It's funny, but it took a triathlon to really make me feel like a runner.
I did my first Nepean Tri yesterday. It was my second triathlon ever (my first was a women's Trishave sprint in early 2010).
One of the greatest things about this race was my complete lack of the usual race nerves. There was a little concern that I might crash the bike, but the horrible nerves I am plagued with whenever I have a running race were conspicuously absent. It was lovely, and I put it down to the fact that I knew the tri didn't matter. No pressure, no demands for a certain time. Super way to go into it.
The wonderful people at Panther Cycles had squeezed my bike in for a last minute service, so she was all ready for her second race outing. I had a new two-piece tri suit that was not only comfortable and fit me really well but matched my bike too. Thanks Zoot!
I guessed I'd do around two hours, given my lack of bike skills, and I was bang on - 1:59:52.
Swim - 19:00
I thought I'd go a bit quicker in the swim - 19 mins was slow compared to what I do in the pool, but maybe I underestimated how much the kicks and punches to the head and body would take! I copped a few good ones over the first 250 metres (especially from one girl who seemed to be making a sport of it!), but I gave a few too. I felt fine during the swim, breathing every stroke and using other people as guides rather than trying to sight the buoy. It was comfortable - is it supposed to be comfortable? Triathlon's a whole different beast and I have no idea how the pacing thing works.
Bike - 1:03:05
Yes, OK - I know this is bad!! The first lap gave me a chance to feel things out and see how aggressive other people were going to be in the technical sections - I didn't want anyone too close as I was cornering in case I decided to be unintentionally unpredictable! I lost LOTS of time, and again, maybe I should have worked harder. The second lap was better than the first because I knew what was coming - still, people motored past me like they were on motorbikes and I was riding a shopping trolley. Funnily enough, it didn't worry me and I was enjoying myself. I found myself looking forward to the run because, as I said to myself, 'My body knows exactly what to do."
Run - 37.46
Yeah baby, that's right - 37:46. I had no idea I would run this well off the bike. I actually felt awful for the first four kilometres, I thought I was going really slowly despite the fact I was passing lots of people. My legs felt heavy and I had to concentrate to get myself moving. I took a few seconds in the transition area to drink some Gatorade, then popped a gel as I ran out, and by the first water station I was wondering how the hell people do IM!!
By the second lap I got a bit of rhythm, but I certainly felt like I was working hard. Part of me was thinking, 'Oh god, please don't let me run over 40 minutes because this is feeling harder than that." When I finished I had no idea of the split, and I thought I'd done about 39 mins. I hadn't been keeping my eye on my watch so I wasn't sure what had gone down.
It wasn't until later that afternoon that I logged on to the results to see my run split. To say I was pleased is an understatement. I was over the moon! I haven't got a 10k PB - I've never raced a 10k before, so I've only been able to guess what time I'd do by looking at splits from longer races. And this is where we come to me not feeling like a real runner.
There's a part of me that (very honestly) doesn't feel like I am a runner. I know I can put together a decent marathon, but I think there's a big difference between being able to run long and being able to perform well at the shorter distance races. 10k has always scared me because I think it would be a confirmation of me not being a 'real' runner. I know that 37:46 isn't a super time in the top Australian women's scheme of things, but whenever I hear of someone who runs about that time I think, "Wow, that's good." And if I heard they'd done it off the bike, I'd think, "Wow, that's even better."
So now I have a 10k time that I would have considered 'good' before I'd done it. And I'm really, really pleased with that. And I feel like a runner. (Which is good because I'm certainly not a cyclist!!!).