We are back from the desert! The last week was spent enjoying warm weather and dry roads (with bike lanes!!) in Arizona. It was a welcome relief from the cold, wet weather we've been having here in the maritimes. We tied a race into our vaction: the Desert Classic Duathlon near Scottsdale, AZ.
I was really excited for the race! Some of the top pro women were signed up and last year's 25-29 girls were faaassst so I was looking forward to a challenging age group race. The event was held at McDowell Mountain Park just north of Fountain Hills, AZ. It was really pretty, peppered with all sorts of cacti. We first arrived at the park on Friday for trail run of the first leg of the race. The race was a 5.5km run + 32km bike + 4.4km run, both runs being on trails in the park. Mark and I loved the trail! I liked it especially since the last 2 kilometers were a descent. hehe
The following day, Saturday, we went back to the park for a pre-race meeting w/ the race director and to cruise the bike course + second run. Thanks Mark for telling me how bad these shades looked!! hahah
You might be wondering who that little black stealth is that I'm holding there.. ;) She is a new acquisition fully assembled by my stellar boyfriend/personal bike mechanic, Mark! haha He built her to perfection and she is FAST. My first ride on her was the Wednesday of the trip when we did a 20km tour of Sedona, AZ. Other than that, I didn't get much practice in before the race and this is my first tri bike. Those aero bars are scarier than they look! I didn't use them much during the race (check out the pic below) because I felt like I was slowing down and losing control when I got into them v. being comfortable and more aggressive in the side bars. So what if I looked like the amateur that I am? :)
I think we were basically the only people left at the park at 6pm the night before the race, so after our tour of the course we packed it in, headed to Olive Garden for the delicious, carbo-laden meal and back to our hotel for a good night's rest.
We heard there was supposed to be rain in the forecast but shrugged it off. It's the desert, right? Wrong. We woke up to pouring rain and cold temperatures on race day. Nothing a couple of Canadians can't handle! A portion of the race participants weren't so brave. Of the 500 signed up, ~335 competed. Arizonans must be made of sugar. ;) I kid, I kid, the rain sucked and I cannot blame any one for opting out.
Here she is all ready to race...
There was a lot of traffic coming into the park since we took longer than expected to leave the hotel in Scottsdale and make it out to Fountain Hills. Everyone was as bummed about the weather as we were I think, and didn't want to spend any extra time standing around waiting at the start! We had JUST enough time to get the bikes unloaded, put together, down to transition, set up, timing chips, etc. Thank you Mark once again for your patience and helping me out with the fine adjustments on the bike! I had a slipping seat post all week that was still sliding down despite the aluminum shim put into it but Mark managed to tighten it enough on race day that it stayed put!
Before we knew it, we were at the line and the pros were off and racing. It was cool to see some of my favorities; Linsey Corbin, Sam McGlone, Michellie Jones- to name a few. My wave was up after the collegiates. A few words about USAT rules and we were off! There was a nice 800m paved descent into the North trail before starting a 2km ascent after reaching the trailhead. The first trail was muddy but not too bad since the men hadn't been through it yet. I kept up with the girls for the most part but backed off once I reached the peak of the hill and let my legs take me for the remaining 3kms. A photographer snapped this unflattering pic somewhere during this process:
Photo courtesy of Fotojack.com
I felt good after the first run; I didn't kill it but my time was right about where I expected - 27:30 mins, less than 5min per kilometer. Next up it was my favorite- the bike! I transitioned pretty quickly and started the 5 mile gradual ascent out of the park, starting to pass all the girls who ran faster than I did. It was around the 5 mile mark where Mark (who started 3 mins after I did) came up from behind, said hi, and shamelessly motored on by.
The rest of the bike was rather uneventful. I was cautious as there was water on the road. I saw Mark again at the turnaround. He looked visibly confused when I hollered hello to him. :) I had never 'raced' 32km bike before, and we hadn't ridden the entire course the day before, so I kept some energy in mind knowing I might have to dig for it near the end. Here is how NOT to ride a tri bike hehe.. :
Photo courtesy of Fotojack.com
I made a huge mistake during this race. I did not hydrate enough! Silly me, I know these things. I skipped out on water during T1, and didn't reach for my water bottle during the ride. I had eaten a couple shot blocks during the first couple miles of the bike but that was it. As a result, near the end of the bike my calves were cramping. I still made it through with the fastest bike split in my age group - 1:10-something. I was less than impressed but it was good enough for #1 on the bike! At this point, I never knew it, but I was only 23 seconds back from the lead girl in my group!
My mentality through this race was 'survive'. Trail running in mud seemed like a bad idea for my ITBS and repaired ACL, not to mention the wet roads, new bike, etc. I told myself to go for the fastest bike split and then who cares about the second run? I should have! This is the wrong attitude which I will change next time!! I ran SLOW on the second run... walking up most of the 40 foot climb involved half way through. The result was 2nd place in my age group. The first place girl gained 2.5 minutes on me during run #2.
Finish time: 2:05:15
Mark did amazingly well with a time of 1:45!
We survived the crazy wet desert du!! yeah!!
This picture does not capture the amount of MUD on my legs, shoes, everywhere!! haha
All in all? Really fun race, great vacation, and I'm really motivated to race season! Next up is the B.A.A. 5km in April in Boston when I travel with Mark to watch him run the Boston Marathon!