Blisters and Cardiac Drift: Heel and Crank Duathlon Race Report

I renamed this race ,”Blisters and Cardiac Drift”, after cataloging my post-race injuries.  Before you succumb to shock, I’m fine.  Nothing a few skin grafts won’t fix.  This is a 8th running of this race.  The current race-director, R. Greif, is retiring after this year.  He is passing the reins to another lucky person.  The race is dedicated to Darin Kruse.  He was a local triathlete who lost his battle with ALS several years ago.

I awoke at dark 4 o’clock and was on the road by 0500.  The car was pre-packed and ready to go.  Yes, I actually got a good nite’s sleep and was prepared.  Early arrival at transition netted me a premo bike rack position.

Think I got to transition early enough?  Really had to fight for that spot, eh.  The transition set-up was a little confusing and the timing staff just had one timing mat.  So, no separate T1 and T2 times.  I’m a snob about accurate race splits.  Unfortunately, the kind folks had some timing issues.  So, once again, I am recreating my splits by comparing my Garmin and the race results.

Dave, Anton, Me, Dan, and Dan–pre-race. Ready to race!

I met up with several DTriClub members who were racing.  Good for pre-race jitters to shoot the bull.  We then corralled into the narrow start lane and a few minutes later we were running.  I started close to the  front and didn’t have to weave around other runners.  Just cruised along for the first mile.  Felt easy, so was surprised to pass mile 1 at 6:05.  Pre-race goal was 6:40.  Actually, didn’t know where my run fitness would land me.  Mile 2 went by in 6:09.  Ok, at this point I, frankly, was a little worried.  Still had to punish the bike course and run another loop.  I made a tactical decision to back off the pace for the last 1/2 mile.  Slowed to a 6:46/mi pace.  Got to my bike and was out of transition in a few seconds.

Bike mount was smooth, feet into shoes and flying.  Now the fun starts.  I had a goal power to hit but came in a little low.  I did the 10miles in 25:35 by my Garmin.  Decent time but should have pushed 20 more watts.  My only excuse is that the course is somewhat technical with a  few turns and a couple of 180s.  This dropped the power average possibly but likely the hard effort on #1 run sapped the legs?!  Duathlons are tough to pace.

I was running in top 15 after run #1 and passed 4-5 people on the bike.  A group of us rode together, trading places over the last 5 miles.  Cruised into T2 and got out onto the run quickly.  I slowly passed two guys, one of which was leading my age-group at the time.  He’s a strong cyclist so I was happy to catch him in the first mile.   Mile one went by in 6:30 which was solid.  My legs took about that long to loosen-up.  However, I sensed I was running at close to max heart-rate to hold the pace.  I slowed to get water at both aid stations, (miles 1, 2.2).  Lost 30+ seconds doing that but I wasn’t catching the guy ahead.  Looking back at the Garmin file, I ran consistent 6:30s except for the breaks.  This is always a dilemma for me.  It obviously hurts to run at near max heart-rate.   But that day the heat made me doubt my ability to hold the pace and as such, I couldn’t stay mentally strong.  Generally heat doesn’t bother me unless my heart-rate is going over 90%max or I’m under-hydrated.  You’re burning up on the inside and the outside.

Medical Pearl:  Pay attention children.   There is a phenomenon called cardiac drift.  Basically, with longer exercise, the body has to adapt to the stress.  During exercise there is generally a decrease in arterial pressure and stroke volume and a somewhat compensatory rise in heart-rate.  This occurs frequently in conditions of heat and poor hydration.  But also in milder conditions by the overall body muscle use/contractions.  Two important things happen.  One, the heart-rate rises to keep cardiac output high.  Gotta have oxygen to your muscle, brain, heart, kidneys, etc.  Secondly, to promote cooling the body dilates blood vessels at the surface of the body, shifting blood to your skin and hence increasing sweating.  Evaporation of this sweat cools the body.   This contributes to that hot flushed feeling you have when you’re really pushing it at the end of a race.  This is another reason it’s difficult to keep a stable heart-rate over a long race if you’re just using a heart-rate monitor to gauge pace.  The heart-rate is going to climb regardless unless you take walk breaks to bring it down periodically, but that’s a whole other subject.  If you’re a cardiologist, please excuse my over-simplified explanation.

Sadly, I do think I can “toughen myself” up to tolerate this.  Talked to my coach and we’re going to try some bike-run bricks at tempo.  These will be very challenging and put me in the hurt locker.  My reasoning is that if I can experience this dark place more in training and survive, I can take that to the next race.  Craig Alexander, reigning World Ironman Champion, describes a key workout in which he does a 150k-180k bike ride close to ironman pace effort, then hits the roads for 1 mile repeats x 13+.  All I can say is Damn Dude.  We are not worthy.   I’ll try not to think of the recent study about endurance athletes causing micro-damage to their cardiac muscle by training excessively ; Personally, I’ll happily fall into my wheelchair and head to the nursing home after I race Kona!!!!

The kind timing event team didn’t have a functioning printer.  So, the awards were done off the computer.  I was glad to finish 7th overall and first in the my age-group.  My first run and bike split seemed to separate me from most of my peers.  Will be glad to move to the next age-group next year.  These guys are getting too fast.  Overall, I enjoyed the race.  As always I can find areas to nitpick and areas to improve.  Need more run volume and will plan some Vo2 max training to help the top end.  Plan on the bike is to keep building volume for the late season half-ironmans.  Need to keep the speed up in the pool as well.  I still have some race/time goals to meet.  No rest for the weary, right?

David R, Me, Super-Cyclist Michael S.

If you’ve followed closely, you’ve noticed no mention of blisters yet.  I ran sock-less for quicker transitions and thought I had protected all the high friction areas on both feet.  Nope.  I’m going back to duck-tape despite how ridiculous it looks.

New Newton running shoes—$100+……Duck Tape–$2…….Not limping around for a week–Priceless

A little long this time.  Sorry, but as always, thanks for reading.



Filed under Triathlon

2 responses to “Blisters and Cardiac Drift: Heel and Crank Duathlon Race Report

  1. Dave Truitt

    Awesome race, doc! That was a heck of a run time. My run has improved dramatically. The bike, however, leaves much to be desired. Also, I bought some tri-glide spray at fleet feet. That stuff was awesome. Soaked the inside of my shoes before the race. My feet felt slicker than owl poop.

    For what it’s worth, eating twinkies and sitting on the couch casuse cardiac damage too. I’d much rather go out with 12% body fat, aching joints and blisters on my feet!!!

    Loving the blog posts as always!

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