Du It For You

Duathlon training and racing: stories, advice, and views from the top

Category: National Championships Page 1 of 2

Guest Post: Duathlete Proposes Solution to Long Course Diet

Duathlete and coach Luis Lora, who lives and trains in Winter Park, Florida, composed a reply to MultiRace race director Andre Quirino’s response to Lora’s original letter, published in USAT Magazine and on Du It For You, about MultiRace’s decision to shorten the USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championship, held in Miami this year.

You can read the original letter about the switch here, and the follow up here. USAT reps reached out to Quirino, who sent them the same response he sent to Lora (thanks copy-and-paste!) All this took place 3-4 weeks ago. To date, the race course remains its shortened self, and the duathlon community has heard nothing official from either USAT or MultiRace.

The frustration stems from a) a race director’s decision to shorten a ITU world-qualifying long-course event, seemingly without exhausting all other options and b) do it without first conducting a proper marketing survey geared toward duathlon participants and c) do it without effectively communicating the change to athletes.

In the letter below, which Lora sent to Quirino on August 1, Lora proposes a solution. He also provides further comments. Duathletes: What would you like to see happen? Post your comments here. The USAT Duathlon Committee and USAT will see them. I’ll make sure of it! — Du It For You.

<<Good Afternoon Andre,

I want to thank you first and foremost for taking the time out to read and provide a response to my letter. I also appreciate your diligence in answering the various points in my letter.

In regards to the Zoo access, as you mentioned, my comparison was just that. A simple comparison. As you explained, the logistics between the two scenarios are very different and even in the aforementioned 5K, there is ¾ of a mile run through the parking lot to ensure the full 5K distance since there are some areas that the event cannot enter. So I completely understand not having full access to the Zoo and the well-being of the animals being their top priority.

The comparison was provided to illustrate how from the outside, without detailed explanation, it can be interpreted as a lack of desire to push through obstacles. This could have been remedied with clear and detailed communication as you eluded to toward the end of your response, and I appreciate you acknowledging that.

Despite the obstacle with the zoo, it seems there is plenty of road available to provide a longer distance on the first run (even if it ended up being two loops).

The road inside the park, but not inside the zoo, that ends on one side at SW 124th Ave and Talbot Rd on the other end could provide a simple out and back addition to create a longer run. It also has a path that’s not in the zoo that runs parallel to it for a major part of the road.

Now, I am not going to pretend I am a race director and know the ins and outs of picking, establishing and designing a run course–that is your expertise. Nor do I intend to tell you how to do your job, so I hope that my comments do not come across that way. Again, from the outside, it just doesn’t seem that all options were exhausted.

I agree that 100% consensus is impossible. There are too many variables and too many different opinions. The question that still stands is do you really feel or think you got the general consensus of the participating duathletes?

I would argue that you have not. I am familiar with the survey you referenced. USAT and the race directors they partner with are very consistent in obtaining feedback after their major events. It’s an important part of continuing to provide a product that athletes want to attend, which is great. That survey was an overall survey for the race.

In my letter I eluded to a survey, which again has minimal to almost zero cost, specifically about the proposed change to the duathlon. You mentioned that it took monthsof considering the information to get to the ultimate decision, which means there was ample time to inquire further with the athletes that spent the time and money to participate in the actual event.

In regards to athlete feedback and considering the race conditions to ensure the event is neither too hard nor too easy, it still appears to me to be a miss.

After writing and sharing my letter, I have yet to encounter an athlete that truly thinks shortening the first run to 2 miles was the best thing for the sport of duathlon. The letter I wrote has been shared and viewed by over 200 people and none have disagreed with it, several have shared it and commented that they agree that a National Championship event shouldn’t have been altered that way.

I understand you might have received some feedback on the long first run, but no one, not just MultiRace, investigated further with the collective of duathlon participants. You would have found different results had it been investigated with a specific follow-up survey.

Additionally, if the course conditions in Miami are just too hard to have such a long event, why are we not seeing a reduction in length for the long-course triathlon?

MultiRace put on for several years one of my favorite duathlons in Cocoa Beach, so I know that your organization puts on quality events and can be inclusive of all the different races.

My frustration isn’t directed at you as a person and race director or even solely at MultiRace for that matter. A National Championship race is a joint venture between several parties. The true frustration comes in because none of the multiple parties involved either individually, or collectively, thought to investigate further, communicate broadly and effectively, or treat this National Championship event with the same high reverence and respect that us duathletes treat itwith as we train and prepare for it.

Again Andre, I want to thank you for taking out the time to respond, as I know you are very busy running an organization. Thank you for engaging me in this conversation.>>

Guest Post: MiamiMan Race Director Responds re: Long Course Duathlon

Duathlete Luis Lora’s guest post about MultiRace’s decision to shorten the USAT Duathlon Long Course National Championship course caused a stir! The USAT Duathlon Committee reported to me that it has followed the issue closely ever since Lora originally submitted his letter to USAT Magazine. In recent weeks, the Committee and USAT have taken action.

According to Committee Co-Chair Dave Lasorsa, USAT National Events Coordinator Cody Crowther contacted Miami Man race director Andre Quirino of MultiRace. After speaking with Luis and getting more information, Cody asked Andre for reasoning behind the decision.

Below is Andre’s response to his company’s decision to shorten the long course nationals from a 10K first run to a 3.2K first run. I’m also including a copy of the letter MultiRace sent to its athletes after the race.

Let’s continue a healthy discussion! Post your thoughts in the comments below. I’d like to believe stronger communication between athletes, USAT and its race director partners leads to higher-quality events we’re all excited to participate in. Duathlon is a wonderfully challenging sport with an intimate community that I for one would like to see grow. Let’s work together to make that happen. — Du It For You

Hi Cody,

I am in receipt of your recent (USAT Magazine) letter to the editor and I would like to personally address the various points you mentioned.

First, I would like to convey that I always encourage feedback from all our participants. Whether it is good, bad, or otherwise, direct feedback helps MultiRace (and USAT) improve the events and grow the sport and its various athletic disciplines.  While I completely understand your feelings of frustration in this matter based on the points you brought up, I hope that a deeper understating of the overall picture will abate your perception.

The ”generic response” you allude to is in fact quite accurate even if it is light in details. The truth of the matter is that the combined issues of both logistics and athlete feedback necessitated the change in distance.

While your example of a small/local 5K gaining early access to Sea World seems like a logical comparison, it is in fact quite a different situation at Zoo Miami. It is true that early access to Zoo Miami can be gained by small/local 5K’s and conventional wisdom would ask why can’t MultiRace/USAT with its National Championship event gain access?

Those events that gain early access to Zoo Miami are entering via the public accessible paths that are closed during the early hours, however, the Miami Man Duathlon course would require entering via the restricted (non-public) areas that run adjacent or near the animal paddock sleeping areas at a time where any disturbance is to be kept at a minimum.  Also, zoo staff & keepers are actively working in this area in the morning preparing/feeding the animals and with the many other tasks required before the zoo opens to visitors.  This is a Zoo Miami decision but it is quite understandable when looked at from their perspective of controlling and minimizing stress to the animals.

Further, it is always difficult in deciding when the physical challenges of a particular race are too high or too low for the intended participant target group.  You mentioned the heat of our Florida weather and the ‘sauna’ it created last year with the strong morning rain.  This is just one of the many aspects that have to be considered, however, it is simply impossible to have 100% participant consensus on such matters.

I will concur that we could have done a better job with the public announcement of the course change.  In hind-sight, a direct email to those already registered would seem to have been appropriate.  This has been noted and I thankyou for mentioning it… this is an example of participant feedback helping us improve the quality of our events going forward.

In regard to your point of a ‘questionnaire’, a post-race survey was sent out to all race-day participants.  Below is a copy of said survey with the original email date of November 26th.  It is through the survey responses (in addition to direct participant feedback) that we formulate our action points for the following year’s event.  We took several months in considering the racer feedback, the logistical issues with Zoo Miami, the current course and its alternatives to arrive at (in conjunction with USAT) at the best possible solution.  Obviously, as I stated earlier, it is impossible the achieve 100% consensus, but we endeavor as much as is possible to do so.

On a personal note, I would also like to emphatically state that ALL our participants, whether triathletes, duathetes, aquabikers, or aquathletes, have an equal level of attention and my upmost & sincerest effort is made to ensure that no one is left to feel marginalized.  I hope I was able to shed a bit more light on this situation and as always, please feel free to contact me with your comments, questions, or concerns.

Regards,

COPY OF SURVEY:

Dear Athlete,

 

On behalf of everyone at MultiRace, I would like to thank you for participating in the 2018 Mack Cycle Miami Man Half Iron & International Triathlon – USA Triathlon Multisport National Championships. I know the windy and rainy conditions were challenging for most, but we were fortunate we were able to see the sun shining by the end of the day. We sincerely hope you enjoyed your race.

 

In an attempt to continue to produce the very best events, we ask for your feedback, both positive and negative. MultiRace strives to improve your race experience at each and every event and have found that some of the best ideas/suggestions come from you, the participants. Please send me all your feedback and/or suggestions and we will try to incorporate these ideas into next year’s race!

 

We are extremely excited to host the 2019 USA Triathlon Multisport National Championships Festival at Miami Man on November 9-10th, which will include the Long Course Triathlon, the Long Course Duathlon, Long Course Aquabike, International Triathlon, International Aquabike and International Aquathlon. Be a part of history and add this “must do” event to your 2019 race schedule.

 

 

For more information: Click here Registration is now open!

 

Finally, please take a few minutes to fill out the USA Triathlon survey by clicking HERE

 

Thanks again, and we look forward to seeing you next year at Miami Man. Best wishes for a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Andre Quirino

USA Triathlon Race Director

www.multirace.com

 

 

 

Guest Post: USAT Duathlon Nationals: How Long Is Too Long?

USAT and MultiRace, the host race director for the USAT Long Course Duathlon Nationals, in Miami, unexpectedly made a long-course race shorter. Here, duathlete and coach Luis Lora shares his view on the change. 

Although Luis explains it more eloquently, my thought is this: athletes, why in the world are you complaining that a long-course national championship is too friggin’ long? Suck it up Buttercup! This race qualifies you for the toughest duathlon in the world. If you’re complaining now, you’ll be crying in Zofingen!  — Du It For You

Duathlon

Photo courtesy of Luis Lora

A Step Back for Duathlon
(my letter to the USAT Magazine Editor)

Luis Lora

As you may or may not have heard, the 2019 USAT Duathlon Long Course National Championship event has had a major change to its race distance. The 2018 edition of the event featured a 10K run, 56mi bike and a 13mi run.

Through a June 26th Instagram post by MultiRace it became public knowledge that the race would now have a 3.2K first run instead of 10K. This decision has taken the development and growth of Duathlon several steps backwards, and I’ll explain why.

First, we must attempt to understand the reason how or why this happened. Several frustrated athletes reached out USAT events in an attempt to gain an understanding of what happened, and this generic response is what they all received:

“In conjunction with feedback from the race director in Miami, we both decided it was best to shorten the first run course due to some logistical issues with the park and campground that it runs through. Additionally, many athletes provided feedback last year that they thought the first run was too long for this event”

The first part of that refers to logistical issues. What those are, we do not know from this initial email. Only after further inquiring beyond the initial response, if you have the time and patience to do so, is it relayed that there is no access to the zoo at race start.

For those that completed the event in 2018, that would explain the different 1st and 2nd run courses. A note on the 2018 first run: it was not the best. There were at least four 180-degree turns combined with paths that were narrow, which forced the top 20 athletes to race single file for the majority of that first run.

The 2018 first run certainly left much to desire and needed improvement, but not in regards to distance. The logistics of access to the Miami Zoo certainly presents an obstacle, but at the same time I’m wondering how my local running store can get access to SeaWorld’s staff, parking lot and park before hours for us to run a 5K Fun Run. Again, that’s a small local running shop, with much less influence than USAT or MultiRace, gaining access to SeaWorld, a much larger corporation than the Miami Zoo, for a fun run 5K, a much less prestigious occasion than a national championship event.

The second part of the generic response eludes to a first run too long for a long-course duathlon race. To clarify, this National Championship race qualifies an athlete for a Team USA slot to race in the 10K, 150K, 30K World Championship event. How does a 10k, 90K, 21K long-course race still seem too long? More importantly, would we be having this conversation if a few athletes complained that the 1.2mi swim or the 56mi bike or any other part of a long-course triathlon championship race was too long? Highly doubtful.

What are you telling us, USAT?

These initial points aside, the way this was handled, communicated and the message it sends is what truly makes it detrimental to the development of Duathlon.

We are told, only upon having to inquire, that participant feedback conveyed the first run was too long.

There were 111 athletes that made it to the start line for last year’s event. How difficult would it have been to reach out via email to those 111 participants to have them fill out a short survey with 3-4 specific questions around how they would feel about a shortened run at the 2019 event?

It seems like something that could have been easily done. Furthermore, was the USAT Duathlon Committee consulted regarding this change for their input? If so, where was the outreach from them, even simply through the group FB page to gain a wider range of feedback around a shortened run?

We were never made aware that this was an issue that needed some attention. The way this portrays to the duathlete is that when any slight hiccup in event planning presents itself, the easiest thing to do is to simply make the duathlon event less of a “hassle or burden” on race directors.

Fast-forward to the decision being made. How do you decide to relay this message to athletes that are quite possible halfway through the year training specifically for this race and the specific race distance? Surely an email would be sent from the USAT governing body or the USAT Events team. Non-existent. Well then surely MultiRace would make a big announcement through email and let us know as previous participants in both an effort to get us to re-register in 2019 and to inform us. NADA. A short Instagram post is all we got.

What does this mean for duathlon?

So what does this mean to Duathlon? I’m not 100% sure, but it says a lot of things. It says that after making the right decision and taking a National Championship event that was much shorter and making it a true long-course worthy distance, we’ve taken 3 steps back.

It says, “A Duathlon National Championship isn’t the same as a Triathlon National championship, what were you thinking.” It says, “Duathlete, you are not strong enough to race at this distance.” It says, “Duathlete, you can’t compete at the world level anyway, so why try to prepare you for success there.” The lack of desire and effort to push through boundaries and obstacles so we can get into the zoo or find a suitable way to run a 10K first leg says “Duathlete, your $350 registration dollars isn’t worth the same $350 registration dollars the triathlete pays.”

Listen, that race last year was brutal. For the first two hours I was right where I wanted to be and ready to earn a top spot in the last two and a half hours of the race. Unfortunately, a mechanical/equipment issue with my bike turned those aspirations of a top finish to pure survival mode.

Add in the heat that is present in Miami year-round and the morning rain that created almost a sauna effect in the mid to late morning made it even harder. I crossed that finish line in the top 20, nowhere near as high as I wanted, but felt good about what I gave out there on that course.

Since that day, I’ve been thinking about what redemption would look like at that distance, on that course. USA Triathlon & Multirace, you have taken that opportunity away from me and many, many other athletes like me…

USAT Duathlon National Championships 2018 – race update

I’m almost a week late in talking about the 2018 USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships held in Greenville, South Carolina. What I lack in timeliness I hope to make up with photos like this:

Greenville, SC

It’s…a peach. (Photo courtesy of Angie Wonsettler Ridgel)

Oh happy day, more than 1,100 athletes registered for some form of run-bike-run last weekend, either draft-legal or non-draft sprint or standard distance dus. The attendance makes the event the third-largest in USAT’s Duathlon Nationals history. Hooray!

I’m thrilled to see the numbers go up. Was it the location? The chance to compete in Pontevedra, Spain at the ITU World Championships? Or is there a glimmer of increasing interest in duathon? I hope it’s all of the above, though I most hope we see a continued increase in duathlon participation.

I’m biased, because I am a pure duathlete (never raced a triathlon, don’t plan to), but I do believe duathlon has so many advantages over its three-discipline sister. Less crap to buy and manage, less hassle in transition, no hopping on the bike cold and wet, and a chance to get very good at two sports rather than okay in three.

Enough of that. On to Greenville…

It was wet and gross on Saturday, April 7.

Greenville hotel

View on Saturday from the hotel of Eric Butz, a competitor in the standard distance du

However, that didn’t stop 303 athletes from competing in the Draft-Legal Sprint Duathlon (5K run, 18K bike, 2.85K run)

Jesse Bauer was in the lead pack through the bike; however, the final run determined the podium spots: Buckingham Shellberg, Derek Stone, Kenneth Svendsen.

Here’s a mini-report from Jesse.

Chris Mosier, a positive force for the trans community, duathlon and for athletes anywhere everywhere, didn’t let a little rain stop him from running a PR in the 5K and placing sixth in the competitive men’s 35-39 age group. Read all about it in this article from Outsports.

On Sunday, the rain subsided but the temperature dropped—to 37 degrees at the start! Not the worst thing for the run. No fun for the bike.

Alex Arman won the standard distance (8.45K run, 39K bike, 4.5K run) men’s race, while Aimee Phillippi-Taylor claimed the women’s victory.

It warmed up a little for the sprint race, with Taylor Huseman and Cassidy Hickey breaking the tape. Go you!

For the nitty gritty on the non-draft action, read this race report from Podium Sports Medicine.

Did you race in Greenville last weekend? How did it go? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

2017 year in review: success in spite of myself

I started mentally reviewing my 2017 racing season well before the holidays, but it took until now to get my thoughts on the page. In between, contributor Dr. Stephen Jonas provided helpful questions to ask when reviewing your racing season. Take a look!

For most of 2017, I criticized myself. My performance on the bike wasn’t up to par. I didn’t practice my transitions, which would have saved me precious seconds in important races. My running performance started off strong, but faded halfway through the year. I considered 2017 a wash.

But when I shifted my mindset and thought of my goals, I realized I had a pretty darn good year in spite of myself. Here are four things I’m proud of.

1. Top 10 in USA Track & Field/Pacific Region Road Grand Prix, short and long series.

USATF has annual team and individual competitions in road, cross country, mountain/ultra and track events. My club, Pamakid Runners, competes in all of these except track.

One of my 2017 goals was to earn “comped” status in both the short- and long-course road series. This requires placing in the top 10 in my division, 40+ women. Result: nailed it! I placed seventh in both. That means I receive free entry into 2018 short and long Grand Prix races. Yay, free! I got comped for the short series (10th) for 2015, but thanks to an injury, didn’t get to take advantage of the benefit.

2. USA Triathlon Duathlon National Champion

One of my all-time duathlon goals was to win my age group in a national championship race. Unexpectedly, I accomplished this at the USAT Duathlon Long-Course National Championships in Cary, North Carolina, in April.

IMG_0300

I had a lackluster race. (Can you tell I’m hard on myself?) My bike split was minutes slower than my expectation. I had acceptable run splits considering the heat and humidity. But I did my best on the day. Result: Age group win! Bonus: a “national champion” bike jersey that I’m a little embarrassed to wear.

3. Came out of half marathon hiatus

In February, I lined up to race the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon for the first time in 10 years. In between, I ran some trail halfs as training races, but didn’t specifically train for a half.

Why? After the 2007 KPSF 1/2 I ran a big PR, and then ended up with a stress fracture a week later. I became gun-shy about racing the half and focused on races from 5K to 10 miles. I soon got over my fear, but training for a half just didn’t fit…for a long time!

In 2017, I not only ran the KPSF 1/2, but also the Clarksburg Country Run in November (part of the road Grand Prix), where I placed third in my age group. Result: barrier broken. Bonus: I stayed healthy and still am!

4. Pamakid Runners Female Runner of the Year

Well this was unexpected! Each year my club hands out awards for male/female runner of the year (road and ultra), most improved and most inspirational. It also gives out an overall “Pamakid of the Year” and “Volunteer of the Year” award for members who go above and beyond to help the club and the running community at large.

I missed the club’s Christmas party, where they present the awards, only to discover a couple days later I won one! And here I thought I had a crappy 2017.

Pamakid Runners

At the Christmas Relays, belatedly receiving my award. Thanks Pamakids!

For most of 2017’s second half, my motivation to race took a nosedive due to caring for and losing my beautiful feline companion, Soleil. From the time I learned she had a tumor, in August, through the worst of the grief, I had no passion for racing or much else. I raced to keep my skills sharp and to spend time with my Pamakids family.

my cat

My pal for 15 and-a-half years and a sock monkey she didn’t like. Isn’t she the most beautiful cat ever?

I criticized myself (can you see a trend here?) for slower race times, but in spite of myself, I ran a lot of races and placed fairly well in them. I also volunteered a fair amount for my club. Taken all together, Pamakids saw something I didn’t. I’m grateful.

As 2018 picks up momentum, I have my enthusiasm back and my health intact. I’m working toward my 2018 goals with a renewed sense of commitment.

What are you most proud of in 2017? What did you learn? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Team USA, it’s not goodbye. It’s see you later.

I am officially on Team USA Duathlon sabbatical until at least 2019. Maybe longer. Maybe until I turn 50 (2021), or maybe I’ll revisit the hiatus in 2018 if I get ridiculously excited about an event. Regardless, I am a one-sport athlete for the time being.

USA Triathlon Duathlon

I didn’t make this decision lightly. The duathlon burnout tugged at me all year, despite ambitious goals. My original plan: USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championships in April, standard course nationals in June and the World Championships (standard course) in August. I felt the first two would prepare me well for the worlds in Penticton, which was my “A” goal.

I didn’t train as specifically as I could have for the first of those three races. I could blame it on the deluge of rain that hit the Bay Area through last winter and early spring. Really, it was lack of interest.

I was ready for a break from duathlon and the demand of my time it required. I looked forward to competing with my team at local running races, but rarely looked forward to intervals on the bike and long brick workouts.

By June, I had fit in more duathlon-specific training. The malaise stuck with me, even in beautiful Bend, Oregon. The voices in my head during the bike leg were the loudest they’ve ever been. You’re so slow. Everyone is passing you. You’re going to be the last one out here. Just quit now. This is not fun. I finished, and only about a minute slower than the previous year (all on the bike). So I wasn’t last, but dang it sure felt like it!

I ran well and had a great time at a one-mile race in late June and a Fourth of July 5K. No transitions, no lugging the bike here and there, no goofy one-piece outfit. I worked on getting excited about the ITU Multisport Championships in Penticton, BC, but the feeling wasn’t coming. I trained anyway.

 

And then, something happened on Fourth of July that sent my motivation for everything plummeting into the abyss. My cat, Soleil—my companion for the past 15 years—got sick. Not the sniffles or coughing up a hairball. Serious sick. On July 5, the vet put her on antibiotics for 21 days, which didn’t help her condition.

And so began a long journey of cat worry, combined with a seriously heavy workload, and training for and planning for a trip to Canada. As the days went on, Soleil got more tests, and I got more overwhelmed about this trip.

I canceled the whole damn thing. On August 20, the day I *should* have raced in the Duathlon World Championships, I took Soleil to the vet to have a tumor removed from her bladder. The tumor was cancerous. Now, two months later, she’s on what the cat oncologist calls “hospice care;” which, in this case, means TLC and pain meds. My heart breaks every day.

I officially started my duathlon hiatus when I called Tiki Shores hotel in Penticton to cancel my reservation. I’ll return when my excitement for the sport returns. Until then, I’m a runner that rides her bike a lot.

USAT, you could do better

I absolutely love duathlon, the challenge it brings and the community of people dedicated to this demanding multisport event. I don’t love a lot of what USAT requires to compete in major events. Its demands also played a role in my hiatus, though burnout definitely starred in the decision.

USAT talks about making multisport accessible to everyone. Yet, national championships, and especially world championships, are not accessible to everyone.

They’re accessible to people that meet or exceed the current median USAT athlete income of $100,000+ per year. They’re accessible to people that can afford to take off a few days from work, travel across the country for a race, and invest in an expensive TT bike, an “aero” helmet and other garb. If the average middle-class aspiring athlete scrapes up the cash to acquire the gear and travel to a big race, and lo and behold qualifies to compete in the worlds, they’ll have to pay dearly. Again.

USAT doesn’t make it easy, or affordable in any way, to compete as part of Team USA. The “travel packages” assembled by its travel agent partner are a joke. I compared the costs one year of booking my own travel vs. working with their travel partner and saved well over $1,000 by planning myself.

If you choose to stay in the “host” hotel, know it will likely be one of the most costly in town. In Pontevedra, Spain, for the 2014 worlds, USAT chose the only four-star hotel in the city, while the rest of the countries stayed in nearby, slightly more modestly priced hotels.

Uniforms? You pay for them. About $220 for a uniform, which changes every few years. In 2017, they also started pushing Team USA athletes to buy a “parade kit,” which was a small $200 (approx.) collection of Team USA apparel it supposedly “required” athletes to wear when they weren’t racing. I assume this was another way for USAT to make money off its amateur athletes. I would never be seen in public in this stuff.

Oh–don’t forget the race entry fee. That sets you back another $200 to $300. And don’t forget airfare, hotel/Airbnb reservations, meals, bike transport fees, and other costs. Start doing the math, and you’ll see anything beyond a local duathlon is not accessible to most people.

Want diversity in the sport? Make it affordable to a more diverse population. Consider at minimum, a discount off uniforms, membership fees, race entry fees and the stupid parade kit for people that meet certain income criteria.

Study USATF’s requirements for regional and national championships. The difference in monetary requirements and pain-in-the-you-know-what factor is remarkable.

Some of the costs associated with national and world events are unavoidable. Race organizers pay a fortune, I’m sure, in insurance, permitting, security, police support, venue reservations and other expenses. But really, a “required” parade kit? After all the athletes sacrifice to compete in a dream of an event, requiring us to wear stuff we’ll never wear again (and pay for it) is like swatting us upside the head with a racing flat.

Having said all that, will I compete in regional and national USAT events again? Absolutely. Do I plan to fulfill my mission of competing in Powerman Zofingen, the ITU long-course duathlon world championship? Absolutely. I don’t know when, but when I do, I’ll be physically and mentally “all in.”

Do I think USAT does a few things right? Yep. It promotes a sport that welcomes beginners. In a country faced with an obesity crisis, the more people we have engaging in healthy activities, the better.

It offers a wealth of training tips through its website, newsletters and magazine that athletes of all ability levels can learn from. It sanctions races all over the country, ensuring a greater chance we’ll participate in reasonably well-organized, safe events. It established solid programs for college and youth. It established a complicated rankings system so competitive age-groupers like myself can see how we stack up.

And it hired COO Tim Yount. I don’t know everything his job entails, but I know he is passionate about promoting and growing duathlon, and I know he works hard for USAT’s membership body. He travels all over the U.S. and world as a USAT liaison. I’ve seen him lead course preview rides, town hall discussions and rules briefings. I’ve heard him emcee big races. I’ve seen him stand near the finish line for hours to hand little American flags to athletes approaching the finish line of world championship events.

What do you think? How can USAT make duathlon more accessible to all? To keep the sport going, it has to bring in more participants, and to bring in more participants, it should be more accessible to more people. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

USAT Duathlon National Championships 2017. Bend, Take Two

One sign that my race didn’t go as planned—no pictures. Sorry.

2017 USAT Duathlon National Championships

Okay, I took a couple. The finish line – a welcome sight!

This past weekend, duathletes from all over the United States convened in beautiful Bend, Oregon for the USAT Duathlon National Championships.

For the second year in a row, the beer-loving mountain town gave us near-perfect temperatures, sunny skies, and little wind. It was the perfect setting for fast times on a hilly course…mine, however, was not one of them.

But I won’t complain about my race—yet. First, I’ll talk about what went right. Two friends I made in North Carolina during the long-course nationals—Albert Harrison and Tom Woods—both stood at the top of the podium. Albert all-out won the standard course race, finishing the hilly 10K-40K-5K course about two minutes ahead of elite athlete Alistair Eeckman. Tom finished second in his age group in the standard course. Later that afternoon, in his second of three races over the weekend, he won the masters title and the competitive 45-49 age group division in the non-draft sprint. Read USAT’s report here.

Many of my Bay Area friends had great days. Wolf Hillesheim, Jim Girand, and Rick and Suzanne Cordes all finished second in their age group in their respective races. Jacqueline Sasaki, whom I met at a local race the week prior, won the 40-44 AG title for the standard distance. Cassie O’Brien, my transition neighbor at several big races and buddy from the Wolf Pack Events duathlons, finished third in our 45-49 AG for the standard. (Full results here.)

With the exception of the turnaround on the bike course and a slight change to the run course, the routes were identical to last year. You can read the specs in last year’s race report.

2017 USAT Duathlon National Championships

Reviewing the run course during the rules briefing.

The weather was slightly cooler, the wind about equally mild (but no mini twister). My performance: terrible. And I have no one or no thing to blame but myself. My transitions were almost 30 seconds slower. Why? I didn’t practice them. Not once in the past year. Granted, I did get a wave of nausea for a few seconds in T1, and I had trouble getting my cycling shoes on, and I was positioned near the back of the transition area, farthest from Bike Out, but really it’s because I didn’t practice. Why didn’t I practice? How many excuses do you want to hear?

My bike split was about two minutes slower than last year. Why? I didn’t train enough. Sure, we had nearly constant rain in the beginning of the year, and I sold my trainer, so my indoor option is a spin bike at the gym. Adequate? Eh, it’s better than no bike, but not ideal! When the weather cleared, there were many weeks where I’d be too tired from a long or hard run to eek out a quality bike workout later in the week. Or I’d get about half way through, see the pitiful power numbers and give up. Oh, and I switched to a shorter crank a few weeks ago, which I’m still getting used to. But none of that really matters. I didn’t train properly.

My run splits – no complaints there! I improved from last year on both the first and second runs. Why? I’ve been training! I’ve stayed healthy all year, put in consistent track workouts and competed in a variety of road races. No big breakout performances or PRs (at this stage, those are hard to come by), but consistently solid performances. Why? I was committed.

So I’ve finished two national championships this year in duathlon and am two months away from a world championship race. Yet, I have not had the motivation to train for this sport all year. Unless I want to beat myself up again in Penticton, after another crappy race, I’d better find some motivation real quick!

On the second out-and-back of the bike leg, struggling up what looked like nothing but felt like a mountain, my inner voice yelled at me. A lot. It’s typical to get the occasional thought during a race: “This is too hard.” “I should just forget it.” “Why am I out here?” Usually I can push those thoughts aside with a mantra or by telling myself to cut it out. In Bend, my “dark side” had the rest of me convinced this was my last duathlon ever. “F— it. I’m not having fun. I’m last. Oh Jesus Christ. There’s a car behind me. The sweeper car? Figures. I have no business going to Penticton. I can cancel my hotel. Maybe I can get credit with Air Canada. What would I do with it? Oh who cares. This sucks. I should just quit this duathlon business now.” And on and on and on it went. Meanwhile, the women I was with during the first run were long gone.

I wasn’t last. I managed sixth in my age group. That’s three places higher than last year even though I was slower. I had two pretty good runs before and after a sucky bike. My attitude toward duathlon is shifting back toward the positive. I haven’t canceled my flight. Time to get my rear in gear!

How do you recover mentally from a bad race? Talk about it in the comments below.

Duathlon

Race Report: Cary Du Classic – USAT Long Course National Championship

For the second year, Cary, North Carolina hosted the USAT Long Course National Championship on April 29. This was my first visit to Cary, located just outside of Raleigh, and my first long course national duathlon. That I won my age group had as much to do with luck as skill. Had I competed in this event last year, I would have finished eighth! But it’s not last year. It’s 2017, and I earned my first age group win in a national championship du. Woo Hoo!

The trip didn’t start well. I arrived ridiculously late—it was 1:30 a.m. Thursday night/Friday morning by the time I arrived to my hotel, and around 2:30 a.m. when I flopped into bed. I slept fitfully for about five hours. As someone who deals with occasional insomnia, I value sleep! I don’t function well when I’m deprived of it. But I pressed on…

The first order of business (after coffee) on Friday morning was a short, easy run; ideally on the course, if I could figure it out. I happened to show up just as a guy on a fancy aero bike rode into the parking lot. “Do you know the run course?” I asked. He kinda did, but his friend Bert knew it better. They were planning to run it also as soon as Bert finished his ride. I asked to tag along and they politely agreed.

Little did I know I was running with the overall male winner, Albert “Bert” Harrison, and the masters men’s winner, Tom Woods. What luck! When I wasn’t falling behind, I learned they were from Idaho and Nebraska, respectively, and none of us had any recent experience with heat and humidity.

Cary Du

Bert (left) won a growler (empty, sadly) for his efforts.

Post run, I headed to race sponsor Inside Out Sports in hopes they could fix my bike, which I thought got damaged en route. A cable came unplugged, which I learned was an easy fix. The mechanic went above and beyond: he fixed the cable, checked the derailleur hanger, assessed the shifting, and adjusted an aero bar that got knocked off kilter. The Magic Bullet was ready to go!

Race morning gave us more warm, sticky weather. It was 73 degrees and humid when I arrived at 5:40 a.m. I finished my two-mile warm up drenched. I put some ice in my sports bra (yowza!) and waited.

Cary Du

Me and the bike are ready as can be.

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Hot bike alert! Very patriotic

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Another pretty bike

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It was a sea of pretty bikes

The race started in three waves: under-40 men, 40-plus men, and all women. The run course started on a bike path, wound around and through the Team USA Baseball Complex, through a parking lot, back on a bike path, out-and-back on Green Level Church Road, and back on the bike path to the start. The long course did this 2.5-mile sorta-out-and-back twice.

The course was relatively flat, with some gentle rises/false flats and one tiny hill of about, oh, five meters. Typically for this type of course, for this distance, I should have been able to click off 6:50 to seven-minute miles no problem. On race day, it was a problem. The heat? I finished the first run averaging about 7:20s.

I curse when I’m riding. Sometimes. Under my breath when cars do stupid things. My first four-letter word came at the bike mount, which was on a little hill. I was about to take off when suddenly a swarm of people came around from behind, tried to mount their bikes, and proceeded to weave and fall all over the ground. One woman fell right in front of me. That’s when swear word Number One came out. People, please! If you’re going to race your bike, learn how to ride your bike! And that includes learning how to clip in on a hill!

The bike course was relatively flat and fast, with about 1,100 feet of elevation gain over 31-ish miles. Athletes from flatter regions called it hilly. For someone used to the East Bay hills and Mt. Diablo, it was about as flat as you could get!

After the short course duathletes turned off around mile seven, the rest of us had lots of room to spread out. There were long stretches where I had no one behind me, and only one person visible in front of me—a spec of blue jersey far ahead. We rode by Jordan Lake, which is much bigger than I imagined, and along lots of quiet shaded roads. At one point I saw a turtle on the road. Bad sign? A symbol of my speed, for sure. When you ignore bike intervals for eight months and then do them only sporadically before your first big race, you don’t get the best results.

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Jordan Lake. Photo courtesy of Flickr

The second run repeated the first-run course, but this time, we had miles of fatigue in our legs and more heat—about 80 degrees. I saw lots of people walking. My pace, which was slower than the first run but still persistent, felt like a slog. I dumped water on my head and sipped what I could at the water stops. That little bitty hill became a beast! I told myself when I got around the final turn, I would pick it up to the finish. Okay, when I got to the first/last water stop I’d pick it up. Oh, well, just finish like you mean it. That I did.

A few days before the race, I saw there were very few women in my age group. I thought maybe, if I had a good day, I’d have a shot at the podium. I didn’t expect to finish first. Now I have a pretty medal, a cool national champion jersey, and had a $20 gift certificate to Inside Out Sports (spent that later in the afternoon).

Cary Du

Me and the second place woman, Alisha Woodroof

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Big shiny medal. The blue national champion jersey is pretty cool too.

All in all, I give Cary and FS Series a big thumbs up. The volunteers and staff were all super-friendly and supportive. The event had a local race feel (because it was), but with a big USA Triathlon arch and finish line chute to make it official.

There were a few glitches, such as one water stop running out of water, but glitches happen in just about every race. We had an abundance of finish line food—sandwiches, fruit, bagels, gummy bears, and Mountain Dew (Yep, I had one. Probably my first Mountain Dew in about 15 years!)—and lots of nice people. I met athletes from Nebraska, Idaho, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and, of course North Carolina.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with some of them in Bend, Oregon in June for the standard course nationals and in Penticton, BC, in August for the ITU World Championships. In the meantime, quality time on the bike!

Long Distance Duathlon European Championship returns to Germany

The European Triathlon Union announced the 2017 ETU Powerman Duathlon Long Distance European Championships return to Sankt Wendel, Germany. The event takes place May 21, 2017.

Powerman St. Wendel

Of course we are happy to welcome the European long distance Duathletes in Germany after we already hosted the standard distance Duathlon Championships in 2016,” said Matthias Zoll, CEO for Deutsche Triathlon Union. “St.Wendel, with its tradition as an excellent event organizer as they hosted already Worlds in duathlon and cross country cycling, is a perfect choice of ETU to guarantee a spectacular European Championship in 2017. We are also looking forward to St.Wendel as it will be also the start of the year where German Age Groupers can perform on home soil as the European Sprint Championships on 24th & 25th of June are just around the corner.”

As Zoll mentioned, Sankt Wendel hosted the 2005 and 2011 UCI Cyclocross World Championships. It hosted the ITU World Duathlon Championships in 1998.

European duathletes can start planning now for their national long-course event. Here in the U.S., the USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championship takes place May 14, 2017, in Cary, North Carolina.

Crazy me, my 2017 racing calendar includes a trip to Cary, NC, followed by a trip to Bend, Oregon for the standard course nationals on June 17, followed by the World Championships in Penticton, British Columbia, in August. I’m saving my dollars for this plan already!

Wherever you are, may you have a fun weekend of running-riding-running.

 

USA Triathlon Announces 2017 Calendar

Last week I talked about goal setting. This week I give you goals! USA Triathlon has announced its 2017 national championship calendar. Start planning now!

The season runs from January to November, so you have more than enough to choose from! Of note to duathletes, the duathlon long course nationals will take place again in Cary, North Carolina on April 29. The standard and sprint distance national champs will be held in Bend, Oregon in June (most likely late June), date TBA.

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photo by Rich Cruse, courtesy of USA Triathlon

These events qualify you for ITU World Championship events. The 2018 Multisport World Championships, site of the standard and sprint distance duathlons, will head to Odense, Denmark that year.

You can find the full national championship slate on USAT’s website.

What big races do you have planned for 2017? Tell us in the comments below!

My duathlon “A” race next year is the Duathlon World Championship (standard distance) in Penticton, BC. I also plan to compete in the National Championship in Bend, Oregon. I’ll call that an “A-” race goal!

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