DESCRIPTION: 5k run - 11k cycle - 5k run
DATE: 15th September 2013
LOCATION: Richmond Park, London
Good things often come in threes – wishes, dinner courses and, so it seems, the legs of a great race. The combination of run-bike-run was not a completely new concept to me but my last attempt wasn't much of a success. So this was a chance to redeem myself and hopefully stumble another step forward in my quest to fall in love with cycling.
I did indeed finally complete a duathlon. And within my goal time of under an hour and a half. It means I can finally stop moping about my previous race, I am now an actual duathlete!
What's more, I'm a duathlete who managed to cycle all the way up THAT hill. I knew it was coming, I'd seen the elevation maps of the course but I was secretly hoping that actually we'd already done it. Nope! That was just a bump in the road. This was a mountain littered with bikes being walked up its side. I refused to walk and began powering up. Legs burning, I finally saw hope, "nearly there" – I love that purple sign!
I'm still pretty slow on the bike, though, so I lost the two people I was chasing during the first run. Not to matter, I saw the familiar sight of the backs of their heads on the final run – it was time to finally overtake them! That gave me a bit of a boost and sent me sprinting (kind of) over the finish line.
Perhaps it was the organisation of the extra equipment, perhaps it was the reluctance to start my longest race to date (I'm going to blame the infuriating traffic in and around Richmond) I was late. I guess the rushing around warmed me up but it also stressed me out! I had no time to relax, no time to give myself a little pep talk, no time to think about my pacing, and no time for a pre-race wee!!! I cycled straight from the car to transition, ran towards the start, ran back to pick up my number, back to the start again to begin my race with the final wave. I just made it.
To cool me down after getting flustered, the heavens opened, so kind. Great for hydration – just stick your tongue out and bingo! – but the slippery roads and gusts of wind made cycling just that little bit more terrifying, especially downhill. This meant that the cycle was a even slower than I would have wanted, but safety first and all that.
It didn't help that the speed counter on my borrowed bike didn't seem to be working. With a lack of time and knowledge to fix it, I had to try and pace the bike leg blind. There were also no mile markers, so I had no idea of my progress until I heard the welcome bustle of the event village - almost home.
THE NOT SO UGLY
Although I live and work in London, I often find myself feeling like a tourist in my own city. Too many places to visit, too little time. So I'm pleased the duathlon took us to Richmond, it ticks one more place off the list. It feels miles away from the centre – a peaceful haven of wide-open green. Once the panic had settled from my stressful start and I'd settled into my pace, I could take in the scenery on my way round. I was astounded to see so many deer, not phased by the herds of bikes passing by. Yes, it's called a deer park but I imagined them far too timid to be able to spot.
And it's the beautiful scenery I blame for my slow transitions! I used them as little tourist stops to have a look around, not quite the way to a quite time. But after three legs - the good, the uncontrollable bad, and the beautiful - I'm fairly happy with the result...but I know I can go faster. Bring on next year...!
Entry for 2014 is now open. Register here: http://londonduathlon.com/entrants