August 24th was the Run, Bike Unite Duathlon, the third duathlon in the Central Wisconsin Triple Crown. Tim and decided to take on this challenge this summer. Tim had never done a duathlon before and I’m not sure that I adequately prepared him for what it would entail. And, even though he swore that ne would NEVER do another duathlon after the first one, he made it through all three of them and I’m pretty sure he enjoyed himself (or at least appreciated the effort it took for him to accomplish it).
This was the largest of the three events, with more than 700 participants. In addition to the competitive duathlon, they also offered a Just For Fun duathlon with shorter distances, for those who weren’t interested in completing the longer event.
I had done this race back in 2011 and I remembered the hill leading to the transition area being the toughest part of the course.
We left home around 6:15 to make the drive to Stevens Point. It took us just over an hour to get there. Then we had to unload the bikes and get our transition area set up before heading down the hill to pick up our packets.
The transition is set up in the parking garage.
Packet pick up and the post-race activities were in a nice park.
After we picked up our packets, we walked back up the hill to drop off our stuff, use the porta potties, and finish getting ready for the race. Then…back down the hill to the start line.
At the start line ready to race!
The race starts with a 2.15 mile run on a combination of road a trail. I started out too fast (as per usual) and when I heard my watch beep the first mile and saw a lap time of 7:16, I was worried if I would be able to keep that pace. I need to figure out how to program my Garmin so that it shows my current pace during the multisport mode. Currently, I only get total distance and total time. Of course, now that the three duathlons are over, I won’t be using multisport mode again until next summer.
Somewhere toward the end of the first mile, I tucked in behind this tall, lanky guy and just let him pace me. I should have found a faster pacer because he wasn’t running as fast as I thought he was. Naturally, the slowest part of the first run portion was right at the end as we ran up the hill to the parking garage and into the transition area.
Run leg 1
I ran to where I had my transition set up and quickly changed my shoes and put on my helmet. I grabbed my bike and jogged out of the transition area. The transition area was a little crowded as I was going through and the was a little bit of a slowdown as people were mounting their bikes.
The bike leg started by going down the hill I had just run up. I like gaining speed like that, but at the bottom of the hill, there is a sharp left turn and I had to put on my brakes. I get really nervous taking turns on my bike. I’m terrified that I’m going to wipe out. This bike course had more turns than the other duathlon courses I’ve done this summer. But it also had a lot fewer hills! Actually, other than one hill around mile 6, the course was pretty flat.
The course wound through the countryside and it was a rather peaceful and serene ride. Of course, I had the goal of maintaining an average speed of 18 mph on the bike course, so I didn’t really enjoy the scenery. I was trying to keep my legs moving as quickly as possible. Once again, since I don’t have my pace on my Garmin, I had no way of monitoring how well I was doing. There was one turn we made that had us going into the wind. It was weird because up until that point, I hadn’t noticed any wind at all.
There was one water station on the bike course, but I’m not sure how many people took advantage of it because of the location. It was located on the right side of the road right before we made a right hand turn. When you are on your bike, you take the corners very wide. So as I was approaching the water station, I was also drifting over to the left side of the road so that I could make the wide right turn without having to slow down that much. There is no way I could have gotten any water and still made that turn. It would have made much more sense to put the water station after the turn. It wasn’t a big deal because I had my water bottle on my bike. I’m glad a did too because it was a warm day.
I really tried to just keep pushing for the whole time I was on the bike. Any time that I started to feel fatigued or the burning in my quads started to distract me, I tried to focus on my 18 mph goal. And I just kept going. It was really nice that each mile was marked on the course (run and bike), so I knew when I was nearing the transition area again. I tried to build up as much speed as I could toward the end of the course. Then I made the sharp right turn and downshifted drastically to ride back up the hill to the transition area.
I hopped off my bike and ran through the parking garage to where my stuff was set up. I quickly changed my shoes, took off my helmet, and headed out for the second run leg.
The start of the second run leg was running down the hill I had just biked up. It always take a while to find my land legs again after getting off the bike. Heading down that hill right away gave my legs a bit of a pounding right at the beginning. Once we got to the bottom of the hill, we headed to the Schmeeckle Reserve. This is such a nice trail to run on. It is very soft on the dirt sections and there are some wooden boardwalks that we ran over too.
I wish I could say that my pace was super fast coming off the bike, but I think that the effort I expended to meet my 18 mph goal on the bike leg left me with less energy once I got to the running again. I tried to give it my all, but I really didn’t have much left. I passed a couple people through the Reserve, but I got passed by many more. Once we came out of the Reserve, we had a bit of running left to get back to the finish line. I kept trying to catch up with the guy in front of me, but I couldn’t quite get to him.
2nd run leg
I’m not thrilled with the time for that 2nd mile, but my average for the second run leg was only 11 seconds slower that my average for the first run leg.
Here are the overall stats for the day…
Overall, I was thrilled to reach my goal of 18 mph on the bike!! I didn’t reach my goal of finishing in under 1:25 (officially 1:26:04), but I forgot to include the transition times when I set that goal. Considering my transitions took over three minutes, I still feel pretty good about the overall time. I need to work on shortening my transition times. I wish I was coordinated enough to leave my bike shoes clipped into my bike and put them on after I got on the bike. But….that has serious potential to be disastrous!!
I ended up placing 7/22 in the 35-39 age group. (6th in the first run, 11th in the bike, 6th in the second run.) There were also overall standings for the Triple Crown. I was pretty excited to end up 4th in the standings (out of 17 women who did all three events), even though only the top three got awards. I feel good about 4th…but it was 4th place by quite a bit (20 minutes).
After we finished the race, we enjoyed some of the refreshments available. Every race in the summer should have popsicles. Just sayin’! We hung out and soaked up the post-race atmosphere for a while. The weather was wonderful and we wanted to stick around until they posted the results.
*Beautiful course. I love running through the Reserve.
*Well marked. There were volunteers at every intersection to direct participants which direction to go. There were colored arrows on signs pointing the way. There were volunteers in the Reserve to make sure we stayed on the right trails.
*Lots of post-race food. Loved the popsicles and the orange slices. Could have done without the donuts and pastries. Bagels with peanut butter are a better choice than a glazed donut hole!
*Nice location. Loved hanging out in the park after the event. There were a lot of picnic tables to sit and hang out. There were some nice tents set up to keep people in the shade. Excellent family environment.
*Organization. The race started in waves which alleviated some of the congestion in the beginning. Good thing too, because the trail section on the first run was rather narrow and could have been very crowded if everyone had started at the same time.
*Transition. The transition area was really big. Even with more than 700 people, there wasn’t much congestion in the transition area. There were a lot of volunteers, a water station and porta potties.
*Inconsistent shirts. The other two duathlons in the series offered tech shirts for their events. This event had a cotton shirt (neon yellow) and then a blue tech shirt for those completing the Triple Crown. As you can see, the sizes weren’t anywhere close to consistent. (Both of the shirts below are a medium.)
*The hill. How many times did I have to go up and down that hill?!? It is the only logical place for the transition, though.
*Kids race. There is a kids duathlon associated with this event, but it is on Friday night. We just live too far away to drive to Stevens Point twice, although Jaden would have LOVED doing the kids event.
Overall Grade: A-
Tim and I both agreed that this was our favorite event of the series. We may do it again at some point, but there are so many other races we would like to do, that I don’t think we will make this an annual event. However, I would highly recommend it to anyone who is considering it!