The Best and Worst at My First Multi-Sport Event

09/08/2017 - 18:45

By Rae Ann Darling Reed
Source: Running Journal

IMG-1422.JPG Rather than a detailed race report, which I am actually quite excited to share, I decided to keep it brief and tackle another side of my experience at my very first sprint duathlon.

I have never been interested in multi-sport events, mostly because I am a terrible swimmer and have not owned a bike for over 13 years. But this summer I discovered a first year sprint duathlon on Siesta Key and thought I would give it a try. I have been running for 33 years and I guess I just needed to try something new.

For weeks I trained on the stationery bike at the YMCA and even completed a couple of “bricks,” which I discovered is not only the term for a run immediately after cycling, but how my legs felt when I started that run! I finally decided on a bicycle to purchase about a week and a half prior to the race. I have been contemplating a bike purchase for awhile and decided I wanted a folding bike so I could avoid a bike rack and easily take it with me at all times. It conveniently fits in the back of my CRV along with all of my other coaching equipment including coolers, agility ladder, cones, foam rollers, first aid kit, etc. I mainly wanted a bike so I could ride it through parks, on our beautiful barrier islands in Manatee and Sarasota Counties, and at cross country practice when I have already completed my own workout earlier in the day but still want to be out on the trails to check on our athletes. I was not looking for a competition bike.

I rode my Tern folding bike twice the week before the race. Definitely NOT ready to go pro! I had to laugh at how bad my balance was since I was so used to the stationery bike at the gym. On race morning I was way more nervous than I anticipated. This sprint duathlon was a 1 mile beach run, 11 mile bike, 5K beach run. Once the race started the nerves settled down. I finished the mile and headed into transition for the first time ever. It was exciting to get out on the open road and start pedaling my 8-speed folding bike as fast as I could. I definitely thought I would start to fade since I went out so fast but I actually finished the second half a little faster thanks to a little tailwind and finding my groove. When I started the 5K run on the beach, my legs felt like they weighed 500 pounds each! I could not believe how difficult that was. I have a whole new level of respect for my multi-sport friends!

I was a couple of miles into the bike portion of the race when a woman in a very nice cycling outfit flew by me on what looked to be a very expensive bike. I was so impressed by how fast these more serious cyclists and multi-sport athletes could ride. As a first timer, I was in awe to say the least. What bothered me for the entire rest of the race was what she said to me as she rode by: “Rae Ann, I thought you’d at least have a real bike.” Wow. She knew who I was so she must have known that I have been solely a runner and this was my first duathlon. Social media allows you to kind of get to know someone without actually knowing them and I am assuming that is how she knew who I was.

After the first turn around, a guy whizzed by me and said “great job.” At the final turn around with only a mile back to transition, a group of three guys all made that last turn with me and one of them looked back and said “that’s impressive.” Assuming he meant my speed/position in the race despite my folding bike.

After the race I had two more people inquire about my folding bike and ask how fast my ride was. I surprised myself by averaging over 17 miles per hour on only my third time riding this bike so I was pretty happy. The results were not posted for the duathlon, only the sprint triathlon and super sprint triathlon so I was surprised when my name was called for winning my age group. I found out later I was second female. I am not totally sure but I think the female duathlon winner might have been the woman who made the snarky comment about my lack of a real bike. I am trying to let it go and that is why I chose to write about it.

I guess my point is that almost all the comments I heard that day were encouraging. The spectators and several male competitors all offered something positive but why couldn’t she? Is that how multi-sport athletes treat and judge each other, based on the price tag of their equipment? Or is this just another case where this specific woman felt the need to knock down another woman? Why is that? We can all be successful and competitive and driven without knocking each other down.

My goal was to complete my first duathlon. I wasn’t concerned with times or winning. She clearly had the advantage of better, more expensive equipment and more experience in multi-sport events. I respect that. I have some runner friends who are faster than me and some who are slower than me. I am even competitive with some of them. But I ALWAYS support, respect, and encourage them to do their best. I try to lift them up as I do with all the girls and women I coach. If I can train someone to eventually beat me in a race, then I have done my job as a coach.

(Rae Ann Darling Reed runs, coaches, and writes in Florida. She is an RRCA and USATF Level 2 certified running coach, Glukos Energy Ambassador, and has been in the Brooks Inspire Daily program since 2010. Rae Ann is a Fit Expert at Fleet Feet Sports Sarasota and coaches cross country and track at Manatee High School. Follow the RunnerGirl’s adventures on twitter @runnergirl or

Photo: Rae Ann and her bike.

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