Chilly Cheeks Duathlon #2 in 2009 (1.5 mi run/3 mi bike/2.5 mi run/7 mi bike/50 meter sprint) turned out to be record warmth for the series race. I went on another "test run" as I came off a satisfying 5k just two weeks prior. Although minimal running and only a half dozen bike rides was what I used to prepare myself, the point was to just get out and give it a go for the fun of it. No expectations other than to get through the race without dogging it in transition and trying not to embarrass myself too much. I slept an entire 6.5 hrs which is pretty good for me these days. I had a coffee and piece of toast for breakfast, and that was it. In fact, I just used my training wheels (practice wheels) and no race wheels because it was more of a "D" race than anything. It was nice to head to a small race for nothing more than a test run of the body, low key, and hope that nobody knew who I was...because I didn't want any expectations placed on me by anyone--especially the competition I would normally be able to compete with. I knew I was lightyears from that level and didn't want anyone to see me flop if they picked me as a contender for an overall win. I was hoping to get top 10, so 3rd overall was a surprise with little training & not being recovered from the injury.
I went off in the C wave, and had no idea who or what would be tossed my way. I'm an aerobic junkie & this short race with multiple legs was fast & furious, against specialist who train for short course. Some of these guys actually had the full aero helmet, disk wheels, and deep rim carbon fronts with special duathlon "pedal platforms" on their bikes. Me...standard practice setup with water bottle cages that didn't have waterbottles in them, some biking clothes I borrowed from my wife, and long mid-calf wool golfing socks. I looked like a dork, and totally didn't match in any way, shape or form, but I was out for fun so who cares? The gun went off, I started in the 2nd row and immediately the pack thinned to 3 of us. About a half mile into the run, some guy in a 2XU one piece tri suit just sprinted ahead as if to say, "Follow me." I held back with the other guy to see if he'd go after him, then I could let him forge ahead to use his energy in order to run him down. The gap grew to about 20 yards, and I knew he didn't have the horsepower to follow the lead guy. It was up to me, so I spent the 1/3 mile closing the gap. When I caught up, the lead runner sensed I was back on his tail. Mr. 2XU took off in what appeared to be him just throwing in multiple surges in hopes of dropping me. To be honest, I was redlining and thought if I blew up what the heck, I'm out to test myself anyhow. Somehow I was able to cover all his moves, and to place a mental barrier in front of him, I picked it up just before T1 to come in first place of my wave--just ahead of him to show that I wasn't going away anytime soon. Hopefully, it would make him think twice on throwing in surges if we were together on the last run--and he'd think I had a slightly faster ability in running because I ran faster than him the first 1.5 miles.
Onto the bike, Mr. 2XU was out on the bike first with a faster T1 time. I followed, and closed the gap about a mile into the bike, keeping legal distance, and sitting in to see what he would do. The 3rd place runner from my wave caught us, and passed us like we were standing still. We came into T2 together, and Mr. 2XU and I headed out on the run a few steps ahead of the biker that caught us. We cut the gap down on the A wave pretty quickly, as they started 6 minutes ahead of us. Mr. 2XU threw in some surges which I was able to cover, but not as many as the first run. I think he could have dropped me easily especially on the uphills as my hamstring couldn't take the hills...but he didn't. It seemed as if he was buying time to see what I'd do. I just tailed him on the run, and thought about running ahead of him again just to mess with him. We essentially got out of T3 together and again, I watched to see if he'd bolt the 2nd bike leg. He didn't, so it seemed he was playing a sit & wait game and hope for a sprint to the line.
It was a pretty easy 2nd bike, although we passed quite a few people on the 7 mile bike leg portion. Mr. 2XU and I traded placed several times and everytime I passed him, he immediately passed me back. I won't say that the bike was totally non-taxing, as I had ridden only a half dozen times this past winter. My hammy wasn't really ready for any intensity at all. My strategy was to stick with this guy, and get to T4 before he did. Since he was set up in the middle of the transition area, I knew he'd have to slow upon entering T4 because of the foot traffic running in/out of the area. I had set up in the 2nd spot near the end of the bike leg, so I could get off of my bike right away. To top it off, the finish was at the opposite end of the transition, and the transition was in a curved parking lot. I had the inside of the curve, thus, a more direct line to the finish. With a half mile to go on the bike, I surged ahead of Mr. 2XU and next to an A wave racer, who took the inside edge of the road. All I needed was a second or two on Mr. 2XU coming into T4, and I knew I would have him. Mr. 2XU was content to sit in and follow into T4. I slipped my feet out of my shoes, flew into transition and literally threw my bike at the bike rack. I kept my helmet on, and did not put on any shoes for the 50 meter sprint to the finish. It was the first time I finished in my socks and with a helmet on while running in a race. It was hilarious! Mr. 2XU was dilly-dallying somehow and followed in around 10 seconds later.
It turns out that the 2nd overall and Mr. 2XU (4th overall) were pro duathletes. The winner, with his aero wheels and super fast transitions, was slower in both runs. The first two were really fast on the bike and transitions, so that is where I lost a lot of time. Not bad for an out of prime fitness guy with an injury and practice wheels! I ended up 3rd overall and only about a minute out of 1st place--give or take a few seconds.