Saturday, November 5, 2016

Athletic Adventures Part 5 : GIANT Duathlon Race 1

Being a multi-sport athlete can be fun business as I recently discovered when even your upper body stuff like triceps and fingers get fatigued.

When most people were talking about FTP at the 29th October BeSport Summer TT at Al Wathba Abu Dhabi, I was talking about FBP - Full Body Pain. After entering into a 30K TT with a getting-used-to CBoardman TT Air and a still-getting-used-to aero posture, I put in a modest sub-1 hour ride on a super foggy early morning course without breaking any bones. But what transpired later was interesting.

The positional shock of the TT bike must have been so great that I couldn't get off my bike after the race. 

Pure unadulterated pain stemming from the upper glutes overcame me. Not the crampy type ones, but those that started giving me genuine feelings of  '....did someone just shoot me in my rear end?'

After being placed into the car by my loyal wife, the pain propagated from the legs to the arms. My triceps folded on the steering wheel, then the fingers.  100% fatigue folks. I'll make it short and sweet. It was a painful drive back home for the talented-not amateur Indian athlete in his first B race.

Interestingly, the moment I parked my car at home and got out, the pain vanished. Feel free to dig into theories. I'm going to just label as before - 'positional shock'.

After a few short interval brick sessions last week, I was ready for a long drive out to Hamdan Sports Complex Dubai for the first GIANT Duathlon Race of the season.

As it turns out, a day or two before the race, you have to switch job from being athlete to that of an able manager, sorting out all equipment and logistics of the commute, visualizing in the head that awesome 8 hour sleep before the race, that fabulous 20 minute warmup, that fantastic course recon where you're familiar with every single aspect, what you're going to do when, how much duration, how much hydration, when to eat a gel, when to reach the start line, how to pace, how to dismount, how to run the last split, how to finish.

But reality is always different with me.

Sleep : 5 hours.

Waking up wife : 1 hour.

Driving : Not so bad. A speeding ticket or two.

Reach the course : 45 minutes before race.

Getting equipment ready : Forever

Warmup : Zero. Or wait, a couple of high jumps in the air.

Photo shoots : At the front line of the race. Went great!   *Click*, *Click*, thank you honey!. One more please...*flexes biceps*. Brilliant.

Good stuff below from the start line with fellow Indian athlete Ng Kartik, Emirati athlete Mohsen Hassan AlAli etc.

That said, here's the race report.

Run 1 : Greater than target pace of 7:30 min/mile. Actual pace = 7:12 min/mile. 12:32 minutes.

Transition 1 : Just about enough time for a cup of chai. 1:05 minutes.

Bike 1 : The beginning stretches of the course were great. There were around 3-4 ugly speed bumps in the first 400 meters of the course. Just the thing that vehicles need and cyclists don't. I was worried I would break a wheel spoke, but this is where a fantastic choice of Taiwanese made deep rim wheels makes the difference between splintering a wheel or finishing the race. Leave your pricey discs at home.

Cycling went ok. Target pace = 21 mph, actual = 19 mph approx. Some elements I thought were fun : course size roughly the width of my car, technical turns galore, course marshalls not always doing their job at the Emirates Rd highway crossing, trailer truck passing within 100 meters of racing cyclists, false flats, speed bumps, sand on the course, trying to pass around little kids but trying to maintain the 7 x 3m draft legal zone between you and the guy in front.

An obstacle course with so much to think of that I didn't care to bat an eyelid at the bike dismount line near transition. Paul Venn commanded, brake hard!! or something like that. I was too generous with front brakes and almost went from cyclist to village circus clown in an instance. Thanks Paul. :)

Time = 49 minutes. Not so great.

Transition 2 : Just about enough time to taste a cup of chai but dropping it all over yourself. 1:04 minutes.

Run 2 : In around 8-9 Giant Duathlon races I have done in the past, I've only cramped 3 times on the last run. But I was to add a 4th. It's never easy to figure this one out, because I get virtually no warnings when on the bike. 

So just as I put on the pace, right calf goes into shock and does this nice Arabian muscle dance right before your eyes. Holy cow. 7:12 min/mile pace quickly goes to walking pace as I frantically stretched against a lightpole. Three stretches and an eternity later, the cramp was gone and I was back to running again to pass the folks who passed me before. 

Time = 15:39 minutes. Disastrous. 

Lots to work on before Race number 2.

Some things in my thought process after this past week.

Specificity of training. Specificity of training. 

Be a better manager pre-race.

Ask the course organizers relevant questions? Don't get an answer? Keep asking.

Pay attention to what the ankle is doing while pedaling. 

Hydrate with a bit more sodium content in the bottle than what was used.

1 minute of race time saved = Some more hours of pain.

Sleep and rest better. 

If anything can go wrong on race day, it will. Deal with it.

Thanks to the organisers for keeping it all together in the end and for a fantastically quick post-race processing of the results.

Data dump below for those interested in numbers. Cheers!

GIANT DUATHLON 2016-17 RACE 1 3K Run - 25K Bike - 3K Run

Click to zoom

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