I’m pretty excited to share my duathlon experience, which I’ve been referring to in my head as “2Chainz,” you’ll see why soon.
Saturday, the day before the race, I had a pretty busy 24 hours. My best friend was in town from SF and so mid-day I headed downtown to see her pretty face and eat enough Mexican food to ensure a stomachache.
Then I headed back uptown to Central Park to pick my up bib for the race. For New York Road Runners’ races (the organizer with which I’m most familiar) most bib pick-up takes place at their lovely Upper East Side townhouse organized by an assembly line of volunteers. The NY Duathlon was a much smaller operation (less than 150 people were registered the day before and about 120 participated) and pick-up consisted of: a man, a woman, a table and a truck in the Loeb Boathouse parking lot.
I scored my bib, a yellow long-sleeved tech T and cool shades and headed home.
Then after a quick shower and costume change I headed back downtown to Chinatown for a goodbye party. (Two of my favorite people are getting hitched and moving to LA.)
I ducked out after dinner to get a good night’s sleep before the race. I was still kind of in shock that I signed up for a bike race, seeing as when I started this blog not too long ago I couldn’t ride a bike.
I got up around 6:30am, got dressed, had a mini Clif bar, packed my bag and biked to the race. Biking on the empty streets at 7:15am was thrilling. Biking on NYC streets is still a bit nerve-wracking for me and riding in the pre-traffic hour was a treat.
I got to the boathouse parking lot and put my bike in it’s rightful place – in numeric order with the other bikes.
Then I went to pick up my race chip – which is attached to a band and goes around your ankle – from a volunteer handing them out. We had a conversation that went like this:
Me: Does it matter which ankle it goes on?
Her: Put it on your left ankle, so it doesn’t hit the bike chain which is on the right side.
Me: (Genuinely)Oh, is that where the bike chain is? Thank you! I will.
As a side note two groups of people wear ankle monitors: multi-sport athletes and people on house arrest.
I had read that there were pretty strict rules about the transition area, and from the writing on the website I imagined everyone was going to be serious and unfriendly, but that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
Everyone had hung their bikes by the seat on the bike rack so I did too. I lucked out and parked next to a lovely and friendly woman named Erica. This was her second duathlon so I asked her a bunch of questions and then we chatted about working out in NYC.
The race announcer also took this time to tell us the running portions (the race was a run-bike-run) were a bit longer than the 2 miles each posted online. The course was pretty straight forward.
Run: 74th street (Loeb Boathouse) to 96th street (otherwise known as Cat Hill), and back for a total of roughly 2.25 miles
Bike: 2 full loops of the park for a total of 12.4 miles.
Run: The same as the first.
Then it was time to head to the starting line. With only 120 competitors, the starting area was an intimate situation which I’d never experienced before. The race announcer made a big point in telling us that headphones weren’t allowed, and no one was wearing them. So when the gun went off it was just me out there sans Kanye.
I didn’t think I was running that fast but I did the 2.25 miles pretty speedily for me (about 8 minute miles). I still felt like everybody was passing me. But I guess they were mostly men because at the turnaround for the out and back, the volunteer told me I was the 8th woman. I quickly passed the 7th and headed back down to the transition.
I hopped on the bike which I had hastily left in the highest gear. I had read that it’s best to leave your bike in a lower gear so when you climb on in a race you can zoom off, but I just forgot. The bike ride starts at the bottom of Cat Hill so I quickly lowered my gear and started pedaling.
I had an uneventful first loop. I saw Matt at 72nd on the west side and it made me really happy to see him even though at that point I wasn’t too psyched about the next 6 hilly miles before me. Right after I saw Matt the winner LAPPED me. He finished his second bike loop before I finished my first. #Humbled
I continued on to the east side (this post works best if you have an idea of what Park Drive in Central Park looks like, I put little maps further up in the post) and saw my mom, dad and sister waiting right by the boathouse. My parents have never seen me ride a bike (crazy, right?) and there is no better way to say this but they lost their shit when they saw me. It was incredible/ borderline embarrassing, So, perfect really.
Then mid-way up Cat Hill my chain popped off. I didn’t know what happened at first, I just knew pedaling wasn’t moving my wheels. I hopped off the bike and tried to figure it out. Another race participant pulled over to help me. So freaking nice. He popped my chain back on and we both kept going.
A few miles later the same thing happened on Harlem Hill! I was changing gears too quickly and I guess the chain kept missing. #2Chainz. The SAME guy happened to still be near me and AGAIN he hopped off his bike and helped me. I was floored. I was so grateful. What a nice guy.
Harlem Hills was pretty tough the second time around and the idea of running again was daunting.
I saw Matt again at 72nd and then pedaled to the southernmost end of the park and around to the east side, where I saw my parents, sister and Matt who cut across to meet them.
When I turned into the transition, I actually wondered if I might be in last place. 120 people spread out across a 6-mile loop means you don’t see that many people throughout the race.
The second run was tough. My legs felt like lead and I had no music to pump me up. I trudged up Cat Hill and I wasn’t even sure you could call what I was doing running but I looked at Strava and I was shocked at my formidable pace.
It felt like ages until I saw the turnaround and then even longer ’til the finish line was in sight.
But there it was! and so was my cheer squad. I was elated and chugged along, through the finish.
And then, it was breakfast time.
I went into this race with no expectations. It was really, really hard. But I’m glad and proud I did it. I’m not itching to sign up for another multi-sport race immediately, bit I’m thrilled to know I can do it.
My ankle was pretty sore right after the race, but by the next day I was feeling markedly better!
Have you ever done a multi-sport race? Thoughts? Feelings?