Corpus Christi Duathlon, April 18th, 2010

Gorgeous Corpus Christi was host to my next race.  The Corpus Christi Triathlon/Duathlon

I was not quite ready to tri a triathlon as yet.  Had not been in the water in YEARS, and was still trying to get my bike mojo.  I actually rode it a few times (7 times!  Go me!) before this race, so was a bit better prepared.

The Duo was a 3.1 run, 18.6 bike, 3.1 run along the bay down Ocean Drive from Cole Park. 

Since this was so close to home, prep time was easy day.  Got up, had my normal espresso, a banana and some Powerade then took off.  My sag support this time was my 12yo, and he also doubled as camera man. 

Got there at dark thirty, and got checked into transition.  I was using my trusty Cannondale SR600 again.  The bike has been through almost 20 years of abuse and is still rolling. I got a few raised eyebrows amidst all the aero bikes and new sleek road bikes….almost “are you SURE you are riding this?”.   Um, yeah.  It’s all I’ve got. 

I was nervous at the start.  The run is still my weakness, and I was going to be running alot today.  Sure, I finished Enchanted Rock, and it was a bear, but the bulk of the running was up front before the ride, and I was apprehensive about 3.1 miles following an 18.6 mile bike with a strong headwind coming back.  The wind along the coast usually is quite strong and you can usually count on wind blowing @ 15mph + in Corpus.  We don’t have the hills here, but we have a formidable training partner via the wind.  She can turn your legs to jelly and can wipe you OUT.  The plus side is, because of the wind, you get iron legs. 

First leg was not too bad for me.  At this point in my training, I was running pretty slow, and the run wound through Cole Park. There was one hill that lead up to the path along Ocean drive, but it wasn’t too bad for the first run.  I ended up running it in 33:27 @ 10:47mph.  Very slow, but I was good with slow.  I was still feeling this out and teaching my body how to move like it had not in 20 years.

Transition 1 time: 1:29.

Got on my bike and hit Ocean Drive with a nice tailwind.  Tore downwind and passed a ton of people. My bike has always been my strong leg.  The wind had really picked up by this point so I guess I was averaging around 19-20mph with short bursts higher.  The roads were well supported at the intersections by police, so you could fly through without any issue.  Got to the turn around and slammed into a nice headwind.  Slowed down considerably, but still passed quite a few duathletes and some of the triathletes (people were asking “OMG, is it always this windy here???” as I would pass. Answer: “yes..and then some”).  Took in a Razz Clif Shot and had some Powerade.  Here I would like to add that Powerade would prove to be a real downer for me.  Although I was able to refuel with it, in hindsight and after months of training and racing with it, I discovered it KILLED my runs.  Yeah, I got a boost from it, but it sent my stomach into terrible cramping each and every time. More on that later. 

The last bit of the bike, I was pooped and ready to get off and run again.  I finished the bike in 1:06:01.  This was 1st in my age group, 4th overall Female, and 12 overall male/female.  Not bad for only being back on it for a month. 

Transition 2:  1:31.  I obviously took my time for both transitions! LOL! 

Run 2 was tough for me.  Same loop course, but the hill had me walking up it. I was sooo tired.  I did this leg in a very slow 34:12 with an average pace of 11:02mph.  Blek. 

Overall impression with the race was it was well supported and I felt very safe on the bike.  Redemption Race partnered with STARRS for this event, and they always do a great job. They are seriously my favorite race production group here in Texas. 

I ended up with a total time of  2:16:41 and placed 2nd in my age group and 7th overall.  Not bad for my second event.  This year, 2011, I plan to do the triathlon.  The swim is in the bay, and can be quite tough with the wind.  Hoping for a calm, glassy bay again this year.  The event will be on May 15th and I plan on smokin’!

Posted in Duathlon | Leave a comment

Enchanted Rock Extreme Duathlon, March 2010

Browsing through the Texas Triathlon Event Finder the word EXTREME jumped out at me.  An extreme duathlon.  Just what I needed after the 1/2 Marathon From Hell.  I mean really.  A plain Jane duathlon just was not going to cut it after that.  So maybe an Extreme one would do the trick. 

I have always been this way.  Go on a mountain bike ride?  Lets do Slick Rock.  Trail ride?  How ’bout the Colorado trail?  Go over a mountain pass? Let’s do it in reverse of what the guide says.  It’s all about the journey? It better be a death march or it just isn’t a challenge. Not to say I am ever adequately trained or up to it, but hey, it ends up working out. We may get lost, dehydrated, run out of food and water, go twice as far as intended, or all the above, but it’s all good in the end and we EARN our post ride/run beers.

So when I saw EXTREME I was sold and signed up on the spot. 

This race is located in the gorgeous Enchanted Rock State Park, and lives up to its label.  The first run is a technical 5 mile run over and around the rocks at the base of the dome.  There are cactus, rocks, scrambling over outcroppings, dried creek beds with loose, deep gravel, a single track trail and it ends with a stairway to the transition area that makes your muscles scream. 

The bike ride is 16 miles over “gently rolling hills”.  When anyone describes the terrain as “gently rolling hills” when talking about the Hill Country of Texas, be ready for a workout.  Especially after a 5 mile trail run.

The last 1.2 miles is along the base of EC, then straight up the big Rock for the finish.  And by straight up, I mean straight up. 

So yeah. It sounded cool.  Between sign up and race day, I think I rode my bike 2x, so I was well prepared. (snark) Running wise, I was good to go, although still a very slow runner as I had not really started any speed work.  But I was confident I could finish it….until the emails started coming.

The emails are intimidating but make you smile.  The first one basically said THIS IS NOT A BEGINNER FRIENDLY COURSE, so if you sign up for it, you are on your own.

The second email roughed out race morning and transition.  The motto is Not For Whimps, No Whining.   Dropping your bike off would be an odyssey.  You had to unload, go park 1.5 miles away, then hike through the park in pitch black to get to transition. So bring a flashlight.  And added in  toward the end; “If you want to whine to anyone, go look in the mirror”. LOLOL! 

The Enchanted Rock Extreme Duathlon is put on by Redemption Race Productions, and Brian Schmidt.  The emails just built up the anticipation and were all part of the extreme experience.  I always smiled and looked forward to seeing them in my inbox, but I started to wonder if I was going to be able to finish.  On the website it said “BRAGGING rights will apply if you even FINISH this race.”

Race day Brian was true to his word.  You drop off your bike via vehicle at transition, then drive down the highway and leave your car at the EC parking area.  Grab all of your stuff and don’t leave anything behind, as you DON’T want to hike back to your car. Flash light or some light source is a must.  The hike to transition is pitch black, full of big rocks and lots of stuff to trip over.  It meanders through the highway side of the park.  The stars were incredible when the clouds would part. 

After the little hike, I got my  transition all set up, my body marked, and went to the race meeting. Brian went over the course and when he got to the final leg he cautioned everyone to be very careful on the Rock.  He informed us that if you got hurt up there, and could not walk down it would be a $5000 helicopter ride down at your expense.  Everyone got very quiet. 

Well alrighty, I thought, let’s get this over with.

It was COLD in shorts that morning, and a front was due to blow in, so due to the chill I had assumed it had come through early morning.  NOT.  The best was yet to be.  We started out with minimal wind for the run, and it remained comfortable temp wise after the first 1/2 mile or so.   My run was really slow, and I had to walk the first slog uphill over the base of the Rock, but then it wound around and leveled out with just a few inclines.  The trail was packed, nice and wide.  Rangers were scattered every mile or so.  They were instructed to pull anyone off the course if they looked like they were having a rough time and could not make it.  It was comforting to have them there, but I was not coming off this course!  The last mile or so felt like hell, as part was through a dried creek bed with foot deep gravel and rocks, but no Rangers pulled me off (although at one point I hear one say after I passed “we need to watch that one”.  Rah. Go me.)  Then it would up and out onto a single track trail and to transition. 

Brian is just a tad sadistic I think. ;*)  After a very challenging run, we had to run up about 20 of these hideously steep steps to get our bikes.  My legs were on fire!  I grabbed a peanut butter PowerBar at my bike, put on my helmet and shoes, and took off.  My mouth was so dry from the run (thank you Texas Hill Country and zero humidity) and trying to choke down that PowerBar was like eating a piece of particle board.  Yum.  Finally got it down without choking and blew on up the road. 

Heading out my ride was fairly fast.  I had a tail wind, and was averaging 18-19mph in the hills.  The wind was not blowing that hard, so I was thinking that the return would be fairly quick as well…..until the wind picked up. Ouch.  Got to the turn around, and slammed into that headwind that was not so light after all.  It was a SLOG for me coming back.  I ended up bonking big time, and averaged around 13mph for the ride.  Gag.  Was I ever so glad to get back to the transition area.

Somehow got off my bike and started the final run leg.  I was fine along the base trail, but when we hit the chip timing mat for King Of the Hill ( a little competiton inside the competition…who can get up the rock the fastest) and started the ascent, my calves started to scream so I walked most of it.  I think there were only a handful of people who actually ran up the Rock.  There were some sections where I was using all fours to get up the incline. 

But I did it.  I finished this race in 2:39:34…..8th out of 8 (when I look at my times I want to gag, but it was a learning process last year).  My bike cost me many places, but that is is what I get for not training.   Anyhoo….on January 1st I signed up for EC 2011!  This year I am much more prepared and my goal is to not just finish, but to place in the top 3.  I guess we will see what happens in March. 

And remember, no whining.

Posted in Duathlon | 2 Comments

Fast forward

It is January 5th, 2011. 1 1/2 years has passed since my last entry.  Statistics may show that instead of continuing on with running and my goals, I probably quit.  Many people do.  I think it is much like a New Years resolution that you are gung ho to get on with, but a month into it, the new year wears off and your running shoes begin to gather dust. Real life calls and eventually you find yourself talking about how you need to get motivated, you need to get off your lazy rear etc. etc.

I don’t know what kept me going, but I never did stop.  I ran and ran and ran all summer long in 2009, and in October of that year completed the Harbor Half Marathon in Corpus Christi.  I worked so hard to get there, and the night before, came down with the stomach flu.  I was up and down all night in the bathroom, and as 4:30 a.m. dawned, I went in the kitchen and powered up the espresso machine.  Espresso is my weapon.  It charges me, and usually kills any bug I end up with.  I brewed my coffee, leaned on the counter and wondered how the hell I was going to run 13.1 miles feeling weak, dehydrated and sick.

My husband, Bill, came in the kitchen and I put my head on his chest and started crying.  he said “Look, just get in the car and go there.  Do everything you normally do to prep for a long training run and get yourself to the starting line.  Just see how it goes”.

So I loaded my stuff into the car and set out.  Ate a banana on the way, drank my cappa, and some Powerade and downed some Motrin.  Breakfast of champions.

When I got there around 5:30 the atmosphere was charged! Music playing at the start. Runners warming up and stretching.  Instead of joining them, I got sick again in the bathroom.  This was not the beginning I imagined during all those months of training and dedication.  Not even a tiny bit. 

I drank more Powerade, then made my way to the starting line, stomach cramping and protesting.  I guess the Motrin kicked in. Or adrenaline.  Or maybe I just got distracted by the amazing energy around me, because when the gun went off, I got wrapped up in the moment and took off.  The first part of the course had us running through town and up the causeway.  Th sun was rising over the bay, and I simply cannot describe how beautiful it was to be pounding up to the top of that huge bridge (ugh) and view that scene while racing. 

I did not drink anything at the first aid station.  Just could not stomach anything. At the second one, all they had was red Powerade.  Blek.  That stuff is like concentrated Hawaiian Punch. There was no way I could choke that down, and they were out of water. Out…of….water. In south Texas. In early October.  With not a cloud in the sky.  First and only complaint about this race….how do you run out of water at an aid station during a 1/2 marathon where you run over the bridge from hell twice.  End rant.

By the time I got to the turn around, I was so thirsty it was insane. Thankfully they had some blue Powerade.  I got some and diluted it half with water and drank a couple cups.  Ah!!! Fluid.  Blessed fluid.  I hit the port-a-potty, got sick again, got my second wind and took off.  Stomach cramps gone for the time being. 

Right about the time we entered the causeway again, I came across someone down on the ground.  She was done.  Could not stand due to cramping, and was dehydrated.  Spent about 10 minutes trying to get some aid to her, and once we got race officials to her, took off again.

It is inevitable in this race that you hit the causeway again.  Let me stop here and say, if you are considering running this race as your first 1/2 marathon, think again.  The bridge is brutal.  You go up and down the causeway, then up and down a smaller bridge.  Things level out through the nature reserve, but 9 miles into this race you get the pleasure of running back up this beast and it is a bear.  It seriously hurts.  Especially if you live at the coast, and hill training is non-existence.  Don’t let it being “just a bridge” fool you.  They don’t call it the “highest half in Texas” for nothing.  Going up this a second time is tough.  Going up it a second time, after being sick all night and having about 6oz of fluid the whole race was insane.  Yeah, it’s hard going up it, but the real pounding came for me going down it. My knees were in agony. I had to walk much of the down hill as it was just too painful and my knees kept giving out. Had never had knee pain at all during my training so this surprised me. 

All  the way down I kept saying “You are almost there. You are almost to the finish” over and over in my head, but I had no idea.  I thought we would exit the causeway and head straight around the block to the finish.  Not.

They cruelly (haha) have you zig zag up and down the downtown Corpus streets, and at every turn you think you are heading to the home front, and then they zig you back down another endless street.  I was DONE at this point and started walking.  Knees were killing me from the causeway, and I was in new territory mileage wise.  The most I had done in training was 10 miles a few weeks prior to the race.  I was a  + 10 virgin and my legs were screaming.

Rounding the last corner i saw the home stretch. I also saw my husband and kids waiting for me.  It was easy to see them as I was in the hind pack on this run and the crowd had moved on to the post race awards and food.  My kids ran with me the final few meters.  

I crossed that finish line in 2:54:01.  Terrible time, but I will take it.  I was just grateful to make it to the start after the night I had, and to be quite honest have no idea where I got the mojo to run 13.1 miles with the stomach flu.  No idea at all.  Walking to my car that morning was a huge effort, and by noon had run my 1st 1/2 marathon. 

Post race I got in my car and made a beeline to home and my bed, where I allowed myself to then be sick. Was down for 3 days.  The evening of the race and the morning after, my legs were shot. Could not eat, and lost 6 lbs and never saw it again.

You would think that would discourage me.  I mean, with the exception of watching the sunrise on the bay from the top of the world, it was an evil sufferfest for me.  When I felt better, I promptly got online, found the hardest duathlon I could find and signed up for it. 

I had 5 months to train for it.  My bike was gathering dust in the garage and the seat had not made contact with my rear end in 2.5 years.  Bring it on.

Posted in 13.1, Race reviews | Leave a comment