Aspen du 2001
 
Aspen Duathlon, 2mi run/18mi bike/5mi run

About 8000ft altitude, bike climbs to 9500 and then descends (whee!)
Small field, about 200 I'm guessing (no online results)
13min, T1 1min , 55min, T2 1 min, 40min Finish 1:51:01.

Started inauspiciously: with the bike on a roof rack for the first time, and fractious children in the car, drove into the car shelter at the condo's and didn't remember the bike. 'Daddy said a bad word !' Yup, he sure did. This was my brand-new Trek, ridden 3 times.. Luckily the saddle hit, rather than the front end, and the clamp on the downtube released, so the bike just fell over on the car roof. Damage limited to scuffed saddle leather with a new and interesting texture, and realignment of the steering.

Packet pickup and race at Aspen Highlands Resort, a few miles up the Maroon Creek road, outside Aspen proper. It's a Ritz-Carleton enterprise, very ritzy, but only half-built. Transition area in a cobbled courtyard, bike exit/entrance through an archway on the west, run exit/entrance down/up a flight of stairs (interesting) to another road. Because I'd entered early, had number 22, and pole position on the racks, right on the road. Racked up, put out the bike shoes and helmet, and wondered what to do next.. duathlons are so much simpler than tris. Chilled for a while, quite literally, it's cold at 8am and 8000ft, probably in the 50's.

Mass start for run one, plummet down to street level, and descend gradually to the construction site where a pool is being built for future triathlons, through the gravel and assorted lumps of concrete, then back up the hill. Some guy passed me, cut in front, and slowed down, so I ran up his back.. I guess he was missing the tumult of a swim start, or something. He did apologize eventually. I was expecting the altitude to make a big difference, but never really noticed it. Maybe I was going too slow. Run 1 in 13 minutes approx, in 10th position, with at least one guy in my ag ahead of me. That's the nice part of mass starts: can see where you are in the race as a whole, instead of inspecting all the calves in the neighbourhood for their ag markings.

Up the stairs, grab bike, and run off over the cobbles, then another plummet down to street level. Still chilly and dark in the deep valley bottom, the sun just beginning to light the hills. It quickly became apparent that we'd all died and gone to road biker paradise.. nine miles of climbing into the heart of the Rockies, clear crisp mountain air, gorgeous whitewater creek rushing by, all on a clean freshly-paved road quite innocent of traffic. The first few miles there were 3 of us fighting it out, a guy wearing running shorts on an older bike, a gal on a pretty carbon bike, me on new light Trek. It would have been a drafting problem if we'd been going faster than 10mph, but as it was I didn't worry. Eventually dropped the gal, the guy and I repassed each other a dozen times before he started to pull away. A couple of pretty tri bikes came by, one vanished up the hill, but the other 2 came back to me on the steep pitches where I was spinning 38x25, and they were mashing it out. The new derailleur cables chose this moment to stretch out, so shifting up became dodgy. Then I remembered that I'd put in cable adjusters on the downtube stops, and tuning the shifting on the fly was possible.. this too is good. No sign of the guy in my ag, the guys on the way down the hill were moving too fast to recognize, so I assumed he was up there somewhere. Passed a couple more guys in running shorts, one had the lean shanks and sunken cheeks of the truly dedicated runner, so I expected to see him on run two.

I'd decided to use a Coke/water mix this time, but had mixed it too strong, and forgot to defizz it. Yanked the bottle open with my teeth, forgetting too that I'd filled it at 7000ft and now was at 9500, and received a jet of cold Coke on the tonsils. Nearly fell over in surprise. Other than that, the mix worked great. Didn't bother with any gels or other foodstuffs, and didn't have any energy lapses.

Turn at the Maroon Lake parking lot, where the Forest Service has built a new loo directly between the lot and the view, so we couldn't see the lake, just the Maroon Bells themselves. Flying low all the way down, doing about 40-45mph all the way. With the clean, clear road and no significant turns, could simply tuck and let the bike run, pedalling whenever it slowed down below 40. It's the first time I've ever spun out in 53x13 (about 42mph). I figured everyone would descend at much the same speed, but got passed at 45mph. A good thing we were going slowly enough to enjoy the scenery on the way up, because there was just a green blur on the way down. When it flattened out a bit, I picked up several places, including the guy on the older bike.

Back onto the cobbles, with an big buggy grin on my face from the exhilaration of the descent. I'd done several run/bike/run bricks, 12min/25min/12min, in preparation for this race, and they certainly paid off: both transitions were easy. Down the stairs and quickly passed another runnerish-looking guy, worried about him for the rest of the 5 miles, but he didn't reappear. Through the construction again, on to a loop around the golf course with signs 'Warning: stray golf shots possible'. Would that be anything like a tequila shot, at all ? Descended for 3mi, going carefully to save something for the climb back up. The lean-shanked guy came past as expected, and quickly dwindled into a spot in the distance. I'd had two other guys in my sights for some time, but was picking them up too slowly, needed another few miles to catch them.

This run was awful slow, 40min/5mi, 8 min miles ? I'm going to rationalize it as altitude, so I don't have to admit I'm actually a 8min pace runner.. Actually this race was a turning point, I think I'm becoming a cyclist and not a runner. Had fun all the way on the bike, started run two, and everything was aching, twingeing, or flat-out sore - neuroma in r foot,  sore achilles on l, ache in knee, etcetera. Just wasn't that much fun.

finish overall 12/200, ag 2/14. Hooray, hardware! Just goes to show, travel far enough to a small enough race, and an ag placing becomes possible.. heck with training.