Race Report: Mud, Sweat & Gears Duathlon, Ashland, MA
I have been eying this race for about a decade. That’s how long it’s been on my radar, and at last I signed up.
I made it to the race with enough time to nervously go over my inventory of equipment about 8 times and forget after each time if I had remembered everything. I did not ride the course prior to the race. The turnout was modest, and I felt as I was pretty much one of the crowd being as most of the athletes there were over 30. I expected the start to be in heats, but instead we all went together.
It was clear within the first 200 yards that I was being dropped by 90% of the field. OK, I knew I wasn’t a great runner. I decided to not entertain thoughts of defeat and stick to the plan of “running my own race.” I could hear a woman behind me, we stayed with each other for most of the first portion of the run chatting and making light of our place in the pack. I lost her with about .50 miles to go and didn’t see her again. About half the run was on pavement, the other half trails. I much prefered the trails.
When I returned to the transition area most of the bike that were staged were gone. I got my shoes & helmet on and ran the bike through the transition area as instructed. The first leg was pavement and I tried to maintain a good clip and still get some much needed Gatorade in me before hitting the off-road portion. I had a couple of guys around me and we seemed to play a game of I’m passing you, no– now you’re passing me for a while.
When I got off road, there was a nice, fast descent that I flew down. I was definitely feeling more comfortable on the bike portion and noticed even some of the guys were struggling in more technical areas. I passed a few of them, and played tag with others. By the second lap I only saw one other woman–one who had kicked my butt on the run but I had passed during the ride portion, and I was widening my gap with each lap on the course. I pushed it on the bike, hard–and I was doing well. There were some ridiculous run ups that a few of the men powered up but most of us (guys included) ran or walked our bikes up. The trail was getting eaten up, especially after a day of solid rain on Saturday–which made things interesting.
By the time I made it into the transition area again for the last leg, I was labored. I was confused and took off my bike shoes, put on my running shoe, and then took that off and put my bike shoe back on. Thank you to my gf Sheri for pointing that out to me. My son had found a rock he thought was amazing and wanted to show it to me. I let him. I didn’t linger too long though–and soon I had the right shoes on and was off again.
About .5 into the last leg the woman who I had passed on the mountain bike portion caught me. She was a great runner and I knew that I wouldn’t see her for long. We made some polite conversation and then I told her to have fun–she zipped off. The last .5 miles I was struggling. I was trying to find the energy to just move faster but it wasn’t there. I trotted along as best I could. My brother made a surprise showing with his two kids near the finish line and I got a little life from that. I finished the race with a time of 1:16:42.
I felt happy about my performance–I had done my best and knew it, and felt satisfied with my effort. So you can imagine my shock when I learned I had placed first in my age/gender category! Yes, I actually won a medal. I sheepishly accepted it, feeling a lot like I did when I was in the 5th grade and won some event on Field Day. Too funny! It’s worth noting though, that the real admiration goes to the women who finished 20 minutes ahead of me, in the higher age categories (40-44, 45-49, and 50-54). All I can say is wow!