This past Sunday, I competed in my first duathlon! However, it wasn’t the regular duathlon that would come to mind, rather it was THE American Zofingen duathlon in New Paltz, NY. I have heard a lot of great things about this race! Two words that I kept hearing over and over again were:
· Super challenging and hilly
· Absolutely beautiful
Since I actually enjoy hills (don’t ask why), and hills usually play to my advantage, I went ahead and signed up for the middle distance F1 duathlon, which consisted of 5 mile trail run, 29 mile bike, 5 mile trail run, 29 mile bike, and 5 mile trail, a total of 73 miles! I looked at it as a perfect prep for the supposedly super hilly Rev3 Quassy 70.3 in June, Providence 70.3 in July, and then super hilly Worlds in Vegas! Why not make 2011 the season of hills! J
Being still fairly new to the sport, I think being naïve sometimes helps. I really didn’t look up anything about this race, and I just went with the two words I kept hearing over and over from my friends - beautiful and hilly! Now looking back it, as I sit here 4 days later, barely able to move, I decided to do a bit more research on the race and found the following:
"The American Zofingen refers to the most famous Duathlon of the world, Powerman Zofingen in Switzerland, held since 1989. Zofingen is to the sport of Duathlon what Hawaii is for Triathlon: Long, demanding, prestigious, one of the races every long distance athlete has to finish at least once in his/her life. The American Zofingen in New York underlines the growing demand of athletes to compete in long distance duathlons. If you finish the "American Zofingen" you are ready for the real Zofingen."
Now this quote talks about the long distance race, which also starts with a 5 mile run, but is followed with 89 miles on the bike (3 x 29 mile loop), followed by 15 mile run (3 run loops) for a total of 109 miles (one more bike loop, and one more run loop than the middle distance). The middle distance is still no joke! I was ready for hills, but I was greeted with some serious mountains! I was ready for trails, but I had no idea what the word “trails” really meant – at least not here in the Catskill Mountains!
The run course was fun in a brutal kind of way, and the fact that it rained only made it that much more difficult. The 5 miles is either uphill or downhill, with barely any flat surface in between. The run course has about 750 feet of elevation over the 5 miles, so by the end of the day, your total run elevation adds up to 2,250 feet. I am actually not really sure if it was the uphills or downhills that were worse!
Run Elevation Profile
Not ever running any trails, I was in for some fun! Muddy, wet, and wild kind of fun! The run starts with a run across grassy field, at this point very muddy field, and continues up the single track to the summit. While on our way up, we were treated to some hard core single track with lots of rocks of all sizes, roots, and other obstacles such as fallen tree’s that I swear became higher and higher with each 5 mile loop! As if that wasn’t enough, the downhills resembled the uphills, and the very few yards of flatness were covered with wet leaves so you really had no clue what or where you were stepping! And how could I forget the two board plank crossings over swampy terrain, or creeks that were randomly flowing throughout the woods! Despite being covered in mud head to toe from the very first mile onwards, and being soaking wet, this was a very peaceful, beautiful yet very technical course! The peacefulness really set it on the 2nd and 3rd run as the field got quiet broken up, and unlike any triathlon race, you were pretty much all alone regardless of your position. It was just me, my own mind, and it would really be easier than ever to just stop and walk when times got tough! I mean, no one would ever know, right? I think this added to the difficulty of the race. There was no one to cheer you on, there was no one to pick you up, there was no one to chase (at least not in your sights)! It was almost like a training day, but it wasn’t! It was RACE TIME, and I had my mind on the prize the whole time!!!! I have definitely gained some extra mental toughness from this one! The 3rd loop is when the going got super tough and the peacefulness of the surroundings was over taken by quite a bit of pain. That’s where the REAL fun begun.
And the bike course you ask? THE bike course was a beast! It’s about 3,000 feet of climbing per loop – 29 miles, totaling to 6,000 feet of climbing on the day over the 58 miles! Just as a comparison, I believe the LP bike course has a total elevation of 6,000 feet over 112 miles! I have ridden both, and both are super beautiful, but climbing through the Catskill Mountains was a treat! The bike course starts out with about a quarter mile DIRT/GRAVEL access road to the main road! Oh, and hilly!!!!! Seriously? I need a cross bike for this mess! My DA is meant to stay on the road! Once on the road, the climbing began immediately! Almost a mile climb at an avg. of 8.5% incline right of the bat! Bring on the hills, right? What goes up, must come down, and a nasty, whiny downhill follows, with a 90 degree turn at the bottom of it, which is downright SCARY! Then it’s back to climbing, and I think you consistently climb for good 8 or so miles. The scenery is beautiful, but since it rained and was quite foggy, I didn’t really get to enjoy much of it! I think that means I must come back J. There are also a bunch of scenic overlook spots but since it was super foggy, and I was on a mission, there wasn’t all that much to see! Yup - I am really thinking I must go back! J The back end of the course is downhill with a few rollers, and once you get back near transition, the last 5 miles or so keep you very honest again! Nothing like climbing your way back into transition! J Oh and let’s not forget the last quarter mile trying to get back into transition through the muddy roads mixed in with some deep gravel!
Bike Elevation Profile
To quickly sum it up, even though the weather wasn’t beautiful, and it was wet, a bit cold and muddy, foggy, it was a GREAT experience! I had a great race despite some dark, low moments – like when I thought I was literally going to freeze alive while trying to ride my bike, and thought about quitting right there and then on the first loop of the bike. My coach Jorge gave me a great race plan/nutrition plan, and I was able to stick to it despite couple of girls running away from me during the first run. I was able to mind my own business rather than trying to stay with them right away and it paid off on the last bike/run leg, as I was able to take over both of them during the 2nd bike (I rode about 3 minutes faster on the 2nd loop), and I increased my lead on the last run even though I am not so sure the last 5 miles should even be called running.
Here are my splits:
Run 1: 44:29 40:01
Bike 1: 1:47:09 1:47:12
T2: 0:51 1:09
Run 2: 44:55 44:03
Bike 2: 1:44:03 1:49:13
T3: 0.36 :59
Run 3: 47:15 47:15
I have never dug as deep as I had to in this race, but I have learned that there is always that extra gear! Yes – it may not always be as fast as you wish it would be, but it is there! I was hurting, but everyone else was too! I had to keep moving, if I wanted to win, and even though I didn’t move very fast, I was still moving faster than the girls behind me! It was fun for once to be chased! J I got my first overall win in a time of 5 hours 51 min, and even made the top 10 overall including guys!!!!! J (The times in red are the times of the girl that finished 2nd, and even though she had 4:29 seconds on me after the first run, she went out way too fast, and couldn’t hold on to her initial pace – good thing I raced my own race! J)
Thank you Jorge Martinez (E3 Training Solutions – www.e3ts.com) for believing in me, and pushing my limits, Fast Splits for my super fast Felt DA (Never knew that a TT bike would be suited so well for muddy cyclocross like dirt roads), and PowerBar products (PowerBar perform, and gels) that fueled me to the finish line! Also huge thanks to the magic hands of Samantha Cail (http://waterhousewellness.com), Joan Howe from Newburyport, MA, and Kate Kelly - http://www.activerecoveryboston.com for helping me stay 100% healthy! And of course all my family/friends that support and believe in me – you know who you are! Without you all, I would be where I am today. Hard work sure does pay off! J American Zofingen was by far the hardest race I have ever done, and I highly recommend it for those looking for the ultimate endurance challenge without the IM craziness! Registration for 2012 has already opened up, and even though it took me about 5 days to walk pain free, I am already thinking about signing up for next year – maybe even the long distance? J Who is in?
My detailed race report can be found here:
Pics can be found http://www.facebook.com/e3trainingsolutions ... who knew my coach was a photographer as well? :)
Next up – Rev3 Quassy 70.3 in 2 weeks.
Next up – Rev3 Quassy 70.3 in 2 weeks.