I looked at this race more as a really tough training workout for the week. I didn't get up as early before the race as I normally do. I was up at 5:30 and was just finishing my breakfast at 6:00 for the 8:00 race which almost proved to be too close to race time for me. We didn't arrive at the park until 45 minutes before the race and I still had to register. I got registered and got my bike racked and had just enough time to put the Zipp jersey on and get a 1.5 mile warm-up run in before the instructions. I had looked at the results from the past races to see what the records were. Jeff Castro had the record with a 57:50 in 2004. The next best was 58:33 in 2001. I didn't think I could go 57:50 but thought 58:33 was a realistic time. The duathlon consists of approximately a 2 mile run, 15 mile bike, and 2 mile run. Both runs are a bit short of 2 miles with the 2nd one being a little shorter than the first.
Run 1: When the gun sounded I found myself in the lead within the first 100 meters. This typically isn't how I like to run. I like to sit back for awhile and feel the race out but no one was setting a very fast pace so I took it. I ran pretty relaxed and my Garmin GPS watch had me averaging about 5:24 pace for the first run. At the turnaround of the run I was not far from the chase pack. I stayed very relaxed through the first run and came in with a time of 10:47 which was the top ranked run of the day. I didn't realize until I saw the results but the chase pack was only 10-15 seconds behind me.
Bike- Out on the bike is where I began to increase my lead. I was riding the Zipp 808 front wheel combined with the Zipp 1080 rear. This wheelset has proved good luck for me as I've raced it twice this year and won both of those races. It's extremely beneficial when it's windy or hilly and we had a little wind and a lot of hills to deal with. This wheelset is very light so it is good for climbing the hills. This is an extremely tough bike course with some long difficult climbs. At the first bike turnaround about 3 miles into the race my lead had grown to 40 seconds. I continued to push the pace and we reached the killer hill going into Illinois City just before the next turnaround at about mile 9. This hill has got to be close to 3/4 mile long. It is a tough grade and was made even tougher with the wind in our face going up it. I was out of the saddle most of the climb and my bike was giving me trouble shifting a bit on the hill. A couple times I almost lost my 2 peanut butter bagels that I ate for breakfast...note to self...stick to the 3 hour rule before a race. When I got to the top of the hill I made my way to the turnaround and timed my lead coming back at 1:20. The next 4 miles were extremely fast with a slight wind at our back until we hit one more really tough hill going back into the park. I had a great running dismount that Jen caught a series of pictures on as she was waiting to go on her second run. My 36:42 bike split was the fastest of the 131 competitors by 2 minutes and 26 seconds.
Run 2: As I was in my last couple miles of the bike I began to realize I had a shot at the course record. I knew it was going to be close but I was starting to pay attention to my watch. After I dismounted I glanced down at my watch and knew I needed to run about 9:50 on the second run. The second one is a bit shorter than the first due to the placement of the finish line. I thought a 10:00 was possible if I had a really good one but 9:50 would be a stretch. Either way, I was going to go after it. I had to do it all alone. I got into a good rhythm early and tried to push the pace. I kept watching the clock as it was getting closer to 57:50, the mark I was aiming for. At the turnaround I knew I needed to come back in about 4:40. I pushed hard and told myself when I got within 2 minutes of the record time I would turn it up one more notch until the finish. I did just that. The last 2 minutes were pretty tough as I watched the clock turn over. I could see the clock at 57:40 but I still had a bit to go. By the time I reached the finish line it was at 57:56, 6 seconds off the record time. Complete results with splits can be found at http://www.cornbelt.org/r/du09spl.htm
I wasn't too disappointed because I orginally didn't think that was a time I was ready to go. I hadn't felt very good training all week as my legs still aren't fully recovered from the training camp I ended a week ago. This time was almost 3 minutes faster than I went last year and it was good enough to win the race this year by 4 minutes and 1 second. My second run ended up being much faster than my first as I ran it in 9:53. It was the fastest ranked 2nd run of the day by 52 seconds.
Jen's relay also won the women's relay division. We were thankful to have some help watching Payton from Jess Zimmer, our high school principal's daughter. Mr. Zimmer completed the duathlon the day after a 20 mile long run he did in preparation for a fall marathon. Congratulations to all the finishers in this year's race. This is one that all finishers should be proud of considering how tough the hills are on the bike course. For me the big taper will begin tomorrow. I had a very quality week of training even with the return to school this week. I cut the volume a bit but did 3 very intense bike rides, swam 10,000 yards, and ran 40.5 miles with a lot of quality and speed work. I'll be cutting back even more over the next two weeks in hopes of a big Olympic Distance PR in Chicago on August 30th. I'm hoping to break 2 hours and be in the top 10 of the Elite Amateur division. My belief on a taper is that less is better as long as the foundation has been built. I've been building the foundation since I began this journey on November 3rd. In that time I've probably only taken 7-10 days where I didn't train at all. I've done the work and now I'll rest up. I have never wished I had done more in a taper but many times I wished I had done less. I'll be cutting my training time down in the range of 7-10 hours the next two weeks which will be about 1/3 of what I was doing a few weeks ago. Thanks for reading and following the journey. DREAM BIG!