4.26.2010

My patience has run out.

So I am writing an incomplete race report, since official stats are not yet posted on the race management website. I'll post the complete dirt once I have all the #s. (see subsequent entry for the #s)

My duathlon went better than expected. I made only minor noobie mistakes (slow transitions, though partly due to weather and needing to add clothing during the first transition, but also due to my plan to be methodical in the transitions and not forget anything important, like donning my helmet for the bike leg, which is an automatic disqualifying offense. Just as I suspected I would, I forgot to remove said helmet after 2nd transition from bike back to run, so after a few yards dumped it in the grass next to the course--I don't think anyone caught that moronic move on camera...phew!). Also had the time of my life and definitely consider the sprint duathlon my favorite event...it even trumps the half marathon, now!

We arrived at the race site with nearly 2 hours before the scheduled start to check-in, get my ankle band with the timing chip, my # bib, commemorative technical shirt (which was not listed on the site as a tech T until recently, so I ordered med., but wish I had ordered small...the med. is huge!), and set-up my bike, helmet, shoes and other items in the transition area.

Time passed pretty quickly, but it was nice to leisurely use the indoor bathrooms at the race site a couple of times, ingest a packet of sport beans, figure out the transition area and its exits and entry, and be relieved that it wasn't raining. The race announcer told us 2x that the weather forecast was for the rain to hold off until an hour or two after I would likely be finished. I highlight this previous sentence because it is important in the grand scheme of things.

The race started a couple of minutes early...that was kind of nice. This doesn't really happen during road races and there is nothing worse than standing at the starting line for an extra 5 minutes when runners are ready to GO! It was also a little chilly and breezy at the start (hubby says he saw an actual air temperature reading of 48) and I was wearing only a tank-top, so my arms were getting cold. I decided to have my cycling gloves on for the first 5k, which was a good plan--it saved me from having to take time in transition to put them on and they kept my hands a bit warmer.

First 5k felt good. At first I kept looking at my Garmin during the first couple of minutes of the race and it was showing 9:58, then 9:59...wha?! I know I'm running faster than that! Duh, I had it set on a different screen from what I run with 99% of the time. I was looking at the time of day, not my lap pace. My lap pace was actually about 8:15 at this point.

I maintained a challenging, but not painful pace for the duration of the leg, since I didn't want to burn out before I even hit the 2nd leg on the bike. When I finished I was pretty sure I'd hit a personal record time for the distance (I did, and under far less effort than my last race of this distance), but couldn't recall exactly what my 5k PR was--I don't generally like the distance and have not run one in almost 2 years. The last time I ran one it was 99% humidity and warm, just before a late-May storm. It was asthmatic hell.

My finish time for the first 5k was almost 27 minutes flat, according to my Garmin (and this was without a chipped start). A 15 second/mile increase in speed...about 45 seconds faster, overall.

My first transition was the slowest in my age group, if I recall what I saw on the results sheet (I took a couple of blurry cell phone photos of the results, but missed a column or two of info. and they are really difficult to read--hence my eagerness to see the official results with full details online). I didn't rush things. The last thing I wanted to do was to look back and regret screwing up a transition and potentially making for a less-than-successful race leg. I knew I wanted to put on long-sleeves. Since it wasn't raining I chose a snug cycling top (as seen in the photo above), rather than my wind/water-resistant zip-front jacket. I changed shoes, donned my helmet, made sure my Garmin was reset for cycling, trotted my bike over the timing pad at the cycling start line, clipped-in, and was off.

The first few miles went very well. I felt strong and comfortable and enjoyed the literal change of pace. The turns into the wind really sucked, but I knew that eventually I would have the wind at my back, so I didn't push. I still had a long way to go.

After maybe 4 miles it started to drizzle. That lasted for a couple of minutes...and then it started to RAIN. And it continued in this vein for at least the next hour. Suddenly the wind was the least of my concerns and I was regretting choosing the long-sleeve cycling top over the jacket.

The remainder of my ride was pretty challenging. One out-and-back stretch took us headlong into that wind and rain. My pace REALLY dropped here. And I was OK with that. I knew that today was not the time to feel enslaved by any sort of time/pace goals, as I had never before ridden a road bike with slick tires in the rain--much less during a race. I took corners VERY conservatively. Perhaps too conservatively, but I figured I would still finish faster upright than I would if I had a bad crash. Besides, this race is an automatic PR until next year, so I wasn't feeling too pressured. Plus I was still passing more people than passed me, so that had me feeling pretty confident as a newbie cyclist.

The last few miles had me wanting to just be done. I wasn't miserable, per se, but I wasn't really having "fun" by this point in the race. I wanted to be out of the worst of the wind and rain.

I took it easy for the last mile or so, heeding advice of experienced multi-sport friends to spin more gently and let my legs recover for the last run. I was glad I did this. My transition went well and was faster than the first by about a minute, I think (mostly because I didn't try to take off any soaked clothing that had adhered to my skin from the 2nd leg, just changed back to my running shoes--which were now actually filled with standing water in the plastic heel cups of my Superfeet insoles--and reset my Garmin back to running mode). Though, like a dork, I still forgot the helmet thing...which didn't cost me any time, but did make me look like the noob I am, I'm certain.

My last 5k running leg went surprisingly well. My legs didn't feel too rubbery after a minute or two, though the bottoms of my feet felt sort of beat-up for maybe the first half mile. I have no idea why that was, other than maybe from putting cold, wet, heavy shoes on.

This leg was officially my 3rd fastest 5k time ever, which proves that cycling has not hurt my running and has perhaps even made me a stronger runner for the shorter distances. I'm sure this leg would have been even faster (as it was I was only 7 seconds/mile slower on this leg than on my 2nd fastest 5k race) had I not been dragging a minimum of 5#s of water on my body. One of my regrets for wearing the cycling top vs. the jacket was that I couldn't easily take the top off, since it was stuck to my skin and didn't have a full zip front, as my jacket does. I would have been more comfortable back in just the tank-top for the run--and weighed less, too. I had planned in advance to remove the capri-length tights that I wore over my tri shorts after the first 2 legs, but there was also no way that those were going to come off without a fight, so I left them on.

Overall the race was a really awesome experience that I can't wait to repeat next year, except with better weather. Kinda stinks that we have had an unseasonably warm and sunny Spring, only to have race day be such a wash-out...literally in some spots (there were areas on the 5k run course that had orange cones surrounding massive puddles in the middle of the road by the last run leg). Today--gorgeous and sunny (though still pretty windy). I think I anticipated my abilities pretty well going in. I had guessed that I would finish around 2:05-2:10 and was only about 4 minutes slower than that. 4 minutes that would have been absorbed by a day with less wind and rain, especially for the bike portion. I was easily 1-2mph slower than I had expected to be. 1mph faster would have taken almost 5 minutes off of my time.

Now I have a 2:14:04 race PR that should be no trouble demolishing next year, especially if I drop even 10#s (for a faster run) and have better race day conditions (faster bike). I feel like my training prepared me very well for this event and doubt that I would do much different next year, in terms of preparation.

Du, or du not...there is no tri. To be continued...

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