I like repeating a race as a benchmark to see my progress. The problem is that race conditions vary from year to year and frankly, my improvement isn't taking the kinds of leaps it has in the past. It is a little demoralizing to have trained all winter with at least moderate consistency and still find myself so solidly in the back of the pack. And thus was my experience at a very windy duathlon this morning.
Got up this morning after a relatively decent night of sleep and checked the temperature. It was 50° at 6:00 so I figured I would go ahead with wearing my tri shorts and long sleeve tech tee. I tried to choke down a trail mix granola bar and stuck a banana in my bag, but really didn't feel like eating. My dearest husband (and sherpa for the day) loaded my bike, I grabbed the rest of my gear and we headed for Columbia, MO.
After stopping for gas, donuts and coffee (for him), we got to the race site and he dropped me off for checkin and packet/chip pickup. I got everything set up in transition, got my age and race number on my calves and waited around in the cool wind. I wore a jacket with my Buff on my ears. I took a little warmup jog, but everything felt tight. Husband snapped this pic of me:
Finally, it was "go" time. The race field was pretty small for the "long" course (1.5 mi run/15 mi bike/3 mi run) - only 109 athletes and mostly the "speedy" folks. I tried to hang with the group. At least they didn't drop me before we even got out of the parking lot this time. I kept a pretty decent run pace for me on that first loop - 10:14 min/mi. But it was a struggle - and I did some walking on the big hill. I stripped my jacket and tossed it to my husband/sherpa on the way into transition.
Then it was time for 2 loops of the bike course. I headed out and mostly didn't see anyone as I rode (except the awesome volunteers and police officers with the best intersection control). The first hill didn't seem too bad, but by the time we went over the highway overpass, the wind was really kicking my butt. Then we turned onto a flat section by the fairgrounds and it blasted me in the face where I had to pedal hard to keep from going backwards! It was no fun! I tried to think of songs or prayers or even just counting pedal strokes to get my mind off it. That was followed by a couple more miserable hills before a fun downhill and then one last nasty hill. The second loop was that same as the first with more cussing of that awful wind. Average pace over the 15 miles: 13.3 mph (taking a little over a minute longer than last year).
I headed out on the run and was glad it wasn't raining like last year. But I felt like I couldn't get my legs to stretch out at all. My stride felt short and choppy, but I just tried to keep going. I tried to run and then walk when I had to. My pace was much crappier on the second run - 12:31 min/mi. But the final time for the course was 2:02:59 - compared to last year's 2:06:22. Oh, and since I aged up a group this year, I was 4th (out of 4) in my AG and 106/109 overall. So progress, but nothing to write home about.
I had planned on going out to the CAC2 non-race that Team Virtus put on to cheer on their adventurous athletes, but never heard from Bob where to go. I was pretty worn out with some soreness in my hip and my knees so I wasn't too broken up about taking it easy. Texted with Kate a bit this evening who indicated she had a tough, but fun, day. There is a gravel grinder tomorrow morning that I'd like to go on, but not sure I am up for. Hate to miss out, but I don't want to hold them up and/or not be able to walk next week. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
Swimming = 5800 yds = 3.3 mi
Biking = 312.0 miles
Running = 74.6