Friday, 15 November 2013 06:10
By Jenn Scudiero
USAT National Duathlon Championships - We arrived in Arizona at about midnight Thursday night/Friday morning. It was our first time away from parental duty and our daughter, Katelyn (2 years old). I thought that since I didn't have an alarm set, maybe I could actually sleep in. Nope. I was up less than 6 hours later. I guess even while away from my daughter, I still have the ‘mother alarm’. Oh well, up and at ‘em. After the first of several breakfasts at a local haunt recommended by Jasmine Carlson (photo below), I met up with her for packet pickup, a bike and then a run.
Things were feeling pretty good, but it was a lot warmer, drier and a bit more elevation in Tucson than at home. I also learned something very important on that bike ride. We were traveling down the highway and I saw a very pretty bush with flowers that was sticking out into the road. I didn’t think twice about letting it brush up against me. It turns out that everything in the desert wants to kill you. I thought that branch was going to take me right off my bike! The rest of the day was pretty...
relaxed: stretch, shower, rules briefing, dinner, and bed.
Race day. I woke up excited and had my well established race-day ritual breakfast. Problem 1: Bike + car. We had the bike shipped to the hotel, so this was its first encounter with our rental car. At this point, it becomes relevant to note that our rental car was a convertible Camero (you only live once right?). So we get down to the car, put the top down and buckled, yes buckled, Ninja Myrtle into the back seat. In retrospect, we probably could have put the top back up at this point. In reality, that was one cold ride to the race! But we looked so cool! Ok not cool, but we had a convertible! Actually, we were cool. Cold even. The prerace jitters were pretty big this time. I had been working on them all year, but the announcer had some seriously dramatic music going on and kept reminding us how important this race was and how we had trained the whole year for it. Since the F18-49 age group was the last wave there was a lot of waiting. And then, more waiting. I tried to warm up and ignore the announcer. But as we got ready in the start corral, he finally won. The walls came down, the nerves went to 11 and my heart was racing. Go. Run 1 was pretty normal for me. I let people take off and I stayed on pace. There were a lot of girls in front. I was feeling pretty good at the first turn around, but there were a lot of women in front of me. The second turn around I was shocked by how far ahead the lead girl was. Then it was up, up, up the neverending hill to transition, where I slipped around a corner. Thank goodness for the arch in transition that I used to right myself so I didn't totally take a dive.
I started the first loop of the bike passing a lot of people. There was one guy in particular that didn't really appreciate being passed by a girl and we bounced back and forth. As he was passing me down a hill, he pulls out his water bottle and slowed way down. The motorcycle officials were right there and I had to brake hard to drop out of his draft zone. This allowed three other people to pass me, who did the same. It was very frustrating. I passed the group and then the guy right back and we did a few more back and forths before he went off into transition and I went around for my second loop. I had no idea how many women were in front of me anymore, but the whole second lap I barely saw anyone. I kept thinking, “The lead girl must be way ahead of me,” when I didn’t see her at the turnaround. Still, this was a very fun bike course. Up, down, around, but never flat. After a solitary second bike loop, I was off for one last 5k.
The second run started off odd to me. Usually when I'm starting my second run, my husband Tony tells me where women in front of me are. This time he says, "There’s only one girl close behind you." I didn't have time or breath to ask much, but was thinking, “Yeah, but where are the girls in front?!”
I get around the first turn around and still hadn't seen any women ahead. But most people I had seen were cheering like crazy and athletes were all telling me, "great job", "keep going", "they're right there". I replied, "great job", etc and thought to myself, “Well that's weird. Nice, but weird.” As you read this you’re probably thinking to yourself, “How could you not have realized why all these odd things were happening?” I have two words for you: race brain. And mine is pretty bad.
As we went down the hill toward the last turn around, I was thinking the lead girl must have already finished. I made the last turn around and there were 3-4 ladies RIGHT behind me. I had no idea where I was in the standings, but I knew I had one heck of a hill to climb and I was already on the verge of vomitting. I was just hoping I could hold them off up the hill.
The hill took me about four hours, subjective time, to climb; I swear that thing never ends. There was a lady at the top screaming, "get up this hill", "go go go, you better get up this hill!" That helped and I picked it up a bit. That's when I crossed the first mat and heard the announcer say, "I think we have our first F18-49 finishing". WHAT?! OMG. Wait, they are RIGHT behind me. Gotta Go! I tried to speed up with whatever I had left and I turned the corner into the finisher chute. I saw the tape and again heard the announcer, "This is our first F18-49 finisher"! I don't remember much because usually by this time in a race I'm so zoned, but I remember smiling and trying not to cry and breaking the tape! A few minutes after finishing they announced that unless I get a penalty, I am the overall winner. Pure Joy!
That's the first time I've ever broken tape. It was also the first time I've ever stood on a podium, which I got to do 4 times that night in the #1 spot. It turns out I was only 40 seconds behind the elite female winner and I had the fastest female bike split of the day. I don't know how to describe what it's like to feel on top of the world, but that day was so amazing. I couldn't do anything that day other than smile. There is no better way to end a season. - JS
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