Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sometimes you just have to run through the woods like a crazy person.

My next big adventure included a new twist... running!

A lot of people run for exercise. They run long distances and get a "runner's high" where they can keep going through the pain even to the point of hurting themselves. I can honestly say that I am not one of those people (although some may say that describes my cycling addiction). Two or three days a week I attempt to "run" a couple of miles in the mornings with the dog, but it is more of jog with a lot of walking. So far, I haven't been able to run non-stop for a mile.

So why, oh why, would I sign up for an event that includes running? Well, maybe it's because I've never been known to step away from a bad idea? (Within reason, that is.)

Last February year a friend of mine, Jen, did an off-road duathlon (run, ride, run) at Tyler State Park. It stayed in my mind as something a little different to do. As this February started to roll around I thought about doing the du with Jen. Since we still had been getting a lot of rain and the local trails have been closed, I was looking for a chance to hopefully ride a dry trail and maybe even see if I could run a little, ride my bike and then run a little more. Unlike the Super Six, I wasn't going to do this rain or shine, so I was keeping a close eye on the weather forecast. As the registration cut-off was getting closer Jen and I kept debating whether or not to sign up. We finally decided that the rain was going to hold off long enough and registered for the event.

So with a running resume of "maybe a mile" I signed up to run 2.5 miles off-road, ride my mountain bike 11 miles, and then run another 2.5 miles off-road. 1 out of 3 is good... right?

The race didn't start too early, but since Tyler is 100 miles away and Jen lives along the way I stayed the night at her place. Saturday morning under cloudy skies we drove to the park. The closer we got to Tyler, the lighter the sky was looking and there was even a hope of some real sunshine for our day.

We get to the park and not surprisingly I see several people that I know, including the event photographer Jere Arnold. We sign releases, get our numbers and then start getting ready. The air is a little cool and crisp so it is decision time as to what to wear. Long sleeves or short sleeves? Base layer? Leg warmers? Whatever I choose I would have to stay with throughout the event. I decided to start off a little chilled, knowing that the run would warm me up.

Knowing that running was not our strength, although Jen can run further that I can, we staged at the back of the group. No point in getting run over. The back of the pack was a good place to be as others took off at a run, while I was shuffling along using Alan's race strategy of "start slow, then taper off". Before long I was asking the sweep runner to please come around me. Concentrating on forward movement, I ran when I could and walked when I couldn't. Towards the end of the run section I was actually closing in on two other women (also passed by the sweep runner). Having a rabbit that I might actually be able to catch, I picked up the pace a bit and passed one lady and caught up to the other. We walked together for a bit, then I picked it up to impress everyone by running off the trail and to the transition area (69th finisher of the 1st run).

A change of shoes and donning of the helmet then it was time to get on the bike. My sweet, sweet bike. Riding trail is much more enjoyable than running and I was soon passing other riders. The majority of the trail was dry and I was relishing riding dry dirt and passing others. I finished the cycling portion (35th in the bike leg). It was a little disheartening to see people finishing their 2nd run, and the event, while I was just coming in on the bike - one of those being a 13 year old.

Once again, back to the transition area and time trade the bike shoes for running shoes. This time around there was a lot of walking and very little running. I'm sure you'll be surprised to find that I was re-passed by some other runners, I know I was surprised that I wasn't passed by almost everyone else that had not already finished. Although I was slower on the 2nd run, I finished that leg 59th... faster than 10 others, some that were just finishing their bike leg as I was finsihing the event - I know that feeling! My overall finish was 50th.

While the run was painful, I think this is something that I might just have to try again. There is another duathlon in November, don't know if I'm up for that one - we'll have to see.