Beauty… On the first day I muster up the guts to ride to work and try to force myself to get back on the bike again… It’s raining so hard that I can’t hear conversations over the sound of it impacting on the tin roof of the building we are in (technically… it’s steel… but it still sucks…). And a quick check of radar shows that the storms, which normally build and rocket off to the northeast this time of year, are sitting in one spot looking confused… but building. It might be a wet ride home… which will do nothing to increase my enthusiasm for biking at this point.
I don’t know why I’m having such a tough time getting it all going… I have finally managed to begin getting back to the pool with some regularity and I am still running consistently… but the only times I seem to be on the bike are IN races. Not a good training strategy… I’m just having a tough time fitting it all in.
Anyway, the point of this post was to get caught up on another thing I am doing poorly on lately and that’s delivering race reports. So:
Tri-Zou/Du-zou May 1
Of all the things I have discovered that I love about fitness, training and races, I have begun to discover some things I definitely dislike as well. Being cold AND wet AND on a bike in an early season race ranks right up at the top of that list. But the thing I dislike the most, having done it 4 times now, is a pool swim triathlon. I HATE them. NO ONE E.V.E.R. gets in line in the right spot by their time. This leads to complete chaos at the wall with people going too slow, too fast, HANGING ON AND CHATTING and a host of other irritations. That and the hour plus wait while standing in line to swim (over 900 swimmers) was just too much suck for me to handle this year. I opted to “do the du” instead. It was the right choice for a lot of reasons.
The duathlon for this race is a 1 mile run/7 mile ride/1 mile run. A little short for me, but I love the atmosphere at this race and it was a decent weather day (for the du… the triathletes were a little chilly coming out of the water!).
The run loops are on campus and are mostly out and back. Mizzou is a pretty campus and the course is pretty flat so it’s fun. The ride is one lap of the triathlon course with two big hills and some tight, technical turns to manage.
My plan was to just open it up and go as hard as I could the whole way. In a race this short you are pretty much anaerobic the whole time so that is where I tried to be. Just short of passing out… 😉
I had to laugh at myself for staring intently at my setup on the rack and wondering why I was still wearing my shoes. I kept wanting to take them off and leave them by the bike so I could go swim. Of all the great things about this race… it has THE LONGEST transition you will ever run. The transition area is contained to the track around the outside of Stankowski recreation fields. When they redid the turf on the fields, they stopped letting us ON the fields so we have to set up AROUND the fields on the 550yard track. If you pick the short side you get to run AT LEAST 250 yards from the in door to the out door. And then do it again for the bike run transition! Don’t expect pretty transition times at this race. I really didn’t care. Everybody has to do it so why worry. I got everything set up pretty quick and basically spent the next hour napping or wandering around talking to people.
The triathlon starts the elites first and the duathlon waits until the last triathlete comes out of the water and past our start line, then we go. There were 90 people in the duathlon, but only about a dozen that were serious about it. I guess I reluctantly considered myself one of the serious ones. At least my bike had more than three speeds and didn’t have a basket on the front… But hey… run whatcha brung… right?
At the horn I took off with what would end up being the lead pack… which is weird for me since I’m not used to being at the pointy end of the pack… and ran into my first and only issue of the day… Kids. A dozen or more of them running in a pack at the front, but not fast enough to keep up. I ended up going 4 wheeling up a slope to get around them because the path was so narrow. Minor inconvenience and they were good kids (a very competitive group from Illinois), just in the way. I sat on the heels of the leader until I realized who he was (a VERY fast runner from Jeff City) and then I backed off of him and let him go. He ran his first mile in 5:30something… I ran mine in 7ish. Could I have kept up with him? Yup. Would it have killed me…? Yup. No need… I’m not THAT serious…
My bike transition, at the bike, not in total, had to have been my fastest ever. I got to my bike, lid on and headed out in less than 10 seconds. It was the running 200 yards WITH my bike that slowed the transition down. I got on my bike and in my shoes (sort of) smoothly as well.
The “sort of” was that the heel of my left shoe crumpled when I tried to get in it and I couldn’t get it to come back up no matter what I did. So my entire ride was with one shoe fully on and one kinda like a slipper. It worked… I guess. My problem is fitness. Until I get that solved, I could ride barefoot and it wouldn’t really matter.
The bike was pretty carefree except for getting passed by the pros on their second laps (like I was pedaling backwards…). I only got passed by 2 duathletes and swapped back and forth with another for the entire ride. We know each other and were basically giving each other shit the entire time. Made the ride a lot more fun! I knew I was slow though. You don’t get fast riding your road bike one time outside in 4 months. The mountain biking helped with the hills, but my positioning and lack of RPM on the flats doomed me. Still, I was comfortable and felt in control (another thing mountain biking will help with) even on the tight turns in traffic. At one point you have to make a tight, off camber turn into a parking lot. Myself and an elite triathlete hit it at the same time and I went wide to give him room and basically wheel slid (front and back wheels sliding to the side) to the outside and never stopped pedaling, fully expecting my tires to pop. But I never felt like I was out of control. My squealing tires scared the bezeezus out of the volunteers though… heh!
My second transition was in a crowd. About 6 of us dismounted at the same time and I kept track of my position relative to them. I beat them all out but I knew that one of them was a faster runner than me so I just held him off as long as I could but finally got consumed at about the turn around. When I made the turn, my legs, which had been pretty sluggish, finally came back and I was able to reel in a couple of guys, but I had no idea where I was in the pack. I ran out of gas and didn’t finish as strong as I wanted (fitness, fitness, fitness) but made it look good coming around the corner to the finish.
I ended up 5th overall and 2nd in my age group. Not a bad result for an out of shape, fat guy. Oh… and that fast guy from Jeff City? He beat all of us by over 5 minutes. Can you say “class of the field”? Places 2 through 6 were within a minute of each other which made it fun.
I have to admit. I do love duathlons. And given the choice between a pool swim tri and a duathlon of ANY sort… I’m doin the du…
Oh… and as a footnote, I wasn’t even supposed to do this race. I was scheduled to do an Xterra at DeGray lake in Arkansas… which was basically destroyed by tornados, et al. in the months before the race. I got the official cancellation 3 days before the race.
Jay Dix 5K, May 7
Pursuing the illusive goal of a sub 22 5K, I signed up for Jay Dix with my son, who seems to be getting pretty addicted to running… heh. The Head for the Cure 5K I had done 2 weeks ago was a bit disappointing. I was much slower than I thought I should have been and I just didn’t feel good. This needed to be a redemption run. My fastest race of the season so far was a 22:42.
The day dawned beautiful. Mild, cool, no wind and some clouds. This race had about 700 people in it, most of which were fund raisers or recreational athletes (most of whom don’t get the whole “if you are running a 10 minute mile or slower GET OFF FRONT ROW” thing). I’m not that fast… but I’m even slower when I have to run around strollers, dogs and kids. Move. to. the. back… please.
I managed to find a vein of real runners who I knew to be as fast or faster than me. I got in behind them and when the gun went off this hole opened up and I just sat in it for the first quarter of a mile until everything shook out. I wish all races went like that!
I had forgotten my GPS so I was going to have to run this one by feel. I decided to use my breathing as an indicator. I wanted to push my breathing as hard as I could but I can tell when I go to fast because I get this little wheeze at the end of each breath. It usually means I’m about to bonk. So I pushed myself to say just under than point. This felt like I was running REALLY slow, but I determined to stick with it anyway. The course had a few gentle hills after the evil uphill start and basically wound it’s way around campus. A pretty run on a day that actually took a turn during the race. This big, yellow, burning ball of gas made an appearance and damned if it didn’t actually start to WARM UP. I had forgotten what that felt like. And it actually made me kinda sick for a minute or two during the second mile but I got used to it and it felt really good. As I turned the final corner into the finish chute I saw my time was at 22:25! I gave it everything I had (which was not much) and finished in 22:32.
Slowly. Getting. Faster.
22 minutes… You will be my beyatch…