For the last 2 weeks I have felt healthy. In the context of this winter this is a cause for minor celebration. Already, my entry into the Fylde Coast half-marathon had fallen by the wayside (flu), so I was somewhat relieved to be able to line up on the start line at Oulton Park on a beautiful early spring day feeling good and having managed a couple of weeks of uninterrupted training. I knew that I was carrying more weight than I was used to, and I had nowhere near enough miles in the legs to be in any way competitive, but I thought I had enough in the tank to get round. And so it proved.
This was my 1st duathlon and I wasn’t sure what to expect. The format of long run/bike/short run isn’t one that I am at all familiar with and questioning the club locals I had already decided that holding back a little on the 1st run leg would be the best tactic. I also knew that the field would be super competitive as the conditions were perfect and the race was a world championships qualifier. Sure enough, there was a cavalry charge from the whistle and I quickly found myself drifting towards the back of the field of about 350. I stuck to my plan, though and set a very sedate 44 minutes for the 8.6km run leg (297th fastest!). I was hoping that my relative strength on the bike would see me reel in a few competitors and I must have overtaken about 70 riders over the 9 laps. Even though I felt I raced the bike leg pretty hard, my time of 1:08 for 38km was at least 5 minutes slower than I would have normally expected and was only good enough for 194th fastest. The last 4.3km lap of the park was very tough and I was overhauled by 10 or so competitors again but my time for the lap was quite close to the times for my 1st run, so I felt I finished pretty strongly and I crossed the line barely having the energy to muster a semblance of a sprint to hold off a couple of late fast finishers. I think I raced as hard as I could given my conditioning and so 249th fastest out of 319 finishers is by no means great (2:16:04), but I’m satisfied with that.
I found the duathlon format tough and it felt more like racing a sprint distance triathlon, only longer. My heartrate average for the event was 159 which is very high for me, close to the maximum intensity I could sustain for a sprint distance (about 1 hour 15 mins), so to be able to do that for a whole extra hour is pleasing. I’m pretty sure I can knock 10 minutes off this time, so I’ll most certainly be back for more.