Sunday, May 22, 2011

Shamrock Duathlon

Finally, an actual race report! But first, let's set the stage with my prerace preparation yesterday.

At 9 am I took Patrick to teeball, where I had the honor of working the air horn. Every 15 minutes I had to blow it to tell the teeballers to change stations. This was sort of stressful, because I would be deep in conversation with other parents, half watching our children not catch fly balls, and then I would panic and check my phone to see if it was airhorn time yet. Very demanding, this advanced teeball parenting.

In the late morning I took both kids to the Amherst Fair, which is one of those traveling deathtraps that sets up on the town common once a year. This year it was made even better by being plunked down in a vast sea of mud. Patrick actually lost a shoe in the mud at one point, something I failed to notice as I hurried him along. Luckily some other parent had the presence of mind to stop me and point out that I was trying to drag my son along without his shoe.

Patrick is not such a daredevil--the little flying dragons are serious business to him.

Despite being classically first-child cautious in all other areas of her life, Charlotte is a thrillseeker at the fair. She insisted on riding the Pharoah's boat; you can make her out as the red speck next to her blue speck of a friend.

I made her sit in one of the middle rows, because I had visions of her little self flying out of the end. I mean, really, how tightly regulated are these things?

We wrapped up the fair with some awesome nutrition.

Let me spoil part of the rest of this post with some foreshadowing: check out Patrick, whose hands have touched a bazillion gross surfaces, shoveling cotton candy into his mouth. . . .

While we were at the fair, my husband was taking off for an 8-day conference in Scotland. Or as we like to say, "conference." Let me add to the foreshadowing by saying that, for a long time when our kids were each babies, every time I went out of town for work, one of them got sick. Oddly enough, they always got pinkeye. Or so my husband claimed--I was never actually around to see the pinkeye.

We finished up the afternoon at Charlotte's soccer game, then drove across the river to pick up our first-time babysitter, Emily. We had a nice dinner and then came home, where I got the kids to bed, Emily retired to our guest room, and I set about getting ready for my duathlon the next morning. I'm a little out of practice, but I managed to get everything together, get my bike on the car, and get to bed before 10.

At about 10:30 I heard Charlotte get out of bed, which she never does, and start sobbing in the bathroom. I went in to see what was wrong, and she said she didn't feel well.  She had no fever, didn't throw up, and in the end I decided she was just thrashed from a sleepover the night before, plus all the fair and associated excitement. She went back to bed and was out pretty quickly.

I went to sleep in that fitful way one does when one's alarm is set for 4 am, not to mention when one thinks one might have a sick kid in the next room. At around 2:30 I woke up to the sound of Patrick crying. This is less uncommon--he is not a great sleeper, and once every week or so he has a bad dream and wakes up inconsolable. I went into his room and comforted him, and he was kind of sweaty, but you know, he's always sweaty when he sleeps.

I went back to sleep, which really wasn't sleep at all, so that I was already awake at 4 when my alarm went "off." Only it didn't really--I need to check to see if the volume is all the way down or it's just not on an actual station, but there was no sound. Lucky for me I'd been awake for an hour and a half already. I got ready to go and checked on the kids once more, because I half expected someone to be sick so I would need to stay home. But everyone seemed fine, sleeping peacefully, so off I went.

But I'm leaving out one detail. Sometime between 2:30 and 4 am, it occurred to me that I might not have registered for this race. I had gone back and forth on whether or not I wanted to do it, and then I decided I would for sure (before it dawned on me that my husband would be on another continent at the time). But I couldn't remember if I'd actually signed up. So before I left I searched my email, and sure enough, I could find no confirmation. This gave me extra motivation to get to the race early (I knew they would have at least some spots for race-day registration), and it also motivated me to get off the highway at one point when i realized I'd left my checkbook at home, so I could get enough cash to pay for the race.

All of this is to say: I didn't feel at any time today like my head was securely in this race. I was half wondering how the kids were (I called home at 7 am but didn't get an answer, and I checked again 10 minutes before the race start to see if I had any messages). Until I got to the race venue and managed to register (because no, I hadn't ahead of time), I was half wondering if I was going to get 1:20 from home and have to turn around without doing the race.

Once the race started, though, I felt reasonably focused. For the first 5K I tried to keep my effort and HR in an appropriate place for the 1st 3 miles of a 10K, which is, after all, what I was going to run.  My first 2 miles were 7:15 pace, which seemed totally reasonable, and then for reasons that are beyond me, my 3rd mile was apparently slower. I got in and out of transition without any completely clownlike moves, and I was off.

The bike was interesting--it started off with a series of small uphills, short enough that I could stay in my large chain ring, stand a little if necessary, and keep momentum. Then at some point (the details of the bike are pretty fuzzy in hindsight) the climbs became longer, and the small chain ring and I spent some quality time together. My HR got pretty high on the uphills, and for awhile I was good about keeping it up on what passes for flats on this course. I got passed by a couple women, but I think I passed most of them back, although at least one of them (we'll call her "Braids") ended up on the winning side of like an 18-pass narrative. I had the same kind of back and forth with a couple men as well, but I actually kind of like that, because it keeps me focused. Although one of them had an annoying habit of taking the downhills way out on the left, and my bike was faster than his, so eventually I had to yell at him to get out of my way. I did see some pretty egregious drafting, and I worked hard to avoid it myself; there were a lot of penalties in the final results, so someone was paying attention.

The downhills: there are some crazy descents in this race. Thankfully the roads were dry, and I really have to tip my hat to my bovine bicycle friend, because I passed a number of men who are clearly heavier than I am.

So that's all sunny and positive, and I have to say I don't know too much about how I did in any absolute sense, because results aren't posted yet. But I am pretty sure my bike was not that great. About two thirds of the way through, I felt like I just lost focus. We'd gone through all the major uphills, my legs were tired, and I just let my HR drop on the flatter sections instead of hammering. I was kind of done biking, which was unfortunate, since I had several miles left to go. I was chasing Braids and a pack of men up ahead, and then they just sort of pulled away from me. In hindsight, this was also about the time that I heard a funny noise from my rear wheel. When I went to pack up my bike after the race, my rear tire was completely flat. Did I have a slow leak during part of the race? Probably I did. But you know, I really think the bigger problem was mental--I was just kind of phoning it in. Possibly on a flabby rear tire.

But enough of that downer. The second run was good--I love running off the bike, and while I have no idea what my splits were (I didn't look at them at the time, and I have some issues retrieving files off my watch. The main issue right now being that I'm in bed, and my watch is somewhere else, and my legs hurt, so I don't want to get up and look for it), I think I did OK. I passed a lot of people and didn't get passed at all, except by one person, which I need to acknowledge is because all the really fast people were already ahead of me. Eventually I caught up to Braids and passed her, and I said, "Great bike!" and she said, "Thanks--I love your bike!" I tried to get past her decisively, because anyone who can form a complex thought like that at this late stage of a race scares me from a competitive standpoint.

The one person who passed me did it in the last mile--I had passed her on the bike, so I knew she'd beaten me on the first run, and she looked like a runner. I will give it away now and say that she ended up beating me, but for me the best part of this race is that I almost fought her off. First I stuck with her after she passed, which I never do. She looked back a couple times, so I knew it was bugging her that I was there, and that seemed like a good thing. About a half mile from the finish I felt like I had another gear, so I passed her back. I quickly put a couple guys between us, and then I tried to hang on. She passed me back with, as it turns out, about 200 yards to go. The thing is, though, I hadn't scouted the end of the course. Because I was, you know, calling the babysitter to see if my kids were sick or not.  Yes, I'm blaming my kids for this. It's actually not clear to me if I could have taken her had I known how close we were--my legs were utterly fried. I'm putting my odds at less than 50/50.

I thought the woman who passed me was in my age group, but I was wrong--she's in the 35-39 group. So it turned out I won the 40-44 age group, for which I received, wait for it. . . .  a small sword. No, really. It goes really nicely with the ceramic skull I won at a duathlon last fall.

And if you are a careful reader, or even just awake, you have guessed it: Patrick is sick. I called the babysitter after I finished, and sure enough, he woke up with a fever. Emily handled it like an utter pro, and Charlotte managed to find both a thermometer and the Children's Tylenol, so by the time I got home Patrick was on a good Tylenol high and fully appreciative of the sword. He has since come down off that high, sadly:

Charlotte is, indeed, fine, at least for now. Aside from some ridiculously sore legs, I am mostly unscathed, except for obviously feeling like the world's worst mother for going off to do a race and then finding out I left a sick kid at home. Also, less traumatically, I have what looks like a belly button piercing gone wrong but is actually chafing from the zipper on my new tri uniform:

I was inspired to post this by Steve in a Speedo, who often posts scary pictures of his blisters and other unsightly things, but you know, I think that's pretty definitely the last time I'm posting a picture of my (frighteningly pale) abdomen. And while the zipper clearly needs some surgery, the new tri suit is overall awesome. My complaints about last year's model were heard, and the new color scheme is way more attractive. Here's a photo my friend Alicia's husband took of us after the race:

The was before I got back to transition and my phone, and found out I was getting another medal for Worst Mother of the Year.


  1. Thanks for the reminder that I need to trim the zipper in my suit. Same thing happened to me last year. Ouch.

    Nice race report.

  2. Dena, glad that my suffering can help others. Also, since you have some vaguely sewing-type cred: do you think I need to stitch across the zipper right above where I cut it off, so it won't fray?