National Duathlon Championships, Irving Texas
Updated: May 11, 2022
April 30, 2022
Race Report by Kevin Wu
I did my first multi-race sport/duathlon this past weekend in Irving, TX. The standard distance duathlon is a 10k run/40k bike/5k run. Previously, I had ran marathons and a half-marathon, but that was the extent of my racing and endurance sports experience. Going into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had done enough weekend long rides and Zwift sessions to feel somewhat comfortable in aero position on my tri bike and I had some long-distance running experience. But I had never raced a 10k or even a 5k, and definitely never raced on a bike. Not to mention the transitions, which I didn’t start to practice until 2 weeks before the race.
Leading up to the race, I was most nervous for the transitions. I knew I wanted to nail the flying dismount to save time in T2. After a few scuffed knees and a bent rear derailleur from practicing in a parking lot, I was eventually able to get the hang of it. Little did I know that was just half the equation. Coach Marty brought to my awareness the flying mount, which is this ball-busting maneuver of launching yourself onto the bike with your shoes already clipped in, and strapping your feet in your shoes as you start pedaling. I tried to practice this in a race rehearsal 2 weeks prior to the event, but strapping my feet into the shoes while pedaling proved to be quite a hassle and I didn’t feel comfortable enough with the technique to implement it on race day. I figured I would end up losing more time just trying to get it right, or even worse, risk completely wiping out, so I decided to forego this strategy for the race... One day I’ll get it!
Coach Martin and I planned for a taper the week leading up to the race, which was a nice welcome change from my usual 18-20 hr. training weeks. Luckily, I didn’t feel that shitty or lethargic like some might during a taper. There were still some hard interval sessions thrown in, but I treated it as a recovery week to catch up on much needed rest/sleep and carb load. Going into race day there were still many questions, but I did everything I could to alleviate some of the unknown variables. I was able to scout the bike route the night before, scope out the transition area, and identify the mount/dismount lines as well as the bike/run ins and outs. Having a map is great but seeing it in person helped immensely in visualizing where I needed to go and what I needed to do.
Since I had no idea of what pace to aim for on both the bike and run, I decided to target an RPE of about 7/8 for the duration of the race up to a 10 near the end. I didn’t use heart rate or power either because I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with data so I could just focus on racing hard. For nutrition, I figured one isotonic gel after the first run would suffice and I could hydrate on the bike with two bottles of Gatorade Endurance formula. That totaled to about 110g carbs which was more than enough for a ~2 hour event, especially with the carb loading I did the days prior and the morning of. I ended up taking 1 gel and drinking a little over 1 bottle on the bike.
I took off too fast for the first 10k, which is not unusual at the start of a race. Adrenaline was pumping and I was trying to keep up with some fast dudes in the lead pack. Eventually I found my groove and was able to finish the first 10k at a 6:16mi/pace. Mentally, I had to remind myself to stick to an RPE of 7/8 and race my own race. I was also visualizing my T1 transition during the run.
Going into T1, my legs were already jelly. The transition area was an uneven grassy field and I ended up spraining my left ankle running to my bike setup. I didn’t know how bad it was, but I was hobbling with my bike as I was headed to the mount line. Since I didn’t want to risk the flying mount, I opted for this idea of leaving my right shoe clipped into the bike while carrying my left shoe with me while going through T1. I was then able to put my left shoe on at the mount line, slip my right foot into the shoe already clipped in, clip my left shoe in, and take off. This allowed me to save time by running barefoot through T1, while also having both feet already in my shoes at the mount line. I only had to strap my right foot in as I began pedaling. (New breakthrough transition strategy!?)
Thankfully the bike wasn’t too bad for my sprained ankle. I could feel it tingling, but if anything the pedaling motion might have been good PT. I tried not to think about it. I took off strong on the bike with my legs already fired up from the run. There were 2 hairpin turns and a few rolling hills, but the course was mostly flat and straight. The bike course was two 20k loops. On the first loop just coming out of T1, I was maybe 3 feet away from getting hit by a car that was turning at an intersection. There were at least 5 security guards directing traffic there, so I have no clue what they (and the driver) were doing, but I was lucky to have dodged a bullet there. My second close call came on the second loop as I was passing a rider on the left. Some speed demon came up from behind me and passed me on the left (as I was passing) and caught me off guard. At that same time, a strong gust of wind came from the side which caused me to lose my balance in aero position. My bike swerved to the left nearly hitting the cones, and I overcompensated by swerving back to the right before I caught my balance again. Thank you to the Tri-Gods for saving me on that one. I mumbled a prayer, and at that point fully alert, took off even harder. I faded a bit on the second loop as my lower back and hips started giving out. But I caught a second wind and managed to finish strong. I was able to execute the flying dismount, but nearly stumbled jumping off the bike as my legs forgot about gravity after a little over an hour on the bike. I caught myself and was able to keep my legs underneath me as I headed to T2.
Running into T2 I could feel my left ankle flaring up. Also coming off the bike, my right hamstring began cramping. I took one last swig of my drink mix hoping that would calm the seizing muscle before heading out to the run. Overall, this transition was pretty quick. I gritted my teeth and knew I just had 3 miles to go and had to finish strong.
For the first mile I felt pretty good. I was tired but was able to keep a good pace and maintain form. All those brick sessions were paying off! I was also grateful that my left ankle and right hamstring weren’t giving me any major issues that prevented me from running hard. Mile 2 was a suffer-fest. But with the experience of multiple hard track interval sessions, I felt that I knew my limits. For the last half mile or so and with the finish line approaching, I actually began to feel quite good and picked up the pace. I had a cadence and rhythm going and felt like I could have kept running, channeling my inner Forest Gump. Full send to the finish line!
My final time was 2:06:33, which was good enough for 27th overall and 2nd for my 25-29 AG (out of 6 people). But we don’t have to mention that last part. Overall, it was a great experience, and a podium spot was just the cherry on top.
Kevin Wu's gear
Runners: Altra and Hoka
GPS Watch: Garmin
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