Duathlon Rookie

After “quitting” running last fall, I have taken up ballet following a 20 year hiatus and started Dailey Method classes to get my muscles toned, but I’ve been missing the cardio high I used to get from running.  The spinning classes I’d like to attend are so popular that I seldom manage to secure a spot so I dragged my old mountain bike out of storage.  I haven’t ridden my bike since my 5 1/2 year old was in my womb!  So I rode with the kids and felt good – keep in mind they’re not going far or fast so this is no indication of my physical fitness.

While dropping my bike off for a tune-up, I saw a flyer for a local triathlon/duathlon and stuck it in my purse.  A few days later, I found it again and asked my husband “how long do you think it would take me to bike 20km?”  I mapped out a 10km route and hopped on my bike; at a leisurely pace it took me about 30 minutes.  Good? Bad? I have no idea; I just know it didn’t hurt.  Knowing I could easily run 5km, I figured I’d challenge myself to this duathlon – the distances were reasonable:  5km run – 20km bike – 5km run.

I would casually mention the event to people and gauge its difficulty by their reaction and their level of physical fitness.  One friend said it’s very well-organized and I shouldn’t have any trouble at all.  A gal from my book club told me she did the triathlon at the same event and the cycle route is “uphill both ways” but again, encouraged me to go for it.  I looked to my husband for reassurance that I could do it and wasn’t crazy to try.

And then I signed up.

One week prior to race day.

I know better; you’re supposed to train for an athletic event or race.  I’ve run marathons, half-marathons and completed two sprint-tri’s.  But I haven’t done a duathlon before and, on a whim,  signed up a week before the event.  Obviously, this means I didn’t train enough, but . . . my goal was to finish.

At this point I decided I should at least get “slicks” put on instead of my knobby mountain bike tires.
I laid out what I thought would be appropriate attire, packed some transition gear (water bottle, towel, snacks and my jacket) and then forgot to pick up my race package.  “No problem” I thought to myself, “I’ll just pick it up on race day.”  My start time was 11am, so there would be plenty of time for me to get there, park, and get organized without rushing.

Except . . . I forgot about daylight savings time the night before so when I set out at 9:30 to head up to the race site, I was already running an hour behind!  With my adrenaline already pumping, I “warmed up” and rushed to the Start line.  After a few course rules were reviewed our race officially started.  The 5km run was easy,  an out-and-back that was scenic enough to keep me interested without any real hills.  I was on track to meet my goal of 30 minutes and got myself through the transition to my bike in a leisurely fashion.  I even changed my shoes so I could clip-in to my pedals – every bit counts, right?

The bike was a double loop of reasonably flat out and back.  I found myself relaxed in the saddle, enjoying the scenery, I counted 5 bald eagles overhead and then as I was passed by 2 people I had passed while running, realized, I should focus.  As I embarked on my second lap, I was a little envious of all the people on their road bikes.  They made it seem effortless whereas I could feel my suspension absorb just a little of every pedal.  Or perhaps, they had trained for this race?

Coming around the final loop to the water station, I spotted a kid that looked like my eldest, then my husband, and finally my little guy.  Is there anything better than being cheered on by your family?  I actually tear up when I see other families en route, even though they’re not there for me!  I was overjoyed.  Stopped my bike for some slobbery kisses and encouraging hugs and then pedaled  away to the transition zone to run the last 5km.  Which were a little harder.  Somehow there seemed to be more uphill.  But I finished without injury or tears.

Later that night, checking the race results, I was thrilled to see that I beat my goal time of “under 2 hours” by a couple of minutes. 27:50 – 1:00:48 – 29:06  for a total of 1:57:42.69

I didn’t finish last overall as I had feared I might, but I was slowest in my division.  Perhaps next time I’ll train.


It’s Just Like Riding a Bike!
December 29, 2011, 9:26 pm
Filed under: cycling, fitness, life, running | Tags: , , , , ,

No really. It is.

Today I finally got my  bike out and went for a ride.  This may not sound like a big deal to many people, but it has been 6 years since I’ve used my bike!  I know this because, my eldest is 5 1/2 now and the last time I was out on my bike, I was six months pregnant!

I can come up with plenty of excuses, but they are all pretty lame.  I’ve had two kids and a full-time job.  Life took over.  My biking partner no longer gets out either (my husband!).  The truth is, running was just easier.  I didn’t mind the rain and there was limited gear involved.  But now that I’ve lost my running mojo (I’ve run once since that post and actually enjoyed it) I need to find another form of cardio and what better than to do something I used to love!

So with a little coaxing (ok, maybe a lot) from my husband, I finally got my butt into some padded shorts, strapped my helmet on and hit the road.

And “they” are right!  It just comes back.  Once you know how, you don’t forget!

View from the BeachI even enjoyed myself despite the fact that my bike is in desperate need of a tune-up and I couldn’t use my largest gear.  45 minutes of relatively flat terrain, pavement to the beach and then gravel along the shore – no rain, no pain.  Truly spectacular views of the ocean and the mountains.  I’m reminded just how lucky I am to live in a great city with access to the great outdoors – I should get out there.

Now for the new fitness routine . . . ballet and biking?  Sounds like a good fit.  If I can’t hack the rain, there’s always a spin class!

My personal Tour de France 2011
July 19, 2011, 2:29 pm
Filed under: cycling, family, fitness, ideas, life, running, travel | Tags: , , , , , ,

I love watching “The Tour” (as we refer to it in our house).  The excitement, the competition, the scenery, and the tension.  Before my husband and I were married, I knew little about the Tour de France – it’s a bike race in France, right?  But in 2004, while eloping in Italy, I was stuck in a road block caused by the Giro D’Italia passing through a quaint hillside Tuscan village.  And a Tour de France fan was born.  

This is the 98th year of the Tour and over a 3 week period the best road cyclists in the world will cover a total distance of 3,430.5 kms (roughly 2132 miles).  Can you think of any physical activity that you could maintain day after day for 3 weeks?  You can actually watch them get leaner as the weeks go on.   Having run several marathons, I cannot imagine going out again the next day, and the next again to do it all over again!  

So, you’re asking yourself now, what kind of personal Tour de France have I embarked on?  No, I’m not getting keen in to road cycling – in fact, I was on my mountain bike last week with my 4 1/2-year-old son for the first time since he was in my belly!

I have decided to celebrate the Tour by sampling French wines!  Yes, while they race toward Paris enduring blood, sweat, and tears, I am going to sip French wine with my husband while watching the most recent PVR’d stage. 

It’s not easy staying on top of this race.  Each day there are at least 4 hours of footage to get through and I have two kids and a limited ability to stay awake past 9pm. But I’m addicted.  And I’m trying some new wines.  Does it get any better? 

Sadly, I didn’t make any tasting notes on the bottles we’ve tried (that would distract me from watching the race), but I did jot down their names and can say that I enjoyed each one. 

Paul Mas Estate, Syrah Viognier, Nicole Vineyard 2008

Croix du Mayne Cahors, Eleve en fut de chene, 2008

Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Cuvee les deux Papis, 2006, Alex Gambal

Les Costes, Nobles Terres, Cotes Du Rhone, 2008

By the way, here’s the link to the Tour website in case you are interested:

There is a lot to learn and I’m still pausing the race to ask questions (or top up  my glass), but I highly recommend recording the early morning version with Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen as commentators – they are great!


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