2011 Shamrock Duathlon

Today has been an odd day and it is barely past noon. This morning’s 2011 Ten Penny Ale Shamrock Duathlon was an odd race, at least for me. The highlight of the day was calling home after the race and learning that our four-year old son completed his own duathlon with a running lap of the house/bicycling lap of our street/running lap of the house. The low-light is a tossup. Hands down, it was going to be my wipeout at the three-mile mark of the second run, but that mistake is now a toss-up with my two-minute “equipment placement” time penalty. I was out of sync. This was my first multisport race since last October’s Ironman World Championships. I hadn’t even ridden my Seven Kameha SLX until this week. It has been hanging in my basement for seven months!

Where do I begin? I guess I go back to Monday, when I flew to Horst Engineering de Mexico in Guaymas, Sonora. This crazy spring weather made life miserable, at least for 24 hours. I missed my connecting flight to Phoenix and spent the night on the floor of the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. That set the tone for the week ahead. It takes three flights to get to Guaymas from Hartford (and three to get back), which is no fun. I had a great visit to our maquiladora and fortunately, the red-eye flight home was without incident. I got a little rest on Friday, but was going into Shamrock with lowered expectations and the idea that this would be my stepping off point as I ramp up my training, which has been lacking.

So, when I fell from 7th place, and from 1st to 3rd in my age group, (really 2nd to 4th since the overall winner was in my age group) to somewhere farther down the list (official results weren’t available at the time of this post); I just shook  my head and laughed it off. I was satisfied with my time of 1:28:24, but not thrilled. I was more than 10 minutes behind the winner, who smoked the course. I didn’t have good legs today, especially on the bike leg, where I had no oomph. I did get some extra motivation from trading places several times with Andrew Chambers and Lawrence “LJ” Briggs. The three of us stayed out of each others way, and were careful not to draft, but pacing off of them helped me get through the bike leg. Andrew is a super strong veteran rider (road and MTB) and LJ, who I rode with at the H.E.A.T. picnic yesterday, is really strong too. Andy was making us look bad on his road bike without aero bars. I didn’t need to look bad because I was already feeling bad…

I like early starts, so the 7:30 A.M. event didn’t bother me. There were more than 400 duathletes and a handful in the 5K only option race. That made things a little confusing. More on that in a moment. The overall winner was Eneus Fregne, who put up a very nice 1:18:09 for the 3.1 mile/17 mile/3.4 mile race. He was followed by Nathan Buttrick in 1:21:57 and Karl Schilling in 1:22:36.

So, the rules violation was a bummer, but I’m glad that I made the mistake in a local duathlon and not in a major event that I was focusing on. I learned of my mistake when scanning the official penalties. I always check to see if there was a penalty (also two minutes) for blocking or drafting, which is a big deal. In my mind, that is cheating. I saw my number, 56, with the words “equipment placement” in the notes. Hmm, what is that? I had no idea. I consulted the chief official and she told me that my bicycle was racked in the wrong rack. I said, “that can’t be,” but I had to believe her. Given the week that I’ve had, I chuckled and figured that was just an honest mistake. I didn’t gain an advantage. The correct rack was adjacent to the rack that I used. This must be how a golfer feels when he shoots a 66 and then forgets to sign his card. Rules are rules.

Article VII Transition Area Conduct of he USAT rules state:

7.2 Placement of Equipment. All participants shall place equipment only in the properly designated and individually assigned bicycle corral and shall at all time keep their equipment confined to such properly designated areas. Any violation of this Section shall result in a variable time penalty.

I returned to the transition area to verify the mistake and sure enough, I put my bike in the 28 to 54 row and my number was 56. I must have just spaced out. No other excuse. Is it worth a two-minute penalty, the same as drafting? Who cares. I won’t make the same mistake again.

As for my wipeout at the end of the run. Again, I can only blame myself for not knowing the course. I raced the Shamrock Duathlon four years in a row from 1999-2002, but hadn’t done it in 9 years because the date was moved to the same day as the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race. Debbie is the Race Director, and I always help our trail running club, the Shenipsit Striders, put on the event. This was my first time on the new Shamrock course, and  I was obviously confused all morning. The first 5K run loop finished at the transition area, as did the 5K-only race. I assumed that the duathlon would finish there too. So, approaching the three-mile mark, with .1 of a mile to go (so I thought), I took the hard right. I made it ten meters before someone finally yelled for me to stop and turn around. I stopped and turned so abruptly that on the wet pavement, my feet just swept out beneath me. I landed hard on my left knee and hands. I have a nice bruise on my knee and I bent my right thumb back. My fall was in front of 30 people, so there was mild embarrassment, but I didn’t have time to cry.

I got up as if I was shot out of a cannon, and got going again, though I was in a bit of shock. I ran the entire 24km Soapstone race last weekend in atrocious and rugged conditions and didn’t fall once, but here I was, hitting the deck in a 5K road race. What a week! I got a time check that my closest chaser was 10 seconds back. I wasn’t about to let him catch me in the last .1 of a mile. Of course, it wasn’t .1, it turned out to be about .3 to the finish line. The finish was on the Glastonbury, Connecticut green, which was pretty, but I only wish I knew that from the beginning. Thankfully, I didn’t get caught from behind, which would have added insult to injury.

I saw some good friends at the race and it was a strong day for the Hartford Area Extended Triathletes. Triathlon season begins in two weeks for me, so I’m looking forward to carrying some fitness forward. It was neat that The Olde Burnside Brewing Company sponsored the event. The beer was flowing at the post-race festival, which made the day for many athletes. Burnside’s Ten Penny Ale is a nice beer and the ice house/brewery is located in East Hartford, just like Horst Engineering. Like the Livingston Family, the McClellan Family have won awards for their family business. The first place overall finishers received a real sword, which is very cool. The age group placers got a replica sword letter opener. It will be a nice memento of my nutty day.

Race Results

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