CITA put on the Dirty Duathlon this weekend. This was my final race on the schedule for the year. Sure, I know Jingle Cross is coming up in another 2 weeks, but I'm not planning on going unless it's to heckle for a day and I doubt that's even going to happen. With the somewhat anti-climatic ending to the IMBCS races due to the concellation of Sugarbottom, an indulgent October, and a rescheduling of the Du, I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I toed the start line.
My original running partner in the form of Adam (the fit guy from Rassy's) was out due to a strained achilles a week or two before the original event date. That left me scrambling last minute to find a suitable replacement since I surely don't run. Through luck of the draw I hooked up with a guy name Jamie who happens to be a smokin' fast runner. We traded some emails back and forth and a couple calls. The plan was to hit it as hard as we both could and hopefully hold off the advances from other teams. Considering Cam and Kristy smoked the field the last few years running, it was going to be a pretty tall order for anyone to take them down. Jamie was a bit more confident than I, but stranger things have happened.
Yesterday definitely had a bit in the air with temps hovering right at 45 with a bit of windchill on top of that. I began to 2nd guess my choice of race kit in the form of bibs, long sleeve jersey, and an ultralight sleeveless base layer. I knew I'd probably do this, so I purposely avoided packing more bike clothing. I had done a couple recon laps the day before with a race pace lap at 19:45. I was hopeful to stick that time for 3 consecutive laps, but knowing the amount of climbing I'd be doing, it was a hope at best. I managed to find Jamie in the crowd of runners after a few harried minutes wondering if he was going to make it in time. He'd been out warming up and was ready to go, so all was good.
The starter lined the runners up and sent them on their merry way down the road to the pool before turning in to the singletrack. I nervously paced around hoping things would go as planned with Jamie coming in the top few runners as he was predicting. The first runner came hauling down the hill and it was Ryan who'd teamed up with Herb from the All 9 squad. Next up was Jamie about 30 seconds back. We tagged and I ran my back down to the pavement for a flying mount as I drilled it trying to catch Herb. I wasn't necessarily worried about Herb, but those lurking behind me definitely had me running scared. Just into the 2nd section of Hillside, Herb had dropped a chain and I rolled on by. I could see Neil coming up from behind and a few more bikes scattered behind him as I took the lead less than halfway into my 1st lap.
Pretty quickly I could see/feel someone coming up behind me. Thinking Neil had caught me, I was pretty surprised to see Jedi Jed flying past as I let him by. I picked up my pace for a minute or two trying to hold his wheel, but knew that pace would cook me so early in the race and most likely cause me a crash or two as well. I let him go and concentrated on riding as fast as I could without blowing up or blowing chunks. I was holding or eaking out a bit more gap on the riders behind me and at certain points I could see massive amounts of riders hitting sections of trail mere minutes back.
Rollercoaster creek crossing
As I hit the switchbacks going down Rollercoaster, it was great to hear people cheering for me and again as I headed up the gully climb into the meadow before dive bombing back to the finish. I poured it all out on the climb knowing that Cam and others would be eating me up on the climbing legs. As I hit the downhill to the finish, I stayed on the gas clipping through the start finish a shade under 19 minutes. I'd knocked off 45+ seconds over my race pace lap from the day before! Still sitting in 2nd as I headed off into my second lap, I wondered how long I could hang on at this pace. I still felt pretty good so I just tried to maintain my effort without going too far into the red.
With traffic pretty much a non-issue at this point, I was free to bomb through a good portion of Hillside. I was surpised though that I started catching people partway through my second lap. Most everyone I passed were great about moving to the side or even stopping all together as I worked up to them. I could start seeing Cam at this point and knew it wouldn't be too long before he was lapping at my heels. As we worked to the last section of fingers on Hillside he called for the pass and slid on by. Again, I upped my pace for a minute or two trying to hold his wheel, but knew the result was going to be the same as with Jed. I settled back down determined not to let myself slip any further back if I had any say in it. I could still see a few chasers, but it appeared I had close to a minute gap on anyone else at this point.
Another round through Rollercoaster with the crowds cheering on the racers and encouraging me to play catch up helped to keep my energy level high. I sprinted back down the hill, across the line, and headed out on my final lap with around 19:15 clocked off this time. I was still moving well, but I could tell the effort was catching up with me. Knowing I had less than 20 minutes to go, I poured everything back out one more time. I was climbing a shade slower and standing more on the short steeps, but I was still rolling well. I made it through Hillside still setting in 3rd and hit Rollercoaster for the final time.
I grunted my way through Rollercoaster making my way to the final climb. I'd been passing riders at regular intervals for a while, but now I'd caught a couple riders walking up the steep grade to the meadow. I called out that I was riding and they needed to move. Unfortunately, the gal was a bit confused on where to go and managed to go nowhere. I hit a root about the same time and spun my back tire drawing a few gasps from the crowd watching the sufferfest on the hill. I kept my momentum and climbing the side of the wash riding up and around the rider making that one of my highlights. Still holding a firm grasp on 3rd I raced to the transition area and tagged Jamie for his final run.
At this point, I figured we were pretty well set for 3rd place. I knew Jed was a long ways in front of me and figured Cam had gotten pretty close to or had chased him down. I spotted Jed in the crowd and he confirmed that he'd beat Cam in to the transition. Now it was time to wait. I don't think anyone saw Jed's runner come in, including Jed, but he pulled through in 1st place. Now we were waiting for Kristy to come in. I looked up the hill and couldn't beleive what I was seeing. Kristy was hauling the mail down the final hill and Jamie was somehow flying past her. With a scant few seconds separating them at the finish, we'd clinched the 2nd spot. I've definitely got to hand it to Jamie, he knew what he was capable of and put on a superb race.
Rassy's took the top 3 overall positions with the relay teams and in addition we took the top 3 men's open with Louis, Kent, and Nate taking those honors. Our very own Teri Sue showed the way in the women's open taking the win and hopefully stamping her come back to doing some more racing. Congrats to all my team mates! A huge thanks to CITA and the Capital Striders for putting on a great event with their volunteer work forces.
Thanks to Doug for the photo.