As Always – Photo Credit to Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville
Well…I had another “Outside My Comfort Zone” type moment this weekend. It’s imminent arrival actually caused my blog blackout last week. I was stressing so hard about it that I couldn’t think about anything else, but I didn’t want to do yet another “I’m Doing Something Scary This Weekend” blog entry. So…I wrote nothing.
Several months ago, after Donnie convinced me to to a triathlon class at Fleet Feet, he signed me up for a duathlon (Run/Bike) thinking it would help me prepare for my triathlon. A good introduction to a multisport event before my triathlon. I had been saying for weeks that I wasn’t going to do it. I had two good reasons (E had a college thing, Wes had a t-ball thing) and I was still very scared of cycling, so I honestly never really seriously considered doing the event.
But then a boot camp friend said she was going to do it and she had never done something like that before and she was so nervous she was joking about almost hoping she’d twist an ankle or something to give her an excuse not to do it.
WHAT? Someone ELSE thinks stuff like that?
So…I started trying to find a way to do it too. I mean, if I’m going to have to do this multisport stuff, doing one with someone as terrified as me would make it MUCH EASIER. And that’s exactly what I did.
Saturday morning? I participated in my first multisport event in the form of a duathlon. It was a 3-mile run, a 13.5-mile bike, and another 3-mile run.
I’ve spectated several triathlons with Donnie so there were silly things I was actually a little excited about:
- Getting markings put on my body. They always write your race number on you, some races put your age on the back of your leg too. I’ve always looked at Donnie’s markings from those races as proof of his level of BADASS.
- Being allowed in the transition area. Most races only allow you in the transition area if you’re a racer, so I typically just talk to Donnie over the barrier while he gets set up.
- The ability to be part of the multisport club. Donnie and his friends are awesome in several ways and I was looking forward to joining their ranks.
These were the things that I was trying to focus on and NOT think about RIDING THE DAMN BICYCLE FOR 13 MILES. Before that race the most I had ever done was about 5. Although I lied about that slightly to other people because it sounds a bit like running a marathon having only ever done a 10K before.
I was terrified. Petrified. Scared. And all of the other fearful words you can think of. And as I ran into the transition area to get my bike after the first 3-mile run? I almost puked. Let’s not even discuss the nervous crying I did before the race. But the almost puking? Not my finest moment.
I got going okay, but I never got my left foot into the toe cage on the pedal. And then I struggled with shifting, kept losing my footing on my pedals, and eventually both feet were riding on the underside of the pedals and I decided to quit trying to get them in the cages. I just nearly wrecked every time. The bad thing though, is that means I missed all of the benefit of the cages. Supposedly part of the point of attaching your foot to the pedal in some way is that you can pull UP on the pedals so that you’re not trying to constantly push, using the same muscles the entire time. If you can pull some it spreads out the distribution a bit, which I was never able to do.
(Result: SEVERE QUAD PAIN.)
And the shifting…I just never seemed to be going the right way. I never quite understood when to shift and what it would feel like after I shifted. I don’t know…I’m still too new to cycling to really get what things are supposed to feel like. So shifting to get it closer to that “sweet spot” is impossible since the only “sweet spot” I’m aware of is the one where I run the 13 miles, not ride it.
Basically? I spent 13-miles stressing out about shifting and pedals. I never relaxed enough to enjoy it on any level. And the last 5 miles my ass was hurting SO BAD that I was basically counting down the minutes until I was done. My bike is heavy and doesn’t fit perfectly so I never got over 12 mph and I never really got shifting properly so I’m certain I was never making efficient decisions. In other words? 13-miles of stress and quad pain. Thank GOD my friend never left me, even though she could have beat me by a good 20-30 minutes EASY. If she hadn’t been there? I might have just gotten off my bike and begged someone to come pick me up. That’s how miserable I was.
(SIDENOTE: The bike course was PERFECT if you are not me. Minimal traffic. Great volunteers making sure I went the right way. Good markings. Good conditions. Please do not judge the race itself by my struggles. I highly recommend this race to anyone wanting to do a multisport event!)
When I got back to the transition area people were leaving. As in, they were already done, and had hung out long enough to be ready to pack up and go home. They were actually taking down parts of the transition area. To make my point of how slow I was compared to the rest of the racers, I finished SECOND TO LAST. So, seeing people leaving to go home while I was just starting my second run? MILDLY DISCOURAGING.
BUT! I was done with the bike! So I didn’t care! I ran the last 3 miles not caring about anything else in the world other than being DONE WITH THAT BIKE.
When we crossed the finish-line, my friend and I were both so VERY HAPPY that it was over with. And my first thought? My triathlon will be SUPER EASY compared to that duathlon. The bike will only be half the distance, so I’ll be FINE. And that – I think – was why Donnie signed me up for it. So…in that sense? I’m so glad I did it.
But it did NOTHING for my confidence. When I finish a long-distance race…even if I’m dead last…just the accomplishment of completing the distance boosts my spirit. But that race? Because it felt so dreadful and I just stressed so much? I really didn’t feel much pride when it was over. I actually felt more embarrassment than anything. I just pushed so hard on the bike and still could not go ANY FASTER. Now – I know that a lot of the problem is the bike. It’s a heavy mountain bike that I’m borrowing so it doesn’t fit. And evidently – the speed and the fit are HUGE issues – so that could explain a lot of my struggles. But STILL! To work SO HARD and to still know that I’m about 3 mph slower on the bike on average than the slower of the participants (and 7-10mph slower than my husband)? It’s just discouraging.
To say the least.
But I did it. I have now participated in a multisport event. I’m one of the cool kids. I’ll do the triathlon in June and that will probably be it for my multisport season.
I do hope to someday get a good bike. Hopefully before next year so I can do the duathlon again on a good bike, with more confidence, and maybe be able to say I had fun after that race. Because this race? Was not as much “fun” as it was “stressful” and “terrifying” and “exhausting”. As I told my friends, give me a choice and I would have run 40 miles again over doing that duathlon again any time soon. IN A HEARTBEAT.
But I will try again. And that is actually more than I thought I’d say after this hurdle had been jumped. So, I’ll consider it a “WIN” in the “Try New Things” category.