About Me

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Ex chubby kid and adult, I took up running in my 20s and progressed onto triathlon in 2012. Still learning the ropes and which distances suit me, I've completed every distance from super sprint to Ironman - focussing on Middle distance this year.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Wildman Duathlon

I decided to do the off-road series as a way of avoiding boredom over the winter, I'd won vouchers (at Windsor, Bananaman and the Diamond Tri - thanks Human Race!) that would pay for free entry to the first 2 races in the series, and I'd been encouraged by my coach Dr. J about doing some races tired, the thinking is that it is good for mental strength particularly for the later stages of Ironman when everything screams at you that slowing down would be the smart option. I was a bit nervous in the lead up to the race both because I’m not a very experienced mountain biker and because Paul Fitz was racing, he’s a strong athlete who works very hard, and while he’s been close in all the races we’ve done together this year I’ve managed to have an unbeaten record this year, which I’m keen to maintain!

At the start I’d got a bit distracted chatting to Paul and we found ourselves squarely mid pack when the gun went, so the first KM was spent squeezing through gaps trying not to get too delayed,  after this my focus was pushing hard and keeping my hr around the 170 mark and keeping any eye out for any tricky bits that might catch me out on the bike. I stopped for a brief drink at the aid station and began to start thinking about the end of the run, it certainly didn’t come quite as quickly as I hoped as according to my Garmin the course was more like 10.5k!  I Finished the first run in 44:53 about 2 minutes behind the overall winner in 18th place.

T1 was a bit of a faff, mountain bike shoes are never going to be as quick to change as tri shoes, as well as not wanting to stand directly on the grass, and trying to get my helmet on over the buff I had on made for quite a lot of faffing, as well as grabbing a gel as I wasn’t sure I'd be able to do it on the go, I lost about 30 second to the leaders here so need to sort this out for next time.

Bike -  I was in a fairly clear space of the first few hundred meters of the bike so settled into a bit of a rhythm, I’m not that confident of the grip levels going round corners but it probably wasn’t until 2km in that I got overtaken by anyone, and there weren’t exactly hundreds going past, in general the bike was a hoot, with some fast straight descents, and climbs that tested both my resolve to stay seated and leg strength to the limit, I stopped on both laps to grab a quick drink as I hadn’t put a water bottle on the bike, but I got through without too much challenge and lost about 4 places overall here, much better than planned, I'd managed to eat a gel while on the bike as well to keep energy levels topped up, which avoided eating while running which usually leads to stomach cramps for me. I’d lost about 10 minutes to the eventual winner here which is a pretty good result given my lack of MTB experience.

T2 was much better as there was less faffing: shoe change, gloves and helmet off and visor on. Only about 9 seconds lost to the winner here.

Run 2 was on a completely different course and after 300m of flat running on tarmac with wooden legs and numb feet there was a sign pointing at a couple of rickety old steps and a huge sand bank beyond, which there were a few people scrambling up ahead of me! This was a bit of a shock but quite fun, the character of r2 was set then, much more technical, challenging and genuinely off road, as the race avoided all paths and even went through a freezing cold water ditch that was about a foot deep (well maybe not a foot from this pic, but still...)!
By this stage my focus was on going as fast as possible on tired legs and felt I put in a good effort, but as is often the way at the end of triathlon I felt ok and able to push but this just wasn’t represented in actual speed, something to think about for the future.

In summary then, 17th overall (including one relay team that I don’t usually count in results) and 3rd in age group, I was very pleased with my effort and performance throughout, there are a few areas that I can make quick wins in time for round two on the 5th and I want to look into why I didn’t have the speed I wanted in r2 as a longer term  improvement.

Overall a great race, and I’m looking forward to the next one in the series, I’d rather have distances that were closer to advertised, but only for pacing purposes, as I’m sure the extra distance was all good training!

5 Things to focus on for next time

  1. Race head wear – probably a thinner buff that will not make me too hot on r1 and will fit under the helmet neatly will save time.
  2. Don’t faff in t1 - be organised, and practise putting on MTB shoes
  3. Get to the front at the start to save having to do a load of work in the first km just to get ahead of the crowd.
  4. Be a bit braver on the mountain bike, they have huge amounts of grip!
  5. Take lots of confidence from this, top20 is a great result for a first outing at a distance, top 10 is definitely achievable with a these small tweaks

(thanks to Human Race for the pictures!)

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