A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Race Around the World Duathlon Race Report

My first duathlon is in the books! It was both easier and harder than I thought it would be but, really, I went into it with very few expectations and I ended up exceeding them all!

I had no idea what to expect and considering I only did one "brick" workout (bike then run) and had never really tried to ride my bike all that fast for all that long I was just hoping to have fun.

We left the house around 6:30 AM to drive the 45 minutes to the race start. As we were unloading my bike from the car we heard the announcement that the transition area was going to close in 20 minutes. Aaaaaah! I admit I kind of panicked. I still had to pick up my packet and figure out where the transition area was and set up my bike and my helmet and my other stuff. I left Jason to figure out where to park the car and went to figure out where to park my bike.

The transition area was kind of crazy:

One of the guys from my relay team who has done this race three times told me that the transition area is relatively crowded compared to other races he's done. I finally found a place to rack my bike and only afterward figured out I was at the far end of the transition area's bike entrance and exit. Oops. Oh well. At least I was close to the run portion entrance and exit?

The race had a wave start with my wave starting at 8:04. Everyone started right on time and then I was off for my first 2 mile out-and-back portion.

The air temperature wasn't too hot and the humidity was low but the sun was out in full force. All I really wanted to do, though, was run 9:00 minute miles or faster. I didn't want to push it too hard on the first run and then be wiped out on the bike since I had no idea what to expect from my body. I was pleasantly surprised, though, to see I was running around 8:30s and feeling great.

I finished the run and headed towards my bike. Swapped my visor for my helmet, put on my sunglasses, stuffed my Shot Bloks in my shorts pocket, and took a swig of Gatorade. I walked my bike to the bike mounting line and took off.

The course was mostly flat with a few short hills and some freeway overpasses. It was also nice and straight which I liked.

I had no idea what my speed was since I left my Garmin on "Run" mode. My goal was to do 15 MPH or faster. All I knew is that I was hitting sub-4:00 minutes each time it beeped at the mile markers but I had no idea what that was in MPH. I tried not to coast very much (I allowed for some on the downhills) and ate some Shot Bloks and drank water when I felt tired.

The bike portion was much harder than I though it would be. Although the breeze felt great on my sweaty skin, my quads were screaming at me, my butt was hurting, and I had to pee. I just couldn't get comfortable on the bike. I was also hungry. I started fantasizing about what I would have for my post-race meal.

I didn't pass very many people on the bike. I got passed quite a bit, though. The few people I did pass were on mountain bikes. Except this one girl. The girl in the magenta on a hybrid bike with a package carrier on the back. She passed me and I never caught up. She had to be working hard!

The other rough part about the bike portion was there there were no mile markers. Just signs that said "1/4 way", "1/2 way", and "3/4 way". I was trying to do the math in my head of how far I'd gone by adding or subtracting the 2 miles I'd already run to the 11 miles I had to ride but math isn't my strong suit even when I've got full oxygen going to my brain.

Finally I saw the turn back into the transition area but my legs were on autopilot and I almost rode right past! I had to slam on the brakes on my bike and one of the volunteers started laughing at me. "I thought you were going to do a sideways skid into the dismount line!" he joked.

"Just checking my brakes," I said as I trotted past.

I re-racked my bike, swapped my helmet for my visor, fixed my ponytail, took another swig of Gatorade and headed for the exit. Oops! Forgot to take off my sunglasses (I don't like to run with them on) so I circled back to toss them by my bike. And then I was off!

Running after biking is totally weird. It's kind of like walking on land after being on a boat for a long time. I felt like I was going SO SLOW. As if my legs were made out of lead. But every time I looked at my Garmin I was still hitting around an 8:30 pace. Well, okay. 8:30s it is.

I no longer wanted to think about food and, thankfully, I no longer had to pee. I had a fleeting thought about how people who do Ironmans are crazy. How could you ever run a marathon after riding 112 miles? But then I realized that I hadn't really trained for this event and just like running a regular marathon you build up to those kinds of distances.

This last 2 mile run was uneventful. It was still warm and I took some water at the 1 mile mark. I was getting kind of tired but still generally feeling okay. I probably could have pushed it a little harder but I didn't want to. This race was for fun!

Still, as I headed toward where Jason was standing several meters from the finish line he said, "Come on, sprint it in! You're a sprinter!" I didn't pick it up as much as I could have but I did pick it up a little bit. I crossed the line with enough energy left to bend down and unstrap my own timing chip.

I cooled off for a second in the spray from the local fire department's decontamination truck (with built in showers!), recovered while standing around in the shade, and then grabbed my bike and loaded up the car.

I capped off my morning with brunch at my favorite restaurant (mango blueberry French toast and a strawberry Belleni anyone?) and a well-deserved nap.

Remember, my goals for this race were mostly to have fun. I didn't have any hardcore time goals. I wanted to run sub-9:00 minute miles and bike 15 MPH or faster.

Well, my final official time was 1:15:04. And the breakdown?

Well, I smashed those goals and had fun to boot! Just imagine if I'd actually trained for this thing....

Oh, yeah, and a nifty tidbit of information - my bib number was 17. I also came in 17th (out of 34) in my age group!