Thursday, September 4, 2014

2014 Bucks County Duathlon

For those of you wondering the answer to Can I do it? is YES!

For those of you too lazy to click on the link, I'll fill you in on the details.

About a month ago I got the itch to move beyond a running race towards a triathlon. Since I don't know how to swim, the next choice was combining running and biking. When I mentioned it to Don, he said he wanted to do it, too.

Now we could have done this the easy way. I could have ran the two miles, Don could have biked the ten miles, and I could have ran the two miles. Or we could have done it the medium way and he could have run, and I could have biked. But, no, we did it the hard way. We both ran and biked.

The Bucks County Duathlon starts in three waves -- the younger men (under 45), all women, and the older men plus teams. This meant I had a three minute head start on Don.

First we put our bikes in the transition area. Despite this being a USAT certified event, there were no guidelines given on how to do this. Fortunately Gabrielle was there to tell us how to set things up.

Ahh... Gabrielle. With me at the event, she was not the only one wearing a Sparkle Skirt.

Another note on clothing -- I wore running clothes. Don wore biking clothes. Gabrielle wore her tri suit.

Time for the race. The race started on-time. Always a plus in my book. The men ran ahead. Three minutes later we started. Gabrielle and most of the women ran together in a pack. Despite running a little faster than usual, I was left in their dust. Three minutes later I heard the horn blow signaling the start of the next wave. A few minutes later, they blew by me, too. Many were courteous. I left the course and went on the grass as they blew by me three abreast at times. I get that I am slow, but I have a right to be on the course, too. At one point I had to get back on the course (or run through a tree). I just said loudly "I'll wait for you," since they were not allowing room for me. I finished with an 11:45 pace, a little slower than normal for me, but not terrible.

There are some pluses to being super slow. By the time I go to the transition area, there were only a couple of bikes left and no one was pushing me out of the way. Don took my bike down for me, and we were off. I was pleased with my 12 MPH pace (remember, I just started biking about 3 weeks earlier and I was riding Ashley's bike). Don's pace of 16 MPH was much more in line with the rest of the racers. He even managed to take pictures of me riding (hoping to post some later).

I went 2.5 miles up past the river. Back again. And back again. And back again and completed all 10 miles, though I did think about cutting it short and only doing 5 miles. My parents and Ashley were there cheering me on. 

Another benefit to being super slow is that Don and my parents got some nice shots of me alone. (Hope to add them in later.) I did not have to worry about people passing too close on my last five miles.

I made it back to the transition area. Hung up the bike. Had a swig of water and left again. My poor legs had no interest in continuing! I managed to do the last two miles at a 12:23 pace. If I had to guess at the time, I would have said it was a 15 minute pace.

As I passed each volunteer I told them there were two people behind me -- about 2 minutes behind me. Unfortunately one of the volunteers did not hear me at the turn around and picked up his cone and left. The two women behind me ended up going pretty far before they realized they went way too far. I waited at the end for them and sent someone to check on the last lady.

I finished in 1:40:57 (about 15 minutes faster than I estimated beforehand).

Don finished in 1:20:03. 

Next time I'll identify myself as an "Athena," and will likely place.  

My support team had a good time. With only 143 participants, this race was a lot quieter than many others they have attended. They could spread out and secure prime spots in the shade while I sweated.

Unfortunately this is my third official race in a row without a medal. We each received lovely unisex shirts. Someday race organizers will realize many race participants are women and will offer shirts that fit us, too. In the meantime, Don can wear mine since the shirt he ordered is too big on him. I enjoyed the race, and if we are in town again next Labor Day weekend, I would probably do it again.

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