Monday, July 16, 2007

Blackwater Traverse Long Course Duathlon 2007

Cambridge, Maryland
Run 12k- Cycle 73k- Run 8k
July 9, 2007

This was a crazy event! The weather on race day was hot, sunny and humid. The right mixture that many athletes fall prey to and did. I got up at 3:30am and arrived at the race site by 5:30am. The fog on the way in was thick at times, so I knew it would warm to a humid day.

My ‘all women’s’ wave took off at 7:05am. The run was a flat out and back stretch and the sun and humidity were already doing some damage. I took water at every aid station in an attempt to be ahead of the game. I was surprised at the pace the front ladies were pushing as they quickly disappeared from my view. The plan was a conservative first run and I hit the first mile in 7:28. Faster then I wanted. I slowed a bit to my planned 8 min/mile pace and ended up averaging an 8:13 b/c of a slow last mile. I anticipated that I would finish the first run somewhere near the top, but was surprised when I counted 23 girls ahead of me as they past the turn around point. The competition was amazing!

During the final mile, of the first run, I started to get chills. It was way too early in the game to be getting dehydrated. I planned on really loading up on the bike.

In T1, as I leaned over to change my shoes (this is gross) and I peed in my shorts. I have never had such a lack of control, so I just let it flow. Hopefully no one noticed! I didn’t rush T1 too much and headed out for the first bike loop.

The riders, at least around me, were pretty strung out and I had no one to follow. I was nervous about going in the wrong direction (I heard someone had later). I was actually happy when someone passed by that I could follow. My plan was to average 19-20 mph. Well, that fell kaput almost immediately. I’m not sure what the cause was, maybe heat and fueling issues, but my inner thighs went into this precramping mode almost constantly for the entire bike ride. Getting into aero position made it worse. I kept fiddling around trying to get comfortable. Stood up and stretched and stuck my leg out to loosen up. Nothing worked.

It didn’t help that I was being passed repeatedly. One nice lady offered some advice, but I couldn’t hear what the heck she was saying. I got excited when I finally saw that I was coming up on someone, until I saw “78” on his right calf! I couldn’t catch a break on the bike so I muscled through. The second loop pretty much was a repeat of the first. Lots of pain. I’m not sure what I ended up averaging because my bike computer is messed up and I heard the course was actually a little shorter then 73k. I am guessing it was 17mph or so.

I drank and took in gels on the ride, but the second run was torture. I got off my bike and my inner thighs screamed at me to stop. The first few steps were interesting to observe I am sure. I passed quite a few people on the run despite my dismal pace. One guy was trying to deal with leg cramps and most people were doing a mix of running and walking. I decided I would walk through the aid stations, but actually ended up taking more walk breaks after the turn around. Each aid station was an opportunity to dump ice down my top and shorts. I put a handful of ice cubes under my hat in an attempt to stay cool. Thank God they had ice! It was so hot and the sun seemed to be relentlessly shining a direct beam on me.

I was determined to run the last full mile in and did so finishing the last run in 51:48, a 10:26 pace. That’s embarrassing to say. It actually felt slower with all the walking I did. It seemed like a death march for all the competitors around me. Every single person was walking at some point and guzzling water and Gatorade. I just wanted to finish.

When I came across the finish line someone offered me a spot to sit under the tent. I knew if I sat down I may never get back up again. There was a sprinkler mid field, of the track we finished on, with kids running through it, my son and daughter included. I walked over to it and stood there for a few minutes cooling off in its spray. It was a relief to be finished.

It turns out that I dropped another 10 spaces from the first run to the finish. That didn’t surprise me. There were also some DNFs and a couple people needing medical assistance. So I am happy that I finished my first attempt at the long course Du under these conditions and learned a lot that should help me improve greatly for next year. Yes, I plan on going for it again in 2008.

Official results:36th female overall, 8th in age group, time: 4:27 (ouch).