Joe's 2014 Duathlon World Championship Race Recap
On the morning of Sunday, June 1st, I participated in the Duathlon World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain. This is a recap of the sprint duathlon I participated in during Jody and my trip to visit my son and daughter-in-law, who are teaching for 2 years near Lisbon, Portugal.
Pontevedra is a wonderful city in northwestern Spain, just 30 miles north of the Portugal border and a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean.
Friday when we arrived I had to rush to a Team USA meeting at 3pm. Unbeknownst to us, when we went due north from Portugal to Spain (like driving from Illinois into Wisconsin) there was an hour time change, so I had to rush into the city with the help of our very kind Spanish hotel owner, Juan, who led the way in his car and even found me a parking spot only a half mile from the team meeting hotel.
Once there we heard a few things from our team USA captain, Tim Yount. "The bike course is flat & is only 19k. Bring your bikes to transition on Saturday night to avoid a long line on Sunday morning and you can pin your numbers to our shirts". Well, as it turned out, the bike course was 20k (not a big deal usually, unless the last 1 k is uphill, which it was), the first half of the bike course was almost all uphill, including a grueling 1.5 mile 5 -10% grade hill from mile 3 to 4.5. We all needed to have our numbers on race belts (he did email this to us at 11pm Saturday night!) and the 8:30 pm Saturday check-on stretched out to 10:10 pm because they had the Americans go last! Worst of all, at 7:30 am the morning of the race there was no one waiting to check in... (Race was at 8:35). There were obviously some Spanish to English translation problems…
But I digress…
The first run, which was a 5k (3.12 miles), was 2 loops starting in a stadium, running around the track and then up a hill into the old town, with cobblestones and narrow paths/roads. Lots of folks cheering their teammates and loved ones on, and with my name on my jersey and butt, plenty of "go Nolan, go USA"!
While the first 1/3 was uphill, the last half was flat and downhill, and I ended up running (by their preliminary results) a 20:40, which was just seconds off my fastest 5k ever (thank you Dawn and Jake! (2 running friends)), and about a minute faster than my target. Which may explain a bit my high heart rate going into the hilly 20k (12.5 mile) bike course.
We did have a chance Friday late afternoon to ride the bike course, but we were behind a very slow police escort and with 100’s of riders. We were all enjoying meeting folks both from our country and other teams, so what I missed was how much the first 3 miles went uphill. I did recognize the long uphill portion which started at the 3 mile mark (1.5 miles uphill), and as a result, during the race my heart was really pumping by the time I got to mile 5, but fortunately we had a relatively flat last 1.25 miles before the turn around back into town for our final run.
Anyhow, the first 5 miles ended up to be at about a 15.2 mph clip (my goal had been 17 mph for that portion), and got to about 16 mph by the turn around. Oh yeah, there was also a 10 mph head wind up those hills. Didn't help!
Ah, but then we got to turn around and tear! What fun! Got up to over 40mph and averaged about 25mph for those 6.25 miles. I ended up with a respectable 20 mph for the entire 20k, which was less than my 22mph goal, but in retrospect, good based on the hills and my lack of hill training.
The transitions (where we change our shoes, start our bike portion of the race or the last run) were also longer than I had thought they would be, as we ended up running about 300 or so yards in each of the 2 transitions (run to bike and bike to run). This was about double what they did in last year’s championships in Ottawa, Canada (so I was told).
So, a quick change of shoes and off to a last 2.5 k (1 lap, 1.56 miles) through the old town. Heart rate rising up that hill (I didn't wear my monitor because I didn't want to know) and was at about 7:15 average minute per mile (if you like to run and don’t have a GPS watch and can afford it, get one!) which was over my 7 minutes per mile pace. Ah, just in time I get to the cathedral in the square, which is where our coach told us we could start really tearing (this was one thing he said that was true!). I was able to start relaxing my breathing, making sure my arms and legs were all in synch and moving forward, and off I went! I was able to catch a few folks on the run, and no one passed me, and I ended up finishing that run in under 11 minutes, and finish the race in 1:12:10, good for 20th (of 31) in my age group and just making both my goal time and middle third of the pack. Happy with the result and not sure I could have shaved any more time off the clock. Was glad to have my son Matt Nolan and daughter in law Jyl Barnett Nolan and wife Jody cheering me on!
And one last addition as I was able to get the results the next morning online, I saw I exceeded my relative performance goal. I was hoping to finish in the top half of the American contingent (in my age group), and was happy to see I was 2nd of the 8 participants, and just 53 seconds from our top finisher! Nice to know…
On the other hand, from a team perspective, we obviously didn't do well, with all 8 of our participants in our age group (50-54) falling in the bottom 12 (of 31). Maybe the hills, maybe the jetlag, maybe the lousy winter in the USA (and not much time to bike outdoors)? This compared to 2013, when it was in Ottawa, Canada and we took 5 of the top 6 spots in my age group.
The enclosed picture was near the finish. Our coach was waiting for us near the stadium, handing out the small American flag I am holding, and urging us on. See, he was good for something, because I sprinted that last 100 meters! Notice the foot angles - form is everything!