Monday, April 26, 2010

Duathlon Nationals Race Report -- Scotland, I'm coming!

*NOTE* Click on this link to watch the race in simulation format. Just type in my name or bib number, 2147.

Woke up at 5 AM Sunday, my heart fluttering around in my chest. I slept enough but woke up 10 separate times during the night, a typical race-eve sleep. I was excited. Gulped down a cup of oatmeal and ate a banana in 3 bites. Snapped my helmet and bike shoes to my backpack, pulled on my race suit and I was ready to go.

Michelle, her friend Carrie and I arrived at the race site around 8... the race had begun, but not our waves... we still had at least an hour until go time. Our bikes were pre-racked from the day before so all I had to do was lay down my shoes, helmet, grease my chain and pump up my tires. Bike was ready to go. I did my warmup, 10 minute run with agilities.

9:15... it was time for Michelle to do her thing. Gun went off and she set out with her wave of 30-34 year old women. Next was my turn.... 9:30. GO TIME!

I lined up 3 rows back with my wave of 18-29 year old men. I knew there would be some guys faster than me and a lot slower than me. I needed to make sure I didn't get overly excited and go out with the fastest guys. Ready? I am. GO!

The run started out FAST... very fast. Naturally... the first half mile was totally downhill. I stayed controlled though, just around sub-5 pace. But once the downhill ended, lots of guys were keeping the sub-5 pace. Really? That many fast runners? That can't be! I said "Relax, Andy... do your own thing," and this proved to be sound advice. The bikers started to slow and kept slowing. I started passing, but I wasn't increasing my speed. Perfect. They were tiring... I was barely breathing. I counted at least 15 guys in front of me. I was averaging a fine pace, a tiny bit slower than I planned, mid 5:20s. I climbed the hill into transition, picking off a few West Point cadets and threw myself into transition, feeling good. Run 1... DONE! 16:43. Good.

Slapped on my helmet, strapped my shoes IN transition to avoid a repeat of Doylestown. Ran my bike out of transition, READY to show the results of my bike training. However, right away there was a problem... my aero drink bottle had popped loose of its bracket and was rattling in my aerobars... and then I hit a small but sharp speed bump... and the bottle flew OUT of the bars, straight into the air! I instinctively put my hand out and caught it just as it was about to fly behind me, and stuffed it back into my bars. It was loose, but I could keep it in place with my forearms... nutrition crisis averted. Now, time to race.

I went for the first 2-3 miles more or less alone... waiting for the bikers to catch me. And they did. BUT... but... they weren't getting away. I was responding! I wasn't letting them break away! I've never held on to superior bikers before... but I was now. I looked at my speedometer... 23+ mph average! I started feeling confident, very confident. I was in a pack of good bikers... and was LEADING them! I was pulling them along. I told myself, "This is the result of my training. I'm here to fight and I'm here to win," and kept the effort level at max. The first lap ended... I was feeling fantastic. I still felt aggressive and strong. I was pushing the hills and hanging on on the flats. This was becoming the ride of my life. Never before had I rode this long at over 23 mph and never had I been so competitive and bloodthirsty on the bike. I wanted to crush the 8-9 guys in my bike pack. People were cursing and spewing accusations and obscenities at each other. It was a hellstorm of competitiveness and I was feeding off of it.

Lap 2 ended, 1 to go. I was feeling fresh still... last year, at this point, I'd be struggling and wishing the bike would end. I wanted 3 more laps!!! At the same time I felt a 5K waiting in my legs. I knew that despite my aggressiveness on the bike I had a good 5K left in me. "ZeroZeroTwo, let's get this bike done and not lose any placement." And that we did. I cruised through the hills and gave the last flat everything my quads had left -- I won't be using those muscles on the run, after all. I led the pack into transition, capping a fantastic ride... 1:01:08, 23.2 mph... a personal speed record by far.

Hopped into transition, got into the wrong bike rack aisle. I saw my rack 2 aisles away. I found some open space under the racks in between so ZeroZeroTwo and I ducked under and ran straight to my rack. Threw off my helmet and glasses, racked ZeroZeroTwo and slipped back on my Brooks flats. Off I go, time to catch some bikers!

I immediately surged past some of the guys I biked with. They were no longer a concern. The group of 4-5 ahead were my target... about 1/4th of a mile at least. I could catch them, I knew it. I was averaging low 5:20s to the first mile... made a turn and there they were, still in a pack of 5. I quickly came upon them and working together, they made a rookie/biker mistake of trying to surge to keep up with me more than 1.8 miles away from the finish. Goodbye, I'll be on my way. I never saw them again.

Continued my pace, not looking behind. I knew no one would catch me. I was tired, but not dead. I knew one guy, who appeared to be a runner, was 15-20 seconds back. I kept pushing. I reached mile 2, mid-high 5:20. Final stretch coming up... one mile to go. I knew I had qualified for Worlds at this point, and saw no one in my wave ahead of me. How high was I? No matter, just finish. I started to feel a small pain in my quad with a steep hill ahead. Finally looked behind me... as I expected, a guy 20 seconds behind. I thought... get a great time or prevent a possible injury and hang on to my placement? I decided the latter... wisely. I wouldn't be caught. I eased up and coasted to the finish... Run 2, DONE, 17:01...

FINISHED! I pumped my fist viciously as I crossed the finish line. I knew it. I qualified for Worlds, and I placed high.... 24th overall, 7th in the 20-24 age group. Epic. I thought on my best day I would be maybe top 40 overall, top 10 age group. Not once in this race did I want it to end. I just wanted to beat people. Never in my wildest dreams did I foresee a 23+ mph bike. Without a doubt, my best overall race ever. Michelle had a fantastic race too, 6th overall, 3rd age group, in a much tougher than expected women's field. She too qualified comfortably for Worlds. Superpower effort on her part.

Bring it, Columbia.


  1. What a story man!!! I want to jump in a race right now after reading your race report. Great work again Andy!

  2. GREAT JOB MAN, and congratulations on qualifying. That's huge. And crazy when you CAUGHT your bottle in mid-air! Epic stuff! I enjoyed the read.