This year's Bucks County Duathlon was the first time I knew within the first two minutes of the more than hour-long race I was going to finish last. It was a depressing thought, especially since it was my birthday. I pushed myself. My running pace was faster than last year. My biking pace was a lot fast than last year. The problem was everyone else was also faster, or at least the slower people did not show up this year. The people who were in it for fun and not serious bragging rights also stayed home this year, except for a couple of speedy friends who waved to me as they passed me on the road. Another big change was how they handled the waves. Last year it was young speedy men, all women, older men (above 50). This year it was Young speedy men, older speedy men, and all women. Even at my new 11:15 min/mile pace, I am still slower than many runners, but the other way there were men passing me as I ran the first two miles. This way, I was alone within the first two minutes.
Other than that, the race was exactly the same as last year. The same older man played the national anthem on his trumpet before putting it away and racing. Each interval started three minutes apart. It was the same course. It was the same 2 miles running-10 miles biking-2 miles running. It was the same transition area. Oh, they also took away the Athena self-identifying category for women weighing more than 140 pounds (only one woman signed up for it, I was planning to this year -- I'm 5'9", 139 looks too scrawny on me). I would have taken any award on my birthday.
The biking went much smoother. I was on my own bike instead of Ashley's bicycle. I loved wearing my new Sparkle Skirt and am already dreaming about which one I want to put on my wish list. It really is the perfect skirt for running and biking. I even passes a 17-year old boy on the biking portion -- note he had a four minute head start on me AND he was riding a much lighter bicycle.
The running portion was doing fine until I second-guessed the arrow and went in the wrong direction. That's what happens when you fall behind everyone else. Argh. At least this year the person at the turn around stayed in his post until the last person passed through. As I crossed the finish line I was told "they are all cheering for you!" I said "no, they are all cheering because now the roads can be opened." I was also told to use a different bike next year to go faster. Umm... I was not the slowest cyclist.
My best area was transistions -- where I was second in my age category, and 10th overall out over over 140 participants. I wore sneakers the whole time, and stored my helmet in my basket. By having a kickstand, I could put my bike on the very end and just go. No need to change shoes or do anything complicated. Coming back, I forgot to grab my baseball cap (which was in my basket) so my transition time was even faster. Take that spandex serious men!
Subtract six minutes to get a more accurate finish time. I gave it my all and felt deflated in the end. Not a good start to my birthday. Other people said people seemed to be taking it way too seriously. We saw someone lifting their bicycle to the start line so the tires would not have to go on grass or parking lot? People were treating it as the Tour de France and not a local race.
I have no desire to ever do this race again. Too bad, because I really enjoyed it the first year.
I shaved 7 minutes off of my time from last year. That has to be worth something. Technically, while I crossed the finish line last, the 17 year old boy came in last place as he had a six minute head start on me, and only crossed seconds before me (darn wrong turn!).
PS: The phrase Red Lantern is based on the book Lanterne Rouge Don was reading as I did this race. It is the unofficial term given to the person who finishes last in the Tour de France.