I kicked off my racing for 2018 with the ‘Chilly Duathlon’ at Castle Combe race circuit in Chippenham. My cycling club-mates made me fully aware that a duathlon is a major breach of the cycling rules but I’d been doing a reasonable amount of running over the winter and felt like putting it to good use.
The duathlon consists of a 2 mile run around the perimeter of the circuit, followed by a 10 mile cycle (5 laps of the race track) before finishing off with another 2 mile run. My previous best was 56 minutes, a time I was hoping to smash … mostly due to the increasing aerodynamic arsenal that I’ve acquired since then. However, while it’s possible to buy time on the bike with new slippery weaponry, there’s not much you can do to improve your running apart from good old fashioned training.
I scraped under 12 minutes for the first run before being uncharacteristically faffy in the transition and taking a minute and 15 seconds to get going again. Running in cycling shoes before coming to a complete stop to clamber on my bike, I probably looked like some piss-head in high-heels trying to get a piggy-back. If I want to get quicker I may need to practice some of that stuff.
My heart rate when I run is always higher than my heart rate at threshold on the bike. About 10 beats higher. So the first lap on the bike felt dreadful. I wasn’t going fast enough, my heart felt like it was about to explode and my shoulders were burning from swinging for 12 minutes before being locked in the TT position. It felt like the thread was totally unravelling.
Fortunately I had a moment of clarity and decided to just ease off the pace and bring my heart rate down to a more normal level. It seemed incongruous to slow down mid-race but within a minute I was at a more comfortable level and able to focus on riding faster. For the following four laps I had the satisfaction of seeing my average speed climb.
My bike dismount was another stuttering display before I ran into the transition zone and failed to find my spot. During the first transition I’d located my bike by looking at the numbers of all the neighbouring bikes. But the transition zone was now mostly empty of bikes and I wasn’t the only owner of blue running shoes. My visor was steaming up so I took my helmet off to get a better look and ended up being stopped by the marshall and given a time penalty for unclipping my helmet before racking my bike. It was pure comedy and wasted a lot of valuable time.
I started my final run completely vexed and well off the pace. But once my back had relaxed from the aggressive bike position and I’d stopped mumbling naughty words under my breath about the time penalty I actually decided to start running properly and finished strong in a total time of 51 minutes and 24 seconds.
If you learn from your mistakes, then this duathlon was an epic learning experience! It was also really enjoyable and well organised so I look forward to doing it again some time and trying to smash my new PB.