Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Big Sky Duathlon Results

Pictures: (top)  Kevin Konczak leads current reigning ITU World & US National 50-54 Champion Andy Ames into T1 at the 2014 Big Sky Duathlon in Denver at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. (Middle) KK rolls into the final segment of the bike portion. (Bottom) Kevin Konczak aka "KK" runs towards the finish line with a significant lead on the final 4K trail segment for the overall win against a tough field on a snowy & rainy/sleet filled day.

Race report:  Above you can see that a morning where I finally decided to show up for a 9 AM race at only 6:15 AM that morning, can turn out to be a good thing. It had been snowing hard in Boulder, but an athlete I coach, Grant, lives near the race site. I called in him in the morning & found it was raining there--something I could deal with if there were enough of the right clothes packed. I got to the site of the race okay after having Grant guide me over the phone on how to get there (my bad I should have MapQuested it but do not have a Garmin in my car either). 
*NOTE: know where you're going by race morning.  Since I had never done this race before I've never scouted the course either. There would be some fast guys there, namely my Team USA room mate Andy Ames who is always a bugger to race--he's the 2013 ITU Duathlon World Champion and US National Champion for 50-54. He happens to be the 2014 US Cross Country National 50-54 running champion as well (crowned just a few months ago). Andy always puts the hurt on me when running! Hey, give me a break, he's a freaking freak of nature and World Champion so I try best I can to hold pace with him. There would also be Mr. Timex (Tim Hola) racing as well as a guy I've never beaten before, Jim Halberg.

I woke up at 6 AM, had some toast, jam on it, then stopped by Amante for a 20 oz. of my fav. I'd been on coffee detox for a week because it wasn't having the useful effect it normally does. This really got me alert. It snowed, sleeted & rained the entire way there. I took 3 pair of running shoes, 5 pair of gloves & 3 pair of hats, 2 pairs of leg warmers.
*NOTE: Use run shorts that have elastic in the legs to hold up leg warmers rather than just a hem.
To shorten the story, I had a ton of clothes to prepare for about anything.
*NOTE: Bring a balaclava when whether is bad, or one of those scarf/headband/balaclava thingys.

Fast forward: Really I had three trips to the bathroom before the race, with about a total of maybe 4 minutes of warm up. At my age, I need to be more diligent about that, especially in a sprint race. The elite wave/young guns went off at 9 AM. My wave and older (45-49+) went off at 9:05. It turns out I had the fastest FIRST and SECOND runs of the day out of the entire field, including the elites. That really surprised me because at US National Cross Country Championships I was so out of the mix from a) not having raced since I think the fall/ITU World Du Champs  b) having done ZERO speed work all winter long.  I'm used to being fast in transitions & ended up with the top T1 & T2 times as well, with the 2nd fastest bike split of the day. Here's how it went down after the gun went off...Andy took off like a bat outta hell as usual, I parked on his shoulder. I decided to have a little fun and speed up to shed the group, but then just after taking the lead my right leg warmer fell down to my knee and trying to catch a moving leg at 5-something per mile pace and pull it up at the same time just wasn't easy to do. Andy took the lead again & then I recalled coming into the park before the race, the wind was going to be in our face after a mile. I stayed parked on Andy's shoulder to use him as a shield and conserve for the bike and second run. Andy likes to be in front and since I've been averaging 5-6 hours of total training a week for who knows how many months now, I was happy to have him do the work.

Knowing I couldn't let Andy be near me after the bike, I kept laps 1 & 2 as an easy-then medium effort. However, I missed the turn around on Quebec Street and reached the cop cars about 5 yards beyond the actual turn around--so lost some time there. To top it off, my leg warmers kept falling down and had to stop pedaling to grab them & pull them up like 3 times! Each lap gaining about a hundred fifty yards on Ames. Jim Halberg was putting big time in on the bike way up in Wave 1 and figured I'm just trying to hold off Andy in my wave...never saw Tim Hola the entire race up there probably because I was too busy keeping my eyes on the road and not wipe out on the wet pavement and avoiding other Wave 1 folks. Lap 3 I pushed it a little harder on the bike but not enough so there wasn't anything left after the bike to counter a move from Andy. As it turned out, my second run was just sort of an effort of comfort. The bugger was I lost a serious number of seconds while running just to slow down in order to pull up my leg warmers. I counted 6 times for sure in the first mile--possibly as many as 3 times. Wardrobe malfunctions stink! I could always have picked it up more and the pain threshold never really got in the way much. One of those days where you can keep pushing but not really feel it, possibly because it was so damn cold I was numb?  I don't know...either way, after the long downhill and turning back towards the stadium/finish, I got a glance at the trail behind me to see where Andy was--couldn't see anything but trail so I just geared it down to the finish line and went over right away to see Andy so I could cheer him on.

I went to the announcer to tell him to say, "Here comes Andy Ames, the reigning World and National Duathlon 50-54 champion!"  I felt Andy deserved all the glory there because he has accomplished amazing things the past year and should be recognized for it. To top it off, he is the Master's Duathlete of the Year for 2013.

At the end of the day, I'm not sure what happened and why I raced to be the only athlete under an hour all the fastest everything but the bike the entire field. Maybe it was the coffee, maybe it was the lack of training so I've been rested, maybe it was the crappy weather. My dad always said when the weather is cold and bad, advantage goes to me. He was right in this case. Maybe it's the Swedish blood in me, or being a former Nordic ski racer for years while in college. Who knows, either way, it sure surprised me how it turned was a good day!