First, let me start off this post by letting everyone know that the gift exchange emails have gone out to each and every 81 of ya. If you haven't received an email with your gift exchange buddy, please let me know. Here's Tara
(famous for searching the internet for anus plates and sperm necklaces - man, some people get all the good labels!) and I painstakingly picking names. Don't let those beers, Fritos and bowls of chili fool you (NO enlargement of this photo for a closer view of that white piece of paper *ahem*) - it was pure business as we totally worked those names, reworked those names again (and again, and again) when we realized we ( I ) obviously are totally stupid (just ask Kovas!) until I finally was able to get each one of us a name. Yah, me needs to learn a little more Excel I think.
Ok, with official business finished, let's move on to my little race last weekend.
Chilly Cheeks Duathlon #1 (Yes, this is a series, #1 of 3, unfortunately) RR:
As one who loves to learn a little more about myself in every race (you now - things like strength, willpower, perseverance, mental fortitude - things like that) these are the two things I learned about myself during this little race:
1) I have lost tons of conditioning babysitting this s#&!! heel for 9 months.
2) I totally suck on a bike!
With that prep work in place, on to the race we go:
Jim, my neighbor, and one who twisted my arm into doing this so-called duathlon thing, picks me up. It's 28 degrees. Drive over to the baseball parking lot adjacent to the race start. Ride our bikes from parking lot to start line and I have one prevailing thought, "This bike seat is not very comfortable." Get to start line, check in, get race packet and as I grab safety pins, the check-in guy tells me they're not needed, no race number on your shirt, it goes on your bike (well, what are there safety pins sitting out for?). I look at Jim with total confusion. "Where? How?" We go and find a place to park the bikes - mind you, we're just watching what everyone else is doing - he's never done this Du thing either so enter the dumb leading the dumber. At least Jim knew to turn my bike around when I placed the front wheel in the bike rack.
|Jim and I pretending we knew what we were doing|
As we spend waaaaay too much time trying to figure out how to attach race number to bike, I turn to Jim and said, "Holy Sh!t, there's some serious bike/tri people here." Evident by some serious skin-tight tri suits painted on bodies with 2% body fat sporting bikes which cost well over my annual income! I curse Jim for telling me this was a "fun" race and very low-key when one of those said tri chicks turns to me and tells me "Oh believe it or not, you'll find one or two newbies in this race." When I tell her that'd be me, she gave me some "no sh!t" obvious look. I'm seriously thinking Jim's entered me in some preliminary time trial race for some big tri event later next year. Holy crap, I feel very out of place.
Soon Tara shows up (YAY) - I love me a good cheerleader. Thank God she showed up, too - apparently the bike helmet I stole from my son was not a good fit (Imagine!) so she made some adjustments and I was good to go in that department.
|Tara and I before the start|
Debate what to wear for run and bike. I have probably run close to 350 races in my life, maybe more (I'm going to count that up one day - I've been running competitively for 35 years now) but I just feel all out of whack here and just can't quit get my groove down. That damn bike part is just throwing me all off.
|Look at me all focused and serious (at least I'm passing two dudes)|
Walk down to the start; guys get a 3 minute advantage so I watch my friend Jim go off. Jim's fast so he's eating up the competition - adios bike dudes!!! Then the chicks line up, there's maybe 100 of us, very small race, no one pushing and shoving for a front-line position, we're just all kinda in front.
Gun goes off and I'm running - woohoo. This is my first race since that little 2-miler charity race I did in August (which was very low-key so not sure it counts)! Oh how I've missed you, Racing!!!!!!!
My goal is not to look at my pace. Of all the pre-race anxiety I was having, my run pace ranked high at the top. I know this mega month hiatus from running has really turned up the leg paceometer, I know this - I do - but it's not easy to swallow, and I didn't want it to get me frustrated. But mile one came and though I didn't hit the "lap" button on my watch, I peeked. 7:48. I was hoping I could run this thing in the 8:00 range - ahhhh, so good to know my going-out-too-fast bad habits never truly left me! But I'm feeling good, though I am realizing that my stride is really choppy and everything with my legs just feel "off." Pre-Boston glute and hamstring tightness has returned the past month and I am truly feeling it right now. Err.
Mile 2 brings you to the back side of the park, where you hit the trails - and the hills. Oh good lord, I've run these hills probably 5000 times in my life (this park is practically in my backyard, these trails are a staple in my life!) - yet they have never
felt as tough as they did in this race. Which shouldn't be alarming considering all, still....
Mile 3 I'm slowing. Going up one hill, I peeked again at the watch - 9:06. This is ridiculous.
Mile 4 we're back on the road again and I can get the pace going a bit better but this NOT easy. Way more difficult than I thought. Run finish time: 33:21. 8:21 pace. UGH!!! (my last half marathon was a 7:58 pace :( )
|Transition area. I think Tara was yelling at met to hurry up.|
First time into a transition area (aside from some short triathlons I did back in the 80's. Yeah, that's right - the 80's. Before most of you were born!) so I'm just taking my sweet time, when I hear Tara yell at me to "hurry up." :)
First lesson learned: Put on gloves BEFORE you start peddling; I was seriously wasting precious time (I use that term loosely) trying to get my hands into my gloves. Good thing I learned to ride bare-handed as a kid...I'm certain all you bike junkies are appalled right now, I definitely wasn't very aerodynamic in vertical position on le bike. But we're talking mountain bike here, them things aren't meant for your body to be very aerodynamic - are they?
|See anyone behind me? No, me either.|
Let me just sum up these 10 miles from hell on the bike: OUCH! Every single microscopic crack in the road plain and simply hurt the girl parts! Leave it to me to think that I could endure 10 measly miles just fine on a bike without padding. I could not. I prayed for salvation. I was never so relieved to come to an uphill, because it meant I could get off that damn seat and pedal upright. Crack, ouch. 3 seconds later - crack, ouch. Repeat x 4 million. My nose was a constant dripping faucet which caused my right gloved to become soaked (no need to apologize - we've all been there if we've played the cold weather running long enough) which caused my right hand to freeze. My left knee was killing me - I'm guessing my bike seat is too tall for me. Or I torn my ACL. Knowing my luck, it's the latter. And the arch in my right foot was screaming - I'm guessing because my of what I can only presume is Plantar Faciitis in that foot.
The last few miles on the bike I was out there on the road, looking up at the the mountains, pretty much alone, and I actually smiled - I suddenly just released all the tension and the frustration of how poorly I was doing and I was actually enjoying this stupid thing. Yea, the girl parts were screaming and yea I was passed by 8469 bikers (considering there were about 200 in the race, this is pretty incredible) and I passed exactly ZERO, but ya know what....I had fun. I truly did.
|Jim, having finished a good 20 minutes before me, holding his|
hot chocolate. Me, looking totally dork-o in my helmet,
relived to be DONE!
I finished something like 1:24, including the transition area. But reflecting on this race - yes, my running pace sucks. Yes, it's evident I never will be a cyclist (and I'm ok with that!) ... but I got out there and I did it. I pushed myself hard for the first time in many, many months, and I felt alive and fresh again - ready to get this heel fixed and move forward. I miss racing, I miss the thrill of the start line and the high of crossing that finish line - I want it back and I'm ready to fight to do so!
We have two more of these duathlons left in this series. I am not sure what to do about the butt padding - do I slip my bike shorts on over my tights? Or do I invest in some tri shorts, knowing my limited time with them will never form any sort of bonding experience? Maybe my gift exchange buddy is reading and wants to get me some, perhaps (my favorite color is pink, exchange buddy!).
Duathlon #2 is January 15th - 1.5 mile run, 3.6-mile bike loop, 2.5 mile run, then mount your bikes for 2 laps of the 3.6 mile loop. Then, you will rack your bike and run 50 meters to the finish line.
Ok, how convoluted is THAT race going to be?
Duathlon #3 is February 26th - ride 10 first, run 4 last.
Jim seems to think we have an advantage in the 3rd race, beings the bike is first and we can therefore run past all those sorry cycling asses at the end. My guess is he's already implementing a plan to take down as many as he can. Me? I'm thinking it's not really going to matter much for me, all those 10 grand bike dudes and dudettes will be done well before I even start the run (can't wait to see those killer bikes sliding all over the road in Jan when it's covered in ice and snow while I'm safely riding my 300 lb mt bike)....but perhaps I'll get on my bike and train TWO days for this next race, as painful as that damn bike seat will be.
And I'm looking forward to it!
I thank EVERYONE who gave me some great advice for this race about the transition and the attire and everything else - I thought about you guys, many times - even when I could barely sit on my seat!!!
I sincerely apologize for my absence reading blogs this week, the exchange really took up a great deal of my time (not complaining, just stating). I will catch up this weekend.
Good luck to Andrew, running his Santa 5K tomorrow - in full Santa suit attire. Have to admit it's the first Santa wearing suit guy I've ever had the privilege to work with! Best of luck to Ginny and Jennifer traveling to the Rocket City for the marathon - a place I once lived so special memories there. And best of luck to Emz and Slomo running Tucson Marathon - a race dear to my heart since it's my current marathon PR race. Praying the wind's at your back this year, guys!!!
Run strong, friends!