2018 Du for the Parks
One might think that, over the years, I'd have learned to stop referring to certain activities as "things I'll never do;" for example: bungee jump (done), run a marathon (done), ride a road bike (done), swim (done), participate in triathlon (already registered), and run a distance longer than the marathon, also known as an ultramarathon (I'm still going with no on this one).
As many of you know, I purchased a road bike from friends last year when a hamstring injury preventing me from running for about five months; I was cleared to ride just ten days after a procedure to aid the healing process, but would not be cleared to run for another 8-12 weeks. I'm forever thankful to my friends Chris and Anita for helping me get set up on that bike and teaching me so much; as a result, they've managed to pull me into a new adventure.
Du for the Parks is the Arkansas State Duathlon Championship; held in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and organized by Hot Springs Friends of the Parks, its proceeds benefit the Hot Springs Creek Greenway Trail (a beautiful, paved path on which the run portion of the race takes place). It occurs during Memorial Day weekend, so it's hot, but the race support is fantastic and we received some really nice swag.
The traditional duathlon routine is offered - run, bike, run - but, somehow, I was talked into registering for "the double" which includes an additional bike and run portion; first duathlon, might as well go all out? We would run for 2 miles and ride for 12 in an alternating pattern that looks like this: 2/12/2/12/2.
I knew I'd have trouble keeping up with training partners Chris and John; thankfully, my friend and Oiselle teammate Mindy decided to join in and she ran the first two mile section with me. I distinctly remember looking over at her, shortly after the race began, and saying, "You realize that these first two miles are likely to be the best part of this race, right?" We both laughed but it was that sort of nervous laugh when really we were thinking, "oh sh*t, why are we doing this?" We sped through those first two miles in 16:05, an average pace of 8:03/mile.
After just two miles, I was already super sweaty; I could hardly wait to hop on my bike and catch a breeze; thankfully, the first half of the 12 mile ride is relatively easy, with some downhill, but then I realized I'd have to climb back up on the return trip...oof. The first ride felt great; cruised in with a time of 44:48 and an average pace of 16.1 mph.
The second run wasn't as bad as I'd expected but it was tough; the sun was beaming down on us and my heart rate was high. I kept plugging along, trying not to let my pace drop too dramatically, and managed to finish in 16:58 and an average pace of 8:29/mile.
While in the transition area, I somehow forget to put my bottle of Nuun on my bicycle before the second ride; I definitely have some transition work to do! As my friend Chris so eloquently stated, after he heard my transition times, "WHAT WERE YOU DOING IN THERE? All you need to do is change your shoes!" No kidding, y'all, I spent over two minutes, sometimes three, in the transition area between events; I can't even remember what happened. There was a lot of sweating, some cursing, some sitting. Good grief. This was a tough race!
The second ride felt much harder, my legs were beginning to feel fatigued and the hills felt more challenging; I ended up in my lowest gear for the final climb to the transition area and made it in 48:15, an average pace of 14.9 mph.
The final two miles were comical; I seriously considered walking the whole thing. I felt the way that Miles (my dog) looks when he's been outside playing for too long without a break - panting, red-faced, unable to catch my breath but refusing to stop. With the exception of the final miles of a marathon, these were two of the longest miles I've ever experienced! I shuffled to the finish in 19:44, an average pace of 9:52.
Even though the race was challenging, it was so much fun to see friends out on the course during the out and back; we had great race support from volunteers, there were plenty of course marshals to direct us (and traffic) and I was never by myself. Once I was able to catch my breath and cool off a little bit, I felt proud of my effort and was so excited to cheer on friends; it was a fantastic day.
With a final time of 2:37:50, I managed to secure a third place overall female finish; I was awarded an engraved plaque and a really nice hat! I will definitely return to Du for the Parks next year; we're already trying to recruit more folks to take with us, so beware.