Defending My Title at the Mt. Rainier Duathlon

Before I put up my Issaquah sprint triathlon race recap, I thought I’d crank out a delayed recap of the Mt. Rainier Duathlon, which I did on May 1st. Enjoy!

Until recently, I haven’t been focused on races and have instead been trying to get my right Achilles tendon healthy. Now that it finally seems as if it’s mostly on the mend, Teresa has taken advantage of my newfound health and has been bugging me about my 2011 race season. First up was the Mt. Rainier duathlon, which I wasn’t thrilled about because I wasn’t optimistic about how well I’d do (especially since I was fresh off an injury, hadn’t been running much lately, and had gained a shame-inducing amount of weight in the offseason). My grumblings fell on deaf ears, and both my trainer and my somewhat bullying boyfriend peer pressured me into signing up. (Well, technically Jason signed me up, but he used my credit card. Bastard.)

Because of my running handicap, I got out of doing the long course for the third straight year, but Jason opted to finally pop his long course cherry. I wasn’t optimistic about posting a PR this time around and instead opted to focus on not embarrassing myself. Since I didn’t expect to run better than last year, I figured I could at least improve my bike time. Jason’s goal was to take the big descent back to transition confidently since he was still a bit shaky after last year’s bike accident.

We got to the race and although the rain had held off and it was remarkably sunny, it was also ball-shrinkingly cold (if I had balls, that is) and holding steady at about 36 degrees. I began to immediately fret over what to wear: should I have gloves? Should I wear the team windbreaker? Is a t-shirt and arm warmers enough or do I need to don a parka OH GOD I’M GOING TO FREEZE TO DEATH OUT THERE. I reminded myself that I often race warm and ended up going with the “Screw it, it’s a short race that I don’t really care about” approach to getting ready.

Jason and the other long course racers started five minutes before us shorties, so I gave him a hug and a kiss and wished him good luck. I stood around with my teammates until it was our turn to get started. Let my first race of 2011 commence!

Run #1

I wasn’t sure how hard to go out on the first run leg, so I just took off like a spaz and ran as best I could. I had to dodge several horses since this year we were sharing the area with some Enumclaw horse show nonsense, but it wasn’t too annoying because the first run is so short. I thought about trying to chase down Jason’s sister who was also doing the race before remembering that she had just done the Boston Marathon and I was newly uninjured, so unless I wanted to keel over and die on the bike portion of the race, I’d better give up on unsuccessfully trying to catch someone who’s quite a bit faster than me. Boo. You just wait until I’m healthy, Danielle! …healthy and a much, much better runner. (Also, in this stupid run fantasy can you stop getting faster so I can catch up to you? K thanks.)

Run #1 time: 12 min 33 seconds (7:51 min/mile pace) — not bad considering I had barely done any running (and haven’t done any speed work) in the past six months.

Yes, that tiny spec is me

T1

This year they changed how you enter and exit the transition area, so my transitions ended up being a bit slower than last year’s super speedy times. Nonetheless, I managed to get in and out in 52 seconds. Yaaysauce.

Warning: extreme belly paunch

Bike

Oh goody, this is the part where I get to catch up to everyone who was faster than me on the run. Time to push it, Salt ‘n Pepa style. I caught up to Jason’s sister after a couple minutes and waved at her as I pedaled by in aero. (To which she responded “Awww” — she may be a great runner, but her inexperience on the bike is my advantage. Note #2 to Danielle: Do not log any cycling hours on that new Cervelo of yours.) My legs felt a bit stiff but I felt like I was pushing the bike pretty decently.

I got to the all-too-familiar Mud Mountain Road climb and began my steady ascent. At one point I saw a girl riding a road bike in what looked like white beach loungey short shorts. What is this nonsense? How was that remotely comfortable to bike in? I got annoyed by seeing the threat of underbutt as she sashayed her hips back and forth on her bike so I passed her.

As I approached the top of the meandering hill, I saw two spectators parked on the side of the road. I wondered who would be dorky enough to be literally the only spectators on Mud Mountain, not to mention sadistic enough to actually want to watch people painfully ascend up the road while going 4 miles per hour. As I got closer to them, I realized it was Jason’s parents. Heh. Everyone who passed them would gasp and sputter, “How much further is it?!” and Jason’s dad would give them a status report. When I got to them he said nonchalantly, “Oh, you know where you’re at, you’ve done this tons of times.” I chuckled and waved and soldiered on.

Conquering Mud Mountain

When I got to the top, the stretch between the top of the hill and the descent back into town felt a bit more difficult than usual — I wasn’t sure if it was because of wind or what, but I wasn’t going as fast as usual. I tried to push it on the descent to make up for lost time, but I also wanted to stay alert and be safety-conscious so I wasn’t sure what my bike time would end up at.

Bike time: 49 min, 38 sec (17.4 mph) — At first I was really, really bummed to see that I cycled slower than last year. It was a bit of a confidence crusher at first because I had been biking so much lately to make up for my lack of running, plus I did a ton of cycling last year for Ironman Canada, so how could I have been slower? After the race, however, Jas looked up last year’s times and noticed that pretty much everyone who raced last year had slower bike times this year, so I guess we did hit wind or something after all.

T2

In and out in 50 seconds. The Zoot race slip-ons sure are handy…

Run #2

…until you realize that you need to replace them. I think I’ve put too many miles on my Zoots, as they were starting to ache my feet during the second run. Oops. I tried to ignore the pain and haul my chubby ass 3.7 miles to the finish. Between the first run and this run, it was the furthest I’d run since December. When I got to the first mile marker, I looked at my watch and it said 8:40. What the hell, was I really running that slow?! (Answer: no, I wasn’t, the mile markers were spaced wrong. Nonetheless, nothing makes you feel crappier than thinking you’re going way slower than you assume you are.)

Between the slower run pace, the wind on the bike, and the new, longer transition setup, there was no way I’d PR or even break 1:30 this year. Bummer. Oh well, at least I was out there and doing it. Eventually I wheezed my way to the finish line, happy to be done. My feet were aching, my lungs were burning, and my self-esteem was at a low at the thought of seeing my unflattering paunch in numerous race photos.

Run #2 time: 30:14 (7:57 min/mile pace) — a bit of a relief that I ran sub-8s after my mile 1 scare. I was two minutes slower than last year’s run leg but I guess I’m not as slow as I feared.

Total time: 1:34:08. Slower than last year, faster than the year before. Ho hum.

Note to self: I look like a d-bag running with my Rudy sunglasses. Also, my arms look grossly huge. Time to cut back on the bacon.

As more and more of my teammates finished the race, results for the short course got posted and I saw that, to my surprise, I won my age group again. Whaaa?! Booty Shorts McUnderButt took 2nd, and Jason’s sister Danielle ended up taking third (she had a slowish bike but fast runs). I had successfully defended my title in my age group. Maybe I should just stick to duathlons and cut out this swim nonsense altogether…

Me and Danielle, Jason's sister, rocking out with our 1st and 3rd place medals

I didn’t get a ghetto-fabulous homemade trophy this time, but I did score a 1st place medal with a bike chain wrapped around it. You gotta love BuDu and their DIY awards.

One of my debilitating personal traits is how ridiculously hard I am on myself. I was pleased to take 1st place in my age group again, but I was a bit disappointed with my slower bike time (even though everyone seemed slower this year) and was a little depressed with my run — it’s hard to have a good run season the year before, only to get injured and lose some of that fitness I worked so hard to achieve. I know it’ll just take a bit of work and some time to get my run back to where it was (and hopefully better than it was), but it still feels like I’ve taken a step back. The extra chub I’ve gained this season isn’t really helping, either, but I’m working on that too. We’ll see if next year I can threepeat or if Teresa will finally shove me towards the long course instead of making idle threats every year.

2 Responses to “ “Defending My Title at the Mt. Rainier Duathlon”

  1. Mary Moltman says:

    Hey. I thought this was “mediocre” athlete? Mediocre athletes do not win their age categories.
    Love the race report, as usual. Always fun to read, they ‘almost’ make me want to run again. I’m afraid I’ve lost the running love and each run is killing me, slowly. Any advice on finding that running love would be appreciated.
    Congrats on the race!

  2. Jill says:

    Um, yeah, I’m with Mary; there’s absolutely nothing “mediocre” about your athleticism. I’m someone who loves to run/race but could not run an 8 minute mile to save my life, so you constantly impress me. Well done!

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