Saturday, June 19, 2010

Chicopee Woods Duathlon

Today was the final race in the Dirty Spokes Duathlon Series. The venue was Chicopee Woods, a place I used to frequent in my college days, but hadn’t been there since probably 5 years ago. We were warned that the run course was tough – and it was – but in a good way. It was nearly all singletrack (=SHADE) and was technical enough to slow down the fast guys who mainly run on the road.

The start horn sounded and I had a good position going into the singletrack on the first run. I was working hard, but feeling pretty good and moving well. I focused on using good technique and not crossing my arms in front of my body and it seemed to help make me more efficient...and we love efficiency. There were a good number of short steep sections but I was handling them well and holding my position. I was shocked when it wasn’t until maybe ¾ of the way through the course that Johnny passed me. He usually passes me after about 400 meters once I realize my legs and lungs can’t keep up with the pace I’m trying to maintain. I was having a good run and seemed to finish in the best overall position coming off this run than any of the other races.

Once I hopped on my bike, I started to pay the price for my great run. My legs weren’t feeling snappy and I had to work a good bit harder than I wanted to. I had decided to run my geared bike on this course, thinking I’d be faster, but I’m not so sure. I knew overall I’d suffer more with gears, but I was hoping to gain a lot more speed out of it. My puny 26er tires just didn’t roll like my Niner, and despite having 27 different gear combos, I think I was actually slower. Damn gears…hmph!! On a freaking uphill of all places, I clipped my pedal on something sticking up, which landed me with a stem and handlebar in the gut…ugh… My next mishap was when I hit the big creek before the gravel road climb. I had been told to go right and ride through the creek. I did that but managed to hit a submerged rock and get hurled into the rhodo bushes on the shore. So then I was off my bike running up the short rocky climb and my sweaty, slippery fingers slide and get stuck between my saddle and its rails. Can you say OOUUUUUCH! I was relieved when I hit the gravel climb, because that was the one place where I felt like I was moving well and it meant we were almost done. I think I maintained my overall position on the bike…getting passed early by a couple of guys on relay teams (but they didn’t run so really they don’t count, right??) but then passing a couple towards the end of the lap. The bike course wasn’t terribly great for me, just because it was so fast and the technical sections were few and far between.

I was actually looking forward to the second run, since the first went pretty well. It started off good but soon I was finding that I didn’t have a lot of horsepower to actually run hard up the steep sections. It was getting hot and I had to resort to a slow jog anytime the grade got steep. By the end I was just dripping with sweat and looking forward to being done. A guy I had passed on the bike ran past me in the final quarter mile, but I really didn’t feel like challenging him and ran in right behind. Yay, finished, now get me some damn Gatorade before I pass out!

This race SEEMED tougher than the others, but it may have been the added heat and humidity. I felt like I had the best race at Tribble Mill, but maybe that was just because it was the first one and I was in better shape at that time than a lot of the fast guys. The next woman was almost 20 minutes back, so this was my biggest victory margin, 2/3 of which was made up of time I gained on the run…crazy, huh? I think if I do these next year, I should probably race in the men’s age group, but it’s kind of nice getting tires and sunglasses at every race, because I tend to scratch them up or lose them.

Next up is Raccoon Mountain XC. I need to decide…gears or no gears. If I ride the SS, I’m sure my start position will suck, and it will likely be a decent sized field since it is such a fun course. After today, I’m leaning towards no gears, but I’ll have to do a couple more rides on the 26er, without running beforehand, and give her a fair chance to redeem herself.

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