Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chunky Dunk Duathlon Race Report

I’m tired, sore and I had a headache all day yesterday. That can only mean one thing. I did a duathlon! I’m exhausted! I can only imagine what the triathlon will do to me! I might be crawling across the finish!

I chose this race back in May because of the name. We have a sign on our fridge that says, We don’t skinny dip, we chunky dunk. It is just hilarious to me. So, when I was perusing sites for 5Ks to do this summer and I came across this, I just had to sign up. Plus, who doesn’t want a t-shirt that says CHUNKY DUNK on it?

One of my triathlon-training buddies came up Friday night to stay at my place to avoid the 3 hours drive the morning of the race. We got to the race site at about 7:30am and got in line to register.

Then a lot of things happened all at once that is better explained in pictures:

Since it was a swim/run race, we had to get our numbers written on us in sharpie.
I was the 14th crazy person to sign up for the race!
I look way too excited with way too much stuff in my hands! 
Trying to figure out where to pin everything. Shirt or no shirt?
I went with a shirt. No one needs to see a shirtless me running!

This was my transition area all set up. Too much stuff?
The pride and joy of the race! I love it!

As we got everything situated and organized at our transition area, which seemed like it took forever because I kept moving things around nervously, we decided to get into the water to get a feel for the temp and do a quick warm up swim. I also needed to test out my new earplugs. I can NOT swim without earplugs. Water gets in my ears and distracts me to no end. I won’t wait until I get out of the water to shake the water out, I’ll do it with every stroke, meaning I will be picking my head out of the water every 2 seconds to prevent the water from getting in my ears. It just bugs me. Recreational swimming (i.e. lounging around in the water) is fine for me without earplugs, but swimming laps or anything of the sort, I NEED earplugs. There’s a point, to this tangent, I promise. I was afraid that I’d lose my earplugs after the swim portion as I was frantically trying to get myself dried off and ready for the run. Now I guess that’s not so much of a big deal since I wouldn’t be swimming soon thereafter the race and I could easily go buy new ones, but I wanted to be prepared ahead of time and possible have a pair that had a string holding them together to help me keep track of them. While I was in Rite-Aid the day before the race, I looked at their earplug selection and figured all I’d find were the foam ones for sleeping or concerts. But lo and behold, they had swimming earplugs AND they had strings attaching them AND it was a 2 pack! Score!

See my way cool earplugs? And how awesome do we look in our swim caps?
Testing out the water
Doing a warm up swim. Savor this; it's the only picture of me in the water, swimming. Maybe.
We got out of the water and made sure everything was ready for the transition (again) and then just milled around until the start of the race. It all kind of happened fast. I knew the start time was 8:30 and we were organizing our stuff at about 8 and testing out the water around 8:15, but it just happened so fast!  We started the race in waves. I was in wave one. I figured at least if I got a head start, I would be finishing the swim as the faster guys were just about to finish and I wouldn’t get as trampled, so I was happy about my wave assignment. Not to mention it gave me a head start so I might not be last! (HA!)

It was an in water start and we had to cross the chip mats before we entered the water. I don’t understand how they did the chip timing if we crossed the mat a full 10-15 seconds before the race actually started, but I used my trusty Garmin, G-Cube, to keep track of things for me. Yes, in the swim too. He was under my swim cap – sneaky devil!

If you look closely, I'm out there somewhere.
Probably just finished rounding the buoys at the time this picture was taken.
My exit out of the water wasn’t captured, but don’t worry, you don’t want to see that anyway. I was shocked and very happy to see that my swim time was


I have been averaging a swim time of 27-28 minutes per half mile for my open water swims, so this 4-minute reduction was exciting! I’m sure it was the adrenaline of a race that pushed me to go faster, but also I gained a lot of self-esteem by passing people. Yes, me, passing people. I know my time isn’t that fast compared to a lot of people, but swimming is my strongest area of the three triathlon sports, so to see myself get better and pass people in the swimming portion, where I actually feel good about things, was great. I don’t pass people in any of the other 2 areas, so I needed this to reassure myself. Just a personal thing. Don’t judge.

And let me add a side note here about my earplugs. They worked great, however, I need to adjust the length of the string because it kept getting caught under my arm because it was so long and I came close to yanking them out of my ears (by accident) because of this. I guess this is why we don't try new things on race day, huh?

My transition time was 3:29. I’ve never done a transition to anything before, so I’m happy with this time. I also knew I wasn’t going to run in just a bathing suit, yet I didn’t have time (or the guts) to yank it off in front of God and everybody to change clothes. So I threw on my running capris and a t-shirt. I had planned ahead and wore my sports bra underneath my bathing suit so I didn’t have to worry about that. Could you imagine seeing that in transition?

Off to the races!
I headed off for a 5K through the woods along the Cotton Valley Rail Trail, yes the very same path that I bike most weekends when I’m up here in New Hampshire. I was very familiar with it having ridden it several times and having completed the Dog Days of Summer on it a few weekends ago. My complaint about it last time was the amount of tiny pebbles and rocks that I got into my shoes while running. Luckily this time, it rained the night before. And by rain, I mean torrential downpour. It kept the path wet enough so that there wasn’t much dust to fly around and get caught in the sneakers. There were a few puddles along the way that took up the entire path and caused runners to either run through them or step off the path completely to go around them. I went around them. I was wet enough from the swim and my bathing suit soaking my pants and t-shirt. I didn’t need my feet wet too!

I tried something new with this race, and it might be why I’m still sore a day later. It’s no secret that I’m struggling with running. The last time I complained talked about it someone commented and mentioned that she just kept going with the running and didn’t take walk breaks. I scoffed at that idea, because it’s impossible for me to not take walk breaks while running. In fact, it’s mostly walking, and bits of running here and there. Someone else had mentioned the same thing to me earlier this year. She said she did a shuffle-jog thing and although it was kind of the same pace as her running/walking intervals, she felt that it allowed her body to think she was running and she was able to get that shuffle-jog to a faster pace and it was easier for her than doing the running/walking interval workouts. I decided to try it, because lord knows I need all the help I can get in the running department.

Guess what. I ran the entire 5K. Let me explain. The word “run” here means a shuffle-jog, but it was a huge milestone. Because I did the entire race like that. A few times where I checked my pace and saw that my “running” was starting to get close to my regular walking pace, I’d walk for a little but to give those muscles a rest, then start the running again. It worked! I am sore in areas that I didn’t know had the capability to be sore. I’m guessing that means those are the runner’s muscles. Because I sure haven’t used those things before!

Overall my pace was about the same as my run/walk interval time, but I maintained that pace the entire time instead of having a slow walking pace and then and minimal and only slightly faster running pace.

The 5K was an out and back so I was able to see a lot of people coming back as I was still going out. Almost every single one of them had a positive thing to say to me. I’m sure I looked like a hot mess out there doing my shuffle-jog, but I was doing it. And I was proud of myself for doing it, the entire time. I’ve heard people say that they don’t like the “encouragement” or “good job, you’re almost there” from other people during a race, but I love it. It keeps me motivated and makes me feel like we are all in this together. Even though I might be last or close to last, I greet every passerby (yes, even if they are ahead of me) with a huge smile when they say “Good job”, and I always say “Thanks”. Because I mean it. One day (hopefully) I’ll be on the other end of that and I hope I can give someone else encouragement too.

But, on a more serious note, don’t say, “you’re almost there” if it’s not true. I heard “almost there” about 57 times and I was most certainly not “almost there”. Liars.

Coming into the home stretch: when I really was "almost there".
Crossing the finish line, so happy.
I finished the 5K in a time of 51:36 (according to my Garmin, because the race results only show my swim & transition times).

My goal was to finish this race in 1:30.

Race time total: 1:18:59. That’s an 11-minute goal buster.

High Five. And I'm not gonna lie, I teared up a little bit. This was a big thing for me! I did it and I did it better than I thought I would. That's cause for happy tears.

I also had to share my finish picture zoomed out because what I love about it is the volunteer with her hands up in the air, just like mine. She was just as excited for me as I was for me!

That's the kind of support I'm talking about!!
And my favorite support system: my mom. She drove us to the race, guarded our things in the transition area, took pictures and hooped and hollered when I was coming out of the water and coming back in from the 5K. I couldn’t ask for a better supporter.

Thanks mom!
This race was the first annual and it was very well organized. This is the second event (in one month, no less!) that I've attended that has been hosted by The Nick. The organizers were great, the location was great, the volunteers were amazing. The sponsors were great too. We got this bag of swag. 

Coupons galore!
It was an overall fun, happy, and encouraging atmosphere. I will most definitely do this race again next year. Who's with me??


  1. I would do that with you next year! Awesome job on the running! I'm still working on the continuous thing. I'll try just not walking. I'm already doing a very slow jog; if I knew what you actually meant by shuffle-jog, I'd try it.

    Regardless, fantastic job, and congratulations!

  2. Congratulations Sara!!! You did a great job - what a brave thing to do, swim AND run a race. Very impressive. :)

  3. I have to admit it, your post made me tear up a bit. AWESOME job Sara!

    And what do you mean, you've never done transitions? You're a prechool teacher! "Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share. Clean up, clean up everybody everywhere...". You've never sang that song? Hee hee. Maybe you should create a triathlon/ du-althlon transition song :)

    I've been slacking with my workouts lately, but you've given me some motivation. Must go work out!

  4. Awwww!!!! Great job, Sara! I am so pumped for you. :-)


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