Duathlete! Me!

It was a morning of challenges, the first being able to get up at 05:45 this morning in order to eat early enough for my 08:10 start at the duathlon. I scoffed down a couple of bits of toast which was the second struggle. Bleugh.. food before 09:30. Still, toast and jam at 06:00 was going to feel better than no energy half way round a 20 mile circuit a couple of hours later.

It was 6 degrees celsius when we arrived at the venue, a large water reservoir owned by the local water company. The air was completely still and the sun was beginning to burn through the mist to reveal what turned out to be a gorgeous cloudless 17 degree sunny day.

We set about putting the bikes together and getting kitted up. A glance around the carpark revealed body upon body of lycra covered triathletes placing the wheels in their carbon framed bikes with the solid carbon disk wheels at the back and timetrial bars at the front. If I wasn’t feeling out of my league already right now I was feeling like an anorexic at a pie eating contest.

The transition area was set up with scaffolding racks on which there were numbers. I found my number and hooked my bike up by the seat taking note of how others had left their shoes and helmet, open and facing the right way ready to step in. The experienced had brought a small towel on which they’d laid their stuff out on to save getting wet from the grass. Then I made my way to the start line.

Wil was leaving in the 3rd wave so he was able to come and see me off for the start of my race. The starting horn sounded and a pack of about 30 of us left. My aim here was to go steady which proved difficult since most of the pack was flying past me, leaving me plodding through a cloud of dust. There was an immediate urge to keep up. I began to approach the dam crossing where Digger and Cameron were marshalling. I glanced over my shoulder and felt instantly picked up when I saw a group of people running some distance behind me. My aim for the moment – to keep them there.

Cam and Digger cheered me on over the dam where at the end I followed the track down through a narrow wooden gate, up a steep stony sand track and onto a minor country lane which lead down a long hill and back up a slow curvy incline before turning into the main road leading back to the transition area. Two of the people running behind me passed me on the last straight. I finally arrived back at the transition area feeling good.

The change into my cycling shoes and helmet was quick and fairly easy, I fastened my helmet and lifted my bike down from the scaffolding and jogged clumsily to the mounting point. I struggled to get my  running legs coordinated enough to clip my shoes into my pedals! With both feet fastened in I got up on the pedals and watched as my odometer climbed into double figures.

The 14 mile cycling route was something I had trained and was fully prepared for. What I was not prepared for were the serious roadie cyclists who spend many days in a week hammering out the miles and competing in serious road race competitions and time trials. Wil has done many of these competitions and I can see where he gets his very ‘matey’ close up biking style from because in these races you don’t want to go miles around someone when you pass. WHY GO MILES AROUND WHEN YOU CAN NIP IN SO CLOSLEY TO ME YOU CAN BRUSH MY ELBOW WITH YOURS AND THEN NEARLY TAKE MY FRONT WHEEL OUT. For a split second the ginger rage kicked off and I was fixing to get nasty and start reaching out to punch their brake lever in retaliation but I thought against it and just braced myself when they hammered past me on my modest little 1.5″ tyred Bontrager. I might not have been flying down the road at 30mph but I was dead on target for the speed I wanted to carry and I can’t say it didn’t feel a little boost when I passed one of the speedy guys pulled over with mechanical problems.

The cycle route was smooth carriageway snaking it’s way out into some beautiful countryside and along side the river orwell estuary. There were 3 or 4 fast downhills and for every downhill there was a fairly long but not too painful climb up again. Only one of these hills made my thighs burn and that had been right after I’d left the start and before my cycling legs kicked in. Fortunately this was the point where I passed Wil who came running towards me on the final leg of his first 5k. We exchanged encouragement and continued on. On the last hill the dreaded happened. My chain decided to pop off the front ring leaving me with no recourse but to jump off the bike and rehitch it. Problem there was that my glove got caught between the chain and the ring so I had to back it off again before fixing it. In total I lost about a minute with chain probs not to mention the time it took me to get my rhythm back up for the final stretch.

The interesting thing about the ride was that firstly I was taking it easy again not knowing how I’d feel for my final 5k run so I should be able to better that time next time, but secondly it took about a 1/4 of the route before my cycling legs kicked in. I felt a noticable change in where the strength in my muscles was coming from and where I’d ached previously I ached no longer. Aided in part by a bottle of Powerade and a couple of mouthfulls of jelly beans I received little spurts of power along the straights and even managed to pass someone going up a hill. The trouble with cycling legs is that they are much more useless at running than running legs are for cycling. So when the time came to dismount and run my bike back across the grass to the scaffolding racks it seemed like my legs had been replaced by two limp spaghetti noodles and that I was running through a half set bowl of jelly(o).

On the second 5k I started out very slowly indeed. It took a good 2k before I found a rhythm and by this time I was repeatly telling myself to just stop and walk. Another voice in my head was shouting down the other and insisting that I carry on running because if I walked I’d feel pathetic later. So somehow I carried on thinking ‘just plod one foot infront of the other and repeat’ and making repetative pattern sounds with my breathing which I then timed my steps to. Then I saw the woman who I’d been following closely up to the point my chain came unhitched. Feeling good that I’d managed to close in on her on foot I focussed on catching her up and it helped as I stepped across the finish line right behind her at 1:52:01.

Wil went around the course well too running around the same times as me but making up considerable time on the bike. He thinks if I had a roadbike I’d have had a comparable time but I think if I hadn’t been biking in conservative energy mode I could have made up another few minutes anyway.

My splits for the 5k Run/23k Bike/5k Run were

25:58 (105) 57:20 (105) 28:43 (101)

The number in brackets is the position I came overall for that section. So I wasn’t leading the race but you want to know the best part about that number? IT WASN’T LAST!!!!!

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3 Comments »

  1. mrs hojo said

    Brilliant, really well done!
    ‘Course you weren’t last..
    xc

  2. Lindy said

    Yayy! I knew you wouldn’t be last. I had faith in you the whole time. Did anyone get pics? I’d love to see them.

  3. Foxsden said

    Thanks! There are some videos which I will upload as soon as I can and I believe Digger may have snapped a picture or two so I’ll see what he’s got. I did notice some photographers around the course so I’m keeping an eye on the organisers website to see if they link to any.

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