Heading up to New Paltz, NY for the local 2mi/11mi/2mi sprint duathlon lacks the cache of a big WTC race, for sure. This was just meant to be one of Cliff’s prescribed “sharpen the spear” races to build some top speed and get a feel for racing on the new bike.
Standing around the start with the normal crowd – the ageless racers who I’m positive will crush me, the weekend warriors, and various overachievers.  Feeling great about the prospects for the day until the gun (substituted by a hand wave and a quick ready-set-go) goes off – and suddenly I’m getting completely walked by 35% of the field – even though I’m running a steady, tempered 7:00/mi pace right at LT.    While I would love to gear up and retake some of the field, I’m determined not to blow my race early.  I’m relieved later to find that we’re up against some relay folks who don’t need to “save” anything for the next forty minutes.  In on the first leg in 13:54.  A good day’s work in the making.
On to the bike, supposedly my strong suit.  I’m all decked out with the new Orbea Ordu. full electronic shifting, Zipp 808s and a complete lack of excuses for why I shouldn’t PR every time out.   We’re off a good start – pouring on the watts right at threshold power – when the “open to traffic” quality of the course starts to look like a liability.  After hanging out behind an errant dump truck for a mile and wondering quite aloud if high V02 max matters when most of the air headed your way is diesel exhaust, I pull in for just over 30 minutes for 12 miles.  Not a bad effort, but I’ve been here before – so many good bike legs have demolished my legs and ruined a run.  I’ve come to realize bike fit was the culprit, but it’s still a concern.
Off on the final run, I have no expectations.  The goal is to finish on empty.  Pace is secondary, but I’m surprising myself at how I’m hanging on to my legs.  I’m faster than LT for now and if I can turn off the pain for the last mile this one is going in the books.  I can hear footsteps getting louder behind me, though, and the thought of a “finishing kick” starts to develop.  I’ve never really had to worry about that as a mid-pack finisher with no “gears” on the run.  What’s more interesting than the thought of a finishing kick is the thought of losing to someone else’s.  I wind it up with a half mile to go and try to find out where the red line is, somewhere around 6:25/mi pace.  I hold the stalker off by a couple seconds and wonder if this is what it’s like to be halfway decent as a triathlete, knowing full well that a half dozen grizzled “old” racers beat me anyway.
First race of the season in the books – the entire race above LT HR and pace, holding off the advancing horde and sharpening the spear.  Cliff and I have been working on speed for the past six months and have come a long way – with more to come before IMFL in the fall.  2013 is off and running – watch out for the pointy stick.
In the next race report I’m doing an investigation into where we’re breeding these grizzled old bad asses – in the meantime consider them armed and dangerous.