Sherri, Colby and I headed up to Oak Mountain State Park in Birmingham for the PowerKids Duathlon. The weather was questionable with the expectation of rain and winds! Fortunately... it held out until we were done for the day!
We discussed a race strategy for Colby, we walked the course and both of us knew he was ready...
He started off super strong in what was a very competitive field...
He proceeds to run the first run (1/2 mile) in 3:20... and I will tell you that the run was CHALLENGING... here is the elevation map! So he enters T1 looking really good and does a quick in and out...
He hammers the 3 loop course on his new bike like a pro...look at that form!!!
He has a quick T2 and heads out on the 2nd run... he runs a 3:41 for that half mile... and finishes with an amazing burst of speed... very strong!
He ends up 3rd overall... 2nd in Age Group and we could not be more proud of him... what a great effort... there are more of these kind of events in his future! He has one speed... and it is all out!
Following his event we headed over to pick up my race packet and then get some lunch on our way back home! Great way to spend our Saturday...
Pretty much status quo... up at 0511... BEFORE the alarm of course... head in for a shower and pre-race shave! Then brew up a cup of coffee and review the checklist again... because there is a chance it changed since I went to bed 8 hours ago! I load up the bike on the truck... review the checklist one more time... toast a bagel and top it with honey peanut butter as well as brew a second cup of coffee for the ride! It is funny how many times I went over the list given Duathlons require very little in the way of gear... but not having something will set a bad tone for the day and I don't want any distractions.
Very uneventful drive up to Birmingham other than I cut the roof of mouth on the bagel... I over toasted it just a bit and the hard edge just caught me wrong and sliced me... DAMN! I went through some rain on the way up and was hoping it would stay away from Birmingham for a couple of hours... and it did! I arrived at Oak Mountain State Park and proceeded to the parking area... as soon as I got out of my truck I realized it was much colder than when I left our house... and I did not bring anything warm to wear... I sucked it up... put on my gear, pumped the tires up, strapped on my helmet, hoisted my transition bag and headed to the Transition area.
Once there I quickly found my spot and set everything up... my new T-Mat proved to be very helpful as the bright yellow made my area stand out very clearly... and the guy next to me actually thanked me for using it as he said it would serve as a great locator for him as well! The air was filled with classic rock music and pre-race anxiety but I had a distinct calmness about me... I head over to the body marking area... "How old are you?"... painfully I eek out "45"... USAT Age Up rule so this year I am in the 45-49 category. Now... an interesting thing about having your age on the back of your left calf... it allows you to see the age of people you are passing or passing you which serves as a great motivator along the way!
I walk through the transition plan a couple of times to make sure I am ready... and then head out on a warm up run... I run an easy .75 miles to get the heart going and warm up the legs and then head over to watch the introductions of the Elite field. I strike up a conversation with a really nice guy from Denver that came down to race... 3X Kona Ironman finisher... his coach (62 years old and double heart valve replacement veteran) was from Atlanta and was racing for a USAT Long Course Age Group Championship... he and another athlete came down to cheer him on and race the event... another perfect example of the great people that are involved in this sport! They introduce the female Elites and we comment on how buff Michelle Parsons is... more on her later!
Alright... 20 mins to go for my wave... off for one last nervous pee and then game time! As I make my way back to the start I realize just how calm I feel... still some pre-race nerves as you never know what your body is going to give you that day but I am confident from my training and I have a solid plan on how I want to execute the race...
- First Run- 8:00/mile pace
- Fast T1
- Hammer the bike as hard as I can (I have ridden the course 4 times already)
- Fast T2
- Final Run- take whatever the body will give but watch heart rate
We make our way into the chute.... hear the countdown... BANG... we are off... here is the run profile...
Again... a hilly ride... so I am plugging along at what feels like a good pace when I get passed by 2 guys on tri bikes within about 30 secs of each other... just before that climb at the 2.7 mile mark... but as we start the climb I have them as targets out in front of me and realize I am gaining on them at a fast clip... I blow by them about 3.4 miles into the ride and they are never to be seen again... all of the hill training I have been doing is PAYING OFF IN A HUGE WAY! So I continue with the plan and continue to pass a lot of folks on the climbs as I make my way to the turn around point... again... as I near the turn around there are some riders slowing way down to make the 180 degree turn around... I come screaming into the turn around at 25mph... hard on the brakes... around the cone... then sprint acceleration back up the hill we had just come down... I passed easily 8 riders on the turn around. I continue with the plan and everything is going great... the miles are ticking off... I am completely comfortable in the new aero position and my legs are feeling great... as I pass the 11 mile mark I look at my bike computer and see I am clicking along at 25mph and feeling great when I hear that unmistakable sound of a high end carbon tri bike... WHOOSH... Michelle Parsons... buff girl mentioned previously... goes by me like I am out on a Sunday stroll... she had to be going 35+... SPECTACULAR effort and amazing to see someone with that kind of speed! Quickly I come up on the 90 degree left hand turn and know I am 1 mile from the finish... keep pressing I tell myself... as I near the Transition area I reach down and unstrap my shoes... and pedal the last 100 yards into the transition with my feet on top of my shoes... I come screaming to the dismount line and hop off my bike in a perfect running stride... 40:52 for the 12.52 mile ride (18.4mph avg and my best bike split on that course by nearly a minute)... I see my bright yellow T-Mat... quickly rack my bike... helmet off... shoes on... hat on... and out on the second run... 37 seconds for T2 (fastest T2 in the entire event)...
So I start back up that beast of a hill hoping my legs get under me quickly... they are a bit heavy but not too bad... but I feel like I am barely moving... quick glance at the Garmin shows 8:20/mile pace... WOW... not bad for uphill I say to myself... at this point I realize there are guys coming back down the hill inbound to the finish line... I have got to push myself... I continue to run with my best effort... and as I make my way down the last part of the hill and can hear the announcer I get that rush... I am about to finish... I push through the chute... 12:22 (7:59/mile avg pace)... I am stoked... and really proud of the effort I gave... unfortunately no one came with me so I rejoiced internally and felt a tremendous sense of satisfaction on what I had just accomplished as I realized my training was working... my numbers exceeded my expectations!
I headed into the Transition area to get my stuff... downed a bottle of Fluid Recovery Treasure Berry drink... and walked my bike back to my truck... it was at this point that I realized just how chilly it had gotten... I was sweaty and thought maybe that made it feel cool... but once back at my truck I checked the temperature gauge to find out that it was 10 degrees cooler than when we started... I really wish I had brought some warmer clothes... but I put on what I had which included a long sleeve winter running shirt and headed back up to watch the Elite racers come in on one of their 3 laps of the bike course... AWESOME... fine tuned racing machines... and they can truly hammer on a bike... spectacular to watch!!!
So I make my way back up to the tent area to watch the awards be given out for our event... when to my surprise they call my name as the 2nd place finisher in the "Beginner" category... anyone with 3 or less previous races was included in this category... and my effort was good enough to earn a 2nd place finish... I scored a great gift bag put together by Bike Link of Birmingham... what a deal!
After watching all of the Age Group winners claim their prizes... I grabbed a banana for the road and headed for my truck. I rode most of the way home in total silence... simply reflecting on the event... what went well... what I can improve on... and realizing how I would not be as prepared as I was without the support of my family and friends... then WHAM... it hits me... if I don't pick it up some... it will not be long before I hear Colby saying to me... "On your left... old man!"
Attitude trumps pain!!!
Attitude trumps pain!!!