This was my first race back from my heart problem. Almost every athlete my age (51) has had to come back from an ailment or two. My plan was to try to treat this like any other injury. Listen to my body. When the body tells you to back off, back off.
The Troutman Duathlon is an annual event in my hometown. The race consists of a 2.5k run a 15k bike ride, then a repeat of the 2.5k run. Due to construction in downtown Kewaunee, Wisc., they had to move the start up to the local high school. Because of this the run portion might run a tenth of a mile or so longer. The good news is that we had a large enough parking lot for everyone and inside bathrooms. In my mind that is a positive trade.
I am one of those runners who sets up everything the night before. Shoes, shirt and socks must be laid out and ready. Because this included a bike portion I would make up a bottle of Gatorade the night before and put it in the freezer. This way I would not have to stop for hydration, and by the time the run was over the fluid would be nice and cold. I forgot it at home. Pre-race was typical. There were a lot of people there that I knew from previous races. I was pleased to see my friend Mike Bors there. Mike guides visually impaired runners. He had a runner there (Kathy) whom I had not met before. Then we discussed how fast we planned on running and tried to line up accordingly. It is tradition to let the faster runners line up in front. Lining us old folks in front creates a traffic jam.
The bike leg would be my stronger portion this year. My cardiologist banned me from running for 48 days after the marathon, and I had only started back last week. The road course was very familiar to me. It ran through the Kewaunee River valley. There would be three really good hills along the course. I had been up and down those hills a hundred times. While some bikers could not make it up the hills on the bike, I could. So I was pretty good until the last run. I just was not in good enough shape. By the time I was half way through it I had to take a walk break. In total I took three short walk breaks, but I made it. Nine minutes slower than last year, but 60 days ago I couldn’t walk a mile. I’ll take this.
The highlight of the day came when they were announcing the awards. Kathy won her division. Her group had just left a few minutes earlier. I took off running towards the parking lot hoping to find them. They were putting their bikes away when I did.
“Kathy, you won your division, they have a medal for you,” I said.
“You won your division. You get a medal.”
She may still be smiling. That is what local events should be all about.