Who me?? No,I can't run very fast. Yeah right!
Dannon National Duathlon Championships.This weekend saw the staging of the US National Duathlon Championships just a few miles up the road from my home. Right in my racing zone. What an opportunity to get out and have a great workout with some of the best. Heather is in her final prep for Ironman Placid in two weeks and looking great - I needed a good kick-start after about 8 weeks of traveling, camping, and vacationing. The format was a tough hilly, non-drafting 10K-40K-5K. All the big duathlon names were here, and there never any doubt in my mind that the US Champs were going to be won on the women's side, anyway, by a Canadian. With Lucy Smith and Heather to set the pace up front - it was all Canada. On the men's side-defending champ Greg Watson headed the field with the likes of Michael Tobin and all the other speedsters to push him.
I am somewhat at a loss as to what happened up front, other than a post race debriefing by Heather - but I can certainly tell you how things looked at the back. As the gun went off I was stunned at the outright 'sprint' these athletes took off at - don't they know a 7minute mile is flying in an Ironman. As we rounded the first corner I realized that I was in last place. Not to worry, Heather was keeping the balance by taking a strong lead by the end of the first 10K. I was a little gratified to finally reel in 3 or 4 girls as the first run progressed, so mine was not the last bike left in the pro racks as the 2 lap ride got under way.
Up front little Lucy Smith staged a strong ride to come back at Heather and take the lead, which she carried all the way to the finish. Heather showed great strength on the ride to come off in third place and then proceed to run right back into the second spot. Canada 1-2! An impressive show of speed just two weeks out from her Ironman race. And back in the crowd, I was getting a fabulous reminder (since my last duathlon was in 1993) of what it is like to try and ride hard after a 10K run. Yikes! But actually the day got better as I continued to pick off another 4 or 5 gals on the bike ride, and then hold my own on the final 5K. What a great re-acquaintance with the old quad's.
Seriously though - it was a tremendous workout, and a great lesson to always respect the athletes that are at the top of their sport. Duathlon does tend to fall into obscurity, and not get a whole lot of attention or respect. Well, may I just say that the athletes that excel at this format, are super fast and strong. I was amazed at the sheer speed they moved at. Some of the top age-group men came by on the bike and it was truly impressive. As they say variety is the spice of life - and I challenge anyone to get out and jump into a duathlon should it be convenient.
So Heather romps away with all the coaches points for this one. Next up is the Muddy Buddy off road Ride and Tie in August. Word has it Roch and Paul are going to make it to the start line!!!