Saturday, February 24, 2018

Northeast Duathlon: Run 1 vs Run 2 Analysis (plus a race report)

Today I drove about 2-1/2 hours to the Northeast Duathlon in the greater Greensboro, NC area. Coach Jim told me about it last fall and I was intrigued. I decided if the weather looked decent, I'd make the trek. Well, the weather was more than decent - sunny, dry, and in the upper 60s (maybe hit 70's). So I dusted off my always-ready and perpetually packed race bag, cleaned off the bike, and went! A 9:30 am start time made for a reasonable wake-up and departure time.

pre-race "glamour" shot, lol

This blog post is two things -- (1) a race report and (2) a quick analysis of Run 1 vs Run 2 across all of the competitors, you'll see why.

The Northeast Duathlon is a 1.6 mile run, 10.6 mile bike, and 1.6 mile run, based in Northeast Park in Guilford County. Each of the two runs is two loops of the park, and the rolling and smooth bike course finishes with a lap around the small park, so it's very spectator-friendly!

The race is well organized but has a casual feel, as it should for an early-season race. There were no bike numbers, no assigned rack spaces, and since we were body marked with numbers, we only had to wear our bib number on the second run (thank you!).

I was a little concerned about the mass start with 175 of us. I positioned myself near the front but the group stretched out pretty quickly. There were no issues, and it never felt crowded on the park trail.

That first mile on fresh legs is always SO seductive!!! I ran it in 6:48, which probably made for a poor race strategy but definitely made for a lot of fun!! I came to my senses (i.e. slowed down) and finished the 1.6 miles of Run 1 in 11:05, 8th ranked out of 53 women.

I was feeling pretty cooked coming into T1. Unlike in a triathlon, where we approach bikes in bare feet, I had to remind myself to remove my running shoes before pushing the bike out! Thankfully I did that.

coming back into the park

AH it felt good to be back racing on the bike. I was motivated by a fellow racer up ahead, Colleen (we chatted post race; she's a grad student on the Duke Tri Team). We traded off leads (without drafting) and it served to push us both. I kept telling myself to keep my foot on the gas to give myself as much of a lead on anyone/everyone chasing me in the second run.

We had a gorgeous day in a very pretty park!

Run 2 for me is about finding rhythm and flow and staying mentally positive. I don't look at my watch during races much anymore. This run was a 12:13, ranked 10th among women. That was 10.3% longer than my first run. YIKES!! I wondered how my slowdown compared to everyone else's?

-------------------- DETOUR! --------------------

So let's take a race report detour! I copied all the results into Excel then calculated the % Time Increase of Run 2 over Run 1 for all the participating athletes. (Apologies to my past statistics professors for the quick and dirty analysis.)
  • Average: 13.7% (std 7.8%)
  • The range was -3.4% (negative means faster on Run 2) to +45% (positive means faster on Run 1).
  • Only 4 athletes finished Run 2 faster than Run 1 - all were male - and those were -3.4%, -1.6%, -0.5%, and -0.5%, so not a big difference.
  • No significant difference in % Time Increase by Gender.
  • There is no correlation between % Time Increase and Age (-0.0786) or with Run 1 time (0.181)
So what does this mean? No matter our age, no matter our speed, most of us will suffer a significant decline from Run 1 to Run 2. It's the difference between fresh legs and tired legs. 

Note: There was a female racer age 80! Love that!

My disparity at 10.3% was less than the average difference of 13.7% but still probably not ideal. I mean, starting a race with a full-throttle mile is never a good idea (except at the time it sure seems like it, lol). 

I'm wondering how much of a difference would it make to go more conservatively in Run 1? Would going 30s slower in Run 1 mean I could be 45s faster in Run 2? Would it make me faster on the bike? Maybe. OK, probably. I am pretty sure that I may never know!! 

And how do Run 1 and Run 2 compare for elite duathletes? What is the "sweet spot" for maximizing all three legs and what is the resultant ideal difference between Run 1 and Run 2? Is there one?


I ended up finishing 7th overall, in a time of 57:06 (Results here). This race series doesn't offer a master's division, but I was an AG winner, the fastest woman over the age of 27, and had the third fastest bike split of the women.

We received awesome winter hats for participating (great idea), and the awards were mugs with hot chocolate mix! The RD, Richard Swor pointed out that had they not done that, it might have been 25 degrees, rather than 65!! 


The thing that flashed into my mind a lot during today's race was just how capable and strong I felt to work hard - to work hard physically. I certainly work hard in other areas of my life, but for me the confidence of physical work carries over into the mental work much more than the other way around. 

This has been a VERY fun February of racing. It's time to buckle down and get ready for Du Nationals on April 8!!!!

Thanks to Coach Jim of One-On-One Endurance, to Solar Connexion for continued support of my racing, and to Bryan Walsh, champion sherpa.