By Craig Ricker
The duathlon started with some confusion… TCSD had advertised two different starting times; 7:30 as well as 8:30. To attempt to deal with these, they averaged out the difference and sent out all the athletes who were present at 8:00. My car arrived at 8:05 knowing none of this, seeing how empty transition was we believed everyone was warming up. We slowly went about our business of setting up our transition spot, and getting ready for the race. An official announced “One more minute until we start!”. I actually began to panic, thinking everyone else was going to miss the start, but lo and behold that was not the case… it was my car that had no clue what was going on. We quickly dropped our gear, dropped our pants, and lined up. Looking at the race pictures, we started twenty-seven minutes after the “first wave.”
The duathlon consisted of a two mile run, a twelve mile bike ride, and a repeat of the same run. The run course was a beautiful two mile out and back trail run along the lake. With zero warm-up, I think all of us were essentially treating this portion of the race as a warm-up. This portion of the race was fairly uneventful, but it was nice to be running on trails instead of alongside the road as we do at many races.
The transition area was still entirely empty when we arrived back; the first wave was still out on the bike. Very smooth and easy. Once on the bike I was hoping to catch up to the freshmen and Dan or at least make up some time. Only recently restarting my serious training, I was excited to see how I would perform on the bike, but also nervous about how comfortable I was going to be in aero position, or that I was going to entirely fall apart. I managed to quickly pass several racers, and I slowly settled into a rhythm. I had never ridden down in that area, but I was impressed with how fun the course was. It wasn’t too bumpy, cars weren’t an issue, and the course flowed smoothly allowing you to use your momentum for the hills. I continued to hunt for Dan, looking for him going the opposite way so I would have an indication on how far ahead he was. I hadn’t looked at my computer until then so as not to stress myself out, but I couldn’t resist a peek… I saw him go by right before six miles… I immediately had a burst of excitement and speed, because I knew the turnaround point must be somewhere close by!
I must have missed it…because at mile eight I still hadn’t seen it, and I was seriously beginning to question whether or not it was a twelve mile total race, or twelve miles each way. I had been passing people on bikes the entire time, I hadn’t seen anyone turn around, and I hadn’t taken any wrong turns…so I continued to press on (stupidly, as the reader has already gathered). Somewhere in the middle of the sufferfest, my oxygen deprived brain decided that if I reached mile ten without seeing any obvious triathletes headed the other way, I would turn around. I chose an arbitrary road, turned around and headed home.
When I finally finished the bike, transition was almost entirely empty still… because everyone had already gone home. The UCSD team was kind enough to wait for me to finish the bike before they took off, and Dan went above and beyond and re-ran the course a third time to keep me company… but he owes me a solid one anyways. I used this as an opportunity to cool down, as I was hungry, dehydrated and exhausted from the twenty mile time trial.
Overall, even with everything that went wrong, I would still consider the race a success. I was much stronger on the bike, and much more comfortable in aero than I thought I would be, and just finishing the race gave me a boost in confidence. It was awesome to have the team support me so strongly, especially with Chris and Kat taking pictures and encouraging all athletes, and of course a big thanks to Dan for keeping me company on that last run. It was awesome to hear (but not at all surprising) to hear that Daniel Heineck won the race overall, but it was a welcome surprise to hear that Marcel Aguiar won third overall (maybe/we think? timing issues), and more importantly beat all the other FFF (Fast Freshman… Sophomore? Frat). That doesn’t even include a swim… he is turning into a Super Stud, and I think he’ll end up being the FFF leader post UCI. Not far behind was Joey Clingerman, followed by Alex Neilsen with a strong showing for the FFF. Next came (actually a freshman) Alex Strozewski, completing his first ever multi-sport race. Dan Gonzalez and freshmen Kent Kubo and Marshall Seid joined me in “wave two” (and had similarly struggled with identifying the turn-around… although none quite as spectacularly as me). It turned out several of our teammates in the first wave had an even more stressful race start than we did. Arriving just in time to see the first wave lining up, they ran straight from the port-a-potties to the starting line, chasing the pack and missing the official start by a couple minutes. Only Heineck arrived in time for a stress-free setup and race start (not that he wouldn’t have won it either way). The Lake Otay duathlon was an eventful, but beautiful race and excited me for the coming 2014 race season!
All the race photos can be found here. Photos by Chris Burnham