April 7 was the MaxTrax Duathlon and with all my good intentions to blog about it aside, life just got in the way. More specifically, a trip for business to a conference in Phoenix, AZ kind of had me scrambling to get some domestic stuff done and get caught up on the work I wouldn’t be doing for 4 days… The good news is that I went to this conference as an attendee so I had no pressure except to learn as much as possible. That was a nice change. The hotel was supposed to have a nice pool and gym so the other pressure was to bring enough workout stuff with me and not to forget my goggles!
In a quick summary of the week, I got one swim in. The pool, although gorgeous and plenty long (33 yards) had some problems. First, it was only 3 feet deep at the ends so I was knuckle dragging a lot and skinned my hands up a bit. The other problem was there was no lane line and the pool bottom was very hard to read so I crashed into the wall several times before I finally just gave up and watched the sunrise from the pool. I got one ride in on a stationary and went for a 5.5 mile run through the downtown and Encanto neighborhoods. The route was provided by the hotel and was really nice (except for one sketchy road crossing) and went through some beautiful neighborhoods. If I had to give myself a grade on exercise for this trip I would say a C. I could have done more, I just didn’t. Don’t ask about the eating though… D-… Only because I had yogurt for breakfast… It was ugly… but sooo good…
OK. Nutritional failings aside… MaxTrax.
I use this race as the official kickoff to my season every year. It is 2 miles from my house, reasonably well attended, well run and just plain fun to do. I always do the short course, for no other reason than I like to start small. This race is more about transitions and running on tired legs.
The bike course is 7.5 miles through rural roads with one big hill, right at the end. It is all big gear and even the big hill can just be charged up and is over before you know it. My goal for this ride was to average 20+ mph. This ride is basically a dead sprint the whole way.
The run is a 1.5 mile loop through a neighborhood. It is basically downhill for the first half and then back up for the second half. Just plain mean if you ask me, but still a fun challenge. My goal here was to be within 40 seconds from my first and second runs. Had no time goal so I just decided to push a little on the first run and then see what happened.
Conditions in the morning were a bit chilly. It was sunny but breezy and the temps were around 45-50 degrees. There were clouds to our southwest that kept getting thicker and darker so there was a little urgency to get going, but it held off (until the awards ceremony). The nervous energy and camaraderie are always fun to feel again after a winter layoff and it was good to see everyone again. Also looking at the bike porn is always fun. Santa was very kind to some people… :)
The long course racers went off first and then we lined up. At go, I settled in and tried to reign in the horses. I wanted to go really fast but knew better. The course is supposed to stay on sidewalks, but that is kind of impossible and I was a law breaker and ran on the road. I’m safe enough and I know the course well enough not to get into too much trouble. It’s safer than dodging dogs, kids, trashcans and people backing out of their garages. I hit a pace on the downhill section that felt good and I noticed that even though I was running faster I wasn’t breathing hard. I hit the uphill hard and came into transition at a 7:06 average for the first leg. Nice!
Transition felt a little clunky. I decided last year to give up on the whole clip your shoes in and run barefoot thing. I don’t do enough triathlons or practice to make getting into my shoes on the bike anything but hazardous to me and everyone around me so screw it. I’ll just try to get a spot close to bike out if I can and just run in my bike shoes. I still get out of them and leave them on the bike for the bike/run transition, but that is easier and safer to do. The clunkiness came in just being smooth and getting everything on in the right order. I was still out in under 45 seconds but it could have been better.
The bike is just feeling fantastic right now. I feel strong and smooth and comfortable. Hills don’t intimidate me any more and, in fact, I want to attack them. I have a lot more power than I had last year and it shows on the hills. Once I settled in I just locked into my aero position and never came out until the last uphill sprint to the transition. My average was 20.5mph which is exactly what I wanted (plus a little). I felt like I could have maintained that pace for days.
The second transition was no better than the first. I almost took off with my helmet on and my shoes didn’t want to go back on so I stumbled around a bit but I still got out pretty quick I’m guessing (didn’t get the numbers) it was about 30 seconds.
The second run had the predictable heavy legs but I just tried to ignore it and it shook out pretty fast. I find that keeping my cadence up really helps shake it out pretty fast. Here is where I made my only mistake of the day. I held back a bit going down the hill. I was worried I would blow up on the last uphill if I didn’t save some gas. This is an old habit from being afraid of hills and it cost me. I pounded the uphill on the last leg and charged the finish but the damage had been done. I was about 50 seconds slower on my second leg and I shouldn’t have been. I could have gone faster and I knew it.
In all I had a very good race. I finished 5th overall and first in my age group. Even with that extra 50 seconds it would have been a dead sprint between me and number 4 and there was 30 seconds in front of that to a podium finish. That wasn’t the point anyway. I met all but one of my goals for the race and had a great time. I’m fired up for the rest of the season and really confident in my ability to stretch my distances. I rode 55 miles the next day at about 18 mph and had enough gas to run 2 miles at an 8 minute pace afterwards.
Now it’s time to focus on TriZou. I have 3 weeks to basically work on speed and hills. The bike course for this race has two decent hills in it and you have to do them twice so the more hill work I can get, the better. I also sense some track nights in my future. I need to start getting a feel for where redline is since it seems to be slightly higher that it used to be :)