Yesterday, I completed my first duathlon. A feat that 21 months ago would have been impossible for me to do. It was a huge challenge, and I went into it knowing that I would either kill it, or be killed by it. We were blessed with the sunrise above to start the morning. It was so dramatically gorgeous that it literally took our breath away... and it set the stage for the morning.
Despite a very busy Saturday (wedding, brother's going away party), I managed to get in some great rest, and felt ready to put it all on the course. I still had minor butterflies in my stomach, but I felt strong and ready to go. My Twitter friends had been sending me messages of luck for more than 36 hours going into the event, and that energy plus the love & support from my family was buffing me up for the event.
The first run was typical for me. Despite a solid warm up of running and plyos, I felt sluggish on the run. Psychologically that did a number on me, and I think it ate at me the rest of the race. I had doubts seep into my mind about whether I would ever be a real runner, or if I was just fooling myself. That's a viscious game to play with yourself on any day, but on race day it is a true killer. Still, I pushed myself hard, keeping a steady pace as planned w/my coach.
Going into transition one I felt ready to hit the cycling portion of the race. I brought my mountain bike because we were advised that the course was mixed between dirt and road, and with the unstable weather the week leading up to the race, I didn't want to hit loose surface and risk a wipeout. BIG mistake. The course was only mildly dirt (less than 1/2 a mile), and primarily road. My bike ended up being very heavy and cumbersome for the hills, and that took a huge toll on me- physically and psychologically. The hills were progressive- one hill built on the next, with only slight downhills. By mile 8 I was feeling very defeated, and was digging in with everything I had. But, at that point, there was a group of three local football teams lining the course. All of them cheering us on loudly. Sincerely. THAT gave me the energy I needed to push on... that was amazing, and I wish I could share the emotion of that moment.
The grueling bike leg left me very little for the last run. I pushed hard, and felt like I was moving in slow motion. At one point I know I was in tears. There was one woman who had finished much earlier who was running back and forth cheering on those of us in the slower class (aka, me) of athletes. I wish I would have caught her name or bib #. She was my angel. With 1/2 a mile to go, I was done. I wanted to finish strong, and didn't feel like I had anything left to give. This angel came up next to me, gently, and held my hand. Normally I hate that stuff, but it was so needed at that moment. She looked at me and told me that I can do ANYthing for 1/2 a mile. She's right. So I pushed with the last of what I had, and finished- running hard, head held high.
Overall, I did not do well. I finished 284/312. My official time was 2:07 (my garmin time was 2:04). I will admit, I was heartbroken for a bit when I realized just how badly I did. I was disappointed in myself. Terrified that I let my supporters down. I wanted to cry. I think I might have.
But a funny thing happened. No one was disappointed except me. Not one other person. All anyone said was congrats. And you know what? They're all right. I FINISHED. It would have been easy to stay home and stay on the couch. It would have been easy to cheat. Easy to walk my bike, walk on the runs. But I didn't. I pushed. I gave it everything I had. And I think I might have fallen in love again... multisport is FUN... holy crap, so much fun. But hard... and THAT is what I fell in love with. Anyone can run (yes, anyone... even if it's not pretty and not easy, anyone can do it) and most people can ride a bike. But not many people venture out there and do BOTH events, piggy backed onto one another.
And so... now I can officially call myself a duathlete. And nothing anyone says, or does (including me) can ever change that. How cool is that?