Let’s Du This…Olympic Style

The lack of creativity in the title for this post may be due to recent lack of sleep, or due to the fact that, after writing about six duathlon races since beginning this blog, there simply comes a time when it can be hard to think of a fun title.

Last Sunday I took part in New York Triathlon Club’s Wheel and Heel Olypmic (distance) Duathlon. I participated in the W &H sprint duathlons twice, and was supposed to do this particular race last year, but from what I remember, I could not get anyone at work to switch a weekend with me. Bring on 2013 with new distance duathlons. Whereas a sprint duathlon is usually a 1 mile run, 14mile ride, 3.2mile run (some of the NYTRI sprints vary in their leg lengths), the olympic duathlon has a 5k run, a 40k bike , and a 10k mile run. (You math wizards out there will notice that is about 9.5miles of running total).

Just a tad bit longer.

I must admit, I had a lot of pre-race jitters before this race. I am not really sure why….I was not worried about the riding part. Dutchess County has given me a plethora of opportunities to work on riding up hills (and racing up them, too).  I was worried about the running. The last time I ran over 6.1 miles in one day was back in May, and that was for a marathon–slow, steady run. The Mad Dash killed my legs, and for six days prior to this race, I did not run whatsoever. Minus all the running around at work. I think another contributing factor to the pre-race jitters was the fact this would also be my first race being solo.*

Anyway, come race morning when the alarm went off, a part of me wanted to stay in bed and ignore the race. But, after some contemplating, I decided I would hate myself for not at least trying the race. I gulped some coffee and, I admit it, I did not give myself loads of la-de-daa time to get to the race.

My goal: to finish in under 3.5 hrs. No records needed to be broken, no muscles torn…Just attempt it. 30minutes for the 5k, 2 hrs for the bike, and one hour for the 10k.

My plan of race attack: Go out on the first 5k easy. Go out on the bike easy. Go out on the last 10k easy and walk if need be. 

What actually happened:

I got to the race with barely enough time to collect my bib, but did decide it might be smart, for this distance, to actually warm up and stretch.  (Yup, I just said I stretched. For reals.)

There was a fair number of racers, and the venue was quite serene: Lake Taghkanic is lovely. 

I set up my bike, and spoke with a few racers I’ve met at other races, or know from the non-racing world, and kept telling myself, “It’s just a long run and ride.” My main competition was an athlete (I can say that, because she truly is one) from up north who beat me in another race earlier this year. Mind you, she is almost twice my age,just competed in the International Duathlon Championships up in Ottawa, and has a tri-bike. Oh, she also was wearing a race kit from the championships. If you are thinking the same thing as I am, than yes, she is quite good at the sport. She also looks like a duathlete. Pshh, maybe next year I will just order a race kit to wear from the championships…It might help my race self-esteem 😉

The field of athletes doing the duathlon was quite small, and the first 5k was an out-and-back run through the state park. Rolling hills. I actually wore my garmin watch for the first time in about a year so I could keep track of my pace. Did I remember how to use the watch? Kind of, at least basics. I did not want to sprint to fast and have no energy for the rest of the race. Nine minute or so miles is what I was aiming for. I kept up with Ms. Championships the whole 5k, and felt good after the first run was over. The bike, ohh the bike portion. It was two loops around the park, and, I have come to the conclusion that in order for a race to be one of the New York Triathlon races, it must involve hills. Having not pre-ridden the course, I had no idea what the extent of the hills would be. Below is the image posted on the Facebook page of the race course….

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The elevation guide does not do it justice, and is actually a bit confusing.

On the second loop, I managed to find a gel (they are growing on me) which I do not think necessarily gave me energy physically, but mentally. Going up the same set of hills twice is just wrong in my book.

For some odd reason, I thought the 10k would be in the Park around the lake. That is what it looks like according to their website photo, right? Or, was it just me and my innate inability to read maps correctly?

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Well, the last three miles were in the park. The first four followed the bike course. Up the same hills. At this point, I was pretty fatigued, not going to lie. But, I kept thinking, “C’mon, you’ve ran marathons…you’ve climbed mountains…This, this is just another hilly run.” When my legs wanted to walk, I walked. When they felt good to run again, I ran. Once the course veered back into the park, I remember continuing to wonder when the finish would come.  Things people have said crossed my mind, “Go get em’ killer!” Finally, after what seems to be the longest 10k I have ever run/walked, I crossed the finish line. 3:02.

With tears in my eyes.

I do not know what brought the tears on. Maybe it was the fact I finished my first olympic distance race quicker than I thought I would. Maybe it was the fact that I finished, but had no one I knew there to give a sweaty, exhausted, thrilled-that-I-finished hug to.** Maybe it was because I finished my last duathlon of the season, and managed to pull off second overall in the Women’s duathlon. Who knows. I did have to pull some major self-control in order to keep the tears from continuing to stream down my face. You ever try to stop yourself from crying in public when your body is exhausted? It’s really hard to do, and I kept trying to cough in order to hide the fact I was crying, and then choked, which wasn’t helpful. Lake Taghkanic State Park  has a paved sidewalk along the beach near the parking lot which was perfect for cooling down and gaining composure.

After packing up all my gear and brining my bike back to my car, I headed to the post race food to score some free water and mini- cliff bars. On my way, I bumped into a fellow Fats in the Cats member who is also a duathlete/triathlete/runner. In her first olympic triathlon, she placed first in her age group. See? Mountain bikers are hardcore. We not only ride bikes over logs and roots, but can kick ass in the water and in a pair of running shoes.

Fats in the Cats!

Bev and I…Way to go fats!

God bless the volunteers along this race course. They were amazing. So so encouraging, especially the volunteers along the hills. I even got a smile and nod from a State Police officer when I said, “Hills are my favorite!” on the bike.

A huge thanks to the New York Triathlon Club for an incredible event, and awesome race season!

* Except for races back in college, I’ve been blessed to have friends or family either participate in a race with me, or at least be present at some stage of the race, even if it was only the end of the race.  I guess I got a little too used to this “luxury.”

**Don’t worry, I awkwardly gave that hug to a random other female duathlete who finished her first olympic duathlon that day.

***If you want to see the real elevation change, the link to my Strava activity is here. I am not tech savvy enough to get the “imbed link” to pop up on this blog.

My apologies for the lack of photos in this. Out of all the photos taken at the race, there failed to be just one caught of me. I think I searched through the events photos at least three times. Ohh well.  Win some, and lose some.

😉

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