I did my first ever duathalon on Saturday and boy, oh boy was I intimidated. I showed up to the start to find out that only 30 people had signed up (it turned out that only 25 raced and all finished!). Out of those 25, there were probably 2 people who didn’t look like the crazy type of super-athlete that Colorado seems to breed. Considering I had only ridden my mountain bike 4 times before (and only two of those times were on trails for a grand total of 6 trail miles!), I felt way out of my league. On top of the fact that I was surrounded by people who looked like they could kick my butt as a warm up, I also woke up feeling like crap, probably after-effects of the car accident I was in on Thursday morning. I was considering just taking my t-shirt and calling it a day, but then I remembered that I had only run 10 miles all week and could benefit from the extra miles, even if I had to walk the whole thing.
Of course, as soon as the starting gun went off my competitive drive kicked in and I decided to just run for as long as I could and walk when I needed to. The first 5k loop would have been relatively easy considering it only had 500 feet of gain, but even before I reached the first mile I was walking. I continued to walk/jog the entire way up the 500 feet and then took off on the sustained downhill. I think I ran the last mile in 7:30 and then it was time for the bike! I had been dreading the bike all week since I’m still not confident on it, but I had already decided I was ok with walking my bike if it got too steep. I did end up having to walk but only for about 100 yards when the grade got to 18% (the average grade was 12%). I made it to the top and then began the fast decent down. Although I felt like I was flying, I probably wasn’t going that fast because someone almost passed me but I was able to hold them off. I got into the exchange point, parked my bike, tore off my helmet and raced out of there onto the second 5k loop. This one was only supposed to have 300 feet of gain, but it was probably closer to 500. Again I decided to walk the uphills and run the downhills. There was one section where we ran down a slope through wildflowers without any semblance of a trail to follow. This was surprising because usually races through forest service land are really strict about staying on the trails, but I wasn’t complaining because it was BEAUTIFUL! I finally crossed the finish line in 1:38:45, with an average pace of 10:38 and a total elevation gain of 1900 feet.
After the race, they had a small awards ceremony where they gave out plaques and gift cards for free Asics running shoes. Then they started giving out random prizes for the person that traveled the farthest distance (Monument for within CO and Arizona for out of state), the person with the oldest pair of running shoes (3 years), etc. Then they asked if this was anyone’s first trail race. When I responded that it was my first trail race on a bike, they gave me a $25 gift certificate to runners roost! I’ve never ever won anything at any race I’ve been a part of so I was super excited about winning something, but that excitement was tempered by the fact that I could have placed if I was feeling better considering I was only 10 minutes off the first place person.
After a mellow afternoon, I took Moose on a quick hike part of the way up Meadow Mountain and then drove back to Denver to sleep in my real bed. I went to sleep at 4, woke up around 9pm and again at 4am to walk Moose, but didn’t actually wake up again until 7:30. That’s a total of approximately 13 hours of sleep!! And the only reason I actually woke up at 7:30 instead of sleeping later was because I was running with Gaby. I picked her up around 9 and we made the drive up to Hessie trailhead (past Nederland in the Roosevelt National Forest). Our plan was to go up to Devil’s Thumb Pass and maybe stop by a couple of the many lakes that are a short jog off the trail.
We both started off feeling a little off so decided to just see where the day took us. Most of the train up to the pass was decently steep so we walked most of it. It was also pretty wet and included multiple sections where the trail and a creek were the same thing. At about 4.5 miles in, we came across of our first snow crossing. This continued for the rest of the hike up and also included multiple shoe-sucking mud sections. As we were hiking, the clouds seemed to be closing in on us. About half a mile from the pass, the storm clouds started to surround us on 3 sides and seemed to be blowing straight towards us. Since we were above treeline we decided to turn around and avoid being stuck trying to scramble down the pass in thunderstorm. This turned out to be an excellent idea because shortly afterwards it started raining and we could hear thunder (although thankfully we didn’t see any lightning). The way down was only slightly faster than the way up since the mud, snow, and wet rocks made it hard (and probably unsafe) to run too quickly. We made it back to the car with almost 14 miles, 2500 feet of gain, and four and half hours on our feet.
On the way home we stopped to get barbeque in Nederland. It was a perfect place because for $8.95 I got a good serving of pulled pork, with my choice of barbeque sauce, and two sides (I picked sweet potato fries and carrots and celery). I will definitely be back there and even told the BF that he needs to try it out since he’s always looking for good barbeque places.
Overall it was a great weekend, but it made me realize that I’m ready for my taper. Before the last 50, I had an awesome run where I was feeling great as the run before my taper which made me want to keep running. This time around I am ready for the taper and will probably enjoy taking my running back a notch or 10. Now it’s time to enjoy July 4th! Here’s to a weekend (Wednesday – Sunday) of fun times that don’t revolve around running!