Race Report: Hillingdon Triathletes Duathlon | Eclectic Cake: Race Report: Hillingdon Triathletes Duathlon

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Race Report: Hillingdon Triathletes Duathlon

RACE:  Hillingdon Triathletes Series Duathlon
DESCRIPTION:  1 mile run – 10 mile bike – 2 mile run
LOCATION:  Minet County Park, Hayes
DATE:  3rd June

I finally succumbed to the constant invites to club races by each and every Hillingdon Triathlete I've met. Figuring a closed road circuit would be the best start for a novice and knowing the distances were manageable, this race had the honour of being my first duathlon. It would be the perfect chance to have a go at transitions in preparation for my very first triathlon this month.

After a cheeky visit to the track the weekend before and a quick scan of last year's results, I knew I'd be at least 10 minutes behind the slowest person. With completely the wrong type of bike – a mountain bike that sticks to the road rather than glide along it – this was a race I'd have to go on alone, turn off the competitive voice in my head and just focus on finishing. But that didn't bother me, I'd be proud enough to just finish the thing. However, I never really started the race!

The cycle circuit test run and my time with two laps still to go!

I arrived early at an empty car park. As I waited for people to turn up, I worked on redirecting my nerves – a few (billion) kit checks, reattaching my front wheel, mentally preparing myself to 'be the ball' or whatever inanimate object is suitable for a duathlon...

...As the race got closer, not a single car had joined mine so I thought I'd better go to the track. Then a little sign enlightened me as to why the car park was empty – it was due to close as the race began! Crap! 

*Leave bike – jump in car – tear down road to park – run back to get bike – hop on bike – ride to the track* 

Just as I reached the track, everyone else was lining up to start! No time for nerves I was racing to start racing. It was already too late, everyone was beginning the one mile run and I didn't even have my number! Disqualified, obviously! But those organising the race were still trying to shepherd me onto the track to run. I begrudgingly abandoned my bike and joined the only other woman I could see 20 meters away from the start line. I would now never finish the race because I never even started it! But as I began to overtake a few runners I perked up and decided that I'd make up my lots metres at the end. I will finish my first duathlon!

My cheeky test run on the track – I almost reached 30mph!

First run done, I grabbed my bike (kindly put in the transition area for me) and was met by another mountain bike! Someone I'd met at a training session offered to ride with me so I wouldn't be the only one on the wrong bike but I thought I'd discouraged her. I was so touched, knowing that she'd basically thrown her race to make a newbie feel more comfortable! With that I hopped on and began ignoring the people passing by. That is, until my fellow mountain biker passed me – the idea was that she was going to draft me so I get a slightly easier ride but I couldn't even catch her for a second – no more blaming the bike, I'm obviously not quite cut out to cycle.

To make it worse, my poor little bike gave up five laps in. The chain jammed, my pedals stopped moving and I was stranded with absolutely no mechanical knowledge. This was not my day! Someone from the club noticed my despair and got me going again but I'd lost another ten minutes and the use of the easier gears. People were finishing and I wasn't even half way round! Luckily my stubbornness got me round another lap before my hero on the other mountain bike arrived by my side to keep me going for the rest of the way.

We ignored offers to stop at seven laps – I was still intent on finishing the full race, even if everyone else had gone home! And actually, when we started our run, most people had. Feeling sorry for those that stayed behind, I cut our final run to just one mile rather than two. I didn't finish the race.

Embarrassed and feeling defeated, I took my 'wooden spoon' prize (I was reassured it was for being the third female to finish but seeing as there were only three of us and I didn't actually finish, I couldn't find much victory in that) and hid in a jar of peanut butter.

My gift from the club

I deliberately waited a while to write this review because, although I'm still disappointed that I didn't complete the race and am still not a duathlete, I wanted to make sure I took away some positives from my bad race experience. There are, in fact, many!

1.  I've met a lot of great people from the club who have given me a lot of encouragement and support. I'm very lucky that I could attempt to race in a welcoming environment where I knew no one would (openly) laugh at me 'racing' on my squeaky mountain bike.

2.  Before my next race, I'm doing a bike maintenance course. If my bike decides to give up again, I want to know how to fix it. Next time, I might to be so lucky to have people around to bail me out of trouble.

3.  I've had offers to borrow a road bike for my triathlon this month. I still may struggle round the bike leg of the race but at least I'll have the right equipment.

4.  I managed to run with 'jelly legs'. Although my post-cycling legs felt weird, I quickly shook them off and managed to run at a relatively decent pace.

5.  My running pace is fairly good.

6.  I got a nice hat from the club – a souvenir seeing as I didn't manage to collect my race number.

7.  I'm not put off, if anything I'm more determined. One day, I will be a duathlete.

8.  Surely now, things can only get better?! With such a bad race, the next HAS to be better?

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