Saturday we had a duathlon in Sartell, the Apple Duathlon (5K run, 33K bike, 5K run).
I'd never done a duathlon before and was slightly dreading having to start a race running instead of swimming but it turned out to be pretty fun. (Fun like, "In seven minutes, this will be all over and then you can drink a gallon of water and collapse on the hood of the Civic.")
This race was a World Duathlon Championships qualifying race, so there were a ton of out-of-state competitors who'd flown in to compete. This resulted in an incredibly deep field, much tougher than normal. However, most people there weren't actually trying to qualify for this world championship, myself included.
That said, I feel quite proud to have placed 5th in my age group and 38th overall. Seriously, like half of the 37 women ahead of me were from other states! And I'm pretty sure you don't travel to a different state for a duathlon unless you plan to throw it down.
One of the trickiest parts of the race was avoiding drafting and blocking on the bike. Drafting is riding closer than two bike lengths to the person in front of you. Blocking is essentially what can happen when you're trying not to draft--if you're riding the same speed as someone else but are trying not to draft by riding a few body lengths to the left...and so potentially blocking people that are coming from behind from passing.
Because the first run doesn't quite fan out people like a swim does in a tri, bikers of similar speeds can get bunched up on the course and have to play cat-and-mouse with each other (passing, then being passed, passing, etc.) to avoid drafting. This was the case for me--but no penalties received! Because I'm SO conscientious like that.
Both runs were the same loop and I felt GREAT coming off the bike, springy even, which is rare. I'd like to think it's because I "played the bike smart." Unfortunately Mile 3 of Run #2 was where I slowed down, which I attribute to post-Colorado training camp fatigue. I was on pace to match Run #1, but the 3rd mile must have been about 30 seconds slower! Ugh. It's hard to describe or rationalize. Next time I just need to dig a bit deeper and hang even tougher. Lesson learned!
Micah also did well (5th in his age group), so we're 2-for-2 on matching age group placings! Maybe we can match the Guinness Book of World Records if we keep it up all season.