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Training for a Tri, but racing in a duathlon

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Posted at 11:00 AM, Aug 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-09 11:24:54-04

After months of training for my first triathlon, I was able to race this past weekend. Unfortunately for me, the triathlon became a duathlon just days before the race. 

The Iron Girl Columbia triathlon is typically a 0.62 mile swim in Centennial Lake, a 16 mile bike on a road course surrounding Centennial Park and a 5K run in Centennial Park. 

The organizers sent an email to participants Friday announcing the cancelation of the swim leg. As a result of the rain and flooding in Ellicott City at the end of July, Centennial Lake flooded. After testing the water levels, organizers determined the water was unsafe for swimmers. 

Obviously the made the right call in canceling the swim to protect athletes. It was disappointing for me because I concentrated much of my training on the swim and was confident it would be one of my strongest legs. 

The triathlon was modified to start with a 0.25 mile run to replace the swim. 

Race day started early Sunday morning. I was up around 4 a.m. and at the park at 5:15 a.m. I was able to eat some cereal for breakfast and drank lots of water. I set up my transition area - bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses. We had to exit transition by 6:40 a.m. and headed to the starting line. 

My age group's wave wasn't scheduled to begin until 7:45 a.m. so I had some time to kill. I think I used the bathroom three or four times - I was definitely nervous!

When the time came, my age group assembled behind the starting line. We paired in groups of two to start. I sprinted through the 0.25 miles to transition. I think the initial run threw some people off, it seemed no one knew whether to sprint or run at their 5K pace. 

I changed my shoes, grabbed my helmet and bike and climbed the small hill to exit transition to the bike course. I felt pretty confident about the bike because I did so much riding in my training. The course was very hilly, but definitely manageable. I wasn't able to pre-ride, but I did drive through the course in my car the day before, so I was somewhat familiar. 

I'm not very good on the downhills, I get very nervous when I pick up a lot of speed, but I had a lot of success on the hills. I was able to catch or pass most of the women who passed me on the downhills. At the 12 mile mark, there was a large flat area before a long, steep climb. I'm very happy with how I handled the last 4 miles, I kept my legs driving and stayed in high gears. The last mile and half was rolling hills, I felt like I had a lot of energy so I just sprinted through them. I felt great coming off my bike to transition.

I started the run at a pretty quick pace, I was feeling really good coming off the bike. I might have started a little too quickly, but slowed down and tried to find my even pace, I was hoping to finish the 5K in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, my body had other plans, and my chronic shin splints/calf injuries started to flare up.

The run course was deceptively hilly. Right in the middle of the course, we had to run up a huge hill - twice. With my legs screaming, I had to walk up each time, but I told myself I had to run down. Once I got down the hill for the second time, I had about a mile left. I had lot of energy left, since I was holding such a low pace, so I decided to push it through the finish. I sprinted through the finish line, which felt good, even though I didn't finish with the time I wanted.

I finished with a 1:49 final time. I completed the bike in 1:04 and the 5K in 38 minutes, which wasn't bad considering how much walking I had to do. 

I was slightly disappointed in my times, but the ultimate goal was to finish. I finished and I can't wait to improve on the next one. It was a great race and I would recommend it for anyone wanted to run a triathlon. Everyone was extremely encouraging and it was just a great atmosphere.