Failure is apparently the seed of growth and success. It’s also bloody frustrating … especially when it’s caused by your own mistakes. I committed the mother of all cock ups at this weekend’s Darley Moor Sprint Duathlon and accidentally went around for an extra lap on the bike leg. I’d been in quite a good position in the race, but immediately lost a lot of places. I dug deep and carried on to finish the race, but it ended up being a hugely disappointing result.
I’ve been doing a lot of racing this year. A mixture of cycling time trials, running races and Sprint Duathlons. They are all relatively similar, sustained threshold events. The difference with the duathlon is that there’s a lot more to think about than just running or riding as hard as you can.
I wasn’t quite able to hang onto the front group for the first 5K run. It was a windy day so it would have been useful to hang in the pack, but my brain started sending some pretty negative messages so I dropped the pace and let them go. With cycling, when I’m pushing harder than I can sustain, I tend to feel the lactic burn in my legs or a shortness of breath. But with running, my brain just starts yelling at me to stop. I’ve read stuff by other people saying that the key to success is pushing harder than you thought possible. But surely this is all relative? How do they know how hard I’m already pushing? Maybe I’m already pushing my body harden then they could ever achieve. Personally I think it’s more about pacing yourself for the length of the event and not pushing yourself into the red. And trying not to think too hard about all of this mid-race!
Most of my training is done solo. And most of my cycling races are also solo – with time trials, each rider sets off at 1 minute intervals and rides alone. So I found it a mental challenge to block out the panting, gasping and heavy-footed crunching behind me as I led the second group around the gravelly 5K running route.
I completed a relatively smooth transition and then set about overtaking people on the bike. The 20K ride was 8 laps of Darley Moor race track. Unfortunately my bike computer was playing up – I left it running on Auto-Pause when I dropped my bike into transition pre-race to avoid any mid-race button pushing. As a result it failed to pick up my heart-rate monitor and power meter, but most unusually it failed to record the full distance of the course. I should have relied on my ability to count to 8, but I got a bit confused and decided to go around for another lap as the distance on the bike computer was short. As soon as I saw a few bikes in transition I realised I had made a mistake but there was no turning back, so I continued on for another soul-destroying lap.
After another clean transition I headed out for the run. I’d lost about 25 places and seriously thought about just stopping. But somehow a ‘DNF’ seemed worse than a poor position so I kept going. I overtook a few runners and finally caught up another as I approached the finish. However, his family were all there shouting encouragement for their Dad to finish. Rather than ruining somebody else’s day I decided to abstain from the battle for 31st place and showed mercy by allowing a distance of a few metres between us. It made me feel slightly better.
There were some real positives from the race. It was probably the biggest duathlon race I’ve been in and, until the mistake I was in the race. I was one of the fastest on the bike leg and my running is reaching a competitive level. My transitions were smooth and I felt like I paced it well. These are the things I need to take forward for the next block of training. On to the next one…