Hot & 3 stops: Landau Qualifies 2022 Duathlon World Championships

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Landau likes it hot. So the 90° heat in Tuscaloosa, Alabama didn’t phase the Northern Virginia trial lawyer, who raced in the Sprint Duathlon National Championships this past weekend. His heat  was held in the starting corral for what seemed like an eternity. Masks had to be worn up until you were in the “on deck” line of runners. Unlike the early morning races, who enjoyed cool temperatures, Landau’s group left at about quarter after one, with the sun directly overhead, and hot winds whipping at cyclists as they cross the Black Warrior River.
Despite a tough race, where his legs simply stopped working on the second run, Doug Landau manages a smile after learning that he qualified for the 2022 Duathlon World Championships.

The 5K run, 20K bike and 3K run format would determine TeamUSA members for next year’s competition in Australia. Unlike past years, where everyone in the same division would start at the same time, because of the pandemic physical distancing protocols, the different heats were broken down further into “pods” of 5 racers, who would leave at the same time. Furthermore, just as with other races in 2021, there were no age group, relay or other markings on the back of the calfs.  Competitors could not be sure of who was in their division or not. And the number of bikes in Transition we’re also not an accurate predictor of one’s placement in the field, due to the handicap starting system.

Because of the double start, mask disposal and other confusing instructions, Landau had a false start and tried to run back, he was told to stop, as his timing chip, if it crossed the mat, might screw up the data. Therefore, he did an about face and took off after his pod, already behind the eight ball. A decent first run, and a good transition, put him on the bike ready to give full gas. Working very hard in the heat, he had taken a salt pill before the race, and put another inside his aero bottle. Therefore, he felt as though hydration was a non-issue, as he was also taking water at every hydration table, under the “you touch it you take it!” mandate from USAT. He even started with a hat, with a frozen ice block under it, as well as sunglasses; two items he almost never wears in competition. The ice block fell out shortly into the run, but it was wet and cold for a while.
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As he does before every major race (and trial!), lawyer Landau did several “scouting trips” for the big race on Saturday afternoon. On Thursday, he ran the run course, the transition areas, and drove the bike course. On Friday, he rode the bike course and run course, and drove the bike course one more time so that he would know the turns, elevations, potential dangers, and where he could make time on the field.

On the rough surface of the pavement on the roads beyond the University of Alabama campus, Landau did his best to try to hold 20 miles an hour or more. Coming into the transition area, he noted tightening in his hamstrings and hip flexors, and had a quick dismount and transition. Unfortunately that’s when disaster struck. Several hundred yards out of T2, both hamstrings seized up such that he had to stop completely. The legs simply didn’t work. He got on the ground to stretch, tried hobbling and used the sawhorses by the police to try to stretch further. He then hobbled some more, and then got on the ground the third time to work out the severe spasms. The legs simply went on strike at this critical part of the race. Competitors he passed on the bike and in the transition now ran past, never looking back. After hobbling, with a wide stance, the next half mile or so, Landau was able to run the last mile in under seven minute pace to reclaim several spots. With the top 8 being selected for the World Championships, Landau copped a spot. Asked afterwards what these stops cost him, he replied simply, “a 3rd or 4th place podium spot.”

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The folks at Queen City Bicycles in Tuscaloosa, Alabama were outstanding in helping Landau get ready for the national championships. In addition to solving problems with regard to his hydration system, he also met up with him after business hours. Talk about superb service! Jason Capley is a mechanical genius.

Because of the pain in his legs, and their diminished responsiveness, Landau did not do any cool down, but collected his medal, post-race brown paper bag snack, gathered his gear, and headed off to the hotel pool for a few minutes of “hydrotherapy, ” before jumping in his car to send his bike home, and drive 3 hours to Atlanta to rejoin members of his family. As this is not the first time that Landau‘s hamstrings have seized on the 2nd run in a Championship competition, overcoming this will be a major focus of the next 10 weeks of his training, before the USAT Sprint TRIathlon National Championships, which are back in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Stay tuned!