Continuing my series of catch-up race reports…
Summary: 4th in my AG—missed the podium by 0:51. Damnit!
I hadn’t planned to run this, but thought it might be fun to do as a light workout. Alex encouraged me to race it, and Dana decided to sign up for it too, so I signed up the week before. The day before the race, the local (and national media… I’m looking at you, Weather Channel) bombarded the area with dire warnings of high winds, strong thunderstorms, and maybe even a tornado or two late Friday night into Saturday morning. The race organizers decided to delay the start by an hour, and in the end none of the bad weather showed up here overnight– just some rain.
Race day dawned and we loaded up the bikes to head out. It was cloudy and in the low 60s as we drove down to Guntersville, but the forecast called for steadily clearing skies and a high around 80, so I wasn’t too worried about the rain.
This particular duathlon is pretty small; there were about 70 participants, including a few relay teams, and the crowd was full of familiar faces from the local tri and running community. That always makes for a fun race. The course was an 5K out-and-back loop along the lake shore, a 16.2mi bike ride around part of the lake perimeter, and another 5K on a slightly different lakeshore loop. The course organizers didn’t post a course map beforehand, which always annoys me a little, but from talking to others who had run the race before I was comfortable that there wouldn’t be too many surprises.
After the half-marathon, I’d been having persistent and unpleasant calf pain, in slightly different locations on each side. That was really hampering my runs– even when Alex had me doing slow Z2 recovery-style runs, I was really uncomfortable and felt super slow. I was worried about how my legs would hold up, but as it turns out I needn’t have worried too much. The first run went very well. I held an 8:45 pace. If it had been a true 5K distance it would have been a PR; as it was only 3.02mi, so not quite long enough for a PR. I had a little tenderness in my right Achilles on the first half-mile or so, but after that zero calf pain throughout the race. I’m not sure why, as I didn’t do anything different other than a bit of extra stretching and taking SportsLegs an hour before race time.
Transition went fast– less than 2min, which is lightning-quick for me. I tried really hard to keep a steady cadence for longer stretches () but was only partly successful. One thing I found was that on any kind of downhill I had to slow my cadence even in top gear to keep from bouncing. For some reason on the road it’s realllly hard for me to hold a steady 80. Part of this is that on the trainer, I can look at the TR display, see my cadence, and adjust accordingly. I handlebar-mounted my old iPhone and ran Strava on it but it didn’t see my cadence sensor—have some hardware adjustments to make. Nonetheless, my average speed and total time were both better than the bike leg at Heel & Crank 2 weeks ago.
On the second run, I paid the price, with a dragging 10:20/mi pace. In retrospect, I am angry at myself for not pushing harder given how narrow the margin to the podium was, but at the time I just felt gassed. Lesson learned.
Post-race, the organizers had a great spread of local BBQ, local beer from Rocket Republic, and homemade snacks. Dana and I had a very pleasant al fresco parking lot lunch while chatting with friends while we waited for race results– and she took 3rd in her age group! That put an excellent cap on an excellent race experience.
One thing I noticed right after the race (and ever since, ouch): I have a large pain in the butt because my saddle impinges on the top of my right hamstring such that I have a sore butt in that one spot after any more than 5-7 mi. I am going to head in to Bicycle Cove and get a new saddle and refit this week. Thankfully I don’t have any real leg soreness except for that one spot (and some residual burn in my quads)– a good thing considering that my first powerlifting meet is coming up in less than a week.