Saturday, 9 April 2011

Duathlon: Done

When Gordon Ramsay completes a dish on one of the increasingly rare programmes where he actually cooks something as well as shouts as people (as opposed to those where he only shouts at people) he is wont to say "shoulder of lamb with a mint blah blah: done" in that triumphant, how-good-am-I type way.  Well that's a bit how I feel tonight about the Ashbourne Duathlon which I competed in this morning.  Duathlon: Done.

Yep, the first of the 4 events this blog is named after was completed at 10.41 this morning, and a cracking morning it was too.  Rising at 5 am wasn't an auspicious start, but as we were leaving at 6 I needed that time to go through my usual pre-event routine of a strong coffee to, er, accelerate morning digestive activity, stretch, grease the bits that rub and generally have a bit of a faff.  Because I'd not done a duathlon before I persuaded both wife and youngest daughter to accompany me for moral and possibly practical support, and you can guess how thrilled they were to be woken soon after 5.30.

The venue for the event was actually Carsington Water, about 6 miles out of Ashbourne.  It's a large lake and home to a sailing club and many other watersports events, and a very fine venue it was too, made all the more attractive on a gorgeous, sunny April morning like this morning.  We were there about 6.45, whereupon the faff factor rose considerably as I prepared bike, me, transition gear etc.  A quick briefing and we were off on the first run bang on 8.

That first run was just over 12k, with the middle third being really hilly.  I resisted the urge to go at other people's pace and stuck doggedly to mine, which meant to start with I drifted down the field.  However, it turns out that climbing abilities on the bike (of which I have a little) translate into running, and on the hilly section I started hauling in some other folk.  I finished with a time of 59:33 for that run, which I was absolutely delighted with, but was still only good enough to place me 80th out of 138.  A quick transition, a telling off for getting on the bike before the final 8 mm of it was over the transition line, and I was out on the open road for an anti-clockwise 40 km circuit, which included going through the delightful market town of Wirksworth.

I had hoped to average just under 20 mph on the ride, but again it was hilly - much hillier than I had envisaged, and so that fell to 17.6, which translated to a ride time of 1 hr 19.  That, however, was good enough to take me 20 places up the field, not least because I held my own going uphill, and gave free rein to gravity going downhill, unlike others who seemed quite tentative.  The biggest problem was staving off cramp - the left calf started twinging after 5 miles, but keeping the legs spinning rather than grinding seemed to do the trick.

Transition 2 went smoothly and I was off on the second run, which was absolutely pan flat for 4 km I was delighted to find.  17 mins later I was running under the finishing arch for a total time of 2 hrs 41 min 5 secs, which placed me 61st out of 138 finishers.  The winner did it in 2 hrs 6 mins (how?!  Did he know some short cuts?), whilst the last doughty finisher came in at 4 hrs 15, bless him.  I'm really pleased with that - I'd have been ok with anything under 3 hrs, hoped for 2:50, so to do 2:41 was a very pleasant surprise.  I put it down to the fantastic weather this morning - was in shorts and short-sleeved top even on the bike - and having my own personal supporters, who were great, and who (I hope) thought that the beauty of the venue and the eally good atmosphere of the event made that 5.30 start bearable.

Highlights apart from my time and the weather:  a Virgin hot air balloon drifting low over us on the first run, fantastic organisation and marshalling (well done to the organisers, Punishing Events), and getting to grips with tri-bars!

I had thought that doing this event would be a one-off, but you know, I'm not so sure.....but in case anyone is thinking I'm falling out of love with bike events, my reaction this morning when I hopped over the saddle?  "Thank God for that, I can have a bit of rest".

So, first event down, 3 to go, and if the rest are as good as that I'll be a lucky boy indeed.  

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