Race Recap | National Duathlon Championship
The National Duathlon Championship attracts people from all over the U.S. This race consisted of a 5.4 mile run – 24.1 mile bike – 3 mile run. Later this year I will hit a milestone, turning 40, so I decided to race in the master’s category and attempt to win as I would be one of the youngest athletes in that division. We loaded up the suburban with every piece of bike equipment I own and and drove 13.5 hours to Greeneville, SC. My plan was to race my own race since it has been a few years since I really competed in duathlons. I was excited when it was announced the master’s group would start in the 4th wave. This meant the competition would be out in front and could try and ‘pick them off, then drop them.’ The past few years my focus has been road racing, so my running isn’t as strong. I would need a great bike performance since there were some strong runners in this race.
I was glad when just before the start it started to down pour. I knew I would mentally be able to take this normally, disadvantage and use it in my favor. Along with the rain, the announcers started talking about a few of the masters in my race and how many times they had won a National Championship. This fueled my motivation, I like being the underdog. Finally the gun went off and we started the 5.4 mile run, luckily the rain stopped, but it still made for a wet bike course. There was also a strong 15-20 mph wind. This made it very difficult to run as it was a headwind. The hilly course was more difficult than I expected. I ended up being about 5th in my wave. The most frustrating part about this format is not knowing where you are overall, as the person next to you can be in a totally different wave or category. Not all the racers were marked which made another part of knowing who to chase down a little more difficult. So I told myself, all I can do is get through transition as fast as possible and start passing people on the bike. Once I approached transition, I dumped the water out of my helmet and shoes put my gear on and ran with my bike through the puddles to start my favorite part of the race.
The bike course was great with rolling hills on a closed highway. The direction of the course made it a crosswind for most of the ride. This was the first time after a race I experienced being sore in my biceps and core from fighting the wind while staying on the aero bars. After working with Steve Auchterlonie with Cycling Performance Lab on my bike position, and all the road racing I’ve been doing I knew this is where I had to make up time. I lost track of how many people I passed and really was just pushing to catch one person at a time. Being an out and back, I started to see leaders coming back in but not knowing if they were in the wave before me or my wave, I had to keep pushing to make sure I caught all the master’s racers I could. I ended up with the 6th fastest bike split overall and was 1 of 6 that broke an hour. The bike is what separated the top 6 athletes as the 7th fastest bike was just over 2 minutes slower then my time. I still had to get off and run another 3 miles, and if you’ve ever tried to run after riding a super hard 58 minutes fighting crosswinds, well…it isn’t the easiest thing to do.
I got through the 2nd transition as fast as possible, racking my bike, throwing on my racing flats and was back out on the course. My legs felt heavy and I knew I just had to give it all I had because you have no idea what position you are really in. That first mile though was up a hill, with heavy legs, I felt like I wanted to vomit. I continued to give it all I had and when I approached the finish line, I heard them say here comes the 40-44 National Champion, Chad Grundy. They even made a joke that I couldn’t even crack a smile or raise my arms as I crossed the line. I just wanted to find a chair and sit. I ended the day 6th overall, 2nd masters, and 1st, or National Champion in the 40-44 age group, qualifying for 2020 Worlds in Almere, Netherlands.
A special thanks to Steve at Cycling Performance Lab for getting me prepared and ready to take on the competition. Thank you OCA for asking about my race, as the Iron Pig Duathlon is what got me started riding bikes in the first place. The duathlon is a great way to get started in multi-sport events and a great way to get started riding bikes if you are a runner.
Lastly, here are my final stats for the day so you can see why I was about to lose my breakfast on that last run ? 1st run = 5.4 miles – 30:09, average of 5:35/mile. Bike = 24.1 miles – 58:50, 275 watts average. 2nd run = 3 miles – 17:28, average of 5:49/mile.