I know. I can’t believe it either.

5:00 AM comes early for a runner/rider that works the afternoon shift. I never set an alarm anymore and I wake up in plenty of time. I think it is a hard-wired thing in me. I got up and started coffee. I was already packed and just needed to eat my oatmeal, drink 1 cup of coffee, load the bikes and the transition gear in the car and take off.  Simple.

It seems like no matter how you prepare, something takes time. I had a hard problem waking up and just tried to keep ticking the tasks off of the list. By the time the bikes were on the car, Tom was ready to load up, too. It wasn’t long after that we were headed out to do a Duathlon.

Tom is Tom Martin, a good friend of mine. He has swam/biked/run a triathlon, he has participated in 5 Duathlons. Yes. He is the one that talked me into this crazy multisport activity. He has placed first in his division in the past.

We arrived and parked at around 6:10 AM. The sun had just risen above the horizon. There were no clouds in the sky. We grabbed our bags and the bikes. We headed down to check-in and get our race packets. We found a rack with 2 spaces in it and put our bikes in it. We dropped our bags. We entered the start line / finish line staging area. The booths were on the East side. We stood in our respective lines. We got our bibs and our shirts. The line was already forming for the porta-potties.

I like the Barking Dog Duathlon. It is run by Racing Underground. They have a lot of experience and know what to do. That makes it easy for participants like me.

It was back to set up the numbers. 3 number bids. A small one for the front of the helmet, one for the cross bar of the bike, and one for the front of the shirt (I use a running belt to hold the run bib number –  also conveniently holds the iPhone).

Towels went out. Helmet and bike shoes went on the towel. The bike bag was set by the bike on the towel. Soon, we were ready to head back to the staging area and the race pre-race briefing. We would not return until after the first run. The transition area officially closed at around 6:50 AM so the chip readers could be turned on.

A transition area is used for change. It should only be used twice during the competition. Once between the first run and the bike ride. It is a time area. The first transition is to prepare for the ride. Off with the running shoes, on with the helmet (and buckle it on!), on with the biking shoes. Take the bike to the mount area then take off. The second transition is to transition back to running preparedness for the final run. Simple, right?

The briefing started. We heard how the course was layed out and how each segment would work. It was explained that the chip readers would start and stop from chip readers placed at the start/finish line, and the entrances/exits to and from the transition area. We also found out that the course had changed due to road construction in the state park.

A Duathlon is a multisport event. The Barking Dog Duathlon offers two venues in a long and a short course. The long course is a 5K run, a 30K, ride and finishes with another 5K run. The short course, or the Sprint, is a 2K run, an 18K ride, and finishes with a 5K run. Racing Underground offers age groups, Elite, Athena, Clydesdale, Fat tire, relay and tandem divisions. Both Tom and I decided to do the Sprint Du, so our start would be at 7:30 AM. We had a while to wait.

We watched many divisions start as we waited. It seemed like we had more than enough to get nervous about our start. Then, it was time. We entered the corral. The countdown went on, and then we were off.

As a group, we crossed the line and headed up the hill. It seemed to be all uphill as we ran toward that 1K turnaround on the out and back first run course. I was finding it hard to breathe. I was at the back of the pack. I turned around and head ed back. The downhill was easier. I was the last of our group as I entered the transition area. Geez, some of the women from the final corral start had already passed me. It was time to get busy.

I turned down the wrong aisle in the transition. I hopped over some gear to get to my bike. I put my helmet on and tightened the buckle. I stood as I got my left running shoe off and the bike shoe on. I untied and pulled the right shoe off and the bike shoe on. I pulled the speed laces for the left shoe and tightened them. I pulled on the speed laces of the right shoe. As I pulled, the lace broke. Oh, no! What will I do? The short answer is that I couldn’t do much without costing me more time. So, I grabbed the bike and headed toward the transition area exit. I tried to start my bike computer. I hit an incorrect button or two set it into some odd mode. I was going to do this run without it.  The judges gave me the go. I mounted the bike and started my ride.

Cherry Creek State Park has a large water reservoir in it. You would think that any place low enough to hold a major amount of water in it would be fairly flat and level. Not so. There are gentle rises and falls. There are also some fairly major climbs. Especially at the East entrance road. I’m not fond of the bike, but I am strong at it. The revised course had us riding about 9 miles.

I couldn’t catch Tom as he was so far ahead of me by the time I finished the run. We had ridden to the other side of the park and were past the East Entrance road when I finally caught up to him. I passed him. There were comments. I tried to get ahead, but he passed me. I saw a hill in our immediate future and knew that I had a chance. I waited until he slowed a touch, then I kicked it in and passed him again. He didn’t catch me again. He was so close, though.

I got off the bike at the dismount. My right foot was barely staying in the shoe. I moved to the rack without losing my shoe. I kicked it off and got in the running shoe. About that time is when Tom came in with his bike. I took off my helmet and placed it on the towel. I got my left running shoe on and tied them both. I looked at Tom and said, “Bye!!”

I exited the transition for my last run. What lead I had on Tom was minor and I knew I’d better beat feet to get as far ahead of him as I could.

On the first run, we went counter-clockwise. For the final run, the course went clockwise. We ran the first mile on the roadway on the right side.

I beat feet. I kept hoping that the 1 mile mark would come up soon. As I saw it, the longest 1 mile I think I’ve ever run, so did Tom. Soon after the 1 mile mark, the course turned to a trail.

Tom and I ran together past the water station and half-way up the first big hill. I slowed down but Tom kept his pace up. I followed him for the rest of the final run part.

The next mile seemed to go continually upward. It was steep and time consuming. Finally, I saw the last water station and we were back to a wide sidewalk. It was also downhill. The running got easier. I passed the 2 mile mark. Soon after that, I passed the 1K turnaround point of the first run. It was around the corner and down the hill. Soon I was passing the transition area. I picked up my speed. It was a turn to the right, then a turn to the left and I was in the chute. I picked up my speed again, threw my arms up, and crossed the finish line. The cowbell that I heard ringing was from Tom as he welcomed me across the line.

Barking Dog Du 05112013

This is the GPS track on the map for all three parts of the event.

I was tired (I think one is supposed to be at about this point). As I caught my breath again, we waited to watch the canned video of me crossing the line. We walked about checking things out. The meal was a submarine sandwich. Neither Tom or I wanted to partake. It wasn’t long before we talked about leaving; then we did.

After cleaning up, we went out for some Mexican food. As we ate, Racing Underground posted the results of the event. I realized then that I had won an award. I took 3rd place in my age group and I was 10 minutes ahead of the guy behind me.

It was a great event!