Monday, April 6, 2009

First duathlon

This weekend I completed my first ever multisport event. After a lot of hemming and hawing I entered the Carrboro Classic Super Sprint Duathlon. Duathlons are run-bike-run events.

The short version: The event went well and I enjoyed it.

In February I entered the event after spending quite a bit of time figuring out the entry form (the extra fee is for insurance if you are not a USAT member). I had a lot of help along the way with training for this event and overall I think that it was a success. For the most part I enjoyed the training -- which is important since the training takes a lot more time than the event.

I wasn't only worried about the training, I didn't even know what one should wear to a duathlon! It was 48 degrees at the beginning of the event. I ended up wearing a long sleeved performance tee and Shebeest Racegear shorts.

The training involved brick workouts. Basically, a brick is a training block of two disciplines in the same workout. In this case an indoor brick would be run on treadmill and then do a spin class or ride two hours and then run 20 minutes outside. The bricks were kind of fun and I found them to be a good way to mix things up.

I guess I should back up a bit here. One of the reasons that I enjoy cycling is that the events are not competitive. I enter bike rides, not races. Switching to racing is kind of nerve-wracking for me. This is true both with the recent running events that I've entered and with this duathlon. I was a little afraid that some competitive triathletes will use the duathlon as a tune up event and I would look silly. Then I decided that are competitive types they won't be doing the short course. I was correct, the people with the aero helmets, aero bars and wheels like you see used in Tour de France time trials were all doing the long course event.

The duathlon was on Sunday. Early pick up was on Saturday afternoon. I drove over to the site, road the bike section and picked up my event packet. This gave me a chance to make sure that I knew how to get to the site and to see how long it took me to drive it. I road the bike course and I asked about the run course because the map was not clear.

Sunday morning I got up early and had a light breakfast of a poached egg with tomato on an English muffin. When I arrived at the site, I parked and the brought my bike and gear to the transition area. The transition as organized by race number so I found the proper rack for my bike and set up my stuff. Someone recommended bringing an easy-to-identify towel (I used black and white stripes) to set your stuff on. I organized my helmet, water bottle, gloves and shoes and shades there. (I did not bring the water bottle with me since the bike section was short but I did sip some water during T1.) Then I picked up my timing chip and kind waited for the event to start. While loitering, I saw someone wearing cycling gloves. It was cool out. I went back to the transition area and put my cycling gloves on.

About 10 minutes before the race, the had a pre race meeting where the organizers verbally described the course. It was a little bit confusing because there were three events going on at the same time: a long course duathlon, a short course duathlong and an 8k run. The start/finish was on a track and we started in waves (long men, long women and relays, short men, short women and relays, 8k men, 8k women) three minutes apart.

Run 1

My first run was 2.4 miles (I got 2.6 miles on my GPS). After the long course athletes started and the short course men, the short course women started. Three minutes after we started, the men's 8k runners went so by the time we were ending our run, the fasted few men passed us. They stayed on the run course for a second lap while we went to the transition area. My run went well, 21:32:45. I quickly found my bike, changed shoes, put on my helmet and sunglasses and had a sip of water. I was sure to loosen my running shoes enough to easily get back into them during the second transition. Total transition time as 1:51:20.


Once you get your bike, you have to walk or run to past a line and then you can mount your bike. That way you aren't trying to start on your bike while people are trying to get their bike on so on. A few weeks ago I read a very handy article that said to be sure to have your bike in an appropriate start gear. Shockingly, I remembered to do that on Sunday morning!

Before the event I had been worried about the no drafting rule. I do a lot of group rides and drafting is the norm. The basic rule is that you have to be three bike lengths back from the bike in front of you and you have 15 seconds to complete a pass. They have race marshalls on motorcycles out on the course watching you. That kind of freaked me out. As it turned out, this was not an issue.

On Saturday afternoon I previewed the bike course and I knew where the first turn was and was really comfortable. We got up to Pleasant Union Church Road though, and I was told to run right. Huh? The route goes up Dairyland, right? At this point I realized that the course map had no arrows on it and that I had done it backwards! Oops! Anyway, the bike portion went well. I passed 32 people on the bike and had a total time of 35:52:75.

This got me back to the mount/dismount line. I got off the bike and scampered to my transition spot as best I could in bike shoes. Once there I took off my helmet, gloves and sunglasses and put on my bike shoes. This transition was slightly faster at 1:31:65.

Run 2

Next I was on to the final portion of the event, a short 1.2ish mile run (again, the GPS distance differed from the official distance by quite a bit) . After getting off the biken this run was at a somewhat slower pace. I finished it in 11:53.


I am very happy to report that I finished third in my age group with a time of 1:12:41.30.


  1. That's totally awesome! Congrats!!!

  2. Sounds like the duathlon season is here. Congrats on AG placement. I did my first duathlon this weekend as well and liked it a lot. No love for me on the AG placement, but still enjoyed the race.

  3. Congratulations! What a rush!

    I triathloned for 16 years; most fun of my life. Never did like those du's though. Such pain on the 2nd run. But still feel jealous, wishing I still had the joints for running.