Nitzana Duathlon - 4 April 2009
This is a bit late in coming, but here goes...
Nitzana is one of my favorite races. It's a small race that always makes me feel at home. It takes place on the Egyptian border and last year it was canceled because of the security situation. I was very happy to be back this year, even if I wasn't in great shape. Because I'm just getting fit again, I decided to do the sprint -- 5 km run, 20 km bike, 2.5 km run.
I didn't really have any expectations for this race -- just go out and have fun. It started well -- I actually managed to hold a better pace than I had hoped for on the run. I started out way in the back, but I passed quite a few people who must have gone out too fast. That doesn't happen very often, so it made me feel good.
The bike was a disaster from start to finish. First, I couldn't close my helmet -- my fingers just wouldn't cooperate. When I finally got that done, I ran out with my bike, started to mount and then saw that I'd dropped my chain. I pulled over to the side and fixed the chain, then got on and started to ride.
Right away, I noticed that my bike computer wasn't working. I don't need it, of course, but I do like to know how fast I'm going, because when I'm still oxygen-deprived from the run, it's hard for me to get a good sense of how hard I'm working. After about three kilometers or so, I managed to get it working again and the rest of the out section was ok. At one point, I was down on my aerobars and I noticed a shadow coming up on me. I tried to ride away, but it just hung on to me. Then I started to get annoyed, because this wasn't a draft-legal race. I sat up and turned around to yell at the person who was drafting off of me only to discover that it was my own shadow! Oops...
I passed a few people on the bike, got passed only once or twice and soon I was at the turnaround. This is when I decided to take a salt tablet because my calves were cramping. I had the salt tablets in a plastic bag and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get one out. Fed up, I bit off a corner of the bag and just popped one into my mouth. It hit my throat and I almost choked on it, but I managed to grab my bottle and wash it down before I started gagging. Not long after that, I took my lone gel, given to me by a guy I know. It was Gu espresso flavored and I highly recommend it -- it was like having dessert in the middle of my ride! That was probably the best part of the race ;-)
There was a lot of wind on the way back and people were suffering. I didn't find it too bad, but I wasn't riding as fast as I would have liked. Just before the end, I decided to shift down into the small chain ring so that I could spin out my legs a bit before the run. As soon as I shifted down, I dropped my chain again. I managed to shift it back on, but every time I tried to shift down, it dropped until finally, after three or four tries, it got stuck and I could no longer pedal. At this point, I had to get off the bike and fix it and I was more than a little bit annoyed (especially when a bunch of people passed me as I was still trying to get it unstuck). When I finally got the chain thing worked out, I got back on my bike and rode like crazy to pass those people who had passed me (so much for spinning my legs out...). I finished, hopped off and prepared to run.
The second run was short. I don't remember much about it, but I actually held a fairly good pace and, in fact, it was my best relative placement of the day. Before I knew it, the race was over. I finished a good seven minutes or so slower than I'd done two years ago (five of those on the bike), but I'd had fun, which is more important.
The following day, I took my bike into the shop and it turned out that my derailleur was bent. I have no idea how that happened, as my bike hadn't fallen (as far as I know), but the bike mechanic fixed it and it's as good as new now :-)