I normally moan a lot and find something to criticise, but in a break with what has become tradition; the Standard Distance Duathlon hosted by Challenging Events was pretty much as close to perfect as you could ask. Highly recommended, and I will certainly be back again next year. I could stop there, but I feel that a little mini race report would be somewhat lacking if I didn’t explain a little more. So what happened at the Thruxton Duathlon?
The Big Picture
They were actually hosting two Duathlons today a Standard Distance (Worlds Qualifier) in the morning and a Sprint in the afternoon. Which in itself made for a nice day where you could spectate the other athletes and there was much more atmosphere. Probably a feature of having a closed venue, but so much better than having several different races concurrently on the same course – meaning you have no idea who you are battling against or if you should chase down the dude in front only to discover that he / she is doing a third of the distance.
It rained. No honestly… it properly rained. Biblically! We all tell ourselves that we train in the rain because we might have to race in the rain. What can I say it was a dry Summer and I was properly out of practice! Some smart arse asked if I had done an “event” before because he thought wearing sunglasses in the rain indicated that I didn’t have clue. I have to wear glasses as I can’t see without them. I have prescription varifocals. Anyway it didn’t matter as I beat him 😉 Perhaps it was his first event!!
Just before I go into the break down of the race; I have been to a few races recently that have properly cut corners. No teeshirt, no post race food (and NO some grubby Haribo and a few cheap mini flapjack in single bite packets doesn’t count!), no energy products on the course, miserable / inept volunteers that frankly might as well not be there… Well NONE OF THAT TODAY!! 🙂
The post race “buffet” was amazing (savoury and sweet), a really decent quality (free) teeshirt, friendly HELPFUL team running it. It was a pleasure to be there. Which other event organisers should take note of and essentially get their shit together!
Run 1 : 11.6k 59:30
Obviously the event is constrained by the length of the circuit. The first run being closer to 12k than 10k. It was raining (as I may have mentioned) but not cold, so I manfully decided to just wear my trisuit and trust my skin to be waterproof. It was and that was exactly the right call (no rain jacket).
Having now taken part in several qualifying events, I absolutely expect the field to be “of quality” (fast) and they will go off at pace. Difference is they can maintain it! First run was 3 laps and a quick peak of my watch a third of the way round showed I was a bit quick (4:20 m/km) for me and not sustainable. Interesting that having made more of an effort to taper properly, going off at speed felt easy. But that wasn’t what I had trained for or indeed my race plan. So I backed off and watched Team GB vanish off into the distance.
Settled into my own pace but was feeling surprisingly good. Plan was to run about 5:30’s but I was a bit quicker most of the time. No drama, got soaked and got to T1 in under an hour. Off to a cracking start.
T1 : 1:33
Changing shoes in the rain is not pleasant – even if everything is already wet. Have started leaving some energy drink in transition, couple of mouthfuls, helmet on and off we go… Not a lot went wrong the time was just a function of the distance!
Bike : 38.6k 1:17:12
Another 10 laps, you really get to know the circuit by the time you have been around half a dozen times. Luckily I was checking the distance as I thought I was on lap 8 but as I approached the pit lane I realised I had done 38k so must actually be on lap 10. Counting to ten appears too hard for me these days.
Despite normally hating laps and finding car tracks dull. Today it seemed fun! Maybe it was the constant overtakes, trying to improve the racing lines… I don’t know, but it was different and fun.
The bike leg went well. Time on the TT bike all summer paid off, and could quite happily and comfortably stay aero on the extensions for the distance. No braking and got the technical bits pretty much nailed. No idea what my power was as I still use my Garmin Vector 3’s (to be part of the upgrade for next season to ones that actually work). Just rode on HR and speed. I was pleased that I kept in mind that a Duathlon is NOT a TT and therefore one should NOT chase the same kind of numbers. One has to run too. Therefore one is a f**king multi-sport athlete NOT a time triallist.
The other thing that worked was was eating on the bike. Improvement on last time by ensuring the packet was open. I could do with a better drink set-up and probably something better to eat than Trek Bars… More to work on for next time.
T2 : 2:11
This is probably where it started to hurt. Trying to get off the bike was not as easy as I imagined. Essentially hips, knees and ankles had all locked up (particularly left side) and my hamstrings / glutes were not quite the ticket either. Managed to get off rather than fall off, but even walking with the bike felt like the tin man from the wizard of oz. This was going to be problematic.
In fact even just changing shoes was tricky as I couldn’t bend down and my left foot was properly sore.
Run 2 : 3.8k 23:40
One lap. That’s all you have to do – one lap. Now get your arse in gear and start running. I shuffled out, foot hurting, legs locked, and somehow managed to stumble along at about 6:15 m/km. A little slower than planed, but hey still in Z2 Easy Zone. It wasn’t pretty and there was nothing that gave any clue to me knowing what I was doing. I was also very much at the tail end so not many others around. A couple were still finishing off on the bike, that gave me a bit of a boost.
But the wheels didn’t fall off completely. And I kept a jog going rather than a walk run so that was all good. It stopped raining. In the last kilometre of the run, the bloody sun came out. Pah.
Final Analysis 2:44:08
In a masochistic way I enjoy the qualifiers because of the quality of the field. It also means that I tend to come last, but actually I am OK with that as one day I won’t. And then I will be making real progress – as these events tend to attract the best amateurs in the UK.
It was a good day! 2:44:08 was a new PB for me – and I am very happy with that 🙂 My previous best being 2:49:59 earlier in the season at Clumber Park. I have had some very poor races this year, so it was fab to finish on a high.
Placing wise, well I have already set the seen: Category 6 / 6 (that will be last then), Gender 60 / 65 and overall 75th of 82. So it could have been worse.
And that is a wrap for this year. Time to have a little rest, set up my winter training plan and mix it all up. Plan my calendar for next year and of course eat too much at Xmas! Next year will broadly be the same, but with a few extra TT goals that I have bubbling away.
Oh and what of Graham Duathlon at the end of October? With no teeshirt, no post race food, no proper aid stations… Not worth the money! Of course I am sure I will do some of their events next year, but not as a first choice… In contrast I will certainly be heading down south for a third go at Thruxton next Autumn. Another “Qualifier” I believe…