14 September 2014

Kokopelli Duathlon

Yesterday, I raced BBSC's Kokopelli Duathlon at Sand Hollow State Park in Utah.  It was held concurrently with the Kokopelli Triathlon which had Sprint (my wife competed in this and once again crushed the competition) and Olympic distance events.  There was also an associated 5K and youth triathlon.

Sarah has been planning for this triathlon since last fall but the duathlon was a pretty short notice race for me.  We had a friend who was scheduled to race it become unable to attend due to a car running into him while he was on a training ride a few weeks ago.  He will mend but will miss the fall season of triathlons. Last weekend, we transferred his registration to me, paid the additional fees and suddenly I was competing in my first duathlon.

Before we get to the race, there were some events this week that made the race a little hectic.  I-15 is the main route from Las Vegas to St George.  Early this week, we got a lot of rain and the resulting flooding was so bad that it completely took out a southbound section of the highway.  I-15 was closed for several days and the alternate route added hours to the drive.  As luck would have it, the highway opened up with one lane in each direction on Friday evening after we made it to the Utah border.

Once we got to St George, packet pickup went smooth.  BBSC held it at a fairground in Hurricane, UT.  We picked up our packets which had our race numbers (one for the bib and one for the bike) in it, got our anklets for electronic timing, got our shirts (like the design but wish they were tech shirts and not black) and got our body markings (race number on our upper arms and right hand and our race category and age group on our calf).  We also paid for our admission to the park and got our day pass. After that, we checked into the hotel, dropped our stuff off and went out for a quick dinner.  Once we got back to the hotel, we got our race gear ready and went to bed.

Race day started with a quick breakfast in the hotel at 0545.  After that, we loaded up our bikes and transition bags and drove a few miles up the road to the park.  As we pulled into the parking lot, we realized that we left our water bottles in the hotel fridge.  Luckily, my oldest son had one in his lunch bag from the previous day and we were able to borrow another one from a friend who was up there for the triathlon.  We unloaded our gear and headed into the transition area where I was able to snag the end spot on my assigned row.  I racked my bike and checked which gear it was in.  After that, I laid out my helmet, bike shoes, run shoes, visor and socks and dropped a pack of Cliff Shot Bloks into my jersey pocket.  After that, we cheered on some of the kids from the Las Vegas Triathlon club who were in the youth race and at 0800, I came back to the transition area, switched into my racing flats and headed down to the water to see Sarah start her Sprint. After she started her swim, I headed up to the duathlon start line to get ready for my race.

My race was scheduled to start at 0830 so about 10 minutes before the start, I popped in two Shot Blocks and washed them down with some water.  A few minutes before the start time, the race directors gave the duathletes and 5K runners some quick course and safety instructions.  After a short countdown, we were off.

The race stared with several hundred meters down a hill.  At the bottom was a sharp lefthand curve followed by a small roller.  After that, we began a gradual uphill that topped out just after the one mile mark.  Along the way, we passed the run aid station which was approximately at the one mile mark but I didn't pay much attention to it besides noting that there were a decent number of teenagers handing out cups of water and Gatorade. At the top of the hill, the course followed the road on a slight downhill to the turnaround and we were treated to a nice view of the Sand Hollow Reservoir. Once we reached the turnaround, the run course retraced its steps back to the transition area. My first 5K was a solid but not spectacular 27:41.

Transition #1 went smooth.  As I ran up the final hill and into the chute to the transition area, I was mentally rehearsing what to do.  Once I crossed the mat at the entrance, I continued to run to my bike which was at the first rack and pulled my Headsweats visor off on the way. Once I reached my bike, I dropped my visor, put my helmet on, pulled my shoes off (my new Lock Laces made this really easy), slipped my cycling shoes on and strapped down the velcro, grabbed my bike and shuffled out of the transition area and shuffled out to the mount line in under 1:30.  That's not too shabby for my first real transition.

As I hopped on my bike, I initially had an issue clicking my shoes into my pedal and wasted some precious time getting that accomplished.  Once it was in, I quickly headed down the hill to the first turn.  The bike course was on a different road than the run and took us outside of the park for a 12.4  mile out and back ride that was the same as the course for the Sprint triathlon. After reaching the bottom of the hill and going past the park entrance, the course took a sharp left hand turn and began a small climb for the next mile which topped out at the 1.5 mile mark. After that, the next 1.5 miles had some very small ups and down which were great for powering through in an aero position. At the 3.1 mile mark, the course became tough as we climbed 352 feet and topped out at the 4.5 mile mark. I pedaled past a lot of people who were off their bikes and pushing on the steepest section (a 6% grade that covered a little under one mile of the climb).  Once we crested the top, we had a short fast down hill followed by a roller as we went to the turnaround. Shortly after the turnaround, there was an aid station handing out water and Gatorade bottles. Once I got back to the top of the hill, I picked up enough speed in my tucked aero position that I was getting a little nervous about the speed (I wish I had my phone with the app turned on so I knew my speed on the hill) and made certain to brake a bit to cross the boards covering the cattle grate (definitely not an issue on the way up). As I pulled back to the mount /dismount line, I unclipped my feet, hopped off the bike, and began to run my bike into the transition area.  My first few steps were pretty rough as my legs, especially my hamstrings, made the transition from cycling to running. My time was 50:35 but no complaints given that hill.

Transition #2 was a little rougher than the first one.  I racked my bike, set down my helmet, slipped on my visor, quickly stripped my cycling shoes off and attempted to put on my racing flats while standing.  It didn't work.  I needed two hands to do this and couldn't keep standing with one hand on the rack to support me.  After hopping for a few seconds, I sat down and put them on. Once that was done, I shuffled out of the transition area pulling two more Shot Bloks out of my pocket and grabbing a water from the aid station as I went.  My time for this one was 1:44 but I learned a valuable lesson concerning my shoes.

on the podium
To start the second run, I walked the first 15-20 meters of the transition chute so I could get water into me.  After that, I was off to complete the second run which was a repeat of the first course. My second 5K came in at a tired 30:25.

After running across the finish line, I was handed my finishers medal and a volunteer removed my timing chip from my ankle.  Once that was done, I grabbed a banana and a couple of water bottles from the volunteers and exited the tent to look for my wife.  We quickly met up and she caught me up on how her race went while we waited for the awards ceremony.  She had a ridiculously fast swim and when we looked at the final results, realized that she had the fifth fastest swim out of 126 female finishers.  She combined that with a great bike and a solid run and finished 22nd overall and first out of four in her division. I finished in 1:51:49 and finished eight of 21 overall and two of four in my age division, 32 seconds behind the number one guy in it.

After we got our plaques, we loaded up the car with our gear, the kids and the dog and headed back to the hotel for some quick showers and a final load of the car.  After that, it was off to Chik-fil-A for a treat that we can't get in Vegas and then it was time for the drive home.

The duathlon was fun and I am sure I will do a few next year.  I need to work more on the bike as opposed to it currently being a crosstraining workout and pick up a little speed in the shorter runs as opposed to training specifically for the longer races I am focusing on this year.

Next up is the LVTC Forest challenge which is next Saturday and is an 11+ mile trail run with elevations in the 8600-9400 feet range.

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