My most important race of the year was Saturday and it was everything I thought it was going to be. Here I share my experience at the 2022 USAT Duathlon National Championships in Irving, TX. It’s quite the feeling leading up to the race, racing, and then the aftermath. I share a bit about each.
I competed in two races, the Standard Distance (10k run – 24.5 mile bike – 5k run) on Saturday morning followed by the Sprint Distance (5k run – 12.4 mile bike – 2 mile run) on Sunday afternoon. I targeted Saturday as my most important race with Sunday giving whatever I had left.
Coming into the race I felt good about my training and performance in tune-up races. I was pretty healthy with a groin strain coming on two weeks prior but it had no effect on my speed or power during the races…just pain during the first run (10k) Saturday.
Lining up Saturday morning it was a most impressive group of athletes. Being hosted in middle of the country and with better conditions for travel than the COVID-19 crap we’ve been dealing with the last two years, athletes came out in great numbers and ready to compete.
The first 10k went somewhat as planned. I hit my target pace goal but I worked harder for the pace than I was hoping but I was content coming in transition and in 6th place. I hopped on the bike and felt really rough which was expected coming off the 10k. That working harder for the pace on the 10k found me trying to find my bike legs and that took about four miles to get together. From there my power grew which was a bit off what I was hoping but I grinded it out with what I had. With that said, everyone was in the same boat and I came in with the 4th best bike which surprised me after as I was really hurting with the push.
When I began to unclip out of my bike shoes before dismounting my right hamstring locked up (you can see in a picture below), charley-horsing but I quickly got my act together and hobbled through transition to get my run shoes. The hobble turned into my normal stride as I exited transition but at mile one I began to feel the hamstring flutter and at about 1.25 miles it locked up again stopping me in my tracks. I quickly stretched my leg out straight and punched the hamstring a few times to get the muscle to release. It unlocked and I hobbled away for the next 100 yards or so before I settled into a stride I changed in hopes it wouldn’t go again. I held that stride for the final stretch with the 7th best run and holding on to 5th place by 17 seconds.
I knew when I came through the finish like the hamstring was going to lock again when I stopped and sure enough it did. Buddy, Bob Brown, yelled at one of the medical personnel to get to me and they quickly grabbed my leg and stretched out the charley-horse…I was sooooo appreciative! When I found out I only finished 17 seconds ahead of the racer behind me I felt really good about my ability to deal with the hamstring issue quickly and grit it out to the end. Even on my best day on this day I would not have caught the gentleman in 4th place so that was comforting too. I gave everything I had and fought for the 5th place finish behind absolute monsters. This marks three consecutive National Championships at the Standard distance finishing 5th…crazy.
Saturday afternoon I spent recovering including taking an ice bath and then chilling with our team Saturday night at awards. It was a beautiful setting in Irving.
My race Sunday didn’t start until 2:00PM so that was quite a different experience to deal with all that time prior to a race. I stayed in the air conditioning packing for my flight which was quickly after my race, fueled up, took a salt bath, and headed back to the race venue. My legs were sore from the race Saturday but all the recovery put me the best shape I could be in at 2:00PM.
I was pleased with my first 5k run hitting my target right on the money. Not a great 5k but after the Saturday race it was exactly what I was hoping for and I was in 7th after the first leg. The bike was another story. Being draft legal on this day, it’s important to get with a pack of cyclists to go fast and draft (saving your legs). Coming out of transition I missed a pack of about 12-15 cyclists and I spent about two miles trying to catch them and I couldn’t catch them. The first 6+ miles I rode solo…big loss. At mile 6.5 I latched on to someone and we worked together for about a mile before I dropped him and then a set of two racers caught me around mile nine. We worked together for the final 3+ miles and that was great. With the missed opportunity to catch that big group early, I had the 12th best bike…fail.
When I got out for the final two mile run it was quite a different feel than Saturday. I had one racer ahead of me that I thought was in my age group (and he was) that I chased down in mile one. After one mile I felt really good and picked up my pace to finish strong matching my 7th place run on the first go. I crossed the finish line coming in 7th with only the winner of the race who also competed on Saturday finishing ahead of me. That made me feel great that I was on worn legs and raced well.
As soon as I finished I had to scurry from the race, quickly clean up, and head to the airport. On the plane ride back I spent a good hour documenting my experience from the races and what I could improve on for next year. Lots of opportunities…always learn…
I qualified for the 2023 World Championships in both events representing Team USA so heading back to Florida I was feeling pretty good about that but most importantly, about the efforts I gave on both days. I gave what I had and fought…
Around the races I also got to spend time with amazing friends and teammates. The list will be too long so I will not even start other than to thank Team Diamond Fitness Leader Celia Dubey for leading up a great team experience (as always!). Also congratulations to them all for amazing races and accomplishments. Florida represented very well on this weekend in Texas.
– Add Health to Your Life