Tuesday, May 20, 2014

RACE REPORT: Ten Penny Ale Shamrock Duathlon

May 18th, 2014

Ten Penny Ale Shamrock Duathlon
3.1 mile run
26k bike ride
3.3 mile run

This race is put on by the Hartford Marathon Foundation and I've wanted to do it for three years now.  I was cheap the first year and didn't want to pay.  Last year I was nursing my torn calf muscle and didn't want to risk more damage before Quassy in June.  This year, I already planned it out and was without injury.  So here I am with a report!

Overall, this is a very fun event.  It was my first duathlon.  I've always done triathlons and ran road races in the pre-season.  Having raced it, I will certainly be doing this or other duathlons in future years if even just to shake off some multisport rust/dust and tune myself up for early season races. 


Coach's instructions for this race were completely HR based.  No surprise!  I've learned to like this approach, but don't tell her I said that.  I'm kidding; she knows I'm loving the results!  Today, however, compared to the previous road races, I was not running by feel, but with specific numbers in mind.  This race is much shorter than my A races, but it would give me some insight into what I can expect at Quassy and also was a test run of using HR to gauge a race.  There are always changes mid-race.  Can I roll with the punches, alter the plan on the go, and manage to execute a solid race?  We shall see.

I think I did for the most part.
...most part.

The race started at 7:30am.  Ugh!  The sun is up earlier now, so there's no 9 or 10am starts.  That means I was up at 5:15am to get breakfast (I had 2 eggs and oatmeal with blueberries and honey; something a little different than my usual) and out the door by 6am.

I arrived at the race site about 6:20a and made a bee-line for the pre-registered table to get my packet.  I even walked right by a couple friends who tried to chat.  I said "hi," but I had one goal in mind, get my stickers on the bike and my bike into transition quick!  If you didn't know from previous reports, I'm the guy who usually shows up as soon as transition opens.  I've often been the first person into transition even.  Today I was not, so maybe I'm getting more relaxed.  But I'm still OCD about it all.  haha

I got my stuff, pumped my tires, swapped all my necessary gear into one bag, and was off to transition.  I dropped off my bike and then had a quick lesson from a friend on how to set up Multisport Mode on my Garmin 310XT.  I meant to look it up the night before, but completely forgot.  Turns out, it's quite simple - as Garmin makes just about everything - but I was happier having someone show me than try to figure it out myself while being nervous about it.

Thanks Scruffy!!

Scruffy and me waiting for the race to begin

At this point, my nerves were good.  I was in transition, my bike was racked, I didn't have to worry about a wetsuit, and I had time to spare!  Time for a bathroom break before the lines get too long.  Score!  There is nothing worse than letting a long bathroom line make you nervous. 

I took my Picky Bar at 6:40am (a little late), and decided to set up my transition.  Turns out, when you don't have to swim, transition is pretty simple!

That's it.  My bike, my helmet, my sunglasses, and a bag full of stuff for post-race.  Hmmm... I could get used to this breezy sport!

Coworkers!  Me, Emily, and Matt pre-race.

After talking with some friends and finding another who had come to spectate, it was finally time to warm up.  I took my gel at 7:15a and did about a 5 minute warm up.  I had already run back and forth to my car a few times and it was a bit warmer already (low 50s), so I didn't feel I need more of a warm up.  I would have taken one if I had more time though.  They were asking us to get in line and I didn't want to be stuck behind the massive crowd.

Start Line
As I stood in the crowd, I put my hands over my ears and repeated the day's plans to myself, rattling off the HRs, when I was allowed to look at them, when I was going to push, how I wanted to feel, etc.  Overall, I knew today was going to be rough and quite a push, but I was looking forward to really testing my HR and how I perceive it.  

I felt ready.
As ready as someone feels for a race format they've never done before.



With no real ceremony to start, we were off!

The crowd moved ahead quickly.  There was no need to swerve between people like I did at the Cheshire Half Marathon.  The solid line of people immediately became a pointed mass following the faster racers.  As I took off with them, I repeated to myself "No looking at your watch until it beeps for mile 1."  That was harder to do this time around.

As we left the start line and made our way past maybe the 0.5 mile mark, I found myself out in front with a group of 5 or so guys.  I only knew one of them (he was the eventual winner) and he is a BEAST.  If I was running with him, either I was having a great day or he was holding back.  Turns out it was a little of both.  Haha  "I'm coming for you Karl!"

As we hit maybe half way to the mile 1 mark, I found myself sitting behind the 2-3 front runners and actually holding back my own pace.  Now, don't get me wrong, I was still pushing my pace faster than I'm used to (171 or 176 at the half marathon distance), but it didn't feel like the 180 I was shooting for.  At this point, the worst thought of the day goes through my head...

"I should stay here behind these guys
instead of pushing out in front.
I'll probably blow up if I go ahead."

Thankfully, as soon as it went through my head, the other half of me slapped itself and yelled "Run your own *#&@ race!  Let these guys do what they want to do."  So with that, I moved to the right and made my pass.  I was going to stick to the intensity I wanted.  As we passed the mile 1 timer, I found out just how fast we were pushing.

Mile 1 - 5:35

WOAH went through my head just before I simultaneously smiled and frowned internally.  My training this year has made some great improvements to my times which I was very happy about, but at mile 1, I was still feeling the push of this intensity and was worried about how this was going to affect me later on.  I just reminded myself that this was a test and that I needed to hold still.  So I did.

I looked down at my watch.  My HR was 176.  At that point, I was doubtful I could push another 3 bpm, but I tried.  At this point, the lead group was jumbling positions through the hills.  Around mile 1.5, I started feeling like I had found a groove.  My breathing eased up ever so slightly.  I was at 180 bpm and feeling solid.  Just before the 2 mile timer, the group slowed down as they came to a turn.  I ran right through the turn and hopped easily into first.  I had my 15 seconds of glory as I led the race.

Mile 2 - 5:39

I wasn't about to do math in my head.  I looked down as my watch beeped and saw 5:39.  We are killing this run!!  At this point, Karl (you remember him, the BEAST who's going to win this race), took off on my right while a couple other guys slowly creeped by on my left.  They were off and the group spread out over the last mile going into transition.

I stuck to my 180 bpm repeating to myself "Run YOUR race Kurt!

Mile 3 - 5:50

As we crested the hill that led to transition, I slowed and a few other guys ran past.  Oh-well.  I kept my intensity.  Solid run!!

3.1 Mile Run - 17:50
Average HR = 176 bpm
7th fastest place

With only HR on my run screen, I wasn't aware of my time.  But I would later discover that I was only 13 seconds off my 5k PR.  So...  If I ever feel like crushing another PR, I know what to add to my schedule. 

And the friend who came to spectate caught me just as I was heading by...

10 yards from transition

Transition #1

Let's call this "shaking off multisport rust."

I ran straight through transition to my bike, but first ran into the wrong aisle; one before my own.  I flipped off my run shoes and tossed them to the side of my bike.  One made it.  The other bounced back off of my bike.  As I ran around to the other side, I saw this.  I had to climb under the bar, grab my shoe and set it in place.  Ok, that's done.

I grabbed my glasses and they slipped out of my hand.  Really?!  I leaned over and picked them up.  I slipped them on and thankfully my helmet went on smoothly.  At least I had that go well.  Taking my bike, I ran right out of transition barefoot.  I hit the watch lap button as I ran through and did my usual flying mount.  Haha.  I still got it!!

Transition #1 - 1:06


I passed one guy running my bike out of transition and another two at the mount line.  I pedaled up the first immediate hill with my feet on top of my shoes and even zoomed down the other side without them on too.  Once I was onto flat ground, I slowly got my feet into the shoes.  They are new LG tri shoes, so they're different in some ways than my old Northwaves, but I was still clumsy in getting them in.  Another rusty spot to work on.

I checked my watch and having forgotten to switch my bike data fields, I had average HR, average speed, and distance to work with.   Now, it wasn't until I reread the goals for this write up that I realized I had my numbers wrong.  FIGURES!!  In the race, I was shooting for 4-6 beats below my run average (176 bpm), or 170-172 bpm  In reality, I should have been shooting for 8-10 below or 166-168 bpm.  I was at 167 when I looked down first and tried to push the intensity to get up to 170, but my body just did not want to do it.  I may very well have been up to 170+, but I didn't have Actual HR on my screen, so I couldn't check.  In hindsight, it was good not to have Actual HR on there because it would be too distracting on the bike.

I kept making my way up the hills, I got up out of the saddle on the shorter hills to push over them, and pushed the pace on flats, but nothing made my HR budge and I was getting so tired from the effort.  When the hills eased up for a bit, the HR dropped to 166 and then eventually 165 as my HR settled lower on the straightaways and dropped on the downhills.  Eventually, I gave up trying to increase the HR and just focused on riding.  "It'll do it's own thing" I told myself.

Throughout the course, I got passed by a number of people.  I couldn't say how many; maybe six?  Most of them went by with disc wheels.  It's funny because you can HEAR them coming up behind you.  I only passed one person on the back half of the bike, but you can bet I enjoyed it!!

Roughly halfway through, two things happened; my back bothered me and my stomach started feeling...  "odd."  I stopped sipping my water and it went away eventually.  Either way though, I thought it was odd to even have water upsetting my stomach though it could simply be that level of exertion I was at.  The left side of my back also tensed up and began to bother me.  It's happened on and off on training rides, but I've never figured it out.  Once I'm pushing hard, it'll tense.  I'm hoping a massage helps.  It'll feel good even if it doesn't help. 

Overall, I am not a cyclist and it still feels like I have a long way to go.  But after nearly 50 minutes riding, I came back to transition.  I had removed my feet from my shoes and despite the volunteers telling me to slow down, I zoomed right up to the dismount line and transitioned smoothly right into a run while a volunteer yelled out "Wow!  Props on that dismount."  I might have a future in gymnastics.  NOT!

Flying dismount!

26k Bike - 47:32
Average HR = 164 bpm
18th fastest bike


The rust was all shaken off at this point.  I ran my bike in while unbuckling my helmet and taking off my glasses, quickly racked my bike, dropped my helmet & glasses to the side, sat right down and put on my run shoes, grabbed my VTP visor and took off.

I was happy with that transition.  It went very smooth.

RUN (Again)

As I ran out of transition, I joked with two of the volunteers.  The first pointed me to the left and I asked "What if I REEEAAALLY want to go right?"  He just laughed.  The second guy pointed me again to another left and I yelled out "Aaaaaaahhhhh!!  My legs are not used to this."  At least I still had my sense of humor.  That was a good sign. 

As I ran down the road, I could feel my legs give protest.  They were a bit tighter, a bit more sluggish than when they had run down this road the first time.  They certainly were not going as fast as before.  And my left achilles bothered me a bit; tendonitis from an injury I got during last fall's ultra training.  It didn't hold me back, but I made a mental note; Monday will be recovery!

The goal was to go 8-10 beats higher than my bike average (164 bpm), so I was shooting for 172+.  I could barely break 168 in the first half mile and I got worried.  Why wouldn't my HR be higher than the first time?  Doesn't cardiac drift dictate that I drift UP in HR?  This doesn't make sense.  I kept running on anyways.

I passed the first guy before the first mile marker.  It wasn't until that marker that I started feeling like my body was loosening up just a bit.  My HR jumped to 170 and I was hopeful that I might be able to meet my goal.

Mile 1 - 6:04

I pushed on as best I could and caught one other runner before the 2nd mile marker.  At this point I was up to 174 bpm and could feel the intensity burning into me.  At the same time, however, I knew if I had someone within reach I would be able to pick it up.  I was both exhausted and felt like I had yet to tap into my potential.  CRAZY!!

Mile 2 - 6:05

I was holding steady!!  Awesome!  We made our way up one longer incline, I grabbed a water at the aid station, and then finally had some human interaction; the other runners making their way OUT on the run course.  It helped keep me distracted a bit, but didn't give me a rabbit to chase down.  If only I could have been a few minutes faster on the bike.  I could have had a really good rabbit to chase!

Mile 3 - 6:08

Do I call that slowing down?  NO!  It was only 0.8% slower.  I made it up the final hill (Ugh!) and saw the finish line down the road.  I kept my pace and then heard someone say "You better hurry up!  You've got Jesse right behind you."  If I was able to get it out, I would have asked "Who is Jesse?"  I would have to wait until I finished to find out.  I glanced back and saw he was about 20 feet back.  I tried to speed up and he closed to 10 feet.  I could hear him get louder as he sped up behind me.  I waited until we made the final turn to the finish line and put everything I had into my legs, sprinting to the finish.  I glanced back once and he was further back than before.  I was good.  I breathed a sigh of relief as I crossed the finish line.

3.3 mile run - 19:50
Average HR = 174 bpm
8th fastest run

FINISH - 1:27:03
9th Place Overall
3rd Place Age Group (M25-29)


As soon as you cross the finish line, you expect the typical "Congratulations," "How do you feel?," or maybe an "Are you okay?" if you're really doubled over trying to catch your breath.  I was surprised to have the first thing I heard be...

"You're bleeding."

"What?!  I'm bleeding?"  Immediately I figure it's my nose.  I wiped and there's a little pink.  Okay, so I need a paper towel or tissue.  I walk over to the food tent to get a napkin and 2 other friends ask me if I'm okay.  "Man, I must be bleeding a good amount."  Turns out it wasn't my nose, though that was running a good deal too.  I was bleeding from my lips.  The night before I was out with friends at a wedding and forgot my chapstick.  My lips were fairly chapped and it must have broken the skin during the race because I got a number of comments about it and there's blood on my jersey too; probably from me clearing my nose and wiping it on my jersey.  So yeah...  I put in a blood letting effort at this race!!

I got some food, walked back to the race start (half mile down the road), packed my stuff in the car, and hung out with some friends for awhile before I headed home.  All in all, it was a good day!

Then I went home and poured over my data.  Muah-ah-ha-ha-ha-ha!!


1.  Have you ever done a duathlon?
This was my first duathlon.  

2.  Which would you prefer: Road Race, Duathlon, or Triathlon?
I liked the duathlon and road races are fun, but I still prefer triathlons.  The swim is my forte, so I wouldn't want to give that up!


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