Sunday, June 16, 2013

At the Quakerman Duathlon, remembering why I race

I remembered why I race today. (For just the details of my awesome time, skip to the graf with all the numbers)

I was on the first loop on the bike at the Quakerman Duathlon in Orchard Park, near Buffalo. I was miserable. It was raining, windy, and in a tank top that seemed appropriate less than an hour ago I was freezing. My quads were hurting, and the hills weren't even that bad. "It's ok," I told myself. "Occasionally we all have bad races." The sprint distance athletes, who started about ten minutes late after me, were passing me left and right. I psyched myself out.

I was racing the Olympic distance, which was two laps of everything. As I finished that horrid first lap, I had the choice to cut it down to the sprint distance. For reasons I don't even know, I chose to continue onto the second lap.

The winds eased up. The rain stopped. The sun never really came out but things got better. I ran some great times. I ended up with a metal.

It's a lesson I've learned before. Completing something that at one moment you thought to be insane, impossible or wanted to abandon is an empowering and surreal feeling, and reminds me why I do what I do.

It's something I needed to be reminded of. Half ironman training, while I know will be worth it in the end, is exhausting, and I feel like a lot is on hold right now while I get through the final month.

Anyway, enough with the sentimental stuff. On to the race report!!!! (I'm sure there are a zillion typos, I'm exhausted, I'll edit tomorrow!)

The Quakerman Triathlon was supposed to be, well, a triathlon, and it was supposed to be my first time swimming a mile in open water. It was also supposed to be hot and sunny outside.

But late yesterday afternoon, they changed the race to a duathlon. The ecoli levels in the lake were too high. It wasn't safe. Too much rain this week.

I almost asked about deferring (ok, I would have had Coach Mary not talked me out of it.) After all, the whole reason I signed up for the race was the open water swim practice.

I finished in 2:52:47, unofficial. I finished first in my age group. (Actually second, but the other girl got an overall so she didn't count.)
  • 2.5 mile run: 22:43
  • T1: 2:26
  • 24.86 mile bike: 1:31:03
  • T2: 1:20
  • 10K run: 55:15
I'm glad I raced.

RUN #1:

Splits: 8:47, 8:57, 4:58 (8:55 pace)

The start line was a little chaotic.

The course was an out and back and relatively flat. They started us off, and woa! 

I come from the Randy Olson school of starting slow and negative splitting it, and everyone in my wave booked it. I started running a 8:30 mile, and was still at the back of the pack, thus starting my fear of finishing last that would last through the first lap on the bike.

My calves started aching -- that worried me. The pain went away. I think I took this too hard. I need to learn to hang back at the start, plenty of opportunity to pass people later.

Into transition, I started to get that sinking feeling that this would not be a good race. I took a Honey Stinger and ran Flower out. 


Splits: 4:20, 3:48, 3:14, 3:26, 3:16, 3:17, 3:19, 3:21, 3:04, 3:13, 3:45, 4:21, 4:25, 4:04, 4:22, 3:21, 3:42, 3:36, 3:27, 3:35, 3:06, 3:05, 3:25, 3:40, 3:58 

The first part was yucky, but looking back at my splits, I was doing a heck of a lot better than I thought I would. It was slightly hilly (what isn't in WNY), but I stayed in the big ring for most of it, only shifting down for a big hill at the end. 

I tried to tell myself, "If you finish last, you finish last, race smart, or you won't finish at all," but my competitive edge wouldn't have it and as the sprinters whizzed by me, I felt dejected, but I pushed on. 

I could have turned off, I didn't. As I turned for the second lap, I passed two people in the olympic race. I'm not last! Amazing what this did for my confidence. I immediately relaxed, and ate a pack of Honey Stinger chews. I was warmer now, the wind eased up. But I was getting tired, and the hills seemed bigger. 

I thought I was almost done, but I was just passing the halfway point. I meant to slow down. I guess I sped up. I made it through. 

I dismounted, put the Asics and my hat from the Autumn Classic Duathlon on, and headed out for the run, taking another Honey Stinger on my way out. 

RUN #2

Splits: 9:18, 9:21, 9:04, 9:12, 9:19, 9:00.

I've come to expect the ouchiness of switching from the bike to the run. 

As usual, my legs were numb. My back ached. As usual, I couldn't control my speed. As usual, I ran faster than I meant to.

But somehow, it felt... better (?) than last time

I've never run more than a 5K off the bike. This was double. It hurt, but I felt good. I was going to do this. As I finished the first lap, a young girl said "left to finish, right for the second lap." There was no doubt in my mind what to do. 

I kept a steady pace through the second lap. A woman was running about 50 feet ahead of me but I didn't have the energy to catch her. I wished I had another gel or something, I was starting to fade but pushed through.

A half mile from the finish, a group of middle schoolers (it looked like), were dancing to Brittany Spears in what was starting to look like sunshine. They were so excited to be there and cheering that it gave me the extra boost I needed to make it to the end. 

I finished strong. I treated myself to a donut. Ok ok ok two donuts.


I never win anything, so after the usual stumbling around and stuffing my face I changed into dry clothes and made the first trip out to my car. As I was headed back to my car with my bike, I became captivated watching the kids race.

I wish I could have run triathlons as a kid. They had so much fun running the short course to "Gotta Fly Now", and got really excited as the announcer called their names.

Perhaps more moving, though, were the parents. As the kids rode around the park with their training wheels, some parents ran alongside, smiling. 

I watched a dad chase his kid getting so much glee running toward the finish line. I watched a mom try to explain the foreign concept of "pacing yourself" to a really excited young boy. "Now don't go out too fast..." Yea, right!

I hear the announcer talking as I put my wet, muddy bike in the car, not really caring about the mess. I come back for a cup of coffee for the road, and Mary is standing there. "They called your name." 

"Huh, what?"

"For the awards, they called your name, they really butchered it."

As does everyone else.

I won something! Ok, so I shouldn't get too excited, but I got first in my age group, out of... one. 

Actually two, but the other girl was first overall so she didn't count. 

During that cold, horrid first lap, the race didn't seem worth it. But I finished. And that's what the medal represents! 


  1. You TOTALLY rock!!! Loved reading about your experience. I'd be bummed about the swim portion getting cut too.

  2. Congratulations on pushing through! My husband shared my blog with you today on the FF group, we've done and are doing a lot of the same races!

    1. Thanks!! And awesome, are you doing Musselman? I'll check your blog out/put it on my blogroll when I get home :)

    2. We are doing Musselman! :)