Mt. Rainier Duathlon

Yesterday was my second duathlon.   Spoiler: I finished.  It actually went well overall, but I was ridiculously nervous beforehand.  The fact that the first duathlon I did turned out to be way harder than I’d anticipated due to terrible weather did not help my nerves yesterday.  After Du #1, I swore I wouldn’t do another in the rain, but on Saturday morning, I found myself under very overcast skies with a 30% chance of rain.  It actually did start raining before the race, but thankfully it was brief and not heavy.

In addition to the weather, I was also very concerned about the bike leg.  I don’t consider myself a “real” cyclist, and I just don’t have the same type of confidence on the bike that I do on my feet.  I just switched to clip-in shoes a couple weeks ago.  Also, the course featured a rather large hill.  The total elevation gain was nothing I hadn’t done before, but I’m used to a lot of up-and-down, not one big gradual hill.

Gotta love the finish photo (not):


Course summary:

  • Run: 1.64 mi
  • Bike: 14.44 mi
  • Run: 3.79 mi

Both the runs were almost completely flat.  The bike section profile was like this:


Note the 700 foot hill in the middle.

I had been working on three people trying to convince them to do the race, and all three ended up deciding not to do it.  I don’t really have any triathlon friends, and I’ve been trying to convert my friends and colleagues into triathlon people.  The other approach would be to befriend people who already like triathlon, but I find it so hard to make new friends, and I find that I rarely hit it off with athlete-types.  Anyway, I was very pleased when i showed up to run into two people I knew, a girl who’d interned at my company many years ago, and a former colleague who is a super-nice guy.  It made it a lot easier to see a friendly face, but I was still so nervous I literally thought I would puke.

Last time, my biggest problem was being ridiculously cold.  Since then, I’d bought Gore-tex pants.  I ended up deciding not to bring them on the bike, but I did put my Gore-tex jacket in my saddle-bag.  I also planned to put on a second layer for the bike and then remove it for the run.  This turned out to work really well.

The first run was easy.  It was good to finally get underway.  When I race, I always have a massive adrenaline surge, so I just tried to keep my pace controller.  According to my watch, I covered 1.6 mi at 8:14 mpm with an average heart rate of 140 bpm.  If I went out for a run on a regular day at 8 mpm, I’d be dying, but for some reason, at the *beginning* of a race, it feels easy.

I spent 2:21 in transition, about a minute more than most people.  I honestly don’t know how people get shoes changed and whatnot so quickly.  But I eventually managed to get myself and my bike out of the transition area.  I had to raise my saddle after going to clip-in pedals and have had some trouble getting going on the bike, but I managed to get clipped in and underway without to much hassle.  The girl who used to intern at my company headed out just ahead of me, and I initially tried to keep her close, but it quickly became clear that wasn’t happening.  In fact, soon enough, I got left behind by everyone who finished the run with me and found myself completely alone.  Depending on the terrain, I either couldn’t see anyone ahead of me, or could just barely see the next person.  I took a glance behind me and couldn’t see anyone behind either.  For some reason, I found this completely demoralizing and started getting stressed and anxious for a while.

Then, at mile 6, we hit the hill.  Now, my review of the altitude profile had led me to think we’d hit the hill at mile 7, so I was worried that this wasn’t really the hill and that things would get worse.  This scared the heck out of me because I was on the lowest gear and hurting.  However, I did catch up to another woman, and I just stuck to her.  There is a no-drafting rule, so I made sure to give her at least the required 3 bike lengths, but mentally, it was so helpful not to be completely alone.  We also started getting passed by the long-course folks who’d had to runan extra 3 miles or so, and honestly, I was happy to see them as well.  I slogged along.  I felt I could go a little faster, but intentionally didn’t push it, thinking I had three miles to go.  In fact, much to my joy and relief, the worst of the hill ended at a little past 8 miles.  I guess I hadn’t read the elevation chart quite right.  After that, I felt great.  Tired, but no longer worried about not being able to complete the course.  At around mile 10 or so, we hit a sharp downhill, and I started flying down the hill.  Interestingly, I found I could keep up with most of the short course people on the downhill.  I guess I’ve gotten better at downhill cycling.  The long-course people near me were front-of-the-pack folks (since they’d had to cover the extra miles), and so they were going much faster.

I pushed through the rest of the bike leg and ended up covering 14.5 miles at 13.8 mph, which is pretty fast for me, with 664 feet of elevation gain.  I hit a max speed of 28.4 mph on the downhills.  I’ve actually gone a little faster in past, but I don’t think I’ve ever ridden at such a high speed for so long before.  I’m glad I didn’t break my neck.  My HR averaged 151 bpm with a max of 166 bpm; that’s higher than I’m at typically on my training rides.  I think I lack the muscle to keep up with my cardiovascular system on bike rides, so I tend to have a lower HR.

I spent 2:29 in transition, once again about a minute longer than most people.  Oh well.

Then I hit the run.  I’d been kind of looking forward to the second run (and kind of dreading it).  I figured as a much better runner than cyclist, I’d pass a lot of people.  And I did.  I blew by a few people during the first half mile feeling great.  Then, having left behind all the cyclists I came in with, I found myself in another no-man’s land completely alone, with no one visible in front of me or behind me.  Again, I found this completely demoralizing.  The initial dead leg feeling had passed, but my feet and ankles were very sore – no idea why, but it hurt.  My second mile was my slowest, but I still gradually made some ground up, and by the end of the second mile, I was starting to catch more people again.  I picked up the pace and passed a couple more people over the last 1.7 mi.  I covered 3.7 mi at 8:02 mpm, splits 7:57, 8:40, 8:00, and 7:22.  According to my watch, I went below 6 minute pace at the very end.  Ouch.  My heart-rate averaged 158 bpm, and I hit a max of 173 bpm at the end.  (Supposedly my max heart rate for my age is 183, so maybe I should work harder?)

I was so incredibly glad to be done and enjoyed that wonderful post-race feeling of euphoria.  I ended up getting 3rd in my age group and getting to stand on an actual podium, which pleased me immensely until the results came out and I found out I was 3rd of 4.  Yup.  🙂  Oh well.