Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Barkin' Dog Duathlon - Race Report

As a first-time poster, I'll start with a brief introduction. My name is Evan Macfarlane and this is my first year on the Zoot Ultra Team. I'm originally from Michigan, but recently moved to Denver. I love living near the Rockies and head out to the mountains to ride whenever possible. I started triathlon in 2005 without any swimming, biking or running experience. My focus for the season is on Ironman Louisville, though I'll do a handful of shorter races leading up to IMLou. Anyhow, here I am, looking like a giant dork according to my fiance, Stacey:

This past Saturday Stacey and I raced the Barkin' Dog Duathlon at Cherry Creek State Park just outside of Denver. (Don't ask me where that name came from -- I did not see or hear a single barking dog.) The race was my first duathlon and the shortest multisport event I've ever done, excluding the prologue at the American Triple T. The race venue is near our apartment, and I do a lot of training rides at the park. Stacey and I were able to ride over to the start of the race, which provided a nice warm-up.

Stacey's race highlight occurred before the race even started. She was following me as we entered the park and rolled into the race area. We needed to pick up our race packets, so I was riding straight toward the registration tent. About 50 feet away from the tent, I unclipped my right foot and swung my leg over my saddle, then glided toward the tent with just my left foot clipped in. Yes, I am extremely smooth. As I approached the tent through a moderate sized crowd, I swiveled my left foot to try to separate myself from my bike. Unfortunately, I forgot that I had recently installed new cleats on my shoes, and my attempt to clip out failed. I bit it, though luckily into a patch of grass next to the road.

I stood up and very loudly told Stacey and anyone else that may have witnessed my fall, "Oops, forgot about those new cleats." Stacey particularly appreciated my fall for two reasons: (1) I was decked out head-to-toe in Zoot stuff, with my team jersey and what not, looking very PRO and (2) when I stood up I had grass all over my butt that I was not aware of as I continued toward the registration tent.

Not a good start to the day, but not quite this bad (skip ahead to 1m05s if you want):

Anyhow, my nice ride all decked out for the race:

I am glad to be riding the carbon Ordu instead of my old aluminum frame, as the course at Cherry Creek is VERY rough. There are a lot of bumps that can throw a rider out of his aerobars if not careful.

The race format is a 5k run, 34k ride, and another 5k run. This short stuff doesn't suit me too well, as I don't go much faster for 5k run than a half marathon. Still it's a solid workout and a good opportunity to get out of my comfort zone.

I registered for the elite wave -- my first time ever -- and knew there'd be some guys I wouldn't be able to run with. I thought perhaps I would try to stay with them for the first 5k, but I wasn't up to it. A few of the faster guys pulled away pretty quickly, and by the two mile marker my primary concern was avoiding puking. I never got going too well, and ran the first 5k in 17:27. My average HR was 162 bpm for the first 5k, while I would have expected to average well into the 170s.

In a typical triathlon, I start to move up on the bike because I'm a poor swimmer relative to my biking ability. However, since this race started with a run, I was toward the front from the get-go. The bike was very uneventful: I only passed one guy and I was only passed once, though by a guy on his first loop while I was on my second. I didn't look at my wattage much, and I somehow ended up not recording it. Still, my average HR was 161 bpm. That's a solid effort for me, but I expected 5 bpm higher or so. I completed the bike portion in just over 53 minutes with an average speed of 23.2 mph. Not great since I road the course earlier in the week at HIM intensity and averaged 25 mph.

By the final 5k I was in cruise mode. Not that I went extremely easy, but I was around 10th place and wasn't going to move up. As I approached the first mile marker, I saw that the top two guys were a bit over a mile ahead of me. Ouch. I continued pushing a bit and finished the second 5k in 18:30 or so. My average HR for this last leg was 166 bpm.

Even though I wasn't able to push myself quite as hard as I would have anticipated (juding by my HR anyhow), I was still pretty beat after the race. I ended up 9th out of 13 elites, and I was beat by a few non-elites as well.

The race made for a fun yet tough workout. I've got another duathlon coming up in a few weeks, and I've got to change my breakfast so that I don't spend the first 5k worrying about throwing up. Maybe these short races will help my high-end speed a bit. As a long course guy, I'm not too concerned with high end speed, but perhaps the gains would translate to lower effort levels, too.

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