Saturday, February 10, 2007

John Stermer '07 Duathlon - race report

The ending of the story is this: I got second place, I was dead last, pedals are for going, and brakes are for stopping. Get that? Good.

Now having said that, I will tell you the beginning of the story. This could have been an altogether satisfying race. Pleasant weather (40's to start, upper 50's to finish) with no wind. But of course, we are fallable people, some of us more so than others.

Today's race report is brought to you by the letter N.

is for Nauseated, which is what you are if you run a 5K (admittedly, flat) trail after slamming a soy toffee-nut latte from Starbucks within a half hour of your race. Not that I acually threw up. I do a pretty good job of just heaving and feeling miserable until it passes...eventually...the end result was an altogether miserable run in which I could not catch my breath and my heart rate sored up into the upper 170's through most of the run.

Then finally, the bike. Ah, the bike! I knew it was 30K, slightly downhill all the way out, which meant that my poor heart might get a wee chance to slow down a bit before I had to work hard again on the slightly inclined return. But that's where things went terribly wrong. (Sudden, dramatic music)

is for Neurotic. Being neurotic means that you assume that all causes of your problems are internal, and your fault, and thus you avoid looking at potentially extrenal sources of your troubles. So it was with no small amount of my normal neuroticism that I noted that my progress on the bike was much, much slower than I would have liked, and that it must be my fault because I haven't really trained much on the bike since my last event. Therefore, I suck. I felt like I was working my BUTT off, but I watched the speed on my cyclometer inch downward ...14.2...13.6...11.7...

Everyone who had been behind me passed me. By the time the former last person in the race had passed me, I was exhausted and thoroughly humiliated, discouraged, and dismayed. I knew without turning that the follow truck for the last racer was right behind me, but I turned anyway, and sure enough, there he was. By the time I reached the turnaround at 15K my thoughts were pretty fixated on how much I sucked. I sucked mightily. I was the suckiest sucker that ever sucked.
I'm not cut out for this. Everybody probably already knows this. They're just too nice to say anything, but I bet there are lots of sidelong looks whenever I show up, looks that say, "who is she kidding?" Really, it's embarassing, how slow I am. I wonder if Sweet Baboo is embarassed at how slow I am. I should just stop now before people get tired of offering conciliatory "Woo-hoo's" and "You go, girl!"'s

Told you I was neurotic.

is for Not Nice. I passed two people walking their bikes after flatting out, and I was so discouraged by then that even though I made noises of sympathy, inside I was thinking, "well, there's two people who won't beat me today". Yeah, I know. Not Nice.

By the time I'd gone about 15 miles, I was exhausted, and tooling along at about 9 miles per hour, wondering why the hell this was so hard? Was I this out of shape? I just ran 4 miles the other day at a 10-minute pace and it seemed like it was getting easier! wHAT'S WRONG WITH ME?

is for Noise. Like the kind of noise that tires can make - a noise that they shouldn't make, because it indicates some kind of friction. Problem is, that kind of noise occurs at a frequency that I can't hear, as part of my hearing impairment, so I didn't notice the noise until I finally bent around mile 15 to try to get a good look to see if maybe I had a flat, and was that why I was going so damned slow?

I finally came to a stop, got off the bike, and grabbed the tire between my thumb and forefinger. it was iron hard, no flat there - Sweet Baboo had just changed it the day before. Then I lifted the back of the seat to see how the wheel was spinning, something that, in retrospect, I might have done before the race, because when I grabbed it and spun it, hard, well, after I let go, it moved an inch or so before completly stopping.

Yes, you read that right.

I had essentially ridden about fifteen miles with my brakes on. WITH. MY. BRAKES. ON.

I swore in a most uncivilized and unladylike way - I won't even tell you what I said because my mother-in-law reads this blog and it would freak her out completely - and then flipped the lever all the way up, disengaging the rear brakes.

I should like to say that after that, indeed, I was much happier, because this all meant that I didn't suck as much as I thought I did, and it was so much easier to pedal now that I finished the race whistling a happy little tune as I rolled back to the finish line.

Yeah. I'd like to say that.

I was so pissed when I got back on my--admittedly, much easier to pedal bike--that I was too busy trying to find someone to blame for this and still swearing. I was exhausted, having blown out my legs completely while trying mightily to overcome the force of friction for fifteen miles, something I was just teaching my students about last week.

and of course, eventually, there was nobody to blame but me.

So I rolled into transition, the last person to do so, a little over 2 hours after I'd started, far slower than I did it last year.
is for None. As for riders in transition - there was none when I finished. However, there were none but the two of us in the 40-44 age group today, so in spite of my alarming lack of foresight, I got second place anyway. I have mixed feeling about this. I was dead last (not including the people who walked their bikes in). On the other hand, I worked my ass off. I would have gotten second place ANYWAY, because I would not have beaten the person in front of me, although I might have actually seen her in front of me at some point.

Anyway, now you know the rest of the story.

If my Dad was still alive, he would have used one of his favorite expressions, "That's the breaks, kid," and laughed like hell at his little joke.



  1. #1 - you finished and didn't quit. That is "N"ice!
    #2 - You just had a kick-ass leg work-out!

  2. I agree with Duane.

    Also, having frequently been last in my division/group has lead me to the peaceful acceptance that someone has to be. I'm thankful that there still some folks left to work the clock and record my time! I always wonder if I ought to toss them a few dollars....

  3. Consider the brake a handicap, like they do with horses that are so much better than the rest of the field that they have to load them down with extra weight so the race is "fair."

    Yeah, that's all it was...

  4. N is for Naw, I think you did OK! Nice Job missy - don't be so hard on yourself! You could think of it as training with a trophy.

    I too have ridden more than a few miles with the brakes on without knowing. And I can hear just fine! It taught me to check the dang things everytime I get on now.

  5. N--is for next time. You've learned alot that you will never forget. Better now than in the ironman. And as far as getting second, Be proud that you are one of the 2 females you age that got up and got out there and did it. You made it to the start and finished. Hundreds of others can't say that. Kudos to you.

  6. N is for NICE. You finished in the face of adversity. Margarita time
    Giving up would have been N for Not Nice.
    Great job!!!

  7. Yeah. Margarita time. (From me, not Myles, I'm just signed in by him and too lazy to sign ou) Of course, I can't do the hard stuff any more. Too much of a wussy. I do the "Mike's hard mike-a-rita" version. And Duane, you're right. My quads haven't hurt this much in a long time!

  8. I wonder if Donna Herp, deeply hurt and insulted that you haven't called her following that terribly meaningful conversation you had recently that really made an impression on her, decided to get you where it would really hurt...

    "S" is for sabatoge...

  9. Next time we're in Albequerque I'll buy the first round of Mike's

  10. N is for the "Nights who say...Nee!" - well, that's a "k" really. Or for Naughty - oh, that's Mrs. Bigun. How about Ninkumpoop? or Nemisis - ha?!?! Reference your hubbie's that just a coincidence or did you plan it that way?

  11. I have had exactly the same thing happen--both in the brake problem and being last in more than one race but still placing. I felt a lot of the same things you felt. But the way I (finally) saw it, you have to show up and finish a race to win something. So that can be the positive here. And another thing: you paid the same money everyone else (faster) did. At least you got your money's worth!

  12. I KNEW something was up with you!

    I have seen you and your family at many races, but I have been too shy and awkward to say anything.

    I'm moving out of state this summer (I'm in Cruces now), but I will be sure to introduce myself before I leave.

    Check out my blog:
    (I mention you in it.)

  13. A NEMESIS? I'm a nemesis? I have arrived!!!!! Thanks for making my day, Kryssygo!

  14. A nemesis, indeed. *menacing music* MWAH HA HA HA.

    See you at Stealth. :D

  15. This is very similar to my seat post debacle during the Polar Bear. Oh the inhumanity!


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 I'm no longer involved in multisport or endurance sports. I've started my own business, a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety d...