Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Race #1 of the Season: Big Sky Duathlon

As I posted last Monday, I signed up for a duathlon for last Sunday, April 13. If I had known what the weather was going to be, I might never have done it.

It was GORGEOUS weather all last week. Beautiful, sunny, 70s ... and it all went to utter poop on Sunday. It was raining, going to turn to snow and in the 30s. Jenna, who was supposed to race it, backed out since her coach didn't want her to chance injury biking in possible snow. I don't have such voices of reason in my life - and I didn't want to waste the 70 bucks I paid - so I begrudgingly drove up to Commerce City and Dick's Sporting Goods Park. I got there right about 7am - when packet pick-up and transition opened - got my packet and set up my bike right near the bike-out.


As you can see, trash bags on everything trying to keep everything dry. Bag on my seat, bags covering my aero bars/pads, helmet in a bag, bike shoes in a bag.

I will deviate for a second to say that packing for this race, my first in five months since IMAZ, was SO WEIRD. I didn't need that much stuff since it was a duathlon and I'd be wearing the stuff I'd need for the run, but I brought SO MUCH STUFF because I had no idea of the weather and what I'd want to wear. I also brought a whole bunch of dry clothes to change into just in case (this, I might add, was excellent foresight on my part). I didn't even bother with my transition bag.

Anyway, after setting up, I essentially sat in my car for two hours until my wave started to stay warm. I was parked just on the other side of trans and I could hear everything the race people said on the megaphones, so I figured I was good. I got out every now and then to check things on the bike and put my helmet sticker on and so forth.

At this point, I also decided on a few extra layers. I was wearing:

- sports bra
- arm warmers
- a pink Brooks base-layer thingy (which you can see here)
- tri top
- tri shorts
- blue Nike MHTC pullover
- MaccaX cycling jacket
- race belt skirt
- knee-high compression socks
- cycling leg warmers (after much deliberation)

I also had on my ear mitts (really gotta put those in a "things I love" post soon), a hat and a pair of running glove/mitten hybrids.


Happily, I found out that Jenna was still coming up to cheer - she made it sound that she was only going to stay for a while since she had to run 22 miles that day since she wasn't racing, but she ended up staying until I finished, which was AWESOME.

She got there, we talked for a bit and soon enough, it was 9:15 and time for my wave to start.

Collage Jenna made that I stole from facebook. The one on the right is me starting the first run.

Run #1:

The first run went surprisingly well, all things considered. It was cold and my lungs hated me, but I didn't have to walk for the first time until about 1.25 miles in (of the ~2.5 miles - 4K run). There was some wind, but by the end of the run, I felt like it actually had cleared up a bit, precipitation-wise.

I was also warming up - I'm a hot runner - so that was nice. I also knew not to peel off layers though since I had a bike coming up ...

My race plan going in was to take the first run "easy," but that didn't happen as much as I probably would have liked since I was so! happy! to be racing again. Oops.

Soon enough, I saw Jenna and was running into transition.

Time: 24:25 (105th overall; 36th gender; 6th division)


Peeled off the hat and gloves and changed into my bike shoes. Had some issues getting the plastic bags off, but let me tell you - it was nice having a dry seat and dry shoes/helmet/aeros.

Time: 1:18 (49th overall; 18th gender; 3rd division)

The Bike:


Whatever precipitation that might have stopped definitely started back up again by the time I hit the bike. I don't really ride much in wet conditions, so I made sure to take it somewhat easy, but push what was comfortably uncomfortable ... and keep my cadence around 90 (finished with a 93 avg - woo!). The just about 12 mile course (they shortened it slightly for safety) was three loops.

Funny. Last race I did had a three loop bike course. This one, however, didn't suck NEARLY as badly. It sucked, but in different ways.

Each loop went out a bit on a road near the stadium, turned right onto a main road for a few miles, you turned around, turned back on the stadium road, made another turn up a little hill into a parking lot and back around again. Each loop on the main road was into the wind and into the precipitation. On loop one, I'm pretty sure it was hail or something else that hurt like a mofo when it hit my face. On the way out, speeds were slow.

At this point, the conditions were so ridiculous I couldn't help but laugh. It made it easy to keep a smile on my face.

Each loop on the main road on the way back was calm and you could barely tell it was raining/hailing/snowing/whatever. Speeds were also pretty quick. When you turned back toward the stadium, though, you noticed the wind/precipitation again, though.

The few hills on the course didn't seem to bother me - I paid them absolutely no mind. I guess my "embrace the hill" mentality is working ...? Or hills didn't really matter in the grand scheme of cold and wetness?

Loop two was fairly uneventful.

Loop three was notable for the fact that my toes were soaked and I could barely feel them anymore. My hands - gloveless, by the way - were weirdly fine.

Back into transition, seeing Jenna again, yelling that I couldn't feel my toes.

Time: 42:31 (74th overall; 19th gender; 2nd division)


Transition would have gone a lot smoother had I been able to feel my fingers well enough (okay, I guess they got cold) to change out my shoes with any speed/efficiency.

I also neglected to put my hat/gloves back on. Forgetting the hat, at least, was stupid. Oh well.

Time: 1:17 (60th overall; 18th gender; 4th division)

Run #2:


I was able to sort of run out of transition, but I will say that very shortly after Jenna took this picture, I walked with her for a minute. I couldn't feel my toes or my face, but oh well.

The last 4K run was the same loop as before, but reversed. That meant that going out, we were running into the wind. That, combined with the fact that I couldn't really feel my feet, meant that I really didn't run much until about 3/4 of a mile in ... at which point my being a hot runner actually paid off for a change and I thawed out. Or at least my feet did enough to run.

Running was still a struggle, but after my feet thawed, it was more due to the fact that the cold hurt my damn lungs and it was really hard to breathe. Still, I pushed it as much as I could. I'm pretty sure it had actually started to snow by this point, too. It wasn't sticking, but it was definitely still doing something wet and miserable.

Not soon enough for my tastes, I was coming into the finish. I should say that except for the first bit of the run, I really didn't get passed too much. In fact, I was actually passing people - I did quite a bit in this race, which is unusual for me, but was REALLY nice. I got passed by this one chick right near the finish, but said "screw you" (internally, of course) and ended up passing her in the final stretch.

As always, I managed my final sprint to the finish, but oh dear lord was it rough.

You can't really tell, but there's a girl behind that left post underneath the finish sign - she's the one I passed.

Time: 26:28 (102nd overall; 37th gender; 6th division)

I essentially dragged Jenna straight to the (very crappy, but very welcome) hot chocolate soon as I finished to get something warm into my system. I then grabbed the very reason I signed up for the race - my glorious pancakes and sausage that were actually really tasty.

Being consumed in my warm car.

After I stuffed my face with pancakes, I proceeded to change out of the vast majority of my wet race clothes into dry clothes and socks. Jenna and I then checked out the results.

Overall Stats:
Time: 1:36:01
4/7 division (F30-34)
24/50 females
86/130 overall

I missed third place (and my first ever multisport podium spot) by about three minutes. I had a faster bike (age group winner had the only faster bike than me in the division), faster transitions ... I just got screwed with my run.

I will also say that this race is the first and probably only time I will have a bike split that is that high up in my division. It's usually respectable in the shorter races, but I doubt it will ever be this high up again. I can try to disprove myself though!

In any case, I'm pretty happy with this race. I signed up for it on a whim. I haven't raced in five months. I haven't been training that much ... especially on the bike. I also did it in some pretty bad-ass conditions, so what is there to be sad about?

That being said, I do hope I get some better weather the next few times I race ...

(Much thanks to Jenna - not only for cheering, but also for taking the collage photo and all race photos seen!)

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