Saturday, April 23, 2011

PT Solutions Cartersville Duathlon

This race kicked off the start of the multi-sport season, and I was very excited to get back to racing.  I'm not sure what the future holds with respect to racing once residency starts, so my goal for this season is to race often and have a blast every step of the way!  This was my first duathlon and the first year for this event, so there was a lot of unknown leading up to the race.  The race is a 5K run / 17 mile bike / 5K run.  My coach, Jennifer Lesser, had given me plenty of hard run/bike/run workouts and I had an opportunity to ride and run the course the weekend before, so with that background, I was ready to lay it all out there and see what kind of result I could get.

The week leading up to the race the weather had been mild with morning temperatures in the 60s.  Race morning, however, was a totally different story - a very chilly 41 degrees at race start.  As much as I love triathlons, I was more than a little excited that we weren't swimming.  After arriving and setting up transition, I spent a while sitting in my car trying to stay warm.  Then it was back into the cold for a warm up, trip to the always glorious porta-johns, a few more strides and stretching, and then I made my way to the starting line.   It was a staggered start with the men going off first, followed 3 minutes later by the women.  I moved to the front of the pack and lined up with my Sport Factory teammates.
My goal for the first 5K was to remain within sight of the leaders while maintaining zone 3 heart rate.  (For those of you reading this without any idea what that means, just suffice it to say that I didn't want to go out too hard and risk zapping all of my energy for the 1+ hours of racing ahead).  Less than a 1/2 mile into the run we started passing the men.  I heard quite an assortment of reactions from the guys in regards to being "chicked" so early in the race.  With the exception of a hill around mile one, the course was mostly flat.  I entered transition in 5th place overall, and had 2 women in my sight.  I finished the first 5K feeling strong and happy with my time of 21:58 (7:02 pace).

After a quick T1 (where I decided to lose my gloves - a decision I would regret later), I was on the bike.  I was riding on ZIPP race wheels for the race and had checked them carefully multiple times to make sure the breaks weren't rubbing.  Unfortunately, on the way out of the park there are multiple speed bumps, and before I knew it the bouncing had shifted my rear brake just enough to cause it to rub the wheel.  I'm not sure that the resistance significantly altered my speed, but mentally it was tough to overlook.  The bike course was deceptively difficult, with many gradual climbs spread over a few miles.  I've worked hard during the off season to improve my bike strength, but it still remains my greatest area of opportunity.  I finished the 17.65 mile ride in a time of 51:59 (avg 20.4 mph), and entered T2 in 7th place overall.
T2 was not one of my finer racing moments.  After ditching my gloves earlier, I now had numb fingers.  That made the simple task of unsnapping my helmet and pulling the Velcro straps on my shoes insanely difficult.  It felt like minutes that I floundered in transition attempting to make my numb fingers cooperate.  Fortunately it only amounted to 1 minute, but that was still 40 seconds longer than I should have been standing there.

The goal of the second 5K was to hit it hard, ignore the pain, and run as fast as possible for the distance.  The feeling of running immediately off the bike is impossible to explain, but is a feeling that I've gotten used to over the past couple years.  Running on numb feet that had already run AND biked, however, was not so much fun.  The first mile was the toughest, but once I crested that hill, I found a zone and put it into the next gear to bring it home.  I was able to keep two of the women in front of my within my sights, but the distance was too great for me to close on them.  2nd 5K split 21:41 (6:55 pace).

Total Time 1:37:58.  7th OA Female, 2nd Place F25-29.

Overall I was really happy with my race.  My run times have been creeping down throughout the off-season, and I'm hoping this will translate to consistently faster 10K runs in my upcoming Olympic distance races.  I've still got some work to do on the bike to prevent losing time on the field.  The remainder of the morning was spent hanging out with all of my Sport Factory teammates and celebrating our early season success.  We really do have an amazing group of athletes and I'm honored to get to train and race with all of them!  PT Solutions and Georgia Multisports put on an excellent inaugural event, and I'll most certainly be back in the future.

Next up:  St. Anthony's - May 1st

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