In the early hours of Sunday 25th March 2012, I travelled to Prestwold Hall near Loughborough, to the National Elite Duathlon Championships. Although chilly, it was a nice sunny day and a good day for racing as it was to be held at a quick circuit being that of a motor-sport race track. The track was tarmaced over and very flat, which was great for competing on!
The race consisted of a 2.5km Run (1 Lap of the course) a 10km Bike (4 Laps of the course) and to conclude a 1.25km Run (out and back loop)
Being my first ever Duathlon, I was feeling nervous as the big names from last year daunting on me.
As I prepared for my race, off went the girls race consisting of quite a small field. Now my race was only 45 minutes away. Time ticking away and the first finishers coming over the line, it was finally time for my race to be called to the start line. I had my race briefing with the fellow competitors and then headed for the race canopy where I placed myself at the front of the group to give myself the best possible start as the more experienced athletes hustle and bustled their way around holding them arms wide and stance poised.
The starter horn sounded and I ran off making sure I was in the lead pack of athletes, by around the 500m mark the groups had sorted themselves out and I had placed myself inside the leading pack of 8 athletes, after around the 1000m mark two more athletes had joined the pack making it 10, it was now clear the runners were now separated accordingly. With the race leader setting the pace, I ran as fast as I could to keep up with the blistering pace, knowing I was on for a good personal best time. Once around the 2000m mark had gone the transition area loomed and the sound of the spectators cheering us on could now be heard. By this point, the lead group of 6 athletes just pulled away and had made headway of about 5 seconds on the second group with me in it. I crossed the timing mat of T1 clocking a 2.5km time of 7:49 minutes with the leading time being that of Miles Burton the current British Super Series Champion in 7:41 only 8 seconds in front.
I made my way through transition, clipped my helmet on and headed for the exit point making a swift transition of just 22 seconds. It was now onto the bike section! With very little bike practice during the Winter months I knew the challenge was going to be hard being 5 seconds down on the leading pack; we had our work cut out.
I finally, clipped my shoes into my pedals and off I went setting a good pace with the other athletes in my chain gang, one lap had gone and still the lead pack were just in front! Two laps had gone! With the distance between us and the leading group now decreasing we were working well together. It was onto the penultimate lap, this was the lap to catch them I thought!!
The Chasing PackAs we passed the midpoint we could see the the other cyclists. With new cyclists joining onto our chain gang we pressed forward harder. Unfortunately, during this final lap the leader of the chain gang was involved in a collision with a fellow athlete as they passed each other and this caused the chain gang to split, with me being just behind the leader, I was forced to break hard to avoid the collision and had take to the run circuit. Consequently this lost me valuable time and the group had shot off. I was gutted…..The remainder of lap had gone by in minimal time, and as I entered T2 with a 10km bike split of 16:58; which was slower then I hoped and I knew I had my work cut out.
I left transition in 18 seconds, and was now onto the final stage of the Duathlon the second run section.
To begin with my legs felt like jelly, but I could see the other leading athletes only just a bit in front. I pushed on being overtaken by another athlete. By the time I got to the turnaround point I had found my running rhythm and pushed on, overtaking that athlete who had just overtaken me and then another. I finished the race and managed to clock a 1.25km run time of 4:32 minutes and an final event time of 30:01 minutes with a very credible 14th position.
Moreover, I had completed my first ever Duathlon against Britain’s best Duathletes at my age. I was tired, exhausted, depleted. But the buzz of this big event made me excited, and the amount of effort I put into that race made me physically sick as I had given my all. It was now time to sit down and reflect on that day’s race.
What went well? What could I have done better?
Well I was pleased with my first run, disappointed with my bike, but this was unavoidable as there was a collision on course and pleased about my final run which I managed to overtake a few people on. The points I now need to work on are clear and being my first ever Duathlon I was pleased with my overall result.
The energy from the crowd motivated me, and the big occasion excited me, and made me want to pursue my goal of being selected into the Olympic Development Squad even clearer. I now forward to my next Super Series Race that being the British Aquathlon Championships on the 19th May in Birmingham.
Keep posted for news of how I find it!!