Monday, July 22, 2013

Triathlon that wasn't a Triathlon

On our way to the race site on Saturday morning, as we drove along Lakeshore road in Bright's Grove, the big waves of Lake Huron looked very intimidating.  Very wavy. Very scary for this newbie swimmer.  So scary that I contemplated forcing my brother to turn around so I could just go home and crawl back into bed.

When we lined up to get our chips and get marked up, we heard that the swim portion had been cancelled on account of the iffy waves.

I was relieved that the waves wouldn't be pulling me back to shore, but a tiny bit bummed out that I had pumped myself up for the swim, that would now be turned into a run.

My second triathlon turned into my first Duathlon!  I've never done a duathlon, so, yet again, I was looking at a PB no matter what!  My big brother Scott was racing the duathlon, so now we would be in the same race.

I had forgotten a hair elastic (the only thing I forgot, but still quite a bummer) so I improvised. The spare tube for my bike came with an elastic band around it, so that would just have to do.  The course for both runs and the bike promised to be flat, so I was thankful for my hilly running as of lately...

We racked our bikes, scoped out the transition area, then waited patiently for the start. I have to admit, I had made plans for some obligatory-open-water-swim-panic, pre-race, so when I didn't have to build that in, I was a lot more relaxed, and I felt like I had some extra time on my hands! (Also, not having to wiggle into the wetsuit helped).

We did a small warm up run near the duathlon run 1 starting line, (which was on a trail) then we squished our way to the starting line, and the gun went off!

That first run was quick. I got some advice from Mark Linseman (speedy triathlete) prior, which helped me out a LOT. He suggested that I refrain from sprinting that first run all-out, as I may pay for it on the bike, as I was not accustomed to sprinting before getting on the bike (hm. Good point!). He also reminded me not to lose track of my running shoes in the first transition, as I would need them again in transition 2 for the second run (gee, another very good point!  There is a reason he's a professional!)

I came in for the first run in an ok position, and dashed to by bike. I tossed on my helmet, wiggled on my bike shoes, and took off. The transition area was very bumpy and I realized that I need to work on gracefully running with my bike to the exit/mount line. There were lots of spectators cheering, so it was a nice boost as I took off down the residential area toward the main road for the out-and-back. I quickly got into high gear...I was on a mission to catch up to my brother!

The bike portion was a bit windy (ok, a LOT windy). It was humbling to me. I definitely realized in those miles on the bike course that I should really make cycling practice something I do more than once each week. I know, I know.  That should be a no-brainer. But there are always reasons to go for a run instead of a bike ride. I love bike rides. I just always pick runs instead!

I did catch my brother (who, in all fairness, was completely and totally peer-pressured by me to sign up, and therefore had only a couple of bike rides this season as practice, and every single one of them included toting his children with him on the bike). He was looking fresh, but also looking like he was hating the wind as much as I was.

So.  The wind.  You know how you promise yourself that the wind isn't so bad on an out-and-back course because at least on the way back it will assist you?  Ya. That is exactly what got me through the first half.

Then, I hit the turn-around.  It was windier on the way back. How can that even happen?!

So, I dug deep and tried to keep my pace. I was passed by some super-fancy bikes, and some racers that definitely look like they practice a lot. I made lots of promises to myself, that I would catch them on the run. That is what got me to the bike finish.

As I plopped off my bike (yep, that is exactly how graceful I felt) and toted my bike back into transition, I heard "Go Amy!!!" How exciting!  The shouts were from my very best friend Janice and her daughter Mallory!  They came to cheer us on, and it was awesome!

I racked my bike, changed my shoes (and almost forgot to take off my helmet) and ran toward the exit. I accidentally ran back to the bike exit (oops) so I added a bit of time to my transition when I had to turn around and run to the run start (I sincerely hoped no one saw my rookie mistake).  I was back on my running feet, and on a mission to find some of those people that had passed me on the bike.

The run was also nice and flat, on a paved trail for most of it. My legs felt great. I drank lots of water during the bike portion, and I could feel it sloshing around in my stomach, so I used the couple of water stations to pour it down my neck.

I was catching people and powering past them, and it made it that much easier to keep my pace. Before long, I was back at the wooded area for the finish.  Janice was there cheering, and I managed to stop my watch as I crossed the mats (I never remember to do this.  It's the little things).

I had enough time to run back around to cheer my brother through (he was not far behind). I am so proud of us!  Duathlon finishers!

I have exactly zero photos of the whole event (I know).

I managed to score 3rd place overall female finisher (2nd place 30-39)!  But the real bonus was the "post-race feast" which included watermelon (I ate a ton) and homemade butter tarts, among many other fine treats.

my lovely "3rd Place" plaque!

I can't wait until next year, when I can take on the swim also. It was such a lovely day.

I also must mention how much I love triathlons for the atmosphere. Road races are great, but I think triathlons have more opportunities for friendy chatting with other racers, and general bonding (?).

I have only done 2 races, but I have learned sooo many tips and tricks from other athletes, and felt the friendliness factor here for sure!

Happy running/biking/swimming!!

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