Monday, October 27, 2014

eSprit de She Dallas Duathlon- 2014 Race Report

     This weekend I participated in my 2nd ever duathlon race, the eSprit de She Dallas Duathlon. Although it was sure hot enough in McKinney, TX (A suburb of Dallas) for a triathlon, there was no swimming at this event. I participated in the long course, which was a 3 mile run, a 17 mile bike, and then a 3 mile run to the finish. 

      We got to the race site at about 7:15 that morning and found parking really easily right next to transition. My boyfriend's family got up early with us to watch me race for the very first time, so I left them to wake up a bit while I checked in and got my packet. I was a little bummed that the timing chip was on the bib. I hate wearing a race belt with my bib on a bike ride because it flaps all over the place and dives me crazy. No big deal though, I just pinned the bib to the front of my jersey and carried on!

       I went through an inspection by a volunteer who couldn't have been more than 13. I'm not sure what he thought he'd find wrong on my bike from 5 feet away, but the kid was taking his job seriously, so I left him to it! I got body marked and made my way in to the transition area. Each rack was designated for either short or long course, so I picked on our right next to a curb that I'd be able to get to quickly from the run. There were lots of racks, so thankfully over-crowding wasn't an issue. Everyone had space to set up their stuff without the risk of someone kicking their shoes out of the way to get their bike down.

        The race didn't start until 8:30. I wish it had started earlier because it was getting warmer by the minute, but sometimes city ordinances, traffic compliance, etc. mean things just are the way they are. Many of us, however, were really confused as to why the short course athletes started before the long course athletes, since they were going half the distance. No clear answer to that question came out, but other than facing a LOT of short-course traffic on the bike course, I never had much reason to worry about it.

        Run 1- The race started and BOY those ladies took off! The first .75 miles of the course was essentially downhill, so I thought, maybe, maybe they'll slow down, but everyone kept trucking along. I was running a 8:30min/mile- fast for me!- and still in the middle/back of the pack. This kind of discouraged me, but I kept repeating my mantra "Race your race, race your pace," and finished the first run strong in 26:50, which might be a 5k PR for me! I kept running in to transition and flew right to my bike.
Already thinking I was being left behind!
           Transition for this was simpler than for a triathlon. There was no drying off or putting away equipment. I didn't even change socks. I just popped on my cycling shoes, grabbed my helmet, and put my TomTom in its bike holder. I had a gel in my pocket already and had filled my aero bottle with ice that morning, so I was set. I ran with my bike out of T1, with almost enough momentum to do a flying mount, but decided to be smart and not wipe out in front of everyone!

       Bike- The bike leg of any race is always my biggest strength, and that morning was no exception. I flew! McKinney, and Dallas in general, are pretty flat and the roads were smooth concrete for the most part. The best was that the roads were closed to traffic, so we had both lanes open. This was a good thing, because there were a lot of novice riders who were dawdling all over both sides of the right lane, making passing dangerous since I was going on average 8-10mph faster than the short course riders I caught. (Ladies, stay to the RIGHT unless you are ACTIVELY PASSING someone! Racing is not a group ride. You need to be in single file at all times to avoid causing an accident.) 
           I passed so many people I lost count. This pumped me up so much because it brought me back hope for the podium. I knew if I was passing those who led out on the run, I was crushing enough minutes to make up for it. I was right. I finished the bike in 54:03, the fastest of all the long-course triathletes in my AG who finished the course. I don't know where my bike time ranked overall because the timing site is really user-unfriendly, but more on that later. 
Slamming on the brakes to stop before the line.
         T2 was a little tricky because the dismount line fell right in a patch of shade, so you couldn't see it on your bike. A volunteer was flagging people down, thankfully, so I stopped on a dime right at it. Apparently someone stopped right behind/beside me, because I almost knocked her out swinging my leg over to dismount. Always keep in mind the athlete in front of you cannot see you- be verbal, keep your space, and stay aware. I missed her, thankfully! I got back to my spot, popped on my shoes (elastic laces are the best!) grabbed my watch face and took off. My transition times were faster than they've been all season, which was great! I am thankful I took a second to grab my visor though, because the sun was most definitely out for good at this point.
       Run 2- I passed my boyfriend as the start of the run and gleefully said "I just whipped some ass on the bike!" as I scored a high-five. He said "Good job, but get going!" My legs felt strong, and I told myself it was time to push. IMTX will be so much harder and I will be so much more tired, so might as well see what my body can do now, so it's not all new in May. I kept up an 8:30-9min/mile pace for the first 1.5miles, but then my face and shoulders started getting hot and I knew I needed to pull back a hair. I hovered between 9:30-10min/miles from then on. I only got passed by three women- all badasses in their 40s- so I was OK. The course was shaded for the most part, and had plenty of water and supportive volunteers. One even splashed me with water when I asked her to, which felt awesome. The only hard part of the run was the very end- it was uphill! However, I knew I was almost done, so I just kept going. I saw my boyfriend and his whole family- mom, dad, brother, and brother's fiance- waving and taking pictures, so I knew I had to keep smiling and not look like a dork. I sprinted to the finish, got my (super adorable!) medal, and met up with a friend from Luna Chix who had run the short course. I was a tad slower the second time around, but still finished in 28:56. Total race time was 1:53:20. 
Moving out for Run 2!
       She said she thought she might have placed in her age group, so we decided to grab a drink and wait for my results. We sipped some bubbly- the best recovery drink, in my own humble opinion!- and then went to Transition to get our participant jerseys. Moxie has a bit of strange sizing, and I knew I needed a medium instead of the large I ordered. We stopped by the results board on our way to make the exchange and I found out I'd gotten 2nd in my age group! Yay! I was so excited, I completely forgot about the jersey until she snapped me back down to earth. Getting second meant I had made one heck of a comeback from the first run, and hammering it out on the bike had been the right weapon to choose. I only missed first place by less than 2 minutes! Dang!
I did it! 
    The jersey switch was quick and easy, and we took a quick snapshot at the free photo booth, so we rejoined the after party, held at an adorable outdoor cafe area with lots of shade and places to sit. The award ceremony came soon after that, and we both got our cute necklaces for placing 2nd in our age groups. Luna Chix, cleaning house in Dallas! We then sampled some sangria, got another mimosa, and prepared to head out for the rest of our days.
2nd and 3rd place 25-29 Long Course
     A lot of times big, nationally-sponsored events can be overwhelming, impersonal, and intimidating. I am glad to report that this event is none of those things. Parking was easy, everything was close, comfortable, and open. There was good support throughout the event, and lots of fun things to do in the end. Family and friends were able to sit with athletes in the after-party area, meaning if you raced by yourself, you got to enjoy everything your entry fee covered without having to do it on your own. I would definitely do this event again- I just hope it's cooler next year! 

Luna Chix winning all the awards that day! ;)

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