After a long autumn & winter break it was time for the first race of 2017 – the Oulton Park Spring Duathlon. The icy cold temperature on the day certainly didn’t feel like very “springy” weather. 6 am breakfast that morning was coco pops and rice crispies, 2 hardboiled eggs and orange juice. Arrived at the race track before the start of the earlier sprint distance race and when I saw the competitors dropping out like flies because of the cold weather I should have known it was going to be a tough day. Pre-race preparations seemed to be going okay – race belt - check, Garmins – check, drinks bottle – check, fudge bar – check, bike in correct gear - check. I was feeling quite calm as the race briefing took place which is not always a good thing for me – some nervous excitement can sometimes help. After the starter finished going through the usual rules and regulations he called out to everyone “Is number 1233 here?” Sheepishly I had to put my hand up. “Where’s your timing chip?” he said as my sheepishness turned to embarrassment. No idea how or where it slipped off but one of the marshals kindly returned it to me when I went back to my bike for the last minute check. First time that’s ever happened to me.
Could have been worse I suppose – it could have slipped off during the race. The 12:30 start was calm and orderly. I tucked into the middle of the pack and was conscious of trying not to push too hard and run at my own comfortable pace. Looked at my Garmin 610 after the first 4.3 k lap and saw that I was half a minute slower than last year.
By the end of the second 4.3 k lap I was over a minute down but I probably couldn’t have gone any faster if I tried. The important thing was I felt I still had the legs for the bike section (38.7 k).
In transition I changed from my running to cycling shoes. Normally the cycling shoes would be attached to the bike but it was so cold I didn’t want to risk cold hands making it difficult to get my feet into the shoes while cycling.
Grabbed my bike and I was off on the first of 9 laps around the race track. Riding at a fast pace I could feel the cold even more. It wasn’t long before I lost most of the feeling in my hands and fingers however all was fine up until Lap 5. According to my Garmin 620 I was very slightly ahead of last year’s pace. On Lap 6 I noticed my pace had dropped. By now my hands were so numb I couldn’t hold my drinks bottle to take a sip of my carbohydrate drink. By Lap 7 my pace had plummeted. Laps 8 & 9 were really tough as the freezing cold temperature really took effect so I was more than glad to finish and get back to transition – albeit about 15 minutes down on last year.
Just a 4.3 k run to go. I say “just a 4.3 k run” but it was even tougher than the bike leg. Very cold and low on energy,
I don’t know how I finished, it must have been the encouragement from fellow competitors as they overtook. Finished 179th out of 227 finishers (3 dropped out) in 2:24:15. A difficult start to the season but a good work out and a real test of how to keep going when struggling. Looking back I’d say I was definitely undercooked rather than well done in being prepared for the event. Need to get training. Next up Wilmslow Sprint and Llandudno Middle.
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February 24, 2017
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