Awoke to the alarm clock early today. It was race time once again. The race…USAT Duathlon National Championships. The venue…Oro Valley, Arizona. Being able to sleep in my own bed before a big race is nice…unfortunately, although an outskirt of Tucson, it is about as far away in Tucson as it could be. Me on the furthest southwest side…race on the furthest north westside.
So, after making the hour drive to the race site, I unloaded my gear, walked the 1/4 mile to the transition area and set up my gear. Having plenty of time I was able to relax, talk to friends and competitors, visit with the coach (who was also racing), make one last visit to the porta potties and get in a short warm up run.
I was in the 3rd wave which included all males in the 40-49 agegroup. So after watching the first waves I made my way into the starting shoot. I lined up near the front. The wait always seems to be twice as long when waiting for the starters horn…1 minute till start was announced and 5 minutes later the 30 second warning was given. With the sounding of the horn we began the opening 5k run. The course starts off uphill, then a short downhill to a turnaround, back up the short hill then downhill to another turnaround and then finishes with another uphill…no flat sections on the course. I went out at a comfortable pace and floated around the back of the main group. My legs were feeling good so after the first turn around I picked the pace up a little. In doing so I began to pass a few people. On the downhill I upped my pace a little more, but kept it comfortable knowing there was still a nice little uphill to tackle before the transition. I hit the 2nd turnaround and counted about 10 people from my wave in front of me. I then started the uphill section. I kept a strong, steady pace. At the top of the hill I took the turn and entered the 1st transition feeling good. Run time 18:58. First transition 0:48…in and out fast.
The bike consisted of two loops, rolling hills and again no flat areas. The distance was 35k. After mounting my bike I settled into a comfortable pace so that I could finish the ride strong. This worked well for me…nearly everyone that passed me early ended up coming back to me and dropping behind. The wind began to kick up by the second lap and the course became a bit more congested. From what I saw, everyone appeared to be riding clean (no drafting). Only real problem was people not staying to the right when not passing or drifting left when I was passing. On the second loop I was feeling good. Coming down the last downhill section I was hitting 35mph and getting pushed around a little by the crosswinds. I made the final turn and began preparing for transition 2. Feet out of the shoes and lifted my helmet visor. As I approached the dismount line I threw one leg over the bike and was quickly off and running into transition. Bike time…55:20 (23.5mph average). Transition went smooth and fast. Another 0:48 and I was off to repeat the run course.
My running legs came around pretty quickly and I settled into a good strong pace. The second run always hurts so you just deal with it. Again I picked up the pace at the first turnaround and began to push the pace. Hit the second turnaround and saw the elite (pro) men coming on fast. They were on their first run as they started in the last wave. I started the final uphill as the elites began to pass. I used them as motivation and began to see how long I could hang with them as they went by. Didn’t stick with them long but each time it allowed me to pick up my pace and hurt just a bit more. I knew I was close to the finish and the pain would be short. I hit the top of the hill, took the final turn and pushed all the way through the finishing shoot. Final run…20:32. My finish time was 1:36:24, 6th place in the 45-49 agegroup and 48th place overall amateur. Very happy with my performance against a very strong field. Qualified for the Duathlon World Championships in Spain but will be passing on the spot.
Overall the event was very well organized and ran smoothly. The weather was great, the volunteers were fantastic and the traffic control outstanding. Next year the event will again be held at the same venue and I will be back to move up a few places!