Monday, March 26, 2012

Snake River Spring Sprint Duathlon

Photo by Greg Gallagher. Pictured from left: Craig Thorsen,
Dave Erickson, Nate Duncan, Natalie Gallagher, Jarod Crooks,
Matt Siegel, Meghan Faulkenberry, Erica Zeimer, and Merissa
Saturday morning arrived sooner than I had anticipated after having just begun recuperating after a long finals week. I was to meet Craig Thorsen and Erica Zeimer at “O’dark thirty” to arrive in Lewiston by 8:30am. Despite an early-morning wake up call, 6:30am didn’t appear that dark at all. Craig didn’t even have a donut in his hand, which he attributed as, “Race fuel, baby!” Erica wouldn’t have approved, I’m sure.

Nonetheless, we were on the road by 6:40, following the Gallaghers and Duncans as they had made it out of town before we had. We followed the winding roads through Spangle, Colfax, and Colton before scaling the grade down into Lewiston. The sun hadn’t quite burst through the clouds yet, and the temperatures still hovered around 34 degrees. Yet we remained hopeful. Warmer temperatures and sunshine stood just within reach.

Plenty of open racks invited us to reserve our spot with our bikes in the transition area. I parked my Cannondale road bike alongside Erica’s swift-looking Cervelo, Merissa’s sweet-sailing QRoo, and Natalie’s smokin’ Felt. I can only hope someday soon I can adorn the bike rack with something better than a tri-bike wannabe. Until then, I’ll have to rely upon my legs to work a little harder to keep up.

In no time, all nine of us Trifusion teammates toed the line to begin our 2-mile sprint along the river. The gun went off and I found myself following in Jared Crook’s and Dave Erickson’s wake. Nate was so far ahead I lost track of him after 200 yards. Thankfully, two miles flew by in approximately 13 minutes for me, and then I begged my legs to keep up, as my head was already 3 miles into the bike.
For anyone who’s ridden this bike course, it pretty much emulates a cone. I slogged through six miles over a steady incline, only to fly back those same six miles at speeds closer to 25mph. I could only think about the 5-minute SS/LT intervals Roger so kindly introduced us to during the last few bike clinics. On a trainer in a hot, sweaty basement, 5-minutes at 90rpm, heart rate hovering in Zone 4 translates into misery. Yet I had three women to catch halfway through the bike, and for 30+ minutes, I pedaled and pushed the same way I do during Roger’s training rides.  Now, only two women remained.

Hopping off the bike was fun! (Note sarcasm here.) I felt pretty ridiculous attempting those first few strides out of the transition area. If it weren’t for the fact I saw pavement moving underneath me, I would have sworn I had somehow managed to run backward. I marveled at the way my breathing sounded like wheezing, more characteristic of a rheumatic pathology. I could not manage to settle my breathing or my heart rate as it raced into Zone 5. It took all I had to convince myself I had just two more miles to suffer through. Then I was done.

I never caught those two women ahead of me. I’ll blame it on my bike. Yet I did finish in a reasonable place, and I felt even more elated by the fact I could still walk and ride another 2.5 hours with the rest of my Trifusion teammates afterward. (Two years ago I would have called it a day after a race like this. I guess calling yourself a triathlete-in-training requires a little more dedication and hard-ass mentality, especially if you belong to Trifusion.) The long ride in the sunshine—sans wind along the Snake River afterward—made for a great ending to a fun race day. I’m already looking forward to the next race, but first I have Roger’s last indoor trainer session to conquer.

Check out Dave Erickson's SwimBikeRun Video


Thanks to Dave for putting this together, and to Greg and Melissa Skelton for taking video and pictures along the course!

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