Thursday, March 31, 2011

Powerman Alabama

Kevin O'Connor

This race is always a suffer fest for me.  It's the first race of season after resting from the previous season's injuries.  I usually try to work on my swimming over the winter, so the fact that I haven't been running or biking is made apparent during a duathlon.  This was my 7th Powerman Alabama.  This year it was nice to do the race with Kevin O'Connor, who is my friend, boss, and sponsor all rolled into one.  He was in the same training situation as I - ready to get sore.  Kevin wrote a great race report for Minnesota Tri News, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel.

Kevin's race report

Let me start by saying that the race is one of the "must do" races. It is 
very challenging but not over the top hard. Team Magic does a first rate 
job of race production and it was clear that everyone was enjoying 
themselves. The 10k, 60k, 10k course is completely in the confines of 
Oakwood State Park. The run course is like shaped like a upper case letter 
"Y". You run out to the right and turn around at about mile 2 and then run 
towards the second turnaround. The race organizers wanted to make certain 
the race lived up to it's name of Powerman so they changed the run course 
from previous years. The second spur of the run lets you start a one mile 
climb up the side of the large hill on the one lane road through the state 
forest. The turn around is at the top of the hill (4 mile mark) and you get 
to run down the 10% towards the run finish.

The bike leg is an out and back 20K route which you ride 3 times. Perfect 
asphalt (not a single pothole), virtually no vehicle traffic, and never 
ending rolling hills including two big hills in each direction. The route 
is challenging but time passed quickly with multiple passes on the course. 
It also gave spectators another opportunity to see the athletes 2 extra 
times. The bike route was as spectacular as the run route.

As for the race itself it was USAT Long Course Duathlon National 
Championships and it was well deserving for such a challenging course. 
David Thompson and I traveled down together and with our similar, simple 
traveling style it was relaxing for both. David finished 3rd pro and was 
typically positive following the race. Most satisfying for him was the fact 
that his knee didn't bother him at all. For the past 3 seasons he has had 
to be careful with his training and racing due to a knee injury that was 
initially brought on by an undiagnosed hernia. His knee is now 
hypersensitive to overuse. David took some serious time off from cycling 
this winter and is in the early stages of getting back in shape. He headed 
down simply to get in a good workout and get the first race of the season in 
the books. After the race he had nothing but positive things to say about 
Ryan Guillano's winning performance. Ryan went faster than Jorie's course 
record and Ryan did it on a much harder run course. Derick Treadwell was 
second and with 4th place far behind David he cruised in without having to 
turn himself inside out to hold his place.

For my race I was hoping to reverse the 1-2 position with Dave Slavinsky of 
New Jersey from Short Course Du Nationals last year. Dave was the 2010 USAT 
Duathlete of the Year and he outraced me at Nationals. We both turn 40 
years of age this year so we got to race head to head still. The other 
master there to race was Steve Dupree of Colorado. Steve is a former pro 
duathlete that now at age 44 races in the amateur ranks for the second 
season. I was hoping to make it a real race with Dave but no such luck. As 
Dupree took off on from the gun, Dave started chatting with me for the first 
3 miles as I pushed to run the 5:40 pace. Dave is quite friendly, very 
nice, and even faster than he is nice. As we started the 1 mile climb he 
held his pace and cut the distance to Dupree in half by the time we finished 
opening run. On the bike I was hoping to close some of the gap to him and 
reel in Dupree. No such luck. I was able to start the second run just 20 
seconds behind Dupree but Dave blew the two of us away on the bike. What 
was most impressive is the fact that he ran the second 10K faster than his 
opening 10K(exact same route both runs). He ran 35:04 putting him 45 
seconds faster than the second fastest run by overall pro winner Ryan 
Guilliano. His time put him in 2nd place overall, first amateur by 3+ 
minutes, and Long Course National Champion. It was also complete validation 
that he is the best amateur duathlete in the country and his 2010 award was 
well deserved.

The race was so enjoyable on so many levels. Great Venue, well organized, 
relaxing but professional atmosphere, and a race that leaves you with 
complete satisfaction when you cross the finish line. And although I am 
having some real trouble walking downstairs I want to head back just to 
tackle the race again. Of the 200+ races I have completed, Powerman Alabama 
is at the top of my list with just a couple others.

Side note on Ryan Guilliano, he went 22 minutes faster total this year that he did last year and 12 minutes faster on the bike.  What's more impressive is that the run course was tougher this year.