Duathlon Journey: The Recap

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.

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My bike rarely gets to ride shotgun 😉

 

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.

Race Day

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.

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Waiting in the crisp, cold, beautiful morning with a ton of hyper energy pre-race

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.

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Heading into the hills for the first run.. it was bit to chilly to toss clothes yet!

 

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

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Wrapping the 5k heading to the transition area.

 

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.

Yikes!

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.

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AND a smile for the photographer.  Still smiling after cresting the monster hill that’s behind me

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….”

Don’t ask.

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.

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The home stretch, still smiling.. And yeah, I had lost more clothes 😛

 

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.

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Does my smile say it all? Nothing felt better that day.

 

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.

The aftermath

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.

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The Thing That Scares You

“Fear will either create you or destroy you.”

afraid

I hadn’t been in long from my morning workout, recovery drink in hand, when I finally landed in a chair and searched up the race I had started training for.

I ran my hand down my legs which were still gritty and grimy from time out on the road and covered in a heavy dose of dried salt …a shower would come soon but first…

My  running and cycling that morning had been a part of my training for a local duathlon… my first duathlon.

Of course the fact it was listed as “the toughest in the state” or that it was the “championship race” for this  type of event somehow hadn’t scared me off yet.

The website boldly unfolded in front of me… pictures popped  up of familiar scenery I was used to seeing out on my runs or cycling adventures.

I felt the excitement stir in me of taking on something new and challenging.

It was immediately followed by tears as I watched young, fast athletes speeding by.

Tears.

What was I thinking?? I’m skating into territory I have no experience in nor am I one of these young trained triathletes. I’ve never, ever done an event like this. I’m crazy.

For the love of chocolate, I’m an ordinary middle aged Mom/grandmother, what I am thinking??

This course is tough. I have a healthy dose of respect/fear for it.

Not in a weird way, but just a respect knowing that it will be by far, the hardest athletic challenge I’ve gone through.

If I’m honest with you, as I was myself, there was that component of feeling scared.

But…why?

What was scaring me? What did I feel afraid of?

terrifying

Ok, yes I understood it would be crazy hard. So maybe there was feeling scared of what if’s…

What if I couldn’t do it? What if I failed? What if I was last? Or worse, didn’t finish?

What. If.

I sat there comparing myself to younger athletes instead of giving myself credit for all I could do and was very capable of doing. I sat there forgetting my own strength and power that I had earned through hours and hours of training.

I lost sight of what I preach to everyone else… you are your competition. You only need to focus on your times, your speeds, your abilities.

No one else’s matter.

Unless you’re an elite. Then it matters very much hahaha 😛

I’ve never been concerned about anyone else’s times or paces. I don’t mentally pit myself against others and decide I’m lacking in some way so this was a foreign feeling to me.

I wiped my face which felt as gritty from dried sweat as my legs did… that shower would need to be soon….

I reminded myself that I was my only competition and if I never started, and never did it, and let some vague fear scare me off I’d never know what new levels I could take myself to.

I’ve had moments in the past as I considered the marathon, and then the 50K. If those don’t raise a tiny bit of feeling scared in you, I don’t know what will.

Thing is, I never, ever allowed myself to camp in the fear zone. I stomped it down, trained, and did it.

So here I am. Registration is now open and I’ve made the official commitment.. you know…. coughing up the money 😉

I know it will be hard but I’m looking forward to seeing how I can do with this. I’ve taken time to remember, I haven’t come out of an athletic back round but only started when I was in my mid 40’s and consider all I’ve been privileged to do.

Doing it is the thing. No matter what, when I cross that finish line, I will win.

I win because I stomped down fears and feelings of inadequacy and I will have accomplished something I’ve never done and I will be stronger for it.

It beats sitting around wondering if I COULD do it and missing out on all I learn in the process. Rest assured, you will be getting updates on my training in the upcoming months. Race day is Nov. 19.

So I’ll leave you with this…

Do you let fears hamper you from pursuing something bigger than you? Have you allowed them to and not gone after something you wanted?

Or… have you stomped down fears and chased something down you wanted? How did you feel?

What did you do to remind yourself you could do it? How did you overcome it?

Tell me I’m not the only one who’s encountered this 😉

“Every single one of us possesses the strength to attempt something he isn’t sure he can accomplish.” ~ Scott Jurek

 

Race Weekend Wrap Up

Hey boys and girls!

Ah my intent had been to get this written last night, but honestly, my brain felt to tired to put words together haha

Am I the only one who wishes on race day that no one wanted anything from you afterwards so you could be…a slug? Ha, actually, it’s probably a really good thing to keep moving around for good recovery =)

So, race day.  I was seriously grateful that the previous two days of rain and overall slop had stopped and the morning showed up in the high 50’s with the sun promising an appearance.

I live about 50 minutes away from the downtown San Antonio area where the race was being held ( this is with no traffic to contend with on an early Sunday morning 😉 so I was out and race bound by about 6. Race was set to go off about 7:45 but somehow they never quite get it started at that time. Anyway, if you run, then you know you just want to get to the site so you can just…chill… settle in… start getting focused and in your head. I need some time to set distractions aside and key in on what I’m about to do.

I mean, seriously, I know it’s only 13.1 miles, but then, it IS 13.1  miles…. it does require work and effort.

OK, the race itself as I mentioned in a previous post, is a 4 year old home grown event that is coming into it’s own. I love that we run through so much of old historic downtown San Antonio and that the start/finish is at our Alamo.

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In front of the historic Texas Alamo (after race)

And so you know, across the street from the Alamo is this huge monument to the men and the battle that was fought on this site.

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Alamo monument
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This is some of the wall that surrounds and protected the Alamo..

 

Ok….So the race. It’s pretty flat and they do a great job of touring you through old downtown San Antonio, along the Riverwalk, a local university and a beautiful city park and golf course…..they also throw in some trails too. As I mentioned previously, I like that this race is home grown and still smallish ( a few thousand people) they try and make it fun and offer personal touches.

And really, what other race starts with a real cannon blast ?

I knew when I started this race I was going to treat it like a long training run. A few miles in though I started dealing with some queasiness. I didn’t get it cause my morning routine had been the same as any other long run day. I later determined, I didn’t have enough fluid in me. I am a big water drinker on a daily basis and usually  push more before a race, which I hadn’t done. Am I the only one who does stuff like this ? You KNOW what you need to do, but somehow, you just fail to… and then you pay for it.

Add to it, I sweat out a lot, and I’ve learned…. that sets me up for that horrible feeling…which makes it soooo hard to keep pushing myself faster.

Although after passing the water station at mile 11 I had a young girl pull up next to me and say.. “I’ve been trailing you for miles… you’re doing great!” it did encourage me to push myself those last couple miles.  One thing I’ve learned in races… people pick me out and pace off me…. I guess I keep a fairly steady pace.

Anyway, I finished in about 2:20. Not my best time….. I’ll never be the fastest, most impressive runner on the course, but hey, I just ran 13.1 freaking miles! And then I realized after I finished and cooled down, walked back to my car to get my phone to snap pics and was chatting with people I realized, almost 40 minutes later, runners were still coming in and were still on the course.

Yeah, ok, I need to be nice to myself and know I did ok. AND I still got this super cool, 3-D medal for my reward 😉 it’s such a heavy lil sucker….

20150322_103052Oh and let’s not forget this tasty ice cold recovery drink they hand off to you as you finish….

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Gotta love Promised Land milk….

Although after running forever and then walking blocks back and forth to my car, I was pondering the beauty of relaxing in one of these…..

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Local horse drawn carriages to tour you through downtown…

 

So overall, a good race, wonderfully decent weather (I’ve forgotten what it’s like to run in shorts and minimal clothing!) good people and a good solid run to keep me loose for this Saturdays 50K I’ll be taking on.  That will be my next running adventure to share with you.

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Feeling a lil sassy and victorious after crossing the finish line 😉

Tell me… have you had any fun race adventures recently? What about the  runners bling ? Do you have a fav cool medal you earned ?