Tag: FS Series

Cary Du Classic- USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championships 2017- Race Report

My first “A” race of the season is now complete! There is nothing quite like the feeling you get after a solid block of training, a perfect taper, and stepping up to the start line with great form. I’m pleased to say I was able to do that this year at the Cary Du Classic!

This race has been on my schedule for the last 3 years in a row. The last 2 years it has been the host of the USAT Long Course Du National Champs. Each year the race itself has gotten better, and each year I have improved on my previous year’s performance.

However, this year’s course was significantly altered from the previous years, Continue reading

Race Story- USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championship

This past weekend was the Cary Du Classic which served as the USA Triathlon Long Course Duathlon National Championship (For info on what a duathlon actually is, check out my recent post answering just that question). I raced this last year, and from the moment I found out it was the national champs this year I had made it my main goal this season.

USAT Long Course Duathlon Nationals Logo

Packet Pick-Up

Getting to the race, I went to packet pick up on Friday afternoon once we arrived in town and I got my family settled in. The pick-up process was very smooth as I have experienced in the past. FS Series is very well organized and I think that all goes back to this one lady with a British accent who is always there directing things. At the pick-up I got to meet a fellow Trisports sponsored athlete which was neat to be able to meet some others on the team (I’ve got 20% off codes for anyone that wants them… hit me up on twitter!). The one thing that stuck out most to me was number of people there getting things done to their bikes. A few were not competing the next day, but many of them were, and some of those were getting things like new aerobars or pedals put on… the day before a race! So much for nothing new on race day!

USA Triathlon Long Course Duathlon Men's Wave

Long Course Men lined up for the start

Pre-Race

The next morning I knew what I was getting into from last year, so I was more relaxed. I arrived at the USA Baseball National Training Complex just before 6am to get everything set up. This year, however, was quite crowded. Since it was a national championship race, the number of competitors almost doubled! The parking lot was packed, but I was able to find a spot and head on to the transition area.

As we all lined up for the start of the race, there were two guys beside me who started talking about how nice the weather was. It was a cool 58 degrees at the start, but the funny part was one of them said it was probably snowing back home (Syracuse, NY) and the other said that the day’s high (82) was the low back home (someplace in Florida)!

Run 1- 5 Miles- 37:34

The countdown started and we all got up on the line. Once the horn blew the group of men took off (the ladies would follow 4 minutes later). I always seem to get caught up in the opening sprint, so I made sure I was off the front a bit and made a conscious effort not to get carried away by the guys off the front. I watched about ⅔ of the group run away from me as we exited the parking lot, and when I looked at my watch I say I was running 7:00/mile pace… there was no way I could keep that up! I settled down a bit and got my pace down to 7:30/mi which is still way faster than I wanted to be going at that point. It’s a long race and I didn’t want to blow up!

As I expected, many of the others started to slow as we got past the first mile. The course is an out and back with a turn around at the 2.5 mile point. What makes this unique is that it is almost entirely downhill going out… which mean it is almost entirely uphill going back! That totally messed up my strategy since I forgot to take that into account when I planned out the race. I still managed a quick first run… about 7 minutes faster than I had planned!

USA Triathlon Long Course Duathlon Transition

T1- Before I realized my shoes were stuck

T1- 00:44

I got into transition and made quick work of getting on the bike. I ended up almost doubling my usual time for T1 though because my bike shoe velcro got caught on my transition bag and when I grabbed my bike I ended up dragging my bag along with it!

Bike- 30 Miles- 01:23:56

Once I got out on the bike course I immediately realized it would be an interesting bike leg. Since the short course wave started 15 minutes behind the long course, many of the athletes were getting out onto the course at the same time. I quickly caught up to a large group of people and started to pass them. The issue was that others were passing within the group and it was difficult to make a pass without drafting (the rules stated that each cyclist had to keep at least 3 bike lengths behind the persons in front of them unless passing and they have 15 second to pass). As a made my way though the groups there were points where it was impossible to pass and some times there were even people riding three wide and blocking the whole rode! At one point I saw a car get stuck between two groups of cyclists and was forced to drive at their pace.

Thankfully, the race official came around a few miles into the bike leg on a motorcycle and began enforcing the no drafting rule. The moto would ride at the back of a pack and write race numbers down. I hung back behind the moto for a while and the groups cleared out pretty quickly once everyone realized the race moto was there. Then the moto would move on to the next group and I could make my pass. On one hand it was nice to be right behind the enforcer since it made the groups easier to pass. On the other hand, there were points where I could have passed the moto but it wasn’t safe and even at one point I had to break going up a hill which made me lose all my momentum from the previous downhill. I found out afterwards that in all they race official handed out a total of 14 2-minute penalties to long course athletes and 6 of them to short course athletes! That’s a lot of penalties for a race of 234 finishers!

Once we got about halfway through that lap of the course things had spread out and I was able to get into a rhythm. Once I got there I was able to cruise right on through the rest of the bike course. Overall that was my fastest race split on the bike with an average of 21.3mph!

T2- 00:40

T2 was another simple affair. I again took about twice as long as usual because I racked my bike on the wrong side of my shoes so I had to run around my bike to get them. It was my first race that I racked up against the fence so I think that’s what caused the issues there. I’ll know better next time I guess.

Run 2- 5 Miles- 42:05

Getting back out on the run course was painful. I was moving really slow and I started to cramp up. I had grabbed a bottle filled with Skratch Labs Hydration so I was downing that for the first mile or so. Once I got that into me I started to loosen up a bit. I probably didn’t

Trisports Baby

My cheering buddy… pre-race obviously

drink enough on the bike. The rest of the course was fairly uneventful. Everyone was in pain and you could feel the camaraderie in our pain out there on the final 2-3 miles.


The best part of the day was coming back into the parking lot to make the last loop towards the finish line. My family was there and my daughter (almost 2 years old) had her cow bell and was saying hi to me and “Go, Daddy, Go!” When I waved to her she squealed with delight. It was hilarious! That got me around the last 400 yards of the course and on to the finish line. It was great!

Post Race

USA Triathlon Long Course Duathlon Finish Line

Coming own the finishing chute decked out in USAT logos!

I finished with a time of exactly 2 hours and 45 minutes. There were volunteers at the finish that swarmed everyone that crossed the line to get the timing chip and hand them… not a finisher’s medal, but a bottle opener. That’s right… not finisher’s medal for the national championship race… just a cork screw. Not that I’m bitter or anything. Last year we got socks though. Those were cool. I actually raced in them this year.

Final Thoughts

Overall this was a great race and it’s always well organized. The one place that FS Series struggles in its races are in the post race activities and all around athlete experience. This year they again did not have a race photographer, which is totally unacceptable in my opinion in this day. The all around contact and experience before and after the race doesn’t get much thought from them and that is a huge let down after such a well organized race.

As far as Nationals goes, I placed 11th in my age group which is good enough to qualify for the 2017 World Championship in Switzerland. I’d love to go, but logistics need to be worked out before then. Of course, I have 16 months to do that!

USAT Long Course Duathlon Collage

Course Recon Ride

A change of plans this past week meant that instead of having my first race of the season at the Northeast Park Duathlon, I was off with my wife for her to watch “The Lion King” at the DPAC and I got the hang out with our little one for the evening. I wasn’t too bummed though beucase I always love a little Daddy-Daughter time, and it also meant I got to use the next day to do a bike course recon for this year’s USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championships in Cary, NC.

Felt S32

My Faithful Steed

This is clearly the “A” race on my calendar this year since 1) it’s Nats, and 2) it’s practically a hometown race. So Saturday I got to head out to the 32 mile loop that makes the long course bike leg. Last year, the LC bike leg got changed last minute due to some DOT work along the route. That means I’ve not ridden on this particular course even though I did the race last year and the short course shares about ⅓ of the same roads near the beginning and ending.

So off I went from the USA Baseball training complex in Cary (which… by the way… I would have loved to play there in High School). I waited until around 10am to get started so the temps we at least above freezing. It was quite windy though, so I don’t think it mattered that much. I really enjoyed the loop, even though I got a bit turned around at two different points. This extended my ride by about 4 miles… not that it mattered too much.

The highlight of the ride was a turn up Lystra Rd. to see a multitude of “road closed ahead” signs…

Cary Long Course Recon Ride- Road Closed

So what did I do? Kept going naturally. I found out just a few 100 ft later in when I saw a huge sinkhole across the entire road.

Cary Long Course Recon Ride- Sink Hole

I got off the bike and (after taking a few pictures) walked a nice big loop around hole in case there were the possibility of more ground collapsing.

Other than that it was quite the uneventful ride. I’m really looking forward to the race in May. I just hope the DOT gets the course cleaned up before then. Otherwise we might just be doing two laps of the short course again!

Cary Long Course Duathlon (May 16, 2015)

Race Description

First race on the new Bike!

First race on the new Bike!

This is my race report for the Cary Long Course Duathlon, or Cary Du Classic. The Cary Du Classic was the Mid-Atlantic Region stop on the USAT Duathlon Series. With that and the fact it was organized by FS Series Races, one of the largest race organizers in North Carolina, I was kind of expecting it to be a bit bigger than it actually was. There were around 300 participants, with over half of those being in short course race, so I was racing against roughly 130 people.

The Long Course race was planned to be a 5 Mile Run- 30 Mile Bike- 5 Mile Run. When I got to packet pick up on the 15th the organizers informed us that the county had decided to do road work on the bulk of the long course bike route, and therefore the long course had to do 2 loops of the short course route. That wasn’t a big deal for me and actually gave me a little hope because the course profile now had two climbs along a nice long false flat that I felt played to my strength on the bike. It also lengthened the bike leg by 5 miles! Another hope is that the course will be nice and smooth for next year!

Pre-Race

Come race day, I arrived a little later than I wanted to the USA Baseball training complex in Cary, NC. I got my transition area set up and ran to the bathrooms. No Port-a-potties for this race! We used the stadium bathrooms 🙂 I completed a quick run warm up with a few sprints and got ready to start. This was my first race without my wife at the start because it was a little too early to be waking up our daughter (pro parent tip: never wake a sleeping baby!!).

Run 1- 5mi

First time seeing the family after Run 1

First time seeing the family after Run 1

The run course was a nice out-and-back through some neighborhoods and a greenway. Going out was almost exclusively downhill which made pacing a little hard because coming back was almost exclusively up hill! I still managed a nice 8:50 min/mi on the first run, knowing I was going to need to hold back with the extra distance on the bike and a total of 10mi running!

Bike- 35mi

Transition was smooth. You know what they say, smooth is fast! It was about 45s which my wife told me was at least twice as fast as most others going in and out of transition. (My wife was here at this point). And I was on my way on the bike.

Getting the shoes on out of transition.

Getting the shoes on out of transition.

This is the part I feel bad for my fans and spectators on because it is such a long time to wait for more action. I can only imagine what it’s like watching an Ironman. The 35mi went by fast for me though! Like, 20.5mph fast. I did a lot of passing on the bike course. Especially passing people with nice fancy bikes and aero equipment who were either not comfortable, or were struggling to keep the speed consistent. One man in particular was standing out of the saddle on a flat section. I was reminded that it doesn’t matter how aero your stuff is if you cant hold an aero position for long periods of time or during hard efforts.

Run 2- 5mi

I got off the bike in a good position and reminded myself of the number one rule of packing the second run: “you are always starting too fast.” It was a struggle to keep my pace steady at the beginning, and about 1.5mi in I started to get some cramps. I brought a bottle on the 2nd run and had emptied it by the time I got to the turn around. I took a few walk breaks and the camps subsided. I was able to get across the line first in my age group and was quite pleased with the performance.

1st Place 20-24 Age Group!

1st Place 20-24 Age Group!

Post Race Thoughts

I keep working on my transition runs. Running off the bike has been a weakness for a while, and duathlons have really amplified that.

Overall it was a nice race and a nice course. I was a little disappointed with the lack of attention from race staff. My wife had some questions for a staff member to get a better spot for spectating, but was brushed off and ignored. Not like he was actually doing anything else while everyone was out on the course. I also was disappointed there was no official photographer. FS is a huge organization and this was part of the National Duathlon Series and they couldn’t hand one of their staff a camera and say “go take pictures”? They had enough people standing around doing nothing, that would have been pretty easy.

Other than those complaints, I was happy with the race and the Greek food the family had afterwards 🙂

EDIT: FS and USAT just announce that this will be the USAT Long Course Duathlon Nationals race for 2016! 

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