This morning I kicked off my 2017 race season with my very first Duathlon! I was feeling eager and excited to compete (I’ll be honest; mostly because it did not involve a swim). Doing a Run-Bike-Run combination was the perfect way to shake out my racing nerves. Though I love racing and it always leaves me with such a fulfilling sense of accomplishment, I always go into races with so much anxiety! I want to challenge myself this season to focus on the idea that I GET to race. To feel grateful for being injury free. And to leave everything on the course because I have nothing to lose. I feel like I really did that! I worked hard and pushed myself today; I chatted with the other racers and didn’t let my competitiveness cause me to lose sight of my love for the sport!
The Race Report:
So as you know, we just had daylight savings! Well, as expected my iPhone automatically adjusted and woke me promptly at 5am. I checked both my garmin watch and phone a few times as I got dressed, braided my hair, and ate breakfast to make sure I was on schedule. Right at 5:25 I was loading my bike and getting ready to head out. As my windshield defrosted and I started down the dark and lonely road I glanced down to find that both my phone and watch were ready 4:35… what?? I started questioning if I woke up an hour early, I was so confused. I went ahead and restarted both devices and luckily they corrected themselves and all was right with the world. Apart from a minor panic attack about the time and small anxiety attacks thinking, “Oh God I didn’t pack a wetsuit!” and then remembering, “There’s no swim in this race. Chill,” I managed to stay in positive spirits and my ‘Race Day Pump Up’ playlist had me feeling focused and excited.
I arrived at the race site just before transition opened at 6am. I claimed an easily accessible spot and immediately recognized familiar and friendly faces. Rather than my usual ‘Don’t talk to me’ resting b%$#&-face (which is a direct result of nerves) I decided to chat with other race goers and get into a good head space. After a long porta-potty line, short warm up, body marking (I learned I’m technically racing as a 25 year old since I turn 25 this year), triple checking my transition area, and a few short drills it was 7:00 and just about race time. The women gathered behind the men at the start line and I followed the eyes of a few of the other women as they scoped out their competitor’s calves to see who was in their age group.
A count down from 20 seconds. 15. 10. 5. Go! And their off! 2 girls immediately broke from the group and started out hard. I was both impressed and intimidated. Behind them was another group of 4 including myself. By the 2 mile mark 2 women were beginning to pull away from our little group. I told the woman beside me that I was going to bridge the gap and asked if she wanted to go. She decided to hold back, so I chased down 3 and 4 . I held on with them and glanced down at my watch. My target 10k pace was 7:40/mile. We were running 7:10/mile. Definitely harder than I’d intended! 48 year old mother, Cathy, was holding 4th, a half step ahead of me, and she looked strong. I commented on the girls that were far ahead, but she didn’t seem too concerned. She praised each guy we passed by and they returned with words of encouragement to both of us. By mile 5 I knew I was pacing way too fast and that the bike was going to hurt, but I figured, ‘I’ve already come this far, might as well keep it up!’ I pulled away from Cathy slightly (feeling lucky to have had someone to push me) and slowly started to reel in the girl who had been in 2nd and had now fallen back to 3rd. I thought to myself.. If only this was just a 10k. Sigh* We rounded the corner and pushed the pace faster as we ran towards cheering spectators surrounding transition. I finished in 44:04 (7:06min/mi) (2 minutes fast). My thighs felt like jello and my calves felt like bricks as I pulled off my racing flats. I knew this next part was going to hurt.
After a 1:11 (1 second slow) in T1 I was soon mounting the bike and refocusing on riding. With so much fog and condensation, glasses were useless and water was steadily dripping down my face. My legs rebelled as I tried to find a high cadence and get into a rhythm. Everything felt cold and tight. Thankfully we had a predominately flat course. The 40k bike consisted of 5 loops – though there was a good 10 minute period where I questioned how many loops we were doing and tricked myself into thinking it was 4 until I heard a spectator yell out the remaining laps to his wife. Dang it! Okay 3 to go. 2 women passed me on the 3rd loop one right after the other and I quickly went from 4th to 6th. I tried chasing them down for the next 1/2 mile, but I just couldn’t match their pace. Each lap had a section where reservoir water put you in the splash zone followed my muddy puddles and subsequent wet tires. It made for an interesting variable to navigate each lap. On the 4th loop I began to feel the twitches in my calves and butt getting more and more frequent and I feared cramping was coming. I prayed to the multisport gods that I may finish the race without the cringe worthy struggle of racing with cramping muscles. At this point I was in such a suffer-fest cave of pain that I was less focused on my overall placement and more concerned with trying to maintain a consistent pace. I was teter-tottering back and forth with a few different men on the course which kept me focused on racing and less on my fear of cramping. Finally, the 5th and final loop was coming to an end and I could see the last run in my sights. I pulled into T2 with a 1:18:30 bike time (19 mph) (3 minutes slow).
With legs feeling entirely spent I got through T2 in 59 sec (1 sec fast). Finally, I was off for the last leg, (THANK GOD) a 5k. As I tried to shake out my legs and get them moving I realized my target pace of 7:30/mile was not realistic. I loosened up a little and found a bit of a groove; the plan switched to chasing down the men in sight, use surges to get my pace going, and get to that damn finish line. A few guys recognized me from the bike and complimented my pace – a nice confidence boost considering tiny knives proceeded to stab my calves with each step. As I approached the last mile of the race I started thinking back to different races in college were I pushed myself through injuries and chased down competitors; it gave me the mental edge I needed to pick up my pace and not let up. When the finish was finally in sight I took off as fast as my angry calves would allow and cracked a smile feeling grateful to be done. Rounded things out with a 24 minute 5k (7:47 min/mile) (1:15 slow).
Finish time: 2:28:54 Overall female finisher: 6th Age Group: 1st
Mood: Tired, sore, glad to be done, proud of my moment on the podium, and most of all grateful to have a healthy body that I can push to compete.
Looking forward to competing at Half Moon Bay Olympic Distance Triathlon Next month (April) and chasing down another age group podium spot as well as a PR.