyone watching. Not surprisingly, no one in my age group got a drafting penalty. Alas. The course was 3 loops of a fairly technical course with one long, steepening hill on the back side. The course was still wet so I was cautious on the turns for the first loop but was letting it rip by the 3rd. I caught a lot of guys on the hills but would get past on the flats. Though this has been a trend throughout my racing, it was better in this race than past races. I felt like I was staying withing a reasonable distance of the faster cyclists.
I got off the bike after averaging 22 mph and felt solid. I took off on the run and probably hit a 5:20 first mile. I started cramping on mile 2 but was able to stay relaxed and push through. I kept a hard pace and picked off a few guys. With a little under a mile to go, there is a hairpin turn and I saw two of the Army guys who were drafting on the bike about 50 yards ahead of me. There was no way I was going to let them beat me, so I picked up the pace and surged past them with about a half mile to go. The last quarter mile is uphill and hurt like crazy. Coming down the shoot I past a kid that was about 12 years old competing with his dad and I started yelling at him to sprint with me to the finish. I helped him push to another gear and gave him a big high five when he crossed the line.
I finished 6th in my Age Group and closed out the final 5k in 16:58. I'm pretty happy with the result given that most of my training was base work and I have a lot of potential for improvement. Some more strength riding on the bike and some more speed workouts and I'll be good to go.
Really looking forward to this season.