Monday, July 29, 2013

Buckhead Border Challenge Race Recap - Part 2 RACE DAY

Note - this is Part 2 of my race recap. If you missed Part 1, and want to catch up, click here.

   My 100 alarms went off at 4:30. Not that I needed them - I never sleep well the night before race day. Whenever my alarms go off crazy early, I'm always thankful that I have a very patient, supporting husband - things could get ugly otherwise. Anyway, I got ready and we were out the door to set up in transition when it opened at 5:30. Again, I can't stress how fantastic it was to just walk out the door, walk through a parking lot and be in transition. If only every race was so easy.

   I'm glad I got there early, as race organizers were checking all of the bikes for the appropriate race numbers, as well as doing the athlete body marking right before entering transition area, so there was a pretty long line to enter.  For the record, I DID try to get a photo of the line, but it didn't really turn out. Blogger FAIL.

#522 - Otherwise known as "The Weapon." 

   Once I got set in transition, I made the triathlete's version of the "walk of shame" over to the Race Director's tent. Yes, I had decided to change from the Olympic triathlon to the Olympic duathlon due to the high level of E. Coli in the Ohio River. It's funny - if someone had said during my pre-triathlon life that I actually debated about swimming in an E. Coli-infested river, I would have told them they were crazy. But the post-triathlon Kristine actually had think about it for a while. I blew my husband's mind because after I received the e-mail about the E. Coli, I threw the subject out on social media (of course). "You've been told you'd basically be swimming in sewage, and you have to ask the INTERNET if you should swim tomorrow?!" While "swimming in sewage" is a bit extreme, I didn't really like the record the Ohio River had in regards to E. Coli. I knew of two other races in this river had been cancelled (within the past year) due to high levels of E. Coli, and the BBC last year also had high levels of "bacteria" in the river. So, while the triathlete in me was saying "Eh - you should swim. It'll be OK," the realist in me, who really didn't want to get sick (as my husband pointed out SEVERAL times - "E. Coli can KILL YOU"), took over and I decided not to swim. I'd be slower time-wise having to run twice, but I wouldn't get sick.

Pre-race - after my walk of shame.

   After changing to the du, we just hung out for a bit waiting for the race to start. If I had been swimming, this time would have been spent being shuttled over to the Kentucky side of the river. But since I wasn't swimming, we just sat around talking to other athletes. The duathletes were just kind of standing around because there wasn't a set start line. We were just told that we should stand "over there" and wait for someone to start the race. Sure enough, about five minutes before 7:00 am, a few volunteers set up a "Start" banner.  One volunteer pointed to another and said "when she says go - start running." And that's exactly what we did.
   The first leg was only two miles and it was mostly flat. I probably ran too fast considering I still had a 40k bike and a 10k to run, but that's the problem with being an average runner- everyone is running faster than you are and you don't want to be left behind. I got passed by a 60 year old woman, which was great for my ego. There were some other runners who were REALLY taking it slow, but I could tell that they were just taking it easy on this leg - that they'd fly by me on the bike or run. I don't have that luxury. If I lost a lot of time on this run, I would be able to make up some of it on the bike, but not enough to matter. Triathlon / duathlon really is all about the run.
   About 18 minutes later, the run was finished. I ran into transition and tried to remember what the heck I was supposed to do. I hadn't raced a multi-event race since March. That's a lot of time to forget things! Helmet - check. Change shoes - check. Sunglasses - check. Nutrition/hydration - already on bike - check. And I was off.

It's impossible to find a flattering bike photo - so you have to look at this one. Sorry.

   The bike leg started out in Jeffersonville, took you 12 miles outside of town, and then back again. Though the route wasn't closed to traffic, there weren't too many cars, which was nice. Other than some tight turns, there wasn't anything too challenging. I do have two complaints about the route though. The first one being there wasn't a directional marker or volunteer at what was probably the most confusing turn on the course. There was a fork in the road, and the natural way to go was straight...which wasn't correct. There was a group of about five of us who all went down the wrong road. This happened to be right before the course turn-around.  Once I got back on the right road and hit the turn-around point, I asked (OK - I yelled - I was on a bike after all.) for one of the volunteers to go down and direct people. I also warned every approaching cyclist for the next 1/2 mile or so about the turn. I'm sure they thought I was crazy, but hopefully were aware and didn't miss the turn like I did. 
   My other issue was that there wasn't a timing mat at the turn-around - or anywhere on the bike course for that matter. I probably wouldn't have noticed this if not for fact that I was counting female racers on the course. Since all of the courses were out and back, I knew exactly how many women were in front of me. I also knew what women passed me. Which is why I can say with a decent amount of certainty that I think one woman cut the course. I'm sure she didn't mean to - maybe she thought the sprint turn-around was the Olympic turnaround - but I know I passed her on the bike and then I never saw her again...until the run when she was about a 1/2 mile ahead of me. I'm not sure how that could have happened without cutting the bike course short. While a timing mat wouldn't have prevented this from happening, it would have made it easier to detect course-cutting after the race was over.

 It only looks like I'm making the "peace" sign. I'm actually holding a Honey Stinger gel and a packet of Smarties. Nutrition of Champions.

   After the ride, I started running...again. Just 10k to go. I was really curious and a little nervous about how this was going to go down. The most I'd really run post-injury was five miles and that was with breaks. Plus - I had already run a tough two miles. Fortunately, with the exception of a very small hill leading up to the main part of the greenway, the route was entirely flat. I don't think I would have handled a hilly course very well. It took a little over a mile to get my running legs. (Note to self - do more bricks.) But after I found my legs, I was OK until mile five. I mean - I hurt. Oh yes, I definitely hurt, but felt OK. Once I hit mile five though, I was ready for this race to be OVER. I haven't checked my pace breakdown for this race yet, but I know it had have to dropped significantly over that last mile.  
   Step by painful step, I got closer to the finish line. Finally, I heard the announcer say "From Brentwood, Tennessee...Kristine Mills." Of course, me being who I am, I yelled as I crossed the finish "It's pronounced miles"! He so kindly announced me again. Hey - when you've been suffering for three hours and your reward is your name being announced - you want it to be pronounced correctly.
   After cooling down a bit, I went to find Dudley. I was surprised that I hadn't seen him when I crossed the line. I figured he was still at the finish waiting for me, and sure enough, there he was. Apparently, I was faster than he had predicted and he missed my finish by about five minute. FASTER than he predicted. Never would have thought that. 
   Unfortunately, someone stole the finisher's medals for the race. (Sidebar: Who does that? What is someone going to do with 500 triathlon medals?) Apparently, the race organizer is going to reorder them and send them to us in a few weeks. All wasn't lost though, because while I didn't receive a finisher's medal - I did take home a lovely piece of hardware:

What's this? Just the medal for winning first place in my age group.
   Yes, that's correct - somehow, even with the change to the duathlon, I managed to win my age group. HAZZAH! Granted, there weren't many of us, but that's one of the benefits of participating in a race with several distances - your competition gets diluted. And I'll take a victory whenever I can take it!

   Overall, I enjoyed this race a lot. It was well organized and there were plenty of volunteers. With the exception of my two issues with the bike course, everything was pretty much perfect. I do wish that the Ohio River was cleaner. I'd race it again next year if the river was cleaner. Who knows? I might come back again next year an do the Du again. Worked out pretty well for me this year!! Thanks, Jeffersonville!! 

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