First Duathlon: What to Expect

On Sunday I participated in a little race called a duathlon.  For those of you, like me, who pretend to be much sportier than you really are (or are totally over denying the truth) a duathlon is not the same thing as a biathlon.  Most people know that a triathlon is a swim-bike-run event.  A biathlon is just two sections, either swim and bike, bike and run, or swim and run.  In the winter, I hear, a biathlon can also mean things like ski and shoot at targets.  A duathlon on the other hand is two sports in three segments, typically run-bike-run.

Like everything else I sign up for that is not a marathon, training, for the most part, seems optional.
I mean, the yoga-goer in me feels pretty good about having intentions to train, but then when it doesn’t exactly happen, I spend the last three days before the event mentally telling myself, “It isn’t that long.  You’ve ridden your bike ninety-plus miles in a day before… you’ve run twenty-six point two miles, twice… how hard could it be?”

Will someone please shoot me the next time I decide to participate in a “fun” little -athlon of any degree?

My anxiety started on Saturday morning, when I woke up at six am to the hugest thunder all season and lightning as bright as the sun.  The weather forecast for the weekend was scattered thunderstorms, and Sunday was predicted to be identical to Saturday.

Great.

I went out and paid the fifty dollars that afternoon anyway.

Why?

I do not know why.  Because my friend who is married to a professional cyclist and also five years younger and fitter than me even when I was twenty-five called me and told me we should drive over to registration together.  I didn’t want to look like a wimp.

Instead of saying, “What if it rains tomorrow, we skipping this thing?” I said, “I really hope it doesn’t rain,” to which she replied, “Yeah, that will make the day a little less fun.”

It’s like I knew there was no backing out.

Sunday morning was, in fact, identical to Saturday, which might be the first time a weather forecaster has ever been right about anything.  Naturally.  And as I was already out fifty bucks, you know I wasn’t going to just sleep through the storm and skip the fun.  Somehow, a fifty dollar t-shirt and free sample of apple cinnamon Goo© just didn’t feel like a bargain that day.

So the race time was pushed back thirty minutes, and all seventy of the participants at last gathered at the start line, where I had a few minutes to scope out my competition.  *Inside my head: okay, which of these fatties can I beat?  There has to be at least one, but hopefully more like twenty six so I’m not in the bottom third.  Reality: no one who participates in tri- or bi- or duathlons lives up to the Claire Wait technical definition of “fatty” except maybe me, which is to say, most of these people either (a.) do these things regularly throughout the season, despite deceptive appearances, (b.) run and/or bike with regularity as a workout method and not merely an excuse to hang out with a friend in the sunshine, or (c.) are so naturally gifted athletically that running three miles, biking twelve, then running another three is actually a “recovery” day for them.

Exhibit A:

Team TIBCO/To the Top – please don’t be mad for stealing your image. Source: http://www.roadbikereview.com/reviews/team-tibcoto-the-top-bolsters-2010-roster-with-uci-registration

Exhibit B:

Head to toe awesomeness.

At any rate, the race was a success, despite the weather.  Success means I finished–without walking or getting off my bike and puking–under my goal of two hours.  Truth be told, after two marathons in record cold temps, a mud run where I was told to “Get the f-out of the water!” by nearby Marines as lightning struck less than three miles away, and the one and only Tour to Tanglewood that was shortened one day because of flooding, I should probably come to expect that I’ll never sign up for a race on a normal sunny day, no matter where I live.

The real winner here is the man who entertained my cheerleaders for two hours in the rain, with nothing but a double stroller, some dry Cheerios, and hot chocolate.

For anyone considering adding such an event to your life-accomplishment list, here are a few things I picked up as a result of this experience:

  • Hamburgers and baked beans might not be the best dinner choice the night before a race (though certainly, it cannot be the worst).
  • No matter what kind of natural shape you might be in, or whether you decide to train seriously or casually, there is something to be said for preparing in advance for the feeling of getting off a bike and running again.  Not as easy as it looks people.
  • If on the day of the race you are nervous, rather than scoping out your competition’s running shoes, scope out their bikes.  If there are any mountain bikes, Huffy’s, or baskets, you are probably more prepared than you think.  (If you are the owner of one of those bikes, just go home.)
  • In the event of rain, do anything with your shoes in the transition area so they are not full of water when you return.
  • Eating Dominos pizza, immediately after finishing, will not feel as good in two hours as it tastes in that moment.  I’m still debating if it was worth it, but I’m leaning toward “Yes.”
  • Signing up for small events raises the chances of being the only one in your age group thereby securing a first place prize.

Eliott asked me the night before if I was going to “win” my race.  I told her no but that I’d be happy to just finish.  So when I let her wear my medal she spent the rest of the day asking, “But mommy, how did you win?  You were not the fastest one.”

I think I finally discovered my new approach to racing.

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2 comments on “First Duathlon: What to Expect
  1. Mom says:

    I’m quite sure the very visible driving force behind your success in this particular race WAS the socks…thank me now…thank me later…

  2. b2the says:

    Thanks for sharing. A great read a week before my first duathlon. I have a very similar away of signing up for races as I signed up for the duathlon yesterday.

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