Monday, February 27, 2012

Chilly Cheeks Duathlon #3 - Race Review

AKA "why am I racing in the winter?"
AAKA "my run training plan is to only run during races.  Maybe this isn't the best plan...."

This was the third and final installment of this duathlon series.  I signed up for this series for a few reasons:  
  1. to keep me a bit sharp (maybe not as dull would be more appropriate) and to ensure that I rode/ran at least once a month during the winter.
  2. I got free sweat pants that say Chilly Cheeks.  The sweat pants are ok, but they'd be even more awesome if the race name was on my ass instead of down my leg.
And the race series did fulfill both of these reasons.  Was it fun? eh.  I suspect it would have been WAY more fun if I knew people who were also racing.  For some reason, most people in my club did the running distance series.  I had no interest in training for 10 mile runs this winter, so I did this instead.  And I have lost all my running base, so perhaps this wasn't the smartest decision.

The premise of the race is that it will be held, snow or shine.  Saturday, we had both.  We had a "suprise!" snowstorm on Thursday.  Weather forecasters said a "dusting" and we had ~8 inches or something ridiculous.  Then Friday was sunny and warm, but not warm enough to melt all of the snow.

Per the pre-race safety meeting, the bike course was clear, except for a tiny (and avoidable) patch of ice at the turn around.  If you were paying attention, the ice should be easy to miss.  The run course was "3 inches of fluff"  and a small frozen "lake" for the trail portion and clear on the road portion.  And the sidewalk going from the bike dismount line to transition was snowy too.

I dismounted on the clear and dry street and walked my bike through this.  No way was I going to ride.
 I set up in transition. It took me a bit to get orientated, as it seemed illogical that the RD would have us bring our bikes along a snowy sidewalk into T1.  I set up where I thought was a good spot (and DRY) for easy racking in T1 only to realize that I was at the Run Out entrance.  Not so convenient.  So I moved next to an aisle spot close to the snowy sidewalk.  Very convenient.  And also very snowpacked.

Buzz isn't so sure about this snow stuff....
 I set up transition like normal.  Small towel as the base, then shoes, gloves, water bottle, etc.  It did not occur to me that it would be above freezing and sunny.... and that nice snowy base would turn to slush.  Making all of my dry gear wet and cold. Awesome.

This race was a 10.8 mile out and back bike and a 4 mile run.  There were ~200 participants, and they started us off in waves of 10 people, 1 minute apart.  As karmic payback for last month's first wave, I was in wave V.  Start time was 10:00... my wave was at 10:21.  Super!
Notice the aero helmet and the mountain bike...... Yeah, I don't know either.
The bike wasn't anything exciting.  Legs felt ok, although I had to granny gear it up some hills.  (I don't know if that was me being out of shape or what).  It was pretty windy, so that made things a bit interesting.  The race was held at a state park, and there were signs all over the place making it very clear that there was a bike race in progress.  Well, after I went past the east entrance road, some d'bag woman in a pickup truck decided to yell "get in the bike lane" at all of us, individually, as they passed us.  I wonder if she finally figured out what was going on as they drove past a pack of cyclists that were ahead of me.  She had plenty of room and hello, its a state park with tons of runners and cyclists.  Clearly, she had anger managment issues.  I did see where they parked - by an RV.  Not sure who RV camps in February, but the whole thing was very random. 

The park is ok, but the back half of the road has these very annoying asphalt patches that go across the entire road (and bike lane) every 3 feet, essentially creating a tiny speed bump.  Its annoying.  And gets really irritating as you are jarred every 10 seconds or so.

The turn around was a non-event, the ice was easy to spot.  And the whole bike was pretty much a non-event. 

Bike time: 39:34 / 16.2 mph
142/202 OA, 20/29 AG

I clipped out early (on the street) as there was no way I was riding my bike on the snowy slushy sidewalk.  The girl in front of me (walking her bike) nearly fell, as her bike got caught in a slush-rut and decided to go its own way.

I was pretty cold at the start of the race.  I had on black tri shorts, black running tights, my favorite light, long-sleeved shirt, my Zoot windproof jacket, and my full cycling gloves.  I got warm towards the end of the bike, so I chose to ditch the gloves and jacket for the run.  I didn't want to just chuck my stuff in the slush, so I probably took a bit too much time hanging my jacket up.

T1 time: 3:53

Lucky me, the start of the run was all uphill.  And as an added bonus, the first 2+ miles were on the trail, which had 3 inches of "fluffy" snow.  Funny thing happens when you're in one of the last waves and ~180 people are ahead of you.  Fluffy snow turns into slush.  Lots of it.  The run was a mess.  And I am in a serious run-training hole.  I couldn't even go 1/3 of a mile (uphill) before my HR blew up and I walked.  Sad.  And pathetic.  But I had a feeling this would happen and never had an intent of being competitive in this race, so I just took it easy.  I was crusing along and ran past some non-racing runners and I heard "Hey, is that Erin?!?!"  Turns out it was this girl I had met during the Denver RnR half marathon who is doing IMTX this May.  Random!  She and a friend were doing a 16 mile training run.  Even funnier, she intended on emailing me this week for IMTX advice.  I ran with them for ~1 mile, which helped to pass the time.  I basically gave her the same advice that her friend was giving (friend: SEE, you should listen to us!").  I also told her about the Pacu fish that someone caught in Lake Woodlands about a month before IMTX, likely giving her fodder for nightmares for the next few months.  Whee!  We parted ways and I was by myself in the slush.  Boo.  I came across a girl who was walking and said something encouraging to her.  She was young and didn't seem to be having a great time.  She managed to hang with me while I ran and chatted my ear off.  Turns out she was in 8th grade. Sigh. (I did hear her parents say at the finish line that she sped up, so I'm taking credit for that).  The rest of the run was on pavement.  My feet were wet but the rest of me was hot.  I debated stopping to put a fistful of snow down my shirt but didn't feel like stopping.  The finish was mostly uphill, but I toughed it out and ran the last mile.  Or did something loosely resembling running.  (getting back into running shape is going to suck).  And then the very non-exciting finish line. 

Run time: 49:45 / 12:27 pace (wah-wah)
171/202 OA, 27/29 AG

Nothing too exciting, mainly because I didn't know anyone.  Got some snacks (homemade banana choc chip bread for Will) and got my stuff.  Which was now soggy because all the snow had melted.  Learned a lesson that I need to bring plastic bags with me for snowy races, as my race gear... and also the bottom of my transition bag, including the things inside the bag, were wet and cold.
Turns out towels get wet when the snow melts... and the rest of your stuff gets wet too!
Overall stats:
Time: 1:33:32
162/202 OA
24/29 AG

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