It’s now 2 weeks out since I did my first multi sport race, the duathlon, that I’ve been blabbing up for months to you. I finally got my little paws on some of the pics they took while on course so I could use them when I wrote this.
You didn’t expect me to just use random stock photos off Google, did you ? 😛
Where do I start?
As I knew it would be, I felt the let down once it was over. The months of training, the days in front of me with my goal at the end, now finished.
Something to celebrate, right? A new adventure conquered, new challenges overcome, another athletic event that I never dreamed I’d do accomplished.
I guess I should mention I’ve had this race on my list for several years now. Due to an injury I was getting over at one point and other things that came up I had been unable to really pursue it.
All I wanted to do was get to a point where I could at least run the distance for the duathlon even if it meant my distance running might still be on hold for awhile.
As I slowly crept back into running, I was getting stronger and more powerful on the bike. I learned I was fairly good at it and could eat up a lot of miles in a quick time.
I knew this would be the year so when registration opened in June, I paid up and made the commitment.
My first duathlon was etched on my calendar.
As you know from previous posts, I was committed to my training, even training in weather that was less than ideal because on race day you never know what you will get. I gave up being a fair weather athlete a long time ago. I know if I’m going to build not just my body, but mind, I need to know how to handle more adverse conditions.
Of course there was more than just me involved in the event…let’s not forget… the bike.
I can’t neglect saying how grateful I am for a wonderful bike shop and the guys who keep my little Cannondale in top shape. 2 weeks out from race I picked it up looking almost all kinds of new again. Poor thing, I’d put some serious miles on it. Not only did they get new tires on it, and clean the chain ( ohhhh it IS silver haha) they checked my brakes, tweaked and adjusted some other things, and made sure my fit was perfect on it. I love being in a place “talking shop” with others who do what I do, and who challenge me to press on to bigger things.
With the bike in good working order, it was taper time whether I wanted it or not, a winding down to race day. I kept riding and short runs but the ultimate goal was to arrive at the start line healthy and energetic for the task in front of me.
There are two things I think athletes worry about before a big event they’ve been training for.
Getting sick and the weather.
Thankfully, I was strong and healthy and the weather although a brisk low 40’s in the morning, was clear, bright and the sun soon showed up for the festivities.
There’s something about being at a race with other athletes and this energy that’s almost palpable that makes my heart beat fast.
Although I’ve done many running races before this was my first multi sport event and my first biking event. I checked into the transition area, got marked ( I was sooo excited to finally do something where I got marked… but unfortunately it was under my shirt ha oh well) I got my gear set up and did some light jogging around parking lot to loosen up and set my mind for what was coming.
This event was the state Championship Duathlon and was hosted by a local college. Many college tri teams from across the state were there to race. I was surrounded by athletes the ages of my kids or younger 😛
This race is also listed as “the toughest in the state”.
They tell no lies about that… tough is an understatement.
I understood what was in front of me having trained on it, but I had a healthy fear and respect for it every time I stepped out there. To under estimate it would certainly sink me.
My plan for the race? Simple and straight forward.
To run and bike just like I’d trained and not get caught up in the hype and energy of the crowd but stay in my head and run my own race. I knew the first half mile- mile out was a brutal start as it’s all up a long and winding hill. I knew how I’d paced myself in practice and my goal was to stay there.
I settled into my first mile which was a little faster than I had been running it but that was ok. Then my Garmin came up at mile 2 telling me I’d just done it in 9:29 I was pretty happy with that. Overall, when I finished my 5k it was over a minute faster than the week before when I’d practiced and my fastest 5k in a long time.
Amazing what a competitive spirit will do haha
Ok so this was all new to me, the whole multi sport, transitioning thing. It’s one thing to practice transition when you are alone ( I had it down to 30 seconds) it’s a whole new game when you’re surrounded by a zillion other bikes and athletes gear and come running in to change and find nothing is like you left it.
My first transition time was longer than I wanted mainly because I knew I had to lose the jacket and peel down to my cycling shorts. I perform way better a little chilled than warm and knew the bike was gonna demand a lot from me so I took a little extra time to do that.
Once on the bike, I knew I would close a gap because I’m strong on the hills. It should be noted we biked right back out where we had run, running up and down hills, then getting on the bike to ride them, ha hello quads.
One by one I methodically picked off cyclists in front of me, a game almost. I churned along knowing some of the toughest stuff was still coming, but also reminding myself I was more than capable and had done it before.
I had to really focus on what I was doing approaching the huge hill as I noted a half dozen cyclists pushing bikes up.
This seriously can mess with my head. I narrowed my vision and did what I had practiced when I rode it… I recited a nursery rhyme in my head…
“One, two buckle my shoe, three, four shut the door….”
It just popped in one day as I was grinding up and it became a game, how many times till I reached the top? ( 2 “ish” times if you’re wondering haha)
But powered up it I did.
On the return trip I pushed hard knowing the last run leg was in front of me… so close to finishing.
The last run.
From practice I already knew how that felt. It’s hard. It’s not just the physical, it’s mental too. I have learned so much about dialing into my head and trying not to be distracted at what’s around me. As I made a turn where the aid station was the young people manning it were doing the usual “you’re doing awesome, almost done!” mantra. I quipped I had paid money to do this when I hear behind me… “yeah, but you’ve been kicking my butt the whole time!” I looked over my shoulder at this young college girl behind me, one I had sailed by on my bike, it was the motivation I needed to finish off that last half mile.
The Finish Line
When I saw the finish line I can’t describe the feelings and emotions that came over me. I saw my time and was pretty happy with that too.
I heard the announcer call my number and name as I ran across the finish line and as the guy behind lines guided me where to go I felt it coming on… tears forming in my eyes… I took a deep breath willing myself not to sob out loud.
I did it. My first duathlon. I did it! I was simply overcome with emotion.
He saw my face and bless his heart was immediately concerned. “are you ok? do you need anything?”
I assured him I was physically fine but just overwhelmed…. my emotions came out after all the months of training to finally be there in that moment… I just couldn’t hold them back.
As I left the finish area I found hubby and again, just sobbed on him. He too was immediately concerned, but he’s more used to my emotions at times like that than poor unsuspecting guy at finish line. And can I just say how much I appreciate all of his awesome support for what I do? An amazing guy he cheers and supports and encourages my madness. I couldn’t do what I do without him or his support.
Of course I went to the tent to use the laptop to pull up my bib number and get my stats. My time was pretty much what I’d seen when I hit the finish line, however it was another number that caught my attention and I choked out to hubby…
“Am I reading this right?? Does it mean what I think it means??”
I hadn’t really breathed out loud to anyone that it would be kinda awesome to place in my age group.. but this number told me I placed first in my age group.
More tears. Sweet heavens. I’m such a baby.
Honestly… I can’t describe how it all felt. To have accomplished something so big, to have challenged myself beyond what I thought I could do, was overwhelming and rewarding all at once.
I know the let down that comes from preparation of big events. It’s weird to not have this specific “thing” I’m training for. I also get used to my body physically changing as it peaks into top condition ( a place I loath giving up) but I also know I can’t keep myself at this level all the time. I loved marking off my training calendar each day as I knocked out what needed to be done and seeing those days move me closer to my goal.
It’s hard to come off the physical and mental high that events like this bring.
So the solution is??
Ha… plan my next adventure! 2018 is coming and I’m already planning the duathlon again as my fall event. I want a shot at getting a new PR.
I have a spring half marathon in mind as well as my first long ride, a 60 mile, ’cause why start small?
I haven’t ruled out someday …maybe… a triathlon… it seems HUGE to me right now but I’m also reminded what I just did would’ve seemed huge to me a few years ago but I did it.
If you’ve stayed with me to this point can I remind you that as the saying goes, you’re never to old set new goals or dream new dreams.
Set some new goals for yourself in 2018.
Or have you already? What plans do you have for yourself in the upcoming year? Tell me.