A long course duathlon in NC in March? That’s a long way to travel for some early season pain. However it was well worth it when it meant reuniting with some awesome friends, and better yet, supporting one of them in his comeback debut. I had the pleasure of spending time in France with two awesome fellas – Marty Stiegmann and Dave Tierney. We shared laughter, celebration, and quite a few stories about the “good ol’days”. Both of them offered tremendous support to me before and after the race, and Dave was awesome to capture the experience with many pictures and videos (which someday I will get around to posting).
Along with the new friendships that were forged was a spark in Dave – to come back to the states, dust off his Softride and speedo, and get himself back into racing shape after 9 years out of the game. He kept Marty and I updated throughout the process, and then set a goal to compete as a part of a relay team in his hometown race, the Cary Long Course Duathlon. What better way to celebrate this event then to have all 3 of us together again, racing on the same course! And with that, the plans were set in motion…
Marty and I arrived in Cary Friday afternoon and spent a little time previewing some of the course. After grabbing our packets we arrived at the Tierney residence where we were greeted by Dave’s lovely family, and enjoyed a nice relaxing dinner – what a great way to spend the evening before a race. Both Marty’s and Dave’s families were extremely generous hosts, making my race travel both comfortable and stress-free.
Race morning arrived in a flash and both Marty and I were questioning our decision to race a long course duathlon so early in the season, while Dave remembered what it feels like to experience pre-race jitters! We were greeted with sunny skies and 41 degree temps – it was going to be a great day. The race site was full of energy – a feeling I’ve missed over these winter months. I immediately saw fellow Team USA athlete and gold medalist Kristin Villopoto looking fit and ready to race (and race she did, snagging the Overall Female award in the short course event).
For once I didn’t have any goals for this race – other than winning of course 😉 But time-wise I really just wanted to see what I could do and where my fitness was. That is the beauty of early season races – the areas that need work are exposed. The runs consisted of two 2.5 mile loops with 2 out-and-back sections. I knew the first loop would be a challenge because the short course and long course races started together, and it would be tempting to get caught up in the pace of the 2.5 mile racers. There were 2 hills on the 2nd half of each loop that I knew would feel more challenging each time around. I tried to stay somewhat conservative as I led the first loop. I heard another female closing in on me as we came to the split where you either turn into transition or head out for loop 2. As I stayed straight to continue onto the next loop I no longer heard her – phew!
With run #1 out of the way it was time to head out on the bike and test my fancy new HED race wheels. Coming out of transition I experienced another benefit of early season racing – clearing the cobwebs! With my shoes mounted on the bike, I tried once, twice, and yes…three times before I successfully got on the bike and onto the course. Nothing more embarrassing than fumbling multiple times in front of all the spectators… Time to make up what felt like an eternity of time lost. Within the first 1/2 mile I got stuck behind a line of traffic that was unable to pass some slower short course cyclists. There was no shoulder, and it was not safe to pass on the left. All I could do was sit up and coast on the brakes, taking the time to settle myself after the mounting fiasco. With a 31 mile ride, I had plenty of time to make it up. The bike course was great, but the conditions were windier than I was hoping for. I’ve been spending most of my days inside on the trainer, so being out on the windy roads it felt like I was working extra hard to maintain a respectable speed while some of my male competitors passed.
On the run course I knew where my competitors were, but on the bike there was no out-and-back sections, so I did not know where the next females were in the race. I came into T2 and it was time to finish strong. I found Marty on the first loop and he looked like I was feeling – like this last run was gonna hurt! After hitting the first out-and-back I saw the next female with a long course bib – she was looking strong and not too far back from me. Where did she come from?!? Luckily I would have more opportunities to see her on the course to gauge what I needed to do to keep my lead. The next time around I noticed she was wearing running shorts – a sign that she was probably part of a relay. I didn’t take my chances though, and her presence on the course and powerful stride pushed me to the end. Okay, so I also wanted to pass those Duke Triathlon Team boys 😉
Turns out the girl behind me was Dave’s 2nd runner, and phenomenal triathlete Jacqueline Miller. Makes sense, as I was expecting to see Dave fly by me on the red Softride while I was out on the bike. He came close to catching me, posting a bike split 3 minutes faster than mine. Awesome job to him and his team for taking the overall in the relay division. Quite the comeback – and he was all smiles! Marty took 8th overall for the day, and won his age group. This called for a re-creation of our original photo in France – look at the difference a few months, a positive attitude, and determination can make. So proud of you Dave, and I can’t wait to do some more racing with you in the years to come!
So the race was a success for all of us! It hurt, and I definitely need some work, but it also felt awesome to be out there. As usual, any race is made 10x sweeter when you get to spend time with amazing friends and make some new ones. The weekend flew by, and I can’t wait to do it again soon!
FS Series put on a great race – it was well-organized, the course was well-marked, and the volunteers topped it off with their energy and cheering the whole day. Definitely a great event to check out – I know we plan on returning in 2014…
5 mile run – 31:16
31 mile bike – 1:31:15
5 mile run – 34:13
Finishing time – 2:36:46