I can’t believe it’s actually here.  By the end of this week I will be competing in a national dutahlon across the country.  When I qualified and signed-up six months ago, it seemed like I had so much time.  What the hell happened?  I’m having all the usual anxiety about not being ready, questioning my training and doubting my abilities.

I’m coming off a half-marathon PR, I’ve been training my ass off and biking past the month of August which is all new territory.  I should be more then ready.  I should have no doubts.  Shoulda.  Coulda.  Woulda.

Mission accomplished.

Mission accomplished.

Here’s the rub:

1.  I’ve never actually had to board an airplane to get to a race.  Not to mention cross time zones.

2.  I have no idea what my body will feel like in the desert heat and dryness since it hasn’t been hot and dry in Connecticut, um…ever!

3.  I’m worried about how and where I will eat my pre-race meal since I usually have whole wheat waffles and fruit.  My husband assures me the hotel restaurant will be accommodating and, if not, they have grocery stores in Arizona.  Can someone who lives there please confirm this?

4.  So many variables are out of my control starting with my bike.  I’m used to packing exactly five things: sneakers, watch, top, bottoms, socks.  Do you know how much shit you have to keep track of in a bike race?  More then five.

Speaking of my dear bike, I had to drive to Massachusetts last week to put it on a semi to be driven across the country to Tucson where I will hopefully be reunited with it.  After figuring out all those logistics, the day came for me to say good-bye to it.  I took one last long ride, at the end of which, I ended up with a flat rear tire.  Now, we’ve already established that I’m a runner and not a cyclist.  I panicked a little bit when I realized what had happened the day before I had to ship it to Tucson.  Ok, stay calm and drive to my trusty bike shop.  Surely they can hook me up with a new tire on the spot!  One problem – it was Columbus Day and they were closed.  Shit.  Ok, don’t panic, call the bike shop who is shipping the bike and ask if they can do a minor repair before they put it on the truck:

Me: Hi.  I’m dropping off my bike tomorrow for shipment to the Duathlon in AZ but, I just got a flat and my bike shop is closed since it’s a holiday.

Superior Bike Man: Is there something else wrong or just a flat?

Me:  Just a flat.

SBM:  Ok, and you’re competing in the Duathlon in Arizona?

Me:  Yes!  I know I’m a moron and should be able to change a simple freakin tire if I’m in the nationals of this freakin race but I don’t know how to do it!!!  SORRY!!!!

Ok, I did not say that.  I just said “Yes” and hung my head in shame.

SBM: Ok then, no problem at all (now sounding like he’s talking to his 8 year-old daughter) we can definitely hook you up.  I just want to make sure we have the right tire here.  What kind do you have?  What size?

Me: I have no idea.  I have a Giant bike with an XS frame.  What does this guy not understand about how little knowledge I have of bikes?  Do I need to spell it out for him or is he just toying with me now?

SBMnow slightly laughing with at me: Ok, that’s fine.  I’m sure we have something.  Just bring it in and we’ll get you all hooked up.

After that I really felt confident and like I should 100% be going to this race!  Dear Lord, what the hell have I gotten myself into?  Why am I supposed to know what kind of tires are on my bike?  I don’t know!  They’re the kind that GO…fast!

Once I actually got to the bike shop the next day (after sitting in an hour of traffic on the Mass Pike!) it got better.

I would like to thank the staff here for not laughing directly in my face and probably waiting until I was out of ear shot.  You guys are all class.

I would like to thank the staff here for not laughing directly in my face and probably waiting until I was out of ear shot. You guys are all class.

I walked in an re-introduced myself as the moron who called and didn’t know how to change a tire.  They all shook their heads like “Oh, you’re the one!”  Ok, that didn’t happen either but I did tell them I needed a tire change.  Turns out I needed to replace both tires.  Luckily this was happening just in time for the big event.  I told the bike man, who was now massaging my tires as he spun them and looking at them from all different angles, that I had never replaced them and, by the way, how often are you supposed to do that?  He looked at me with so much pity and just laughed quietly.

He then told me he had to do a “full body” inspection of the bike to check for scratches or dents, much like they do before you valet your car.  The people at RoadBike don’t want to be blamed if you bike shows up with the same chips and dents it was shipped out with.  Fair enough.  As he begins his “inspection” he marveled at the condition of my bike:

Superior Bike Man:  Wow!  This bike is in really great shape.  Looks like it’s never been in a crash or anything…or…I mean really there’s not a scratch on it…almost like…

Me:  Like I’ve never even ridden it?  Come on man!  Gimme a break.  I ride the damn bike.  It’s not a mountain bike for God sake!  Is it better if I had been in a crash?  Let me tell you something, if this thing gets up to 30 miles per hour, I’m pumping the breaks.  I need my brains in my head and I really, really need my legs dude.

SBMLaughing again – No, I mean, it’s just in really good shape.  Looks good, real good.

So that went well.  I would have paid good money to have heard the conversation that took place after I left.

That's the face of a cyclist if I ever saw one.

That’s the face of a cyclist if I ever saw one.

I am undeterred.  I may not know what tires I have on my bike and I may have never gone fast enough to crash it, but I’m a competitor.  I know how to win my mental game.  I know how to run through pain and stress and heat.  I’ve grown to love my bike more then I ever thought I would and I’m finally getting that feeling of being “one” with it when I’m out on the roads.

I’m going into this race with my head held high.  I may not have a $5,000.00 bike and a pointy helmet but I belong at this race damnit and so help the person who tries to discount that.

Look out Arizona – a runner is about to race a duathlon!

 

Have you ever traveled a long way to race or compete?  Any tips?  Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like a complete moron?  Please say yes.