Highland Memorial Day Biathlon

Usually, our Memorial Day weekends are all about volleyball, but this year a friend talked me into doing the Highland Biathlon.

"Talked me into" as in mentioned it once.  He even offered me a road bike to use, but then I got my own.  I was pretty excited about the race and curious to see how I'd do.  I wasn't excited enough about it, though, to skip volleyball yesterday, so here's what my "taper" looked like:

This was the first volleyball we've played since a tournament in January, and we were out there playing for about 5 hours.  I must've pulled or tweaked something in my shoulder, because it was pretty sore last night and the pain woke me up at about 2:30 a.m.  I never really got solid sleep after that, which wasn't much fun but did make it really easy to get up early.

It's a good thing I got up and left plenty early, too, because the Google maps directions sent me to a dead end street.  Awesome.  Then I looked at the little map and found a street that looked like it went to the park.  Another dead end.  Possibly a little cursing, too, but no one else was in the car to confirm that.  Finally I decided to just ask for help.  Thanks to the two guys whose clear directions got me there!

First time racking a bike for a race
When I walked my bike over to the racks, I saw my friend Robin, who pointed out where she and Maureen had their bikes.  I got mine set up near theirs and then got my number and shirt.  Lots of Team Godzilla members were there, some I knew and a lot I didn't. Since biathlon participants had to pin their numbers on their backs, I asked a couple of the club guys for a hand.  Jeff offered me his extra race belt.  It was really warm out, but I wasn't all gross and sweaty yet, so he must've just been being nice.  Of course, putting on the belt seems to highlight all the chub around my middle, but I doubt there are any pictures of that; since I didn't wear any team gear for the race, the club photographer probably didn't see me go by.

Wade and I took a quick warm-up lap around the block, and that felt ok.  Today was my first time running since Conquer Castlewood.  Now that school is out and the crazy busy-ness is winding down, I don't have any more excuses for skipping runs.  No more slacking.

We lined up, and I tried to make sure I wasn't too close to the front.  I didn't want to go out too fast like I did at Conquer Castlewood.  I ran into Dianna from Quivering Quads and said hi.  It's neat to see other bloggers in real life.  I couldn't hear anything of the pre-race announcements except where the post-race snacks would be (you can see that I was tuned in for the really important parts), and then finally we got to start.

It was in the mid-70's when we started, and my run never felt good.  It's really frustrating that I can run 26 miles (well, run 20 and then run/walk the next 6.2) and then come out and suck so badly in a 5 mile run.  When we got to the one mile mark, a man was calling out the times.  I hit that spot at about 8:20...ah, no wonder I'm breathing so hard!  I made an effort to slow down to a more manageable pace, but really it was an effort not to just start walking.  Man, that heat took a lot out of me.  I was passed a lot on the run.

It was also pretty windy, but a headwind doesn't bother me nearly as much on a run as on the bike.  It was at least a little relief from the heat.  And God bless the little girl around mile 3.5-4 who was standing in front of her house with a garden hose.  Maybe if there had been a couple more like her I'd have done a little better on the run.  About halfway through, my stomach started giving me some trouble.  I actually remembered not to eat salad last night at dinner, but I didn't think about the potential effects of Chinese cole slaw at lunch.  Remembering my marathon Tour de Porta-Potty, I groaned inwardly.  Luckily, I made it to the end of the run and then made a quick stop.  My 5 mile run leg took me 49:30.  Booo.

With my bathroom visit and getting to my bike and geared up, I'd guess my transition time around 2 minutes.  I'm sure it wasn't any faster.  I had a Gu Rocktane that I'd gotten as a free sample at the LaCrosse marathon expo.  Yuck.  I'm not a fan of the fruity flavors, I guess, but I do think it helped.  I saw Mike, one of the tri club guys, pull out of transition right ahead of me, and I passed him right after the first hill.  That hill felt great.  It didn't seem like any effort at all.  I buckled down and started passing a few people, and then Mike passed me on the next hill.  I tucked in behind him and rode his rear wheel for a while, but I lost him on the corners.  I really need to work on my turns.  That was the wimpiest part of my ride today.  I lose a ton of speed because I'm such a chicken on those 90 degree corners.  I just need practice. 

I loved riding the new bike.  I passed quite a few people and some passed me, but none of them were women and not all of them were on mountain bikes or hybrids.  (Of course, when you're running 10 minute miles, most of the fast people are long gone by the time you hit transition.) The wind was a lot more of an issue on the bike than on the run, though, and there never seemed to be someone going the right speed for me to draft behind them.  Oh, well, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

About 3.5 miles from the finish I saw Robin cheering people on.  I thought, Man, she's fast!  She finished and she's already back here!  Turns out she'd flatted right around there after being on her way to winning her age group.  Instead of getting all mad about it, though, she stayed out there and motivated other people.  Pretty soon after that, Keith came crusing down the road looking for club member still out and rode in with me.  He coached me some on the corners, which was a big help. 

Coming down the last hill, there was a 90 degree right turn and then a straight shot about .5 mile or so into the finish.  I had to slow down on the turn (of course), but then I really poured it on.  I passed several people on that stretch, and one of them passed me back not far from the finish.  At least it was a guy, turned out it was a kid under 18 who ended up placing in his age group. 

My finishing time was 1:45:34
159/237 overall
5/20 age group

Honestly, I'm kind of disappointed.  I didn't really know what to expect on the bike, but I'm frustrated with the run time.  Of course, why is it slow?  1) Lack of training lately overall, 2) when I was training faithfully it was for a marathon and distance-focused rather than speed-focused, 3) lack of training in the heat, 4) and did I mention lack of training overall?  I can't expect to log a decent run if I'm not running regularly.  And I think that today has convinced me that I'm not going to train for another marathon this year.  I want to work on getting faster, and then I'll start training for another marathon next year.  On the bike, I need to work on cornering and hills.  I forgot to think about making circles with my toes as I pedaled.  When I was riding last week and focused on that, it seemed like I was going faster. 

Kudos to the Lions Club for putting on a great race.  It was well-organized, well-marked, and well-staffed.  I had a great time, and I'll definitely be back next year.  And, hopefully, faster.


  1. Hint: you're not really allowed to draft in a biathlon. I think you're on your way to disqualification. :D

  2. sounds like a great SuperKate weekend! much than Marathon Cleaning i bet? :)

  3. Hey, good for you....I think all the planets have to align, the clouds have to part and you have to hear that perfect note to get a perfect race. Focus on the good, correct the bad and don't be hard on yourself

  4. I just got stuck on School is out. Really? OK I'm not too envious.
    Back to the race. I think you did great! How long was the ride? Your biking sounds stupendous! You will get those corners. And look at how well you did in your age group.
    So you ran and then biked? I like that.

  5. I'm done with school tomorrow - YAY to us!! :)

    That race sound really fun, and you are rocking your new bike! And you didn't fall?? Well, I guess you can't ride with me ;).

    I did that duathlon series in Dec/Jan/Feb ... I wonder why that was called a duathlon and yours a biathlon? Hum.

  6. You finished in the top 25% of your A.G. Super Kate. Not too shabby if you ask me.

    And yes, I'm starting to get into The Known World. I'll let you know. Have you read Unbroken by the same lady who wrote Seabiscuit? If so, tweet me. Please.

  7. Nice job today! Your run time is good specially considering the heat. Well done!

  8. Great job! GREAT JOB! What IS the difference between a duathlon and a biathlon? hmmm.

  9. Great Job Kate and my run felt the same as yours. It was the training for the long races that did it to us. Endurance over speed, now we want speed, I guess we need to make up our minds.

  10. Now this is the type of biathlon that I could actually do! I would have been really excited to use the new bike too.

  11. Ok, I googled it. Biathlon is a term for any event combining two sports, but it is commonly used to refer to XC skiing/rifle shooting combination. Wikipedia specifies that it is not to be confused with duathlon, which it defines as an athletic event that consists of a running leg, followed by a cycling leg, followed by another running leg. So I guess the fact that there was only one running leg (THANK GOODNESS) made this a biathlon rather than a duathlon.

    And now we've all learned something. :)

  12. Sounds like a great race, sorry I missed out.


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