“Do one thing every day that scares you.” —Mary Schmich
Every day I try to live by this quote. What scares you daily? Is it standing out? Deviating from the path? Maybe just taking a new way home. There are many ways to do something every day that scares you, but in my running career I try to do one thing each year that scares me. Dream a little bigger, jump a little higher, run a little faster, or longer. Last year I took on a 12 hour ultramarathon and learned that I am mentally stronger than I ever would have dreamed. This year I decided to take on the duathlon.
I guess to some a duathlon is not really scary, I mean, everyone can ride a bike, that was my thought as I made this my goal. I was not quite ready to take on a tri (still got to work on my swim), so why not do what I already know. Well the catch is I don’t have a road bike, I own a mountain bike and surprise, road bikes cost an arm, leg and your first born child. However my mom has a leisure bike, not quite beach bike, not quite road bike somewhere in between so I decided to use that, despite being wayyyyyyyy too small for me.
The training didn’t scare me, or should I say lack of training. The workout plan I’m using for pre-marathon training has me doing bike work as my cross training twice a week. Luckily I own a spin bike which I love and would not trade for the world. Between my Mom’s crossover bike, and my spin bike I was able to “train” as much as I thought I would need. I even did one full run through the day after I ran a half marathon, so I felt pretty confident.
Now in ideal conditions doing something you have never done before with the improper equipment would be scary enough. Now add the worst possible weather. How does that sound? Sounds like a Nor’easter dumping 3 inches of rain and 20 plus mph winds… perfect for a race.
When we got to the park where the duathlon was held we were informed that they would be offering a straight 5k in addition to the du. I almost did it. I almost said, “Sure I’ll do what I am used, forget trying something new.” I almost said that, but I didn’t. Despite the fact that it was pouring, despite the fact that it was windy, despite the fact that the bike breaks probably would not work… do something that scares you, this definitely scared me.
The first run was awesome… If you love a chance of dying on your run. I love running in rain, however imagine trying to race while breathing out of a straw, and not the big smoothie straws either. There was only one other time I ever thought I was going to drown on a run, but never during a race. Also adding to my discomfort when I signed up for this race I believed I read that this was flat course, soon into the run I learned it was anything but. There was quite a few uphill, and in the run it did not bother me, but for the biking, it scared the poop outta me.
I did not want the run to end. I know running, I like running, were bff’s that cant be separated. I don’t know biking, its a strange and foreign land that I was not sure I was ready to explore. Fortunately for me the first transition is easy. I don’t have special shoes, I don’t have any high tech stuff, I literally had to grab my bike, helmet and go. Which was great until I went 50 feet and realized that we had to go up a huge hill. I must have gotten passed by 10 people on this hill. All the lead I bought myself on the run was gone, literally everyone’s bike was faster than mine getting up the first hill, but once I got there, golden, kinda.
“This is easy!” I thought as I reached the first turn around, so far so good we went up some hills went down some hills I was having a great time, the rain sucked but if you squinted it wasn’t that bad. Then I reached this downhill portion where I was flying, seriously, it was the fastest I think I ever went in my life (and people were still passing me) I went to go tap my breaks to slow down… nope. Surprise bike breaks don’t work so well in the rain!!!!
After I road that hill out (ha, puns), we turned the corner and there stood the tallest hill I never wanted to see on a bike. Like, I’m pretty sure my car wouldn’t even get up this hill. But I kept heading towards it. I caught up to a good number of people who pasted me and I thought maybe this is where I could take my place back. I was standing up trying to pedaling with all my might trying to get my bike up this hill. Secretly I was kicking myself for cheating on my spin bike, but I was doing it, I WAS GETTING UP THIS HILL. And then I looked up and realized I wasn’t even a quarter of the way up. I seriously considered getting off my bike and walking it up, but I chickened out of cheating. I just knew this had to be the worst part and if I could get over this, I’d have a great story to tell.
When I got to the top I was the most out of breath I have been in a long time. I actually scared myself with how out of breath I was. Sprints, runs, any other kind of workout, never was I this winded. I quickly lost all the people I caught up too when I was trying to catch my breath. But whatever it didn’t matter I survived. I made the second turnaround and finally was headed back, there was a decent sized hill on the way back, but nothing like that monstrosity that we had to climb.
The bike finish was at the bottom of a hill, remember my breaks did not work so well. I literally had my breaks pulled as tight as they could go the entire duration of the final descent. I thought I was going to fly right past the transitioning stop and go right in the lake. But to my surprise (and I’m pretty sure some of the volunteers surprise too) I was able to stop and run off.
Hobble. I hobbled off. Oh my god. Why has no one told me that your legs feel like oatmeal when you get off of racing a bike. I had no control of them, well, I mean I guess I did because I was walking around but they felt so strange and then I had to run again!?! The run was bazar to me. I could not get my legs to do my pace, they did not even feel like my legs. Finally with one mile left to go I was able to kick it in gear. I felt like me again, I did my last mile a minute faster than the ones before it. As soon as I saw the finish line I went to go kick it in but realized there was no way I had one last kick in my legs, they were so confused on what was going on I just let them get through the line.
After finishing I stumbled my bike up this mountain to the car, I put dry clothes on and basically felt normal again. I could totally be a du-athlete! It was fun, it was challenging, it was hard to breath, and I survived!!! I walked back down after drying off to get some pizza, here I learned I came in 21st overall and 2nd in my age group. It made the day that much sweeter. I’ll totally be back to this du, and many more like it.
Every year I try to do one thing that scares me, and every year I end up loving it.
Till next time.