Monday, October 3, 2011

RJ Corman Duathlon Race Report

I have to admit that I am not a runner. I really don't even like running. It may be because I'm still overweight, or maybe it's just because I'm older, but I really find it to be quite tedious. But I really want to be an Ironman. Not sure why I have that obsession but I do. It's like when I was 16 years old and I decided that I wanted to be an attorney. I didn't know any attorneys, but I decided that's what I wanted to do. And guess what? Yup. I'm an attorney.

So as part of my training to be an Ironman, I have my little "checklist" of running things that I need to accomplish. I started with the 5K, then the 10K and I am now training for my 1st half-marathon on Oct. 23rd. As part of the training program that I am using, it was recommended that I run a 10K on Oct. 1st. When I started the program I looked around for a 10K that was going to be on Oct. 1. There was one that was in Lexington, but then I saw the RJ Corman Duathlon. I thought "it's 2 5K's so that's a 10K". Of course there would be a 15 mile bike ride in between but I really didn't think that would be a problem. So I signed up at the beginning of August.

Pre Pre-Race

To be honest, I really didn't give the Duathlon much thought until the week before. I have been so focused on training for the half marathon over the past few weeks that I really just put it on the back burner in my mind. I had been running 5-6 miles at least 2x a week and had been running longer runs on the weekends, including my first double-digit run of 12 miles. And for cross-training I had been riding my bike 15-20 miles usually 2-3 times each week. In my mind that was enough.

But then I got to the week of the race and I started to panic a little. I hadn't practiced "brick" workouts, which is a combination of two sports done together. Most people will do their bricks like a triathlon. They will ride for whatever distance and then run immediately after. I had not practiced that. At all! I started to panic. Sure I could run a 10K, and I could ride 15 miles, but I started to wonder if I could do them together.

I also started thinking about the road course. I'd never ridden it before. Was it hilly? Was it flat? Was it like the Alpes d'Huez in the Tour de France? I had no idea. All of these terrible thoughts and self doubt started creeping into my head.

On Monday I rode with the Bluegrass Cycling Club with my friend, Jen, and it was great to get out and just stretch out my legs. We kept an easy pace so I didn't overdo it. On Tuesday I ran 6 miles with my running buddies in the neighborhood and had a great time. My legs felt great and my confidence was slowly being restored. On Wednesday I rode with the BCC in Midway, KY and had an incredible ride. I set a PR for my pace over a 20 mile ride and my confidence was through the roof, but my chain came off 3 different times and I was worried about whether that would happen on race day or not. I made some adjustments to the bike but I knew I wouldn't have the chance to get it to the shop before the race. On Thursday I ran 6 miles again with my running buddies, Mona and Karen, and my legs felt pretty tight. I panicked a little about my legs. And then I started thinking about my bike again. I was totally psyching myself out of this race.

On Friday, I sought the advice of some of my friends on about prepping for the race. I have to give a big shout out to all my DailyMile friends for helping me out and specifically Douglas S., who is an amazing triathlete. He told me to plan my transition out in my head and how to pack everything up. I spent some time Friday afternoon planning everything out. I actually typed out everything that I needed to get ready for the race and also typed out a minute to minute schedule for Saturday morning and set times for everything that I was going to do that morning, from waking up and showering, to leaving for the event. Pretty much minute by minute up to race time. After making my "to-do" list and my calendar, I felt much better. I decided to rest on Friday and we went out to meet some friends for a fundraiser to get my mind off of the duathlon. I was exhausted because I had not slept well on Wednesday and Thursday nites and unfortunately all I could think about was getting myself prepped for the race. So we left the event at about 8 and went home. I took my bike out around the block 3 or 4 times to make sure the chain issue was okay and it was. That was a load off of my mind. I also packed up all my stuff and got my bike on my car. My awesome wife helped me with everything. I was now feeling ready. No more nerves after that. I was ready to race.

Pre Race

I knew that the bike transition opened at 6:30 and I knew that it was about a 30 minute drive out to Nicholasville, KY where the event was being held so I decided to get up at 4:30 so I would have plenty of time to eat and get ready and get to the race without being rushed.

I woke up when the alarm went off and realized that I had slept through the nite. That was the best news for me. I was sleepy but I could tell that I felt energized from a great nite's sleep. That was just what I needed. I got up and showered and got ready. I had all of my stuff already laying out so I wouldn't wake up my wife and so it would make life much easier.

After I got dressed I headed to the kitchen for my pre-race meal. I am a true believer in peanut butter toast and a banana. That seems to work well for me and it never causes any stomach issues for me.

After I ate, I actually took a few minutes and watched some TV just to relax. I was definitely excited but really wasn't nervous. I had my checklist and my schedule and I was checking everything off as I got it done. If you can't tell I'm definitely a results-oriented person. I love checking things off a list. Something empowering about marking through another item that is done.

After a few minutes of TV I hit the restroom since I didn't want to have any issues at the race and then I woke my wife up to tell her that I was leaving. I knew that she would be out there later but there was no need for her to go out that early. I debated about coffee and ended up stopping at Starbuck's for a doubleshot. I love espresso and I drink lattes every morning. I knew that I couldn't do the race with a latte setting in my stomach but I knew that a doubleshot would sit just fine. It definitely gave me a little boost that I needed.

I got to the race at about 6:20 and there were just a few other cars there. Oh well. I'd be able to get things set up and be ready before it got crowded. I took my bike up to the transition area and got everything set up. After I put my bike on the rack I laid out my beautiful transition mat (which was actually a multi-colored beach towel) and I laid all my stuff out that I would need for the race. I felt pretty good about my set-up especially since I'd never done a multi-sport race with a transition before.

After I got my bike and transition area set up I headed back to my car and on the walk there I realized that my leg warmers were falling down. I don't have running or cycling tights so I thought that I could wear shorts and the leg warmers. It was obvious that the warmers weren't going to stay up as I ran so I took them off an left them in the car. Did I mention that it was about 38 degrees? The coldest morning of the Fall so far. Yikes! I got out of the car and hit the registration tent for my chip and body marking. That was fun. I felt like a triathlete after they marked my number on my right arm and my age on my left calf. It was like a Badge of Honor.

After I was marked I went back to my car. It was still only about 7:00 am and I had a long way to go to race time. It was so cold outside so I cranked up the heat and the Sirius Octane channel and relaxed some more. I also popped two Ibuprofen to ward off any plantar fasciitis pain that might rear it's ugly head during the 5K.

After about 30 minutes in the car I mixed up my pre-race concoction of chia seeds and 4 ounces of water. I'm really becoming a believer in the power of chia seeds, both for hydration and energy. I drank down the chia seeds and decided to get out of the car to acclimate to the weather. It was still about 40 degrees and windy. Not ideal race conditions at all. I decided to wear my Kentucky pullover to stay warm.

Annita got to the race about 8:00 am so I went over to talk to her for a few minutes to get my pep talk. She told me to do great and told me how proud of me she was. I needed to hear that. And then she snapped my ceremonial pre-race 'thumbs-up" pic.
Look how cute I am. Don't I look like I'm ready to run a Duathlon?

The First Run

So I knew that the first 5k wouldn't be so bad. I knew that I would need to save my energy so I knew that my time would be slow compared to the other runners. And there were some pretty serious triathletes out there. They were decked out, head to toe, in the fancy racing gear. They looked like pro's. And here I was in the back of the small pack at the start line in my fancy Kentucky pullover looking like I was ready to go tailgating. It was a little surreal at that moment but I just kept telling myself that at least I was there and I was going to give it my best shot and that was all that I could do.

They had all of the male duathletes line up first and they sounded the train whistle. Yes. the train whistle. RJ Corman has made huge amount of money in the railroad industry and has a beautiful facility in Nicholasville. So it was only appropriate that we take off to the sound of a train whistle.

Almost immediately I could see the guys in the front blowing up the course. They were out of sight in no time. I picked out a couple of bigger boys and paced myself off of them. And true to my race philosophy I was running dead last. After three minutes I heard the whistle again and I knew that the women had just left. I laughed and wondered how long it would take them to catch me. Sure enough after less that three minutes the lead women caught up to me. In a 5K, or 10K, that might have bothered me, but for some reason I was fine with it. And then I heard a third whistle and I knew that the 5K runners were off. Again, I chuckled wondering how soon it would take the lead runners to catch me. Again after about 3 minutes I heard the guys coming up behind me and "ZOOM!" they were gone.

The course was absolutely beautiful. Mr. Corman built this for his employees to go out and exercise on and it is mostly flat with a few rolling hills, small bridges over little streams, and just mostly beautiful. I kept my slower runners in site and actually passed two of them. That was a little bit of a relief knowing that I might not finish dead last in this event.

I finished the first 5K in a little over 33 minutes which was a great time for me, especially since I was actually trying to take it slow. Then it was time to transition to the bike.

The Bike Course

When I got to the race early, I introduced myself to Sam Dick, one of the race organizers. He and his wife own a shop here in Lexington called "Swim Bike Run of Kentucky". Sam is also a local news anchor for one of the Lexington TV stations and is also a cancer survivor. I had never had the chance to meet him before so this was a great time since I was one of the first one's there. As we talked he asked me if I had ridden the bike course yet. I told him that I had not. He told me to take my time and that it was "hilly". I thought, "man please don't tell me that just an hour before the race". But boy was he right. The course was hilly. That was an understatement. Now I love to ride my bike. And I've ridden some nice hills here in Central Kentucky but some of these hills were more than I expected.
The transition area was about .3 miles from the 5K finish line. So I had to run though a tunnel, under a railroad trestle, and back uphill to the bike area to head out. The wind was whipping and it was cold. I knew though that the riding was more "my thing" so I could catch a few people.
We started out the tarmac (yes the tarmac) and rode beside Mr. Corman's personal airstrip. That was actually pretty cool. Then we hit the public roads but there were so many Sheriff's Deputies and local police out there directing traffic that I never felt uncomfortable with the traffic. As I rode along in the first couple of miles I was able to pass a few people. Of course I knew that any of the women I passed actually were still 3 minutes ahead because of the staggered start times. But that was ok. I felt my competitive spirit awaken for the first time in years on this ride. I could see people ahead of me and I would tell myself "go get 'em" and I did.

After the first little loop we headed back past the airport strip and I was just talking to all of the volunteers and officers saying "good morning". "thank for volunteering", "stay warm", etc. One of the deputies looked at me as I was topping the little hill that he was working and I had my tongue hanging out acting as though I was already winded. He said "oh that was the easy part. The hard part's coming." I laughed and said "thanks a lot! I'll see you in 40-50 minutes I hope". So it was nice to have people to chat with, even if only for a few moments, to lighten my mood.

As I continued on the course I felt really good. I was riding at a moderate pace but saving my energy for the last 5K run. The course was very pretty as it rolled along the country roads and through the small town of Wilmore. At pone point though we were directed through a residential neighborhood and after about a mile I thought that I had been misdirected. But then I saw more signs and volunteers and I knew I was going the right way.

Then I hit "the Hill'. This was the longest and steepest hill I'd ever climbed. I got about halfway up and for a split moment thought to myself "I'm gonna have to walk this" but at about that time a local, neighborhood dog came bounding down the hill and started barking at me like he was going to devour me. That got me peddling faster and then as I was losing steam a 2nd dog came down for a visit. I thought "how am I gonna run a 5K with a dog bite on my ankle?" but fortunately they only barked, but they gave me the motivation to top the hill.

All week I'd thought "that's gonna be awesome!" Well I was wrong. The runway wasn't flat. It was concave. So it was an uphill battle in the crosswind up one side and then back up the other. I was starting to feel a little flustered with my riding. I was only averaging about 14 mph which was about 2.5 to 3 mph slower than I anticipated. You can't really tell from the picture here as I got back to transition that I was exhausted. Thank goodness I had another energy gel waiting for me in transition before I had to run again.

The Final 5K

After I made it to the dismount area for the 2nd transition I really felt a little "off". Like I said earlier, I had not practiced running after riding so I knew I might have an issue with the whole transition thing. And I did. As soon as I jumped off the bike my legs didn't want to go. I knew that I needed to gt my bike back on the rack and get on to the next 5K but as I was walking my bike back to the rack I felt like I was all over the place. I couldn't figure out what was going on with me.
As you can see from the picture here I look a little but "out of it". As I was putting my bike back up on the rack though I realized that my rear wheel was bent. I'm not sure what happened but somehow during the ride I bent the rear wheel. I realized, in my slightly less than coherent state, that the bent rim might have had something to do with my slower time and it definitely had something to do with how weird I felt when I was trying to walk my bike back into transition. The rear wheel kept catching on the brake pads and bike frame so it would drag. When I realized that I was a little upset that my bike was messed up but I was just so happy to realize that I wasn't as bad off as what I thought I was. I mean when I was trying to walk with the bike back into transition I really thought something was wrong with me. Ha! What a relief. So with that I shot my lot energy gel of the morning and chased it down with a little bit of water. I was off for my final 5K. Well, not quite. I had to make a pit stop at the port a toilet, but hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

So after the potty break I was back off for the .3 mile transition to the 5K course. It was much easier this time since it was all downhill. I could feel my left hamstrings tightening up with each stride and my calves were hurting. I knew though that if I could just get out to the course then I'd be ok after a mile. As I ran back to the course I ran by the finish line and there were people who had already finished hanging out and having a good time. Mr. Corman had a HUGE cookout and for everybody and I could smell the burgers and grilled chicken and that motivated me to get going so I could come back and eat!

This run was a lonely one. There were only a few people out on the course. I struggled through the first mile but I kept telling myself that if I could just push through that first mile then my legs would adjust and I would finish. And I knew that I wouldn't finish last. So I pushed and pushed and kept going. And I was right. The more I pushed the better my legs felt. I don't know. Perhaps they were numb at this point, but it seemed easier.

When I hit mile 2 I got to the final water table and there were still volunteers there cheering me on. There was a woman who had been running about 200 feet in front of me the whole race. Once of the volunteers yelled at me "run here down! Go catch her!" And then after I passed I heard him yell "Don't let him catch you!" I cracked up. That was so funny for some reason. I heard her yell back "I won't!" So I yelled up at her and said "You got nothing to worry about!" And after that I realized that I was only a mile out. I was actually going to finish this race without one stop to walk. And that thought lifted my spirits and I kept going. All the tightness and tiredness melted away and I was a new man. I took my pullover off because I wanted to cross the finish line and look good. I felt like a champ!

As I neared the last curve of the race I looked to my left and I could see my 2 cheerleaders waving at me: my wife and my great friend, Jen, who rides with me on Monday nites. Jen had worked at the hospital til 4:00 am, went home and got about 2 hours of sleep, and had to be back at work at 1:00 pm Saturday, but she still came out to support me. Now that is awesome! Look at these two beautiful women. I may have been one of the slowest people out there but I can guarantee that I had the best cheerleaders out there hands down. And they were there for the entire race, in the cold, taking pictures and cheering me on. They really kept me going without a doubt.

As I rounded that last curve my wife came over and took my pullover so it wouldn't be wrapped around my waist. Hey everybody wants to look good when they finish a race and you can't do that with a big old sweaty pullover tied around your waist. So Annita took my pullover and Jen snapped my picture as I crossed the finish. I really thought this was the coolest picture because my official time actually did end being 2:32:48. She captured the exact moment that I finished.

Post Race

I was actually surprised at how good I felt post race. Well at least for the first few minutes. After I crossed the finish line I grabbed a banana and a Gatorade. Within just a few minutes my stomach started cramping and I was freezing. It was still only about 42 and very windy. And I was covered with sweat. My cheerleaders grabbed some food and then we sat down and watched the presentation of the awards. As they were announcing the awards everybody started cheering and I realized that the last duathlete was coming in. It was the guy that I had paced with in the first 5K. I walked down to the finish line and gave him a high 5 and talked to him for a few minutes. He complimented me on my bike riding. He told me that he was trying to keep up with me but after about 3 miles he said I was gone. That made me feel pretty good. I told him thanks for pacing me on the first 5K. So we introduced out wives to each other and the was nice. He actually worked at RJ Corman and had also recently lost a lot of weight as well. It's so cool to meet people like that.

After that I started feeling much better. We took a few more pictures and I had some homemade Vanilla ice cream and then had a grilled chicken sandwich. We stayed for a few more minutes and watched some more awards and then decided to head out. I wanted to get out and watch UK v. LSU.

What I Learned

Like every other race I seem to always remember that all I can do is the best that I can do. I'm out there giving it my all and it doesn't matter where I finish. All that matters is that I did it. That sense of accomplishment is amazing. I can't wait to go back next year and crush my time from this year. I'm going to go ahead and throw this out there but next year my time will be 1:50:00 or better. What else did I learn? Relax. Also review the course before the race if you can to get familiar with it. I knew that but just didn't do it. I know that my bike time could have been much better and I know that next year it will be much better. I also learned about transitions. How to set up and just how to do that in general. Now I know for my next multi-sport race what to do and I won't be so nervous about that. I also know that I can cut a lot of time off by making the transitions faster.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed my Race Summary. Remember: Dream big, but take small steps. You'll get there. Trust me.

1 comment:

  1. You are a champ! So inspiring. You make me proud of Kentucky (you - and Chris Offutt :)