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An Amazing Start To My (finally) Outdoor Multisport Adventures, Race Report Prospect Park Duathlon

March 22, 2010 1 comment

The wait is over!  After completing 3 indoor triathlons, I finally got to race OUTSIDE.  I am happy on so many levels.  The indoor races were fun, but I didn’t really feel like a TRUE multisport athlete, and I got tired explain to everyone what an indoor triathlon is 🙂

So…where to start.  Think about this, I could probably break this up into several different posts…How to Buy a Bike, Completing your first Multisport event, Prospect Park Duathlon Race Report, etc, etc,  I’ll try to fit it all into this one, with more to follow

(note)  Total hits for this blog will soon reach 10,000.  I would like to thank all the readers for inspiring me to keep writing.

I decided to do this duathlon after I was denied entry into the NYC Half Marathon.  The indoor triathlons were my first venture into the world of swimming competitively and if there is one word I would use to describe myself it is competitive.  So to do something competitively that I have never done before is a little out of my comfort zone.  This duathlon would be my first attempt at a competitive cycling race.  The good thing about being out of my comfort zone is that it fuels me to prepare.  I didn’t really have much time to prepare physically with actual riding, but I did do enough time trials to give myself confidence not to embarrass myself.

I looked at last years results of the duathlon and checked out the bike splits of the leaders, which I expect to be at any competition (maybe that is naive, but that is just my mentality).  The splits were broken down into 5k #1 split, bike split (which included both transition times), and the 5k #2 split.  Now, I wasn’t worried about the 5k splits, I can run.  The bike splits varied greatly.  The overall leaders were at 23 minutes!!  That is untouchable at this point.  The be in the top 3rd of the race required being sub 40 minutes for the 14 mile ride plus transition.  OK, we have a starting point.  I took my mountain bike out to the park to see how fast I can go.

Now this is a nice mountain bike.  It’s a 1998 Gary Fisher, pretty light for aluminum, and I have clip pedals on it, my only concern was the shocks, they don’t have a lock option, so they absorb a lot of my energy, especially when climbing.  Nevertheless, I took it out for a spin.  The Prospect Park loop is where the race is held and it is where I train when running, so I am very familiar with it.  There are almost no flat parts of this loop.  One big up hill of about 800 meters, one big downhill and the rest rolling. In my time trial in February I managed 14:45 on my first loop, then really pushing 14 flat on the second loop.  The results a week later were about the same.  I am not impressed.  Could I be this slow on the bike?!!?  I check Google and investigate…..and I find that riding a mountain bike vs a road bike, you lose 20% of power.  Whew!!  It’s not JUST me. A 56 minute bike leg would not be a good thing for me.  OK, so now the mission begins…FIND A ROAD BIKE TO RIDE.

I scoured craigslist for a deal, but couldn’t bring myself to buy a used bike, plus there was usually travel involved to get there.  For now I would borrow a bike.  My friend had a road bike, so I picked it up, put some air in the tires and tried it out in yet another time trial.  I really appreciate the friend for allowing me to use the bike, but this bike was old school.  I think it may have been made of cast iron 🙂  It was very heavy.  It was actually 2 lbs heavier than my 29 lb mountain bike.  I took it out to the park to test it out.  I haven’t been on a road bike in about 15 years.  First lap–12 minutes…Nice!  Second lap 11:30.  That was about my max.  The bike would do the trick, but I was concerned about a few things.  One, the gear shifters were on the front of the handlebars, second the pedals were “regular” platform pedals, no clips, and third, I was frankly a little nervous about racing such an old bike.  Nevertheless, that was the plan.

The week before the race I started visiting local bike shops to look around, get sized, and just become more familiar with bikes in general.  What to look for, good components, etc.  And also did a lot of researching on the internet, of brands, reviews, and specials.  I knew I would eventually get a bike and I wanted to be prepared.

During all of this searching, I kind of got swept up in the thought of a brand new shiny bike.  That, coupled with my unending competitive drive forced me to the bike store on Friday morning in search of a bike to buy before my Saturday morning race.  I know, a little crazy, but let’s see what happens.  I was reccomendded R & A cycling store from a “facebook peep”, so I looked them up online.  They had 3 stars on Yelp, and a good website with some really good “closeout” deals of older model bikes at a discount.  It seems that every bike store in brooklyn has awful reviews from people that were ripped off, treated badly, rude service, etc.  I visited a few and all were really good experiences.  But, now that I think about it, I didn’t post any reviews of my good experiences…maybe I should.  Anyhow, I got there, told Phil my price range and he showed me a couple bikes, a specialized and a giant, but they didn’t have my size, a 56cm.  So we looked around a bit more, and I saw so many unbelievable bikes I began to wish I had an unlimited budget.

I knew some of the closeout bikes from the website and inquired, but Phil said the entry level closeouts tend to move pretty quickly, especially at this time of year.  Finally he pulled down a nice blue bike with a name I had never seen before, Pinarello.  Well, it had carbon fork, carbon rear stays, Ultegra components throughout.  It was an ‘o6 and another employee mentioned that it was a great bike for the money, and it was on sale.  I sat on it, pedaled backwards a little, the size was perfect.  They don’t do test rides at this store, so I wasn’t able to actually ride it before, but I liked it.  So, not to make a decision on the spot, I said I needed to run home and I would be back in an hour.  It’s 11AM, I have to leave for work at 1:30PM, so I run home, check the internet for the reviews…it’s a really good bike especially with the upgraded components.  That bike was actually a closeout online and the price they offered was the same, so they were at least being honest, which I find is unusual for salespeople.  So I decided.  Get it.  I ran back to the store and said I’ll take it.  Boom, got pedals, shoes, got fitted on it, all in enough time to get back home and get dressed to take it for a spin.  Time trial time.(bike weighs 19 lbs)

Race Day!

The shoes took some getting used to, and I’m still not really used to them yet.  They are a bit different than my mountain bike clips, but are also much easier to unclip so that’s nice.  I actually fell over on my mountain bike a few weeks ago when I forgot that my feet were clipped in and I stopped. Oops.  That’s one way to learn 🙂

I got it to the park and wanted to do one loop before race day, which was only 20 hours away!  The bike felt amazing.  The shifting was weird since it was on the brake levers.  I’d never had that before, all my old 10 speeds from the 80’s had the old school shifting on the lower tube.

I got around the loop in 10:10 without pushing too hard.  OK, I guess I’m ready, I told myself.  3 miles on the bike seems like enough before race day 🙂

I was so pumped up for the race!  It started at 8:30, but it was right down the street, so I got to “sleep in” until 6:30.  Working the night before for 10 hours on my feet until 11pm probably wasn’t ideal for fresh legs, but that’s life.

I was nervous, but excited.  It would be my first bike race ever and my first multisport race ever.  I was hoping the transitions would go smoothly.  I had never practiced it.

When I arrived at the start area, it was awesome.  Bikes everywhere, people checking in, riders setting up in the transition area.  Really cool.  All the duathletes got a chip to track their times, but it was in an ankle band that reminded me of what a person on parole would wear on house arrest.

I took my bike to the rack area for transition and hung it by the seat and looked around at what everyone else was doing and just followed along.  There were some other people there that had mountain bikes and I felt happy that I was not one of them, my new road bike was 10 times easier to ride up the hill than my mountain bike.

I didn’t clip my shoes in the pedals ahead of time since I had never practiced getting into my shoes on the bike before.  Down the road of multisport, I will perfect my transition time, but for now I would relax and take my time.

We all gathered for final race instructions.  Apparently the big storm last week blew a bunch of trees down on the running course, so the race directors had to make changes to the 5k course, thus making it hillier and harder.  I also discovered that this race was a “points” race for the triathlon clubs competing for the Gotham Cup, or something.

The race instructions for the run course were crazy, I stopped listening after he said “around the big meadow, past the waterfall, take your 3rd right, go past dog beach, then loop the ball field, take another right….”  blah blah blah.  Good thing the course was well marked!

We lined up and started our 1st run of 5k.  I got out fast but controlled.  I wanted to have a solid run and get to the bike early so there would not be as much commotion.  We were quickly strung out almost single file as we went up the first big hill before mile 1.  I didn’t actually see the mile marker until the 2nd run leg, so I don’t know my splits.  I was just trying to push conservatively.  I passed a couple people by 1.5 miles and was focused on energy management, not wanting to crash during the 2nd run. I had no idea how I would feel after the bike.

My fiance and friends were in the park cheering me on.  That was awesome.  A little home crowd support.  My fiance yelled out that I was in 19th place in the middle of my run.  I was happy with that.  I wanted to be top 50 at the finish and I knew I would get passed by quite a few people on the bike.

Run Leg 1

I finished up the run in about 20:28 and headed into the bike transition area. I ran in 2XU half tights and pulled on my bike shorts over them,  I slipped off my shoes, got my bike shoes on, helmet, gloves, ate a couple gels and I was off. It took me about 1:34 which seems fast to me, I’m happy with that. Hopped on the bike, got clipped in.  Here we go…

OK, I know one guy passed me in the transition area, so I’m in about 20th.  I get riding and I feel good.  There are TONS of people in the park today though.  So it is a little hectic.  The weather is amazing, about 65 degrees and sunny.  The first nice day of spring on the weekend.  I’m cranking pretty good, keeping pace with a Tri-Fit team guy in front of me.  I am expecting a wave of riders to go flying by me, but it doesn’t happen. I do get passed by a few guys on the first loop.  Some of them just ease by at a slightly faster pace and some FLY by.  It’s crazy how fast these guys pass me.  It definitely gives me hope for a much faster bike leg in my future races.

The first loop time is 10 minutes and change.  That includes getting out of transition and up to the loop, so I’m right on pace.  The second loop, I push a little more.  I’m more aggressive on the down hill and push the uphill a little harder.  I’m getting more comfortable on my bike.  I come through 2 loops with another 10+ split.  I didn’t press lap on my watch so they are estimates.  And I don’t have a bike computer or heart rate monitor yet so some data is missing.

3rd lap I’m starting to feel it a little and more and more athletes are entering the bike stage so the loop is getting more congested.  I’m finding that my strength seems to be the downhills since I am passing a lot more people on the down than the ups or flats.  That is actually true also in my running.

On the Bike!

OK, final lap.  This is farther than I have ever rode before.  I did 3 loops a couple times on my mountain bike, but 4 loops is uncharted territory.  I’m surprised my heartrate is up there and I’m breathing hard.  I know I must be working because that doesn’t happen easily on a bike for me.  Finally…4th lap is done!  I coast into transition, make sure to unclip one shoe as I approach 🙂  and I dismount my bike.  WOW!  That was unexpected!  I get off my bike and walk it into the rack area and my legs are done, gone.  My legs feel like they did in the last 2 miles of the marathon!!  The transition official says “Stings a little doesn’t it! (chuckle, chuckle)”  A little is an understatement.  I take off my bike shorts, helmet, gloves, get a quick drink of water.  Now shoes… my legs are dead and my hands are shaking and I’m trying to get my running shoes back on which is a struggle.  Finally I’m done.  Total bike time with 2nd transition is 43:29.  Now I hobble into the 2nd running leg.

I find solace in the fact that everyone seems to be hobbling.  I’m struggling, but I’m still passing people.  I pass about 3 people as I go up the first hill before mile 1.  I see the mile marker and come through in 7:30.  At this point I don’t really care about pace.  My legs finally feel semi-normal again and I start to push a little more since I can see 2 more guys in front of me that may be catchable if I keep pushing.  The 2nd hill comes at about 2.25 miles and it is a turn-around loop, so you can see coming back as you go up.  As I go up, my quads start to ache.  I can feel them wanting to cramp but they hold off.  As I come down the hill, I know there is only a few more minutes of running left.  I catch the 2nd guy about 4oo meteres before the finish line and come through the 2nd run in 21:51.  The overall results are posted now, but the split breakdown is not.

I finished 34th overall and 5th in my age. Official time 1:27:22, (the winner was 1:10:22)  Overall,  not bad for a first timer.  I am curious to see how I ranked in the 2nd run.  My bike will get better, so I’m excited about competing in this new event.  Bring on the swimming!!

Finish!

Run 1– 20:28

T1 –1:34

Bike–41:49

T2–1:40

Run 2–21:51

Final Time–1:27:22

Splits/Results Link

More Pictures Link

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