Months ago, when March seemed very, very, far off, I signed up for a duathlon in Central Park on 3/24. It is the New York Tri Club’s March Madness Duathlon, and it’s pretty short – 2.2 mile run, 12 mile bike, 2.2 mile run. A “starter” duathlon, if you will, so I thought it would be fun and a good way to get my feet wet riding in a large group, particularly since it seemed so far off when I signed up for it. Far enough off that it might never even come…
Fast Forward: it is March 19, so the duathlon is no longer far off. No sirree. Even though we got 5 inches of snow last night and spring is nowhere in the forecast. Forecast for race day is a low of 31 and a high of 45, which is actually not that bad given what we have dealt with lately, but the race kicks off at 7:30, so I think we’ll be closer to 31 than 45. Nice running weather for me, but dang, I find it miserable to cycle in the cold!
To say that I am unprepared for this race is an understatement. Think of Lucille Ball trying her hand at a duathlon after working in the chocolate factory – that is me. I did just pick up an approved helmet, so I won’t get kicked out for that. I do have a bike, which will be enormously helpful during the cycle portion of the race. I have no cycling apparel other than bike shorts, but no one will know this anyway, since it looks like I will be wearing a jacket. (It can stay our little secret.) I do not have cycling shoes or clipless pedals or clips, straps or anything of the like. Not sure if you even use them in duathlons, since you have to run? Or do you change shoes between bike and run? Just one of my many questions. Irrelevant for me anyway, because I will be cycling in my Brooks Glycerin 10’s, since they are what I have. If anyone reading this is at the race on Sunday, you are welcome to laugh at me. I know I’m a hack. I am a hack who has read the rules, however, so I do know to stay to the right, pass on the left and no drafting or headphones. Do they ever allow headphones in bike races or rides? I hope not. That sounds like it would be awfully dangerous.
Back in the Stone Age when I registered for the race, I figured that I would have months of riding under my belt before taking to the big, bad roads of Central Park. Thanks to Sandy, Nemo and all the other storms that have blown through here this winter, that did not happen. I did get to log a lot of time on my bike inside, on my bike trainer, though, and have gotten pretty comfortable riding my bike.
Or so I thought. After my initial outdoor bike ride last Wednesday, which was a nice, long, meandering, ride, I decided on Sunday that I should try to ride a route similar in length to the duathlon, and follow it with a 2 mile run to see what it feels like to transition.
The good news: the transition went well – I had little problem transitioning from bike to run, ended up running closer to 3 miles and still felt good at the end.
The bad news – and it is “wicked” bad news, as we would say in Boston: I am really scared to ride fast on the road. This is quite the unfortunate epiphany, given that I have a duathlon in 5 days and 200-mile bike ride coming up this summer. Oops. It took me a long time to complete the 13 mile route. My area is really hilly, and I not only go up hills slowly, I find that also brake most of the way down hills to avoid picking up speed (oh, my poor brakes!). I’m too spooked to let go and fly. I’m sensing that this may become an issue in a duathlon, where I think everyone is expected to try and go fast. Right? Do they issue DQ’s for going too slowly? Is there a cut-off time for the Pan Mass Challenge?
Unfortunately, incompetence and fear are not on my list of legitimate reasons to skip a race, so I will be there on Sunday, bike in hand and running shoes on feet. As a bonus, I’ll get to see Jenn, a good friend of Colby’s and mine, whom I haven’t seen since December. She is a longtime cyclist and a runner, but recovering from a bruised tailbone, so we may be a perfect match for the race. Plus, I resolved this year to try new things and to do things that scare me, so I’m at least fulfilling two resolutions with one scary race.
The upside – and there is always an upside, isn’t there? – whatever my time, it will be my PR for duathlons. And if I like competing in the duathlon itself, it will set a nice low record for me to beat next year! 😉