I am officially a duathlete! On Sunday, October 15th I competed in the Lake Country Duathlon. The event consisted of a 2 mile run, followed by a 15 mile bike and finished with a 2 mile run. Despite absolutely gross weather conditions I finished the event with a smile on my face. Mostly because my husband and son were waiting for me at the finish, and probably also out of relief to be done.
The Night Before
Usually when I have an event coming up, I have my race outfit picked out and everything laid out that I will need. I felt really unprepared for this event in more ways than one. I didn’t have anything packed until after the kids went to bed. I borrowed a bike rack from my Dad to get my bike to the race and realized on Saturday night that I didn’t know how to install it. I did a quick youtube search, but the rack is an older model so I couldn’t look up a manual or anything. It took a few texts back and forth with my Dad to get it installed, but still, poor planning on my part! I didn’t do nearly as much training as I had planned on for this event either. I have been focused more on running this Summer and sort of let the biking slip in the last month or two. Regardless, I was going to compete.
The Morning Of
It was the morning of the race. I woke up, got dressed and had my overnight oats for breakfast. I had to get my bike loaded on the rack and bungee it down, pack everything I would need, feed the baby and get out the door. At 6:00 I woke my daughter up to feed her so I could get out the door by 6:30. For whatever reason, she wasn’t very hungry so it was 6:15 when she finished. I was packing up the car when my son came running into the garage. He had just woken up and had to say good morning and good luck! I got a big good luck hug and took him back into the house to get some breakfast started for him. By this time it was a little after 6:30 so I said my good byes and see you laters and got into the car…hit the ignition…click click click… nothing. My car was dead. UNBELIEVABLE! So I ran back into the house and told my husband I needed a jump. He moved pretty much at warp speed. He grabbed his keys, pulled his truck out of the garage to turn it around, and had the jumper cables hooked up as fast as a pit crew! Luckily this did the trick and my car started up. I had a 40 minute drive ahead to charge the battery, but at this point I really had to huslte because the transition area closed at 7:45 and it was almost 7:00.
I arrived at the event and started unloading my car. Good Lord was it cold and windy! It was about 45 degrees, windy and damp. I had grabbed some gloves and a headband on my way out the door and I was so thankful for every piece of clothing and every layer I had! I got my bike to the transition area with plenty of time to spare and went to start warming up. I chatted with a few of the other racers. I had some questions, as this was my first duathlon, and everyone was so helpful and supportive!
Run #1 (2 Miles)
Once it was time to start we lined up at the starting line. The first wave to start was the elite wave, and then my wave, 35 and under. In the first half mile I warmed up and thought, OK, this might not be so bad (the cold, I mean). I ran at a comfortable pace and stayed near the front of the pack. The course was an easy out and back with one tiny hill. I finished the run portion and ran to get my bike.
The Bike (15 miles)
I was really impressed with the way the seasoned duathletes transitioned. They were quick and seamless, and I definitely took some mental notes for next time! Most of the racers at this point had nice bikes with clipped in shoes. I did not. I just have a standard hybrid bike with regular pedals. I ran my bike out of the transition area and hopped on. I was off. About a mile into the bike, here comes a train. I stopped and waited with about a dozen other racers for the train to pass. I received a 3 minute train credit off of my finish time. We took off again and the other bikes zoomed ahead. From this point there was a steady stream of bikes that passed me up. There were a lot of strong bikers in this group, and I was not one of them!
I felt like I had already been biking for a long time when I came up on the 5 mile marker. Really, only 5 miles!! That means I’m not even halfway done yet?! At this point, the weather was starting to shift. The wind picked up and a light drizzle started. I kept pedaling. No turning back! I was starting to feel some discomfort in my left knee as well and I was worried about injury. Had this not been a race I probably would have stopped. I did some light stretching as I rode and pushed on. Because of this though, I didn’t push my pace too much. My goal was to finish, I didn’t have any goal time in mind which is unusual for me.
Bikes kept passing me as I rode, less frequently than at the start, but they kept on coming. I have to say, I didn’t pass one single biker the whole time I was out there. Man am I slow!! But, at least I know where I need to put in the work!
Probably around the halfway point I discovered that standing on my pedals to stretch my legs out a bit helped my knee and I was able to keep going with a little more confidence. The weather got worse. Now the mist was heavier and coming at me sideways. The wind was steady and then came in gusts. I almost got blown off of my bike a few times! A few more miles down the road and I head a voice behind me. I didn’t want to turn my head because I needed to focus on the road. Then the voice was beside me, coming from a lady who was pretty much purple! “How many miles to go?” She had on shorts and a T-shirt and was holding one hand between her knees. “I’m not sure” I said, and again was very thankful for my long sleeve shirt. about 500 yards ahead was the 10 mile marker. Are you kidding me?! 5 more miles to go?! The bike portion was awful. I was soaked, cold, was getting rained at in every direction and had wind blowing me this way and that way…. and of course the wind was never at my back.
5 miles to go, ok, I can do this. I realized at this point that my toes were numb. When my feet get too cold my toes go numb. Oh no! How am I going to run when I can’t feel my feet! I kept pedaling and started to wiggle my toes to see if I could get some feeling back. Luckily it worked and I had some feeling back in my toes as a cruised back to the transition area. As soon as I came around that last turn I saw my husband and son! They were cheering for me with big smiles on their faces! (Baby girl went to my parent’s house, it was too cold for her!). There is nothing like hearing “Go Mom Go!” when you are done with a horrendous bike ride like that! I dismounted my bike and oh man! They don’t call it brick training for nothing! I felt like I was running on noodles with partially numb feet, haha.
Run #2 (2 miles)
I had done some brick training in the months leading up to the race so I knew that it would take me about a half mile to feel like my legs were underneath me again. The run portion is definitely where my strength was in this race and I steadily passed several of the other racers. Somewhere near the end of the bike portion I started to think about what kind of coffee I was going to have. During the run I thought “hot coffee, or beer?” hmmm, maybe both? haha. The coffee definitely won out this time. The run portion felt surprisingly good, and I ran at an easy pace.
I can’t explain the mix of emotions as I saw the finish line. There was my cheering section waiting for me, and how awesome on such a cruddy day! Crossing that line meant that I would be a duathlete, that I had accomplished a goal and that I could dry off and warm up somewhere!
I am still planning to compete in a triathlon next year, and I will definitely have to work on the bike portion a lot before competing. I didn’t particularly enjoy racing on the bike, but I also think that with the weather conditions, it is unfair to judge at this point. So, I guess I’ll just have to try it again!