I signed up for the Life is Good Duathlon awhile ago because I wanted to try a multi sport event without the pressure of swimming. For a duathlon you run/bike/run a certain amount of miles whereas a triathlon is swim/bike/run. Both a du and a tri have an area in-between called transition where you set things up ahead of time for the next part of the race. You place everything on a folded towel next to your bike. For example, if doing a tri, you have things set up so that when you run in from the swim, everything you need for your biking portion is ready to go. Then when you finish the bike portion everything else is set up for your run. There are many different lengths of races to choose from so I started looking for a short course aimed for beginners. I stumbled upon the Life is Good Duathlon at Peace Valley Park – there were 2 lengths to choose from – short (2 mile run, 5.5 mile bike, 2 mile run) and long (3 mile run, 11 mile bike, 3 mile run). I decided to go for the short course as I had never even attempted anything like this before and didn’t know what to expect or how my body would handle jumping from one activity to the other back to back. I did a little research and it seemed like it would be a good beginner course to try. I assumed both the run and bike would be fairly flat as it stated on their website that there was a hill that was too much for most people so they rerouted the course this year to take that hill out. Well you know what they say about assuming right? 🙂
Earlier this week we received an email that stated there was a short steep hill as soon as you leave transition so make sure your bike is in the correct gear to make it up the hill. I am not kidding you when I say I had nightmares about this after reading the email. I was under the assumption that the bike ride would be fairly flat. I was worried that if I had to walk up the hill I would be disqualified. Also for most of the week they were calling for rain, storms and wind – not the ideal conditions to try out a new type of race. I was starting to get bummed out and then decided that it is what it is – I paid for it so I may as well go and if it’s too rainy I could always just drop out when I got there. Also my good friend Tracy signed up with me so we would be in it together – she just completed the Broad Street Run in Philly in the pouring rain – she is much tougher than I am! LOL! 🙂
So we drove up in the fog and mist and arrived at Peace Valley Park as the sun was peaking through the clouds. We were so happy that the weather forecast had changed and the storms were going to hold out until 3 – things were looking up! The weather turned out to be absolutely perfect during this event. We checked in and set up our transition area. I was so excited to be setting up as I have read so many blog posts and watched so many youtube videos about how to do this – it was a cool feeling to actually be there, about to start! Tracy went to warm up with a run while I stretched and walked through how the transitions would go – and took pics for my blog. 🙂
They let the people doing the long run go first and 5 mins later our wave started. Pretty early in the race I found myself in the back and started to get bummed out that I might be last. I decided I wasn’t going to worry about that as 1) someone is going to be last 2) It was the first time I ever did anything like this and 3) I JUST WANTED TO FINISH – no matter what.
The run went ok – I was a little slower than I would have liked. They told us that those who were doing the short race needed to turn around at mile marker 1 and those doing the long race had to keep going until they saw their turn around point as it was an out and back run. There were volunteers at the mile marker that told me to turn around, but the girl I was using as my pacer kept going even though I KNOW she started in my wave. I said something to the volunteers, but they said they told her and she just kept going – I’m pretty sure she was wearing headphones even though they specifically told us not to. There was really nothing else I could do as she was booking it down the trail so I turned around and started back.
I made it back to transition, took off my hat, threw on my helmet and sunglasses, grabbed my bike and was off! I got on my bike and started up the hill, slow and steady. I got to the top a little out of breath, but not too bad, turned right and started down the road. There was a girl standing off to the side with her bike on the phone just bawling – I couldn’t tell if she got bad news or was upset about how her race was going – I felt so bad that I couldn’t help her. I silently was willing her to continue and wanted to tell her to keep going because I was sucking too! I continued on down the road and spotted Tracy’s water bottle along the side – what a bummer! I would die if I didn’t have access to water – I drink a TON! LOL – as she was coming up the road towards me I yelled “I found your water bottle!!” LOL!
So remember how I said I thought that one hill right out of transition would be the “big” hill of the course – WRONG!!!! There were actually several hills – most were tough but ok to get up….until the HUGE one – almost everyone was getting off to walk up it, including me – not gonna lie I was using a colorful variety of curse words as I went. I started saying to those around me, “What the heck was the hill that they took out of the ride like if THAT was too hard??” We all agreed the hill we were walking up was pretty ridiculous and didn’t want to even look at what the one they took out of the course looked like.
On the way back going up another hill the girl in front of me fell off her bike – she stood up and I could see she was dizzy and stumbling so I jumped off my bike to make sure she was ok. She kept insisting she was but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving her there until a van just happened to drive by and said they were medical. She still insisted she was ok so we kept going, unfortunately I lost my momentum going up the hill so I had to walk that one too. If I would have signed up for the long course I 100% would have dropped out – there was no way I wanted to do that bike course 2 times which is what you had to do for the long course.
On the way back to transition I saw the girl who went too far in the run standing alongside of the course so she must have dropped out right away. I reached transition, racked my bike, put my hat back on and was off running back to the trail to complete my 1st duathlon!! I was doing it! I was gonna finish! I was so excited! Tracy had already finished and was cheering for me as I took of down the trail. I had to slow down and walk a lot more because I couldn’t catch my breath from all those hills, but I didn’t care – I WAS GONNA FINISH!!!! Along the course several extremely athletic people passed me on their way back and gave me lots of encouraging words – I thought that was so awesome! There was a guy who was running with a leg brace on who I saw a few times during the race – seriously awesome and just goes to show – there shouldn’t be any excuses!!
I finished – 15 mins after my estimated time, but I didn’t care – I am officially a duathlte! 🙂 and I wasn’t dead last like I thought I was going to be – I was 5th from last in my group out of 100 people – wahoo! It was such an awesome day – I’m not sure I would consider that a beginners duathlon unless you are used to hills while biking – I would say it was more like if you’ve done a few on an actually flat course like in Delaware or something and then want a bit of a challenge without adding more miles. But I’m happy I did it and was able to finish!
The volunteers were AMAZING and the snacks after the race were excellent – they had popcorn and pizza – oh yeah!! LOL – So overall it was a fun day! I am definitely going to look into signing up for more of these and it was a great practice before the triathlon I signed up for! 🙂