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

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Grand Haven Duathlon Race Report

Hey there! I bet you were all wondering if I survived my second-ever duathlon! I apologize for the radio silence but after the race I was on vacation. Laying on the beach and eating fresh strawberries from the farmer's market were much more appealing than sitting in front of my laptop.

Also, I've decided there's not much better than starting off your vacation with a race. It makes me feel like I've earned the right to sit on my butt the rest of the week.

Anyway, my mom, Jason, and I drove up to Grand Haven, Michigan last Saturday so I could do the Grand Haven Duathlon on Sunday. I went straight to packet pick-up and also got my body marking taken care of. Well, kind of. Even though I wasn't doing the triathlon portion I still had to get my arms, calves, and quads marked with my race number, age, and race type. Except I didn't realize they needed to mark my quads so I wore capris that I couldn't pull up high enough. Oops. Thankfully it was easy enough to take care of on race morning. Although, if I'd had a thick tip Sharpie I could have done it myself. Yep, that's what they used.

I stayed with my work running buddy Norm who was doing the Olympic distance triathlon. His in-laws own a house half a mile from the race start line which was perfect. Just hop on the bike on race morning and pedal on over. We had to have our bikes in the transition area by 7:15 AM. However, the duathlon didn't start until 8:15. Which meant I had a LOT of time to kill. I spent some of it checking out the competition. The benefit to having your age written on your leg is you know who's in your age group. I found two other women, one of which is standing next to me in the photo above wearing black. Remember her.

A few minutes before 8:00 the race officials put out a "Start" sign and gathered all the duathlon participants for the pre-race talk. There were only about 45 of us who decided that run-bike-run sounded better than swim-bike-run. They did a quick course overview and a quick reminder of rules associated with the bike portion (3 bike lengths between people, no riding side by side) and at 8:15 they basically shouted "Go!" and we were off.

And oh my god were we off. I've never run a race with so few people who were so freaking fast. I was pushing it much harder than I should have and I was basically at the very back of the pack. I let my fear of being last take over my common sense and I ended up hitting the first mile in around 7:30. My Garmin says 7:26 but I'm a little suspect. Still, that was WAY too fast.

I calmed down a bit but the damage was done. The next two miles got slower and slower. Then, of course, what goes down must come up. The hill we ran down at the beginning meant we had to climb up to transition. Ugh. My pace for this first 5K? 8:26.

I made it to my bike, scarfed some Shot Bloks, downed some Gatorade, and swapped my visor for my helmet and sunglasses. I ended up walking my bike to the bike mounting line to try and give my legs a break. Still, my transition time was only 1:38 which, while slow, isn't too horrible. As I ran into transition I heard the race announcer over the loudspeaker: "Great job! Now it's time for the bike! You can sit down for awhile!" It made me chuckle.

The 20K bike ride (just over 12 miles) was beautiful! It was also an out-and-back course so I was distracted by looking at all the other cyclists on their way back. By this point the Olympic distance triathletes were ahead of us duathletes so there were a lot of bikes to look at. I was also distracted by the hills. Oh, the hills. Sure, you can get up some great speed on the downhill portion but getting to the top was rough. On one of them a volunteer was standing at the apex of the hill shouting, "This is the top! One you get here you can coast!"

Even though the bike portion of this race was a mile longer than my last duathlon I felt that it went by too fast! And I was actually going slower than my last duathlon. My average bike speed was 16.1 MPH. I thought I was going faster than that but I guess the hills took more out of me than I thought.

I came up another hill back to the transition area, racked my bike, swigged some more Gatorade, removed my helmet and went out for my second run. Jason asked me how I was feeling as I went by. "Tired!" I replied. My legs felt shredded. Transition time? 1:24. A little better.

The second 5K was brutal. The sun had come out, the temps were rising, and I was so tired. I gave up even looking at my pace and decided to walk through the water station both times. I was dreading that final hill to the finish but made a pact with myself that I wouldn't walk up it no matter how slow I had to go.

So up the hill I went and into the finish chute. I didn't have much left in me to sprint, especially since we had to run across some grass. The announcer was saying everyone's name as they came into the finish which was a nice touch. Final 5K pace? 9:05. Oof.

Final overall race time: 1:43:29

I sat down for awhile, drank some water, and ended up eating some Fritos while we waited for my friend to finish. I was disappointed in the post-race food (basically, bananas, burgers, hot dogs, and chips) but everything else about this race was wonderful. They even had the results posted ASAP!

I went to check the results board and was pleasantly surprised to see my name listed second in my age group!!! That girl in the photo earlier? She's the one who beat me. By 5 minutes. She totally smoked me on the bike leg. I need to work on that.

And, okay, technically I also got beat by the third girl in my age group but she came in second female overall so it was just the two of us left in our age group.

But, still! Second! That means an award! This race doesn't give out finisher's medals so I was pretty stoked to get some hardware after all.

This was a nice race. The location is great, the people are friendly, and the race is a nice mix of big race perks and small race low-key attitude. Definitely a great destination race. And, who knows, maybe someday I'll get up the nerves to try the triathlon...

Grand Haven Duathlon by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details