So, I decided, mainly for the double down medal option, to sign up for the MiTi: Michigan Titanium. This event is not offered in a sprint distance triathlon, and I was not ready to try the Olympic distance triathlon for the distance of the swim. So I decided to register for the Olympic Duathlon. Bike24.8 miles, then run 6.2 miles. Sounds like it can happen. I mean, I have done the 20k sprint bike portion before and the run I was not worried about, so, I figured, why not give it a shot.
Now, I am still using my mountain bike that has been fitted with clip on aero bars and road tires. But, WOW…..hello Cannonsburg hills! I have driven down Cannonsburg road so many times since living in Grand Rapids, and it never seemed that hilly. But, when it is a car versus your burning legs on a mountain bike…..yeah…..it was hard.
Being that this was my first Duathlon, and the first Olympic distance I had no real goals except to finish. Ideally, I wanted to finish in under 4 hours. But that was using the time that it took me to do half the bike and run distances in a sprint triathlon. Plus, there was no swim portion, so, it seemed logical to try to calculate that I could finish in under 4 hours.
It was inspiring seeing all the other athletes competing in VERY LONG distance races. The MiTi offers the only full distance Ironman in Michigan. Also offering:
Full Tri – 2.4 Swim, 112 Bike, 26.2 Run
Full Relay – 2.4 Swim, 112 Bike, 26.2 Run
Full Aquabike – 2.4 Swim, 112 Bike
Full Duathlon – 112 Bike, 26.2 Run
Half Tri – 1.2 Swim, 56 Bike, 13.1 Run
Half Relay – 1.2 Swim, 56 Bike, 13.1 Run
Half Aquabike – 1.2 Swim, 56 Bike
Half Duathlon – 56 Bike, 13.1 Run
Olympic Tri – .93 Swim, 24.8 Bike, 6.2 Run
Olympic Relay – .93 Swim, 24.8 Bike, 6.2 Run
Olympic Aquabike – .93 Swim, 24.8 Bike
Olympic Duathlon – 24.8 Bike, 6.2 Run
So, needless to say, there were ALOT of atheltes.
There was strong Road Warrior representation there as well. Along with myself, Mandy Kitchen was competing in her first Half Ironman Triathlon, and Lisa Barrett was competing in the Half Relay.
The Olympic duathlon was the last to go off at 8:45am. And soon after the start, the hip cramp creeped in….ugh. But, knowing that there was no way I was going to truly place in this event, I pulled off to the side and stretched for a bit. However, on the way back, the hills got the best of me. As did my water consumption. I had to stop and vomit up some water. Then this action made me feel dizzy. So, instead of giving up, I decided to just walk a little with my bike to see how I felt.
Now, at the time of the vomiting, there was a course volunteer who told me that he was going to notify medical, because of his concerns. I told him I was not stopping, I was just going to walk for a bit. Part of me wanted to just give up. Give in to the fact that the hills and the distance were too much for me. But, that is just not me. So I walked. Then rode. Then walked some more. Many racers along the way made sure to ask if I was okay. Some offered nutrition or salt tabs. But I just needed to realize the hills were too much for a full ride. But my legs could still walk!
At bottle exchange I took another break. Slowly consumed more water and some Gatorade. Then, just as some heavy rain started, got back on the bike for the rest of the ride! What I wanted to take no longer than 2 1/2 hours took me over 3 1/2 hours. So I knew my 4 hour attempt was out the door. But, I had not quit….so I continued.
I came into transition at the run. Headed out and just started walking. The run course was also hilly, but, doable. And in the long run I ended up walking a lot of it, but, I did not stop. The aid stations were like my athletic “Golden Corral” buffet. I took cops of water, Gatorade, and Pepsi, pickles, a cookie and some pretzels at every station. And I slowly consumed everything between aid stations. I managed to run some. I managed to see some wonderful faces. I managed to meet some great people.
And near the end the emotion was overwhelming. I was actually going to finish this thing! So many times on the bike course I wanted to just get a ride back. No one would blame me. No one would think less of me. But it was not in me to do it! Luckily, the dude at the corner told me about the lady with the camera at the finish, so I managed to not look teary, smile and give a thumbs up. But as I crossed that finish line I broke down. It was, to date, the hardest event I have ever done. But……….it was done! It was done in 5 hours, 28 minutes and 11 seconds.