Last weekend was the Peanut Butter Duathlon, which was originally the Law Day Duathlon, which has been on the duathlon circuit in the Chicagoland area for quiet some time. The event is now tied in with the Rockford Food Pantry and is a fundraiser for it. My sister Meredith and her friend Kevin were doing the race, and I got permission from the coach to attend it as a workout. With gas at $4 a gallon, I had no desire to drive 200miles for kicks, so having them go gave me an excuse.
The original plan was to get to the event early, run the course, ride the course, and then do the race with tired legs, having company of other people to push me when I'm hurting. When we left, it was sunny and in the 50's, which was comfortable compared to the crappy weather we have been having lately. On the way to Rockford, we first saw the wind pick up to gusts that made the grass wave, let alone the grain on our fruited plains. At Rockford, it started to rain and it dropped to the low 40's. I called the coach to ask permission to skip the original plan of masochism and just kick in the survival plan. I didn't want to seem like a sissy for calling for permission, but I figure it's like a Sargent calling the Captain for marching orders.
Signed in for the race, and Meredith chose to sit this one out. With the weather the way it was, I don't blame her. You were supposed to bring a jar of peanut butter (hence Peanut Butter Duathlon) to donate to the food drive, but if you know Liz and her love of peanut butter, there was not a single jar to be found in the house. It had also slipped my mind to pick some up the night before at Whole Foods, but I wasn't going to head back out to pick it up either. Kevin and I got our bags of swag, which was jut loaded with food. I was a little stunned...if it's a food drive, then why are they giving away food, especially pretty much a grocery bag full of it? I swear Meredith at half of what we brought back to the van within 10 minutes. Someone skipped breakfast, eh?
The rain had now turned to mist and I did the standard warm-up, feeling a little too serious looking with my clothing. My wardrobe now pretty much consists of TriSports.com apparel and I was pretty much fully kitted out like a poseur at a small race. It was still cold, but I opted for a cycling jersey and shorts. No tights, arm warmers, gloves, or hat.
I like duathlons because they are mostly laid back and the people aren't as nervous at the start as they are for triathlons. I think that the majority of the personalities at du/tri's are the same, but something about getting into water notches up the tension. People feel more comfortable starting a duathlon, even though du's are predominately much more of a trip to the hurt locker than a tri.
I wanted to run the first leg with the leaders, so I pushed a little harder than normal just to extend myself and see how things shake apart in the end as a learning experience. Came in at 11:10 for 2 miles cut into grass with a little mud, so I was pretty happy with that. The course had been mostly firm with a little mud puddles and slippery sections here and there, so I was pretty impressed. I did feel a bit of worry when my arms were cold on the run, which is usually not the case. Outfit choice was not working out.
T1 was slow as cold fingers don't handle tiny helmet buckles well. Got on the bike and felt like I was grinding up a mountain with a 53/12 as my lowest gear. Pushed this for a minute and the legs started coming around. I finally got around to working and then remembered the course as one I had done 15 years ago in my bicycle racing years. Today was three loops of this course. I was wondering if I would be looping people. The question was answered as soon as I turned for the 2nd loop as people were still coming off the run apparently. By the 3rd lap, the fingers were getting colder, and the loop traffic heavier; so shifting was bad, braking was bad, holding a good line through traffic was worse. I had braked several time to wait for cars to pull over, loop traffic to move right, and I almost lost it over a slick wooden bridge, picking a bad line because of loop traffic. When the bike part was finally over, my fingers were numb, had some relief that I was still upright, and Jerome with another rider was in view behind me.
T2 was even slower than T1. What had been hard to buckle with cold fingers was impossible to unbuckle with numb fingers. To make matters worse, I knelt down to put on my race slippers, then lunged forward not thinking that the bike racks were just above my head. I whacked myself good on the eye, moving the rack and causing a big "Oooh" from the crowd. The second run was a sloppy mess. What was once mostly firm was now a trampled mess by a 120 pairs of feet, leaving behind a mud pit. To make things worse for me, I had developed a "nervous" stitch in my side whenever I get pressured during the bike/run thing. Slowed up, calmed myself down, then picked up the pace again, this time feeling way better. Tried to run quickly through the chewed up course and I wanted to go hard enough to feel the pain of the first leg. Wasn't able to get to that point and the second leg was significantly slower that the first with a split of 12:20.
In the end, it was alot of fun because I got to swap positions around constantly in this race as Jerome was fast and so was the winner. It was alot of true competition racing at this race and not an ITT it can become for me sometimes at other races. I finished in the overall and was able to donate the awards check to the food drive, which made me feel better being empty handed of peanut butter at the Peanut Butter Duathlon.