I've been in Louisiana for almost a month now. Its been a crazy first month, complete with very close calls with a tornado (2 miles away) and an alligator (about 10 feet away), searching for and buying a house, saying good-bye to Terry and sending him back to Monterey, obscene humidity, an extra lame group ride, and a very busy job. Each of those in and of itself was worthy of a blog, but with a super slow internet connection, taking an online leadership course, and a work schedule that has me up at 5:00 each morning, blogging hasn't been a priority. But I finally got a chance to do a race this weekend, so here's my race report. I am not a swimmer. When I was little I failed basic swim lessons the first time I took them. When I was 10 I did the IronKids triathlon--I was dead last out of the water after reverting to the elementary back stroke to complete my swim leg...yes, that's right, the "chicken-airplane-soldier" stroke. In case you're wondering, its not a fast stroke. In college I tore up my shoulder and as part of my rehab I was supposed to go swim--the swim coach actually told me I was moving backwards in the pool. I haven't swam a stroke since I lived in Japan, so that would be about 3 years ago. Yet for some reason when I saw that the Xterra Gator Terra off-road triathlon was only an hour away from where I live now, I had to do it. So I signed up, bought myself a silly swim cap and goggles, and even drove myself to the course last weekend to pre-ride the mountain bike leg (swweeeeettt single track by the way!). In the back of my mind I kept thinking, what the hell are you doing? You are a HORRIBLE swimmer! But I was so excited to do something competitive that I threw all logical thought out the window and was ready to dive right in.
Fortunately the stars properly aligned and my triathlon registration was "lost". So when I showed up Saturday morning for my first grown-up triathlon, I wasn't registered for it. And then I learned that there was also a duathlon. I've always wanted to do a duathlon. Running and mountain biking...I'm no superstar at either of them, but I can hold my own in both. So I signed up for the du...thank goodness no swim! There was about 25 of us at the start for the du, with only 2 other women...at least I was on the podium! The one lady looked pretty athletic, so I figured I was in for a good challenge.
The first leg was a 1.1-mile trail run, complete with a huge hill similar to the Surf City cx run-up but longer, right off the bat. All the sudden I'm in 4th place, behind three guys, with the other women well behind me. Okay, cool. But one chic was wearing a cycling kit, so she could be a good mountain biker...be smart! I ran into the transition, quickly change into my Sidi's and throw on my helmet. Some how I did a perfect flying mount of my mountain bike--amazing considering I can't do that on my 'cross bike--and off I went for the 10-mile mountain bike leg.
Ironically I finished my run in about the same time that the elite men doing the triathlon finished their swim (they started the du a few minutes after the tri swim start), so I was on the course with them. I was good in the technical sessions against them, but they would fly by me in the powery open sections. Three pro ladies passed me during the mtb, too. One of them had calves the size of my head...crazy! It was fun to be at the front of the women's field because all the spectators would cheer extra for me. I've never heard the words "You Go Girl!" so many times in my life. I even caught some air on a berm in front of one crowd while a guy behind me crashed, so I got extra cheering there. There were plenty of places on those trails to destroy yourself, and despite nearly endo'ing hard twice, I survived unscathed. I even made a friend because he liked "following my downhill lines"...I really think he was enjoying the view. Luckily the other women in the du hadn't caught me yet, so I was still in first place as the bike wound down.
I sucked down a Gu, did a perfect 'cross dismount at the line to the transition area (that's a good way to impress folks who know nothing about cyclocross), changed back into the running shoes and headed out for the last 3.5 miles of trail running. Unfortunately the trails were technical enough during the mtb leg that I hadn't been drinking enough water. So that coupled with trying to get my legs to stop spinning and start running made the first mile go slow. But then I grabbed a water at the aid station and got in my groove. I love trail running. Not as much as mountain biking, but its fun. Suddenly I was at the 3-mile point and realized I was almost done. I picked it up another notch and kicked it on in. I finished the whole thing in about 1:49 I think...and I won! Yippie! I think I even got 2nd or 3rd overall against the men.
I don't have any pictures since my personal race documentary photographer was in Colorado for the weekend. But I had a great time and would love to do another off-road du again...and I'm so damn glad I didn't have to swim. I'd probably still be in that lake.
Probably won't have many more race reports for awhile. Racing is having to take a back seat to getting moved into the house and job commitments. Maybe by mid-summer I'll be back in the racing groove.