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 Long Branch (NJ) Duathlon report
mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Long Branch (NJ) Duathlon report Posted: Wed May 17, 2006 11:35 am 

This isn't actually a real race, more of a practice duathlon. But I haven't done any race reports in a while so I thought I'd share my experience. I've done seveeral triathlons but this was my first duathlon.

The Long Branch Duathlon is a 2 mile Run, 9.5 mile Bike, 2 mile Run; basically a sprint race. It's put on by the Sandy Hookers Triathlon Club, of which I am a member. Though this isn't an actual race it's conducted much like a race (though no bib numbers) with course markings, marshals, transition area, and post race food. The bike course is open to traffic with a few police at critical intersections to help control traffic. Otherwise you have to obey all other traffic laws (stop at stop signs, etc.). You have to keep your own split times and report them after the race to be posted on the event web site. So it's a very low key event with more of a social atmosphere than a competative one.

I had volunteered to put out the signs marking the bike course. This required about an hour of time before the race and gave me a good chance to really get to know the bike course. The race was schedule to start at 6:45am (great time to avoid traffic on the bike course). Since I live an hour away from the race it meant I had to leave the house at 4am so I could get started setting out the signs by 5am and be back to setup my transition area by 6:15am and then have 30 minutes to get myself ready.

The Run start is along the board walk at Pier Village in Long Branch, NJ. It's a mile out and back in one direction and then a mile out and back in the opposite direction, so you return back to the starting point at the transition area. Being right at the shore along the Atlantic Ocean the temperature was a bit nippy. There was a good stiff breeze coming off the ocean. Though much of the bike course was inland away from the shore, I knew I'd be sweating after the first run and that would cause me to be that much colder on the bike course. I was prepared to run in my tri-shorts and short sleeve bike jersey but decided to keep my warmup tights and pull-over on and remove them in transition if I needed to.

The race director was expecting about 100 participants but I think we ended up with about 70. Registration for this event was $12 and I think a lot of people felt extra sleep that day was worth much more than the $12 they paid for the duathlon.

So the race director gave a quick talk about the course and important notes before the start and then did a count down and we were off. I ended up standing near the front pack as the this first run started and so needless to say I went out a little faster than I should have. The segment out to the first turn-around was against the wind. As I hit about the half mile point my legs felt great but suddenly my breathing became very labored. I looked down at my Garmin 205 and it said I was doing a 6:53 pace. Normally this would be okay for me on a 2 mile run, but I quickly realized that I was running into the wind and thus epending much more energy then I should be and I still had a bike and another run leg to go. So I decided to pull back a little until my breathing was a bit more tolerable. I think two or three people passed me in this early part of the race. As came around the first turn-around and the wind was now at my back I felt like someone was pushing me from behind. I felt like a new person. My legs felt great and I was breathing much easier by now. At this point my Garmin said I was doing a 7:03 pace. There was a guy a short distance in front of me who has passed me ealier. I thought about passing him but decided to just run a short distance behind him and monitor my pace as we ran towards the other end of the boardwalk. Just before I hit the next turn around (1.5 mile mark) my Garmin indicated I was running a 6:55 pace. My legs and breathing still felt great. But as I turned back into the wind I felt myself slow a bit. I tried to lean forward a bit and keep my stride short and quick. This definitely helped to maintain my pace. I managed to pass the guy in front of me shortly after the turn-around. I came into the transition area with a 14:07 split.

I slipped on my sun glasses and bike helmet, removed my running shoes, slipped on my bike shoes, and strapped the velcro closures. I grabbed a couple swigs of energy drink from my bike bottle, and then grabbed my bike off the rack and ran it to the mount line. The first transition was a total of about 55 seconds. Wow, that was great. I'm used to having to remove a wet suit, dry and clean the sand off my feet, and put on socks (a 2-3 minute transition)

I had a little trouble clipping into my pedals but was soon heading out onto the bike course. The course was pretty flat but with a fair number of turns. I'm not used to pedaling through turns so I had to slow my pace at each turn. I had trouble producing leg power and averaged only about 18 mph over the entire course, with a max speed of 23 mph. Though the course was pretty flat, I found myself shifting up and down a gear or two on the straights more than I would have expected. My bike computer also tracks cadence and so I focused on keeping my cadence in the 80-90 rpm range rather than trying to chase any particular speed. I had two people pass me in the second half of the bike course, so I guess I was doing well enough. Except one of the people who passed me was a guy who looked about 70 years, riding a very aerodynamic tri-bike. The last 2-3 miles of the bike course was along the shore and into the wind. If I hadn't been so familiar with the bike course I think I would have been very frustrated at that point. As I came into the second transition my bike computer registered a time of a little more than 31 minutes.

I dismounted my bike and ran it over to the bike rack, racked it, took off my helmet and sun glasses, removed my bike shoes, and started putting on my running shoes. It was at this point when I was reminded that I forgot to swap out the standard laces in my shoes for the elastic laces (Yankz). The running shoes I wore in my last triathlon had elastic laces, and I never changed out the one's in theses shoes. So instead of being able to quickly slip on my shoes and go, I had to loosen them, tighten them, tie them, and then double knot them. And I fumbled the laces a few times too. I also decided to remove my pull-over since I was feeling a little over-heated. I took a couple sips from my bike bottle and headed out of the transition area. T2 time was 1:30.

I left the transition area expecting my legs to be heavy as rocks. My hips felt tight but everything else felt better than expected. From practice I know that it takes about a half mile or more of running before my legs will start to feel normal (like running legs) again. I was now back on the boardwalk running into the wind again. I knew there was no point in trying to push the pace until I got to the first turn-around. As expected, after about the half mile mark my legs started feeling good again. After hitting the turn-around I looked at my Garmin and it indicated my pace was 7:08. And once again, with the wind at my back I felt fresh again. The older guy who had passed me on the bike course was about 50 feet in front of me now. I decided now was the time to push a little. I passed him at about the mile mark. I was now starting to see the front runners coming back towards me as they headed to the finish. I started counting them and determined I was in 15th place. I made the turn-around and saw that the next person behind me was a good ways back and all I had to do was keep my pace and I wouldn't have to worry about being passed before the finish. I was heading back into the wind again but my legs still felt pretty good. My breathing was very labored and my stomach was starting to feel a little upset. I though that maybe I might end up throwing-up before I got to the finish if it continued to get worst. But it didn't and I managed to cross the finish line with a final run split of 13:50. I actually did better on my second run than my first. My unoffcial finishing time was 1:01:42.

It's hard to judge how I did since this is my first time doing a duathlon. I felt my run pace was okay, but that my bike speed was miserable. I've been playing a little with my saddle height and had it dropped down a little lower than normal. I'm thinking that this lower position reduced my leg power. I really thought I should have been able to maintain a 20 mph average speed on a course this flat. Over all it was a great workout and gave me much needed practice time.

My A race coming up is the New Jersey State Triathlon (Olympic distance) on July 23.. I hope to get atleast one sprint distance triathlon under my belt befor then.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Long Branch (NJ) Duathlon report Posted: Wed May 17, 2006 9:10 pm 

Wow, great report on the duathlon, and congratulations on the race! Doing a "practice" race sounds like a great way to get more comfortable with the sport. And way to finish strong, even with the stomach issues! Coming in with a 2nd run split faster than the first has got to feel good.

Do you think the change in your bike's saddle height could have really thrown you off so much on the bike? I don't know much about biking. I could imagine it would make a noticeable difference, but not a huge one. What kind of average speed were you hoping to maintain on the bike segment?

Good luck in your July race. How far is an Olympic distance tri?


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Long Branch (NJ) Duathlon report Posted: Wed May 17, 2006 9:42 pm 

Rickshaw wrote:
Do you think the change in your bike's saddle height could have really thrown you off so much on the bike? I don't know much about biking. I could imagine it would make a noticeable difference, but not a huge one. What kind of average speed were you hoping to maintain on the bike segment?


Well, I'm not an expert on biking. I'm still pretty new but I'm learning quickly. Yes, from what i've gathered, slight changes in how you come in "contact" with your bike can have significant impact on either your comfort or performance. You'll find that many things on newer (especial high performance) bikes are measured in centimeters and milimeters. That's because slight changes have an effect

Adjusting my seat causes my knee to move forward or back in relationship to the ball of my foot as it sits on the pedal (clipped in) with the crank arm (attached to pedal) at the 3:00 position (parallel to the ground). Standard bike fit calls for the bony protrusion just below the kee cap (don't recall what that bone is called) to be directly above pedal spindle. If your bike shoes/cleats are adjusted properly, the ball of your foot is then position directly above the spindle (or upto 1 centtimer forward). Bike fitters use a plumb bob (the same thing carpenters use) to get this part of the fit measured right. It's common to spend 2-3 hours with a good bike fitter being fitted for a triathlon (or Time Trial) bike.

I've ajusted the seat but haven't had a chance to take it back out for a test ride. Instead, I took my old steel Trek 330 out on Tuesday (my race bike is a Felt F80) and did a 10 mile ride at a tempo pace (18 mph pace) and then immediately did a 10K run. I was extremely pleased to find that I was able to complete the run with an average pace of 7:24. My first mile was a 7:39 and my last mile was a 7:04. It was a nice progressive run. What really made this workout so great was that I felt very strong during the entire run. I felt I could have done a couple more miles.

Every time I've done a Brick workout (bike ride followed by a run) or done a triathlon I've always been surprised with how fast my run time is. Though my legs feel heavy coming off the bike my legs are used to the quick cadence from the bike ride and I'm able to get into a quick running cadence and keep it there. It reinforces the idea that doing a good 10-15 minute warmup with some surges before a race can really help get your body ready to rock and roll from the start. So, I'm going to try to get back in the habit of doing more of a running warmup before my each road race.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Long Branch (NJ) Duathlon report Posted: Thu May 18, 2006 12:59 pm 

Your seat position explanation does make some sense. Certainly there's a lot more setup and adjustment necessary to get your best performance out of a bike, as compared to running where there's not much in the way of equipment or technique.

Anyway, if you're feeling discouraged about the bike portion, it still sounds pretty darn impressive to me. 19mph average is a good bit speedier than I managed on my one and only bike race. My biggest problem is that I seem to get flats nearly every single time I ride. I think I'm installing the tires wrong or something.

Good point about the value of a warm-up. What kind of warm-up do you normally do before a (running) race? I do anything from zero to maybe 3 miles, usually with a few strides thrown in. I'm always worried I'll tire myself out too much with the warm-up, though.


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Long Branch (NJ) Duathlon report Posted: Thu May 18, 2006 1:58 pm 

My pre-race warm-up is very inconsistent. The longer the race the less of a warm-up I do...when I do it. My problem is that I tend to get carried away with the crowd excitement and enjoy people watching so much that to take time to warm up is a distraction. And usually I'm not running for a PR but rather as a tempo workout or something.

But when I am interested in a PR I take the race a more serious and will do a mile or two at a comfortable pace, with a half dozen or so strides thrown in. I also focus on doing some deep breathing to get my lungs warmed-up to. I really think it helps during the early stages of a fast race


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