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montageI won’t name names, but one of us pouted about waking up early, and driving 1.5 hours to Fort Richie for a duathlon.    One of us, doesn’t like getting up early.

As Paddy & I stood outside staring at our mostly unused RV wondering how to solve this problem – we were struck by a V8 moment.   Wow — we could go camping – in our RV – at the site of the duathlon.  No need to wake up at O-DARK-Hundred – we could just roll out of bed, have a leisurely cup-of-joe, and meander just moments before our event starts — to the starting line.

Team JW and hubby crew of Paddy and Chuck,  along with a pet-support  crew of cat Soxy, and puppy Riley — made our way out to Fort Richie on Saturday afternoon.   Stocked with enough food for an entire week – we embarked on our less than 24-hour camping trip to Cascade Maryland.   The beauty of the Fort Richie duathlon – is that the host allows us to camp for FREE on the premises — a setting of an old fort, no longer used, in the Catoctin Mountains.    We parked along the Fort barracks, to a secluded spot near a shady tree – with a front lawn of green grass, that gently rolled downward, toward a man-made lake.   My brother Chuck setup his boy-scout era vintage screened in room – and voila – chairs were everywhere, we were chillin’ and the thought of getting up early was long gone.

P1000214Keep in mind that we are located inside of a Fort – that is no longer used – and no one lives there.  Located in the Catoctin Mountains, in Cascade MD with a population of 1100 people – it should be pretty quiet here right?

As darkness fell, we quickly discovered that the roads inside the unused Fort are converted to a NASCAR event.   People who own the noisiest motorcycles come out of the woodwork – and soon the Fort comes alive.   After a few hours of not being able to sleep due to the NASCAR 500 – the rains appeared.   Apparently the NASCAR Fort Richie races are called off when it rains.  Optimism soared within Camp RV – that now, maybe we had a chance to go to sleep.

Nope.  Apparently cat Soxy became obsessed with taunting puppy Riley – creating the most fascinating animal sounds, and this went on for hours.   Finally, I gave up on the idea of getting any sleep.   I did notice that the one who did not want to get up early, was soundly snoring and sleeping.   The rest of us were wide-eyed and fully awake.  Sigh.

By 6AM, Team JW (Jane & Jill) were up and moving – and taking care of the day’s most important details.   What to wear.  In the rain.  The rain gods were dumping water, and I kept thinking about how challenging the bike route would be.  Thankfully, we were doing a duathlon relay – and the more experienced bicyclist – would be taking on the challenging bike course today.   Support crew Paddy and Chuck were busy making sure that everyone had coffee.

A special treat was on stage for us today.   Cousins Greg and Julie would arrive early on race morning — allowing all of this to morph into a family reunion and post race brunch.  This was about to become the most fun and memorable duathlon ever!   Hang time with the cousins….but wait!   This translates to fans!   We are going to have to perform!!   And suddenly, relay Team JW needed to put out our very best effort — in light of so many supporters expecting a good showing!   Uh oh.

Team JW consisted of moi – runner girl, and Jill – the bike chic.   The Olympic distance duathlon consists of a 5K run…40K bike…and a 10K run.   As the runners lined up at the start, I had memories of last year’s duathlon – where I was left in the dust right at the gate.  I vowed someone would stay behind me this time – and looked around to see if anyone appeared athletically challenged.  Everyone looks very fit.  Aiii.   Jill asked me to predict my 5K time.  I really had no idea.  I’ve been training for a marathon – everything is slow.  I told her to take a nap.

The run starts – and sure enough everyone begins by sprinting.  “Stay in the box Jane” I reminded myself, as I was already breathing too heavy in the first 1/4 mile.  The course is a mixture of uphill and and flats in the first two-thirds of the course – with one steep climb just before mile 2.   After that, the course gets faster, as it descends, and returns back to lake-level.  I had forgotten my GPS watch – but knew that my heavy breathing meant the pace was a step above slo-poke.   I reasoned that once I get past mile 2 – it was mostly downhill.  A good place to catch my breath.   I arrived back into the transition area with Fluffy Jill screaming wildly – and all I can remember is that I was very glad to be done with that running!

P1000238Fluffy took off in a bike sprint out of the transition area in her bike shoes – and before I could blink my eye – she was gone!   That girl can ride.   I knew that I wouldn’t have a lot of time to recover before she returned.   Temporarily leaving the transition area — was reunited with my cousins and support crew Chuck (and Riley) and Paddy.   Everyone is equipped with cameras (except Riley).    I sure hoped we could make this performance worthy of such a photo shoot!

While I was busy catching up on old times with family, Fluffy was busy doing her trademark Downhill Jill on the huge 8 mile descent.   Jill can rest her chin on the handlebars, totally aerodynamic and feather light.   The course would then take her out on another 9 miles of country roads – where the cows and horses stare down this strange moving mass of cyclists.   The return back to the Fort first makes you reclaim that hill — by pitting you against gravity – and climbing for a whopping 8 miles.  This is the part where your quads burn and smoke, and there is nothing you can do about it.  It’s grueling.

Within NO TIME at all — Jill comes flying back into the transition area.   Paddy had been ready waiting for her arrival to capture the moment on video.   As the sprint distance bicyclists arrived, Paddy kept looking for the sight of pink and the long lean lines of Jill.  Just as he looked down at his camera to press a few buttons (like guys do)…he looked back up – and Jill had already passed by.   It was just that fast.

P1000162In the transition area, I whipped off Jill’s timing chip, and re-applied it to my leg.  Time for a 10K run.  I have my GPS watch now – “Stay in the box Jane” I kept repeating.  Don’t do, what you don’t do.    With so many family members supporting – we are now competing for Olympic Duathlon podium gold.   With all those supporters – we need to take top honors.

Team JW has a pact.  Anyone within sight distance ahead with a 55 or greater written on their leg has to be passed.  That’s just how we roll.   There was only one lady who fit this description – and for the team, I passed her at the 3 mile marker.   Fluffy joined with me in solidarity for the final 1/2 mile – and we each seemed to discover a little more giddy in our giddy-up.   That last 1/2 mile was at an 8:08 min/mile pace.   Team JW had done it!   Podium gold in the Olympic DU relay!   Inspired by family — let the reunion (and food) begin!!

Special thanks to our wonderful support crew and photo contributions — Greg, Julie, Paddy and Chuck!!   More photos here.