Sunday, April 24, 2016

Peaks to Prairie Race Recap

April 24, 2016
Signed up for: Mixed Duathlon (male and female team run/bike)

We didn't find out about this race until about 3 weeks ago.  There are not many events near us that have both a run and a ride that we can team up on so we were pretty excited about this one.  Usually in May we take a trip to Great Falls and participate in the Scheel's Red, White & Blue Duathlon.  Peaks to Prairie was far more intriguing since RWB is 1.5 mile run/11 mile ride/1.5 mile run, while P2P is 9.3 mile run/47 mile ride.  We are both rather fond of long distance torture.

I've had some doubts all week about getting to the start line healthy.  Last weekend my 14 mile long run ended up being 18 and my right hip has been messed up ever since.  I took some days off and went for a short trail run on Saturday only to have it flair up again.  Then yesterday Mitch got a migraine.

On top of this, the weather forecast called for 90% chance of rain and windy.  We were in for a challenge no matter how we looked at it.

Last night I went through a ritual of steps in hopes of waking with a fresh hip.  I took a long bath with Epsom Salts, stretched, foam rolled, iced and then took some ibuprofen.  But all night long it hurt which meant I was awake sore and stressed out.  It still hurt when I woke up.  If this race hadn't cost what it did, I probably would have bailed.

We didn't get out the door quite as early as we had planned in spite of proper planning the night before.  We weren't sure we were going to make it to Red Lodge in time for me to catch my bus to the start line, but thankfully we did and the rest of the day started to smooth out a bit.

It was chilly, wet and windy.  This is the first time I've got to a race start and not been excited. LOL!  This picture was taken right before I boarded the bus.  I was trying not to shiver out of my shoes.

The bus left promptly at 7:30 as scheduled.  I was really concerned about standing in the cold and rain for nearly an hour before the duathlon start gun, but the buses stayed and let us come and go to stay warm for the whole time.  Bonus!  The weather was nicer at the start though.  There was no rain and considerably less wind.

At 8:00 from the bus window I watched the Triathlon athletes take off.  The tri for this event included the run and ride plus kayaking down the river.

At 8:30 the gun went off for all duathletes.  Some of us were teamed up with someone else riding and others were doing both events themselves, but all in all it was a small field.  I started at the front but let a swarm of people pass me knowing that I wasn't a front runner.  I only ended up there because they moved us all up to start and that's just where I landed.  I didn't look behind me.  I didn't care how many were behind once we were all at pace though I hoped like crazy that I wasn't dead last.

My hip hurt.  For the first couple of miles I wasn't sure I could keep going for the whole distance.  Then the ache seemed to dull and I got in to a rhythm.  Usually, I don't actually race.  I'm there to try and do better than I've done before and that's it.  But then I found myself closing in on a runner in front of me.  Old me would have said, "You should walk a little before you catch up... you don't want to walk after you pass."  That mentality usually leads to never quite catching up with that person.  So today I convinced myself to keep running at least until I got past her.  But once I did that, I couldn't very well stop and let her pass me back!  So I kept running.  And then I was closing the gap to the next person.  This game went on all the way in to town.  I passed a total of seven runners and didn't get passed once.

By making myself be a little competitive, I finished the 9.3 miles about 10 minutes faster than I expected, but hit the overall pace I hoped I could.  I finished in 1 hour, 24 minutes and within that I also got my 10K personal best at 55 minutes and change.  This is on a course I run fairly often and even though it is "downhill," it isn't the steep part of the route I usually do.  So, it is a legitimate personal best for me.  I logged 3 miles with sub 9 minute pace and not a single mile over 9:30.  I seriously impressed myself.

Our transition time (between me crossing in to the transition area and Mitch leaving) was 57 seconds. It would have been faster but I thought I could stop running before it was time.  Mitch took off at about 9:57 a.m.

Transition Area

I jumped in the truck, made a quick stop at the gas station to change clothes and then drove the 50ish miles to Columbus where the next transition area was - the finish line for the duathlon.

It was a long wait.  47 miles on a bike takes a while, then add to it a strong head wind and it takes even longer.  But Mitch did great and finished the bike portion in what is officially 3:20:38.  I was really hoping he would tell his own story here but his migraine came back tonight and he went to bed early.

This is Mitch dismounting to enter the transition area as was required by the race rules.  I was so happy to see him!

Rain did not end up being a factor.  It did not rain at any point during either of our segments of the race.  Only the wind was an issue, but I think that sadly we are getting used to it.

A few comments on the organization of this race:

~ It was a totally unsupported race.  No aide stations for water and very limited recovery food at the finish.  There was catered Pita Pit at the ranch where the kayakers finished but by the time we got there, all of the good sandwiches were gone.

~ The schwag bag was totally lacking.  Aside from the long sleeve tech shirt, there was one GU and the rest was advertisements.  The shirts ran very big.  I ordered a medium and it is way to big to wear for running.  Weird... most race shirts seem to run small.  Also, as I stated they are LONG sleeve.  I won't get to wear this shirt again until the fall most likely.  We did get to purchase short sleeved shirts when we picked up our packets.  What's another $20, right?

~ There were quite a few safety rules for the course.  Not the least of which was that when traveling from Red Lodge to Columbus to meet the cyclists, we were supposed to take a route that the bikers were not on.  Most people did NOT follow this rule among others.  It drives me a little crazy, but it happens at most races in some fashion or another.

~ No bling for participants that didn't place.  Not that big of a deal, but if you wanted to know... now you do.

For the cost of this event, I feel like there needed to be more to it (I consider this quite expensive).  Even some useful items in the schwag bag would have gone a long way to make me feel better about it. 

~ On a positive note:  the volunteers were exceptional and the overall atmosphere at the event was fun and energetic.

That wraps up my race recap.  I'm very proud of both of us for making it to the start line in spite of our challenges and for finishing strong.  This post has turned out to be quite wordy and sadly I didn't get very many pictures to go with it.

What is your favorite race bag schwag?

So until next time, Run and Ride Happy!

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