Saturday, May 1, 2010

Apparently...we DU not exist

So the Willow Duatholon (ahhh...Duathlon. Why can I not spell that word to save my life?) was yesterday. 5K Run 20K Bike 5K Run. My Dad and I teamed up to form a relay. On a Whim was our name since that's pretty much how we decided to do it. I was the legs. He was the wheels. Together we were the equivalent of one mean green ferocious duathlete.

Really, I wasn't too nervous about the event in the days leading up to it. I figured I could handle two 5K's considering the mileage I'm putting in right now. At least, I didn't think I was nervous until Friday when I lay awake all night thinking about how I really know nothing about duathlons, transition areas, body marking, ankle timing chips, etc. It was a USAT event, which basically means there's all kinds of rules that apply and even though I'd read through them a couple of times, I had this sinking feeling that I'd missed something and we'd get disqualified for something stupid like not entering the transition area in the exact precise correct way thus blocking the flow of traffic and getting in the way of some hard core athlete who would surely plow us over creating a terrific hazard and making it difficult if not impossible for the rest of the field to get through effectively ruining the entire event in the process. A stretch? Yes. But these were my fears nonetheless.

No worries though, because once we arrived at the race in the morning I was pretty sure we'd be disqualified before I even set foot at the starting line.

For starters, before we could pick up our race packets, we had to buy a one day USAT membership. No big deal. This we knew. But unfortunately, it didn't seem that the race officials knew about us. My name wasn't on the list and neither was my dad's. "Did you register online?" "Can you spell your name again?" "Collins...does that start with a K or a C?" "Ok how about his name?" "Can you spell that again?" Finally, this poor race volunteer just called over this other lady who hence to fore will be known as "The One Who Knows" or "The One" for short since she seemed to know everything about everything there was to know.

"Only one person's name is on the list for relays." She told Volunteerman A and then went on to explain that participants who signed up online did not need to sign a waiver. They already agreed to it online. While she did so, I took the liberty of peering over onto the participant sheet myself and finding my dad's name. **WHEW** We were in. Crisis averted. Since we had mailed our entry in, I reached for a form to sign considering I had just listened to the whole discussion about who signs and who doesn't, but was stopped short and told I didn't need to. Come again? I just heard you say I did. "You signed up online. You're all set." The One confirmed as she headed over to another table. "But we didn't," I tried to explain, but an antsy group of soon to be one day USAT members had waited long enough and we're beginning to growl things like "just give the money and move." So move we did since The One had anointed us and Race Volunteerman A just smiled blankly.

On to packet pick up, where we learned not only that we should have been stamped at the USAT table to indicate our new albeit temporary membership which hadn't been in the commotion, but also that id's were being checked before packets handed out which neither of us brought. However, just as panic began to set in, a fortunate turn of events occurred. The bib number we were assigned was missing so with the ensuing confusion surrounding the bib, nobody seemed to care too much about our ids. The One came back over to save the day assigning us a new bib, #187 (make a mental note of this number), and just never really addressed the what am I supposed to do if they forgot their license question from Race Volunteerman B. So now with bibs and pins in hand (say it with me now: STICK Y BIBS! STICK Y BIBS!) we moved on.

Next was chip pick up where friendly Race Volunteerman A, who was apparently working double duty, equipped us with an ankle strap and timing chip #187 and astutely noted this was our first time. I'm thinking it was when I asked him if the ankle strap we put the timing chip on went on your ankle that tipped him off. Just a guess though.

So, despite the fact that neither of us showed id or signed a USAT form and I kept waiting for some really official looking person to run over and tackle me shouting something about a lack of appropriate documents or being improperly vetted, we managed our way to the start curious to find out whether or not there were any other relay teams (this was only the 2nd year for a relay and the previous year there were only two teams) and to find out what else exactly we should be doing.

We somehow managed to muddle our way through racking my Dad's bike (more on this later) and then I headed off for a 1 mile warmup to plan my attack on those two 5K's and also because I was planning on hauling a$$ on that first one to see what kind of time I could post. Then after a short meeting about the course, I was off and running still not knowing if we had any competition and hoping we'd get the transition done right. It was a nice flat course on the road which was very very wet from the thunderstorms that had threatened to cancel the event earlier that morning, but it was running on home turf for me, one of the metroparks I frequent, and I loved every minute of it.

Running into the first transition was downhill at the top of which, I spotted her. Right next to my dad, was another lady standing next to her bike. We officially had competition (dun dun duuuuuuuun.....). There was at least one other relay team.

I ran in, peeled that chip off my ankle and strapped it onto my dad's as quickly as I could. As he took off, I left the transition area to catch myself a quick potty break, which btw had been cleaned again since I started which was kind of cool, (it's the little things that amuse me) and my sister immediately reported that we had no other competition. Just the one lone relay, Team Ray was challenging us for a first place finish. I kept a close eye on Team Ray's biker to see when she left and just how far ahead we were. About six minutes after I came in, their runner came in. We were looking good.

Now at this point I was pretty stoked, estimating that if we both ran fairly similar times on the next run that would give our team a substantial lead so unless Team Ray had some kind of phenom on the bike, my Dad and I were going to not only complete but WIN our first event together. Then when my Dad came into the second transition well ahead of his swiftest prediction, I figured that had all but sealed the deal. Team Ray's runner was still sitting tight in the back of her car like a tailgater just outside the transition area waiting for her partner to come in and watched me take off. We were in tip top shape. There was no way she was gonna catch me on that 2nd run, unless she was SERIOUSLY sandbagging on the first.

Run #2 for me, went far better than I expected. Although I'll admit I felt a little loopy at the start, it'd been a long time since I had anything to eat and since my dad surprised me coming in faster than he predicted, I don't think my gel had kicked in yet. Still I lost less than a minute off my first 5K pace and the first mile which I expected to run at about 9:30 minutes, I ran in 8:30. Miles 2 and 3 were progressively faster and I finished strong.

Needless to say perhaps, but when the race ended, we stuck around to hear the results. After the overalls, age groups, Athenas and Clydesdales were all announced. The very last award was handed out to the top relay team. "First place relay team," announcerman said over the loudspeaker while my Dad and I looked at each other beaming, "Team Ray with a time of 1:41:22"...applause, applause.

I proceeded immediately to begin adding in my head. "There's no way." I said to my Dad amid his "WHATS?" as Team Ray jumped up cheering and ran forward to claim their plaque. Now I'm no math major and that's probably an understatement, but 25+25+40 does NOT equal +1:41. So I jogged back up to the results posted on a wooden easel near the refreshments, squeezed my way in amongst the small crowd and ran my finger down the bib #'s looking for ours only to wasn't there. I spun around to my Dad to tell him and as fate would have it, guess who happened to be walking (very quickly) by on her way to the 3Discplines RV. That's right. The One. Who happened to be the only one, I wanted to talk to at that point.

I began chasing her down, apologizing because I knew she was busy and explaining our scenario as she continued her hustle. "Yeah, I wondered what happened to you guys since I had worked with you. But I just figured you guys didn't finish," was her reply (ok absolutely no offense was taken at the didn't finish remark since we DID completely look like we had NO idea what we were doing there. We did after all call ourselves On A Whim. I'd have thought the same thing if I were in her shoes). "So does this mean our chip malfunctioned or something?" I ask. "Well, it could have. But in the 9 years we've been doing this, that rarely happens. Where did you wear it at?" She replied. But we all know already, I'd determined the appropriate extremity for the ankle strap so that couldn't have been the problem. For a minute, I thought she was going to just walk away and that was the end of it. The thought of just going home crossed my mind, but my Dad and I both really wanted to know what our official times were not just my rough Target watch estimate and gosh darn it we paid our money just like everybody else and if we won our group we deserved that plaque even if it was only beating out one other team. So I stood my ground waiting for an answer. (Later I'd learn where exactly THAT competitive bone came from, as the last words my mom said to my dad (in my "DON'T TOUCH MY BIB PINS!" voice)as she took my fidgety girls who had waited around far longer than they were capable of out to the car was "DON'T YOU LEAVE HERE WITHOUT YOUR AWARD!" She looks all sweet and just hurray for participation, but don't let that fool you. She's harboring a tiger on the inside).

"You know. I'm pretty sure we won too." I told The One. "I finished my run a good 6 minutes before the other team." "Really." She replied with a sigh. "Hold on just a minute then, I'll check the tapes." She told us. I was thoroughly impressed that I had just competed in an event that had tapes. That's right, you go on and check those tapes I thought.

So while everyone else headed home, my Dad and I had a seat on a curb with another friendly pair from Ferndale who were awaiting some results of their own, well at least one of them was. Apparently his chip failed to record his last run and he, like anybody else would, really wanted to know how he finished. We joked about what had happened, talked wet suits, plotted my blog title, and re-added our best guesses on our times to just re-confirm that we weren't crazy. Upon doing so, I got to have my ego stroked a little from Mr. Ferndale, about my run times. "You beat me," he said at which point I felt obligated to remind him that I did not bike 12.4 miles in between runs. In fact had I, the likelihood that I would have even run that 2nd 5K would have been significantly reduced. I'm not so good on bikes. I run into things. Things like parked cars. Really. Ask my husband.

Mr. Ferndale's missing time was rescued by another race volunteerman not too long after. But Race Volunteerman C knew nothing about what was going on with our missing time. So as Mr. & Ms. Ferndale headed off, my dad and I continued to wait until finally The One reappeared with a little plastic box in hand. She squatted down next to us and showed us her little box full of timing chips in little compartments. "Did a volunteer give you your chip?" She asked. "Yes," I said "the guy..." "From the USAT table," she finished. I shook my head yes and she pointed to her box at the chip marked #176. "I thought so because I still have your chip," The One said which caused my heart to beat a little faster because (retrieve your mental notes here)...we had chip #187! I reminded her of the switch and was ready to rip off my long sleeved pull over to flash her my bib that I was still wearing, but it wasn't necessary. She remembered on her own. "OH! That's right. This is easy to fix." She said. "I'll be right back."

And when she came back, she came back smiling with two official time printoffs and two plaques because she did find our time and WE WON!! After an apology, The One told us even though they had marked the switch on the sheet, she had forgotten about it. We of course were just thankful she was willing to take the time and go to the extra trouble when she easily could have blown us off as a couple of rookies who made some silly mistake.

Here's our official time:
Run 1 (5K)- 24:40 gun start (No mat for the timing chip at the start. Still this was my fastest 5K ever. Previous PR was 27:13, this was 3 years ago, the last time I ran a 5K)
Transition 1- 0:23
Bike (20K)- 38:36 (he thought he would finish sometime between 40-45 minutes. Way to go Pop!)
Transition 2- 0:24
Run 2- 25:14
Finishing Time- 1:29:15

And just in case you'd like to see how much we smoked our competition (or maybe if you don't believe we actually participated and you think I made up this whole elaborate story) click here for the official results link.

So as usual there's more to say on this and of course, pictures! But since this is even longer than the Martian 1/2 Marathon post. I'll give you all a break and fill you in on the rest of the details tomorrow.

'Til next time...

P.S. Whassup Ferndale?! I know y'all stumbled on over here to hear how the results turned out. Hope we bump into you both at another event sometime this summer. And I was kicking myself for not having wished you both best of luck on the rest of your races this season. So good luck! May your timing chips never fail! Stop by anytime :-)


runnanna said...

Great story for your first duathalon! You earned that major award, darn it! I was having flashbacks to a middle school Gus Macker tournament in which you were ROBBED of an were NOT getting out of that park without a nice shiny plaque! Your bell-ringing, dancing, "shake and bake" fan club would NOT be have been happy! P.S. Great time for the bike ride and awesome PR for your 5 K's! Congrats!

Staci Dombroski said...

That is a crazy story!!! At least it is a good one for your first duathalon!!! I hope you have a great week :)