Thursday, May 3, 2012

Braving the elements, surviving the duathlon

A few scattered thoughts about the 2012 Falls Duathlon I raced in last weekend in Cannon Falls (apologies for the tardiness, I was waiting for event photos I could add to to the post):

My running faces look weird
  • It would be impossible to describe this race without mentioning the weather conditions. Simply put: They were brutal, among the harshest I've ever raced in (right up there with a 5K I ran the day after freezing rain turned the course into Level 4 of Super Mario 2). According to the Weather Channel website, temps at race time hovered in high 30s and low 40s, which would have been fine if Minnesota wasn't coming off one of the warmest winters on record. Like most Minnesotans, I was spoiled by a steady stream of "sunny and 60" days in March and early April. So when the weather turned south, it was a bit of shock to my system. Adding to the misery was a steady diet of rain and 10-15 mph winds coming from the NNE, which meant that the first half of the duathlon's 14-mile down-and-back bike course was almost directly into the wind. Add it all up, and racers were in for a tough day.
  • For me, the weather conditions created an unnecessary conundrum when it came time to figure out what outfit to wear for the race. I initially planned for the usual t-shirt and shorts combo. However, when I checked the weather on race day before heading to Cannon Falls, I switched to a longsleeve running shirt in anticipation of the rain. I thought about bringing warmer clothes just in case (longsleeve spandex, stocking hat, gloves, ect.), but I've always been reluctant to layer up for a race. I tend to warm up quickly while running and once had to take layers off during a half marathon because I was overheating, leading to the wonderfully awkward situation of hopping a fence to get my shirt back after the race (my legs were pretty beat up from the run so it probably looked hilarious). Because of that mindset, I left the extra layers at home instead of bringing them along just in case. Decision-making was never my strong suit at 7 a.m.
  • This was my first multi-sport event in almost three years and the first duathlon I've ever raced in, so I really didn't know what to expect. I felt like I was in pretty decent shape for it, but for whatever reason, I had a hard time getting into a regular running/biking training routine. It seemed like I would get three or four good workout days strung together, followed by taking a weekend off the visit family and friends. I did my fair share of 1-hour workouts on the trainer bike and got up to the point of doing 3-5 mile runs about four times a week, but I never worked up to my previous levels (at my peak, I was doing 40-50 mile bike rides followed by 8-10 mile runs). Pretty much all I knew was that I wouldn't have to do any swimming, which I was more than OK with.
  • I've never been big on spending a lot of money to be a multisport athlete. I don't own high-tech running shoes or socks, never invested in brand-name running attire and my bike is still the $85 steel road bike I bought from a pawn shop four years ago (albeit with a fair amount of modifications on my part). I guess I'm a little weird in that way; I'm dedicated when it comes to training for events, but not so much when it comes to buying the equipment used by serious athletes. Consequently, I don't expect myself to take first place in race; usually I'm just racing against myself.
  • I'm probably cursing the weather
    under my breath at this point
  • As par for the course, Mark Bongers and the staff at Final Stretch put on a first-class event. The race was well-organized and every volunteer knew what they were doing. Final Stretch even had the state of mind to have have coffee and hot chocolate promptly ready at the finish line, as well as extra tents put up to help get people out of the rain. Really, the only complaint I have is that the race t-shirt I got was likely sized for a female (large-sized t-shirts should not be cutting off the circulation in my arms).

As far as my race experience goes, it breaks down like this:

  • First run stage went about as well as can be expected. I kept a good steady pace and didn't wear myself out at all. I haven't done a 2-mile run in a race setting before, so I really didn't know what pace to go at. Might be something to work on in the future.
  • First transition went smoothly; pretty much just grabbed my bike and went. However, because I warmed up from the run, I opted not to throw on a sweatshirt at the last second. Bad move.
  • Bike stage was admittedly pretty rough. The wind started to wear on me after the first few miles and my legs and hands were pretty much numb by the end of it. The lone saving grace was having the wind at my back for the last seven miles.
  • Second transition likely took several seconds longer than the first (I couldn't tell you exactly, the results didn't have transition times listed) because I was a little disoriented from the biking and it took me about 30 seconds to take my bike helmet off (stupid numb hands).
  • Second run stage started off pretty rough because my legs basically felt like cinder blocks thanks to the biking and cold weather. However, I found a decent group of runners early on and managed to keep a steady pace with them.

Overall, I'm satisfied with how I did. I didn't handle the elements as well as I could have, nor did I train as well as I have in previous events, but I thought I did a good job hanging tough and getting through it. I finished 33rd out of 238 overall, so I can't complain too much.

1 comment:

  1. nice placing on what sounds like a good day to sleep in