Monday, August 11, 2008

The Greater Cleveland Tri... Duathlon

Lezak begins his ascent over BernardOK, first things first: how awesome was the men’s relay last night? I think that if they had swum Saturday night, we would have stormed the water at the Greater Cleveland Triathlon despite the swim being canceled (rough waters).

You can imagine that while I was wholly undertrained for the swim, I was pretty bummed about my best leg being cut from the race. But I did get some duathlon experience in its place. A little notice (or time to practice, a few months to brick back and forth) might have helped, but what’s a race organizer to do?

So, in lieu of 0.75-mile swim, the Olympic “tri” began with 1.25-mile run out and back above the beachfront. I sucked down some Roctane, Gu’s new endurance snot, when I was warming up and my heart was racing before I even hit the start. Watch that stuff!

First leg, wearing the parachuteStanding still at the start, I had some nerves, but the excess caffeine and stuff kicked up my HR to 199! The ill effects dorked up my breathing and actually made me feel a little fatigued before I took my first step. It didn’t really subside until about three miles into the bike. So much for that stuff!

I’m happy to report, however, that my opening run was A-OK. Lucky for me, I found Jen before the start, and she knew our first-run distance. (Jen’s not only a great athlete; she knows everything! And man was she flying when she passed me on the bike!) Otherwise, I was just going to follow the pack until I happened upon my bike in transition.

Because I’d never done a duathlon, I didn’t really know how to take the run. It was only 1.25 miles, so could I run it fast? Should I?

A little over a mile? I can hoof that! So, for the first half I did: 4:00 at halfway point (6:24/mile). It was pretty windy and my sweatshirt ballooned and dragged like a parachute. Lovely. Then it dawned on me that I, umm, still had to ride my bike farther than I’ve ever ridden and then run again! Ahh, duathlon.

I put it on cruise for the second half and finished in 8:11 (6:32/mile).

Surprisingly, I felt all right after the run (it was only 1.25 miles) and only a little weird hopping on the bike. Maybe the first 6+ miles were all settling into bricking this way? But it took about the first ten miles for me to stop convincing myself that, OK, that feels like a flat tire or, no, that feels like my tires are low. (Don’t you love paranoia?)

In case you’re unfamiliar with the GCT Olympic bike route, it looks something like this:
Greater Cleveland Tri bike route elevation
Don’t let it fool you, though. That (insert expletive) is uphill both ways!

Nevertheless, the ride gave me plenty of hill-training I haven’t done since the new-bike era, and by mile 12 I was still on pace to meet my 93:00 goal.

Enter the bump in the road.

On the way plus side, I took my first aid station on the bike (I’m not comfortable yet riding without both white-knuckled hands on the bars) and sprayed Gatorade like a geyser so high the whole station cheered my spectacle.

Returning from cycling leg with Gu stuck in my shirt. Like the classy girl I am.The not-so-good side: a girl crashed on her bike and totally destroyed her bike chain right in front of me. I stopped to make sure she was OK, and even tried to apply my bicycle naivete to her chain. Poor gal: I think we were somewhere between miles 12 and 14.

Once she started back for the last aid station, I turned around to, you guessed it, one big mama hill. The Kirtland Hills hill that climbs like 500 feet in a quarter mile. And I was at a dead stop. I mounted my bike and tried to push off, but only rolled back. Looking around me, every single person had dismounted and walked to the top. So, I succumbed.

Now I was a 5-6 minutes back and tried to pedal hard to catch up to my goal self. I played passing games with several people and totally wimped out on the major downhill speed opportunities on the road back (I admit it, I brake until my bike squeals going down big hills!).

Crazy lakefrontThe wind managed to be in my face the whole ride, but my favorite moment came as I sped down the final stretch. Last year, I remembered passing the “Your Speed Is” radar machine on Heisley Road. I was proudly rolling at 20 mph; a guy on a tri bike flew by over 45 mph.

I knew it was coming about a half-mile out, so I started pedaling hard in whatever my highest gear and hit the downhill at a considerable clip. The two people before me passed the machine. 35 mph, 38 mph. And when I passed? 42 mph. What a difference a bike makes.

Somewhere I picked up a couple minutes and finished in 1:30:52 (15.75 mph). Not bad for my longest ride, complete with stop, help and walk! Oh yeah, and the freakin’ mega hills too.

Let it not be a secret I was pretty tired at T2, and just not happy that I had to run. Again! Didn't I already cross that off my to-do list?

It was pretty slow going at first: my legs were pretty tight for mile one, which I finished around 10:00. And I was just getting warm before mile two when my GI tract got a little unhappy. I walked a few minutes to settle that down, and I was really warmed by how many people ran by and cheered me on to just keep going. Oh, little did they know... hee hee.

It took about 15:00 to complete mile two, but as I crossed into the second half of the race at 37:00, I was feeling all right with no ill effects on my digestive system. I stopped paying attention to time, but can deduce that it took me 37:00 for the first 5K (11:54/mile) and 25:00 for the second (8:02/mile) for a final run time of 1:02:03. At least I finished strong.

Yum: Corbo's cookies!Swim or no swim, it was a fun day at the races. I finished in 2:44:30, ate a hot dog and feasted on raspberry-filled cookies from Corbo’s after I showered and changed at home. Not only was I pleased to finish the unexpected race, but I was amazed that I could smell just as bad running-biking-running as I did when I swam in the lake too!

Having the swim cancelled was a lot like have your flight canceled for weather. You realize it’s unsafe to go and that the people making that decision know much better than your own meathead, but you’re still a little disappointed and wish there were something you could do. But there’s not.

Hanging out with Jen before the race.So why not have a swell time of it? Not only did I get to spy Jen at least once each leg of the race, I crossed Papa Louie during the 10K and caught scores of other athletes I’ve known within and outside the blogosphere. Congrats to TriGuyJT and all the chicas who ran the half, and big high fives to all!

Particularly to my mom and Neil, who were kind enough to wake up before dawn to cheer me on, keep me going, and still love me when I smelled that bad. I'll have to share a photo of how cute Neil looks in my GCT tech tee. It fits him perfectly.


tracie said...

great job this weekend!!! :)

TrainingtoTri said...

Good job Gina. SOrry you had stomach woes, those always kill me in races.

JenC said...

Great job Gina! That was very nice of you to stop. I don't know if I would have especially if there were volunteers there. I walked that hill for my first Olympic too. It is a monster. Again, great job and glad we got to hang out pre-race!

Papa Louie said...

Gina, Congrats on your well run race. Sounds like you had a good time. Nice to see you out on the course too.

Jim said...

Hi G. You keep on inspiring me! Way to go at the Tri. I haven't blogged much this summer, but AM keeping active. Glad to see you're still going full throttle.