Duathlon Nationals Race Course Preview

>> Saturday, May 30, 2015

Well, my "A" race for the year (so far) is next weekend. I'm doing the short course race at Duathlon Nationals in St. Paul (2.5K run, 23K bike, 2.5K run - or 1.55 mile run, 14.3 mile bike, 1.55 mile run). I know Harriet Island pretty well, and I've biked up Ohio Hill countless times. I went out and took some photos of the bike course a few weeks ago, and I rode parts of the bike loop 3 days ago. Here are my thoughts on the course...


The run loops all around Harriet Island (which, if you're from out of town, is not really an island - we are aware of this; no need to bring it up). It's flat. There are just a few TINY inclines.

We start at the highest point, run lower under the Wabasha Bridge, then back up a little bit to the turn-around on Levee Road. The little loop out on Raspberry Island is cute, and it's just slightly lower on the east end of the island. Then it's pretty flat along the river and back to transition. No biggie.

If you're doing the long course, you essentially do this meandering loop twice.


Here's the map of the loop:

Elevation chart. The short course does 2 loops; the long course does 3.

Early Wednesday morning, I rode to Harriet Island. I scoped out the run course (on my bike), and then did a hard 5-mile interval over the first 5 miles of the bike course. (I actually did 3x5-mile intervals at that point, but if you're here to hear about the course, you don't care about that.)

Here's the big thing you need to be ready for:

70 seconds.

Only 70 seconds into the bike course, you'll be heading up THEE Ohio Hill. It's not the worst hill ever, but it IS pretty big. You have VERY LITTLE time to get a drink and "relax" from the run before you're in your granny gear working up that hill.

Close-up of the start/end of the bike loop.

Looking up the start of Ohio.

Looking down from near the start of the hill.

A few blocks later near the top - note the cyclist going to the right.
We do NOT do this - we still go straight.

Where it looks like we run into houses about 1.5 blocks ahead in that last photo, the road curves to the left. We go 2 more blocks and turn onto George Street. At that point, we're STILL climbing a bit. Just keep this in mind: this hill just keeps going. You get a little flat after crossing Smith, and then you climb a bit more. You get about 1.5 miles in before you get a break. Then the roads get better and you start going downhill:

Looking BACK along the course about 2.5 miles in after coming down this nice gentle hill.
(These were taken from my car, and I drove part of the course backwards. Sorry for any confusion.)

Then you get to enjoy some speed. It's not out-of-control. You don't need to brake. There are small curves, but it's fine. Here's what it looks like looking BACK up into what you've just ridden down:

I hit 37 mph and all was good. (Again, looking BACKWARDS up the hills we ride down.)

Again, looking BACK after the straight open stretch on Hwy 13. Fast and flat.

When you're done on Hwy 13, you do the little "loop" to get down next to the river. This is a short, steep hill. Be careful at the start of this downhill because you CAN carry a little too much speed into the first part - you don't want to wipe out. But if you start to think "oh this curve is ending just up there," then you can book it. You can speed through the final part of that curve onto the straight downhill section. Watch for a big hose across the road just past the bottom of the hill (it comes from the Yacht Club, and it's like the size of a fire hose, but it wasn't there on my early morning ride, so I'm hoping it won't be there on race day).

Once down that little loopy downhill, it's flat along the river:

Moderately rough roads.

Some nice sections of new roads in there a mile later.

I have NOT rode the entire way through on Lilidale Road / Water Street since last fall because there have been "road closed" signs up for months. (And I've heard of bikers being ticketed if they go through, and it's just not worth it to me.) This SHOULD be opened up in time for the race. I hope. But it's pretty flat in there. There's a slightly deceptive false-flat about a mile before getting back to Harriet Island, and some of the road in there is a bit rough, but it's nothing too scary.

FYI, even if it's a dark, overcast day, you might still want to wear some sunglasses. This flat part along the river is usually a little gnat-filled. On Wednesday when I rode it, it was drizzling off and on, and it was around 5:00 a.m. (Yes really.) And I STILL rode through a lot of gnats! (Which I usually think of as an afternoon or evening problem.) Here's what I looked like once I got home around 6 a.m.:

I had 21 on my face post-ride, and it wasn't until an hour later that I saw the one IN MY TEETH.
Gross. (And yes, that's sweat dripping from my nose too. Double gross.)

Nearing the end of the 7 mile loop, you can see the Harriet Island Pavillion a block in the distance (transition will be set up right next to that), but you'll take a right at this intersection to start another loop:

Oh, and being I did the first 5 miles of the bike course as an interval on Wednesday, I figured I can share my Garmin data from those 5 miles:

First 5 miles in red. (My interval was between miles 6.8 and 11.8 miles into my longer ride.)

That's my speed from that 5-mile interval. You can see a burst of speed out of the park, and then down to 10-12 mph for a while up Ohio. FINALLY enjoyed some downhills about 2.5 miles in, then a little speed down the little loop to along the river around 4 miles in, with the final mile being flat along the river.


It's pretty much the same run, only starting a bit "lower" in transition:

Just after the 2nd arrow, we head up a "ramp" to get on the upper bike path, and that will be just an annoying tiny incline right at the start of the run. (That 2nd arrow is through a little tunnel where we go under the upper bike path.) Then it's just like the first run, only we stay along the river to finish. So once we get off Raspberry Island, it's just about a 4 block sprint to the finish line!

THE SHORT VERSION: The runs are basically flat with tiny inclines. The hill is right away on the bike loop (that you'll do 2 or 3 times depending on if you're doing the short or long course), and it doesn't quite end when you think it should be done - it seems to linger on. But then you get to enjoy some "usable" downhills.

Oh, and the final thing worth noting is that I think this will be my first race with a noon start. The long course race starts around 8:00 a.m., but the short course doesn't start until noon. Weird. Well, wish me luck next weekend!

Click here for more info on the Duathlon National Championship's website. Sometime mid-next week I'll post my own goals and personal race strategy. Have a great weekend!


Friday Funny 929: Weekends (and funny links)

>> Friday, May 29, 2015

Like I do every few weeks, here are a dozen of my recent favorite posts from my tumblr page:

Athletic-Related Funnies:

Triathlon. Truth. (And this goes for my duathlon next weekend too.)

[GIF] This is a special kind of fail.


But if I stop running...

Just workout.

[GIF] When I'm in the wrong exercise class.

[GIF] Pole skills. Whoa.


ALL OF US when it comes to injuries. AMIRIGHT?

[GIF - a velodrome start] Thanks for the push. Thanks a lot.

A great quote from Mia Hamm.

When someone asks what you're training for.

Non-Athletic Funnies:

My view on healthy food.

A failed PB&J sandwich. The text really resonates with me.

I would have had to ask the audience too.

Oh come on...

So your TV show ended.

The sexiest possible roll to get on a pair of sexy dice.

Umm, WHAT Batman?

A planetary pun.

Every commencement speech.

Adult cereals.

Weekend thoughts.

Winning an argument.

And as always, stop by steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com for funnies all week long. Happy weekend!!

Stop back for a "Duathlon Nationals Course Preview" tomorrow. The race is in 8 days! Yikes!


Friday Funny 928: Everyday Lies

Designer Justin Barber recently pointed out the "truth behind everyday lies" in this poster series:

I've gotten SO wet during SO many workouts when there's been
a 3% chance of rain according to my weather.com app.

More funny things posted all day at steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com!


Friday Funny 927: Motivational Posters for People Who Hate Doing Things

I can relate to too many of these...

More funny things on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com.


Friday Funny 926: Funny/Strange Teacher Quotes

Have you seen this? It's a list of random quotes that this teacher said over a year, as chronicled by his students:

And if you remember, this sort of thing happened to me about 2 years ago. < Click that link. Really. :)

Lots more funny things posted all week long on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com!


Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: Where Does Your Fat Go?

>> Thursday, May 28, 2015

When you lose weight, where does your fat go? I've never really thought about this. I think I probably assumed that it exited via some obvious physical discharge like through poop (or maybe pee), but it's really something I never considered.

In a new study by Andrew Brown at the University of New South Wales and former physicist Ruben Meerman in the British Medical Journal, they say "there is surprising ignorance and confusion about the metabolic process of weight loss. The correct answer is that most of the mass is breathed out as carbon dioxide. It goes into thin air."

Whaaaaaaaaaaat? That wouldn't have been in my top 10 theories of where fat goes. Here's more:

Excess carbs and proteins are converted into chemical compounds called triglycerides (which consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen) and then stored in the lipid droplets of fat cells. To lose weight, you’re attempting to metabolize those triglycerides, and that means unlocking the carbon that’s stored in your fat cells.

Losing 10 kilograms of human fat requires the inhalation of 29 kilograms of oxygen, producing 28 kilograms of carbon dioxide and 11 kilograms of water. That’s the metabolic fate of fat.

They calculated the proportion of the mass stored in those 10 kilograms of fat that exits as carbon dioxide and as water when we lose weight. Then, by tracing the pathway of those atoms out of the body, they discovered that 8.4 of those kilograms are exhaled as carbon dioxide. Turns out, our lungs are the primary excretory organ for weight loss. The remaining 1.6 kilograms becomes water, which is excreted in urine, feces, sweat, breath, and tears.

They also noted that their study doesn't mean that you can simply breathe more to loose weight. That just leads to hyperventilation, followed by dizziness, palpitations, and loss of consciousness. So stop huffing and puffing while you're sitting there. Just go for a run.

For more "Thirsty Thursday" posts that highlight workouts, body science, and all kinds of interesting information, CLICK HERE.


Gut-Busting Duathlon Workout

>> Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Yesterday, bro- and sis-in-law Matt and Angela came over to get sweaty in my garage. Yep, it was time for that "duathlon workout" that we like to do. It starts with a 10 minute warm-up on the trainer, and then right into a 1-mile run. After that, it's 3 more intervals of biking (on the trainer) for 9.5 minutes each doing 0:30 hard and 0:30 easy (ending after a 0:30 hard, and hoping back on the bike starting with 0:30 hard), followed by a 1 mile run. Basically, bike/run x4. It's killer.

The workout came at a good time for me because Duathlon Nationals is in 11 days. I'm doing the short course, which is a 1.55 mile run, 14 mile bike, and 1.55 mile run. So all the transitions in this workout were good for me, along with running fast on tired legs after hopping off the bike. (That last one is always a good skill to develop, but I feel like it's extra important because this upcoming race is super short - there's no time to "ease your way into" the run. It's off the bike and then run at 100% for less than 10 minutes at this short race!)

It was also good timing because the 3 of us were at Matt's younger brother's wedding a few days before...


OK, back to your regularly scheduled blog post.

... and I kinda ate crap for a few days. So this was a good JOLT back into reality.

OK, on to the workout! We started spinning for our 10 minute warmup, and I hopped off to get a shot near the end of that:

When the workout was done, I accidentally cleared my watch instead of saving the numbers, so I don't have my exact bike times or my transitions. But I'm 90% sure I remembered all my run splits correctly. We hopped off our bikes, switched shoes ASAP, and took off for our first 1-mile run. I went out hard and ran the first half mile in 2:54, and the final half mile in 3:00, for a 5:54 total first mile.

Then it was back on the bike for some hard (then easy) spinning. The 2nd run FELT MUCH WORSE. Heavy legs right away. I did that one in 6:06 (3:06, 3:00). Ouch. I climbed back on my bike, did my 0:30 hard, and snapped a selfie when I started my 0:30 easy:

Sweaty. But still presentable.

Angela back on her bike behind me, and Matt coming through to get on his.

There was lots of suffering in the 3rd run. I knocked down my time a bit from the 2nd run, running a 6:04 (3:04, 3:00). Then, back to the bike and another selfie once I got a little break:

Gross. My apologies.

I ripped a BIG fart right as Angela got back from her 3rd run. And then Matt came in and walked through it too. I'm not a very good host. Sorry guys.

My stomach gave some churns on the final run - I think it was a few days of wedding food and continental breakfasts catching up with me. I figured I'd be running straight into the house to the bathroom. But I was fine. (Had the run been another half mile or there been 1 more interval, it would have gotten ugly.) My final run was 6:01 (3:07 [yikes] and 2:54). I started stretching a bit as Matt and Angela finished up:

Angela coming back up the last hill.

Matt finishing up.

Technically, I had a PR for this workout, finishing in 1:03:59. My runs were NOT the fastest (I really hoped they'd all be under 6:00, but that didn't even come close to happening), but my transitions were fast - I noticed 1 under 0:10, and a few of 0:10 or 0:11. And again, I cleared my watch accidentally, so I can't be sure on all of my transition times.

Speaking of Duathlon Nationals: I think I'll be posting a bit of a "course preview" this weekend. So check back for that.

Not that anyone cares (this is more for me than for anyone else), but I've apparently done this workout 9 times now. Here's links to the first 8 times: first at the track with Marie, then a shorter version on the track with Matt, then near the track by myself, then out of my garage by myself, then out of my garage with friends on a HOT day, then on a chilly day in the garage with my Garmin, then 2 years ago with Matt, and finally last summer with Matt, Angela, and Jeremy.


New "Grab Bag" Suits

>> Saturday, May 23, 2015

We use SwimOutlet.com a lot. This is in no way an advertisement for them, and may end up being the opposite. They have a "grab bag" deal that's always pretty cheap for swimsuits: you pick the brand and "cut" of suit, but you DON'T get to pick the pattern, and you get whatever they send. It's cheap. For men's "jammer" length suits, you can get Sporti brand for $12, Nike for $19, and TYR for $24. (Those are the prices at this moment, but they have different deals all the time.)

I've had good luck in the past. Usually, it's something like a black suit with a colored panel on the side: I've had a pair that's had a green pattern, and a pair that's had a purple pattern on the side. No biggie.

I ordered 4 recently that just came in the mail. A TYR, a Nike, and 2 Sportis. It's always a little like Christmas when opening the box:

First pair: the TYR. Dark with some light blue accents. Nice.

Second pair: a patriotic pair of Nikes. Also not bad. (Originally a $52 suit, for $19!)

Then I pulled out my first Sporti suit. Oh Lord...


I know what you're thinking: "But you always dress so wild for races! What's the big deal?" I don't like to look "wild" in my day-to-day life. In fact, when I come home from races where I'm wearing something bright/crazy, I always cover it before getting out of the car because I don't want my neighbors to think I'm a whack-a-do. And I wear very normal things in my pool for training.

OK, but my final Sporti suit can't be any worse, right?...

Shit. TWO of those.

As if they weren't ugly enough, the "penis pouch" inside is bright purple. Awesome.

So look for me in one of these sweet (or not-so-sweet) "grab bag" suits in a local pool or lake this summer. I'll be hard to miss.

And if you're interested, try your luck with a "grab bag" purchase at SwimOutlet.com. Let me know what you get!

p.s. My wife reminded me of another awesome/horrible suit that her sister got from SwimOutlet 8 years ago. Here's her post with the horrible details. Swim Outlet actually saw that post and sent my wife and her sister each a free suit. Nice.


Friday Funny 925: Potty Graffiti

>> Friday, May 22, 2015

Lots more funny stuff posted all week long on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com!


Friday Funny 924: Texts From Your Dog

I posted some of these before, but these are too good. If your dog could text...

Lots more funny stuff posted all week long on my tumblr page: steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com


Friday Funny 923: Yearbook Quotes

It's nearing the end of the school year, so I thought I'd share some awesome yearbook quotes:

More funny stuff on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com!



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