Neenah Duathlon – May 1st, 2016
The race season is finally here! The anticipation has been building for months to get out on the road and see if all the hard work this off-season has paid off. Ever since completing Ironman Wisconsin last September, I’ve been a man on a mission to have a “break-out” year in 2016. One of the big decisions I made this off-season was to start working with a coach out of Madison, Blake Becker. The 2016 race season hasn’t even begun, yet I am confident that has been the single best investment I have made in this sport to-date. Yes, even including my “must have” tri-bike and carbon wheels… I certainly have a good understanding what threshold and VO2 Max intervals feels like now, ouch!
Anyways, back to my summary of the Neenah duathlon race. After being stopped by a train in this race last year (literally!), I was really ready to race here again and see how I stack up against local competition. My goal was to be the overall winner and I am happy to say I got my FIRST CAREER WIN today! Here is how I went about accomplishing my goal of the race:
I took it fairly easy the day before the race which certainly felt nice! I’ve been training pretty hard for quite a few weeks in a row so a relaxing Saturday was just what I needed. I got out on my bike for a 30 min ride right about when I would be racing on Saturday. One word, cold… The weather on Saturday was hovering right around 40 degrees and windy, just like it was going to be on race day. This had me questioning what I should wear or why the heck I was even racing this time of year. After coming to the conclusion that I couldn’t change the weather forecast (fyi, checking your phone every 15 mins doesn’t work), I put all the negative thoughts aside and just looked forward to having a good race.
I took my hydration system off my bike, I planned on doing the race just over an hour and planned on going without hydration/nutrition. I also took my spare tube out, crossing my fingers for no flats! Saturday night, my wife and I went out for an early dinner. I stuck to the trusted lasagna. It was a movie night and lights out by 9.
Woke up at 5 am after a good night’s sleep and was ready to rock. I’ve had a lot of GI issues at the beginning of my racing career which was attributed to a poor nutrition and pacing plan. After many frustrating attempts at nailing down a morning nutrition plan, I’ve finally found something that works last year. My concoction is a blended smoothie of chocolate almond milk, banana, natural peanut butter, honey, and flax seed. I’ve found it really easy on the stomach, especially when nerves are real high and I can get packed full of calories for my longer races. My wife and I were out of the house by 5:15, talk about efficiency!
It was a little over an hour drive to Neenah and we got to the race at 6:30, an hour before the race start. I was put in the first wave which was nice, I was really hoping that the best competition was going to be in the same wave. I ran into a few friends from Michigan Tech who were also racing, after a little chit-chat I was off on my warm-up. I got about a 15 min ride and run in. I put down a gu and a gulp of water 15 mins before the race then lined up to go.
Run – 2 miles
I had no definitive race plan for the first segment, a two mile run, I just wanted to be with or in the lead. I took off probably a little too fast due to the adrenaline but settled into about a 5:30 pace. After about a half mile or so I had a decent lead over the rest of wave 1. I kept telling myself to not go to hard, I’ve never run with the lead bike and didn’t want to push a pace that would catch up to me later.
Results – 11:02 minutes (5:31 min/mi – fastest run)
I left my shoes clipped into by bike for transition. This paid off in having a super-fast T-1.
Results – :28 (fastest T1)
Bike – 18.2 miles
Since I haven’t raced in quite a few months I had a target bike power of 250 watts and if I was feeling good, I could push it up 10 watts or so. I started out going 250 watts and feeling pretty good. I knew we would have a 15 mph tail wind going out and, you guessed it, a 15 mph head wind coming back. I kept that in the back of my mind as I had the urge to kick it up a little bit. After the first couple of turns I glanced behind me and nobody was in sight. I tried to keep telling myself maybe there would be someone in a later wave so I needed to keep powering through it. Sure enough, a local guy who wins most of the sprint races was in the 3rd wave trying to chase me down. After the first 5 miles of 250 watts and tail-wind I turned it up a little bit to around 260 watts. I held this power for the rest of the bike course. Coming to transition, it sounded like I had a sizable lead on the rest of the completion. As I previously mentioned, someone in the 3rd wave who started 3 mins after me was about 3.5 minutes behind me… I didn’t realize this until after the race.
Results – 45:33 – 24.1 mph – 256 watts NP (second fastest bike)
After putting my running shoes on and tossing my gloves off I got out of T2. I started to run the wrong way out of the exit, I’ve been notorious for this… I really need to spend the extra time walking through the transition areas and have a well versed path ahead of time.
Results – :33 (second fastest transition)
Run – 2 miles
I was a good 1/3rd of a mile in before I heard any cheering near the transition. I figured I had a good 3 minute lead on second place and just wanted to run a consistent last leg of the race. I settled into about a 6 min/mi pace and crossed the finish line 1st overall. I waited by the shoot for about 3 minutes or so until the next race came in. His bib number told me he was in the third wave, I got the win by a mere 18 seconds, yikes!
Results – 11:51 5:55 min/mi (second fastest R2)