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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“I Guess That Means We Can Start Running”

…Were the words  of another duathlete as a distant shot-gun went off at last Sunday’s Wheel and Heel Sprint Tri/Duathlon. I was at the front of the small pack of athletes eyeing my competition, wondering how we would know when to start running. *By competition, I mean others in my age group; specifically, one young woman who really concerned me from the start. I knew she was good just by the stretches she was doing pre race. Hardcore running stretches. At one point, she even had a roller and was rolling out her legs. My warm up, on the other hand, was merely a couple skips and play “air punching” with Kevin. I think I need to seriously reconsider how I stretch before races. For one thing, I’ll be bringing my own roller to my next race. Next minute, we were off.

I should get first place for most awkward photo...My concept of stretching before a race (sporting a new Mtn bike jersey)

First place for most awkward photo! This is my concept of stretching before a race

The 2013 Wheel and Heel Sprint Duathlon had a different course than last year’s event. Last year, the first mile sprint was up a nasty hill (almost like the Healthy Ulster duathlon in Ulster County). This year, organizers decided to be nice, and have runners go up a hill, only this time the hill was not as steep. Having hills at the start of a race is a theme for New York Triathlon events in the Hudson Valley.

My competition...She even looks fast.

My competition…She even looks fast.

Right away I knew the sprint would not be my best sprint as I felt that my legs were tight (probably because I didn’t roll them out first). But I did my best, and was able to complete it in under eight minutes. I continue to be awestruck by anyone who can run a sub seven minute mile.

The bike portion was not what I remembered it to be, in fact, I believe it is different than last years race.After about four miles, there were four miles of steady climbing. Throughout the climb, I was challenged by another duathlete who I’m guessing was double my age, in his orange jersey. He simply would not ease up and let me pass!  At different points, both of us would sprint ahead of one other, only to slow down again after burning legs (atleast on my part). Finally, I was able to pass him, but he did not make it easy. Psh, you thought I was competitive against women my age? Puh-lease. I’m more competitive against older men who aren’t even in my age/gender race category! Back to the course….It is not an easy sprint course.

Don't mind the triathlete running into transition...I know it is difficult to do

Don’t mind the triathlete running into transition…I know it is difficult to do

The problems of sunglasses: they can fall off your face easily

The problems of sunglasses: they can fall off your face easily

The last leg of the race was also shorter than last years by a mile. It started off similar to the sprint; you had to run up a hill right out of transition; and I will continue to blame my tired legs on the fact I did not roll them out pre-race.  I guess I have a way of showing the exact opposite of the exhaustion l felt by cracking jokes with each volunteer I passed…Perhaps some people would consider my jokes more like the crazy exclamations of a dreary, exhausted, semi-prepared-for-an-event participant. Knowing I was far behind Miss Intense Racer, I did not push myself as hard as I could, and walked (gasp!) some parts. We all have times when we have walked portions of a race, right?

Despite painfully exhausted limbs, I was able to finish four minutes slower than Miss Racer, and place third overall in the Women’s Duathlon. As I’ve mentioned before, in my opinion, the best part of a race is when you cross the finish line 🙂

I'd like to thank my mascot, a rubber chicken I found in my car, for my race success

I’d like to thank my mascot, a rubber chicken I found in my car, for my race success

A week after the race, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can still practice sprinting, and really should practice sprinting up hills if I wish to continue participating in New York Triathlon events. That would probably be to my benefit, don’t you think?

Other Thoughts

Last month, Fats in the Cats, a local mountain biking club, was looking for a new t-shirt design. As the weather was crappy for a couple days, I decided to dabble in t-shirt designing. I was under the impression I could draw something, scan it in, and submit it. But, they needed specific formats for the t-shirt submissions. Lo and behold, Adobe Illustrator has a trial free edition that I was able to download. Now, give me something medical, and I can probably do it. As for computers, I would consider my knowledge to be basic. I am no graphic artist by any means. I did fool around for a couple hours and figure out how to make lines and fonts, and submitted a design that ended up being chosen as one of the new t-shirts. A picture of my design is below. The other design is on the pint glass. Holy crap was his design freaking awesome. I may not be a computer graphics wizard, but I know super computer graphic skills when I see them. And that guy has some skill-z.

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Innocent little mountain bike rider

Enjoying a post-race beverage in a new club pint glass

Boom! Power to the pedal…Freaking amazing design.

And Even More of Molly’s Nonsense

If you are familiar with this blog, you may have race about my addiction to registering for races. Well, as of late I have been debating on doing another half marathon in September on one of the weekends I have off from work. (My other weekend off I am registered for an olympic duathlon…Now that will be a story in itself). I took my charge card from my wallet to register, and decided to “sleep on it.” The next morning, specifically the morning of the Wheel and Heel race, I could not find the card anywhere. Family members know the desperation I had in finding my card. Who knows where it disappeared to during the twelve hours it was not in my grasp. I came to the conclusion that the race gods, or perhaps it is the anti-race gods,were against my compulsive race-registering, therefore are to blame for my lost card. Since the episode, however, I do have a new card, and have signed up for the half….Not even anti-race gods can stop me.

 

Redemption

Is there a race that you have a love/hate relationship with?

I do. It’s the Ulster County Duathlon.

The Ulster County Triathlon/Duathlon was my first ever multi-sport race in 2010. It was back when I did not even own my own bike, nonetheless actually ride a bike. But, I thought it would be fun. I remember showing up at the race having no clue what to do–how to set up my bike–nor what the course was like. My mother was visiting at the time, and knowing she would be up early,I  gave her a call to see if she would come watch the race (in other words, I was scared out of my mind, and needed to borrow a watch to wear). The bike I borrowed was in okay condition, but I had numerous chain issues, and am pretty sure I had only ridden on it once before.  I finished it in a reasonable time, and despite the not-so-friendly course, embarked on this “journey” of multisport training. I loved it when it was over.

Finish of my first duathlon ever...Before I even knew they actually had triathlon shorts you could wear and not bike shorts...

Finish of my first duathlon ever…Before I even knew they actually had triathlon shorts you could wear and not bike shorts…

In 2011, I did the race again. Emotionally, it was the worst race I have ever completed (except for Mooseman). Now, looking back, I know why it was so miserable: lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and sheer exhaustion before you start a race is pretty much a recipe for disaster. It took me 43 minutes to run 3.5miles. I walked most of it. After the race, I could only beat myself up for the poor performance. I hate the course. I swore I would never do it again.

This year, I wanted to redeem myself. Prove to  myself that I could actually complete this race in a decent time (in other words, finish it in the time it took me the first year I did it). And redeem myself I did.

The course for the duathlon is tough in terms of sprint courses go. You start at the bottom of a hill, and the first mile is a sprint up the hill. Some athletes ran the mile a little over six minutes. I have no idea how that is possible, considering the fact you are running up. The bike is two 9-mile loops, with some rolling terrain. I think it might be the most difficult bike course out of the duathlons I have done in the area, plus the fact the transition area is at the bottom of the hill that you just ran down. (The bike course is also four miles longer than the other courses). The last run starts, again, at the bottom of the hill. Despite a decline, the majority of the first two miles of the 3.5mile out-and-back course is uphill. Sounds like fun, right? I’m pretty sure I complained about how much I hate this course half a dozen times with others.

I finished the race eight minutes faster than the first time I tried it. That may not seem very fast, but to me, that is an improvement…Where I found I improved most was on the runs, and for that I must admit it and thank Strava for keeping me running.  I finished the first mile in 7:42. May not seem fast, but considering I was sprinting up a hill, for me, that was awesome. Especially since I had a wire metal thing that decided to stick to the bottom of my running shoe mid-sprint and annoy the crap out of me (thankfully it fell off the shoe on its own).

Running back down to transition

Running back down to transition…And checking my watch.

The bike portion went okay. I think recent runs-then-bike rides on my days off helped my body become accustomed to riding right after running. There was one section where I was trying to pass another racer, who just would not give in. Finally, we reached a climb and I had to pass him. Of course, while doing so, he stated, “Maybe you need to clean your gears, sounds like shifting is a problem.” I responded, “Yup, probably.” As I sped up, I heard the guy exclaim, “You are making me look bad now!”

To that, I could not help but smile to myself and shout, “Sorry!”

Finishing!

Finishing!

I finished less than two minutes after the duathlon women’s first place winner. I could beat myself up for walking up the hills during the last run leg, or ask myself why I did not push myself more on the bike, but for the first time I decided to give myself a break from self criticism and say, “Good show, Mol. Good show.”

….And that is the best feeling in the world.

Second place overall for the Women's Duathlon

Second place overall for the Women’s Duathlon

A huge thank you to all of the race volunteers, law enforcement directing traffic, medical staff, and New York Triathlon organizers for a challenging but rewarding race.

And a big thanks to Mr. K.J.Young for being the best supporter out there, race swag thief, and official team photographer. 

Below is a link from a local newspaper regarding the race:

Area Athletes Score Top Honors at Healthy Ulster Triathlon, Duathlon

Hello, My Name is ___.And I’m a Raceaholic.

If you have ever participated in a race (running, cycling, duathlon, or triathlon), you may understand the thought process associated with racing. I do not mean with the actual participation in a race, or emotions during a race–that is a completely separate post–but what is involved when choosing races. For me, looking at potential races is, ehh, addicting.Sometimes I think there should be a support group for people like me who constantly search for races that I can participate in.

“Hello, my name is Molly. I am a raceaholic.”

I came to this conclusion the other day, still on holiday, when I turned to Kevin and showed him a race website.

“Maybe I should train for this one?” I suggest, with a spark of excitement in my eye. Kevin let out a soft sigh.

“Molly, no. Put the laptop away…No races right now.” I silently shut the laptop, and did not think about races.

Less than twenty four hours later, while everyone was sleeping, and after failed attempts to watch ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ on Hulu (FYI, Hulu does not work overseas), I found myself yet again searching for races. Working certain weekends affords less opportunities to participate in certain races, as most races take place on weekends–which is a reason why I think I cherish when my schedule does let me participate in a race.  I find myself scrolling through races throughout the state (or outside the state for that matter). Ouu…a 50k on September 8th of 2013! That is a weekend I am not working—I could totally pull that off. Wait, even better, a 5k on Saturday, and a duathlon the next day….Perfect! There have been times when I’ve had to stop myself, and think realistically regarding certain distance races, which, I guess most people do not have to do. I.e. When I decided that running a 50miler on a Saturday and doing a sprint Triathlon the following Sunday would not be a good idea.

Returning to the night of the sad acceptance of my inability to watch trashy television shows overseas, I decided to run a marathon this May. On my birthday. Why not? I ran my first marathon on my 21st birthday…Running another one on my 27th sounds like fun!’** Mind you, the amount of time to train for said marathon will be cut a little short, but I am not worried about that. I’m not one to stick to training plans…Or train at all for that matter. However, I am determined to change that aspect of running races, as my body is not the young, limber one it was when I did my other marathons. Long gone are the days when I can decide two days before a marathon to actually take part in it, and have a functioning body post-race.

Anyway, there is a thrill associated with registering for a race. Once you click that “Register” button, or send in that mail-in registration form (which do not exist with too many races anymore), there is no going back. The challenge of the race awaits. It is exciting! However, my mentality of “just finish the race without dying” does not apply to multisport races. Different emotions errupt when registering with those. A competitive drive forces me to study my past results, and the results of others in my age group…To train so that I will be faster than last year…Get through transition times quicker and more efficiently.

Finishing the Luxembourg Marathon--my first marathon

Finishing the Luxembourg Marathon–my first marathon, 2007

Do you share similar thoughts and feelings towards racing?

*I admit it, I watch TRHW.

**Not too many people consider running marathons fun. Truth be told, it is fun when you finish.

***I convinced Kevin to run the marathon with me in May. This will be his first marathon. Ohh what I can convince people to do.  

Du Fast, Du Furious

Du Fast Du Furious

NYTRI

I cannot believe it’s already been a year since I raced in the 8th Annual Trooper Duathlon, which you can read about here, organized by the NYS Troopers, as well as the New York Triathlon Organization, which organizes similar sprint duathlins and triathlons in the Hudson Valley. It was the same course as last year – a 2-mile sprint run, followed by a 14-mile bike ride, and then a 2-mile sprint run.

However, this race was different than last years in that I was part of a relay team. I decided to do the relay with a friend of mine, SB, who did the running, while I did the biking. We were the Valley Girls. Might I add, the t-shirts we designed received a lot of praise around the course. All of the duathlons I have competed individually in. Being a part of a team added an extra element of possible complications, esp. with the handing off of the timing chip with each transition. My race day jitters were higher than normal, since in this race, I was a member of a team, so I had to work hard to not let the Valley Girls down. I think my jitters were shared by my partner. Normally, I’d warm up and run and then have the bike ride, so my legs would be warmed up. Only doing the bike portion was a little trickier since there was a delay from when the timer started, and when you biked. I should have brought my trainer with me….And a TT bike.

Showing how to warm up

Pre-race massage is what should be required at races. Don’t worry, they know each other.

BB transitioning, biking, and finishing the race strong.

BB did an awesome job considering he was basically on his feet most of the day before with the Fats in the Cats Annual Bike Swap. I am envious at both his run time and bike time. He was only 20 sec away from placing third in his category. Next year, BB, next year.

SB doing her part for the team, also finishing strong to bring in our first place!

Steph started the sprints and finished the sprints (both two miles each) strong–leading us to first place. She was consistent with her running, and, apparently, ran a quicker pace than she normally does–managing about an 8 min/min pace!

Zooming by

I cannot really remember the bike portion of the course form last year, or how I did, but this course is basically rolling hills that lead to the bottom of Dug Hill road–a hill that can make a grown man cry. It is a hill that messes with your soul and emotions. It is 4 miles– and the last 4 miles of the bike course. It goes up and up. Then, it has small sections of “flat” which are deceiving because just around the corner you’ll have a steep incline, and other steep incline. I did have a better time than last year, yet my thighs still burned (I definitely need to work on sprinting, and climbing–long road rides are good for Timberman training, but the sprinting is good for smaller distance triathlons or duathlons).

Race in Progress

Cheering on my partner at the finish line

Valley Girls post race–still strong. Let’s do another one!

The post-race refreshments were not your average bagels and bananas. The Troopers had a full BBQ with salads and ziti. I was stoked at the chocolate milk that they had. We all stayed for the award ceremony.

Valley Girls get First place!

I don’t know why I was slouching…Taken before we had to give the plaques back, because they were the plaques for the Co-Ed Relay Team. At least we got a picture. There will need to be a celebratory dinner when our real plaques come in.

SB and BB, what a great team in real life

My best supporter and me

All in all, it was a well organized race. Thank you, NYTRI.ORG, especially the NY State Troopers and those who have been lost doing their job. Another thank you to the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department and Ulster Police for keeping the roads safe for riders along the course, and to all the EMT’s, dedicating their time incase something happened to a participant. All of your services are greatly appreciated. Thank you, again. And a special thanks to K for taking all the photos 🙂

9th Annual Trooper Duathlon
co. of NYTri.org

15th Annual Hudson Valley Triathlon and Duathlon

15th Annual Hudson Valley Triathlon/Duathlon

Remember when I said all races are learning experiences (if you have read any of my posts that is)–how at every event, you learn something new that you can use in the future, see what you can improve upon and what you have improved upon since your last race? Well, it has been a year since I competed in my first multi-sport race (my first one was the HV Duathlon last year!) and my knowledge of both multi sport racing, and training, has increased dramatically since completing my first duathlon. And it is safe to say I (finally) learned some very important lessons at the race yesterday, ones which perhaps a normal person would have figured out months ago (hey, I’m just stubborn, okay?).

Yes, (a little more than) one year ago I competed my first duathlon. I remember it as if it was yesterday. I used the second hand Giant bike which was a piece of crap (don’t get me wrong, I love Giant bicycles, just this one was old). I had no idea what I was doing or getting myself into. I had gone on maybe three long bike rides on the bike–at that time I did much more running–now it’s actually a bit of the opposite. I signed up for the race three days before the event. What a first duathlon, too. It starts at the bottom of a slightly steep incline at Ulster Landing Park next to the Hudson River, which, if you do the duathlon, you must go up three separate times with the sprint, then the bike, then the last run. The first leg is a one mile up (literally) and back sprint, then a 18 mile bike ride which is actually two nine mile loops up along Route 32 and through Glasco–if you are familiar with the area then you know where I’m talking about. Then the last 3.5mile run is another up (and another literally going up) and back sort of deal. This race is put on by the New York State Triathlon Organization, which I must thank for all their volunteers and work, especially yesterday in the heat/humidity/downpour/ultimate weather grossness that we had. I actually am thankful for the rain, because it made the bike sprint more bearable. I also thank my rides in Dutchess County and the Catskills for preparing me for the nasty start of the bike race.

Waiting for the start of the sprint

Post my attempt at Mooseman in June, my training somewhat dwindled a bit–that, couple with insane work hours just left no real good time to train. And after the race yesterday I finally realized (yes, it has taken months as I said above) that my body just does not like me when I make it do things on 1)two hours of sleep and 2)when it’s exhausted and wants to be sleeping. I know I never let my work schedule affect whether or not I do races. But in the midst of the last leg of the run my body just said, “enough not listening to me when I’m exahusted. Enough. Enough.” I ended up with the slowest 3.5 mile run time that I have ever had in all the duathlons I’ve done (okay, all four of them– I haven’t really done that many.) And, yes, my body talks to me when it’s angry at me, which it seems to be more and more often now a days.

Transition number two- my apologies for poor picture quality.

Starting the last run

So, dearest reader, please listen to this advice, and take it to heart. It’s not smart to force your body to compete in multi sport races, or any races actually, when you got two hours of sleep the night before, and average 3-4 hours of sleep a day for the past week leading upto the race. Your body has had NO time w-h-a-t-s-o-e-v-e-r to relax and replenish and rebuild muscle and strength if you’ve also been continuing to train (ça c’est moi). There is just so much pushing your body that you can do. And, make sure you are physically well before the race, and not have GI issues the day before/day of the race. When I started the bike portion I thought, “man, I can’t do this! My intestines/ stomache ache so horribly bad.” But, once I got over the wave of cramps and riding 5miles per hour (which definitely affected my bike time), I got back into the rhythm of cycling and the ride was great. I like rolling hills. My new Aero Bars came in handy too. I’m not used to sprinting on my bike- as most of my rides are greater than 30 miles, and I don’t sprint on those rides, but I do go up nasty hills, so the burning sensation you get in your thighs is just like that of when you cycle uphills.

All in all, the race was okay. I feel if I pushed myself harder (which my body would hate me even more for) I could have done better on the last leg of the run. Despite a time longer than my time at last years race (then again, at that time I was still working a day shift job), I did manage to make 1st place in my age group!

exhausted post race with my sister Laura, another triathlete--the craziness must run in the family

My next race is the Timberman Sprint, which will be my (second) triathlon. Hopefully in the next month, I’ll 1)have more than 2 hours of sleep the night before the race and 2) have energy before starting the race and 3) have a normal functioning immune system.

I hope you all were able to stay cool this past weekend- it was somewhat warm!

Let’s Du it!

I feel it’s been a while since I wrote my last post. Work has been busy, training has been tough, and life in general has just been busy—you know what I mean.

I can tell you,it IS FINALLY spring here! It only took until May for it to arrive. I’m not going to lie, Mother nature must take pleasuring with messing with our heads: one day, it’s in the 70’s, the next, down to the 40s and downpour for most of the day. I think this year she didn’t get what she wanted for christmas and is taking it out on the residents of the Hudson valley.

Getting my crap together

And it’s official: tri/duathlon season has started! And, I do not think that working night shifts go hand-in-hand with trying to compete in early morning races when your body is telling you that that is in fact not the time to be running races, but rather sleeping. Then again, do you think the lack of sleep ever stops me from putting my body through an hour and a half of imense torture? Pshhh. It never stopped me in the past. Other than that one incident where I set my alarm for 7pm instead of 7am and awoke to find I missed the race? No, I don’t. I  must admit, my body h-a-t-e-s me when I compete in races when it does not want to–you’d think it would learn by now that I’m not that easy going on my poor exhausted limbs.

Today I finished my first duathlon of the season, the 8th Annual Trooper Biathlon in Memory of Mike Kelly, Ken Poormon, and John McKenna, put on by the New York Tri Organization. All my races that I did last year (multi sport races) were through the NYSTri organization, and they  do a great job organizing them–Bravo! Plus, I have a special place in my heart for NY state troopers after they helped me with my cycling mishap, as I wrote in this post about troopers.

8th Annual Trooper Biathlon

Walking to the start

The weather was perfect for the race- warm enough that once you were sprinting (either on your feet or on the bike) it was enough to create small beads of sweat flow down your face, dropping of the tip of your nose and silently hitting the handle bars. There were lots of TT bikes, all of which I was envious of, but my Scott did a fabulous job helping my fatiqued body keep speeding down route 28.

The run was a two mile out-and-back deal, and the same was for the run after the biking portion, and I’m not going to lie, all the 14 and 15 mile long slow runs I’ve done for Mooseman prep have did little to help me with simply running 4 miles.

In retrospect, I should have checked out the route the night before, but I was too busy playing on my new toy to scope out the race scene, so everything was fresh for me. As you probably know from reading my posts, I hate hills. Especially when you are on two wheels having to pedal up them, and running on a basically empty tank of gas because you only got two hours of sleep the night before.  (The amazing moutain bike ride the night before probably didn’t help give my thighs a rest either…but the non-rest was worth it). The bike ride had rolling hills and followed the Ashokan Resevoir for a little ways, which was very picturesque, especially on a crystal clear morning that we had. The route then went down 28 and turned onto Hurley Mountain road, which had more rolling hills and which I was able to gain some speed on. And then, we had to turn and go up Doug hill Road, which was basically, 4 miles of straight uphill, which I was not prepared for. I swore my way up the hill, passing some people who had to get off and walk their bike up (I tend to embarass myself enough when having to hop of my mountain bike with X and walk up short hills on our past mountain bike rides).I was determined this time to go “slow and steady” up this 4miles of not-so-nice race course.

Hill: done!

Alas, I made it to the transition, and the last leg of the race–the same two mile sprint which preceded the bike ride. I must admit, all my training in the past have been for Mooseman, which has a long ride and long run, so I have not really been doing too much speed work (don’t tell my coach, because technically there is speed workouts on my weekly training schedule that I kind of….”tweak” since I hate speed work) and my lungs and legs could feel my lame attempts to sprint. However, my detested hill work in Dutchess county was the one thing that helped me going up dug hill!

Finally, I ran down the finish line, legs burning and intestines regretting the coffee I had that morning.But, I made it! First Duathlon of the season done! I must admit, in the middle of the race, I always find myself asking why I am doing this, especially since my body does not want to cooperate with me in early hours of the morning (damn you night shifts!!!!!). But after all is said and when your foot touches the ground below the finishers banner, you feel this immense sense of achievement. I did it! No, it wasn’t in the time that I was hoping for, but I was able to overcome the mental negative thoughts of “you are too tired to do this….you don’t do speed work….” etc etc and actually make a decent time!

All in all, it was a great organized race, and I totally see myself doing the same one in the future. Perhaps by that time, I’ll be working day shifts so I’ll even be just a tad bit rested before the race!!!

Congratulations to all the participants, and thank you to all NYS troopers, for everything you do for us.

It's over!

Theme song to the race ( i know, I know, I’m a dork. I admit it. But it has the great ability to pump you up prior to race time.)

Yayy!

Inaugural Tri/Du for Suicide Prevention

Sunrise

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.

Tight squeeze

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.

Still awake!

Here are the race results through the New York Triathlon Oganization

When’s the next one?

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?

Bib-check!

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?


When was the last crazy post written?

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