Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Glowing skulls, gale force winds and errant body paint

This weekend I did a duathlon that involved all the items in the title.  I'm going to give away part of the ending and tell you that, sadly, the skulls didn't actually glow as advertised.  The glowing is really more of a "serving suggestion," to use a cereal box analogy.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  First, let me set the stage for this race.

On Thursday afternoon I took the train down to New York for a chemistry symposium.  A colleague in my department went as well, and our trip can best be described as "The Keystone Cops Go to New York."  Typical exchange from our trip down: "There are two train stations in New Haven?"  "It looks that way."  "Do you know which one we want?" "No."  I took out any number of pedestrians in Manhattan with my poster tube (this is after the poster tube spontaneously disassembled and somehow managed to goose me in the middle of Grand Central), we followed my iphone to the wrong address, and yet somehow we arrived at our opening reception only 40 minutes late.  We spent all day Friday in a meeting room with this view:

The symposium was fantastic, and we wisely latched onto someone from Yale to guide us back to New Haven Friday night.  I got home around 11 pm, following a solid 24 hours of a diet based on hors d'oeuvres and white wine.  (I thought avoiding the hard stuff was a rather notable sacrifice in honor of my upcoming race.)

Saturday morning my kids did a fun run in our hometown.  Patrick did the "kids' dash," which had eerie overtones of a bad concert stampede.  He stayed upright around the dicey corner, though, and here he is (yellow and green shirt) storming his way to the finish:

Charlotte did the kids' 1-mile fun run.  She saw this last year and asked to do it, so starting a few weeks ago I took her out in the neighborhood for a couple jogs.  We started with run/walk and progressed over three outings to jogging a 1 mile loop.  I am not a big fan of actual training for young kids, but I thought it would be useful for her to know how long a mile feels and how to pace herself.  Honestly, I figured she would finish but be dead last or close to it.  I prepared her a lot for this.  And wouldn't you know it--she was near the front.  Here she is kicking it in to the finish:

She was actually the first girl , and she came in ahead of most of the boys.  I think I underestimated her competitive streak.  Best of all, she finished with a huge grin on her face.

Saturday night our friends' son had his bar mitzvah.  The last time I went to a bar/bat mitzvah I was 13, and like all the other girls there, I was wearing a Gunne Sax ensemble.  Suffice it to say, the 13-year-old set is a little less demure these days.  The kids had a fantastic time at the afterparty, but it was not exactly an early pre-race night for me.  When the alarm went off at 5 the next morning, the whole duathlon thing seemed a little less inspired than when I'd first signed up.

So why did I sign up?  For fun.  Or pHun, as we like to say in the chemistry department.  This is a race that encourages costumes.  A friend of mine wanted to do it.  And they were giving out skulls as prizes for first in your age group.  The skull thing nailed it for me, so I signed up and came up with a costume.  I figured if I wore a costume, I would remember that I was doing it for fun, and maybe I would also forget that I haven't been on my tri bike since my last triathlon in early September.  I think I went 1 for 2 on those goals.

For the costume I succumbed for the first time in my life to the heinous trend of "sexy fill-in-the-blank" and bought a form-fitting firefighter's dress.  You say sexy, I say aerodynamic.  I wore it over my tri shorts and running bra, and in a true stroke of destiny,  I already had day-glo skeleton socks that matched the trim on the dress.  I painted flames on my legs at about 6 am, but tragically the face paint I used wore of on the pants I was wearing when I warmed up, leaving me with just a few random orange streaks that looked suspiciously like a bad self-tanner application.  (Or so I have learned from careful study of the self-tanning literature, aka US Weekly.)  As you can see for yourself, I think I managed to de-sexy the costume pretty well.

My friend went as Santa.  He probably lost himself 2 places in his AG by pausing in T2 to swap tights for his Santa shorts, which he didn't want to wear on the bike.

Enough about the costume--onto the race!  It was freaking windy.  I have never been so scared on the bike.  That is really all I want to say about the bike, except to note that not riding in aero position for about two months really does make a difference, and it's not a good one.   Also, while I very much appreciated my friend's insistence on taping over the valve holes on my tri-spoke wheels, I suspect that aerodynamic advantage was negated (and then some) by my flapping skirt.

The runs went great.  There's a little timing weirdness at this race, which doesn't use chips, so that I think they folded T2 into the 2nd run.  But by my own watch I was only 15 seconds slower on the 2nd 5K than on the first, and even better, my combined 10K time was faster than my actual 10K time at Tufts last month.  I got passed on the 2nd run by a woman I had passed at the end of the bike--I tried to stay with her but utterly failed.  It turned out she passed me for 3rd overall, so I ended up 4th, but in the best stroke of luck in a long time, I still got 1st in the AG for the skull.

My friend is making an angry face because he only got a medal.  Shouldn't have done the costume change, dude.

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