Apr 13, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in , , , | 4/13/2014
I've been running for about two full years, and have been cycling for a little less than one year. This spring, the next logical step seemed to be combining both sports in a race and I decided to enter myself in my first duathlon. I prefer longer distance races since I'm better with endurance than with speed. However, I could only find a sprint distance race that worked with my schedule. 1.9 mile run, 10 mile bike, 3.1 mile run. Not too bad, right?

When I registered for this race, I looked at the previous year's results and figured that I would probably do pretty well. It's a small local race with a small field, about 140 participants. Last year, I think there were 3 people in my age group, and since age group awards go 3 deep, an AG place is automatic. This year, there were 8 in my division. I figured that if I could average a 7:30 pace on both runs and 18 mph on the bike, I would have a shot at placing.

I would say that training for a sprint distance worked well with my other training goals this season. I am focusing on building speed for the 10K and becoming a stronger cyclist for my cross-country ride this summer. I have definitely seen improvements in both areas. I knocked back a few brick workouts and practiced my transitions a few days before the race. Never had I felt so ready to race, and I was so excited to try my best!

The night before the race, I made a list of all my gear and laid it out, checked my bike and loaded it in the car. I went to bed early and set my alarm for 5:40 am. The race site was an hour away, and I wanted to get there by 7:45. I like to wake up about an hour before I have to leave so I have plenty of time to drink coffee, eat breakfast, do my morning business, and double-check that I have all my gear.

When I arrived at the park where the race site was at, I headed to packet pickup to get my bib and swag bag. My dad, brother, and cousin came out to support me, and we milled about and took some selfies. There was a kid's duathlon and a 5K before the adult's duathlon, so we had some time to kill. 

I racked my bike in the transition zone and laid out my helmet, shoes, and water bottle. I decided to leave the bottle off my bike, to reduce extra weight. I planned to take a swig during T1 and T2. 

Laying out my stuff. I was hoping that I wasn't forgetting anything, and I felt like a total noob. I observed how other people placed their gear, and copied them.

We saw the kid's duathlon start, and then the 5K. As the 5K runners started to finish, we headed to the starting line to wait for the 9:30 start. It was a mass start, which meant the farther back you are, the more you have to run. I placed myself near the front, which made me kind of nervous to be with all the fast-looking people. There was a count-down to the start, I mentally prepared myself to focus on the race, and we were off!

Because I was up front with the speedy people, I started off going at a sub-7 pace. I spotted a girl going about my pace, and I tried to stick with her. The 1.9 mile run went by really fast, and I finished with a 7:02 split. I've never ran that fast in a race before!

I like this photo! Still feeling good on those fresh legs...

I went into T1 feeling calm and pretty good. I put on my helmet while simultaneously taking off my running shoes with my feet. I put on my cycling shoes, took a swig of water, and grabbed my bike. Off for the bike!

I would say that I'm stronger on the bike. I'm not a very fast runner, compared to athletes who run track. A sub-7 minute pace is super fast for me! However, my strength on the bike is where I can gain some time on the faster runners. I passed quite a few people, and only a handful passed me. The bike course was mostly flat, with some rolling hills near the end. I was feeling very good on the bike and was breathing very evenly. I finished in less than 31 minutes, averaging about 19.5 mph (they messed up the timing for T1 and T2, so I don't have accurate splits for the bike). As I rolled into the transition area, my dad started yelling at me that I was the 2nd woman! That really got me excited and I flew off my bike and into my running shoes as quickly as possible.

The first mile of the run was pretty painful. My legs felt like cement and were getting pretty sore from the lactic acid buildup. Although I felt like I was just crawling along, I was averaging about a 7:10 pace. At the midway point, I realized that I was actually 3rd woman. Placing was still a possibility, but I knew that the 4th woman was close behind! My pace was slowing down as I was getting more fatigued, and it was a struggle keeping up the pace, let alone going faster to widen the gap. As we got closer to the finish line, I was over taken and I knew that I didn't have it in me to sprint. I finished the 5K in 23:03 at a 7:26 pace. Still super fast for me, but not fast enough to get 3rd overall.

You can see me in the back of the photo, so close from the 3rd woman! I was only 8 seconds behind.

I finished in 1:08:00, placing 40th overall, 4th woman, and 2nd in my division. For my first duathlon, I'm pretty darn proud :)

So glad to be done!

During the awards ceremony, I was actually named 1st in my AG, since the 3rd woman was also in my age group. I forgot about that, and was pleasantly surprised! I've never stood on a podium for anything before!

The other two girls were representing Georgetown. Looks like we all match :)

Overall, I had a really great experience! Multisport races are hard and I am in awe of duathletes and triathletes. I hope to race more in the future, and eventually get into triathlon!


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