Yes, I know. I’m the coach. I’ve done too many races to count. But sometimes, you just feel like a rookie again. Maybe you’ve picked a new distance, say moving up to the marathon from shorter races, or you’re trying something new, like a trail run; but whatever the “new”, it’s interesting to feel and experience things again for the first time. Today’s post is about being a rookie again and is part comment and part history.This weekend I returned to competitive multi-sport racing after years out of the sport. Yes, I know, again, you’ve read me talk about doing a race here and there over the past few years, but it has really been since my early 20s that I was training hard enough to be really competitive at the front of the race. And my early 20s were in the last century. I’ve been almost exclusively running for years now. I wondered, what it would feel like to get back out there. Would I perceive it differently than I had long ago? Would I forget my helmet, ride the wrong way on the course, drop something on the bike? All of those things that I had done eons ago, I wondered if I would do again.
So as I approached my first race of the season — the Spring Classic Duathlon in Portland — I admit it: I was nervous. I barely slept the night before the race. And for a 10:00AM race, I showed up. . . three hours early. Why? I was just up and ready to go, so I went.
I remembered back in the day that getting to transition areas early was a good thing. Often there was no rhyme or reason to them and you needed to get a spot early. I still have pictures from a race where my bike is leaning up against a tree, because there weren’t enough racks and I just had to put the rest of my neon green and pink gear in the grass (it was the 80s folks, everything was neon). Spring Classic, even for a small race, had a well organized transition area and every bike rack was numbered. My bike was now in place. 2 1/2 hours to go. There were say three other bikes in the transition and they probably belonged to people working at the race.
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