Saturday, April 30, 2011

Falls Duathlon Race Report

The 3rd edition of the Falls Duathlon was April 30, 2011--two words can describe the racing conditions:  Wet and windy.  One word for those who raced: brave.  It rained and rained and rained, then it blew.  Then it rained... (The rest of this report, or some variation of it, will be eventually be posted at Scroll down a little and you can read my personal recap of how it went down thru my eyes... 
pre-race, about 8:25am
Well, it's on.  The 2011 multisport season.  It seems like just a couple weeks ago that the 2010 season came to an end.  For some, winter seems tooooo long.  I don't mind it and that break serves me well.  I mentally recharge for the coming season, get to train inside without the hassle of bike maintenance, helmets, and dressing for the weather. With that said, today was the 3rd annual Falls Duathlon which is officially-unofficially, the multisport season opener.  It was pretty rainy and wet, but that's what you get in MN sometimes.  Everyone that raced today deserves a pat on the back for du'ing it, no matter where they placed. 

Many people stayed in their cars before the race, a lot of people were also huddled under the registeration tents.  I don't think many people warmed-up either as the rain wouldn't let us.  However, shortly before the start time, the rain let up and people started jogging and riding around--getting in race mode.  I'm going to break it down by section, but before I do that, I want to give a shout to TriRochester...

What was really great, was the turn out from Tri-Rochester.  We were definitely a presence at the race.  Not only that, and its not just about placing, but we did grab a lot of Age Group podium spots.  Just to mention a few, in the Relay Team division Pattie and Jeremy Ekman were 2nd and it was a TriRochester sweep in the womens 25-29 AG.  One of the most impressive finishes of the day was by Dan Harke posting the 8th fastest bike split, winning his AG, and cracking the top 10.  What a race!  Unfortunately, Erich Heneke, who had the 5th fastest bike split, went a little off course on the final run, and not wanting to run extra miles, he decided to bag it.  He seemed to be in a good mood and not too bummed about it. 

Click THIS for full race results.  Read below for my personal version of how the race went.
Pre-Race Warm-up
very worn Saucony Grid Type A4

Not much to say here.  Like I said above, there wasn't much time to do anything, but I did get in about a 15 minute run with a few sprint.  While getting the bike set up and walking thru the puddles, I notice that the drain holes in my shoes were acting as water fill holes.  I know, the bottoms look pretty worn out, but they're racing flats so there's really nothing that breaks down.  I have a new pair and kept them under a plastic bag so they'd be fresh for Run 2.  I never pre-ride my bike the morning of the race. I check it out the night before, put it in the gear that I want to start in, then on race-day I rack and leave it.  
RUN 1= 2 miles
I lined up in front-center.  Also there were all the front runners in the race.  A little intimidating, but hey, I need people to chase so I can keep a faster pace.  Within minutes, Mark Bongers, race director, fires the horn and we were off.  I swear, Chad Millner (eventual winner) took off like a race horse.  I was like "What the he//!"  A group of us bunched up in his wake, but soon we started to spread out.  The course was a clockwise loop thru some back streets then thru a rough part of town (just kidding, its Cannon Falls), cutting thru some side streets over and near the river, then back to the park. I was in about 8th position behind Steve Stenzel .  Not sure he knows it (he probably does), but I stuck behind him, drafting a bit thru the windier sections. Thanks Steve : )  Eventually, Steve got behind a guy that was wearing a wind breaker, open, that looked like a parachute at certain times.  That had to slow him down.   On the last stretch toward T1, Steve pulled us passed wind-breaker guy and up to Jake Evans.  Steve was 6th in to T1, I was 7th.  Run 1 time= 11:27 / 5:44 pace (2010 it was 11:50)

End of Run 1: Mario, Zack (aka wind-breaker guy), Steve, Jake
T1 (transition 1)
I was a bit slower here than last year.  I think it was the wetness.  Also, I had shoes under a bag and recovered them so that added some time.  T1 time= 56 seconds (2010 time was 49 seconds)

BIKE= 14 miles
This was an out-n-back.  7 miles out, 7 miles back. You start coming out of the park area/T1, down some side streets then out on to a county road and go north for about a 6 miles of false flats, wind, and semi's darn near blowing you off the road with a wave of dirty water.   The wind was from the SE so we sort of got a tail/cross wind, but it was manageable.  The wet road kept people honest with regards to drafting directly behind another rider--rooster tail of sandy water is not too fun to have in your face when the conditions are already not ideal.  Anyway, out of T1 and on the road I saw Steve up ahead. We were pretty close leaving T1 and I eventually passed him. The next guy I saw was Harold Doise.  I am not sure, but looking at the results, I think that's who it was.  I caught him maybe by mile 2.  I thought it was Jesse Nelson as I approached, but it wasn't.  I can usually catch Jesse on the bike, only to have him catch me in the final run (last year I passed him at mile 10 on the bike, then he got me at mile 1 on the run).  So I pass Harold, then soon I end up passing Jesse--around mile 3.  Then I started to feel it.  I am going way to hard trying to reel in the next guy.  I never did catch another.  As I approached the turnaround only 3 guys were coming at me (putting me in 4th position).  In this order: Chad Millner, Dan Arlandson, and Ross Weinzierl.  Then I was on the way back and see a few more riders who were now approaching the turnaround--including Jesse and Harold.  Going south we got cross-head wind with some nasty gusts.  I road hard trying to keep Ross in sight, trying also get more of a lead on those behind me. This was the toughest section of the race.  Eventually I got to T2 and see no one near me.  Ross was well out of T2.  I entered T2 in 4th position overall, and had the 4th fastest bike split.  Bike time= 35:56 / 23.4 mph average (2010 time was 36:24)

By the time I get back to my spot in T2 I am usually disoriented and feel lucky if I end up putting on my own shoes.  I located my set up, racked my bike, tore the plastic off my fresh shoes and tried to remain calm while putting them on.  I ended up cramming the tongue of the right one into the front of the shoe and had to re-du it.  This cost me some time.  I managed to get out of T2 before anyone else got there with their bike. T2 time= 46 seconds (2010 time was 33 seconds)

RUN 2= 3 miles

I fired out of T2 as fast as I could.  It hurt. I wanted to get out of eyeshot of anyone coming in off their bike.  Out of sight, out of mind.  They can't efficiently chase who they can't see.  At least that is what I am hoping for.  I hit mile 1 at 5:57.  That's fast for me in a final run.  Was I going too hard?  One problem I did have was that I was slipping pretty bad on the black top trail.  The Saucony A4's down side, that I remembered while it was happening, was that the reviews said they are crappy in wet conditions. When I bought them, I thought 'How often do you really run in the rain.' Oops.  Anyway, Run 2 goes out the road that Run 1 came in on.  A left turn takes us down hill toward the river.  Then a right turn and we run along the river a bit, then away from it go left/north up a road and head east on the main Cannon Valley Bike Trail. We cruise straight out on the trail, turn around then head pretty much straight back to the park on the trail the whole way--back to the where the finish line is.  The turn around is actually about 1.75 miles into Run 2 making the run back after we turn around about 1.25 miles.  I actually saw Ross up ahead before we got to the turn around.  And now coming back at me, in the same order as they were on the bike, Chad, Dan, then Ross.  Ross said "Hi" then I know he turned it on.  I wasn't planning on trying to catch him, but when I started heading back it was maybe a couple hundred feet before one by one, runners were coming toward me.  When I saw the 2 mile marker I ran harder and thought I might catch Ross--ok, maybe just gain a little time.  I was breathing really loud--loud enough that the volunteers that didn't see me coming, heard me, then turned to look at me and had a look on their face that said "Dude, are you alright?"  I tried to do the math in my head.  "If I can keep about a 6 min pace, and I got one mile to go, the guys behind me have to run well below 6 minutes to catch and pass me."  It didn't seem possible, but I didn't let up.  On the final stretch I gave it one look back, didn't see anyone, and ran steadily into the finish chute and across the line. I had the 4th fastest Run 2 time.  Run 2= 17:58 / 5:59 pace (2010 time was 18:41)

4th Overall, 1st in AG 40-44. Total Time of 1:07:01 (2010 1:08:16)

Overall, it was a great day.  I bettered my time from last year by 1 min 15 seconds by shaving time in both runs and the bike.  I lost time in the transition, but oh well.  

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