Friday, March 16, 2012

Desert Classic Duathlon Race Report

The Desert Classic Duathlon is always a fiercely contested battle and with prize money only going to first, second, and third I knew that my chances of collecting a paycheck were slim.  With two-time duathlon national champion Matt Russell in the house, and uber runner/biker Chris Foster, I knew that the third podium spot would be a real dog-fight among the other pros.     In addition, it didn't take a rocket scientist to look at the start list and realize that nobody else was signed up for the pro mountain bike race.  As a result I did what any reasonable Kellogg graduate would do - no I am not a Kellogg graduate - and I opted for the mountain bike race. With the help of fellow pro Christine Jeffrey I had a race worthy hardtail that would be suitable for the course and I was excited to give my first off-road duathlon a try.  Here is a recap of that day:

On race morning I was excited to see that I was still the only other male pro in the mountain bike race along with a couple of females.  That was great news because it meant I could back it off and just focus on getting in a solid catered training day.  As long as I finished I could walk away with some cash and minimal damage to the body.

Run 2 with 2XU Compression Socks
Run 1: The plan for this run was to start running and  stick with the last runner in the pro field.   Unlike last year this run was pretty much shelled from the beginning when Chris Foster and James Burn took of like bats out of hell and we actually had a pretty long string of guys straight from the beginning.  I was surprised to see Matt Russell next to myself and I was actually confused as to why he wasn't up there with the leaders. Running behind Matt Russell had me really interested in seeing how their race would unfold.  Anyway back to my race,  I continued on running and used the "talk test" to make sure I wasn't pushing it too hard.  It also gave me the opportunity to cheer on some of my other Trisports teammates as they were heading out and I was heading in to T1.

Bike: This bike is a 19 mile non-technical course, but the beginning miles were challenging with a few steep grades.  After navigating thru the first few miles the course opens up and it is a gradual climb up the Pemberton trail and then a gradual descent back down.  The trail is mostly a mixture of hardpack dirt and sand with a few spots of deeper sand.  It is the perfect beginner course and I had an absolute blast bombing down the back side of the course as I skidded through sandy turns like a slalom skier cuts through water. Based on my trial run the day before I felt confident that I would be able to beat the on-road men back to transition - their bike was 30 miles.   That almost happened but Chris Foster passed me right before we got back to transition.

Run 2: The second run is a real beast and actually uses some of the more technical mountain bike trails in the park.  There are plenty of steep sections, twisty sections, and the relentless sun adds an additional challenge.  Anyway, I started on the second run just a few seconds down from Chris Foster.  Then I went around a couple of blinds turns and I never saw him again.  The plan for the second run was to open it up a little more on the flat sections.  I continued on and hit some of the more technical sections and really backed it off to reduce the impact on the quads.  There was still no sign of Chris Foster.  I knew he was extremely fast but I found it tough to believe that he was fast enough to run out of sight.   I also looked back and I didn't see anyone behind me and was starting to think I was lost.

I continued on and saw an aid station and I knew I was still on track but instead of taking a left turn at the aid station I went straight.  I ended up at the finish running around the parking lot asking where I was supposed to go.   I back-tracked back to the aid station and that is when I realized I was supposed to go left at it.  It turns out that one of the volunteers at the aid-station was standing right in front of the "turn left" sign and they did not know they were supposed to direct people left.  At this point there were a few other pros who were now ahead of me so I used them as a guide as I jogged it in from this point.

Summary: Thankfully there were no other pros in the men's off-road race so my extra mile of running just ended up making it an even better training day.  Unfortunately for the on-road race there were a bunch of people who took wrong turns on the course and it cost them a payday.  It is unfortunate that it happened, but that is part of racing.

I'll be doing another training race next week at the Tucson Triathlon before finally opening the 2012 season with Leadman 125 in Las Vegas.  If you are itching for some early season racing and you want to be a part of this exciting race then sign up.  You can save 15% off registration with coupon code: LTFTRI18

For those interested in the bike route for future years or first just riding then here is my Garmin file.

  

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