Blue Norther (Surprise!) Duathlon

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After this past weekend’s spring duathlon, it's official - I'm a long distance triathlete. Not that I didn't enjoy the fact that the suffering was over in less than 90-minutes and that I avoided the "well, shoot, guess I’ll just run a marathon now" deep thoughts but quickly learned short and sweet just is not my thing. I really didn't feel like myself until mile two of 5k run #2 of the race and, well, by then the whole race is basically over. Coming off of camp (just shy of 21 hours training across 5 days in Tucson), I felt on fire. Apparently volume really is my friend. Some easy training and then a text on Friday night from Dawn later, I found myself signed up for the Blue Norther duathlon just down the road in Seguin, TX. I packed my bags, went to bed early, said goodbye to my sweet Lucy and hit the road. What I didn’t expect was how laissez-faire a 50-person local race would be! I arrived less than an hour before the race and still was one of the first people there! HPB Teamie Dawn arrived shortly after and we got ready to brave the chilly 42-degree weather.

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I probably could have warmed up more than I did but seemed a little silly for a backyard race. About five minutes before the start, we huddled around the start and were sent off with an unceremonious “go!” And out ahead like a bolt was this tiny little blonde thing that couldn’t have been more than 4-foot-5. I kept waiting for her to fade but she never did. [coincidentally, she and her sister, also competing, were both featured in this New York Times article]. Mile one down in 6:10. Well, let’s see what happens…

I stayed a few seconds behind her and got a good laugh out of some of the middle-aged men trying to draft behind this waif of a girl. Finally she slowed a bit, I surged and I made the pass for the lead, “let’s go!” I told her, “let’s go get that guy up ahead!” A part of me felt terrible for passing her – I was that girl way back when after all – but hope that we could both push each other to a solid run. Knowing I had a speedy 12-year-old on my tail pushed me to a slightly faster 5k than I should have paced for. I'm used to overshooting the swim and bike and holding it together on the run but was curious to see what kind of damage a too-fast first run could actually do.

The bike was okay… first few miles I felt good, then some headwind and lactic acid in the legs later, I could see my watts and pace dropping. I was having trouble holding onto my HIM watts. This is not ideal, I kept thinking to myself. Another woman passed me with three miles to go on the bike and after a few unproductive back-and-forths, I was content to just sit back, relax and wait it out for the run.

SO happy that the bike was over, I rolled into T2 and just kept thinking, “only a 5k, only a 5k!”, which is so much easier mentally than my typical race distances. I shed the Rev3 jacket and gloves I had been wearing, expecting that I would heat up – but that never really happened and then next few miles were pretty chilly and unpleasant. I re-passed the woman for the lead and extended it to a comfortable distance before settling in.

I told myself that I could cruise lap one of the two lap run course and then would hammer it in for the last 1.5-miles of the finish. Well, as time went on and my legs got heavier and heavier, I checked the distance to the girl behind me and decided just to mail it in. Probably not the best but with a swim and a long bike on tap post-race, I kind of wanted to avoid subjecting myself to even more pain than necessary.

I finished, threw on every single piece of clothing I had packed – teeth chattering and shivering bringing back bad memories of last weekend’s Mt. Lemmon experience – and went to cheer Dawn in for her finish (where she yelled something about how crazy cold it was):

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In all, it was a fun day and I was excited to take home overall winner and celebrate Dawn's AG first place -- even if we were just at a teeny local race. If you're in Texas and want a laid-back but still competitive, race to test out early season fitness, this would be it. The course is fast, with a few rollers on the bike out of town before looping back in and the race officials were pretty serious about running it right - helmet checks, bibs had to be in front, worn on the bike, etc. Overall I had a blast and enjoyed getting out there and getting a decent bike/run benchmark in early March. I had debating using my race wheels and Rudy aero-helmet but glad that I used it almost as a bit of a dress rehearsal for my next (hometown!!) race at New Orleans 70.3.

Plus, I officially won my first-ever triathlon "prize purse", an awesome bag of walnuts.

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