Du the Toes Duathlon Race Report

Saturday morning I tackled my 3rd duathlon, and it was my 3rd race in the Wolf Pack Events series: the Du the Toes Duathlon.
My workouts at the beginning of the week had gone really well, but on Thursday I had a long day of meetings at work and was completley exhausted when I got home so I decided to skip the pre-race brick on my schedule. My legs were also really dead and going into the race, I think that was the right choice. After work on Friday, I picked up the car/bike rack we were borrowing from friends for the race, ate dinner, did some maintenance on my bike, and packed my bag for race morning.
I was coming off of a really good week at work, so I woke up Saturday morning feeling really excited about the race. Confidence is an issue I battle in many aspects of my life, and I wanted to feed off of the week I’d just had going into my first solo race since 2009! (Matt still is not allowed to sweat since the pins in his hand are sticking out…but hopefully soon!) After the ritual pre-race breakfast of waffle and peanut butter with an apple and coffee, we loaded up the car and headed up to San Pablo Reservoir.
Despite running a little late, we arrived at check in with plenty of time to get registered, rack my bike, set up transition, and use the bathroom a few times prior to the pre-race meeting. I was worried it was going to be a chillier morning than I had anticipated and that I wouldn’t be warm enough, but as we sat through the meeting, it really started to warm up and I was glad I had just gone with a tank for the day. (I’d actually had arm warmers on but took them off and gave them to Matt before the race started.) Before I knew it, we were getting ready to line up and my nerves started to surface. I was getting a little scared thinking about the challenge ahead of me, but after some words of encouragement from Matt and some quick soul searching, I knew I could do it. The next thing I knew, the countdown to the start was going and we were off!
Knowing that the majority of people that do these races are ridiculously good Masters or Masters+ athletes, I tried to not get sucked into the speed of the start. However, when I looked down at the Garmin and saw a sub-8 pace, I knew I was seriously failing at trying to stay around 9 min miles for the first leg. I tried to throw on the brakes and ended up getting down to about an 8:30 pace for the whole first leg. This course was much more trail-focused than the previous ones, which I was not expecting, and I did struggle with that. Because of my ankle reconstruction, I usually avoid trails to ensure I don’t need to get my ankle reconstructed a second time, which meant I was grossly unprepared for the gravel and rocks. I kept thinking about how much harder the run portions were going to be, and how I should really try to slow down, but I was afraid of slowing too much and losing the momentum I had going. By the time I came into transition, my calves were burning and I was beyond ready to get on my bike. I seriously never thought I’d see the day when I was more comfortable on my bike than in my Mizunos! I came in from the 3.6 mile run in 30:23.
Transition went well but my rack was crowded. Everyone in my AG came in at the same time (some were doing the triathlon – run/bike/kayak), and they’d all crowded their bikes around mine, which meant it was a little difficult to get to my gear initially. But after getting my shoes changed quickly, and getting my helmet/gloves on, I shoved a handful of Swedish fish into my mouth and headed out for the mount line, coming out in 1:21.
du the toes
I absolutely love that they have free photos for download!
du the toes 2014
And yes, my mouth is still full of Swedish fish at this point!
I hit the mount line, jumped on my bike, and headed out of the parking lot and up the road to the main loop. Because of the location next to the boat launch for the triathlon portion, the bike route was 22 miles instead of the typical 18.7 mile loop. The route up to the main road was hillier than I had anticipated, especially right before turning onto the big loop, and I was able to drop several of my competitors at that point. (Though, maybe that was a little unfair given Scarlet – the name I’ve finally selected for my bike – was racing some hybrid and touring bikes.) Once I was on the main loop, I knew exactly what to expect at each point in the course. I knew where I could pick up speed, where I’d need to climb, where I should conserve for the big climbs, where the road was going to be really bumpy, etc. But I wanted to stay out of my comfort zone instead of settling into the ride; I wanted to keep pushing myself. To do that, I just kept trying to see how fast I could get to each section of the course. I never let my legs rest comfortably into a cadence. I wanted to come off the bike as fast as I could, so I just kept pushing harder and harder.
Unlike my first duathlon, when I was getting passed by all kinds of guys on the bike, I only had one competitor pass me while I was on the course. Instead, I focused on passing as many other cyclists as I could. When I hit the base of Mama Bear, I was worried about my strategy because my legs were burning. But the sag wagon had just pulled over to help another rider with a flat, and I didn’t want to find myself needing them, as well. So I put my head down and just started pushing up the hill. When I crested the top, I knew I had a bit of flat before another small climb so I tried to pick up speed to ride into the hill, which worked well. Checking the Garmin as I approached Papa Bear, I could tell that a solid climb would put me in a great position to blow away my anticipated bike time of 1:30-1:35. So I fought my way up the hill, even picking up speed towards the top, gained some momentum going into the final little climb on the hill before the massive descent. Having gained so much bike confidence this year, I knew I could fly down Papa Bear and really pick up some key speed and time. (After looking at the stats from the Garmin, I maxed out at 41 mph on the descent!) I pushed up Baby Bear, knowing it was the final hill and gave it all I could, which was not much at that point. But once I hit the turn back, I mostly had rollers to go and I made up as much time as I could. When I hit the sign saying I had 1 mile left, and I was at 1:22:xx for the bike, I started laughing and almost crying. That was when I realized I was really close to accomplishing a major goal – doing a challenging race on my own. But it was also the relief of knowing I had climbed the Three Bears without needing someone to keep me from giving up. I had done it on my own and it felt amazing. And when I came into transition at 1:27:27, I could tell Matt was not expecting to see me so soon!
I came into transition not sure if I’d passed everyone in my AG since we’d been racing with the triathletes up until that point. So I quickly got back into my running shoes, dropped my helmet, grabbed some more Swedish fish, and headed back out for the last run: 1:15 for T2. Matt had told me I was right at 2 hours when I was leaving transition, so going into the run, I thought I had a good shot at making 2:20 (which had been my A goal for the race).
The last run, which was only 1.8 miles, started with a bit of a brutal gravel hill. My tired legs were not happy to have to start with that incline, but I told myself that all I had to do was make it up that hill and the rest would be pretty flat. While that was true, I wasn’t ready for how difficult the trail conditions would be for my exhausted legs. A little more than 1/4 of the way through the last leg, there was a small creek that had been filled with rocks. I had avoided it successfully on the first run, but I could tell I was going to end up landing right on it heading out this time. I did a little pony step to try to avoid it, since there was no stable footing near it, and somehow caught my foot and ended up face planting in the middle of the course. I jumped right back up (other runners were trying to make sure I was ok), spit out some gravel and dirt, and kept on going. I had blood running down my hand that I was able to wash off a bit with a cup of water from the aid station at the turn around, but I was not feeling great. I was frazzled from the whole thing. I just did the only thing I could even think to do at that point: I kept running. And while it took me a bit to get my feet back underneath me, I just kept pushing. I was hurting and I knew the fastest way to do anything about it was to finish quickly. When I hit the downhill back to the finish line, I focused on staying upright on the gravel, wanting to avoid another fall. I made it down safely, saw Matt waving me in, and sprinted for the finish mat. My run time was 15:47. My total race time was 2:16:13! I had demolished my goals and expectations for the race!
Finals stats:
AG: 1st out of 2
Women under 40: 1st out of 4
Overall: 22nd out of 34
du the toes 2014
When I look back at how much I have grown and progressed as a duathlete this year, it blows my mind a little bit. On Saturday, I raced almost an identical course to my first race, but it was 3.3 miles longer. My bike time, however, was just 2 minutes slower. Granted, I was doing my first race in the craziest storm we’ve had since I moved to California, but I think that’s a good indication of how much strength and confidence I’ve gained on the bike since then.
As I mentioned, this was also my first solo race since 2009. When I started running 5 years ago, I ran two 5Ks on my own and one 5 mile leg of an 8 person 40 mile relay team. Ever since then, I have stood at the start line of every race with someone. As much as I have grown and improved over the last 5 years, this race was an important challenge for myself. Would I have the mental strength to accomplish my goals? Would I be able to find the drive and motivation within to push when it was hard to push? I proved to myself that I could. And for that, this race will forever hold a very special place in my heart.
du the toes 2014
Complete with Bandaids & dirt.
Your Turn: What race are you the most proud of for completing?

Monday Miles: May 26 – June 22

Seriously??? It’s been a month since my last training update???? That’s just purely embarrassing! Here is my attempt to get caught back up with where my workouts are and how my training has been going:

May 26 - Rest day: wine tasting. Also known as the day I threw my back out…whomp whomp.

May 27 - On the schedule was a 6 mile run through the neighborhood. What actually happened? Pill popping, back rubbing, and a lot of IcyHot applications.

May 28 - On the schedule: 15 mile bike ride + 3 mile run. None of that happened thanks to my wonderful inability to stand up straight.

May 29 - Rest day. Nailed it!

May 30 - Another rest day but starting to feel better.

May 31 - Had an easy 5 miler on the schedule but I decided to just run 4 miles instead. I lead the ZOOMA training group run from Emeryville and took it nice and slow. I finished the run in 42:35, which I was not complaining about. I had some tightness by the end of the run but I was just really happy to be breaking a sweat!

June 1 - Another sweaty day! I had a 20 mile bike ride on the schedule, but when I got to the end of the Bay Bridge trail, my back was starting to tighten up so I just headed straight home. I ended up covering 13.4 miles in 1:03:07.

June 2 - I had 50 min spin plus 20 min of core on the schedule. Instead I bike commuted 6.9 miles before rushing to take Matt to urgent care after he was hit by a car door on his way home from work. That kind of derailed things for the coming week (which probably wasn’t bad considering I was still coming off of the back issues).

June 3 - Bike commute of 6.9 miles.

June 4 - Unintended rest day spent running around to appointments and trying to prepare for Matt’s surgery/rebooking our flights to Idaho for the weekend.

June 5 - Matt’s surgery day became my rest day.

June 6 - Vacation (which started with a 3:30 am wake up call); another rest day! (I’m starting to realize just why there was no update in the past month!!)

June 7 - Decided to get in a brick workout that I’d had on the schedule for earlier in the week. I started with 40 min on the bike but since I was in Idaho I used the spin bike at my mom’s gym (woof) and covered 14.7 miles. I was supposed to head out for another 40 min of running but I ran out of time and only covered 2.3 miles in 21:41. And FYI, the altitude was miserable.

June 8 - Post-beerfest “long” run. After a long day of drinking and eating way too much PLUS two weeks of minimal workouts, this run at altitude was one of the worst EVER. I covered 4 miles in 40:39 and was pretty certain death was imminent.

June 9 - Bike commute of 5.55 miles.

June 10 - Got workouts back on track with 6.9 miles of bike commuting + 30 min on the bike trainer.

June 11 - A LOT of workouts going on: starting off with bike commuting, I covered 7.25 miles. I also did a track workout when I got to work in the morning, but I was short on time so I did 1/2 mile warm up, 4 x 3 min at half marathon pace, and 4 min of recovery. Overall the workout was 3.01 miles in 26:30. I also did 20 min of core work and stretching at night.

June 12 - I did a commuting brick so after biking to work in the morning, I went out for a 30 min run and covered 3.41 miles. After work, I biked home to make the commuting total 6.9 miles.

June 13 - Rest day with 6.9 miles of bike commuting.

June 14 - The big 10 mile ZOOMA training run!! Heading out from Athleta, I did an out and back on the Bay Bridge and an out and back along the Marina in 1:36:56. And BIG props to Matt and Pepper for manning (and dogging) the water station :).

June 15 - I did a double brick with 20 min run to start, 1 hour bike in the middle, and then wrapped up with 10 min running to finish. Overall I covered 17.17 miles in 1:28:28.

June 16 - Rest day with 6.9 miles of bike commuting.

June 17 - Bike commuting with 6.9 miles followed by a spin workout. I did 10 min of warm up, 10 x 1 min 1 leg drills, 3 min easy, 10 x 2 min power ups, 2 min easy, 5 min at 80 cadence building to Z3+, followed with an easy spin to 1:10. Woof. My legs were DEAD.

June 18 - I did 6.9 miles of bike commuting. After getting into work in the morning, I headed out for a tempo workout. I did 30 min of tempo running followed by 5 x 1 min striders with 2 min recovery jog in between, and 10 min recovery. The total run was 6.08 miles in 55:01. And with that, I called myself ready to race!

June 19 - I had a short brick on the calendar with a 30 min spin and 20 min run, but my legs needed the recovery time more so I gave them a little TLC instead.

June 20 - Rest day!

June 21 – Du Toes Duathlon! 3.6 mile run, 22 mile bike, 1.8 mile run…and a 1st place AG finish to boot!

June 22 - All about recovery with less than a week until ZOOMA Napa Valley! I had a 30-50 min recovery run on the schedule. But after taking a big spill mid-race, I decided my body could use recovery time more to start mending the wounds.

Wow. That was a LOT of miles to recount! I swear I’ll try to be better about recounting these crazy workouts. But as you can see, I did a solid job of relying on my base with a few weeks of solid training going into the duathlon on Saturday. Now I’m hoping the same tactic will prove successful for this Saturday’s half marathon…especially since it’s going to be 90 °F in Napa this weekend!!!! :/

Your Turn: What kind of workouts have you been digging lately? What’s been the best butt-kicker?

Windsor Green Half Marathon Race Report

With some major life events going on recently (like moving and Matt’s bike accident), my race report from the Windsor Green Half Marathon was pushed to the side for a bit. I registered for this event as part of the Run Wine Country series – run all 3 half marathons in the same calendar year and bring home a special bottle of wine (the other two are Water to Wine in August and Healdsburg in October). I really couldn’t see how I could turn down that offer, so on May 18 I set out on race #1 of the series.
I woke up that morning concerned about my race goals. My throat had been sore for a few days but that day I was barely able to talk and I was concerned about congestion affecting my breathing during the race. I was also exhausted from packing the day before  and spent the entire drive up to Windsor questioning my sanity while popping Aleve and cough drops. I told Matt I’d give the race whatever I could, and I’d be really pleased if that turned out to be sub-2 hours. I knew I’d still fight for whatever I had to give, but I wanted to make sure I listened to my body.
When we arrived at the race, we were able to park really easily, grab our packets, use the bathroom, line up, and shake out the nerves with just a few minutes to spare before the race started. When the gun went off, I did my best to keep my pace in check for the first mile, hoping I wasn’t going out too fast. The race started in downtown Windsor and then headed south to the Sonoma airport. We had some shade, but it was pretty sunny already and I could tell the temps would warm up quickly. As the miles started to tick by, I focused on keeping close to an 8:45 pace for the first 6 miles. This proved to be harder than it should have been because the mile markers were inconsistent; some were short, some were long. Eventually we hit 5 miles and I pulled out some Swedish fish (these are seriously magical for me during a race right now!). I ate them as we began climbing one of the steeper hills on the course with the sun shining down directly on us. I was close to throwing in the towel and taking a walk break, but I told myself to make it to the 6 mile marker first. I kept repeating “Embrace the pain” over and over, and when I crested the hill and got a nice kick from a downhill section, I felt myself push through the wall I had hit. At that point, the miles were closer to an 8:40 pace (according to the instantaneous pace on Matt’s Garmin since the markers were so off), and I told myself to just hold that pace for another 4 miles.
Coming up the hill at mile 6 also meant that we took a turn to head back north and we were instantly in the shade. The area reminded me of running through Rock Creek Park in DC, which gave me a big boost, with the added benefit of gorgeous wineries peeking through breaks in the trees. (This race is seriously stunning.) I was feeling really good at this point and holding the pace well. When we hit 6.5 miles I took a salt tablet, which was key because I knew there’d be more sun to come once we turned east and started the last portion of the course. I was also really glad I had worn my water belt for the race because there were no where near enough water stations! More than anything, I think having more water stations would have been a HUGE improvement for this race with how warm it was.
I was really surprised to find that the course was full of rolling hills after spending time looking at the elevation chart the night before. I was anticipating a few shorter/steeper climbs, but there were very few flat sections. For the most part, my chest and lungs were handling that ok; when I’d get tired and struggle with oxygen exchange on an uphill, I knew I would have a downhill coming to recover. But that did start to take a toll on me. Around mile 8 I noticed my foot was rubbing pretty badly in my shoe (the start of a serious blood blister), and that pain was able to distract me from the hurt I was beginning to experience by mile 9. At that point I focused on sticking to an 8:40, but I think that might have been when I started to slow down a bit. I kept telling myself to embrace the pain, embrace the suck, and that a big goal was going to require a lot of pain to accomplish it. That helped me fight to mile 10. I’d taken more Swedish fish at mile 9 and got a little boost from that, but after mile 10, we were heading back out into the sun for the final 5K back into town. Taking that turn into the sun was pretty brutal and started draining me.
windsor green half marathon 2014
Struggling in the heat.
It became harder and harder to keep my lungs clear and after fighting my way through mile 10, I was beginning to seriously struggle. I could feel my pace slowing instead of dropping to the 8:35s as planned. I would see patches of shade and tell myself to keep running to that spot. It became a big struggle. Finally I reached the point after mile 11 where I couldn’t keep running; my chest had too much phlegm and I couldn’t breathe. I took a short (less than 2 min) walk break to catch my breath, try to clear my throat, and pop in a cough drop, which really helped loosen things up so I could keep breathing. Shortly after I started running again, we hit the mile 12 marker and I told myself to focus on holding strong to the finish. I knew at that point that I would be able to PR the race as long as I stayed under 10 min pace, and even with the walk break during mile 12 I ran faster than that.
We took a final turn away from the freeway to head into the downtown area and I could hear this woman trying to gain on me from behind. She’d been feeding off of me for the last couple of miles, basically using me to pull her along at various points in the course, and when I heard her coming up behind me I could feel Matt and I both recognize that we weren’t going to let her pass us. And if she was going to pass us, she was going to have to work pretty hard to make it happen (I’m not competitive at all, am I?). So we picked up the pace a little.
windsor green half marathon 2014You can see her behind us here.
windsor green half marathon
I was obviously feeling awesome during this race…not.
As soon as we dropped her, Matt whispered to me that the man running slightly in front of us was just asking to get chicked. And that it would be a real shame if I didn’t do the honor of passing him in the final stretch. So I dug deep to find all of the energy I could muster to speed past him. And just as I passed him, I caught sight of the finish line. Instead of settling into the pace I had just picked up to, I floored it with everything I had to the finish line (it may have been nicer of me to warn Matt that I was going to do that, but he figured it out quickly). I flew past a few more people coming down the finish shoot and finished with everything I had to give: 1:55:27 (beating Matt by 1 second, yet again!).
windsor green half marathon 2014
I was really proud of myself for pushing through the hurt around mile 6 and getting through that wall. I think I succumbed to that too easily at Disney World, so that felt like a HUGE mental victory and I was able to ride that for a couple of miles. I think the Swedish fish really worked out well as a fueling strategy. I just need to figure out a better way to carry them so I’m not playing with a plastic baggie. And I listened to my body. I pushed even when it was tough but I respected my limits given all of the conditions for the day. And for all of this, I am beyond proud of my race. No, I didn’t break 1:54, but I set a PR while battling a chest cold and in the middle of packing…I’m pretty pumped about that!
windsor green half marathon 2014
Final stats: 1:55:27
AG: 13th out of 78
Overall: 167th out of 686

After returning to East Bay, Matt and I picked up our keys for our new apartment in Oakland and started moving that afternoon! With dead legs I carried boxes of books from our 3rd floor apartment to our new 3rd floor apartment. All I can really say following that experience is this: racing a half marathon hard + moving will produce more soreness in your legs than any person should ever have to endure! But I’m still excited about my PR and I’m loving our new apartment, so I think it was worth it :).

I also wanted to mention that Matt and I loved the town of Windsor and wanted to spend more time there, which we unfortunately did not have that day. So instead, we went wine tasting with my family on Memorial Day – Windsor has a tasting room for Mutt Lynch and Deux Amis wineries that is dog friendly! Pepper came along for her first wine tasting experience, and we enjoyed a wonderful day drinking great wines with my family in Windsor. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re looking for a dog-friendly wine tasting experience!

wine tasting with Pepper

Your Turn: Have you ever run one of the Run Wine Country races? Do you have a favorite dog-friendly winery in the area I should check out?

ZOOMA Napa Valley Runner Report: Running On Waffles

With ZOOMA Napa Valley just 1 week away, it’s time for the final installment of the Runner Report! And in an special edition, we’re featuring ourselves – the ZOOMA Napa Valley Ambassadors!

Runner Report Logo


The ZOOMA Napa Valley Ambassadors are excited to bring you our “ZOOMA Napa Valley Runner Report!” Each week we’ll be featuring a ZOOMA Napa Valley half marathon or 10K runner on each of our blogs. As women runners, we want to use our role as Ambassadors to highlight and share the stories behind the incredible women preparing to run ZOOMA in June. Each runner has a special and unique story, and we invite you to learn about our runners through this series. Please feel free to click through the links at the end of each post to read about additional ZOOMA racers.

ZOOMA Napa Valley Ambassadors

Runner Report: Running On Waffles

running on waffles

Age: 28

Current City: Oakland, CA

Race: half marathon

Why are you running ZOOMA Napa Valley?

I have loved the mission behind the ZOOMA race series and have wanted to be involved with the organization for years. Having the opportunity to be an Ambassador for the new Napa Valley race was really special, and celebrating with everyone at the finish line will be the icing on the cake!

When & why did you start running?

I started running in the spring of 2009 after putting on a substantial amount of weight in my first semester of graduate school. I had always been an athlete growing up, but hated running. One day at the gym I decided to give the treadmill a try…and I became addicted. While I originally stuck with running to help lose weight (dropping 55 lbs), it has turned me back into an athlete and given me an incredible amount of confidence.

How many races have you done & which was your favorite?

I have raced several shorter distance races, often using 5-10Ks as part of longer training runs to get more start line experience. Bigger races, I’ve completed 4 marathons, 9 half marathons, and I’m racing my 3rd duathlon tomorrow morning! My favorite race would be a tough call, but I think I’d have to pick the Philadelphia Marathon. After trying to break 4:30 at 2 previous races and overcoming some major injuries along the way, I finally accomplished my goal and reached the finish line feeling amazing. It probably helped that I sang “Call Me Maybe” for the last 6.2 miles :).

If you could pick one celebrity to run with, who would it be & why?

This might be a weird choice but I’d have to go with Bill Clinton. I was a big politics junkie before living in DC for 5 years and he’s one of my favorite presidents. Also, I have to admit I have a bit of a crush on him.

What is your favorite running memory?

I’m not sure I can recapture that moment as well as I did in this blog post from almost two years ago. (Must say, one of my favorite posts I’ve ever written.) But basically I was out running one morning before school when I caught a glimpse of a woman running across the street from me who I had seen several times before when I was a new runner. More than a few times she had provided me with inspiration at the gym to keep pushing myself to accomplish more and to run farther. When I saw her that morning, it was not only a moment in which I realized just how far I had come myself as a runner, but how influential one person can be to helping motivate others to become more active. In that moment I felt empowered, strong, and transformed.

What is your one running must-have?

A good sports bra.

What is your favorite post-run indulgence?

Shipyard Pumpkin Beer and apple cider donut holes while taking an ice bath. Seriously, that’s how I’ve survived training for 4 marathon and nothing says fall marathon to me more than that.

Who is your running inspiration?

Of course I look up to the great American runners like Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, Lauren Fleshman, and Deena Kastor. Who doesn’t? But running right now is about becoming the best and strongest woman I can be. Something I’ve talked about more in the past but that I am working really hard to overcome in my professional life is Imposter Syndrome. It’s very common in female scientists as we’re still jockeying for our place in a traditionally (and still) male-dominated field. But I don’t want to be held back from accomplishing my goals because of those issues, and running is one place where I can really help develop my self-confidence. So my running inspiration is the woman I am trying to become, because that woman is pretty amazing.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from running?

This lesson has actually been present throughout my entire life, but it wasn’t until my first marathon that I grasped the beauty of it. “Earned, Never Given.” It’s a Marine Corps motto (my first marathon was Marine Corps in 2011) and it’s one of life’s greatest truths. No matter what I’m working towards, this mantra is never far from my mind. And it pushes me to work even harder.


Want to read about more of our amazing ZOOMA Ambassadors? Check them out here:

Miriam @ Long Run Happiness
Kat @ Dream Body Warrior
Lynda @ Fitnessmomwinecountry
Karen @ Reason to Play
Kara @ Welcome to Karadise
Nicole @ The Slow Life

Will you be joining us on race day? Make sure to join us for the Honest Tea Mocktail Party the night before the race at 7 pm – RSVP here!

Golden Bears Du Race Report

Well, it’s a little embarrassing to be posting this now since I raced the Golden Bears Du on April 5! But since my next duathlon is now just 6 days away, I figured I should get this bad boy posted ASAP!

The Friday evening before the race I got home late from work, but I ate some pizza in a meeting around 4 and decided to call that dinner. It wasn’t the pre-race meal I had planned for, but it wasn’t greasy and there were plenty of delicious carbs so I went with it. It also meant that by eating earlier, I didn’t have a heavy stomach when the race started. I think it ended up being a pretty good pre-race fueling strategy.

We got to the start area with just enough time to get our transitions set up and use the bathroom a couple of times before the pre-race instructions meeting started. I ate my typical breakfast (waffle with peanut butter, an apple, and coffee) at home, ate half of a bagel with cream cheese when we got to the race, and then split a Honey Stingers waffle with Matt before starting. It left me with plenty of fuel but no gross heavy feeling.

After the pre-race meeting, we had 2 minutes before the race started so we threw our jackets in the car and got lined up. For the first run (5 miles) I knew I needed to be smart about pacing so I didn’t bonk later in the race or mess up my hamstring, which had been giving me some trouble all week. At first I struggled to keep it near a 9:00 mile. The course starts with a steep downhill, and it’s really easy to pick up speed on it and not ease back up. Eventually we settled into a pace just under 9:00, which I felt we held pretty well. This part of the course was 2 different out and backs. The first one was new to us and there were definitely some rolling hills. I felt pretty good on most of it, and was trying to gauge how my hamstring was responding, but it never hurt much during the race. We watched several of our competitors take off pretty quickly at the start of the race, but near the turnout for the first out and back, we started to pick them off one by one. We made our way to the second out and back, which was the same route from Du 3 Bears, so I knew what to expect from the course. The first half was great, since it was downhill, and then I just focused on running consistently on the way back up. We came back up the massively steep incline (where Matt told me I should pretend I was doing hill repeats) and into transition. My legs were tired, but not dead, and my breathing seemed well-controlled. I was happy with our pacing for the first leg, and the results show our time as 43:08. Pretty good!

Transition went really well. I dropped the long sleeves I had on over my tank since the sun was coming up and transitioned into my bike gear pretty quickly. I ate some Jelly Beans, drank some water, and took off. (I’m not sure about our transition time because they currently still have bike and both transition times lumped together.) Hopping on the bike, I was really excited to see what kind of progress I could make from the last race. Without the crazy wind and rain, I wanted to take the downhills stronger and push myself on the climbs more. My goal was to shave 5 min off of my time from the previous race (1:25:24). I flew down the first downhill and biked strong through the early rolling hills. Once I hit the flatter section, I kept pushing but ended up getting passed by another woman. I was a bit crushed, but just kept on pushing hoping that she’d burnout on the big climbs (especially since I’d already passed her once on the run). I kept passing people that were doing the short course and felt really proud, and that gave me a big boost going into the hills. I took Mama as strong as I could, trying to use both the upstroke and downstroke of the pedal for momentum. I was feeling pretty good at that point, but when we started to reach the base of Papa, Matt dashed my hopes by telling me there was no way we’d make our bike goal. I’d already been passed by another racer that I’d passed on the run, so I just made it my goal to push as hard as I could and try to catch him. Shortly after, on the climb up Papa, we ended up catching him, which gave me a boost to keep pushing. I was going too slow for Matt, so he went around me and I ended up using that gap to try to chase up (and yelling things like, “You fucking own this hill”) to get myself to the top. I was rewarded by a brief downhill before a little incline that leads into the major downhill of the course. My legs were shot for that uphill, but I ended up screaming down the other side close to 35 mph! It was AMAZING! Until a turkey ran into the road and I had to break to let it pass. But it was a blast. From there I kept pushing until we hit Baby Bear. Right before the base, I caught sight of the woman that had passed me earlier, and it became my goal to catch up with her. Unfortunately, as soon as I started climbing the last hill, my legs informed me that they were pissed. Pedaling became ridiculously difficult and it was all I could do to make it up that last incline. I’ve never been so happy to reach flat terrain! The last probably 7 or so miles were fairly flat with some easy rollers, so I started after my goal of catching my rabbit. I told myself that if I could at least keep her in my sights on the bike, I could catch her on the run. I did my best to stay with her, but she was a pretty fierce beast on the bike. About a mile or two out from transition, Matt told me we could still hit 1:20 if we kept up the pace, and after pushing with all I could, I think we managed to come in right around there.

I was happy to see that as I racked my bike, my rabbit was just starting to leave transition. I told myself to swap shoes as quickly as I could and get on the run course ASAP. My total bike and transition time was 1:22:55. Getting out on the last run, I was happy that my feet were not as numb as the last time. I’ve been wearing my bike shoes looser lately, and I think that combined with the lack of cold rain made a big difference. I took the steep downhill and tried to use the momentum it gave me, but my legs felt dead and I didn’t know if I could push the final miles. I knew I had given everything I could on the bike course, and that even if I ran an 11:00 pace I would break 2:30. So I was happy, but trying to make my legs move I thought there was no way I was running sub 9:30, but at one point, Matt told me we were running sub 8:00! I knew I had gravity helping me since we were on the downhill section, but I was pretty ecstatic considering how heavy my legs were feeling. When we got to the bottom of the downhill, there was a slight incline before flattening out for about a 1/2 mile. That small incline was when I began to doubt everything. I knew I’d finish, but it was a struggle. Matt told me there were guys up ahead that needed ‘chicking’ and I shortly realized that one of the runners was my rabbit. She was passing another racer, a guy who was really falling off, and I knew I could pass him. But I told Matt there was no way my legs were strong enough to catch my rabbit. I told him I just wanted to finish as strong as I could. So we made our way to the turn around, came around the loop, and then I realized I was gaining on my rabbit. I gave everything I had to pass her, and I was ecstatic when I finally did it. My sole goal at that point became staying in front. Shortly after passing her, I turned to begin the track back uphill. I could barely get in oxygen at this point, and I was convinced I was going to collapse. My legs were shredded, my breathing was beyond labored, and all I could think about was putting one foot in front of the other. It was miserable and hard, but I managed to get myself off of the trail and onto the flat pavement section. It was there that I was able to catch my breath and tried to mentally prepare myself for climbing the last and final hill. When I came around the corner and saw the course marshal flagging us in, I took one last look over my shoulder to make sure my rabbit wasn’t near and pushed up the hill with everything I had. I have no idea how much I slowed down trying to get up, but at some point Matt asked me if I had an A+ goal for the race. I told him I’d been too scared about the A goal to bother, but mentally when he said that I instantly came up with 2:25. At the top of the hill I practically fell forward to get across the finish line, grabbed water while they took my timing chip off of my ankle, and looked up to see Matt shoving the Garmin under my nose: 2:24:56. I couldn’t believe it! I ran the last 2.2 in 18:52 (slower than last time).

I am so proud of how hard I pushed on the course. It was tough but I left everything out there.

Total time was 2:24:56. Finished 1st in AG, 1st female 39 and under, 4th overall 39 & under. And beat Matt ever so slightly :).

golden bears duathlon