Dirk, Robbie and I, with Wiggy in tow, blasted up to Pennsylvania (plenty of traffic) to participate in the Doylestown Duathlon... a 5K-"30K"-5K small-but-well-attended race that attracted some top talent and age-groupers seeking a tuneup for Du Nats (I needed the practice too!). I was convinced by Dirk and Robbie to sign up as an elite rather than an age grouper to get some good practice and competition.
We had a comfortable pre-race evening thanks to Wiggy's parents' hospitality, and I was well rested for race day. It was cold and windy, but nothing I haven't trained in before. I felt ready but nervous as it was only my second duathlon. We got to the race site to discover that we had a hilly race ahead... the run course was rolling and the bike was too, with some sharp climbs and descents. Dirk and I did some strides and had to rush our preparations as we were slightly disorganized - it's been a while since we had a multisport race!
I lined up with the elites and we set off. I let Dirk and Robbie pull the fast elites with them and I hung back at 5:30/mile pace. That's about tempo for me now, and I felt quick but smooth. I took another elite with me, coming into T1 in 16:52... I planned on 17:00, but close enough! Quickly got my bike and helmet on and ran out for the ill-fated bike start...
I got on my bike, shoes pre-clipped into the pedals. I had only practiced this minimally and was really going at this transition technique trial-by-fire. Turns out I should've practiced! I started up the hill out of transition, with my shoes un-strapped and as I was trying to pedal, my right shoe came loose from the pedal, my bike came to a halt and ZeroZeroTwo and I collapsed to the ground!!! What a shock! I got up, shaken, and tried to gather myself together. I threw my tire levers and gel, which had fallen out of my bento-box, to the side of the road in frustration, slapped my shoes on and tried to get back on the bike... forgetting that I hadn't adjusted my gears to an easier cog. I couldn't get my shoe in the pedal again because I was trying to pedal too hard, and I fell AGAIN. COME ON, DAMNIT! I finally settled down, manually shifted to the proper gear, and got started after a 90 second or so delay. Of course, the bike ride went great. I was averaging at least 22 mph on a hilly course, and came in under an hour for 34km. In fact, I felt AWESOME on the bike. If I hadn't lost all momentum from my falls, I probably would have had a pretty quick bike ride... Frustrating.
Fortunately my bike ride was good enough that I lost little or no ground to the age groupers who I had to stay ahead of. I was completely alone on the ride, as the last elite was with me when I had my first crash. No age groupers in sight behind me. I came into transition wanting to finish the race and cancel out my delay on the bike. I racked, got my flats on, and shot out of transition.
My goal for the final 5K was 17:15, just a little slower than my plan for the first 5K. But I found out right away that I had a lot more leg left than I anticipated. In previous triathlons, the same effort on the bike exhausted me... but now I felt FAST. I was excited. I started really pushing it. I was getting down to 5:30s! I thought I'd be at 5:45s! I saw Robbie, who was crushing the race and well on his way to a comfortable win, and Dirk, who had gotten lost on the bike ride (it was poorly course-marshalled), was behind me after the bike but running fast. I couldn't let him catch me! I lengthened my stride and sped up. I was cruising!! I got to the finish and looked at my watch... 16:49! My 2nd 5K was faster than the first! Awesome.
I ended up 6th overall, beating all of the age groupers, 6th and 4th on the runs and 14th on the bike. In all, a good day placement-wise and a great sign of things to come this season. My run post-bike has really improved big time, and my bike is somewhat competitive, finally (despite falling down twice!). Dirk and Robbie had amazing efforts as well (mid-15 5Ks and FAST bike rides). I'm not as excited about my bike as I was a few days ago though...
And finally, a huge FIST PUMP for Michelle, who was just seconds and inches from breaking 60 minutes in her FIRST 10 mile race. Unbelievable, for someone who was sweating getting under 61... I think its time for her to start running with the elites!