Oulton Park Sprint Duathlon

In with the big fish.

I like riding a bike and to be honest in places we don’t want to go I admit that I rather love my running.

Thanks to Towers getting me to do some pacing I have been in reasonable shape for the last 3 years so as much as I am in denial I run quite a bit.

As I work with a few triathletes I have been dabbling a little with triathlon and doing a few local duathlons, safe to say I have been quite successful.

This got me thinking that maybe it was time to see if I have been avoiding the sport I am probably most suited to. YES duathlon. I’m not a brilliant runner or a time trialler but I am strong and can back up my efforts quite consistently.

I last had a go at National level in 2010 and 2011, I wasn’t shabby, got a bronze at the GB Age Group champs in 2011, raced at the Worlds and the Euros over those years. There were things at that point I didn’t enjoy and to be honest I was filling a gap as I expected to be back running ultras and collecting my Celtic plate vests running for Wales. Sadly more leg and back issues put paid to that and so the bike has become more and more the focus.

So for the first time since 2011 I was on the entry list for a World Age Group duathlon qualifier but lets be clear right now I am not interested in the blue suit. Not saying never but for now I just want to know where I am and do I have a future at National level events.

I came out of CX season pretty healthy this year but also lacking any real endurance as all my training has been focused on racing for 40 mins so I entered the draft legal sprint. I also banned myself from any MTB racing to avoid silly injuries. There is a possibility a certain bloke is reading this who once questioned my logic of riding an MTB just before a national champs after I crashed and cracked 2 ribs. Seems I have changed and he may have had a point.

Race day

So typical of 2016 I rocked up in terrible weather that only seemed to be getting worse. I registered and racked my bike placing my shoes under a bag with my helmet on top facing down. Not good for speed but somehow dry shoes and head just for a few minutes seemed a good idea. The briefing was long and I was cold even with 5 layers on but then it was time to start. I kept a base layer on and Neoprene gloves and as I stood on the start there was for a few moments SNOW !!! I was questioning my sanity.

Then we were off, cones down the side and running through water, people were flying and after a minute I was aware that my pace was 4.50 per mile and I was going backwards. Thoughts were like this

  1. I suck
  1. They will blow up
  1. Slow down before you blow up

Sure as my name is Gobi people started to slow and I started to move through what was basically the 3rd group.  It was still a shock to be so far down and I was concerned that I wasn’t at the races.

Afterwards I discovered I was 24th and 1st V45 so it seems old and slow was fast enough.

Onto the bike, after my slow transition I left the pit to flying mount my bike and set about making up places. (I put my shoes on and then run out)  It was minging out there but initially I was passing people so spray was not too bad. I caught a pair after a few laps and for 1 lap they did a turn each before I pulled away, it was a handy break in effort but vision was hard and the rain kept coming.  On lap 3 I had the only scary moment when I approached the hairpin at speed and some poor young lady just didn’t understand my request and veered across me twice, I don’t believe I was rude but if I was sorry and I hope you had a good race.

With about a lap to go I was just pushing hard, focused on the run but unbeknown to me at this time starting to suffer in the cold, stats showed my heart rate drop yet I had no perception that my effort had dropped off. Sadly the second I got off the bike I knew things were bad. That said what was obvious was that I could ride a bike.

5th fastest overall on the bike and 1st V45, I was always confident on my biking as this track had the sort of recoveries I am used to in Cyclo cross.

Back to the race.

I dismounted and was instantly aware of cold feet, tight calf and tight hamstrings to the point I was not really running as I left T2.  Distressed that my body was breaking down I just kept pushing forward hoping I would warm and loosen off but as I approached the hairpin the left leg went PING. I stood and watched a people ran passed as I stretched, all my good work drifting away. After what felt like a day but was more like 60-90 seconds I was running and I mean running, last KM was 3.47 not brilliant but a start contrast to the first 3.7kms of the 2nd run. I even got back a couple of places.

41st for the second run and 2nd V45 – this was not good!!!

I crossed the line shaking badly wth Em on hand to throw clothes at me.

Next thing David appears and shouts, welcome back you just won the V45 :¬) Turned out I had beaten all the V40s as well.

Finally having some food I sat there with Em and I discussed my happiness at being competitive and my distress about the state of my legs in the cold, was more the state of me. If it had been standard distance I would not have finished. It is however very hard for people to understand that finishing 17th overall and 1st Vet I could be disappointed yet somehow I was.

Why? I still stand on a start line and race for the overall first and my biking had given me a shot at the top 10, my first was hard but not over the edge so to give up 60-90 second on the 2nd run really hurt.

Plans for next cold event are already coming together but hopefully not needed in April.

Bedford for the National AG champs and this time I will be back on the TT bike and doing the Standard distance, like I said earlier, I’m testing the water and seeing where I am OH and deciding what I want to do next year duathlon wise.

So as far as short distances go the answer to the question ” Is Gobi competitive at National level?” The answer is a resounding YES !!!!

Race well and stay safe



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