Saturday I participated in my very first duathlon, and just like my first triathlon it was a BLAST! The Heel and Crank Duathlon consisted of a 2.5 mile run, a 10 mile bike ride, and another 2.5 mile run all through Huntsville’s Research Park.
I was looking forward to it, but not expecting much out of myself. What sort of attitude is that, you ask? Well, the weeks prior to the race had been sort of stressful and with two minor injuries (sprained ankle followed by aggravated hip) I had not done much running…or anything else for that matter. The week prior to the Heel and Crank, I’d begun picking my mileage back up and I had enjoyed some good runs, but nothing close to speedy.
And since I had not done anything “speedy” (my version of speedy, anyway), I figured this race would be more of the same slower pace. I’d begun making peace with this slower pace a month or two ago, so I wasn’t distressed by the knowledge.
It was a hot Alabama morning, but I was feeling rested and ready for a fun event. When the final “Go!” was shouted, I was pleasantly surprised to have a little push in me. So I pushed. My first mile was a 7:48. My second was a 7:19. Here is what I figured. A lot of these athletes were more cyclist than runner, so if I could get far enough ahead of them on the run, maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to catch them again on the second run. Let me add here that I had no delusions about my cycling abilities. I’m a newbie, that is for sure, and these legs need more training before I can really hold my own out there.
But more than catching other runners and passing them was the fact that I HAD PUSH! I was able to pick up my pace and feel strong! I can’t tell you how long it has been since I have felt that way. Possibly since before the St. Louis Go! Marathon.
The race played out very much as I’d imagined it would. I ran ahead of the cyclists and they whizzed past me on the bike. I caught a few on the second run, but not as many as on the first run. Given more than 2.5 miles maybe… but they’d gotten a good distance between us on the bike.
There was one in particular I had my eye on. I had only gotten a few looks at her, but I was pretty sure I’d seen her in a few meetings at work. As some of you may know, work is soon to be over for me. Due to the cancellation of NASA’s Constellation program, along with the enforcement of the termination liability laws, my job with Jacobs ESTS will be gone as of Wednesday.
Last week was sort of unpleasant due to news of the upcoming layoff, and so what better place to work out any stress I’d felt than in a race? I decided to name this fellow athlete “NASA”, and in order for me to feel better about the whole layoff thing, I needed to cross that finish line in front of NASA.
Passing her on the first run was no problem. I had fresh legs and she appeared to be one of those more-cyclist-than-runner people. This being the case, she whizzed by me on her bike and I never saw her again. While riding, that is.
When my ten miles of cycling were completed, I hopped off my bike and started running again. At least I thought I was running. I kept looking down at my legs to make sure, and my watch said 7:30 pace, but it certainly didn’t FEEL like I was running. And then I saw NASA. She was a good bit ahead, but I recognized the pink shirt, and I thought catching her was doable.
I knew I only had 2.5 miles to make good on my goal to beat her, so I had to push. And the push was there, just as it had been for the first run. I finally caught up with her when we had a little less than a mile to go, and I held the best pace I could all the way to the finish. Take that, NASA.
Of course, in reality, I’m sure this gal who works for NASA is a very nice person, and if she is a contractor chances are she may be feeling a bit of stress also. Still, in my own tiny way, I felt triumphant. I’d had a great time participating in the duathlon, I had some push for the first time in months, I got to see some good friends, and pass out Marathon Bars to other athletes.
As Jason and I drove home, I felt grateful for the experience and hopeful for future events…and maybe for the future itself.