Sunday, October 15, 2006

Yee-Haw! Time to learn to run fast!

Alright - so I did just (minutes ago) publish a post about Fall Classic, and since I pretty much post sporadically outside of race reports, something must really be on my mind, right? Yes! I am ABSOLUTELY EXCITED because tomorrow, I start on the path to becoming a faster runner! I'm just about giddy since I think I can do so much better on the run...

We're starting our run focus block of training tomorrow with the help of a lot of thoughtfully researched information and advice from books and people we respect. We're going to be extremely careful about staying injury-free. Easy runs will be amazingly easy, and hard runs will be hard, as dictated by specific pace or heartrate targets. We'll still ride and swim, but not in the same proportion as we did all of our training during the race season.

Alright, cheetah, show me your secrets...

Race Report: Fall Classic Duathlon

Finally...the last race of the season (it's been a great season, don't get me wrong, but I'm ready for off-season training). This duathlon is a pretty short sprint 2 mile run - 14 mile bike - 2 mile run. Interestingly, it is the Oklahoma State Championship, and a "big" points race for the region (our region does regional rankings). The race is put on by our triathlon club and takes place up at Lake Overholser, where the bike club we race with (OKC-Velo) puts on several time-trials. The bike course is generally fast and very flat. The run course is a one mile out and back on a generally flat course. It's potentially a course where you can go sub-one-hour (or at least the fast folks can).

We woke up to a downpour outside with a ~15-knot breeze (gusts to ~20). It's been months since we've seen that much rain. And, the temperature was a balmy 59 degrees...just as I was thinking I was getting used to warm weather! 168 people showed up to do the race, including a large contingent from the Oklahoma Heart Hospital (, who I think supported the race to encourage healthy activities and keeping fit. I thought that was awesome. We got to the race site and were happy to see that it was raining much less than at our house (about 30 miles away), although the rain seemed to build in intensity as the start approached! The race started anyway, and we all took off for the first 2-mile run. It was entertaining to see the throngs that take off at 50m-dash speed and then slow wayyyyy down 1/2 mile into the run. I did the first run pretty comfortably, with no complaints from my hamstring. I almost broke my ankle, though, as I stepped (stupidly...wasn't paying as close attention as I should have) into a pothole filled with water. Luckily, I wasn't hurt, but I heard my friend, Kris, behind me ask if I was alright. I would not have been happy if I'd screwed my ankle up. I ended up running the last half or so of the first run with a small group that included Kris, and Rob Bell (one of the Tri-OKC guys). Time-13:15.

I've improved leaps and bounds on the bike this year, so I always REALLY look forward to getting on the bike. I had a decent bike leg, passing a lot of faster runners, and only getting passed by a few guys, including Mr. TT himself, Steve Schlegel and also Rob Bell, who I went back and forth with (legally) a few times, before he finally passed me in the last 1/2 mile or so. The wind was not terribly fun - it was gusty in areas, and we had headwinds both out and back because the course curved around a lake. Standing water was a concern in several areas, but there seemed to be safe pavement to negotiate around the water. A pretty good bike ride, considering the conditions. My average was only 21.9, but the wind and weather really dictated the ride for me. Justin, of course, still managed over 24mph...I need to keep working on my power, I guess. Time-37:49.

Going into the second run, I knew I was doing pretty well on the rest of the women's field (maybe it would be best not to know this?), although I did want to catch Rob Bell, from the club. I'd seen plenty of his backside at various parts of the race since we'd trade off, and I thought it would be nice to just get around him and leave him behind me! Not to be - he had a fantastic race. We ran together for a while, actually, and then something lit a fire under his ass, and he took off. He actually posted on our triathlon message board about the race (and it cracked me up because he's selling himself short!). I'll copy and paste it after my report since it is pretty entertaining. My second run was disappointing - I should have pushed a lot harder. Time-14:28. I ended up as the first female overall, and I guess I am the female OK State Champion for Duathlon. A fun race, despite the weather and my slower second run (I really should have kept the two runs closer to each other in time...).

Here's Rob's post:

Two Reviews here....I'll start with the wheel cover and then give a little race report from my experience today at fall classic.

I probably should lie to you all about this so you won't kick my butt next season more than you already do, but that $75 disc cover from is amazing. I was a bit skeptical at first. I was thinking "well if this cover is so good why doesn't everyone have one since it's only $75?" Now that I own one i have to ask why not every triathlete owns one. Putting it on was simple. cut the disc perfectly for the wheel i put it on. I'd say instalation time was about 15 minutes and you need about $20 worth of tools to do it. Those tools (a chain whip, cassette tool, and 1" socket or wrench) were only used to get the cassette on and off. The only other tool needed was a screw driver. In my not-so-scientific test around lake hefner I added 1.5mph onto my average. I was using the same cassette and same tire on two days in the same week with comparible wind. The wheel with the cover is a 32 spoke mavic open pro (cheap wheel) vs a 36 spoke campy wheel with no cover. I let John Crawford try it on his bike and he saw 1mph into the wind compaired to his ksyrium sl wheel. He didn't know how much faster he was going with a tail wind, but he said he was doing 30+ and his heart rate was still low. He said keeping a 30mph pace never felt so easy. The best part is, it's free speed. Both of us agreed that the bike didn't feel any different at all. I wasn't any more or less tired, just faster. When you figure 1.5 mph over a 5-6 hour ride like an ironman, thats a 30 minute difference. So figuring in that 30 minutes for my redman time, i only have to get about 3.5 hours faster at redman to be close to Justin Wolf next year :)

It makes me a little skeptical (and very curious) about MIT's reports on how much better an aero helmet is than any wheel upgrade. Were they compairing something like hed to zipp wheels???? I could see if you are already on a $1000+ wheelset then a aero helmet might make a better deal than a set of zipps. But for us budget racers on a $300 wheelset, I can't imagine anything other than aero bars giving you that kind of free speed. If an aero helmet can match that 1.5mph, I might be willing to invest in one for next season :)

Transitioning into my review of fall classic, I'll mention that in a strong cross-wind like we had today, I could feel the wind pushing on me a little more than normal, but it wasn't bad at all. It was never to the point where I felt unstable or anything, just a bit noticeable.

All the tri club members looked great at fall classic today. As you know, I'm new this year to the sport and I don't know a lot of the tri-okc veteran racers very well. At every event I go to I'm able to put at least one more name to a face. IT's so cool seeing people at easlier events this year and then seeing how far along they've come in such a short amount of time. Sharon Barrows is one that comes to mind. She looked great out there today! Jon T. also looked real strong at his first duathlon. It seemed like he had a really good time and hopefully he got bit by the same bug I got bit by at lazy E this year. This is such an easy sport to get addicted to...especially with a club as supportive as this one. I hope Jon skipped over my review of the wheel cover. He's my age and I don't want that extra competition for next year :)

On the starting line i really didn't have any plans or any goals. My age group was bigger at this event than any other event I've done in Oklahoma this year. In the past I've ben able to place just be finishing the race. Today, with 11 people signed up for the 20-24 division, I had a lot more pressure. I read the post a few days ago about the top 10 people probably finishing under 1:00. I crunched some numbers and realized I didn't have a chance. I figured 1:10 would be a better goal but I would try and do whatever I could.

The gun went off and a lot of people took off very strong. I forgot my watch to i wouldn't know my splits so i figured I'd just go by the way I felt. I felt good today so I tried to stay a little closer to the front than i normally would. After a half mile or so Chris Wolf passed by me. I was really amazed that I was even in front of her for a half mile because she's such an amazing athlete. I could still see Justin so i figured maybe they just had a strategy to take the first run real easy and then blow past everyone on the bike. I saw him start passing closer to the front and knew he'd be out of site soon....and he was. When I was almost back to transition i realized Chris was still really close to me. Right before the end of the run I figured this might be my only time to ever have a faster split than her so i passed her and figured it would be the last time i saw her until the finish line.

She was out of T1 before me but still in sight. I feel like the bike is my strongest leg of a du or tri but I realized that earlier in the season I would always push too hard on the bike and it would kill me for the last run. It happened at draper and I didn't want it to happen again. I decided to hang out a ways behind Chris and just try and keep pace with her. When we were coming close to the turnaround I thought to myself "screw this race...I want to be able to say I was ahead of an athlete like Chris at the halfway point of the race." Again, it might be the only time it ever happens and even if she was feeling a little off today, I'd take it. After the turn I was still ahead of her for a little while...and then she went screaming past me. Again, as a newb I don't know a ton about pacing myself so I was probably going a little too slow with the tailwind. With the speed she had passing me i figured she was sandbagging the first half of the race and now it was time to turn it on. I sped it up a little again and was able to match her speed speed again. With about 2 miles to go I decided again that I didn't really care about this race and I wanted to try and have a faster bike split than Chris. I made a pass and rode pretty hard all the way back to transition. At this point my legs started to hurt, but I didn't care. For most of the ride i was more worried about staying close to her than anyone else. I guess while i was watching her I was also able to pass a lot of people, because when I got into transition I didn't see very many bikes at all.

I'm used to that site by now, although at a different time in the race. I'm used to getting out of the water and realizing that everyone is already out on the bike, or even getting close to starting the run. This time it was different. I was actually ahead of some people for once! When I started my run I really thought I might have blown my race again on the bike. I think it was near the first corner when Chris passed me...she gave me some positive encouragement just like she did every other time she passed me. Thanks Chris :)

When we got to the turnaround i realized that the guy who had his bike racked right next to me was not far behind. I also remmbered that on the first run he was right next to me the whole time. Since we were racked by age group (which I LOVE! Thanks Jeff) I figured he was my competition. I got worried because he was so close and this is when the race finally became more important than passing Chris. When we started the run I already decided I'd make a post like this and say that I was really pumped to be able to stay ahead of an amazing athlete like Chris for 90% of the race, but then she was able to kick my butt when it counted at the finish line. Seeing that guy charge up behind me made me totally forget about that post and Chris became invisible. I wanted to beat this guy. Somehow, someway I was able to get a little energy back and pick it up for the last 3/4 mile. Across the finish line I had Chirs hot on my heals dominating the female competition and right behind her was my AG competition. He was a good guy and a great athlete. On any other day he'd probably stomp me but I guess with some kind of fluke today I was able to beat him.

Thank you Chris for being there for me to chase. Seriously, if you weren't there I wouldn't have finished nearly as well. You and your husband have been an inspiration to me all year. Hopefully some day it will be him that I realize I'm within passing distance of...but I'm not counting on that happening anytime soon :)

I'd also like to mention that Chuck Sloan is crazy fast. Like seriously...insanely fast. I'm sure everyone reading this already knows that though.

Thanks to all of tri-okc for making this first season so memorable for me. I've made so many good friends with people in this group this year. It's sad for me that my season is over now. The past few months of long daily workouts have been some of the most enjoyable times of my life. I am absolutely stoked to repeat all of this next year, except hopefully with better placements in all my races :) Thanks again to everyone, even though nobody probably read this far down.

Rob "time to start training for next season" Bell