Sunday, March 30, 2014

Enchanted Rock Extreme Duathlon

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

          Today I competed in the Enchanted Rock Extreme Duathlon. This race was a 5 mile trail run, a 16 mile out and back bike, and then a 1.75 mile run straight to the top of that big rock in the picture above! The motto of the race was "no whining" and the organizers made it very clear that there would be minimal support and markings, mostly because it is a State Park, and marking/altering the landscape is not legal or environmentally ethical.

Part of the running trail.
         The race, run by Redemption Race Productions, went very smoothly for me. At packet pickup, participants were able to take care of everything- park entrance bands for spectators, maps, etc. I have been to the park several times before, but never done this race, and the volunteers were helpful in making sure I full understood what to do in the morning.
          We camped at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park, which was $10 a night- quite a bargain for the area, which is very touristy and therefore expensive. We picked up my packet and then took a stroll down Main street, grabbing a delicious glass of peach wine on the way.
          After shivering our way through the night (I forgot our awesome two-person sleeping bag) we got up and drove to the park. It was an easy process- we dropped my bike off with volunteers, who took it and my transition bag to the transition area and placed it at my numbered spot on the rack. Then, we drove a little way down the road to the main entrance, and were guided to a parking spot right away, where we hung out in the heat of my car before braving the half mile walk to the start line down the trail in the cold.
          We got a safety talk and thorough instructions, and then it was time to start! I went out with the third wave of runners, and the sun was just cresting the main rock when we set out. The run was beautiful! It was so hard to not stop and take pictures.

More of the trail.
          I kept a really steady pace and never walked once, despite some pretty technical sections and some vertical climbing. The trail was wide enough for passing most of the time, and you could gain some time on the down-hill runs as long as you were careful not to slip in the loose granite trail. There were some parts of the trail with so many bluebonnets that were so beautiful, it actually made me gasp. Spring in Texas is my favorite time, and you couldn't have asked for a prettier run on a Sunday morning.

Hill country scenery at its finest

Bluebonnets along the trail
              After running up the stairs to the transition area, I switched my shoes, slapped on my helmet, and hiked my bike up the slope to the road. The course was hilly, but mostly smooth rollers, and the cattle guards were actually smoother than the one I go over to leave my house every time. I made really good time, and about 4 miles down the road, the leader passed me in the other direction. As a trickle or riders began passing on their way back while I pedaled out, I realized that I hadn't seen any women, and definitely no women in my age group. I got really excited thinking maybe I actually had a chance at placing, and pushed even harder.
       Running the marathon in February really helped my cycling. I used to wipe on on hills- I would always make them up without stopping, but would loose all momentum and speed. Lately, I have been stronger and faster on hills, and I could tell as I passed rider after rider struggling on the hills. I never used my small ring once!

More beautiful flowers on the trail!

I love spring time in Texas!

              I made it back right on my normal pace and felt great! I re-racked my bike and took some big gulps of water and made my way back down the wooden steps. Feeling good! Transition from bike to run has been my toughest race feature so I try to take advantage any time I get to practice. For the first .75miles the second run was the trail we had run earlier, but then it headed straight up the hill!
                Whew! I was going strong at first, but the elevation on that thing is no joke, and the climb is straight up. I power walked/climbed up in 17 minutes. I crested the top and spotted the flag and was so ready to be done, I took off running again. A man who was finishing at the same time tried to over take me, but I beat him. :)
Bryce was waiting for me at the top with some ice cold water- just what I wanted!
View of the climb with a team RWB member who carried the flag the whole run.
Bryce ready to get back down to the bottom- sausage wraps were waiting!

Enjoying the scenery on the way to the awards ceremony.

         I wasn't sure if we got finisher's medals because I only saw a few people wearing them, but to my delight we did, so I took a picture of it with the rock in the background. The after-party featured some great snacks, including Kiolbassa Sausage. The jalapeno cheddar sausage wrap I had really hit the spot.

             I took a look at the results- found at a trailer where you could type in your bib number and get instant digital listings- and saw that I got 4th place in my age group! It was a bummer to not get an award, since it was only for the top three, but I was still pretty happy.

Just because I didn't get a rock doesn't mean I couldn't get a picture!
      Overall I really enjoyed the race! I haven't done a race in a while where I just really enjoyed myself and had fun the whole course. It is such a shame this event isn't happening next year, but I understand TPWD's position on the matter. However, I do recommend doing a race with Redemption- it was well run, organized, and they have some amazing natural venues for their events. My race calendar/budget is full for the year, but I can't wait to try out a new one next year!

The race posted our photos from the event (for free!) on their Facebook page. I'm totally wearing bright pink to every race from now on- it's so much easier to find myself in pictures! I'm pretty proud of that finisher picture; I don't think there's another race with a cooler backdrop than on top of Enchanted Rock!

Start of the run right at sunrise! Check out that eSprit de She jersey in front of me!

Everyone had to hustle before the trail narrowed and you couldn't pass anymore.

Game face on climbing the final hill back to transition. Made it back before the wind picked up, thankfully!

Best finisher picture, ever! I'm not making a stupid face and I don't look a hot mess. The guy behind me looks like he's flying, but I beat him. ;)

         Don't forget about my Reason 2 Race! Help out pets in need!

This blog is following my training as I get ready for the Athleta eSprit de She event season. Three events happen in Texas, the Duathlon in Dallas, the Katy 5k & 10k, and the Cycle Tour in Austin. I'll be doing Austin and Dallas, come join the fun! Enter Comp Code EDS57 for the chance to win some cool prizes!

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