Duathlon National Championship Race Recap

My original race plan for 2013 was to end my season with Ironman Wisconsin in early September. After I did the Galena Duathlon in May, I received an email from USAT letting me know of my qualification for Duathlon Nationals, which was going to be held in the end of October in Tucson, Arizona. At that point I honestly wasn’t really even aware that this race existed or what exactly qualified me for Nationals from my results in Galena. After doing some research and talking to Coach Jen I was sold on doing this event!

I knew this race was going to hurt…I was 6 weeks off Ironman Wisconsin, I had a trip to Hawaii planned mid-October which meant no bike for a week, and it’s short course so it ALWAYS hurts. It also meant I was going to be flying with my bike for the first time. This is all very challenging for me (I’m SUPER Type A), but I wanted to see how I would handle it.

After Ironman Wisconsin I took about a week and a half off, then Coach Jen slowly got me back into training. Luckily I wasn’t injured, and honestly didn’t feel too bad coming off an Ironman, but I didn’t feel good. That feeling lasted the entire time between Wisconsin and Nationals. I just didn’t have an extra gear, but I expected it and hoped that I could just muscle through it on race day.

The day before I left for Tucson was the bike breakdown. Thankfully I have a good friend at Element Multisport in Chicago (the Ed with lots of tattoos, go see him, he rocks) that walked me through it step by step so I could actually build it back up…

bike box

Luckily the bike made it safely to Arizona, and it was time to put it back together…

assemble bike

After about 45 minutes it was “almost” done! I just had to make a quick trip to bike tech when it opened in the morning to tighten up the headset. Words can’t describe how relieved I was to have this done and how proud I was that I could actually do this. Not gonna lie, I had some help, BUT still proud of myself. I was ready to go on my shake out ride…

Jen with Bike

Race morning arrived early the next day and I was SO excited to race! Tucson is gorgeous and I couldn’t wait to try out a new course. My race plan was pretty simple…”embrace the suck” and “suffer” as Coach Jen always tells me to do at short course. She also specifically mentioned that it would be a fast start and not to go out running 6:50s in the first 5k. I laughed when she said that because I in no way thought I was capable of that pace given how I felt after Wisconsin and that I’ve never run a 5k at that pace.

Number Tatttoos
Number tattoos look cool, not cool to get off.

As Coach Jen said, the first run (5k) went out FAST! I had on my watch but didn’t look down until the first mile ticked off…6:47. Oops, pretty much exactly what I wasn’t supposed to do. Did I slow down? No. Duh. There were some fast girls in front of me that I wanted to keep my eye on. SO…I kept right on running as fast as I could and finished up the first 5k in 21:10…vomit. I didn’t, but I wanted to, almost the entire time. I was never so happy to be on my bike. Especially because the last 1/2 mile into transition is uphill. Duathlons hurt so bad, why do I do these??

I was out of T1 in under a minute and off to the bike course. This is traditionally my weakest sport, but I was determined to push it on the bike. The course was pretty crowded on the first loop, and I was trying to ride my own race and stay away from other athletes. At one point a guy passed me (what else is new?) and I noticed he didn’t get too far ahead of me. I started to slow down to get out of his “draft zone” and saw the USAT Officials on their motorcycle watching me. I literally stopped pedaling and was sure I made it out within 15 seconds. On with the bike…I felt much better than I expected but was feeling pressure in my legs. I knew I would have them once I got off the bike, but how fast could I run that last 5k? I wound up averaging just over 20mph which I was SUPER happy to see. There were some good rollers and turns to deal with.

Again, out of T2 in under a minute – not messing around in there – then back out on that same 5k course. I just put my head down and ran as fast as I possibly could. I couldn’t even muster up a smile when I saw Matt or the JHC athletes cheering for me. I knew I was holding my place with the girls, but was SO ready for it to be over. I wound up finishing the last 5k up in 23:09. SO happy!

After I was done and checked out how I finished I noticed that I was given a 2 minute penalty from the bike course. I spoke with the official who gave it to me and he said I missed getting out of the draft zone by 2 seconds…yes he timed me at 17 seconds from the pass. Lesson learned. It dropped me one place in my age group, but I was still really happy with my day.

Overall…I finished 9th in my age group. What does that mean?? I get to race in Pontevedra, Spain in 2014 representing Team USA at ITU Standard Duathlon World Championships!!!! I. Can’t. Wait!!!!

For now…time to enjoy the offseason and celebrate a successful year of racing. Lots of sleep, rest, and chocolate for me 🙂