Race Report
Callaway Gardens Duathlon


I felt pretty unprepared going into this race. Although I trained well, and was satisfied in that regard, I packed the Thursday night and Friday morning prior to the Sunday race. I felt a bit rushed while packing, as things had been crazy with travel for work. Friday morning, I got a ride into work with an associate, and my wife picked me up that afternoon to head to Callaway Gardens for the weekend with the kids. Without much thought, I decided not to pack the iPod, because I figured I couldn't and/or shouldn't use it for the bike. Deciding it would be too much hassle to bother with it for the 5k runs, I left it home. The crazy thing is that its nothing to pack it, in terms of space or weight, and I cursed myself later for leaving it behind. I also didn't pack any rain gear and it rained off and on all weekend. I neglected to bring a jacket or anything with long sleeves, other than a couple of dress shirts for dinner Saturday night and brunch on Sunday morning (Mother's Day). I somehow got through the weekend without all that stuff, and things worked out fine. However, I also forgot my heart rate monitor strap for the Garmin Forerunner 305, and that was missed.

I got to bed early enough on Saturday, and I was up by 6am on the morning of the race. I didn't have anything to eat in the hotel room, so I got dressed and headed over. I met a guy downstairs as I was leaving who wanted to bike over to the start with me, and after chatting we found that we line in the same town. He pumped up his tires and recommended that I check mine. I had figured that the shop set it to the appropriate pressure, but since he insisted, we decided to check. They were set to 100 psi which would have been fine, but I decided to go to 110 on the stranger's suggestion. He's a Chiropractor and he knows one of my neighbors, so we have a mutual acquaintance. He was riding a LeMond, which was purchased used from a female triathlete patient. He offered to have me join his Sunday morning group ride, but I told him that I usually just go out on my own in the area around the house. He ran a 10k on Saturday in our town - the Mayor's Challenge. I had already made plans for the weekend away before I noticed that race, which really worked out better for me on Mother's Day weekend. He also has two small kids too - not sure how he does it!

We chatted on the ride over about our goal times. It seemed like we were both shooting for somewhere between an hour fifty and two hours. We both had looked at the finishing times for last year, and I told him that I wasn't sure if I was going to race as in the 35-39 group or 40-44, as my birthday is only five days away. The USAT rules have you race at your age on December 31 of the current year, but I knew this wasn't a USAT race. I told him that my goal time would have put me about ten of twenty with the old guys, but about seventeen of twenty with the younger crowd. Of course - that's last year's field. I noted that the guy at the local tri shop told me that he did the race last year and it was raining like crazy - which killed any enthusiasm regarding my projected finishing position.

Having driven around the course a bit on Saturday evening, I knew where to go for the Start/Finish. I parked my bike next to Kevin the Chiropractor, and headed over to get my packet. I had noticed on the bike ride over that somthing was loose between my left pedal and shoe clip, then realized that it was my shoe after examination. Luckily, there was a bike shop there to help out folks like me and the guy there adjusted both shoes after explaining that my shop does a poor job with shoes.

Before the race start, I had a Carb-Boom gel and some Gatorade, and a granola bar from the snack stand. I wasn’t too focused on nutrition and should have started eating earlier and paced myself better. I took in all I could in that short window and then I decided I needed to hit the can with just under ten minutes before the start. I jogged over but all the stalls were full. I was getting nervous as it was announced that everyone was required for a meeting five minutes prior to the start. Everything worked itself out and I ran out of the restroom to the start where I caught the tail end of the instructions. The race director spent a great deal of time cautioning folks about the wet conditions.


I kept a good pace out from the start, but it was difficult to judge without the hrm. I could tell from the gps that I was on an eight minute pace and it seemed like most of the field was out in front of me. I kept it steady as I knew I couldn’t expect to do much better. I passed several people in the last two miles of the 5k, figuring others were caught up in the moment and probably went out too fast. I still felt like I was way behind and Kevin was nowhere to be seen.

I really did a poor job with the Garmin. According to the watch, I got into T1 at 2.98 miles and 24:07 for an 8:05 pace. That was about my stretch goal, to run under 25 minutes for the 5k. I got through the transition with little fanfare, running over to my spot, switching shoes, putting on helmet, unracking bike, walking it to the course, and riding off. Kevin was long gone. I forgot to click the “lap” button on the way out of T1 but I got is soon after riding off. I see now that T1 is listed as 0.91 miles and 3:17 minutes and 16.6 average mph. Hard to say how long I was on the bike, and how long it actually took me to get through T1.


The bike ride was awesome. I passed a lot of people on the wet course. I think that my experience with auto racing on road courses in the wet helped me with my bike ride. I saw one guy getting back on his bike in the middle of one of the first few turns and he obviously took a spill. I didn’t see too much direct evidence, but I assume that folks were a lot more tentative about higher speeds than I was. One thing that bothered me was that I couldn’t shift up to the larger chain ring for the entire race! I tried persistently for the first mile or two, and then gave up for the most part, running the entire event on the smaller gear.

The bike course consisted of two loops and I had driven most of the course already in the car, so I was fairly comfortable with the turns, particularly on the second loop. I was very pleased about one uphill sharp turn, where I completed all of my downshifting prior to the turn. I passed three bikers through that turn, which was a 180, really made up of two rights. Thinking back to auto racing, we learn early on that you don’t downshift to help slow the car; the point is to be in the right gear coming out of the turn. Bicyclists don’t downshift to slow down, but being in the right gear on the way out was a big plus for me as I easily dusted those other folks. Shame on them as it was the second time around.


About half-way through the second loop, I was pretty sure that I could see Kevin with his navy shirt and yellow bike. I kept pace with him off in the distance but I was unable to gain any more ground. I began to feel some pain in my butt and my back. I road the last mile or two in a vertical position, stretching out my back, with my hands alternating from the top of the brakes to even resting on top of the aero pads. My legs still felt strong so I powered through that last stretch and felt very good coming off the bike.

I screwed up the Garmin again during the seccond transition. Looking at the stats now I see that the bike section was 18.20 miles in 53:41 at 20.3 average mph. However, T2 is listed as 36 feet and 17 seconds. Looks like more trouble starting and stopping the lap buttpn, but I don't recall the exacct circumstances. I chatted with Kevin in the transition area a bit, but he headed off just before me on the run. I was happy to have caught him. Nobody passed me on the bike, but I knew I would give some spots back on the run.

I was way ahead of my planned pace at that point, and my legs felt strong, but my chest was telling me to slow down. Aerobically, I was really pushing it and I started to have some chest cramping early in the run. Again, I was disappointed to be without the hrm info.


I pushed as hard as I could, but I could not keep up with the chiropractor. I could tell he was running strong and I was running weak. I started off with a smaller stride which had helped in my brick training, but it didn’t seem to be helping much during the race. My leg muscles loosened up a bit, as usual, but I never felt good during the run. The whole 5k was tough. In my training, I would start to feel good aerobically as my leg muscles acclimated to the run, which was usually .6 to .9 miles into the run.

I knew then that I could beat my goal time of 1:50:00, but I realized that I was not going to make 1:45:00. That would have been sweet, but I just didn’t have it in me. Four people passed me on the run. The first guy roared past me after about a mile. He was a tall gangly guy who was somewhere near my age, but he looked like hell. Two more guys passed, but they looked old enough to be out of my age group. Then a woman passed me who looked to be a bit younger than me. I saw the four of them trade places a bit but I wasn’t able to keep up.

According to the Garmin, my run was 3:07 and about 25:30 (net). As in my brick training, I was surprised at how well I did on the run, given how poorly I felt. It shows that it pays to push hard. Again, I screwed up by leaving the Garmin running for just over three minutes after the finish (but I was able to sort it out at home later). Caroline and the boys greeted me as I crossed the finish, at 1:46:45, over three minutes better than my stretch goal! I got a finisher’s medal and a kiss from Caroline, Jack, and Ben. Caroline was really excited, having watched me finish strong, exclaiming that she was very proud of me.

I was 26th out of 140 participants, 23rd out of 84 men, and 7th out of 15 in my age group. After all of that concern about competing as a 39 or 40 year old, it turns out that I would have been 7th out of 15 in either category! Almost too odd to be true. They actually had me with the 35-39 year olds as they leave you at the age you are on race day. Kevin finished just under two minutes ahead of me and two places ahead. That woman who passed me at the end finished about 25 seconds ahead of me and she placed third overall for women and first in the 35-39 age group.

I was very satisfied with my effort and results. I beat my goal time and finished in the upper half of my age group, neither of which were expected. I know I need to get faster on the run, and I know that I won’t do so well, relatively, on a dry bike course. Given that it was my ninth ride in the last 10 years or so, I know that I should be able to make a good improvement there. Regarding my running pace, I have never done any speed work in my twelve years of running and I know I’m overdue for some. Now that I feel like I’d like to compete in these events, I’ll be working on hill repeats, interval training, and other speed workouts.

Here's how Callaway Gardens bills this event:
The duathlon event of the Callaway Gardens Fitness Series is scheduled for Sunday, May 14, 2006. The event includes a 5k run, 30k bike race and 5k run through the scenic countryside of Callaway Gardens and is one of the original Duathlons in the Southeast. Multi-sport athletes use this event as a warm-up for the triathlon season which begins the third weekend in May. The entire event is within Callaway Gardens with the bike course on rolling hills and the run courses mostly flat. A very fast Duathlon. You are going to love these run and bike courses. The 5K run course is flat and very fast. The 30K bike course includes Scenic Drive and the Discovery Parkway. There isn’t a Duathlon venue in the United States that compares to Callaway Gardens in the springtime.