Cary Du Classic Race Report
Last year I raced in my first ever duathlon. I had a great time at that race and knew that it would be a repeat event for me. They offer both a long course and short course option, but with my training for Raleigh 70.3, the obvious choice was long course. With the race taking place on May 14, it is actually a great lead up to the 70.3 on June 5. Two of my training partners also raced, so even better to have friends out on the course!
The interesting twist to the race this year is that it served as the USA Triathlon Long Course Duathlon National Championship for 2016. That would bring in athletes that would not normally be participating in this local event and I expected them to be great racers as well!
The race took place in Cary, which is just down the road. The venue was located about 35 minutes from home, but had an early start of 7:00am. That meant an alarm of 4:20am…ouch! It was a tiny bit chilly race morning, but that really meant that it was going to be a great weather day for us! We arrived around the time I planned and was able to park super close to transition. I love when that happens! All the typical pre-race stuff happened as well as connecting with my friends. The one big difference about a duathlon is that I do a run warm-up and some dynamic stretches beforehand….all not typical with a tri!
The long course guys were scheduled to start at 7:00am with the ladies starting 7:04am. The short course began at 7:15am. The event was a 5 mile run/30 mile bike/5 mile run. The run was an out and back with the majority taking place on residential sidewalks and greenways with “small rolling hills (as the course description read)”. The bike course included “fast, flat, rolling and climbing sections with multiple view of Lake Jordan”. Part of the course included a two-loop section which passed a local strawberry farm. I have ridden all these roads before, but not frequently. However, the course is generally the type you would expect for our area.
The run started and I did not have a specific plan, but mile #1 is generally my slowest mile and I gradually build. I can say this is the case for me about 95% of the time. Well, this day proved to be different. Mile #1 was an 8:14 split, my fastest mile of the day! Still not sure where that came from, but I didn’t really feel like I was pushing that hard at the beginning! I did settle down into a more likely race pace for myself, but I have to admit that I was glad to have the first split in my pocket! Overall, I was happy with the first run.
Onto the bike….the one thing I did, which I planned to do, even though I don’t prefer it, is to wear socks on the bike. I always bike barefoot unless it is a cold day. Otherwise, I just don’t like it. However, since I do wear socks on the run, it only made sense to wear them for the leg in between the running! I did have a little bit of a hard time getting my shoes on with the socks….that may sound weird, but that’s that. Too long in T1. Tony was not there to push me in transition (as he typically does) because he had run out to see me on the bike course. There was a place he could see me twice, but that involved him getting in a four-mile run and then back! I always love to see him out, so I was glad he decided to get in some run training as I was racing!
I had my nutrition and hydration plan which would all occur on the bike. There were aid stations on the run, but that served as only a little cup of water a couple of times. I started out hard on the bike but then just tried to ride smart. The plan was to take advantage of the downhills and the flats and work the gears on the uphills. I was eating and drinking well and took one bottle of water at the one handoff on the bike course. Within the last few miles I really started to notice the fatigue in my legs. Maybe I pushed too hard?!?!? Do I back off? Well, I didn’t really. I would just endure the second run as best as I could. It would not be easy anyway, so I just kept it going.
Into T2 and I saw Tony (he was back from his run). This transition was much better than T1. As I ran out he asked me how I felt…”my legs are shot” was my response.
That first mile of run #2 was not easy. I just told myself that the first miles are never easy and after I found my rhythm I would loosen up. This was the case. It was still a challenge throughout, but I was pleased with how I mentally and physically hung in. I saw the guys on my way out as they were headed back in. Racing with friends is the best!
Knowing I had a solid first run, I was really hoping for a sub 9:00 pace for the 2nd run. As I saw my Garmin laps tick off, I knew I would not achieve that. However, my last mile ended up at 8:37 pace, so overall my 9:04 pace for the second 5 miles was exciting after all! Very close!
The finish line felt great (doesn’t it always) as I gave it all out there.
My Garmin distance on the bike is pretty spot at 29.6 on I think. (My two training buddies had 29.69 and 29.73). The race results use a 31 mile distance, so unfortunately that 20.1 mph average speed in my official results is a bit inflated! I find it very interesting to look at my overall category placements in a duathlon. Unlike a tri, you are running twice. While my first run was my fastest, that was my lowest placement. I guess more people went out hard and had less in the tank that I did when you look at my placement for the second run. Slower pace than the first, but higher placement overall. Hummmm….
Post-race there was plenty of socializing and hanging out. There were good choices for food, and while I had a bit, we all had planned lunch out post-race, so I knew a good burger was in store for me. Once again, this was a great event. It was fun to race a duathlon again and it also served as a great lead up to Raleigh 70.3.