Sunday, June 27, 2010

Metlife Duathlon Race Report

By Joe

MetLife Duathlon, Tinley Park, IL  2 mi run/11 mi bike/2 mi run

Heading into this race, the plan was to not lose too much time to the runners on the first run leg, hammer on the bike with the aim of coming into T2 first or second (hopefully with some breathing room) and try and hold on for a top 3 finish in the final run leg. I knew I could get in the top 10, probably top 5, but I did feel that coming in top 3 was possible if everything went right.

The wait at the starting line was a bit nerve wrecking. I looked around and there seemed to be a lot of runners in the front group. Don't ask me why I thought that, but it just seemed like they were all runners and I knew the run was where I would be losing time.

The gun went off and a group of 5 shot out ahead. Within a few minutes they were at least 20 yds ahead of the next 'group', I had initially hoped to be in that crowd, but reality hit and I had to hang back a bit. I snuck in at position #8, behind two guys from the same club. It was working out great cuz we were running into a head wind, and it was helpful to have a wind block. Half a mile in, a couple guys passed me and my wind blockers. I knew that I couldn't afford to lose any more positions so I moved around to hang on to those guys. Unfortunately, they were too fast for me and I watched as they gradually pulled away.

At the turnaround mark I see the leader- he's this young kid, probably no more than 20. His form seemed perfect and effortless. I think he had about a 1 minute on me. I was falling a bit behind schedule... I had hoped to get into T1 no more than 90 seconds back. I decided to turn it up a notch to keep within striking distance of the leaders. There were no more position changes in the run.

While unracking my bike in T2 I hear Maggie yell "2 minutes and you're 9th!!!". So I was pretty close to where I predicted I was going to be at this point in the race. I got a bit more good news as I pulled out of T2. A guy yelled out that I was in 6th position. That means I gained 3 spots in transition... SWEEET. I took my time putting my feet into my shoes. Got a good slurp of power gel from my gu flask, downed a gulp of water and I was ready to roll.

I started picking guys off pretty quickly as I moved into 5th position, 4th position, 3rd position, 2nd position. Then heading into a turn I saw the young kid at the lead. I passed him and looked down at my computer - 6 miles in. 5 miles to go. I was in the lead way earlier than I expected. That was good news since it will allow me to (hopefully) build in more time. This was when I first noticed my police escort on a motor bike. That made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. :)

Heading into the last turn I looked back to see a guy right on my tail. He was legally spaced behind me, but I had no idea anyone was so close. When he realized I saw him, he turned it up and passed me. We were about 500 yds from transition so I slowed down to slip my feet out of my shoes. He heard my free wheel spinning and he turned around to see what I was doing. When he realized it, I saw him unstrap his shoes... which to me was a bit wierd. I had no idea what kind of clipless pedals he was using but it was a rather odd action. I took that opportunity to push pass him and get into T2 as the leader.

In T2, he was racked literally 2 bikes to my side. I saw him throw his bike on the rack and run off. So THAT'S what it was. He was biking in his running shoes. I ended up leaving transition about 10 yds behind him. Within 500-600 yds, I had closed up the gap to a few yards. For the next mile, I ran right on his shoulder. When the turnaround cones came into sight, I picked it up the pace a bit and passed him. I started pulling away at the 1 mile (halfway point) turnaround. About 150 yds after the turnaround, I pass the young kid running the other way. He's in 3rd, with a guy in a red jersey right behind him at 4th. I recognize the both of them as superior runners to me.

I decided that this was it. Do or die. Lift knees, relax shoulders, and GO. The last mile was a blur. I had a lot of people running the other way wishing me good luck and telling me good job. I wasn't trying to ignore them but I was in a world of my own. Form, form, form, form. I saw the final right turn and for the first time I realized that I had a shot at winning the race. That moment of epiphany was like another shot of adrenaline.

At this point I was running close to all out. 400 yds out from the finish, my bike escort looks behind and tells me that I'm in the clear. That there's no one behind me. I think he just wanted to let me know that I didn't need to keep killing myself. :) For a split second I considered slowing down, but the concept seemed too foreign. I have never crossed a finish line easy before, and I probably shouldn't start now. Besides, I have the end of my pain in sight. I cross the finish line first in 53:xx, and everyone's cheering. The moment was absolutely surreal.

Epilogue: After I got home and checked the official results online, it turned out that the guy who came with me into T2 was from the prior wave (2 minutes behind). He ended up beating me and getting 1st overall by about 80 seconds (which is a pretty big margin for a 50 minute race). Either way, I'm very happy with my 2nd overall. Originally, I wasn't planning to do this race next year, but now I may have to come back and try avenge the loss.

Race Nutrition:
1 Powerbar gel + 1 S! Cap 15 minutes before race
1 Powerbar gel on the bike
3 S! Caps on the bike
1 full bottle of water

1 comment:

  1. Awesome job, Joe! I can't imagine the feeling of leading the race and having a motopace. Neat!