I’ve competed in only 2 triathlons up to this point. Repeated wildflower two years in a row. So today marked my first ever duathlon and the description seems like a better match (in other words no drowning) unless you want to count the fog this morning we have to shlep through.
The race started earlier than usual thanks to daylight savings time and losing an hour of sleep so the roads were still dark with the light glow from the stadium lights reflecting off the thick morning fog. I picked up my packet and got situated in the transition area. What a difference it is not having to sort through all your gear when it’s just a run bike repeat!
7:04 came quickly as we lined up. The group wasn’t big but I could tell there was some strong competition that showed up. The nerves set in as we began the 10K, turning out of the parking lot onto the main road. Daylight was just starting to break. I kept a steady pace, which is saying a lot because typically I push it too hard at first but this time I slowed it down. This paid off in the end as I didn’t allow too many people to get away from me and I managed to sneak in a PB (Strava) 10K time. The course consisted of two loops around Live Oak Highschool, the backside had a slight incline before making the turn down a gradual hill before coming across the finish. The last two miles started to take a toll on my ankle, seriously? Another injury? My motivation was that my bike was waiting for me and I would get to spend some quality time doing 5 laps very shortly.
The fog started getting thicker in the transition/finish area, which made our range of sight a bit difficult. This may have actually been a blessing for me because it meant I had no idea who was in front or behind me as I turned into quickly change shoes and get moving. This was one of my slowest transitions. I had a hard time deciding if I should shed a layer. While running I noticed that the sun was peaking through on the other half of the course and that I would be pushing it harder on the bike than the run…2 minutes. Yes, this decision took me a total of 2 minutes before I was back on the course, embarrassing!
The bike is where I feel the most at home. I had minimal hip pain so I pushed it hard, but knowing that I was going to have to give my ankle one more 5K I pulled back on the slight climb on the back side. 40K of smooth sailing. I was in my zone and I did my best to stay as consistent as possible. I did pretty well, each lap was about 15 minutes on the dot averaging roughly 19.3mph. Not bad for a first race post injury.
I was focused and determined but I had no idea how many people in my age group were in front of me. I was pretty certain I was at least in the top 5, but thought this was maybe my imagination. I knew I had a good lead on the women behind me that I had passed on my bike but wasn’t sure if it would be enough once we got back to running. I worked my ankle out on the final descent behind coming to the last transition. I quickly ran, in cleats its more of a hobble, to my station and changed shoes. I grabbed my sunglasses because the beautiful (is it spring yet) sun made its morning appearance. Only 3.1 miles let. Or 3.10686 to be exact. I ran that distance with Christy on Wednesday, I could do this. My pace really slowed down, my ankle was throbbing. I told myself I couldn’t stop, it was the Ragnar all over again. If I stopped I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep going.
My Garmin chirped. 1 mile down. 2 miles down. Only one more ‘mile-a-day’ left. Easy. I tried picking the pace up a little bit and the slight downhill helped with the motivation. I crossed the finish line. Medal. Banana. Done. I grabbed my stuff and found Stew. After a few, I went to go check results so we could head home. I turned around and motioned to Stewart that somehow I placed 3rd. Sweet! Typically I’m a 4th place kind of person and last year I was definitely stuck in that rut. I’ll take it 🙂
Overall my first Duathlon was a success. My legs held up. There was no swimming portion to lead to drowning and the course was really fun, especially because you basically do 8 loops so it’s great for spectators. It showed me that while my biking is quickly getting back to its race shape, my legs in running have really taken a hit. However, I think I have spent enough time in recovery mode that it is time to start hitting the track and gym again. Full speed ahead!