Doing the Dirty Du with my Daughter...

I have asked my daughter for the past 4 years to join me in CITA's Dirty Duathlon as a relay team where she would do the running portion and I would do the biking portion. I had no illusions of winning, just doing a father/daughter activity and participating for the CITA cause.

Year one response: "Nope!"
So I did it solo.

Year two response: "Nope!"
So I did the race with a college student of mine who was trying to get back into shape and lose some weight.

Year three response: "Nope!"
So I did it solo.

Year four response: "Do I have to?" My response: "Yes, I would appreciate it."
Family pressure kicked in and she basically resigned to the force and agreed to do it. My summary of that exchange is way too brief compared to the 48 hours leading up to Sunday's race. You'll have to trust me on that...

I got her out of bed on Sunday to come and do the new "Beginner" race the Dirty Du added this year. She was only willing to run for 2 miles and I had to be at work by 2:30 which meant I couldn't do the 1 pm longer race (with her or by myself). Her face was filled with more anger and disgust for making her do this to begin with, but I was banking on her having memories for years to come of the father-daughter effort. Yeah, right. Try and convince a 16 year old smack in the middle of "my parents are so uncool and weird" years about any warm and fuzzy relationships with their parents.

We got registered and I did a little warm up on the bike while she stretched and looked glum. The runners took off at 11 am and I think her anger helped her jump off the line in 3rd place going up the first hill of hillside. By the end of the hillside section, she had dropped back to fourth from last place. By the time she got to the start/finish area where I was waiting, she had dropped two spots (only one person behind her). One of the guys ahead of her racing solo was still changing his shoes in the pit area, so I was able to take off on the bike ahead of him. I knew I could catch up to some on the bike, but not sure in just one lap of only 3 miles how I would be able to make up very much time.

As I approached the first rider ahead of me, I quickly realized that this was the Beginner Du and to be careful in passing as I saw how cautiously slow he was riding. I called out ahead and was able to pass him before the first bridge. I didn't see anybody else on Hillside, and flew through Hillside with only one error (didn't get downshifted before crossing the creek and was stuck in a huge gear which meant I couldn't climb out of there and didn't want to break my already broken and repaired chain). I pushed the bike up a few feet and hopped on to finish the climb.

After the pavement section and heading up into the woods, I spotted another rider ahead of me a few hundred yards. By the time I reached the top of that climb I had narrowed that gap to 100 feet. I caught him and passed him on the first descent. I kept pushing and started picking off riders one by one. Obviously, being the Beginner Du, handling skills, and negotiating singletrack at race speed gave me an unfair advantage. I came up behind one rider who immediately increased his pace and settled into a nice CAT II XC race speed. Unfortunately, with me on his tail making him nervous and pushing his pace, he didn't have the skill to handle one turn and went down hard. I asked if he was okay and he said he was fine, so I forged ahead. I caught two more riders in the final singletrack section and passed them before dropping the chain onto the big ring for the final climb and descent out of the woods. I stood and sprinted up the pavement to the finish line. In the end, I had made up a lot of time and passed everyone except the lead runner/rider who had about a 4 minute gap on everyone else.

When I rolled across the finish line, my daughter came up to me with a perplexed/surprised look and asked me how I was able to pass all those people and come across the line in 2nd place overall. Her "glum" and "angered" look turned to one of surprise, joy and maybe even a small hint of "warm and fuzzy Dad/Daughter accomplished something together" expression. Who knows, but my goal of creating some sort of memory that she could have just may have been met? Score one for Dad!!!

Not that it was any sort of race accomplishment for me as I should not be riding in the Beginner Race (especially judging by the negotiating skills of those I passed), but for her 1st ever event as the beginner and joining her old, uncool and weird Dad - I think she was tickled we ended up 1st in the relay and 2nd overall. At least she was speaking to me in the car on the way home and sat down to have lunch with me on our deck where she actually smiled.

That's no guarantee she will do the longer event with me next year, but I'll try and use the warm and fuzzy feelings to make it happen. ;-]

Thanks to CITA for a fun event, perfect weather and the cool pink socks!!!

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