This Saturday May 16 I’ll be competing in the Galena Duathlon. Companion Sue is doing the Triathlon that includes a swim in the 55 degree water. I’m not there yet in terms of swimming that far, much less in freezing water. I do not yet own a wetsuit.
That does not mean I do not still face some interesting logistics in this weekend’s race. It turns out the Duathlon event in Galena is a bit of a cobbled together affair. The start and the two transitions zones for the 2-mile run, 16+ mile bike and 4 mile run require you to double up on equipment such as running shoes.
So we’ll have to wear a pair of running shoes for the first two mile run, stash them at T1 for the changeover to the bike, and them jump back into another set of shoes at a different location to complete the next 4.2 miles of running.
I own two pairs of running shoes. So that’s not the logistical problem. I am dependent on a pair of orthotics to wear in my shoes while running. That does present a problem.
Thinking the race through, the best solution I can imagine is to wear my orthotics in the first set of shoes, stash them in my cycling jersey for the ride because they do not fit into my cycling shoes (I wear simpler set of orthotics in those) and then place them in the second set of running shoes when I get to T2.
It’s rather like having double logistics to consider. The first duathlon I participated in last summer was a disaster in the transitions, which cost me over six minutes total race time. Had I cut those down to two minutes total I’d have been second in my age group. Five minutes of my total effort that day was spent sitting on my ass trying to tie or untie running shoes. It was a two mile run, 16-mile bike and two mile run.
Rumor has it the race this weekend has also changed the course to make the second running stage doubly challenging. It apparently goes straight uphill 2.1 miles and then comes back down 2.1 miles.
The “brick” part of a duathlon is hard enough without going immediately uphill. Doubling the difficulty should make things quite interesting. Everyone all week has been telling me to practice my “bricks” by running after riding. But I already know how that feels. You can’t run at first. You can only move your legs at the same cadence as you just cycled, only in very short steps. Then you move slightly longer with each stride until you begin doing something that actually resembles what I call running.
Doing that uphill should be a marvelous joke of an experience. But that’s why we do these things, to have a laugh at our marvelous inabilities.
It can’t be much worse than a half-marathon I once ran in La Crosse, Wisconsin, which is just as hilly a region as Galena, Illinois. We were racing along at 5:10 pace when we turned onto a road that went uphill for a solid half mile at some obscene grade they only make cars drives in the Cheesehead State. At the top my butt muscles were literally locked in place with lactic acid.But when we made it over the top, it was time to fly downhill. And all was better. I finished two of those loops and the 13.1 in 1:12. And learned that you can run even when your butt is locked.
That’s the memory I’m going to carry with me during this weekend’s hilly ass effort. Along with my orthotics. Because they’ve made this race doubly hard for people like me with so many miles on their legs we need support from the ground up to participate.
Away we go.