The Fiasco In Pasco

May 27, 2006

by Pat Miller

Pictures by Karen Miller

The “Fiasco in Pasco” Duathlon—27May06


First the bad news- The “Fiasco in Pasco” just didn’t live up to its name. I mean it was only kinda in Pasco, more like the outskirts and it wasn’t a fiasco. Quite the contrary. Held at the Tri-cities International Cross Country Course (and surrounding roads) this was a very well planned and managed event, the third in a 5 event multi-sport series including the “Rage in the Sage”, the “Righteous Richland Sprint Triathlon” and two others.
I’ve been a bicycle commuter for years and thought all those miles of pedaling might mix well with running in an attempt to add a bit of newness and longevity to my racing career. This was my second such event, the first being the hypothermic Wenatchee Valley Duathlon in April which turned into an exercise in survival and provided a bad weather reference point not likely to be eclipsed anytime soon. It took 24 hours to warm up afterward and swear I had an out-of-body experience crossing the Columbia River Bridge on the last run. I couldn’t feel my hands to get my helmet off or tie my shoes and my inexperienced transition times were horribly slow. You Jack London fans that have read “To Start a Fire” will understand why I was looking around for a big dog….

The “Fiasco” format is a somewhat standard 5k run, 30k bike ride followed by another 5k run. What sets this apart from many duathlons is that the run is held on a cross country course often used to challenge collegiate runners. Multiple loops on gravel, sand and grass clippings with several short, steep hills along with generally rolling terrain, it was a great course to run, although not particularly fast……oh wait, I’M not particularly fast, that’s it….
I did manage to get through the first 5k (3.22miles by my GPS watch. Sometimes I hate that thing!) in 24 minutes. My experience with duathlons is not deep but I do know that the second run, after the bike, is where the milk hits the Wheaties so I tried not use it all up on the first loop.

The ride is on clean, paved roads that make a big loop through the residential and industrial areas surrounding the airport. Police and volunteers controlling traffic and directing cyclists at the intersections meant that we simply had to watch for the orange vested folks, go where they pointed and ride as fast as we could. Mostly flat with a half-mile long climb repeated at 3 and 15 miles, the major challenge was the ‘breeze’ in our face for half the 18.5 mile route. No complaints from me though, as I ticked off a 58 minute bike split passing 15 or so riders while getting passed by only one (I got him on the run!). A neat shoe lace trick I learned from triathlete-extrordinaire-son Kelsey helped speed me through the transition and out on to the run course for the second time. For the first half mile or so my stride felt like the heel of the shoe moving forward didn’t get past the toe of the other shoe before it hit the ground. It takes me awhile to get stretched out after the bike ride, although not as long as my first race, so those bike-run ‘brick’ workouts must be helping.
After a 26 minute 5k, I sprint (no! really! I sprinted!) across the finish line in 1:49:59. Seven minutes faster than Wenatchee on a longer course and first place in my age-group. For the first time in quite awhile I am both happy and satisfied.

Fellow old guy/survivor/cyclist/runner Lloyd Campbell was there also making his post broken-neck, damaged calf, I haven’t run much in a long time re-debut and garnering a red ribbon for his efforts.

Even the weather held out to give us decent race conditions and pretty good spectating. Our wonderful wives Karen and Kathy didn’t have to stand in a driving 40 degree rain as the park flooded to take a few pictures. No, this wasn’t much of a “fiasco” but then “fun” and “gnarly” don’t rhyme with Pasco…

Hats off to the 3 Rivers Road Runners!!