Thursday, May 11, 2017

Falls Duathlon 2017 Race Recap and Excitement for 2017

Ahhh, first race of the season done.  And with it comes a little relief!  There are usually some unknowns going into the first race in months, but there was quite a long list this time around:

  • Not racing for 5 whole months(!)
  • Coming back from an early January injury
  • Recovering from a killer February cold and recent cranky hip
  • Riding my tri bike a total of 3 times outdoors prior to race day

Not to mention a very recent coaching change!  I had two weeks of a new routine under my belt and it mostly consisted of backing off and flushing some fatigue out of my system. This would truly be a test!  

I had the benefit of knowing the Cannon Falls course and conditions though, and had fond memories of racing there with a lot of fun friends.  After the helmet debacle in T2 due to frozen hands last year, I was watching the weather like a hawk and waited until the week of the race to fully commit.  It wasn’t going to be warm, but not wet and not too terribly cold. This, combined with the extreme antsiness of the recent back off in training volume to flush some fatigue out of my system, sealed the deal.  I was ready to get out there and race!
Note: Unless you need a shower, do NOT place in aero-bar cage facing toward you.

The tests came right away race morning. Test #1: New pre-race breakfast.  A gamble, but applesauce mixed with a little protein powder, a banana, and Gatorade were easy on the tummy.  Good.  After a quick warm-up and noting the super-squeezy water bottle I’d chosen to place between my aero-bars resulted in a homemade water gun on every bump 🙈, I adjusted a few things, set up transition while trying not to waste too much time chatting (there will be plenty of time after the race!), and made my way to the start.

At the start with new friend Steve

Run #1 (2 miles):  After hamming it up for my mom’s camera, the first 200 meters consisted mostly of thoughts of why I decided to do this -- I was so nervous and this felt fast! I hit the first mile in 5:48, a few seconds slower than last year, but still decent and I was feeling ok.  During the second mile, when my friend Mitch tried to make a pass, I picked it up slightly.  I was not going to let him have it! He was about to blow me out of the water on the bike, so I needed every second I could get! 😊
Holding them off on Run #1
T1: Test #2: Mount bike with shoe clipped in. In true-rookie fashion, this was my first attempt at getting my feet into my shoes while riding. My hands were already getting stiff from the morning chill and there was a few wobbles, but this went ok too. Good.
Lucky pink socks showing as I left transition
Bike (14 miles): Wind and cold! Test #3: Get gloves on while biking. Learning from last year, I stashed some gloves on my bike and decided it was the best idea ever as I pulled them over my freezing fingers. Good. It was an out and back course and the way out seemed like it took an eternity in some strong wind. I was jockeying positions for a while with two other guys though, so at least I had something to keep me focused.  The way back into town still gave us some cross winds and it took effort to stay calm and not fly into the ditch. I passed my new friend Steve and hoped I could gain enough time on him for the run, but my power was not where I wanted it to be. Come on legs! I did however, succeed in test #4: Get bike cadence up! Averaged 87 – much better than some of my rides at 68!  Good.  And even better, my nerves had eased and I was starting to have some fun.
T2: I fumbled for a while trying to get my gloves off coming back into T2 and was thrown off a bit for what lead to a less than stellar dismount.  I’m sure it cost me a little time, but when I easily unclipped my helmet strap once I was off the bike, I was more than thankful and shouted “yes!” as I set it to the ground.
Coming into the finish
Run #2 (3 miles): Steve had passed me back while I fumbled with my gloves at the end of the bike, so he gave me something to work toward on the second run. I think he saw me at the turn around though, and took off toward the couple of guys not far ahead of him. I was left to enjoy the pretty scenery (really, it was a gorgeous trail!), try to hold pace, and cheer on my friends I saw on the small out and back portion. I was happy to see the finish and managed another (smaller) smile for the camera. I didn’t go quite as fast as I would’ve have liked on the second run, but I had negative splits and didn’t finish completely spent. It was then I remembered that racing feels hard, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done! I think I subconsciously held back a bit afraid of collapsing and/or dying, but the mind is a funny thing and will tell you all sorts of silly stories. This race reminded me that pushing past these thoughts is possible and always results in an amazing feeling of satisfaction.  
Talking splits at the finish
In the end, I finished 2nd female behind Ruth (duh, she’s amazing!) and only 1 minute and 19 seconds slower than last year. Results here. Not bad for my first go this year and the numerous tests led to a lot of lessons learned to take forward into what’s shaping up to be a pretty decent little 2017 season. I had fun meeting new friends, including a new coaching teammate and future Rochester-ite Nicole Heininger – yay(!), seeing lots of old friends, and getting back into the racing groove. A change welcomed with open arms!
My excitement has grown exponentially in the past month and I’m in love with the feeling of anticipation and elation with every workout. While racing is definitely a blast; it’s really the daily grind of striving for improvements on the swim, bike, and run and time with awesome training partners that has me hooked and leaves my heart bursting with fullness. I couldn’t be more excited to continue to keep it up and a squeeze in few fun races here and there. 😊 Up next: Apple Duathlon May 27th!

As always, a big thank you to all my amazing supporters! TerraLoco for gearing my up, coach(es) for shaping me up, Generation UCan for fueling me up, and my incredible family and friends for filling me (and my ❤️) up. Love you all!

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