I finished a Duathlon!
The race began at 4 PM on Saturday. I was sort of grateful for this start time because my book club had it annual summer social on Friday night and some wine was involved. Several people in my book club do triathlons and cycling though so I was getting some tips and encouragement from them! We ended up being out so late (for me) and I only got 6 hours of sleep. I spent Saturday drinking lots of Nuun since it was warm out.
We made sure that the bike tires were pumped up and that it would fit in the back of our vehicle. Phew! It did. I dusted off my bike helmet.
Then I had to decide what to wear. I have no "bike" shorts. I decided to wear a pair of longer running shorts that I hate and my Oiselle jersey. I opened a new pair of Balega socks that had some ankle length to them (I generally prefer no-shows for running) and my oldest pair of running shoes. I had decided that this was going to be their last hurray before I retire them from running.
We left our house around 2:30 for the event. It was only a twenty five minute drive from our house. We easily found parking and walked over to packet pickup. I had to wear a bib, an ankle strap timing device and put a sticker on my bike. Then we went to the transition area to rack my bike. We were on the early side so I had my pick of placement (not that I really knew the difference). I intentionally took an end so that I would be less likely to wreck someone else's bike in the process of removing mine!
Then we had an hour to start. We walked to the nearby beach which was really cute and pretty! Definitely a new-for-us area. My husband was going to have the kids play at the beach while I was racing. At about 3:30, I left the beach and jogged over to the start and continued jogging to get a warm up in. I double checked items in the transition area and then I saw a sign - MOUNT BIKE HERE. I went over and asked a course official to confirm that during the event, I push my bike out of transition and cannot get on it until that sign, right? She looked at me like I was an idiot but did answer. I quickly said, "I've never done one of these before, obviously."
At the start, a woman came up to me and said, "Are you Amy? I follow you on Instagram" It was another WI member of the Oiselle team! That was fun. She was doing the relay with her husband - so she would do the two runs and he was biking. She told me that they pre-rode the course and it was hilly and beautiful.
At 4:00 the elite men and women started. All the rest of us started about a minute after that. Even though I was sure my cycling was not going to be strong, I knew I would do well in the run so I lined up near the start of the group. The air horn went off and we were off.
I was running fast, but not all out, and I was PASSING people all over the place. I had a moment when I thought that perhaps I was underestimating the bike and that I should be more conservative so I backed off a little. In hindsight, I wish I wouldn't have done that. Regardless, I was one of the first women in the transition area. My time was 12:18. Garmin had my mile splits at 6:10 and 6:21.
Then I entered the transition area and went to my bike. I chugged a cup of water that they gave me, and really stumbled trying to get my bike helmet on because my hands were shaking so badly. I had placed a Gu by my bike and didn't think about how I was going to carry it (my shorts had no pockets) so I kept in in my hand and pushed my bike out of transition. Then I had to get on it. It was really pathetic how NOT streamlined I was compared to some of these people but I managed to get on and ride off. There was a photographer right there and I gave him a big smile, mentioning that I would likely not be smiling at the end. The bike course was an open course so we would be riding with traffic and could not ride two abreast or draft on others.
I struggled with my gears right off the bat. And then people started WHIZZING by me right off the bat. Any lead that I had on people from the run was gone in the first two miles of the bike. So much passing. I grew to not really like hearing, "ON YOUR LEFT". My first mile on the bike was so slow - 4:55. (Upon looking at my mile splits with my husband he was like, "Um, you could probably have ran that, ha ha ha"). I kept on trucking, getting passed, and realizing that I was not in the right gear. I kept messing up which clicks added resistance and which made it easier. My second mile was a bit better 3:39. At this point I felt like I was really moving my legs fast but not getting anywhere. Again - a bit of experience with my bike probably would have alleviated it. I glanced at my watch 15 minutes in and I was not even to 4 miles. I quickly calculated at the pace I was going, I would not finish in an hour.
The course was beautiful and interesting. There were a lot of hills. I could chug up the hills fine but the downhills were terrifying. I kept picturing that I would hit a crack or a pothole and go flying. So most of the downhills I braked going down. Not exactly great strategy! Towards the end, I did gain some more confidence so that I was not using my brakes, but I was also not pedaling down them either.
I continually was trying to get the front gears to move and they were sticking. I opted to not change them for most of the course because, again, I was afraid my chain would fall off or something. By mile 10 though, I gave it another attempt and it successfully moved. OMG. It was like night and day. So much more movement with every pedal. Suddenly my mile times were dropping. My last five miles were 3:35, 3:21, 3:17, 3:11, 3:32. So had I figured that out earlier, I am sure my bike would have been better.
At about mile 13 of the bike, I knew I would finish and I was really really excited. I also saw that I would finish in under an hour which I was also happy about. My official bike time was 56:27. As I approached the transition area, I saw that I had to dismount at a line. Thankfully my friend Steph had warned me about this the night before. My legs did not really feel tired as I was cycling but trying to dismount my bike was pretty funny. I felt as if they would give out on me as I was pushing my bike to the rack.
I removed my helmet and grabbed my bike bottle of nuun. I opted to carry it with me when running. In hindsight, I wish I would have not done this as the bottle was long and awkward.
I don't even know how to explain running after cycling. I felt like my legs were giving out and that I was running bowlegged. I saw my family and my husband cheered, "YOU SURVIVED THE BIKE!" and I started laughing. I kept on running, feeling like I was crawling. But I was passing people. I got to the turnaround at one mile and my watch beeped at 6:40. I WAS SHOCKED. I truly thought it would be in the 9s - that is how slowly I felt I was running.
At that point, I just tried hauling as fast as I could. My legs still felt weird but I knew there were some women ahead. I ended up passing two women and crossing the finish at 1:23:27. My second run was 12:46 (Mile splits 6:40/6:13).
The time I spent in transition - first transition was 1:09, second transition was 0:55.
All in all, I finished 11th woman out of 82 and 3rd in my age group (out of 16) which gets me a prize! (They mail it to me so I don't know what it is.)
I thought the experience was fun. I would definitely do it again. My husband said he wished that I had gone out for at least one ride to get used to the gears because he thought my bike would have been so much better had I had that experience beforehand. I don't disagree, but going in blind let me truly have no expectation and really "have fun".