Race Report: Beloit Duathlon

Every year I look forward to the Beloit Duathlon.  It was my very first multisport race back in 2007 and it's the beginning of the racing season for me every year.  Although Galveston was my first race of the year, it felt more like a pre-season race.  Beloit signals the official beginning of race season.

I came into the race with a slightly different strategy than the past couple of years.  The past 4 years I've come off the bike with the lead.  In 2008, I got run down on the second run.  In 2009, I won the overall.  In 2010 and 2011 I got run down again.  My strategy was to play it safe on the first run and not push too hard, then hammer the bike and try to take the lead and run as hard as I can on the second run.  This worked in 2009, but the other 3 years it didn't.  So I gave it some thought and discovered the flaw in my strategy.  I was working too hard to make up time on the bike.  If I'm typically the fastest cyclist at the race, I should be able to hang with the lead group for a while after the first run and recover a little if I need to and then hit it hard.  

So that was my new strategy.  Keep the leaders from getting away on the first run, recover a bit on the bike if needed and then start pushing, and run hard on the second run.  

Small elite field this year.  I'm in the middle in red/black talking to Ian (solid black) who ran me down and won by 16 seconds in 2010.

Run #1 - 1.7 miles
I recognized a few faces from prior years, but I didn't know many of the racers so I wasn't sure exactly who was a threat for the win.  I knew Ian who ran me down in 2010, so I knew I had to keep him in sights.  When the gun went off the group went out fast as usual.  I hung back in about 10th place...as usual.  I like to ease into the race a bit, but Ian was pushing hard and I knew I couldn't let him get away so I moved up and hung close.  I probably shouldn't have checked my watch, but I did.  One minute into the run and we were averaging a 5:40 pace.  Too fast for me so I had to back down a bit.  I dialed it back to a 6 minute pace and hoped Ian would settle in.  

The run is a rectangle and I was able to get a split at the first turn.  Ian had 25 seconds on me.  I was sitting in a group of about 4 or 5.  The pace was fast, but I knew I had to keep pushing and try to close the gap a bit.  At this pace he would have almost a minute lead by T1.

The group I was in kept pushing hard so I wasn't alone in the chase.  Ian settled in, and perhaps a little too much.  He never looked back so probably didn't notice we were closing the gap.  Eventually my group started to slow a bit so I pushed ahead and went out on my own to try to bring Ian back a little more.  I went into T1 only 9 seconds down.  Much better than previous years.  My average pace was 6:09 and my heart rate was just beginning to hit the low 170s so I was pushing hard but still feeling moderately comfortable.

Heading out of T1 in second place.

Bike - 10.4 miles

Ian was just up the road.  It looked like he fumbled with his shoes just a little and I managed to get into mine a little quicker so I was able to close the gap on him.  I felt pretty good but decided to sit in second for a couple of minutes and let my heart rate settle down.  I sat back there for 2 minutes and then decided to start pushing the pace on the bike.  I opted to ride about 25 watts below threshold to see if that would be enough to pull a gap.  I've gotten run down the past two years so I was hesitant to push too hard on the bike and have a bad run.

I looked back several times and my lead appeared to be growing so I kept my watts right about 92-93% of threshold.  I finished the bike in 25:15, 24.7 mph.  Nearly 1 mph slower than last year, but that was mainly due to the winds.  I came into T2 with a 60-90 second lead and felt ready to run.  

Coming into T2.

Run #2 - 1.7 miles

My fastest run pace ever at this race was a 6:16 pace, and that was run #2 in 2010 when I was being chased by Ian.  He's run me down in the past and I knew he would be coming hard.  I beat my best run pace in run #1 and really wanted to beat that in run #2 as well.  I dug deep and pushed hard.  I started out at about a 6:05-6:10 pace and faded a bit in the middle.  My average pace dropped close to 6:16 and that's when I dug deep.  I looked back and saw I had a big lead and wasn't going to get run down, but I couldn't stop pushing.  This wasn't about winning anymore.  It was about finding out how fast I can run.  It was also about enjoying running hard without knee and hip flexor pain (my knee is doing really well, btw).  

I managed a 6:13 pace for the second run and extended my lead a little. I actually set the fastest second run split.  I'm more proud of that then setting the fastest bike split.  That comes more naturally to me.

What do I look like running a 6:13 pace at the end of a duathlon?

Courtney told me to suffer more.  Just following orders.


Almost to the finish....still suffering.

I have a way of making multisports look fun, don't I.  

Seriously, it's fun.  Trust me.

I scored the overall win and started the season off on a great note.  I had a lot of fun and my knee felt strong all day.  Pushing hard and going home with no knee or hip flexor pain made me happier than taking the win.  And the weather was awesome.  Great day.

My parents doing their job making sure everyone dismounts before the line.




Jon said...

Awesome job Mike! FAST!

Ransick said...

Congrats on the win AND no knee/hip pain! Super fast time as well!

Thanks for the tip on maltodextrin. I'm going to pick some up and try it on my next long ride hopefully.

Anonymous said...

Way to go, Mike! Strategy and strength and endurance = an overall male. LOL