Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fly by Night Duathlon Race Report

So... The Fly by Night Duathlon... was AWESOME! My hubby and our friends were all living it up in Europe (albeit separately), so like a big girl, I loaded the car, drove the 3 hours to Watkins Glen, setup my bike, raced, re-packed the car, ate, and drove back. That does sound pretty easy doesn't it? Well it wasn't.

Morning of...
I was helping out a friend on Friday night, so I got home pretty late, carbo-loaded (as if I needed it) and went to bed. I tried to sleep in, but I was wide awake at 6.30, so got up and had breakfast. I was planning on leaving between 9 and 10. However, at around 8.30 I started having some digestive issues, either because of pre-race nerves or my new and improved diet. I think that by the time I was done, there was zero fuel left. I tried to drink a lot to make up for all the "losses" but that also did not go as expected. For a 3 hour drive, I had to stop 2 times to use the bathroom.

At the Track
My trusted friend, Tom-Tom, got me to Watkins Glen without a hitch, through some beautiful scenery. Sadly, I have no pictures since I needed to hold the steering wheel. I got there around 2 or so, in plenty of time to watch the Porsche Clash. The Glen was closed to the public, but I got a cool Pit Pass bracelet, which allowed me to oggle the Porsches up, close and personal.

 Oggling the Porches... I still like my ride better though...
The Fly by Night Duathlon is an evening race, and was to take place after the Porsche Clash. So I watched the last Porsche Clash start and then made my way back to the car to get ready. Let's say that part of the trip did not go very smoothly, and I greatly missed the hubby...

I had managed to get the bike in the car, while only removing the front wheel with the quick release skewer, so putting it back together wasn't such a big deal (although I was petrified that the wheel would pop out during the race). Being the good little athlete, I had also brought our floor pump (and five extra tubes, "just in case") and attempted to pump the front tire. Suffice to say, that did not work out as planned. Three nice people took turns helping me out (2/3 were unsuccessful) and we finally managed to get my tires to some acceptable yet undocumented level of pressure. The bike was ready to go! Now me!
Lady is ready for her race, and is definitely sexier than a Porsche

After the bike (which I am thinking of naming "Lady") was ready, I changed into my racing outfit.I normally don't care too much about what I wear, as long as there is no danger of chaffing. However, I needed padding for the bike that would not get in the way of the run. So I used the cute little triathlon outfit that my in-laws got me for the Azalea Triathlon with a very generous service of chamois cream... My new Bondi Bands also came in right on time. I got five of them using Molly's at I'm a Sleeper Baker, FIVE for twenty-five code and I made sure at least one them would match my triathlon outfit and glasses. I got the crazy glasses during Tall Mom's Silent Auction, and they counted as my birthday gift from the hubby.  The outfit was completely great, even if I looked pretty dorky. The Bondi Band kept my hair out of my face AND fit really well under my helmet. The glasses made it much more comfortable to ride during the sunset. And I never thought of my lower half, either during the run or during the bike.
Geeky yet very PRACTICAL outfit
Soon after I was ready, I made it over to transition, which was to be set up in the pit lane (how cool is that?). Since the organizers had to wait until the cars were done, we had to wait until transition was set up. That is also when we got our timing chips. Quite a few people mumbled about having to wait, but I liked how laid back everything was. I biked one practice lap, and ran for about 10 minutes before the start. That's when I realized I was in trouble. There was zero juice in my legs... Nothing, Nada, Zip. I don't think I've had this feeling since I started training in January, so that was new.
 A picture from last year's transition: it was exactly the same this year

So this is getting pretty long, and I haven't even started the race... 

The Race
The race director announced that the race was going to start 15 minutes late, to give everyone a chance to find a spot in transition, make a practice lap, and get their timing chip. So at 6.20 we all lined up for the start. Since my legs were completely dead, I decided to start at the back of the pack, and not let myself be carried away. After all, I had FIVE sprints to do. I was listening to a few women chit chatting and completely missed the start. So I started running and tried to start my watch at the same time. I did not take the Garmin or a heart monitor to the race, since I wanted to race based on my perceived effort.

Run #1
(1.75, 1.8 or 1.86 miles, depending on who you ask)
This was baaaaaaad. It was still pretty hot. One minute into the run we had to go over a bridge (the one that says welcome to... in the picture above. Since it was so quickly after the start, there was a traffic jam and I had to stop and walk up the bridge and only started running again on the other side. For the rest of the first run I was mostly passing people (the advantage of starting at the back), yet going very slowly. The final part of the run was a pretty long hill, and that completely destroyed what was left in me.

I am not sure what my pace was. According to the website, each lap was 1.8 miles. I ran it in 15:41 which is about a 08:43 pace. However, according to the official results, my pace on lap 1 was 8:58, which assumes they used 1.75 miles to calculate the pace. I compared last year's paces to this year's paces, and either the fast runners have gotten much slower (to the tune of 00:30 to 00:45 seconds/mile slower) or the course was longer than 1.75 miles. I'm just sayin'... I knew my legs were trashed, but to run a 1.75 sprint slower than my half-marathon pace... Curious to say the least...

Either way, by that stage, I really did not care about my pace. I felt so slow and could not imagine doing that 2 more times, let alone bike. I went through transition pretty quickly (47 seconds), grabbed helmet and bike, and went on to the bike.

Bike #1 (3 laps)
I started the bike pretty slow, figuring I should save some energy. However, I quickly started accelerating. The same thing had happened at the Azalea Triathlon. The longer I bike, the stronger I get. The course was pretty exciting. After all, it was a car race circuit. However, I don't know about you, but when I think car circuit, I think flat... Not to be... There were quite a few hills. The sad part was, that, while I kept on passing people on the hills and flats, most of them would pass me right back on the downhills. There were two epic downhills, that ended with steep turns. I was too petrified of missing the turn, so I held on to the brakes for dear life. It was fun yet dispiriting at the same time to constantly pass the same people going up, only to be passed again on the way down. I already knew I was a wimp on the downhills, but I have been practicing (which is why I am so good at climbing, because to go down you have to go up). 

The Bike Course
Either way, after three laps I re-entered pit lane and made my way to transition. I made sure to slow down and spin my legs during the last 1/2 mile to make the run a bit easier, despite the hill (yup, same hill as the running). I finished the second bike in 35:47, for a very decent 17.5 mph average. Transition 2 was also pretty speedy, clocking in at 41 seconds.

Run #2
Nothing special happened on run #2. It had gotten a bit cooler, so I was feeling a bit better.  The liquids in my belly were still sloshing around, making funny noises. I focused on keeping a good pace, and told myself that, after run 2 was done, it would be mostly over. I did run #2 in 15:57, a 09:07 pace according to the official results. Transition 3 took me the longest because I was very thirsty, and stopped to drink. I also had trouble getting my helmet on. So I wasted some time there.

Bike #2
I really enjoyed bike #2. It took me a while to recover from the run, but I quickly perked up again. I did take this one a bit slower, but I still was passing people left and right on the hills and flats, and getting passed on the downhills. However, I noticed that, when I hammered on the flats after the uphill, I could put enough distance between me and the others not to be passed again. I think a lot of people relax at the top of a hill, while I like taking advantage of my high heart rate to push a bit further. I was very glad I was wearing sunglasses, because by then, the sun was really low. So this split was 37:17 for an average of 17mph. The last transition took me 38 seconds. I was ready to be DONE!

Run #3
I tried, I really tried. But my legs were gone, in a land far away, and without me. I guess that's what happens when there is no fuel in the body. I tried to keep up a good pace, but I wimped out and walked the few steep hills. On the final hill, I looked back to make sure no woman was close enough to pass me, and took a final walk break before running to the finish. The last lap took me 16:10 (an official pace of 09:14). The grand total for the day was 2:04:05 which was good enough for second in my age group (there were only five of us...), 14 out of 44 females, and 126/190 overall. So pretty average, but I got a fun trophy to show off, and some great and very unusual racing experience. 

 The Bondi Band stayed in place the WHOLE time!

So what did I learn: first, if I am going to race, I need to prepare! That includes nutrition, technical issues, digestive issues, and most importantly tapering. I did not do any duathlon specific training for this race, I have not done any spring training since at least my last 5K, and I worked out pretty hard all week. However, I think my digestive problems were mostly to blame for the lack of energy, so I am not sure about what to do better next time... I guess I'll have to think about that one for the few weeks. I have three races coming up at the end of the month: the Millheim Pool Sprint Triathlon, the Happy Valley Sprint Tri, and the Firecracker 4K. So I guess I need to go work on that speed....

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