Sunday, July 29, 2012

Switching gears - Lake Padden Duathlon race recap

A few housekeeping notes before I get started with the race recap... thanks to those who are still reading and commenting! I apologize for not responding to questions. To be honest, I'm not sure whether I'm cut out to be a blogger. I have a lot of thoughts that I want to share, but as you can tell by my lack of posts in recent months, I have a difficult time actually putting "pen to paper". I think part of it stems from the fact that I spend my entire workday at a computer so usually I'm not in the mood to sit down and do more "work". I've thought about shutting the blog down, but I'm not ready to completely give up on it just yet. However, posts will probably continue to be infrequent.

Anyway, after Rock 'n' Roll Seattle I switched gears for a bit. Going into the marathon I had a strained shin, so afterward I took some time off from running to heal and spent a lot of time on the stationary bike at the gym instead. Part of the motivation behind all the cycling was that I was hoping to do a duathlon on July 21.

I did my first duathlon back in 2009. It was a super short sprint event at Disneyland. (Not organized by Disney though.) I had a lot of fun and always planned to do another one but various life events got in the way. The duathlon on June 21 - the Lake Padden Duathlon - was only a half hour away from my house so I didn't want to pass up the chance to participate. It was a low key event which was perfect considering my lack of preparation.

Two weeks before the duathlon, I finally went around to the local bike shops to buy a bike. I hadn't done any research and was basically just looking for a road bike that was small enough for my 4'10" height. I ended up liking the frame on the Specialized Dolce the best, but they had to special order the "cheap" version for me. (The bike that I test rode was about $1,300.)

My new Specialized Dolce Triple

I picked up my bike nine days before the duathlon and managed to fit in five training rides. Enough to get comfortable with the bike and feel confident that I could cover the distance. The Lake Padden Duathlon is a 2.6 mile run, 14.5 mile bike, and 2.6 mile run. I also turned three of the training rides into brick sessions by tacking on a short run afterward.

Currently, I still don't have a way to transport my bike with my own car, I don't have a bike pump, and I don't know how to change a flat tire. Luckily for the duathlon, my awesome boyfriend came along and helped me with getting my bike to Lake Padden Park and making sure it was in good working order. And thankfully I still haven't gotten any flat tires (knock on wood).

Like I mentioned above, the race was pretty low key, which I enjoyed since I was just there for the experience and not to be competitive. I registered the day of for only $25. The only negative was that there was no split timing, but I think I did a decent job tracking my splits with my Garmin.

The first run was a clockwise loop around Lake Padden. I wasn't sure how much to push it. 2.6 miles isn't far, but I still had the bike and another run to do. I tried for a comfortable but slightly challenging pace and did the loop in 22:06.

Fueling for the race was a slight concern. I don't know how to eat or drink on the bike yet. Actually, I don't even have a water bottle holder on my bike. Even though I'd only been racing for 22 minutes, I took a Clif Shot gel and drank some water at the first transition. It seemed like the best plan since I figured I'd need some fuel for the bike. Aside from that, transition went pretty quickly since I wasn't switching shoes.

The bike portion of the race started with a long uphill for about two miles. I shifted to my easiest gear and just kept pedaling and pedaling until I reached the top. Then there was a nice downhill for something like another two miles. The road was a little curvy so I didn't let the bike really fly, but it felt great to be zipping along without any effort. The middle portion of the bike course had a bunch of rolling hills. It was a lollipop course so we had to go back up what was the long downhill on the way out. But at least it was a fun downhill back to transition. I think I did well based on what I was expecting from myself. I was probably passed by about 10-15 people on the bike portion. My time was 59:31.

For the second transition, I can't remember if I took a couple GU Chomps or not. But I did remember to take off my helmet!

Instead of getting the weird wobbly feeling from switching from bike to run, my legs felt really tired. Like I was putting in a lot of effort but moving in slow motion. I was happy to pass four people on the run, and not get passed by anyone, but overall that last run just felt hard and I couldn't wait for it to be over. When I checked my Garmin after the finish, I was surprised that the second run was faster than the first - 20:50! (It was the same loop around Lake Padden but in a counter-clockwise direction.)

There haven't been any results posted yet so I have no idea how I ranked compared to everyone else. But that really doesn't matter because I had such a great time challenging myself to do something different and slightly out of my comfort zone. I'm really looking forward to returning next year, hopefully with a lot more experience under my belt.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle - quick recap

Before I let too much time get away, here's a quick recap of Rock 'n' Roll Seattle last weekend. I did the half marathon during the inaugural event in 2009. Now that I'm a better runner and with the course change, I decided to do the full marathon this time around. It was my second time running a marathon.

My main goal was to finish in under 4 hours, which I would have been happy with. My secret goal was to set a new PR.

Just like at RnR Portland, I thought the event was extremely well organized. I liked the new start and finish at Seattle Center. There was so much room that even though it was a huge event, it didn't feel crowded at all. The bands, cheerleaders, and volunteers were great and there was plenty of water and GU. I liked the course and overall it wasn't too hilly. The run by the lake and in the park was the best part. Aside from the novelty of running on an Interstate, I didn't really like the out and back on I-90. The Rock 'n' Roll team did a great job setting up cones and maintaining separate lanes for the marathoners and half marathoners after the course split and met up again. I would have been extremely frustrated if I had to dodge and weave through all walkers for the last 6 miles of the race.

I ran a strong race and was very pleased with my overall performance. I fueled with GU Chomps/gel about every hour, and I took water at every station. I did my best to take it easy during the first half so that I would have energy left at the end. I could probably have held back a little more and tried for more even splits, but I'm not confident enough yet for that. I feel better having a little time banked.

I was so focused on the sub-4 finish goal that I didn't even know what I had to aim for to get a new PR. Once I started looking at the stats afterwards, it turns out that I have a new official PR, although it's not a distance PR. The thing is that during my first marathon, I ran 26.2 miles in 3:54:22. But the Route 66 Marathon has this unique .3 mile optional detour to earn an extra medallion, so since I took the detour my official time for that race was 3:57:07.

My official finish time for Rock 'n' Roll Seattle is 3:54:27, and I'm very happy with my results! 

608 out of 3089 overall
156 out of 1434 females
30 out of 270 in F25-29 age group

Right now I don't have any firm plans to do RnR Seattle again in the near future. I think I also said this in my review of RnR Portland... even though it's a terrific race, there are so many other events around this time of year that I'd like to try that I probably won't do any repeats for awhile. But I give the race a 9 out of 10 and would definitely recommend it to others.