Last weekend I took part in an extremely painful duathlon in Cambridgeshire. Actually, as far as duathlons go it wasn’t any more painful than the next… it just helped me reaffirm my conclusion that ALL duathlons are painful, fullstop.
Our morning started at 5am, when I dragged my thirteen year old daughter out of bed and told her to dress in VERY warm clothes. She muttered something that I was clearly supposed to not quite hear under her breath which contained the phrases “middle of the night”….”standing next to a freezing lake”….. “lovely family day out….huh”
I then finished packing the car, forced down a bowl of porridge and bravely woke up Jon, who rather strangely muttered something along the same lines as Rosie.
Troll was happy to get up at 5am, she likes a good adventure (declaring daily that she is going to be “an explorer and adventurer” when she’s bigger) and was smart enough to recognise that a 1.5 hour car journey in both directions would almost certainly at some point equate to sweets to shut her up.
Racing can be stressful enough without five children to entertain at the same time, so the remaining children, Violet (6), Daisy (10) and Clyde (12) had been split between two sets of grandparents the day before. This pleased Jon, who would be left entertaining the children by a freezing lake whilst I was two miles into a hilly run, wishing that i’d stuck to triathlon racing.
Google maps for once produced a shockingly accurate route for us, which only involved one very minor discrepancy at the end of the journey – when we pulled in to the wrong carpark at Grafham water and had a 20 second we’ve-got- the-wrong-day panic, with no runners or bikes to be seen!
The one good thing I can say about duathlons, is that at least you don’t have to climb into a freezing lake to kickstart your race. No, but you do have to either opt to strip down to your lycra racing clothes and freeze for the first ten minutes or, do what I did (which is ultimately more painful) and decide not to take off the layers you had put on as a keeping-warm measure over your tri-suit, race in them and boil.
This was only one of a handful of duathlons that I had ever done (being more familiar with triathlons) and the first race ever that had an “open” transition. This meant that you could rack your bike/collect your running shoes from anywhere you liked, rather than a specifically numbered place in the rack. I quite liked this idea, as I have a bad reputation for running up and down the racks like a head-less chicken and completely missing my bike. Despite this bonus, I still managed to run past my bike and almost steal another competitor’s cycling shoes (which were the same brand as mine)…
The start to the initial 5k run was fast, painful and made me feel like a baby elephant trying to keep up with herd of antelope. That’s duathletes for you. Mainly thin, mainly fast, mainly men, mainly sewn into tight black 2XU compressing lycra. I raced in my Aldi bike top.
I enjoyed the bike ride and final run because by then most of the mega-fast people had disappeared and the surrounding competitiors were more in my league and somehow (because 25 year old men’s results made no difference to my agegroup’s results) my overall performance managed to secure me a roll-down place for the GB age group team for the European sprint duathlon champs in the Netherlands in April 2014.
This blog has been sitting in my draft folder since 2013, April is now only a few weeks away and my nightly dreams mainly encompass baby elephants wearing lycra GB tri-suits…