The Queens Biathlon was held today in Alley Park, Queens. The race consisted of a 5 kilometer run followed by an 18 mile bike followed by another 5 kilometer run.
I arrived with a few of my teammates from the Hellgate Road Runners and had ample time to check-in, change, use the restroom, warm-up and rack the bike in the transition area.
The weather was right on the cusp of being cold and the forecast called for scattered showers. Having completely over packed I “enjoyed the luxury” of debating what to wear. I finally settled on my tri-shorts and a short sleeve cycling jersey, figuring it is better to be too cool than too hot.
I arranged, then rearranged my transition area and checked my bike one last time. I thought to myself:
“Self, you’re going to run into the transition and in this order: put on your helmet, take of your running shoes (leaving the laces undone for the 2nd transition), put on your bike shoes, trot bike out of transition and then hammer away.”
It seemed like a reasonable plan of action for the transition and with that I headed to the start.
Over 100 people toed the starting line and since this was my first attempt at multi-sport racing I wasn’t exactly sure where to line up in the queue. Eventually I made my way up toward the front and with very little adieu we were off.
As a newbie I really had no idea how hard to push. I didn’t even have a predicted finish time in mind. Despite this, I quickly fell into a fast pace and started picking off runners as the race made its way along the out-and-back course.
I ran much of the race trading position with a rather fast woman. I would pass her on the up hills and she’d catch me on the down hills. As we hit the turn around I realized that she was the lead woman…
The run course finishes on a long, steep up hill and again I passed her to finish the first run in 9th place overall. The execution of my transition plan was flawless: helmet, shoes (laces loose!), bike shoes, bike off rack, trot out of transition area.
I swung my leg over the saddle and WHAT THE F***!!!!!!!!!
I cursed violently and went to work changing the inner tube while the competition streamed by. I lost over 8 minutes changing that tire. When I finally took off – literally among the last few people to start the bike – I was furious!
I dropped into the aerobars, put my head down and channeled that anger into the pedals. At one point I looked down and was doing 36 miles per hour - wicked fast for me.
That speed was short lived as a strong headwind slowed things down, but still, I hammered away trying to make up lost ground. With screaming legs and throbbing heart I passed by riders in one’s, two’s and three’s. Then it started to rain. Not hard and not for long but each drop that pelted my forehead fueled the furious fire in me.
18 miles later my legs were shot and I had made little time up. I finished the bike in 70th. I quickly got the bike back on the transition rack, took off my helmet and switched back into my eagerly waiting running shoes for the final 5k run. Whoa… were my legs unsteady for those first few minutes!
This time the hills seemed longer and steeper and the halfway point seemed further away. The fury was gone now. I just wanted to finish.
At the halfway turnaround I broke away from a small group of runners and found myself alone - pulling away from one group but too far back to ever catch those ahead.
I climbed the final hill to the finish line with a total time of 1 hour 45 minutes 18 seconds. I placed 6th in my age group and 45th overall. Had I not lost the 8 minutes to the flat tire I would have likely placed 4th in my age group and in the top 20 or 25 overall.
The splits look like this:
(54:26 without flat)
Despite the frustration of having a flat in my very first bike race I am not discouraged. I was presented an obstacle and I overcame it. I trained fairly well and raced intelligently (for a newbie).
And, I have a sneaky, sneaky feeling that there will be plenty of additional opportunities!
"Fortune turns everything to the advantage of those she favours."