While my friend was completing his first marathon (and, might I add, did a fabulous job!!!), I fought sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion and finished my third duathlon this morning. It’s true what they say about triathletes/duathletes–or anyone who is serious about racing: they are crazy. And I’ve turned into one of those crazy people.
The race was the Inaugural Triathlon/Duathlon for Suicide Prevention, and took place at Rocking Horse Ranch in Highland, NY, which had a strong resemblance to Davy Crockett Ranch at Eurodisney. I am assuming if there is a Davy Crockett Ranch in Paris, there is an identical location in Florida–just to give you a little information of race location.
inside the ranch
Rocking Horse Ranch
Similar to the last two duathlons I did, the weather was perfect. A crisp, fresh autumn morning. Learning from my mistake with the last race in Pleasant Valley, I wrote down specific directions to get to the ranch (and, it helped that I used to live close to the ranch, so I knew its whereabouts) so there were no issues with getting lost. With this race, I was able to convince my father to actually compete with me. He’s 65– goes to show that not only is it never too late for you to complete your first duathlon, but that my whole family nuts.
Check-in was flawless (how hard is it to hand someone your I.D. and ask for your number?), and you could feel the anticipation and excitement for the race in the air. I know I’ve mentioned triathlons/duathlons are different than road races, and it is true. There is an actual triathlon community, and these races provide opportunities for the members of that community to congregate, catch up, and work their asses off trying to beat each other (all in good friendly fun, ofcourse). You begin to recognize other athletes from previous races, and to my surprise, I was recognized today as I went to pick up my timing chip.
“You were at the Vassar race, weren’t you?”
Yes, I am famous around these parts now.
A.Geuss in his first duathlon at 65--never too old to start racing!
I must admit, I have never been nervous before a race; excited perhaps. This morning, however, was different. I woke up after two hours of sleep actually nervous about the race. In retrospect, I know most of my anxiety had to do with the fact it was the first time I was going to ride in my cleats–meaning transitions would be a bit harder since I would have to switch out of the cycling shoes and into running shoes and vice versa.
Shoes, shoes, shoes
Pro triathletes/duathletes can transition in less than 40 seconds. My attempts at practicing last night on a gravel hilly driveway was unsuccessful to say the least. I realized that the cycling shoes I have are perfect for cycling races, but not meant for tri/duathlons. The type of cycling shoe you want for this type of race is one which only has velcro straps, and a loop at the back, which make taking them on and off a synch. If you notice pro athletes don’t even unclip out of the pedals when they transition–they take their feet out of their shoes and then run barefoot until switching into normal running shoes. I tried that on my gravel driveway last night as well, which is something I urge you NOT to try at home. It’s a little tough on the soles of your feet, especially when barefoot.
The course was the same distance as the last race I completed: for the duathlon, a one mile run, then fourteen mile bike ride, ending with a three mile run. The mile sprint was not too bad, and I decided, or rather, my fatigued body decided for me, that this was not going to be a fast sprint. It did go quickly, and the dreaded transition was soon upon me. With my other races, I never had to worry about changing shoes, because I did not have cycling shoes, so I rode in my running sneakers (which saves time in transitions).However, with my new clip in pedals, things were a tad more complicated, as I mentioned above–not to mention the fact that I am still having issues trying to clip into the pedals. Fellow cyclists tell me it will become more second nature as I spend more time clipping in-and-out. Yet, I managed, and the ride went by quickly. I must admit, the course was a lot hillier than in Pleasant Valley. Much hillier.Which meant there was more burning of the thighs. The scenery made up for the hills.
third time's a charm. Yes I have loads of photos of my baby.
The second transition was a tad more complicated than the first, and sure enough my fear of being unable to clip out of my right pedal and fall over happened (everyone needs to fall atleast once, right?). My practice sessions last night were of no help whatsoever, go figure. And the complexity of the straps of my cycling shoe (okay, for me they are complex) only added to the frustration of trying to switch into my running shoes. Ohh, another helpful hint if you are going to take part in a triathlon/duathlon: I strongly suggest having running shoes that have no tie elastic shoe laces. You do not want to waste time tying laces. Zoots actually has specific triathlon running shoes, created to help ease transitioning from cycling to running shoes. (those will be my next purchase). And added bonus: they look cool.
What I like about tri/duathlons, which differs from running races, is, even though there is a fair amount of competition between entrants, people are friendly. Fellow athletes are encouraging when they pass you, especially on the last running leg. “Great job- almost there;” that being said when you still have the three mile run to complete. However, I am not sure if they say that because they think you are about to keel over and die, or if they really mean it.
The support in the race was fabulous, too. The last portion of the race was actually a 1.5mile run up and back (to make a total of 3 miles) and on this course, the turning point was on a hill. There was definitely some internal silent crying deep within me when I saw the hill. I’m really not a hill person, as you’ve probably come to realize if you’ve read other posts. Yes, they are challenging, and I feel good after I’ve completed it. But in the midst of running, or biking, up a hill, I’m not a happy person (hard to imagine, huh?). Almost at the top of this hill, there was a lady–I think her name was Nancy, if not, she looked like a Nancy to me–who was the most incredibly motivating volunteer I have come across in a race, and I’ve completed my fair share of races.
“Keep it up! You look great! You’re one of the top ten females so far, girl! The hill is almost over! Woohoo!” She exclaimed with a huge grin as she gave me a high five, and a strong pat on the back. Despite feelings of fatigue and nausea, you cannot help but smile when someone like that is urging you to keep up the good work. After the race I found out she herself is a triathlete, and knows how motivating volunteers can be. And she did it with every runner. She is my hero.
The best part of the race: the finish
To my pleasant surprise, I managed to finish the race in decent time, but was a minute slower than my last race. Yes, I was aiming for a quicker time than my last race, but when running on an empty tank and lack of sleep, I realized early on that was not going to happen. So, I was pleased.
Here are the race results through the New York Triathlon Oganization
When’s the next one?