Sierra Vista Charity Biathlon Race Report 
Sunday, November 9, 2008, 03:08 PM
Posted by Administrator
One thing I love about racing is the variety. Next weekend, I'll be in San Antonio running a marathon with 29,999 other people. Yesterday, I was in Sierra Vista for the Inaugural Sierra Vista Charity Biathlon, a 5K run and 14-mile bike race that drew only about 100 people. I enjoy events where you see people racing with the newest gear, the lightest bikes and Ironman apparel head to toe. However, I also enjoy events like yesterday's at which you see lots of first-time racers on ill-fitted mountain bikes wearing loaner helmets provided by the race organizers.

We typically would not drive 90 minutes for a small event like this, but I work for MDA, one of the race beneficiaries, and wanted to show my support and appreciation. So, we hit the road at 6:45 a.m. and arrived with just enough time to rack our bikes, hit the bathrooms and say hello to the MDA family that showed up to cheer us on.

At 55 degrees, the weather was perfect for running. The course was out-and-back on a fairly flat road with some gradual elevation changes. After one mile, I was surprised to realize that I was maintaining a 9-minute per mile pace...and actually felt pretty good. When I saw the front runners coming my way as they headed back toward transition, I started counting bodies, so that I could let Paul know where he was in the pack - number 11! I hit the turn around point at 14 minutes and realized this could be a fast 5K for me. That thought kept me motivated to push it on the now slightly uphill trek back to the transition area. With about 3/4 of a mile to go, I again saw the front runners - this time they were headed out onto the bike course. Paul had slipped back to 12th place, but he is strong on the bike and I knew he'd pick at least a few people off...especially the ones on mountain bikes.

Considering my typical 5K time is between 30 and 33 minutes, I was thrilled to enter transition in 28:31. My workouts at the track are paying off! I definitely lost some time in transition by changing shoes. I clocked it at 1:44. Many racers used toe cages or just plain ol' fashioned pedals and they gained some time on me because of it.

I quickly discovered that it's much easier to bike after running than the other way around, which is the usual order of triathlons. My body was warmed up and I could really push it without worrying about another leg of the race. Unlike my husband, I'm not strong on the bike, but just focused on slowly gaining ground on other racers. I passed a total of nine people, and was passed by only three - not too bad! I don't know if other people keep track like this, but knowing the tally keeps me motivated. I started counting for Paul again when I saw the front runner, but I didn't get very far - he was number TWO! Go Paul!

I was definitely losing steam toward the end, but focused on trying to catch a woman in front of me who looked like she could have been in my age group. I never did catch her, but she definitely kept my heart rate up those last few miles. The finish line was precarious as there was a left turn about 20 feet before it. This is no way to end a bike race - it's a recipe for disaster. People sprint at finish lines, which is why they are typically placed on a straightaway. I slowed to safely make the turn and was pleased to finish in 1:26 and 50th overall. (Click here for results.)

Paul finished second overall - the highest he's ever placed in a race! However, it was a bittersweet victory as the first-place finisher drafted off of Paul and then broke away in a sprint just before the finish line. Drafting is typically illegal at races like this, but there was no mention of it in the pre-race instructions, and so this guy sat on Paul's wheel until the very end. Had it been on a straightaway, Paul feels confident he could have held him off. But he was not prepared to risk life and limb to go screaming around that final corner, and so he let up just before the turn and the other guy squeaked ahead of him. It ate at him all day, but I am so proud of Paul for a kick-ass race and for making the smart decision at the end. A crash could have taken him out of next week's marathon...and scratched up his nice tri bike too.

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