Ramat Hasharon Duathlon - 11th November 2006
Thanks to TAN for the picture. Don't let the smile fool you -- this was hard!
Have you ever had a day that you just didn't feel like racing? Well, this race was that day for me. I enjoyed the race last year, so I was looking forward to it, but when I got to Ramat Hasharon very early in the morning (much TOO early), that good race-day feeling just wasn't there. However, I was there, there was a race and I was going to do it.
After waiting around for three and a half hours (yes, really. I took team bus and the kids started at about 6:30 or so, but the sprint didn't start until 9:00), the race finally started. I actually went out ok on the run -- I did the first kilometer in exactly the time I wanted. I'm not sure when things started to go downhill, but they did, because at the 3 km mark, I saw that I was way off my goal pace. I wasn't breathing too hard, but my legs just didn't want to move any faster. As I reached the transition area at the end of 5 km, I saw that I had run over two minutes slower than last year. Not good.
I had an ok transition and headed out on my bike. We had to ride out of the neighborhood we were in, up one major road to a second major road, where we did two loops and then rode back. There was quite a bit of wind on the course and I couldn't really tell where it was coming from -- it felt like we were constantly riding into it. I later heard that a lot of people had commented on how hard a time they'd had on the bike. Despite the wind, I had a very good ride. I rode almost the entire time on my aerobar -- a first for me. I felt strong and confident. It was a good bike day.
I was passed by some people, presumably those already on the second loop while I was on the first and I passed a lot of people. There was a lot of blocking on the course, which I found very annoying and at one point I screamed at some guy to move to the right because I wanted to pass him. I then felt that I had to justify screaming at him (he was riding right down the center of the road, so my other options were to pass him on the right or to cross the center line and head into the people coming towards me -- screaming was the best option), so I pushed a bit harder and FLEW past him so fast that he was probably left wondering where I'd been until that moment. That was fun! ;-) It would be even more fun if I could ride like that the entire time.
In addition to blocking, I saw a lot of drafting and I was also passed on the right a few times. I was riding pretty far over to the right, but people passed me as I moved left to pass the person in front of me. This was extremely annoying, as I then had to hold back to get out of their drafting zone, and it was also very dangerous. All in all, though, I really enjoyed the ride. My time for 24 km was four and a half minutes faster than last year on the same course. Quite an improvement!
The second transition was a disaster. When I got back to the transition area, I discovered that someone had taken my spot. The rack was a mess and I suspect that whoever took my spot did so because someone took his spot. I found some space next to where I was supposed to be and racked my bike, but not before yelling to one of the referees that someone had taken my place on the rack and I was now in someone ELSE'S spot. There were actually three referees in the transition area, all of whom I know personally (all from Lehavim). They told me to calm down (I must have really yelled) and that they knew there was a problem and it was ok. After racking my bike, I had to go around to the other side of it to get my shoes on, as that's where they were. The transition ended up taking much longer than it should have.
The second run took much longer than it should have, too. The same legs that had been more than happy to carry me for 24 km on the bike did NOT want to run. I ran, though, slowly. It was only 2.5 km, but it felt like a marathon (or what I imagine a marathon would feel like). Just before the finish line, I saw a photographer that I've met before. I gave him a big smile, he snapped my picture and then high fived me as I ran by. I was just meters away from the finish line at that point, so I gave it all I had to the finish, once again having a much worse run than last year, but managing to take just under a minute off of last year's finishing time.
I finished 2/3 in my age group, which, I'm ashamed to admit, didn't make me feel much of anything. I'd thought there were only two of us in the age group and while I was suffering on the run, I had made sure to stay ahead of the other women. Little did I know that somewhere WAY up ahead was a third woman. However, even if I'd pushed harder, she was way beyond catching -- her 5k time was more than five minutes faster than my PR at that distance and she was a bit faster than I was on the bike, too.
So it was an ok day. A bit disappointing for me, simply because I've never felt so UNexcited after a race before. I guess it's good that this race marked the end of the season -- now it's just road races until March or April.