With less than a week to go till race day, they announced that the standard distance triathlon would become a duathlon because of water quality problems. 5km run, 40km bike, 10km run. My goal of trying to break 2 hours for the standard distance would have to wait for another time. I was confident of going under 2hrs now, and the new mini-goal became to ride 58:xx for the 40km bike leg.
Staying within 5km from the race start I had a nice little ride with the sunrise for the backdrop. Often I’m a little stressed but this time I found it relaxing. I think the fact it was a duathlon, I was well aware of what I’m capable of doing when running and biking. It’s the swim I often struggle with. Time flew by with racking my bike, doing a warm-up and catching up with friends, then I was standing at the start wondering where the time went. But no time to dwell it was ‘go time’.
5km Run Leg
The 5km run started fast, like your typical parkrun on a Saturday morning. The first km was a little faster than I’d have liked going through at 3:25. I controlled my pace and looked around, counting at least half a dozen ahead I knew were about to blow up. Sure enough, within 500m the herd drastically thinned, meanwhile the leader kept pushing on hard. No way I would catch him! I felt comfortable averaging ~3:35s and the temptation to push was strong, however; I chose not to less it hurt the rest of my race. Run split was 17:54.
Transition was clean. Shoes off helmet on, grab the bike and run to the exit. My mount still needs some work, but otherwise was ok. Transition 1 took 1:17.
40km Bike Leg
It took 5 secs and I realised my mistake, I forgot to remove my race belt with the bib attached. I could feel and hear it flapping around… real aero I’m sure! Nothing I could do about it, just told myself to focus on the task at hand. I started a little conservative on the uphills allowing my speed to drop and focusing on not going too hard with the power. But after 10km of only just holding 40km/h, I decided to try and hold my speed best I could on the uphill sections. This made a noticeable difference in shaving 20sec off my 5km split time. 3 down, only 5 more to go I thought! At around the 20km mark, a competitor caught me and we then both also caught some others who had outrun us in the 5km. However, going into an uphill section to the u-turn the pace slowed a lot and I found myself in the draft zone. With a motorbike nearby I had no choice but to take the lead. I surged to get to the front, but once I got there, I was spent. I didn’t realise it but I’d just pushed 600W for 10secs which is a little high for my chicken legs! It took me a minute or 2 to get myself back in control and focusing on my rhythm. In this time I was passed, and I let them go, deciding to just ride my pace (plus I wasn’t really feeling it!). 30km passed, and I’d lost count thinking it was time to come in, but thanks to my lap counter (didn’t have distance displayed only lap count) it showed me I still had another 2 u-turns to go! 40km passed, and still had more to go… I just hoped to get under 1 hour now. Mission accomplished, bike split 59:37 (58:06 for the 40km).
Transition 2 was solid, although not as fast as someone who (I only noticed as I entered transition) had been chasing me on the bike. Coming out of transition in a time of 45sec.
10km Run Leg
It was time to race, with less than 10 seconds separating 3 of us. Unfortunately, within 800m I could feel a stitch coming, which I tried to ignore and focus on anything else that I could. It persisted getting stronger and stronger. I had to slow to focus on my breath hoping it would improve else from experience I knew it would force me to stop. I watched helplessly as my competition ran off into the distance. After a few hundred meters I got it under control, went to push and the same thing happened straight away. I had to manage and wait for the pain to subside. With 4km to go, I got it under control, my heel hurt, but not as bad as my gut. Being a little wiser this time I slowly increased the pace resigning to the fact I couldn’t bring the intensity. With 2km to go, I was making some noticeable gains on the competitor who passed me on the bike. I thought ‘I can catch him’ and found myself repeating it constantly.. The gap was huge, but I was gaining fast. 1km to go ‘don’t give up, you never know what will happen!’, I was holding 3:40 pace but was quickly running out of real estate to catch. Into the finish shoot and I finished 9 seconds behind.