Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Rainy Millstadt Biathlon!

Well, this morning was the very wet (and slightly chilly) 2011 Millstadt Biathlon. So, instead of participating in swimming, biking, and running, this morning I only had to compete in two of these events: biking and running!

Millstadt is on the Illinois side of the river, near Belleville, but out in the sticks (for lack of a better description!). The race started at 8 AM but I have learned that if you don't get there early, you might not get a (good) spot for your bike, so I was up at 5:30 AM and I got there about 6:45 AM (after getting slightly lost!). Jim just bought a new bike rack to go with the new hitch that we just had installed on our new car (the European styled 2012 Ford Focus in shiny red!). So this was my first time using a bike rack and it was so much easier than shoving my bike inside a car (often taking off at least one of the tires to make it fit!).

Once I checked in and got a spot for my bike, I decided to warm up by jogging around the park where the biathlon started and eventually I fell into conversation with two other women about triathloning. One of the women, Melissa, I actually ended up talking to throughout the running portion of the race (I need to thank her for getting me through at a quick pace -- for me! -- and providing some entertainment along the way!).

When the run portion started, it wasn't raining but it didn't take too long for the rain to start pouring off-and-on during the entire 5 miles. The great news, though, is that I felt ... well, great! My body (for not having a lot of mileage under my running shoes) felt pretty okay and I didn't have to stop once during the entire 52:19 (again, partly thanks to Melissa!).

Once the biking started, the rain had stopped so I was able to get about 12-15 miles in with clear weather but wet roads. I love, love, love this new tri racing bike but I am still hesitant when it comes to steep downhills -- everyone else is getting their speed going and I am actually being a dork and hitting the breaks. Especially with the wet roads, I was just terrified of falling. I figure with the clip pedals, it is going to take me so much longer to respond as my bike tilts and slides on the ground.

But even with the breaking, I was absolutely delighted that I was actually passing person after person! Each time I would note a target ahead of us (I am including my super cool bike!), we went for it and passed that person (who was often a guy!). And we just kept on going, even when the rain started coming down in bucketfuls! And when I say it was raining, I mean it was raining raining. At one point it was getting hard to see in front of me but I just tucked my head in and slowed down a little (and said a silent prayer that no cars were coming since it was an open course). And before I knew it -- just as I was settling into some speed -- I could see the finish line ahead. The time when I went under the banner was 2:16:17 -- a time I am happy with (I figured anything under 3 hours was going to be great for today!).

The second part of my morning adventure was moving all my wet-soaked equipment back to the car and then going back and grabbing my bike since I couldn't do it all in one trip. I decided not to stick around since the rain was coming down even heavier and I knew I was going to start feeling cold before too long (and it didn't help that I didn't think to bring any dry clothes with me -- all I had were two towels). I did have some trouble finding a way out of the parking lot (lots of cars who arrived after me had parked all over the place) but soon I was on my way and headed the 25 minutes back to downtown St Louis. Which was yet another adventure. I actually got pretty lost in East St Louis but I knew I was headed north so I figured I would run into the highway at some point. And I did! But I do need to return to some of the spots I saw in East St Louis because I am fascinated with old, abandoned buildings and I saw a few on my way to the highway (I really need to dig around for a good book on the history of this whole area so I can know a little more about this adopted home of mine!).

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