More Than a Feeling...
Saturday, 30 August 2014 00:10
By Jasmine Carlson
Minneapolis Duathlon Race Report - The question with these things is where to start?
Where does a race start? Is it during “off season” where you are logging all your base miles? Is it during that grueling track workout? Is it in the perfectly timed post-workout meal? Or is it on a chiropractors or massage therapists table? Then again maybe races start in your heart pumping enthusiasm for speed like blood through your veins.
The Minneapolis Duathlon started as the race I couldn’t get back to. After having raced and won the Minn Du in 2012 I was unable to return in ’13 due to an injury. I was looking forward to racing it again though I was hoping that the pavement was less pot-holed than I remembered. I’ll just spoil the surprise for you right now and tell you that the pavement was every bit as terrible as I remembered with the addition of some brand new chip seal at the turn around.
I spent the four days before the race with an off and on fever and a great set of hives sleeping only with the aid of benadryl hoping that I would be well enough to race, and at the same time freaking out about not being able to finish my week off strong. I knew I would have some strong competition compliments of Jenn Scudiero! ...
The Cities are a bit of a trek for me. A good solid four hours on a good traffic day; which is hardly ever the case during the summer thanks to the limited MN road repair time.
Packet pickup was routine except I found that my start wave was wave 13 of 28 or so. Yeah. That wasn’t going to work. I found Jenn speaking with someone about the same issue. We were reassured that we could jump in with an earlier wave if we thought that we would be fast enough. Relief.
I slept really hard that night even though my six-year old son was sharing the hotel bed with me. Uh oh. I knew that I wasn’t 100% after crashing like that the night before a race. There is something reassuring about the night before jitters. The hives didn’t even keep me up!
The alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. I wanted to get to transition early, as I knew that there were no assignments. I loaded my gear to the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder. It started pouring as my little family and I headed to the race.
Thanks to our lovely technology we ended up being misdirected and then wandering around downtown Minneapolis. I was trying to keep my cool. The only bonus was that neither I, nor my bike, got soaking wet.
Thankfully the rain had set everyone back a bit and I was able to find a good place in transition and get set up. It was obvious that the roads were not going to be in the best shape and my running shoes were already soaking wet after warming up. The temperature was warmer than this really northern girl is used to, and I knew that may present a challenge later on in the race.
I seeded myself with the first wave and we were off. The road was slick and I found myself trying to keep traction for a good half mile. It was extremely humid. My chest was tight from my cold and I immediately knew that my heart rate was much higher than normal but despite that it felt good to be racing and the atmosphere was almost festive with many people racing for the first time. There is a lot of enthusiasm at this race.
I knew that my run wasn’t up to my normal pace, but I was in the lead female position and feeling OK.
Transition is large but everything went smoothly and I was out on the bike faster than I had expected. I hammered from the get go knowing that we had 14.5 miles. It was rough pavement, quite a few twists and turns and some single lane riding. It was a clear field on the way out. It was increasingly warm and humid and a little over halfway through I had the thought that it felt like I had a flat tire. I dismissed the idea immediately figuring that I was just not used to the humidity. With a quarter of the way left to go my calves were cramping more than I would have expected but once again I figured it had more to do with me not being completely well.
Somewhere near the turn around I lost the straw for my water bottle, I went to take a drink and… gone. Oh. Crap.
There were a lot of people on the course on the return trip and it was fun to see so many people out sweating and loving it!
Dismount was exciting as I completely nailed it, something that I have been working on all season.
Transition wasn’t quite as smooth this time as I felt a little disoriented but I headed out for the second run with Jenn right beside me.
We ran together for the first quarter of a mile or so. My calves were cramping up very solid at this point and my stomach started cramping. Oh, no. Really? I have never had that kind of trouble racing yet. I guess it was time for a new adventure?
Jenn left me at a very special spot, one that I remember well because it is where I passed her in ’12. I tried to hold on but knew that it wasn’t going to happen for me. I put my head down and went to work. Time to shut off my brain and try and shut down my screaming limbs and gut.
It is a wonderful thing to hear cheerful volunteers on a race course. I appreciate them so much. I wish I could do more than grunt at them and throw my cup. I needed Gatorade. Badly. I knew that wasn’t a good sign. I was cursing my wonderful brand new $75 water bottle. The Gatorade gave me the will to live again or at least push on to the finish line. I crossed it just in time to get hit with searing stomach spasms. Awesome. This is what all the veterans talk about.
The end of the race is always great, I love cheering people across the finish line and wishing the other racers well. Jenn ran a great race (for a great cause I will add, as she was racing with the names of young family members with cancer, on her shoulders - photo above) and if I have to come in second, it was to a great athlete.
I cheered my brother across the finish line in his 3rd duathlon of the season and headed to transition.
I could hardly jog to cool down as wave after wave of stomach cramps hit me.
I sucked it up long enough to talk to other athletes. I love being able to encourage other women to push themselves and to continue challenging themselves.
As my husband was loading my bike in to our car, en-route to brunch before heading to the State Fair, yes I know, I am a sucker for punishment. My stomach still cramping and slugging electrolyte beverage like there was no tomorrow. He asked me when I had flatted. Say what!? Sure enough. Flat as a pancake. After a few moments of “oh my gosh did I ruin my race rims!?’ I realized that whole “I feel like I am riding on a flat” feeling had been more than a feeling. Huh. Maybe. Just maybe sometimes it might be a good idea to not assume you are just being a wimp out there?
Writing this, all it sounds like is misery. But it wasn’t. I promise. There is something extremely rewarding about racing. It goes so much deeper than the finish line and some award. It’s on the faces of the other athletes; united in suffering no matter what level they are racing at. It’s in the support of the volunteers and the encouragement of the spectators and sleepy eyed sherpas. Race day is the icing on the cake, the celebration and culmination of hours of hard work. And it’s worth it. Every time.
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