First, I want to thank everyone who puts on this race. Despite the fact that the weather never really fully cooperates, the race is a a nice, low-key way to start the season, and it's low-key because of all the all the people who do the hard work and make it possible for the rest of us to just show up and race.
The beginning of a duathlon, especially the season-opener, is a tough thing for me. The same thing happens every time and I swear it seems worse each race, but of course, that's my imagination. The start of a duathlon is about patience. If the beginning of the first run doesn't almost feel too easy, you might just be going too hard. But there seems to be a swarm at the start of the races now. Reflecting on this today, I've come to the conclusion that I'm not only getting older, I am actually, finally, getting smarter.
That's right, the fact that I'm not sitting off the heels of the faster runners in the pack until my ears start to ring is a good thing. But having fourteen or fifteen guys around you at the start of the race kind of gives me that same feeling I get at the start of a triathlon swim. I like then open water, and I like running in small groups. John Hirsch - read his great blog at: http://johnhirsch.org/ - brought some real talent to the race- he's a pro himself. Dom Gillen, an Xterra pro, was off the front with a guy in my age group blistering the rest of us , then there was John and one other runner, and me. Just like that it seemed, as we headed into the trees, the race started to shake out, the swarm was gone, and I could relax, almost even enjoy myself.
Although by a mile or so I was running really- really hard. After all, it's two miles. You can't take it easy, but you also are going hard at 90-95% and that feels hard, but in a good way. You could run harder- it's not that burning 5K pace that leaves you entirely depleted.
I came into transition in the 5 spot, which I'm usually satisfied with if I'm shooting for top three, which I was. I was hoping to hang with John.
The bike is an odd mix- sand out to Meigs Point, nice hard road to the back section, then mostly grass, a short wood, and more sand. Then you do it again and it really gets interesting because you're mixed in with first-loop riders. As John wrote his blog, we traded position in a futile chase of Dom. John is both strong and well-rounded and he's more patient than I am- I knew I had to bear down out on the bike. It was great having someone that good to feed off the effort of, and the two loops went by a lot more quickly than I expected they would. I hardly noticed the wind or the cold. We stormed back into transition with a decent lead over the fourth-place guy, who was nevertheless moving up through the field and having a great bike.
John and I were shoulder to shoulder for the first mile, but then I got to watch a natural athlete open a gap. I kept pushing, but John ran an awesome last mile, never let up, and was there in the chute to say a bunch of nice stuff to me I probably didn't deserve.
It's always a great day when you race, and this is a race I really love...