First race since my injury-lessons learned.

Me, coming out of transition to start the bike portion of the race

Here is an anecdotal summary of the event.

Weather-we started the race in the upper 60s and it ended in the 70s. There was a noticeable wind when cycling, but not when running.

Conditions-with the exception of 215 hills while cycling, it was quite flat. OK-I didn’t count the hills, but there were very few sections of the bike ride that was flat for more than a few hundred meters. The roads were active with cars during the ride, but no cars were on the running course.

Course. The first 5k was on the road and through a local park. Any hills were non-events. The cycle ride took up through Cabarrus and Rowan counties on road that none of us would have otherwise ridden. Most of them had been recently paved. However, the last mile took us through parts of Kannapolis that in process of being paved….you know, with all the grooves in the roads and barricades on the sides of the road. That mandated that we slow down for the last mile or so.

My race. The first mile of the run was 6:28; seeing that, I backed way off and set pace with a woman was shared that she was only running and not cycling. She said her pace should have us finish ~ 21 to 22 minutes, and she was dead on in her assumption. LESSON: she races with a sports watch, so she could gauge her pace. Guessing was my strategy, and it was incomplete.

Transition went fast, thanks to Pilates! I could stand up and take shoes off and put shoes on, using my core. I immediately went into time trial position and began passing people. I drank one of those energy packs for some quick sugar and stayed low. The ride ended up being closer to 16 miles than the advertised 12. As I passed guys, I made it a point to strike up conversations with all of them. One kid who smoked the run decided to do the bike on a mountain bike, and he was peddling harder than any of us. The best part of the bike section was that I could see the value of having a coach. Moving my seat forward and staying in the time trial position left me feeling strong at the end. I never got passed by anyone, and I passed all but 13 people in the entire race….and that is without giving it 100%. I passed a bucket load of guys who were all in their “Cross Fit Rules!” T-shirts. Too bad that it didn’t.

Transition 2 showed some fatigue. I left my cycling shoes attached to the pedals when I entered transition and ran to the drop off spot without any discomfort. However, when I tried to use only my core to put on my running shoes, my left leg was too fatigued to support my weight, and I almost lost my balance. LESSON: I need to do core work after fatigue so those resources are there for me when needed. I left transition ahead of a guy who arrived a full 30 seconds ahead of me and did not try to push through the discomfort, knowing it would go away within a minute or two. It did.

The final run had only a single uphill section, and it was a section that I had to run during the first leg. However, due to fatigue, it was harder than the first time, and I went slower.

FUN FACTOR. I was chatty kathy with everyone I passed on the course and shouted words of encouragement to the volunteers who were marking the course for us. I did the last section of the run with the last hardcore cross fit guy during the last mile of the bike ride, and I encouraged him to run and catch me, as he took more time than I did in transition.

For sure, I had a lot of fun. I talked about shifting mechanics with a guy my age who was on a bike worth more than my car, and we both had a couple of good laughs together.

Considering the injuries I was carrying and the jointly imposed limits on running, I was pleased to see that I came in 13th overall and 3rd in the age category that corresponds to the event in AZ next month. My foot does not hurt, but if Walmart sold right calves, I would buy one.

NEXT. So, continuing to get my running legs back will be important, and practicing that time trial position certainly reaped great rewards. Running when fatigued needs to get some attention, and I probably need to find a way to practice riding on some flatter roads than the ones I have around where I live. Even if I compete using a 6 minute mile instead of a 7 minute mile, I will need to add a couple of MPH to the bike to be competitive. With the time left and the size of the barriers in front of me, the focus will be not on any magical number or speed but on getting better before the event. I think I can qualify in the future, so this should not be my only chance at this event. Feedback is most welcome here.

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