Vassar Brothers Du/Triathlon 2010

It has been a couple of days since I completed my second multi-sport race, and after work, finally have some time to sit and reflect on the event.

The Vassar Brothers Duathlon/Triathlon was the 2nd Annual race that Vassar Brothers Medical Center organized to raise money for their pediatrics/NICU units–units close to my heart. When my alarm went off at 0500, I hit the snooze button three times (I am not one who ever hits the snooze button). There was no way I was going to complete a race when I had been ill the previous day. All I wanted to do was lay in my warm bed and sleep. Despite the warmth of my covers, a little voice in my head kept repeating that I would regret not doing the race.  Wow, major déjà vu to my first duathlon.

My father, God bless him, said he would drive me to the race and be my official photographer. Even though I had looked at multiple maps and sets of directions on how to get to Freedom Park, we managed to miss the exit and spend some extra time on the Taconic State Parkway. I nervously drank coffee which was way too strong and stared at the clock in my car. It was 6:30 a.m. The check in would end in an hour. When I take part in races, I prefer to have more time than be pressed on time before the start. Thankfully, I had my handy Blackberry and could look up the directions on my phone. What would we do without phones?


Phew. We got there with plenty of time to check-in. I  stood in line to get my “goody bag,” and received my bib and bike number. Okay, I admit it, another reason I’ve completed so many races in the past is because of the goody bags you get, and the t-shirts. As you race more, you’ll see how important these t-shirts are…They are like a race diary. Furthermore, despite how old they are, you cannot seem to part with them.

Timing chips differ in duathlons


A difference in dual-sport (or tri-sport) races and running races is there is more preparation before the race that needs to be done. You need to get your bike situated, get your cycling and running shoes all set–you’re always thinking, “How can I set my stuff up so that the transitions will be quickest? Which way should I have it face, if I’m coming in from over there?” Whereas in running races, all you need to do is warm up and wait for the race to begin. I’ve also found that there is a lot more activity and excitement with duathlon/triathlons, and it’s always fun to watch the hardcore, “pro” athletes getting ready. They dry the tires on their bikes, make sure their shoes are already clicked into the clips.Their helmets are aerodynamic, and they race using speed-trial/triathlon bikes. It’s amazing. Do I use any of these? Pshh. Please.

Preparing my transition area

After a warm-up of jogging in circles–more because I was frozen than to prepare for the race– I decided I wanted to finish the race in less than an hour an a half. What the heck, right? We all need goals. And I needed to get back to my visiting guest at home, even more reason to finish as quickly as I could. I think I really just picked a number out of my head that sounded like a well-rounded number.While the runners in the duathlon bunched up to prepare for the one mile sprint, and the swimmers congregated at the lake, I realized I was not at all prepared for this race, as much as I’ve “trained.” How so, you ask?

The swimmers getting ready to start

The main reason I was not prepared was the fact that I am not a sprinter. Period. And this race is all about sprinting. The mile run is a sprint–then the 14 mile bike portion is a sprint–and the three mile run at the end is a sprint. On my recent runs and bike rides, it’s been about distance, not speed work.

Major difference.

Lining up for the first sprint

Ohh well. Too late now.

The horn went off and the race began. I could tell right away my lungs were not “warmed up” at all. Man, even a hint of speedwork might have helped me. Duhh. Racing literature is always telling you the benefits of fartleks.

After the first transition, the second part of the race began–biking– which happened to be two 7-mile loops around LaGrange, New York. My legs, not at all used to the sprinting, were already quite fatigued before my attempt to sprint on a bike. I should have taken the advice of a fellow cyclist, and go on a couple “group bike rides” so I’d have some experience with cycling in a group. But, alas, I had not done that. In retrospect, there were times I slowed down (who slows down in a race?) when I could have just passed people on their bikes, calling out: “On your left!” As I said–it’s a learning experience.

Now, the last leg of the race, the three mile run, may seem like nothing. And, on a usual day, I do consider three miles to be “nothing.” But after two sets of sprinting, and your legs burning, this distance is tough. I’m far from Iron Man’s, that’s for sure. It really is incredible how you are using different muscles for cycling and running. If you’ve completed a triathlon or duathlon, then you know exactly the feeling I’m talking about when you start the run. Your legs are literally burning from the bike ride, and you are making them work harder. It’s painful.

But, I pushed through, and looked down at my watch for the first time after I started the timer at the beginning–yes, just like those professionals who start their timers at the start of races–I try to be cool. I just so happened to notice that I still had a couple of minutes before my “goal” of the morning would be up. Either the fact my legs were adjusting to the movement of running, or the fact that I could still make my goal time, made me quicken my pace a bit.

Et voila. I looked at the electronic timer they have at the finish, and I saw 1:27 in bright red letters as I finished the race–stomach in knots, feeling like I was going to vomit, and legs that felt they were going to fall off.

Looking back at the finish

When’s the next time I can put my body through torture and pain?

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When was the last crazy post written?

September 2010

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