New York City Duathlon

Final run. My running form is mid-collapse and I am exhausted and soaking wet but LOOK AT THAT SMILE.

I signed up for the New York City Duathlon 6 months ago, despite the fact that it would take place during the final stretch of marathon training. What was I thinking?

Well, I’d been intrigued by the idea of a duathlon for a while. A bunch of my running club friends are getting into triathlons, and while the swim leg doesn’t appeal to me (I like swimming, but more in a flopping-casually-around-in-the-ocean sort of way, and there’s no way I have time to get myself to a pool regularly), I love both biking and running, so why not combine the two in a race? So that’s what I was thinking.

But … marathon training. Yeah. I started out with high hopes of getting two quality bike rides in each week, in addition to my four weekly runs, and that worked for a while, but then it was just one bike ride a week, and before I knew it, I hadn’t been on my bike in a month and the duathlon was right around the corner. Eek. I almost bailed, thinking it was just stupid to go in with basically no bike training. But then a friend texted offering a ride to the race (plus support and cheering during it), and someone pointed out I’m really comfortable on my bike, even if it’s gathered a little bit of dust lately, and I decided to go through with it.

The only duathlon-specific training I did was two days before the race, when I convinced my ever-accommodating husband to set up camp (as in, his folding camp chair) in the park and watch over a transition area I put together so I could go through all the motions of the race. I arranged my bike, helmet, bike shoes, and gloves, then took off for a half-mile run. After the run I swapped shoes, got my bike gear on, and rode a little loop of the park. Back at base, I dropped the bike, switched shoes again, and went out for another half-mile run. I returned triumphant and convinced that at least I wouldn’t die during the race.

Race day dawned and it was raining, but not as heavily as it had been earlier. We loaded bikes onto the bike rack, drove to Central Park (it’s easy to find parking at 6:30am!), and started sorting ourselves out. I picked up my timing chip, which goes around the ankle with velcro, racked my bike in the right spot, and fiddled with the layout of my helmet, gloves, running shoes, and plastic bags (for rain protection) under my bike. I should’ve taken my bike out for a quick spin – there was plenty of time – but I was nervous and didn’t really think of it. Participants trickled in – we counted around 200 on the registration list but they definitely didn’t all show up. Everything was friendly and well-organized. An announcer talked us through the course, the national anthem was played over the sound system, I started feeling cold and decided to just run in my gloves instead of putting them on later, and then suddenly we were all on our way to the start line.

Leg 1: 2.2-mile run. The run portion was an out-and-back, starting uphill on Cat Hill. I took off aiming for a pace between 9:00 and 9:30, but eventually settled into more of a mid-8:00 groove. Which was sustainable for 2 miles, no problem, but made me nervous in the overall context. Run 1 official time: 19:34 for 9:19/mile pace (but on my watch, 19:25 over 2.28 miles for a 8:32/mile pace).

Transition 1: Felt reasonably quick and controlled, though untying and retying shoes takes time! 1:11.

Leg 2: 12-mile bike. Wheee! Okay, I LOVE going as fast as I can on my bike. Two loops of Central Park is a hard course, and the hills kicked my butt (see: didn’t train), but I did my best to conserve energy by being smart with my gears. The road was slick and the rain was picking up toward the end, so I was cautious on the big downhills and even braked once or twice. I went through my entire bottle of water during the bike ride. Official bike time 45:55 for a 15.7 mph pace (15.9 mph on my watch).

Transition 2: My first experience of rubber legs. Wow. As I jogged my bike through the transition area to my rack I was yelling, “This feels so weird!” over and over. Then I got to the rack and found a dude in my spot with his bike upside-down, fixing a flat. What to do? I looked around frantically then finally just leaned my bike against a fence, and a volunteer told me that was fine, but I had to grab my shoes from underneath flat-tire guy, which I apologized for (really, he should’ve been apologizing, right?, but I was a little loopy), and I swapped shoes and headed out on the run, took a wrong turn, got sorted out by more volunteers (thank you!), and ran at a weird stumbling pace back up Cat Hill. 1:12 for the transition. I think the wrong-turn business got counted as part of the run leg.

Leg 3: 2.2-mile run. My legs are broken! The rain is crashing down! Everything is uphill! I am so hungry! I felt pretty disastrous for the first half mile but then my legs started working a little better and I realized I was so close to the finish and was going to make it. The rain got heavier by the minute, and my stomach was growling at this point, but I passed a few people and managed to stay at a pace just under 9:00/mile. The downhill stretch to the finish line was fun. Run 2 official time: 19:56 for 9:29/mile pace (but on my watch, 8:43/mile pace).

Results: I finished 60/104 overall, 14/38 for women, and 4/9 in my age group, with a final time of 1:27:50. I’m really happy with those results and with the fact that I stayed strong through the whole race and didn’t fade (much) at the end.

Gear: I wore capris and a short-sleeved tech shirt. This was warm enough, even with the rain. A little padding would’ve been nice – I might look at tri shorts if I do this again. My Giant road bike is nothing special but it’s like my two-wheeled best friend. I rode clipped in with a pair of Giro lace-up shoes, and I ran in a lightweight pair of Brooks. Regular old helmet and bike gloves. Sunglasses were not necessary in the gloomy weather.

Lessons learned: Next time I might bring a little food for the bike leg, or at least put Tailwind in a water bottle. Having friends at the race for support is the BEST. Duathlons are super fun, but you should train for them. I’ll definitely be doing another one.

It’s spring!

…and I haven’t written a blog post yet this year!

February highlight: spelling out “LOVE” on the streets of Brooklyn with my running club for Valentine’s Day.

I’ve been running pretty steadily, though, with some biking and climbing thrown in. Average weekly mileage is around 20 so far this year. 30 would be better. I’ll keep working toward that.

I’ve run a few races so far this year:

Joe Kleinerman 10K in January in Central Park: A cold day, snow coming down at the end of the race, and a PR at 54:49!

Al Gordon 4M in February in Prospect Park: Weirdly muggy and my first 4-mile race. I was super happy with my time of 34:20, averaging 8:35/mile pace.

Frozen Penguin half marathon in March as a training run: Brutal winds on the final four miles; otherwise a good run.

UAE 10K last weekend: Slower than my January 10K, as I was up on the trails the day before, and really I shouldn’t have run a 10K last weekend with Breakneck coming up, but the weather was oh so beautiful and the trees were blooming and all my friends were there.

I’m more or less prepared for the Breakneck Point trail half marathon tomorrow – it’s going to be brutal (with around 3,000 feet elevation gain over 13 miles it will definitely be my slowest half marathon ever) but I’ve been doing enough climbing and trail running that it shouldn’t break me. Last weekend T and I did a recon run on the trails that, as I’ve been telling people, “put the fear of god in me,” but also got me super excited about the race.

And then after Breakneck:

Redding Road Race: Half marathon 3 weeks later. I’m hoping to PR here, and the plan after Breakneck will be one week of recovery, one week of hard training, and one week of taper. It’s a hard course (hills!) but I know it well and it’s where I set my current half marathon PR (2:10:32).

Short races all summer: This summer is going to be a 5K and 5M party.

Hudson Valley ride: 55-mile bike tour in late June – I’ll need to train to be ready for the hills here, too.

NYC Duathlon: Heck yes, I signed up for a duathlon with a friend! Gonna have to figure out how these work. It’s 2.2 miles run, 12 miles bike, 2.2 miles run. The distances are not intimidating but putting them together is going to be interesting.

Portland Marathon: In early October. Training starts June 18, though I’m still trying to figure out what training will consist of.

It should be a good year.

Wrapping up 2016

The NYRR Midnight Run is tonight (New Year’s Eve) but I’m gonna count that as the first run of 2017 … so it’s time for a 2016 wrap-up.

There was a lot of awful stuff going on in the world, but it was a good year for running.

According to Garmin, this year I:

  • ran 1,100 miles (170 of those on trails)
  • biked 670 miles
  • hiked 84 miles
  • spent 51.75 hours at the climbing gym

I had six months of 100+ running miles, peaking at 146 in September. I ran with a lot of great friends and amazing people: Tina, Fanny, Andy, Murray, Frans, Lisa, Chaya, Jane, and many more. I ran in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Boston, New Jersey, Connecticut, upstate NY, and on the hills of Oregon. I hung out on the Red Hook track with Frans and the Armory track with my PPTC teammates. I helped Frans put together a training plan for, first, a 13.1-mile run, and then a “real” timed half marathon, and ran both with him. I learned so much from the PPTC crew, both online and in person.

I ran 14 races with new road PRs for 10k, half marathon, 5k, marathon, and 5-mile distances. I ran my first trail 25k . . . automatic PR there! I can’t pick a favorite race: I always love the Redding Road Race half. The JFK airport 5k was a cool experience. Steamtown was wonderful, even though I didn’t hit my time goal. The Al Goldstein 5k summer race series is like a hot summer evening running party every other week. I love love love the PPTC Turkey Trot. Running the Pelham half with Frans was very satisfying. Fine, they’re all my favorites.

Best running-related books I read this year: Build Your Running Body and Fixing Your Feet (6th ed.).

I had some amazing hiking experiences in New York (Hudson River Valley), Oregon (Pacific Crest Trail), and Washington (Mount Saint Helens). I rode the occasional bike commute in the summer, worked as lead bike for quite a few races, and took part in one epic 50-mile biking adventure near Poughkeepsie with two PPTC friends.

Okay, so what about goals for 2017? I’d like to run around 1,500 miles total – that’s an average of 125 per month and I think it’s doable. I’d been considering a 50k race in the spring, but I think that’s over-ambitious. Maybe fall. I have a few spring half-marathons coming up, with the Breakneck Point trail half being my main focus, and then the Portland Marathon in the fall. Other goals:

  • improve my PRs in most distances
  • run more trails
  • stay healthy and uninjured
  • keep climbing regularly
  • make it to more of the Saturday morning group runs with PPTC
  • hike when I can, bike when I can

That should keep me busy, right?

Clipped in

PedalI’ve had two-sided pedals (platform on one side, SPD clips on the other) on my bike for a couple weeks and I finally made it to the store, bought some cycling shoes, and tried the whole clipping-in thing. And it worked! I was slightly terrified going into it because I’ve heard so many stories of falls … and more falls … as people get used to clipping in. Five miles later, I still haven’t fallen. I almost hope I do soon, just to get it over with. But everything seems to be working okay.

After work (and buying the shoes and installing the cleats) I walked my bike over to the park and found a low-traffic area to get started. I leaned against a tree first, sat on my bike, and figured out how to clip in and out. Then a slow roll with just one foot clipped in, then out, then the other in, then out. Then I made up a lot of “drills” to do – ride, then move over to the curb, clip out, foot to the curb, then get going again, and things like that. Different gears. Uphill and downhill. I’m thinking that muscle memory is the key to this: my feet need to just need to know automatically what to do, without waiting for my brain to process and relay the “oh, stop light coming up, time to clip out” information.

Pedals: Shimano PD-T780

Shoes: Gira Petra VR (on sale at Paragon!)

Next up: More practice this weekend, then bike commute on Tuesday?