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Duathlon World Championships Race Recap 

Duathlon World Championships - Las Vegas Runners

Las Vegas Runners - Melissa FarellLet me begin by saying that none of this could have been made possible by the large group of supporters including my family, Jeremy Wallace for supporting my training, my favorite Las Vegas Runners run group, and all of my clients who have been so positive throughout the entire process.  I couldn’t have done it without ALL of you and for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

We arrived in Vigo, Spain after a countless number of hours of flying and layovers.  I have never been so excited to see a piece of luggage come off of the belt as I was when I saw my bike box.  One of my biggest fears was getting to Spain, sans bike.  After spending the first couple of days recouping, getting s little run in, we decided to do a dry run on the bike course.  What could be better then a straight downhill into town, only to get to the 5+ mile uphill bike run, on a wet road, with a narrow shoulder and heavy traffic?  Needless to say nerves were high among the group.  In case there weren’t enough nerves going around, the wet bike course outlook didn’t help things.  We all spent the next day resting and seeing a little bit of the town.  We walked the run course, which consisted of 16 turns(yes, 16 turns), a short steep uphill in the very beginning which waned into a slight incline, before heading through the cobblestone streets of town which took you on a fast and beautiful downhill to the water’s edge.  From there, you run into transition where the last 200m on the track took you to the finish line.  It was an absolutely beautiful run course, well laid out in terms of logistics and elevation change.

Saturday, the day before the race and the plan was, and always is, to rest up and not do anything to strenuous.  Easier said then done, especially when racing abroad.  After a day of getting things prepped, making sure to eat and hydrate throughout the day, we were set to drop off the bikes at transition…..starting at 8:30PM.  It wouldn’t be so bad if my race was not starting at 8:30am.  Lines of athletes, from all over the world, waiting in line as we get our bikes checked, our uniforms checked, our ID’s checked, and basically looked over like we were going through TSA.  By the time we got in, set the bikes up and got back to the hotel, and had dinner, it was 12:00AM.  I’ve run races on 4 hours of sleep before, but it didn’t fully put me at ease.  Non-ideal conditions create stronger athletes.

Race day, wake up call 4AM, quick breakfast of bananas, Belvita, water, a little Gatorade and we were off.  I must say the nerves were a little high, but my consolation is to throw on the music and try and stay in my relaxed and focused zone.  One of the hardest things about racing, in ANY race, is NOT getting sucked into the other racer’s chatter about the race & their nerves.  If you start your race calm and collected, the chances of having the race you planned on having are higher.  We get into transition, set up helmets, shoes, check out the run, and it’s onto the warm up.  One thing I have learned is that you do on race day just what you have done in training.  If your warm up consists of squats, leg swings, and other dynamic drills, then you DO THEM come race day.  if you jog 1 mile before your runs, then you run that 1 mile before your race.  Stay with what got you there in the first place.  After the males take off, all of the females line up(it’s time!).  On Your Mark…..the horn sounds!  I have to say for the first 5K run, I felt good, I felt really good, so good that I wondered if I should have pushed harder on that run.  I get into transition, helmet on, shoes on, bike off, and we are going.  Hard to run on soft muddy grass with bike shoes.  I get on my bike and I have so much mud and grass in my right cleat that I cannot clip in.  After several failed attempts to knock it out, I realize I need to dismount in order to clear it out.  Screw that!  So I decided to ride the entire bike course with one foot clipped in, and one foot praying that it doesn’t slip off.  No way I’m getting off that bike unless it’s to put my run shoes on.  After a 5+ mile uphill ascent(about 180m in about 4.5 miles) and fast descent, it was time for the final run.  I will say I felt great, other then the normal “my legs feel like jello” feeling.  One more lap on the run, through town.  As I entered the stadium, with the fans in the grandstand cheering, it was probably one of the best feelings I have had at a race.  The energy of the athletes, the energy of the locals, and the energy of those who have travelled from all over the world to cheer on the athletes, it was amazing! As soon as I finished, I vowed to go back to compete again.  It was too amazing an experience to not.  Finish time: 1:24.52 1st run: 24:30, bike: 43:43, 2nd run: 12:43.  11th in my age group, not the best placing, but a tough field.  I was happy with my time and I am determined to represent in 2016 and to go in stronger & faster then I did this year.

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An Athlete’s Track to the World Championships

Team USA - Las Vegas Runners

Team USA - Las Vegas RunnersBy: Melissa Farrell

“So, I qualified to represent Team USA at the Duathlon World Championships in Spain in 2014??  Do I want a spot on the team?  Um, YEAH!”  That is pretty much what went through my head when I found out that I had qualified for Team USA after the National Championships in AZ last year.  I will be honest, I am not an elite athlete, I have only been running seriously for about 3-4 years, I love running ultra distances, and until 2012 I had no idea the duathlon was an event.  Trying to motivate clients, I had decided to explore the possibility of competing in a triathlon in June 2013.  As anyone who knows me knows, I am not, shall we say a FAN of swimming.  I like to be on my feet…..on land……breathing oxygen.  When the option to compete in the duathlon option came up, I jumped on it!  Running & Biking, you mean no swimming?  I’M IN!  After placing 3rd female overall, the journey began.

From there I went to Nationals and in two months we will be on my way to Pontevedra, Spain to compete against the best in the world.  It may sound intimidating to most, but the way I look at it is I have a chance to compete against some awesome athletes and see how they race, learn from them, rub elbows with them, and experience the atmosphere of a World Championship race.  I’m going out to do the best I can and have been putting all my efforts into my training & preparation for this race.  It’s intense when I think about it, but I feel very fortunate to have such a great support group in Vegas to allow me to experience such an event.

In January of this year, I began seriously training and prepping my legs for the fast pace of a 5K run, 20K bike, and a 2.5K run.  Getting my body used to jumping from one regimen to another and then finishing off with pretty much a sprint to the finish.  Now, for those of you who are runners, I want you to imagine preparing to run a mile, as fast as you can, after doing 3 sets of heavy squats and some hill repeats and oh, throw some weighted step ups in there too.  I remember the first time I stepped off my bike, put on my shoes, and began to run.  I swear my legs were no longer stable and I waited for the jelly to force me to the pavement.  But like any training adaptation, that’s just what my body did, adapt.  Over the weeks things have become easier, speeds have increased, transitions have become smoother, and the confidence has increased.

As we approach the final two months of training I am feeling great!  I know I have put in the work and I see it paying off.  I no longer about what others think because I am on my recovery day and running a 10:00/mile or biking for 15 miles at a snails pace.  I do my own training, on my own schedule, with my own rules and that is exactly what I encourage everyone to do.  Set a goal and get with someone who will help you reach that goal whether it be to run your first 5K or PR in your marathon or try out a triathlon this year.  If you want it and you put the work in, you will get it and it’s that simple.  I will be keeping updates on my progress for those interested and look forward to sharing my successes come race day.  I appreciate ALL of your support and only wish I knew a way to say thank you to everyone.  And a special thank you to my biggest support system and the best training partner I could ask for.  Jeremy, you have helped me stay on track and been there through all the ups & downs(as in ANY training program) and for that and much more, I thank you!

Viva Espana!!

Melissa Farrell
Co-Founder & Running Coach, Las Vegas Runners
Ultra runner & World Championship Duathlete

Melissa Farrell - Running Coach