This was actually the first duathlon I ever registered for - the only duathlon I had participated in prior was back in March of 2007. My friend Lat let me race in his place. It was at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police and Fire Training Center that I often pass on my bike rides when using Shopton road. The 5K portions were a mix of trails and roads on the grounds, while the bike portion was 16 miles on the road. I clocked in 22:45 and 24:06 for the running portions while holding a tough 20.9 MPH average on the road. I knew I was not quite in the shape for these numbers, but my relatively decent performance the previous Saturday at the triathlon indicated I could put up something I would be proud of.
Preparations began on Friday with Julie providing the pasta dinner. I brought some red cabbage to saute in olive oil (try it - it's fantastic!). When then watched The Good Girl which was rather - good! For some reason we were on a Jennifer Aniston kick with Derailed a few weeks ago. I was mostly amused by the "reincarnation" of Holden Caufield and the actor who played Delmar in O Brother Where Art Thou?
The impending rain (which was supposed to come in earnest on Friday but really did not) was the only hanging issue. I guess I just am spoiled with a relatively excellent track record of good weather when it actually came to race time. The journey from home to UNCC was not all that bad, eating some oatmeal along the way.
I really have not spent much time at UNCC. Recently I've come up for a time or two for professional collaboration of a remote sensing project that has analyzed the growth rates for the Charlotte area. Currently this study is getting a lot of attraction with the local media; I invite you have a look! My only other big memory was about four years ago when the Charlotte Ultimate community (really Scott Campbell, whose race I ran last week) secured UNCC as a location for UPA's Mixed Regionals. It featured our big team at the time, Kitchen Biscuit, and over two days I took lots of pictures. 99% of them stunk.
This wasn't the usual crowd, but that was fine. This event has a small homely field that I really, even more polar from Ironman Wisconsin than Take Flight last weekend. It was all on a grass field that was mostly saturated with water. I walked down to pick up my registration material then eventually made it down with my bike and gear. I was taking off my sweats when Julie arrived with Lisa and Jin Woo.
Prior to starting there were two individuals I spotted who (for the life of me) I could not remember their names. Both were women, and one was talking to me by name. She looked familiar, but really not. I really felt horrible that I didn't know her name! Even worse she was on a relay team so my chances of looking up a race number were pretty much nil. The other I knew from recent events, we played Ultimate Summer League together on the famed Seven Minutes Abs team. Before the start I also spotted one of my cycling friends, Axel, who had participated in Take Flight last weekend.
As I stood there with Jin Woo I realized it had been years since we ran together. So this was fun! The rain had mostly stopped by the time the air horn sounded.
The first 5K was just horrid! Despite Jin Woo's warning it was hilly, it was rather hard! The course was on pavement and basically circled around the main campus. I quickly became too warm with my hat and the technical Take Flight shirt (which had a normal arm-length for a short-sleeved shirt). Jin Woo slowly pulled away and there were only a few here and there that passed, including Lana, who shows up at every possible athletic event known to man with her husband Tom. This portion was my least-favorite of the three, especially the climb back up to the transition area, which featured a very wide arc around. I heard the race announcer call out Jin Woo's name as I was making that arc. I wasn't watching the distance my watch was pulling at the time, but I was frustrated that it would be in the 25 minute range! Maybe I should have noted the distance was 3.31 miles, way longer (over a thousand feet!) than a regulation course.
Given the simpler nature of the duathlon, the transition was rather quick (45 seconds). To get out of campus, the path followed a portion of the first run course, then came out on Mallard Creek. It really wasn't raining at this point, but with the wet roads one had to be careful and just assume you would get wet. And while I always pay attention to a lot of detail on the course, Jin Woo was disappointed I didn't notice the price of gas at the Petro Express.
Since this wasn't a USAT-sanctioned event, there weren't any referees so you could pretty much draft and block all you wanted. How fun. The off-campus loop featured a landmark I had yet to see in Charlotte - the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. I really got into the loops, and even though I didn't have the firepower of last week, I pushed some big numbers. The second loop went by much quicker, and it was there while passing the concert venue I caught up with Jin Woo. After that he was pulling some major drafting on me, but I really wasn't too worried there. Coming down Mallard Creek I was absolutely flying, passing by the mystery woman among others. Jin Woo was holding on at that point and as we came through campus we nearly plowed through a group of college-aged volunteers who were crossing the street and NOT paying attention. It was there I just couldn't hold him off, so he passed me but when we came in to dismount I was right there behind him. I was very happy to meet my goal of finishing under 40 minutes (39:56).
Jin Woo and I finishing the bike right after nearly plowing through a bunch of volunteers
Just about to rack my bike and be out of the transition area in a split! (split = 39 seconds)
Just about to rack my bike and be out of the transition area in a split! (split = 39 seconds)
My second transition was even faster and I left him in the dust to lace up his shoes. I knew he'd be back, as he was a better runner. I was surprised about the energy I had given how I was feeling in the last minutes of the bike. Before jumping into the woods it was there I passed the fields that brought back most of the memories from the 2004 Regionals. I had never been back in here, apparently the cross country team uses it to train. At first it was mostly uphill, and the trail was mostly muddy. Back in there brought back some quick memories of Uwharrie. The registration for the event is in about a week!! Up at the top I was holding a good pace. At the bottom we ascended again and that was a real killer. Around this time Jin Woo came up and held behind me for quite some time. The real tough pitch was an open area that briefly went up to Hwy 29 before descending again. I then spotted a very massive rock, perhaps the biggest I've seen in this area. Around then Jin Woo passed me and then goaded me up the final hill. I just couldn't hold as we prepped for the long arc.
I then saw my Ultimate colleague standing with a friend by the side and remembered her name was Lisa. I called her out by name and that surprised her, but I seemed to recall she got my name right. Once in the chute Jin Woo turned on a sprint I couldn't seem to match, but I got close enough to where he slowed down so we could cross the line together. What a gentleman. I finished the "5k" course is 24:46, whatever that means. I had hoped to do the entire course in 90 minutes or less, and just like last weekend I came up short, clocking in at 91 minutes and 16 seconds.
I had a nice post-race hanging out with Julie and Lisa-Woo (okay Jin Woo, you're right, those names don't meld well).
I introduced Lisa to the other Lisa, then told her about my adventures since Summer League. I talked a lot about my left foot issue, because after all she is a doctor. Apparently she did the bike portion on a relay team. It was great to see her again. She was one of the two women that really gave us critical lift.
They did have some initial results and I was once again pleasantly surprised with my placement among my peers, 23rd out of 94 finishers! (this includes the 11 relay teams). I almost felt bad about how Jin Woo was listed as 24th, only because he slowed to get the same time and then the software must sort by last name. The winning time was 76 minutes, and I barely edged out the winning female. I stuck around a little longer to watch all seven of my raffle tickets go down in flames. The gas cards would have been nice. No worries, it was for a good cause and I've been around these races and seen budgets to know that not a lot of the money goes towards the cause (most of it is spent for off-duty police securing the course). I then thought I might have a chance at age group, but that was a silly thought as the M30-39 was loaded with participants and I finished 8th!
The drive home was most pleasant, no doubt Winston was thrilled to see me home again. I was disturbed to see my Forerunner watch would not turn on. I don't remember bashing it with a hammer?
After a nice nap, some grocery shopping and laundry, the four of celebrated at Dish - a fantastic Charlotte institution. Afterward Julie and I went to Keith's Halloween party in the Eastover neighborhood. I was most interested in meeting his wife Mary Lee. I also would like to go on record in saying Keith's costume (and acting) as The Joker from The Dark Knight was perhaps the most disturbing thing I have seen in a LONG time. Even more disturbing than spending 24 hours in a van with Keith. My nose might argue with me on that, but the ensemble was rather creepy.