I did this event last year in Canberra and it was the coldest race I’d ever competed in. It can be tricky packing the right gear when racing away from home, but this time round I was better prepared. 2 x base layers, arm warmers, gloves, tights, toe covers, and my tri suit.
I woke to -3C temperatures and decent frost. I rode my bike to the start area, got set up and headed out for a 20min run in a tracksuit to warm up. I got back from my run for briefing and then it was time to line up and prepare to start.
Run Leg 1
The pace was hot right from the start. Although I was focused on controlling my excitement and keeping to a half-marathon perception effort. The first km was still clocked over in 3:20, and about 500m on the field started to drastically thin. I was trying to keep around the 3:30/km mark, but with the bike and another run to go, I wasn’t going to dig to hit any particular pace… at least not this early into the duathlon.
The first loop (5km) was completed in 17:40. At this point someone had run off the front and didn’t appear to be slowing. I was running in 4th place. I kept things fairly even and took 3rd place as my competition slowed. In the final couple of km, I closed the gap to 2nd also. The run was ~10.3km, run split: 36:34. A little slower than I’d hoped but I was still in the race.
I removed my hat, race belt and sunglasses as I ran to my bike. My shoes were off which I was thankful for as I could feel a blister starting, helmet on and run with my bike to exit. Transitioning time: 54sec
Once on the bike I straight away moved into 2nd. Liam whom I’d just past was doing up his shoes, once he had that sorted it didn’t take long before he shot on by relegating me to 3rd and setting such a pace I couldn’t give chase either. I just settled into my rhythm and tightened my shoes.
The bike course is 5km between two uturns of either slightly up or slightly down. 1 lap is 10km, and we had to repeat 4 times for a total 40km bike leg.
About 5km in I was overtaken by another competitor. I did a couple of turns, but after 1 full lap I was finding it too hard to stay in touch, and the gap opened.
At every uturn I’d take a time check to see, and try as I might the gap continued to increase between 5-10 seconds every 5km. I didn’t notice anyone else behind closing a gap, but it was also quite hard to judge due to the multi-lap course.
On the final lap, I was fighting to try and not lose more time on those ahead. But then I started to feel lightheaded… I wasn’t sure what was happening. Yes, I was pushing, but I wasn’t redlining. It was a strange feeling like I could possibly faint, a bit like when you stand up quickly after a long time sitting. However, it didn’t get any worse and I got to the end of the bike leg in a time of 1:00:55.
Racked my bike, was a little slow getting shoes on, but I was staying calm and just doing my best. I then gapped my hat, sunnies and race belt to head for the exit. T2 time was 1:10.
I was tired but believed I could close the gap with someone ahead. I clocked the gap at ~1min to the next person ahead. At 1.5km in I judged the gap again to be ~1min. My belief started to waiver. 3.5km to go, which meant I’d have to close 20sec per km.. and my legs just didn’t want to pop like I’d hoped + my lightheartedness returned.
I stopped focusing on the gap, and just thought about running the best I could. As the finish line got closer I managed to get a bit more into a rhythm and the pace was slightly improving. However, the gap was too great to catch anyone ahead of me. The second run split was 19:15. Total time: 1:58:50. 1st in AG and 6th OA (couple guys from a later wave finished quicker).
Initially, I was somewhat disappointed with my efforts. My power was quite down on what I’d hoped to do, and I wondered if it was the cold. But in retrospect, my numbers were better than the previous year, without specifically targeting this event. I believe my bike numbers were low due to a solid 10km run beforehand.
I’m my own biggest critic but I need to be a little easier on myself, after all, I do this for fun, and shouldn’t lose sight of that.
I’d like to say I learnt what caused my lightheartedness, but honestly, I don’t. Maybe I needed to drink a little more water, as I could have been a tad dehydrated from breathing the cold air, and sweat from running with multiple layers.