||Devil Dog Duathlon 2008
I am reporting as there are not many race reports on Duathlons posted. FYI, I also post this email in the Race Reports archive with the hope that other members might find the info about this race useful for a while.
Duathlons? I have heard even Triathletes confuse duathlons and biathlons!?!! So let me clarify:
Duathlons are fun and very challenging and the run-bike-run is great for those who are strongest in those two disciplines and have speed. But it is also great for all of you Triathletes who are getting ready for the season and are into doing some serious speed work throughout the season. What can be better than racing a 5k run-30k bike-5k run on a spring morning with great race support on a great course? Then there are others who outright specialize in Duathlons and the USA Triathlon organization as you all know seperates the Duathlons and Triathlon ranking systems and views them as different sports essentially.
Biathlons is a winter sport that involves cross-country skiing and shooting. And yes, it's an Olympic sport but obviously not related to Duathlons!
The Devil Dog Duathlon (www.camppendletonraces.com) is a great race, USA Triathlon-sanctioned, highly competitive amongst short- and long-distance Triathletes and Duathletes alike. Heather Fuhr and Julie Swail raced this early-season race last year. For obvious reasons at least Julie missed it this year. She was busy qualifying and winning a spot on the US Team for the Bejing Olympics.
It takes place at Camp Pendleton every year and the course is a 5k run/30k bike/5k run. Race start time is rather late at 8:30am. But that allowed me to drive down to the race site from Santa Monica on race morning. After about 75 minutes I was at the gate to Camp Pendleton. There was a short wait at the entrance as everyone's insurance and vehicle registration were checked by military security. But the organization and race site support was excellent. They for example even had bike racks set up for the race package pick-up area. Within about 20 minutes I was set-up at the transition area and found plenty of space for my bike as I was apparently early at 7:30am for an 8:30am start. There were approximately 500 duathletes there. I could recognize some of my competition from the triathlon scene right away. Lots of triathletes and duathletes from the San Diego area. Only a few Tri Clubbers and L.A. locals.
How to warm-up for a Duathlon? This is just my second Duathlon after having done very well at Strawberry Fields early last year in 2007. I opted to warm-up with a short run and next time I probably would get my bike trainer out and warm-up on the bike first and then run short 10 sec. intervals in a 1 or 2 mile warm-up.
Start was at the start and fnish line. The announcer was very detail-oriented and read out loud ALL rules while we we were prompted to gather in the starting chute and wait for the start. Now, we all had timing chips but unlike in most triathlons there was no wave start we all started at once and since there was no timing mat at the start it mattered where you placed yourself. I opted for 5 rows behind some faster male runners and a few fast women. I could tell some Elite was in front but I knew I am going to be able to pace myself after a minute or so and run my race on the run. My goal was to finish in the Top 3 in my age group as I am coming from the longer distances like the L.A. Marathon and a Half-Marathon in Agoura and have not done a shorter-distance race since last Fall.
The first run leg was hilly and in part run on paved streets and between mile 1 and 2 on a dirt road up a hill. The course map was slightly misleading as there were also two shorter climbs about 5 min. into the run and it seemed to kill a few runner's legs and seperate the large running group from the start into several sub-groups. I had no one else to pace with, just run my pace and went out fast and strong but needed to cut and move around some runners who slowed down after about a mile. My first run split of 19:52 made me happy as I knew the results from last year and was pacing myself for a 20 min. split.
There was no T2 time, instead the bike time included T1 and T2.
As I knew I'd rather run in my running shoes in the transition area than in my bike shoes while pushing my bike I made a smart move in that I racked my bike near the bike in/out area. Transition took me less than a minute for sure. I counted s.th. like 40 sec. as I took off my running Saucony Type A racing flats that were dusty from the dirt trails, and changed into my bike shoes, took off my visor and had my bike helmet on in no time.
The bike was rolling hills and very crowded. I had a bunch of guys drafting off me the first few miles (only complaint about this race is that they need draft marshalls! and referees from USAT for this race) but I was able to find my rhythm and comfortable riding pace around mile 5 as I lost the crowd. The course is advertised as a 30k. My bike computer showed an 18.2 mile course. It's out-and back, and with the crowd and the profile of the course it sort of reminded me of the Wildflower Olympic, just shorter by about 6 miles, ok and maybe not as many hills. Just the scenery, roads, the crowded course, and the out-and-back which let me keep an eye on the competition.
It was good that I kept an eye on the competition. I did not see a single woman after mile 10 on the bike course, as I shared the road with guys on as many road as tri bikes. Many of the riders had Cycle Ops power meters and high-end road bikes and some were wearing clubs' cycling jerseys. Made me wonder if they were roadies who wanted to compete in a Duathlon and give Triathlons are try! Apart from the roadies who looked really strong on the bike, I could see all from the top Bikes with Disc wheels and riders with their Giro 2 Advantage helmets to others with Mountain bikes as there was also a Mountainbike division. I opted to ride my now over 4 year-"old" Cervelo Dual Tri bike with Dura Ace components and a Mavic Ksyrium wheelset. No other special set-up or cassette needed as it is really mostly gently rolling hills. I felt ok with my Tri Bike on the course and thought I benefited from being in the aero position on the rolling hills course.
Back at T2 it was time to get back into the running shoes for another 5k. Same course on the paved road by the Marines' barracks. There were plenty of Marines cheering us on btw plus all volunteers were military. One female Marine was screaming at us like a drill Sergeant s.th. like: "You are an animal! Go get them!" Ok! Well, I knew by that time near half-way of the 2nd leg of the run that I was in a good place. The run is an out-and back course, too, and I estimated that the next woman behind me could probably not catch me. I counted the elite women like Anissa Seguin who won the race here last year as she is a short-course Duathlon specialist, then a few others who looked very strong near the run-turn around at mile 1.5. I knew right away I was somewhere near the top in my age group when crossing the finish line and was sad that it was over. This was lots of fun was my first thought. I am good at these and want to do more. When is the next? I also
feel like competing more in shorter distance Triathlons after this race.
The results were posted pretty much right away and I was very happy about my 3rd place in my age group with a 1:33, a 19:52 run split for the first and 2nd run leg and a 53:37 bike split. Overall this was a great training race for me and maybe more as I love training for and competing in Duathlons. My overall time was in the Top 10 women with a 9th place, 7th and 6th place in the run legs respectively and 9th place in the bike.
I am coming from running Marathons and 1/2 Marathons in the Triathlon winter season and I am focusing on training for the Half-Ironman distance this season. But these Sprint races or in this case an almost Olympic-distance race with an over 18 mile bike and 6 mile run are great prep if they fit into your training schedule. Oh, I should mention for additional motivation maybe that Duathlons have their own ranking system on the USA Triathlon page, there are very competitive Duathlon short-course and long-course national championships. We had World Championship qualifier Duathlons here in SoCal and Arizona in February this year.
So, if you are into just trying a Duathlon or love the run-bike-run combination, then maybe you want to do more of these. I am planning on racing the Desert Classic Duathlon next year, Auburn, and later this year Santa Barbara. There are many others. I will be happy to get us organized. Just let me know.
Happy and safe training everyone!
- Patricia Anglano