Shamrock Duathlon – Race Report

I’m a bit slow with this post because the end of the semester gets crazy, but what a great race this was!

This was my first race with a biking component. I did the two indoor triathlons this spring, but outside biking is a whole different deal. So much fun!

But, let me back up. I’ve wanted to do this race for the last few years, but I could never fit it in. Or, I simply didn’t bother to get on my bike to train. The bike course is hilly so I didn’t want to just do it without ever biking. Anyway, one of the benefits (or maybe I could say side effects) of getting hurt is that I have done a lot more cross training this spring, including some spin classes. I’m not even sure when it occurred to me that this might be the year for the duathlon, but at some point I realized it would probably work. I started going to spin class more regularly and also started working on my friends. Snarky Girl and I even did a couple of practice mini-duathlons by getting up even earlier than usual, running 2 mile to the YMCA for spin class, and running home afterwards.IMG_4378Why is it fun to go ride a stationary bike in the basement of the YMCA? I have no idea.

IMG_4379 Snarky Girl and I

The day before the duathlon, I got some exciting mail!

IMG_4500Does this make me official?

Also the day before the race, I decided I had better practice an actual transition. The race had kindly provided a fantastic Frequently Asked Questions document and I pretty much followed their directions. I got to practice drinking out of my water bottle [cue foreshadowing] and running and biking and then biking and running. Twice I forgot to take my helmet off for the second run, but that’s why you practice, right?

IMG_4504Practice transition!

On race morning Snarky Girl and Teacher Runner came over bright and early and we loaded the bikes up. It was easy to find the start because everyone on the road Sunday morning with bikes on the car was heading to Glastonbury high school. We were all a little nervous. We got the bikes ready. We got ourselves ready. Went to the bathroom. Did a little warm up. Went and lined up.

IMG_4505Snarky Girl!

IMG_4506Teacher Runner!

IMG_4509My bike has a bib! So official!

IMG_4508Playing it cool. Except maybe for those handlebars…..

IMG_4507Ready to race!

The gun went off and we started running and I teared up. I didn’t expect that. I was just so full of joy to be back doing this. This thing I didn’t know about until after I turned 40 but which it turns out I completely love. Even though I had already done a couple of races this year, this felt like the first real race. Warrior Dash wasn’t timed and the Middletown Four Miler was a great race, but I had had my heart set on the half marathon. So, this was the first real race of the season for me.

We all ran together for a mile or so and then Snarky Girl pulled ahead. No surprise there. Teacher Runner and I ran on together. I’m trying not to be such a watch hound but I did look at my watch pretty often. My plan was to run a 29-30 minute 5k. My watch said 9:45, 9:20, 8:45. Hmmmm. That’s a lot faster than 29 minutes. Back to 9:10. However, it felt pretty good. I didn’t feel like I was going to explode. I was working hard, but not dying. I really prefer to run with a friend and I adore running at Teacher Runner’s side. I remembered her leaving me behind at Surftown last fall and how demoralizing that felt and I thought, well, pace be damned, I’m going to see if I can hang with her. If it blows up on me, it blows up on me. But it felt pretty solid. We arrived back at transition together.

I found my bike and it wasn’t the last one left on the rack, thank goodness. Just like in practice, I had a Gu, drank some water, put my (unworn) headphones down, got the helmet on. Figured out how to unrack the bike. WALKED the bike out of transition. Time to ride.

Riding in a race is a whole lot different from what they put in the rule book. So, for example, the rules say, ride three bike lengths apart and you have 15 seconds to pass someone, and they then have to drop back three bikes lengths behind you. But at the beginning, the paces of the riders were wildly different so everyone was passing everyone all at once. Then the woman in front of me DROPPED HER WATER BOTTLE! Fuck! Ok, it’s not a family blog anymore, but that’s what I yelled. I ran right over her water bottle! Shit! I thought I was going to crash for sure! However, I didn’t. I just kept riding. She stopped to get her bottle. Teacher Runner and I kept on. At some point she passed me, but then I passed her and didn’t see her again until much later.

The bike ride was great but also a bit never-ending. I looked at my watch for the first time around 13 minutes. Um, 13 minutes? This ride was going to take me at least an hour. I wasn’t even a quarter of the way through it! Then we went up a big hill. Up, up, up, but guess what? I passed people on the hill! Amazing! I used to live in the San Francisco bay area and I’m pretty sure I had a “secret” gear installed at that time. Ok, it’s not a secret, but it is a somewhat larger gear on the back wheel. Those bay area hills are nothing to sneeze at. My bike looks a bit ridiculous at this point. It’s 30 years old. It’s got upright handlebars. It has a kickstand, which is what makes other people chuckle. But, underneath all that, it’s not a bad bike. And, to be fair, I’ve got some fairly strong legs. Thank you Tough Guy Trainer and your millions of squats.

The bike ride went on and on and on. It was supposed to be a big hill, then flat for awhile, then another big hill and a huge down. Well, I remember the first big hill. Then it was up and down and up and down and I guess up a lot at some point because then it was a HUGE down. Whoa. That was incredibly fun and just the right amount of scary. But the damn bike ride still wasn’t over! I couldn’t remember when the last big hill was. Nine miles done. Eleven miles done. Fourteen miles done. Finally riding down, down, down. Then the bike course was alongside the second run course for a bit and that was fun. I found myself searching and searching for Snarky Girl. I knew she was ahead of me, but I had no idea how far ahead. It was a bit hard to remember this was supposed to be a race and not just a very long bike ride. Then Snarky Girl ran by and waved!

I finally got to transition. Which I recognized because of the huge sign that said “DISMOUNT”. However, I had no idea which way to go. I may have been just a tiny bit out of it. I yelled out to the volunteers “Which way?” and they pointed me to the bike racks. Duh. Walked the bike in. It occurred to me that some people probably run along next to their bike? No, so not happening. With those jelly legs, I was walking it in. I found the bike rack. Did the whole Gu and water thing. Considered whether I wanted a bite of peanut butter and jelly? No. Remembered to take off my helmet. Yeah! Considered leaving behind my iPod but panicked so I took it with me. Walked out of transition. Oh, with no bike, I could seriously have run, but I still had jelly legs and the feeling that transition was some kind of sacred zone. Apparently a sacred zone where one does not run, either with or without a bike. Then I got to the exit and thought, oh, damn, this is a race, actually! So I started running even on the jelly legs.

I was so glad I had practiced this part. Running after biking (and running) feels very strange. To me it feels as though my legs are not actually connected to my body. It’s like they are numb or something. It feels like I’m running an 11:30 pace and I think, ok, that’s ok, your legs will come back. I look down and my watch says 9:30. What? Ok, but that is just what happened in the practice version so I just accepted it and kept running.

I was worried that the last 5K would be miserable. I expected to be hot and tired and out of energy. Instead, I am full of joy. I cheer on the other runners. I cheer for the bikers. I thank the volunteers and the police officers. When the first mile is done I actually think, damn, only two more to go and then this will be over. Savor it. Feel it. Enjoy it. I almost tear up again. I ran some more. Ok, it was a little hot. But damn, the miles are clicking by. There’s lots to look at. I dump some water on my head to cool off. I see the turn to the left that leads to the finish line and try to pick it up a notch. Wait, the finish is on grass? Ok, whatever. I just keep running. I see Snarky Girl and wave, I’m almost done! I see the finish line and the photographer. I manage what I imagine is an incredible leap across the finish line! However, it is apparently not captured on film because there are ZERO official finisher photos of me.

IMG_4516Unofficial finisher picture taken by Mr. Snarky Girl

I was so happy to be done, but not in that I’m-exhausted-and-wrung-out kind of way. In a joyful, thank goodness I can still do this sort of way. We had some water and some snacks.

IMG_4517Happy Duathletes!


IMG_4522Snarky Girl’s daughter got some stretching advice from the physical therapy tent.

IMG_4529Teacher Runner may have won something…..

I’m already looking at future duathlons!

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2 Responses to Shamrock Duathlon – Race Report

  1. Bryan says:

    Yay! After the winter you had, I know this had to be a soul cleansing race! So glad to see you back!

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