Races and Stories

Montezuma's Revenge, and Other Stories

Bath House Duathlon, Dallas, Texas, August 1997

Okay, okay, this is not the Nationals, nor is it IMC. It is a tiny little sprint duathlon here in Dallas. Nothing in the results will move the earth under the feet of Triathlon. But a race is a race, and this one was unexpectedly fun for me.

The race was scheduled for 7AM Sunday, which is entirely too early for me to be somewhere ready to do something hard. Especially given the bout of indigestion resulting from excessive and not strictly seemly amounts of free food at the Bike Mart's party for regulars Thursday night. No sleep Thursday night, but plenty of involuntary abdominal exercises. Sigh.

Friday, I was, shall we say, home-bound (having a range of about 30 minutes, if you know what I mean). But I seemed to be more comfortable while moving, so I did get in a little 2-mile jog. And it did seem to help. By Friday night, I felt good enough to go the office, where all hell had been breaking loose all day, and worked until about 2 AM (with just little bits of time to sneak into RST-land for some diversion--just like now). So, not much sleep Friday night. Then, I HAD to go on my normal Saturday ride (I have a new road bike, after all, and she cared not for mere physical infirmities). I thought I'd hang with the slower group. Like hell. We hammered from the outset, and went 16 miles with repeated roadie-style jumps. Speed work the day before a race. Don't try this at home, boys and girls.

Then, after 16 miles, someone suggested that we add an extra ten or twelve miles to the ride, and my bike said yes before I could get in a word. Fortunately, we were able to knock the couple of USCF roadies in the head every now and then to keep the pace in the humanoid range.

So, in the end, we rode about 42 or 43 miles at a reasonable clip. All this, of course, while I was suffering from the after effects of Montezuma's Revenge. My prediction was that I would sleep through my alarm Sunday morning and just blow off the race. After all, it's just a little mini-sprint, right?

Of course, I was running late, so getting set up and entered left me about 15 seconds to enjoy the excellent scenery at the start line before the gun went off. I ran the two miles of the first run in about 14 minutes (I forgot to punch buttons on my watch, so I'm guessing), which actually pleased me tremendously. A year ago, 8-minute miles killed me, and now I can comfortably race at 7-minute miles. We'll see what happens next year.

Getting on the bike was the usual rush. I feel so fast on the bike after klopping along in my size 15 Brooks Beasts. Anybody seeing my feet, you'll know why they call us clydesdales.

The bike course completely curcumnavigated the small-but-famous White Rock Lake in Dallas, including riding on roads that have been closed to vehicular traffic. Consequently, some of the roads receive no maintenance, and I saw at least one crash resulting from an absence of alertness conflicting with the presence of pothole. Also, a couple of errant pickup trucks got past the cops and found their way onto the course, which shook everybody up a little. I saw no deliberate and very little accidental drafting, but blocking was a problem. Nobody tried to attach to my wheel, but I had to complain a little to get the side-by-side newbies to let me pass.

One thing about a course that surrounds a lake. You can't pull a David Simpson   maneuver (cutting the course), unless you have really fat tires.

I always enjoy the bike leg. The people I run with are usually bad runners and bad cyclists. I'm a bad runner and a mediocre cyclist. Consequently I fly past rider after rider. In this race, I passed about 50 riders, and was passed by no one. The faster cyclists are legion, but their legion left T1 about four minutes ahead of me.

Of course, I had the opportunity to see many who I blew past on the bike again, but I've come to expect that. For once, however, I started the second run of a duathlon before the winner finished, which allowed me to see everyone who was ahead of me on the out-and-back course. The leaders came smoking past me in the opposite direction on their way to finishing times in the 50-minute range. But I was looking for Clydes.

And I'll say this here in public for all those who have heard me advocate the road position: I used my new forward setup on my Trek, and suffered none of the pain in my hips that I usually experience after T2. I am sold.

The race was put on by Thruston Racing here in Dallas. Thruston specializes in running and multisport races that bring new people into the sports. One way they do it is by providing weight classes for the heavier participants. In the case of the men, they provided all four extra-weight classes, ranging from clydesdale to elephant, so the race had a lot of participation from larger comptetitors. These were the guys I was looking for among the oncoming runners.

After a while, though, I saw so many people coming the other way I realized that I had no chance even in a narrow category. Not to mention that the clydesdale winner is usually some superfit young bodybuilder who is gifted with a high VO2max.

During that last mile, I could feel every single strand of muscle fiber in my thighs. Each one was telling me that my new bicycle was not a potential Marilyn (you'll have to search Deja News for the significance of that) and was, in fact, a bitch who had led me to the destruction of pack racing the previous day. They were saying, "Hey, you, what's this business of not working out for a week, spending all night throwing up, trashing us with a bunch of roadies, and then getting up at some ungodly hour and racing for crying out loud!" Indeed, they were crying out loud. But I was reminded of you guys preparing for IMC, and maybe logging your last 20-mile run or 100-mile bike ride, so I had no real basis for bitching about an hour-long sprint race. I kept going.

I finished in 1:03 or thereabouts. Not wonderful, but it was a strong finish with no cramps and a good attitude.

I hung around to watch friends get medals, as I often do, and eventually got in a conversation with a friend who had placed third overall and won his age group handily. He and I were talking when I heard the announcer say that he would be giving out awards in the big-guy and big-gal divisions. I listened with low expections until he announced the first place winner, who had a time of 1:01. That was only two minutes ahead of me, which placed me much closer to the front than I am accustomed. I remembered the guy who came in second passing me at the turnaround of the second run. He only beat me by 20 seconds, but I honestly don't think I could have run that last mile 20 seconds faster.

Collecting hardware is not the reason I race, which is a good thing, otherwise I'd be bereft of postitive feedback. But it feels good anyway. Even if it's third place in the Clydesdale division of a neighborhood sprint duathlon.