First thing’s first: I’d like to once again thank everyone who has so far donated to the American Diabetes Association in sponsorship of my riding in the 2011 NYC Tour de Cure. I’ve already raised quite a bit of money, and with the generosity of friends and co-workers, I’m once again contemplating raising my personal fundraising goal. In what has recently been a very difficult time for me personally, raising money for a worthy cause has given me both hope and a sense of accomplishment, and it means more to me than you can probably guess to see the generosity of others. So thanks again everybody!
Now then… as I noted earlier, I had my first race of the season over the weekend, Brian’s Beachside Boogie, which is held at Hammonasette State Park in Connecticut to support pre-natal and infant nervous system screening. The race was an off-road duathlon consisting of a 2-mile run, a 10-mile ride on trail bikes (fat tires mandatory), and then another 2-mile run on the same course.
NUTRITION IS THE FOURTH DISCIPLINE
There’s a saying in triathlon that “nutrition is the fourth discipline”. Folks say that because multi-sport races tend to be long—even a so-called Sprint triathlon lasts more than an hour—and failure to maintain your blood sugar properly will destroy performance just as surely as will failure to properly train. Moreover, the Boogie takes place in a kind of nutrition no-man’s land. At a little over an hour, it’s short enough that you have to race hard the whole way through, but it’s still long enough that you can bonk if you’re not careful. The typical well-trained racer has enough blood glucose to carry him or her through 45-minutes of grueling activity. After that, if you don’t take some at least partially effective measures to hold up your blood sugar level, you’re looking at a crash—and an afternoon of sheer misery. On the other hand, the race is too short to take a gu or other substantial in-race nutrition. First off, you don’t have time to slow down enough to cram a gu down your throat, and even if you did, the race itself would be over by the time the gu kicked in. That leaves you with essentially one option: you have to take something pre-race to hold your blood sugar up early and then use a sports drink to keep from falling off a cliff later on.
I mention all this because I tried something new for this race. Instead of taking a gu pre-race—as I often do for Sprint triathlons—I instead took a power bar about an hour and a half or so before the race, on the theory that the power bar ought to be a little slower acting and longer lasting. And I washed it down with Gatorade while driving up to the race itself. Then I got to the race, got checked in, set up in transition, and headed out on my bike for about a 2-mile warm up.
Having spent the previous day worried about my mother, it felt better than good to finally get out on my bike and start to shake out the emotions of the previous day. Once I was loose, I cached the bike, grabbed my mat, and walked out into the field to do yoga. Went through four Sunrise Salutes and the rest of my typical pre-race routine, all of which takes about 30-minutes. Got back to transition, had a woman tell me that my yoga looked good, and gradually realized I was having a good day. Considering that my mother is dying, and that I’d spent the entirety of the previous day worrying about it, this was worth the price of admission all by itself. I ended my warm-up with maybe a mile’s job and a quick pee-break, and then I was ready to rock-and-roll.
The race started at 9 am. Weather was slightly overcast, maybe 48-degrees, no wind. An absolutely IDEAL day for racing. I started out in an Underarmor tee shirt base layer, a long-sleeved polyester pullover, and my blue GIANT cycling jersey over black running tights. I also wore sunglasses and a lightweight racing cap that fits nicely under my bike helmet. As it happens, I ended up stripping off both the cycling jersey, but Sally gave me that jersey, and I love it, so I’m still glad I got to wear—at least for a little while.
When starting gun sounded, I was amazed at how fast folks were taking out the first run. I don’t do that many duathlons, but this wasn’t my first one, either, and in fact, this was the second time I’d run the Boogie. With that in mind, I tried to follow my old swim coach’s advice and take it out fast but loose. I wanted to get as much speed as I could without using too much effort. In the event, most folks ran MUCH faster than me—some a lot faster—but tellingly, I started to catch a few of the rabbits before we even finished the initial running leg. Experience told me those folks were looking at a tough hour ahead. But I felt good. As I said, I stripped off a layer, put on my gloves, fumbled for a while with my helmet, and then grabbed my bike and ran, feeling strong.
1st Run: 2-miles in 15:24 (7:42/mile pace)
10/14 Age Group
I got on my bike and immediately started passing people. You never know what to expect with these things, but honestly, I was absolutely AMAZED by how far I moved up. I rode hard, tried not to listen when my legs started screaming, and did my best just to LAY DOWN THE LAW!
It felt good to do that.
Bike: 10-miles of mixed road and trail in 36:35 (16.4 mph pace. That’s not bad on a mountain bike)
5/14 Age Group
I spent some time in transition looking for my gear. Which sucked. But eventually I headed out, legs feeling like lead. This is where some experience with the sport helps. I concentrated on holding form and just waited for the race to come to me. And I passed a couple of folks, which almost never happens for me during the last running leg of a race.
Anyway, when I hit about the ¾-mile mark, I knew was okay. I couldn’t accelerate much, but I held pace and held form, and that was enough to finish strong.
2nd Run: 2-miles in 15:42 (7:51/mile pace)
7/14 Age Group
Alright, so a guy sprinted by me at the line, and I didn’t have the acceleration to match the move. And that sucked, especially because he was in my age group. But still… for a race without a Swim Leg, this was about as good as I could’ve expected. Moreover, any time I can average under 8-minutes/mile running, I’m having a good day. Here, I did that twice. I must have done something right.
Brian’s Beachside Boogie: 2-miles/10-miles/2-miles in 1:07:41
7/14 Age Group
- Only 1 woman finished ahead of me. That’s pretty unusual.
- I was 37/83 if you count only the men. That’s probably the right way to figure it.
- My Age Group was faster on average than any ahead of us save for the 20-24 year olds. Wow!