This race was a 5k run/14 mile bike ride/5k run at the Sante Fe Recreation Dam (about 45 minutes outside of the city). Most people signed up for cycling rides (up to 100 miles)–the duathlon was a new addition this year. It is so rare in this crowded part of the country to find an event where less than 50 people are participating, but I did it! My main concern was getting lost, making a wrong turn, doing too many loops, etc–since there would be so many others out there going in different directions. But the race directors were super nice & on top of things, so I started in a pretty mellow mood. Mellow mostly because I was dead tired. Let’s rewind to the night before.
I worked a fundraising event at work, which meant I got home around 11:00pm–already past my bedtime. Kenzy decided to wake up from about 1:00am-4:00am for no real reason, which meant my 6am alarm seemed very brutal. I know from doing so many races that the sleep you get the night before has never made that much of a difference. Races hype you up enough that once you begin, you will be fine. So instead of canceling (which I wanted to do), I got into the car & made my way to the start. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring water for the bike (!!), a hat for the run & didn’t adjust my sensor on my bike (no way to check my speed).
The race started by the director telling us to look around–1 in every 3 people will develop diabetes one day. (It’s a fundraiser for diabetes, btw). Not sure this is a fun way to start a race LOL, but off we went. I have done quite a few duathlons now, so my main goal of the first run is to maintain a slow and steady pace, wake up & remember that it is actually a race (ie: don’t go TOO slow). The course was great–completely flat, mostly trail, & all through the park. My calf started acting up on the 3rd mile, which was odd since I wasn’t running fast, & I was only starting the race. Probably not a good sign, so I was ready to stop running and jump on the bike.
I LOVED the bike course. It was also completely flat, which I am best at. People pass me left and right on hills, but not on a fast, flat course. I can zoom! So that was fun. Also, there was complete cloud cover. This is so nice, especially as the day goes on & it starts to heat up. While sunny might seem happier, give me a dreary cold race day over sun and heat anytime. We did two loops of the course, so it was a great way to pace myself.
Then we finish off by repeating the 5k run. This is always a little disheartening–ugh, I have to run this again? And as soon as I started my calf starting acting up, so my emotions were starting to sink. This sport is so much about your emotional state. You start to go to the dark side–to think about how little sleep you got, how sick you have been the past week, how your daughter was going to come cheer you on but instead had to catch up on sleep & so you’re here alone, how you didn’t have any water on your bike, how your calf hurts, how you have no music to run to, how alone you are because hardly anyone is doing this race.
But the duathlon director sees me and says “You’re the 3rd woman overall” and suddenly I feel like a speed demon. Just kidding, not a speed demon–more like a speedy turtle. I know there are faster runners behind me (I like to go as fast as I can on the bike to try to make up time on my slow run), but I know if I keep hobbling along at this pace I have a shot. So I just keep going. I look at the trees and say “Nice trees.” I look at the dog walking by and think “Nice dog.” This is all my mind and body are capable of. I develop things for me to do: Every 10 minutes, I drink from my water bottle (I got one at transition before my run!). On minute 5, 15, 25–I attempted my best shot at picking up the pace. This is the only way I can finish still running, by breaking it into small pieces & getting from one piece to the next. At this point, I am all by myself, so the usual race motivation (running with someone, running past someone, catching up to someone) is not there. One woman past me, but she was so fast WOW–no way I was catching her. So I just watched her float along admiring the speed. I look behind me & see no one else, so at this point I know I will probably finish 4th overall. Just keep it going.
Going into the finish were about 13 volunteers screaming–it seemed almost TOO much for this tiny race, but I can’t tell you how good it makes you feel. You can’t help but smile & feel almost a little embarrassed (but not too embarrassed not to wave and say thank you as if you are on your way to Olympic gold. 4th overall female & first in my division (were there any other people in my division? not important!).
There was laughter, water, peanut butter sandwiches, etc afterwards & confirmation that I LOVE these races. I used to manage 7+ a year but time-wise and financially, it isn’t ideal anymore. But I still do them because they are the ultimate motivator for me. Now that my world is full of taking care of others, this is the time I take care of myself. I soak in all the quiet that follows me mile after mile. Many miles are simply about focusing on my breath. No deep thoughts, no worries (other than what’s in front of me at that very moment).
Onto the next. I’ve decided to train for the L.A. Marathon this year because running fits really well into my current schedule. It’s something I can do (at least partially) with the dog & the kid, so that helps (no added guilt!). I will see how training goes over the next few months just to make sure this isn’t a recipe for some running injuries–but as long as I’m healthy, I think I can reach that goal. If training goes well, I may even give myself a time goal.