Day 85 – Naas Duathlon

Posted: April 8, 2012 in Races, Races 2012
Tags: , , , , ,

It’s hot out there today. Damn hot. I’m reminded of this when I see Rory, one of the guys from my triathlon club, slathering sun cream all over his head. Considering Rory and myself look like slightly less butch Fairbrass brothers it occurs to me that I really should be doing the same but unfortunately sun cream is one thing I didn’t think to bring.  I got here early so as to register and also to make sure I had time for an extensive warmup. I know everything went fine yesterday but it’s still in the back of my mind that both calfs are still a little tight, not to mention my right hamstring.

I hopped on my bike for a quick spin around the car park where everyone is getting ready, checking to make sure brakes and gears were working correctly and tyres were at the right pressure, then spent around twenty minutes jogging and stretching. After stopping for photos with some fans* it was time to make my way down for the race briefing. The course consisted of one lap around the perimeter of the race course, a cycle to Blessing ton and back, before finishing with another lap of the race course. The race directors also detailed the rules around drafting, ie there was none allowed. You had to leave a box of 3m x 10m around the rider in front of you and if you were passed the onus was on you to drop back and leave that much space to the rider in front.

After that it was time to make our way to the start line and prepare for the off. As I usually do in this situation I look around at the other competitors, or the guys at the front at least, and notice how lithe and lean they all look, far more than me anyway, and how much faster they’re inevitably going to be. I was standing at the start with Rory and Alan, another guy from our club and another guy I know is a quicker runner than me (Dave, our club chairperson is there too but he’s one of those superfast guys right at the front) and the plan is to go off at a pace slightly slower than them. The race starts however and instantly everyone shoots off and as usual I’m torn between haring off with everyone else and running at my own pace. I had planned to do the first run at 5mins/km pace but right now that feels way too slow so I tried to ignore my Garmin and run at a pace that felt comfortable.

By the time we got around to the back of the course, just under two kilometres in, the field had thinned out quite a bit. The only slight hill on the run course was there too and I tried to do what I usually do with hills, which is speed up a bit. It doesn’t really do much in the overall scheme of things but people generally slow down a bit going up hills and it feels nice getting to overtake a few people. I don’t get a huge amount of opportunities to do that so I’ll take it whenever I can get it. I finished the first run in 14:18, an average pace of 4:25/km and was confident that all my preparation and practice would stand me in good stead for transition.

I ran in following the marshal’s instructions and kept repeating to myself “helmet on before you touch bike” so stuck on my sunglasses and then put my helmet on. Or at least tried to, but the bloody thing didn’t seem to fit. I tried to close the buckle but it wasn’t close to closing. In a bit of a panic I took my helmet off and looked inside it, seeing if there was anything on the inside or something had changed on it before telling myself to cop on and reminding myself I’d put it on and taken it off half a dozen time already today. I put it on again, pulled the straps and of course it closed properly. Putting the delay out of my mind I ran to the end of the transition area before hopping on my bike and beginning the cycle to Blessington.

Out on the course I was again very conscious of the race director’s instructions regarding drafting. As well as leaving the ‘box’ around other cyclists you had just fifteen seconds to pass someone, otherwise you had to drop back outside of the area behind them. For the first five or six kilometres I found myself skipping back and forth a few positions, avoiding getting too close to anyone and easing off when anyone passed me. I realised after a while of doing this though that it meant I was going pretty slowly, so I forgot about giving people quite so much room and instead concentrated on getting a wiggle on. After we turned around at the halfway point I realised that at least one benefit of the relatively leisurely first leg of the cycle was that I had plenty of energy left, so the remainder of the way back I just went as hard as I could. Normally in races as short as this there’s not to many opportunities to take stock of things and really enjoy what you’re doing (for me at least) but there was a definite moment on the return leg of the cycle where I was on a bit of a downhill, pedalling as fast as I could to reach the guy in the distance ahead of me, and I was just loving being where I was, doing what I was doing.

I finished the 18km in 38:50 and for some reason decided to try to head into transition like all the fast guys, ie slip my foot out of the bike shoes while still cycling, leaving the shoes still attached to the pedals and then run the bike in in my socks rather than cleated shoes. One of the cardinal rules of racing is never try anything in a race that you haven’t tried in training, but thankfully I managed to avoid making a complete balls of this. I did however have to try to avoid looking like a complete blouse as I almost let out a little “ow” when I trod on a little pebble on the way in. That aside T2 passed without a hitch and then it was out on to the road around the racecourse for the second run.

I dread to think what would have happened if I hadn’t been out for a trial run yesterday as the first kilometre of the second run was just horrendous. It was really hot at this point, I was sweating buckets and someone, somewhere was holding a small doll that roughly resembled me over a naked flame. My legs, though I could barely feel them, felt like they were on fire and some horrible little bastard inside my head kept on trying to persuade me to stop. I really had to remind myself of yesterday’s run and the fact that the feeling would come back to my legs. I looked at my Garmin and although it felt like I was barely moving I was actually doing just over 5mins/km, plus all the people around me were running even slower than me so I knew I was doing fine.

There was a small incline at the one kilometre mark where the two people I was running with slowed down quite a bit but right at that point, almost as if by magic, my legs suddenly began to feel like my legs and I began to run. I kept my pace steady for the next kilometre and then pushed on as hard as I could. I’ve finished races in the past still with plenty in the tank and it’s not the way to go. I wanted to feel completely spent, knowing I gave everything I could for the duration of the race. After just a kilometre of hard running though I was really beginning to feel it. Every breath I took felt hot and miserly and nowhere near sufficient to fill my burning lungs. The visions of a magnificent, Chariots of Fire/Rocky III style sprint finish that had been coursing through my mind just a kilometre ago were now replaced by thoughts of Cartman in the 100m just going backwards. I tried, and managed, to pick off a few people in front of me over the last few hundred metres but got passed myself about one hundred metres from the line. I could hear the guy coming, and he passed me going only marginally quicker, but I had absolutely nothing left to respond with.

I finished the second run in 16:25, 2:07 slower than the first, which wasn’t too bad. Overall my time was 1:12:23, which was ok. You always want to go quicker, and I definitely can, but considering the lack of running over the last six weeks, and the slightly ill advised mini-duathlon yesterday, I should be satisfied. Of the other guys from the club both Dave and Alan won their respective age groups, however Rory was incredibly unfortunate to see a puncture ruin his race. He did however finish the race, thanks in no small part to a good Samaritan out for his own Sunday cycle who stopped to repair Rory’s puncture.

All told I was really happy with the way the day went. It was a beautiful day, I was back racing again, I had given my sexy new gear from McLoughlins Cycles it’s maiden voyage and I had a slice of cheesecake from my niece’s Confirmation party yesterday sitting in the fridge at home waiting for me.


*Actually my wife and eldest son.


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