Race Report: TCSD Duathlon “Carlsbad Coaster”

TCSD hosted their march Duathlon today in Carlsbad, CA at the Coaster train station. This event was a run-bike-run, consisting of the following individual legs: a 2.25 mile run through residential areas, a 20km [12.5 mile] cycle up and down the coast, and another 2.25 mile run through residential areas.


Pre-Race

I woke up at 4:30am, and ate a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast (~450 kcal). I got all my stuff together and headed out for my 12 mile ride to the race venue. Even though I was trying to save my energy on the ride over, I couldn’t help but push my pace because I felt GREAT on the bike. I had more than enough time to get a good spot in the transition area and complete a short warmup run with strides.

Run #1

Transition Area

Within the first 100m of the run, one of the guys took off at a sub 5:20/mile pace. Most of us knew he was likely to fade in the bike leg or the second run, so we established a four-man chase group running comfortably at 5:50/mile. I came through the first mile in 5:53.

At the mile mark, two of the guys pulled away, and I ran side-by-side with someone who I would pace the rest of the race with. As we came up to mile two, I pulled ahead slightly, moving into fourth place with another 5:53 mile. It turns out the three guys ahead of me ran about 10 seconds off the course (losing 20 seconds), which put me into the lead coming into the transition area.

Summary: 2.25 miles in 13:14, 5:53/mile

Transition #1

This was without a doubt the fastest transition I have ever done. I slipped off my racing flats with my feet while I used my hands to put my helmet on. I was probably in and out in 10 seconds or so.

Cycle

This was certainly an unfamiliar experience for me: leading an event on the bike. The course had a fair amount of rolling hills, and was very technical for being only 20km (12.4mi).

I spent the first three or four miles waiting for my legs to adjust to cycling. In this time, I got passed by four guys. I made up the rear of a four-man chase group. We were all within 5 seconds of eachother, and by this time, the race leader had about 20 seconds on us. I had to do some extra work to stay with the group, putting out a painful wattage. However, this helped my legs adapt, and by the time we came through mile four my legs felt ready to hammer.

I spent the whole bike leg pacing off the same guy I ran with in the first run leg. I knew I could complete the final run at least 10-15 seconds faster than him, so I made it my goal to stick with him all the way into the transition area. As we came through the halfway point, we got passed by a guy who looked super strong on the bike, but I knew if I kept him in sight I could outrun him without a problem. Unfortunately, as we came up to mile 8 we hit a red light. Because this is a TCSD club race, the roads are not closed, so me and the guy I was pacing with had to wait 30-40 seconds as we watched the rest of the field pull away. This killed a lot of my adrenaline and took away part of the “race” atmosphere, but there wasn’t anything we could do about it.

In the last four miles, we hit two more red lights (though they turned green shortly after we stopped) costing us another 20-30 seconds. By this time, another competitor had caught up, and the three of us rode together for the rest of the bike leg. My pacer put out a little burst in the last mile, and I followed suit, moving into 6th place as we put 8-10 seconds on the guy behind us.

Summary: 12.4 miles in 33:56, 21.9mph

Transition #2

I had another wicked fast transition. This was the first time I got to test out the elastic laces on my racing flats, and they worked excellently! I took off my helmet, slipped on my flats, and was out of the transition area in under 15 seconds.

Run #2

Train station in run course

As soon as I started running, I realized that I drank too much water (~500mL) during the cycle leg. I could taste an overwhelming amount of salt in the sweat on my face, so I think I should replace the water with an electrolyte drink in my next race. The bloating in my stomach, paired with the typical discomfort of running of the bike, caused me to run a 6:21 for the first mile.

My position in the race had not moved, and I was still about 5 seconds off my pacer. It took six or seven minutes, but I finally found my running legs, completing the second mile in 5:45 as I moved into 5th place. I actually passed my pacer at the same part of the course as in the first run. I could see that the 4th place competitor was about 20 seconds ahead of me, and we only had 1/4 mile left, so I thought that catching him would be impossible. However, when I considered that I would be in 4th place if we didn’t have a one-minute deficit in the form of red lights, I decided to go for it anyway. He posted the fastest bike split of the day, though he was clearly struggling on the run, so it seemed fitting to try to run him down. There is a small turnaround point before the finish, so he saw that I was hammering in an attempt to catch him. It came down to a sprint finish, and I barely caught him just 15 meters from the finish line.

Summary: 2.25 miles in 13:23, 5:57/mile

Conclusion

Apart from the frustration of the red lights, this race could not have gone any better for me. I shaved about a minute off my 20km bike time on a hillier course, completed both transitions in less than 30 seconds (my first competitive transition times), ran very well (and on pace) both before and after the cycle leg, and came in 4th place overall. In addition, I learned a bit more about race-day nutrition.

Tomorrow I am competing in my first standalone 5K, and next week I will be heading back down to Fiesta Island for TCSD’s first triathlon of the year.

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