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Another one bites the dust

Starting tomorrow I am back in marathon training mode. Hamptons Marathon is the next event on the docket. I will be running that on September 27th for those of you that have not read my past entries. Time to get it on.

Event Report

My third running of the Duluth Duathlon is now in my past. It wasnít my best and it wasnít my slowest either. Although it was closer to the slowest. I managed to beat my 2006 results by 4 seconds. I finished 5 minutes slower than last year. The key is that I finished smiling and stayed upright.

I thought for sure Saturday night there was going to be some relief from the humidity and heat. Sure felt like a storm was going to come through and cool things down. I was wrong. At the start of the race the temp was in the mid seventies. I suspect that the humidity was in the low 80ís. All things combined it was hot and sticky. It was far from optimum weather conditions.

The event has a two wave start. The elite competitors start 20 minutes after what I will call the recreational runners/bikers. This is to allow all the slower folks like me to get past the first turn before the elites are coming back from going around the square course and creating bikers on both sides of the roads. I guess the first year it created traffic problems.

The first wave gets into the start area which is about 20 yards wide. The gun starts and this 20 yard wide and about 20 yards deep group of runners head for the 5 yard trail opening that is the beginning of the 3.3 mile run. Have you ever tried to pour a gallon of water into a small funnel? Get the picture. Makes for some up close and personal running. Fortunately no one crashed and got trampled. We were off and running.

For the first mile and a half the trail is hilly and a number of the hills are steep up and down. Not terribly long but a bit more than short. I knew this ahead of time and did my best to pace myself knowing that the last mile and a half was much more gentle. I could definitely feel the heat and knew that my thoughts of really pushing this first run would not bode well for getting going on the bike. The beginning of the bike ride is very tough. I basically ran at a pace that I felt was comfortable and felt pretty good. It was a good feeling to come out of the trail and into the clearing just prior to the bike transition area.

I had everything set up at my bike. I had my fanny pack with my Gatorade inside to put on and than the helmet. I had a Gatorade bottle to drink as I walked out of the transition area. It was off to tackle the start of the bike portion.

The bike route goes from excruciating to gosh this is a nice ride just about 45 minutes into it. The first 3.6 miles is basically uphill. The elevation at the starts is 710 ft and ti goes up to 1,160 ft. That is followed by a nice downhill for the most part to about 5 miles. Than itís what I call monster hill. The climb for the next mile is up to 1340 ft From there itís more gentle rolling and not much change in elevation. Finally at mile 13 the captain comes on the speaker and says we have begun our descent. The course drops form the 1340 ft to the start over the last 7 miles. If you split the ride into two 10 milers I beat my first 10 miles by 24 minutes in the second 10. I did not exceed 15 mph until mile 10. I did not drop below 15 mph on any mile after mile 9. Going down towards the end I was cruising at a pretty good clip, hit 30+ in some spots. Despite the heat I felt pretty good about the ride.
The toughest part of this whole event was left. That second 3.3 mile trail run lied there waiting to swallow me up. Prior to getting started I drank another bottle of Gatorade and trotted out of the transition area. The run starts out with a nice steep uphill. I managed to get about half way up prior to slowing down to a walk. A woman participant that traded places with me during the bike event went back ahead of me. My thought was okay thereís my rabbit I need to keep her in my sights. For the next two miles she pretty much stayed ahead of me. I would get glimpses of her when I rounded a bend and than she would disappear around the next bend. Just after two miles I noticed I was gaining and finally I think the heat took its toll on her. I was able to go by. Once again that first mile and half was tough and I kept plugging away knowing that it would get easier once I got half way. So chasing the rabbit and knowing things would get easier kept me focused on running the best I could. Just prior to getting to the clearing where the finish is you can hear the announcer on the loud speaker. That gets the adrenaline going just enough to finish strong.

It was a tough event that I am quite pleased with my finish. AS I have said before when I run an event I might not get my best time but it will be the best that I could do that day. Today was exactly that.

The review of the results show that my runs were 2 & 3 minutes slower than I did in 2007 but my bike ride I improved upon by just over a minute. Itís kind of funny I thought my runs went better and my bike ride was slower while I was doing the event. Canít wait until next year.

Till next week, Happy Trails


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