Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Race Report: Barkin' Dog Duathlon by Jeremy Geer

"Practice makes perfect."  Luckily, the 2013 Barkin' Dog was a "practice" race for me this year.  I've participated in this race as relay team member since 2006 or so, including five or six years partnering up with Kirk.  In 2012, I raced for the first time as a solo participant in the fat tire division - no pawning the running off to someone else.  I finished a distant second that year to a guy wearing a full length CSU triathlon suit that probably cost more then my 15 year old bike.  For 2013, the Barkin' Dog represented my first race on my new Blue Triad EX, so I was excited to see what I could do on a "real" bike (turns out I still need to find a "real" engine).  The course for 2013 was very different from 2012, starting on the south west side of the Cherry Creek Reservoir.

I entered the race last minute when my friend, Hector, told me he was going to give multisport a try.  He was on a borrowed bike, and we were trying to change out his pedals before the race when we noticed the elite runners go blowing by.  Hmmm... we were supposed to be in the wave after the elites.  As we scrambled over to the start, we heard the gun go off and saw our wave take off.  Whoops! We dashed around the starting corral barriers and made our way through the next wave to the front.  After a quick discussion with the race director, we were off... what appears to be 1 minute and 7 seconds behind our wave.

Hector is a phenomenal runner... sub 17 minute 5Ks were no problem for him just a year ago.  Since this was his first multisport race, he backed off and paced me well and we were picking off people from our wave pretty quickly all the way into transition.

I jumped on the bike and, after a few miles, I felt like I was getting my groove.  Unfortunately, there were still a lot of guys blowing by me.  Just before mile 5, on an uphill climb, I noticed that my left clip-on aero bar was about 4" lower then my right bar. It had worked itself loose and would continue to get worse as the race progressed, and it made shifting between front rings a little sketchy.

As the bike came to an end, I started pulling my feet out of my shoes, something I hadn't done since last season on a bike I borrowed from Kirk.  I forgot to shift before all this, and got caught in the wrong gear going uphill.  In struggling to keep the bike upright and mash in a bad gear, I managed to catch one of my shoes on the ground which caused the bike to hop and me to hop off. I would be running the last 100M to transition.  As I accepted my fate, there were a number of spectators signaling to me... apparently my shoe had gotten launched off my pedal in this little mis-adventure, so I had to retrieve that.  "That kids, is how you do NOT do it."

I made my way to transition and managed to get out on the second run without any more drama.  Anyone who has ever run off the bike knows it is a bit of an awkward feeling for the first mile or so.  This was no exception, and I couldn't help but scold myself for skipping a number of brick runs in my workout plan mostly due to lack of planning out my workouts.  My legs loosened up and I felt mentally stronger as I started picking off people again.  Since I didn't start with any particular wave, and there was a lot of traffic from short-course participants, I wasn't sure who was in my division. Figuring I had cost myself any chance of a podium finish with all my mistakes, I decided to punish myself on the last mile.  Luckily, the last mile is a brief uphill, then a nice gradual downhill to the finish, and it turned out to be my fastest mile on the day.

The good news is I finished second in my age group.  I had made the podium... but now I had something else to dwell on.  The guy in first beat me by 30 seconds.  Bring it full circle to where I missed my wave start by 67 seconds, and I had a chance to contend for the age group win.  Looking at the bright side, I can only get better on the bike, and I am very excited that Hector seems to have really enjoyed the duathlon (a gateway drug to triathlon).  He says he wants to head over to Foxtrot this weekend and look at bikes.

Lessons learned: give myself plenty of prep time pre-race, work even harder at improving on the bike, practice getting shoes off while on the bike, and do a more thorough inspection of the bike the night before the race.  Then, run like the zombies are chasing me...

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