The Camarrilo Duathlon was supposed to be my biathlon event this year. Originally scheduled for May, it was moved to August and then September for various reasons. Since the event kept changing dates, I decided that the local Santa Barbara Duathlon would be my biathlon event for 2009. This was a great decision!
I entered the 2009 Santa Barbara Duathlon short course, which consists of a 2k (1.24mi) run, a 17K (11mi) bike, and another 2k run. I was looking forward to the shorter run distances for a change. This meant that speed was needed for the runs and endurance needed for the bike. Slightly different approach than the endurance based triathlons I competed in so far.
Race morning was cool and cloudy. The perfect day to rumble the streets of Santa Barbara and Montecito. I arrived to a sparsely populated parking lot with about a dozen transition bars setup. Clearly, this was going to be a small event, fewer than 100 for both the long and short course.
I ran into two other participants I knew and we shared stories of our race preparation. From Red Bulls to strange supplement concoctions designed by heroine addicts to simple foam rolling, we each had our own approach to preparing for the race. They were definitely hyped up and I was a little nervous… I stood off to the side.
THE START – RUN 1
The event was quite informal, so the event start was slightly melo-dramatic. Almost immediately, the participants broke into two groups for the first run, the really fast and then the normal people. I kept my pace fast, but consistent, settling in behind an older gentlemen who was keeping remarkably consistent pace at the end of the first group. Glancing at my Garmin Forerunner 305, I noticed the pace was sub-9:00 and we were only 400 feet into the run. Oh my gosh!
The turnaround seemed to take forever to get to. The bike path went from straight and flat, to curvy and tree-lined, so it was difficult to see very far ahead with so many runners in front. The first relief came when I saw the short course leader go SPRINTING BY without an inkling of sweat in the opposite direction. Ahhh… the turnaround is in site.
The turnaround was nothing more that than a cone sitting atop a big steel manhole cover along the path. Someone had meticulously dispersed chalk arrows all the way around it, so the runner ran past it, made a right-hand u-turn and faced the onslaught of the runners behind. Oh yes… fun stuff.
The run back to the transition area was a little painful. I started to exhaust at 0.80mi and pushed hard to finish without stopping and at a good pace (8:48 in the end!). Running through the chute to the transition area, I couldn’t stop yet… the bike was at the far end of the area. Then, run one was over.
T1 – Bike Course
Since I didn’t have the issue of stripping off my wetsuit and getting dressed, the biggest problem was changing my shoes while hyper-ventilating and suffering a heart attack. I took one glance at my heart rate and it was 181… I felt every beat.
Putting on the helmet, grabbing the bike, it was time to have a nice bike ride. The strategy was to go fast on both runs and go conservatively on the bike. But, this was a competition and there were riders in front of me… surely, I couldn’t just ride behind them the entire way? Nope, I went blazing by them… one even yelped in shock as I went by at about 25 mph on the flat. hehehehe…
The first 3 miles were very familiar. The course followed the same route as the Santa Barbara Triathlon. Instead of turning around at San Ysidro, you made a left turn and went up, up, up on San Ysidro to East Valley. The climb was slow and steady, my quads screaming at me the entire way. This was the third time I’ve done the climb, so I knew I would make it. Luckily, I didn’t get passed.
Turning right onto East Valley, I went up, up, up and up some more until I hit the top just before the right turn at Sheffield Drive. Unfortunately, all of the people I passed, went blazing by me. ugh! The funny thing was, going downhill, I coasted and kept up while they were all pedaling furiously the pick up speed. You have to love the efficiency of a competition road bike. At this point, it was a matter of conservation, so I followed the group back and finished the bike in 41:02.
T2 – Run 2
Dismounting from the bike, my transition area was only a few feet away. Again the hard part was changing the shoes. Luckily, I left my running shoes open and untied, so it was a matter of slipping them on, swapping the helmet for a hat and going for it.
Setting out on the run, I definitely felt the fatigue. The same fatigue I felt every other time I tried to run after some activity, be it swimming or bike or even another run. However, this one was a little different. The fatigue wasn’t as deep in the muscles as previously and I was moving at just over 10:00 pace (a minute faster pace than usual). Then I noticed the guy ahead stop running. While I was tempted to do so myself, I decided no way… I am going to run this… the entire way if it killed me. I picked up the pace.
The funny thing is that the guy I passed walking, kept passing me. Then I would pass him, he would pass me. He was using my old theory of running; ran hard and walk a bit to recover, then run hard. I have to say, it is so much nicer being slower and consistent rather than a walking sprinter.
I made a leisurely turn around the cone. Luckily, this late in the race, the participants were pretty well dispersed so no major accidents occurred.
Then I saw Tyra just after the turnaround. Seeing her made me realize that I still wasn’t pushing hard enough, so after yelling encouragement to her, I pushed it.
The last quarter mile was horrendous, yet, I pushed hard. Muscles were hurting, sweat building, and the mental capability dwindling. Even still, I got angry and ran faster…. I didn’t want to do a repeat of my pitiful Carpinteria Triathlon finish. I pushed, picking up pace and concentrating. Then I saw my trainer, Chris.
When your trainer is yelling at you to pick up the pace and every muscle hurts and you are just trying to concentrate on not tripping over the multiple curbs and slipping in the mud, it really makes things interesting. Despite the obstacles and nearly running over race officials at the finish, I made it. Race number six entered the history books.
Overall, I finished 2nd in my division (M30_39) and 9th overall of about 25 participants. Yep, my first medal finish!
I feel great about this event. It was short, beautiful, fun and full of unique challenges. As my last planned event for 2009, this was surely a sweet way to end the season.