The first race of the year is in the bag. The TriSports.com Desert Classic Duathlon results are here: http://www.ceptiming.com/results_misc.cfm?year=2009&raceNum=176.
All in all not a bad first race for the season. Things seem to be on track, runs were a bit faster then last year, bike was faster, power numbers higher (np 297 ap 285). Missed setting a PB on the course by about :35 and was just over :50 faster this year then last. The transitions were longer this year but with a record field the transition area grew quite a bit from previous years, especially compared to 2002, when I first did this race.
The race played out much like this race always does. There is a mad rush from the line since it hits a trail about half a mile into the run. I was sitting in ~15th place once again after the first minute. Dominic made a big move from behind me to bridge into the first group of 4. Made me nervous for a second, I thought he was going to keep heading up the road which meant I was going to have to make a decision on holding steady seeing if he came back or go forward sooner then I planned. There was a small gap then a group of about 10. Another small gap then the group I was in, each gap was about 3 meters. At this point I was still in contact with the leaders more or less and running rather comfortable. As we were making the left hand bend before the final stretch to the fencing that funnelled us onto the trail, I bridged up on the right side of the road. Surprisingly easy especially since I went from ~ 14th to 5th or 6th in about 10m, but this is the point where many people realize they have been over enthusiastic from the gun. Passed another person or two right before the trail to enter in 4th position. We were 3 wide and it really doesn’t work well on that trail. The tall guy in the middle drifted towards me, we bumped, he moved back then drifted back towards me. I placed my hand on him and firmly guided him over (ok I admit it was more of a shove out of my way since he was slowing and I wasn’t, sorry dude) into the person on his left and went around him. I think he was less then thrilled judging from his comment. This move put me in second position on the trail in my wave. My skills from college xc days still come in handy here and there. Hit the first mile marker and looked at my watch, it said 5:36. I’ve done about .5 miles of running this year faster then that and I started to over analyze my pace.
Mentally I just cracked there and started to worry about if I was running to fast to soon, does my training support the first mile’s pace etc. The string to the first guy stretched and snapped. The first marker was short from everyone I talked with. It really was a big mental laspe on my part. Finished the run a bit pissed at myself for cracking like that as the pace was never too much and there was never pressured from behind on the first run. Decent transition for me, only one dude rolled past me in T1 plus the lead runner flatted so I grabbed the lead in my wave for a bit. A short bit. Guy in my AG rolled past me so fast I didn’t even see what he was riding. My thought was just keep him in sight then outrun him on the second run. The dude forgot to consult me for the game plan and proceeded to put about 4:30 on me over the next 19 miles. Yeah, I’m big enough to admit I got spanked on the bike. I don’t feel too bad because he outrode the entire field, elites included. Later I found out he was a recently retired pro cyclist. My prediction is he causes lots of headaches for duathletes all over the country in all age groups. I really hope he can’t swim because if he can, then I predict he casuses lots of headaches for triathletes across the country, or at least So Cal where he lives.
One more guy passed me on the bike. I recognized him from some other races. We have the he gets outrun, he always passes me on the bike and he gets outrun in run 2 pattern. I passed him back on the 5k climb into the park, he rolled past me into transition, I rolled onto the run course before him and that was that. I was able to take the downhill section coming off the big hill on the run pretty easy, as well as some of the rocky sections. No need to trip, fall or twist an ankle since there wasn’t any pressure from behind on the second run.
So all in all not too shabby for this time of year. 2nd in my AG, 6th or 7th AG overall, with solid runs and ride. Qualified for Duathlon Worlds again and got some good feedback on how the last few months of training has been going. Big props to one of the guys I coach. Billy set a PR on the course by 1 minute. He keeps getting faster as he gets older. Also my friend Jeff, set a PB as well including PB’s on the runs and bike. Congrats. Big congrats to the Phoenix Triathlon Club, the RD and their crew, the volunteers and TriSports.com for supporting duathlon in the US and putting on one of the best season opening races anywhere in the US.