Chilly Cheeks Duathlon, make it personal!

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By Team Trainright's Bill Plock

I ran the last 50 yards of this spring duathlon in my bike shoes. Running on hard plastic bottomed bike shoes on a cold paved road is dicey–and hard on the clips and shoes. But I had to beat Phil. We have raced several times against each other and have very similar times and have developed a friendly rivalry.

The race starting with a 1.5-mile run, followed by a 3.6-mile ride, then a 2.5-mile run. After all of that I remained behind Phil as I started the final bike loop. He took off a bit faster at the start and I just watched him for the rest of the race, trying to race my own race and hoping toward the end I would have a chance to catch him. 

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Carmichael Tent, with Cameron, Lindsay and Shelley
As I exited my final transition onto the fourth leg, a 7.2 mile, two loop bike course, I had lost sight of Phil. My teammate, Randy flew by me on his second loop (he started in the wave ahead of me) as I clipped in for my ride. I rode with a fury and slowly began to make ground on Randy. This seemed unusual to me as he is a stronger rider than I am. I pushed hard, my heart rate was near max effort. I wanted to catch Randy, not to beat him, but to possibly help him gut out the last part of his ride–that's what teammates are for, right? I figured by passing him, which we both knew shouldn't happen, it might keep him slightly more motivated to finish strong. Later I learned he suffered from some calf cramps and I really don't know if I helped him, but I did catch him with about a mile left on his loop and he stayed right behind me until he turned into his finish (he wasn't drafting, mind you).
Phil enjoying some hot soup afterwards
As Randy peeled off I looked up to see Phil about 50 yards ahead–again. Out of transition riders had a decent hill to climb. I kept gaining on him. We came to a sharp left turn which I knew marked the beginning of fast downhill portion. I closed the gap pushing my heart rate closer to max effort. I was hanging on, digging deep for all the energy I could find. The day before I had taught a spin class and ran a few miles and fatigue was grabbing my legs making them feel thick and heavy. With a mile to go I passed Phil. There was no looking back now. 
As I was getting close to the final transition I had to make the biggest decision of the race, one, ironically, I discussed with Phil at the start line 53 minutes earlier. How to handle the 50 meter sprint from transition to the finish line. Before passing Phil I had decided I would run that short distance in my socks. But now, with Phil breathing down my neck I said to heck with it, I'll sacrifice my clips to beat him. I ran in my bike shoes and beat Phi by 8 seconds!! He left his bike shoes on too so I think I made a good decision!! 
We high fived and even gave each other a "man hug". 
The camaraderie and love of competing on such a personal level made this the most fun race I have ever done. The dose of wanting to help my team and Randy and to beat Phil landed me in 10th place overall, my best relative finish ever. 
It probably seems hard to understand how this could be better than races I've done such as Ironman 70.3 in St. Croix, or Ironman Cozumel or even some of the large races in Boulder. This was not a race I prepared for or even knew I was going to do until a few days before. 
Finding a personal connection is key to making a race and experience and one to remember!


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