This weekend I participated in the 5th annual Bucks County Duathlon. This is a combined 2 mile run, 10 mile ride and 2 mile run which starts and finishes at Washington Crossing Park on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River alongside the Delaware Canal (the same location of my recent marathon).
I had participated in this event in 2011 (on a borrowed bicycle) and in 2012 (on my own bicycle) and had to miss it in 2013 for a family wedding. It’s a small event, less than 200 people, but some of these folks are serious triathletes and their clubs were represented by team tents at the staging area. It is used as a fundraiser to support Missy Flynn, a local triathlete who suffered a brain aneurysm back in 2010 and needs help and support for ongoing medical costs.
Race packet pickup was held at the Newtown Bike Store in the week leading up to the event. Race swag was a technical t-shirt with a silhouette of the famous ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware’ painting.
I set up my gear the night before and planned to wear my INKnBURN ‘Rock and Roll’ shirt with my tri-shorts. Ever so stylish, although the British theme for a race at Washington Crossing Park may have seemed like an odd choice 😉
The race started at 8am on Sunday morning but you needed to leave enough time to set up your bicycle and related gear in the transition area. I arrived with enough time to check my tires, pick a spot near the end of a row and set out my cycling shoes (my bicycle uses clip pedals), helmet, gloves, etc. I also brought out my old Garmin 305 multisport watch. Having run with the Garmin Forerunner 220 since earlier this year it seemed huge but does what I needed. I only switched to the 220 because the 305 took forever to locate my position. I had plenty of time for the GPS to find me on race day.
I set up my gear and waited for the start of the race.
The race consisted of a 2 mile loop starting in the park, out along the canal and back to the transition area. There was a timing mat at the entrance and exit of the transition area where you had to walk (run) your bike out and back in. The ride consisted of an out and back 2.5 mile ride which we did twice for a total of 10 miles before the returning our bicycles and running the second loop which was the same as the first.
The race director gave pre-race instructions around 7:45am and we all lined up according to our waves. It was elites first then age groups male and female every minute after. One of the athletes played the National Anthem on their trumpet and then the horn sounded and the waves all went off as directed.
I ran the first loop pretty steadily. As each running leg was short I decided to not use my usual run/walk/run method and just go for it. I didn’t go all out as I knew I still had a ride and a second run to do but I did push a little harder than my regular pace. This paid off with a first leg of the duathlon running splits less than 8 minutes/mile.
Even though I was passed by many runners soon after the start, along the course of the 2 miles I managed to keep a steady pace and reel a few of the runners back and pass then in the last half mile or so. Based upon the results I was placed 68/141 for the first run.
From there it was on to the transition area. This seemed to go fine although I did struggle to put on one of my running gloves in the humidity and rush of the morning. Then I ran my bicycle out of the transition area to where we were allowed to mount the bicycle and headed off on the road for the ride leg of the event.
This is where I was separated from the real triathletes in the race. I own a hybrid bicycle (Trek FX 7.2) not a road or tri bicycle that it seemed the majority of folks out there were riding. Now as fast as my legs could pedal I was being passed constantly on the second half of the ride. Those with the right gear (lightweight/aerodynamic) just flew past me on the road.
I averaged about 16 miles per hour on the road (it was fairly flat) but the speedier folks were pushing well beyond 20 miles per hour and it showed as I saw all the folks I had run past were now ahead of me. I was placed 114/141 for the bicycle portion. Ouch!!!
Then back to the transition area. This is the point in the race that I always joke that the difference between the first and last runs are you start out like Forrest Gump and come back like Lieutenant Dan. I started to run on the third and final part of the race and my legs were like jelly. I could just about feel my feet and it just felt weird for at least the first half mile. I just made constant motion and moved forward as best I could.
I was a little slower for the third part of the race, but then so was everyone else. Like before I didn’t use the run/walk/run method and just went for it as best I could. Not flat-out as my legs probably would not have taken that effort, but just fast enough to maintain a sub 8 minute mile. I noticeably passed more people on this second run and this showed as I finished this final leg 44/141, better than the first run even though the time was 2 seconds slower. I pushed hard for this last leg.
Overall I came in with a combined time (including the two transitions) of 1:11:37, a PR of 5:01 over my 2012 efforts placing 84/141. Next to all those serious tri-guys I was happy with this result. 🙂
In the post race area there were places to check your final times as well as post race refreshments (bagels with cream cheese, bananas and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches). I took to a picnic table to cool down and stretch and enjoy my bagel as I watched the other competitors run in. It was a beautiful but warm morning. I worked pretty hard on the day but was very happy with the result.
With all the runners in I decided to grab my gear and head home (my wife had an 18 mile run planned and it was getting warmer and later in the day). The volunteers in the transition area made sure that everyone’s bib number matched the bicycle tag number (for security reasons) and I headed home. This was the end of my bicycle riding for the season and so I put my Trek back into storage with my bike rack. Now back to focusing on my upcoming running events. Perhaps next year is the year I turn the ‘Duathlon’ into a ‘Triathlon’…
Thanks for reading.
September 21 – Rock and Rock Philadelphia Half Marathon
October 18 – Baltimore Marathon
November – Thanksgiving race in Florida – TBD (anything from a 5K to a Half Marathon)
January 10-11 – Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge
If you are interested in any of the INKnBURN gear, please feel free to use my Ambassador code (INBians14) on their site for a 15% discount on any of their merchandise. Take a look at their site and hope you find something you might like to try.