Race Report: Derek Tingle - USAT Duathlon National Championship

Hello, Friends!  Welcome to the first episode?... webisode?... blogisode?, yes Blogisode! Welcome to my first blogisode of 2019.  It has been a long, dreary, gray, miserable off season but race season is officially here! There’s plenty to be excited about coming into 2019.  First, I have a new team! I’m proud to have been invited to be a part of Team Knoxville Performance Lab ZenEvo Dark Chocolate and look forward to racing with them this season. Next, this off season has been one of my most productive ever. I have made some great progress in all three disciplines thanks to Coach Lana at LB Endurance and I’ve had a good strength program with Patrick from Knoxville Performance Lab.  I feel I’m coming into the season more prepared than I have in a very long time and I’m excited to see how that translates into some race results.

I have another busy season on tap with ITU Duathlon Worlds coming up in a few weeks, XTERRA Southeast Championship in May, a couple of SwimRun events and plenty of sprint and Olympic Distance Tri’s before rounding out the season (most likely) with another go at Challenge Daytona 70.3 in December. For the first test of the season, I made the trek to Greenville, SC for my second run at the USAT Duathlon National Championships.  This year, I set my sights on the Standard Distance race consisting of a 8.5k run, 40k bike, 4.5k run. I was hoping to crack the top 10 in my age group and earn an invite to worlds next season and judging by my expected finish times compared to the times from last year I thought that just might be doable.

The Wife and I arrived in Greenville Saturday afternoon.  The weather forecast was looking iffy for Sunday but Saturday afternoon was beautiful.  After stopping by the expo to pick up my race packet and then getting checked into the hotel, we met some friends for dinner downtown.  It was nice to enjoy some good company to relax a little and ease the pre race nerves. I will say that, since this was first race of this distance, I had a few more nerves than I thought I would.  Upon arrival back at the hotel, I set my gear out for the morning and gave the bike a final once over. Due to forecasted high winds, there was talk of disallowing disc wheels for the race. The final ruling would be made on race morning but I opted to keep the 90mm on the rear and swap the front to 60mm.  The majority of the bike course was on a wide open toll highway with very little protection from cross winds and, while I’m confident in my bike handling in winds, the potential time gains from the 90/disc combo wasn’t worth the added stress for me.

Race morning alarm went off at 4:20am.  My race was scheduled to start at 7:45 but the race officials made the decision to move the waves up in order to try and get athletes off the course before the major storm front rolled through.  I went through the usual pre-race routine of Pop-Tarts and paperwork, we loaded up the car and headed to the venue. Parking was a breeze (get the pun) as was check-in and racking thanks to pre-assigned rack spots.  I honestly have learned to not care about my rack position in most races but it IS nice to have the racks set up in a way to make it easy to get your bike out, which USAT also does very well.

I got a short warm-up in before heading to the start line.  The skies were looking ominous and as I stepped into the start corral I felt the first rain drops.  Then, just as the gun went off, the skies opened and in a torrential downpour the race was under way.  I planned to pace the first run at 7:20-7:40/mile or around 275 watts. I had been training with Stryd run power over the winter and this was my first race experience with it.  It was very nice to sit in a steady rhythm without struggling to weight pace versus effort. I could just lock in on a power effort and let the pace do what it may. The first run went very well for me as I came into T1 in 38:37 with a pace of 7:06 feeling great.

Out onto the bike course the majority of the rain had subsided but wet roads and windy conditions were still around.  Over the off season I made several adjustments to the trust Trek Speed Concept that I was excited to test out. In addition to the new 51 Speedshop Ultimate extensions that I installed leading up to Challenge Daytona, I also had a brand spanking new Pioneer Dual Sided Power Meter which was installed on a new Shimano Ultegra Crankset with a 53/39 chainwheel combination and all my data was now being transmitted to a Pioneer CA600 cyclocomputer.  The plan for the bike was to aim for somewhere around a 210-220w average and a time of around 1:10:00. I pretty well stayed right on target wattage on the way out averaging a solid 209w but just before the turn I started to feel some pre crampy twinges in both calves. I had to moderate my output more than I wanted on the way back but I still came in at a 1:07:04 with an average speed of 21.8. (Side note: Again, I was completely amazed at the amount of control I have with the new 51 Speedshop extensions.  Even in gusty head/cross winds I always felt like I had total control over the bike.)

I was in entirely uncharted race territory as I headed out onto run number 2.  I had never run 5+ miles before hoping onto my bike and cranking out a sub 1:10 40k then tried to run another 3ish miles as hard as I could (especially when trying to keep calf cramps at bay!).  Coming out onto the course I felt pretty good. I was looking for the same 275w power and for the most part I was seeing it but with wind, etc that translated to a slower pace. Still I was averaging 7:25 ish and the calves were behaving.  To my surprise, they continued to do so all the way home. I finished the second run in 21:44 with an average pace of 7:23. I crossed the finish line with a total time of 2:09:36 (right on my race plan) in 8th place for the age group (out of 23).  After an agonizing several hours wait, I got the confirmation that my placing held and I had earned my slot on Team USA for the second year in a row. I’m extremely happy with the race I put together because I managed (quite possibly for the first time ever) to basically nail a race plan.  I felt like I raced as hard as I could on the day and to come away with a top 10 finish in my age group amongst the fastest duathletes in the country is a great way to start the 2019 season.

Thanks as always to my team and sponsors: Knoxville Performance Lab, ZenEvo Dark Chocolate, Eddie’s Health Shoppe, Podium Sports Medicine, Visit Knoxville, ORR Carbon Wheels, Stoke Signal, Cedar Bluff Cycles, HealthSource Chiropractic, Harper Auto Square.  Most of all thanks to my wife and Super Sherpa, Amanda for your continued love and support of all this crazy multisport stuff I want to do!

Next up:  ITU Sprint Distance Duathlon World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain!

Derek Tingle