Early in the year many triathletes look to duathlon events to help them prepare for the swim-bike-run races that are to follow later. Duathlons consist of a run, then a bike section and finally another run (often shorter than the first). Distances, course and conditions vary like any other multi-sport event but you can rely on one thing: They are hard!
On the plus side they: –
- Provide a great overall workout
- Can be used for race-pace training as it can be difficult to replicate this out of competition
- Allow you to practise transitions
- Teach you to run with tired legs
- Allow you test out new tactics, nutrition or equipment
So how’s my (short) duathlon season gone?: –
The event was held at the Rockingham motor racing circuit in Northamptonhire with Matt Ellis on guiding duties. With good weather and a flat course fast times looked possible. Training had been going well, I was feeling relaxed and the tandem was ready to roll too.
Our tactic was for me to run hard and limit our loses to the faster guys then try to recover before the second run. Although I set off way too fast (16 minute pace when I normally struggle to get under 20!), we had a decent first run. We went through the 5k mark hitting a massive PB, but we were still well behind the other (1:20 down) and had work to do.
I had a surprisingly quick T1 getting my helmet on and run shoes off in double-quick time. I was ahead of Matt and got the tandem off the rack so we could be ready to go as soon as possible. These two things (and I later discovered Matt was also struggling to untangle himself from the run tether) perhaps put him under pressure making him rush. We started to move with the bike, but realised Matt still had his trainers on. We stopped so he could remove them, but they were dropped. I threw one roughly in the direction of our transition spot and have no idea what happened to other. Our Carry-On like transition continued with a failed attempt to mount the bike at the wrong place and messing up getting our feet into our bike shoes as we set off. I even did the whole of the bike leg with the velcro strap on one shoe undone!
We actually had a great bike, catching the guys ahead on what proved a fantastic and technical circuit. Matt was riding strongly and throwing the tandem around the corners nicely. I was going OK too and we took 90 seconds out of the rest to briefly take the lead again toward the end of the 20k.
T2 was a vast improvement and whilst the second run felt tough, we kept a decent pace, although again lost time to the faster competitors. We thought we’d won our category but it wasn’t to be. We’d apparently been given a penalty which we weren’t aware of and so hadn’t taken. As a result we were disqualified. It’s not all bad though – Faster than normal running and we’re going strongly on the tandem which bodes well. Hopefully we got all our errors out of the way ahead of the rest of the season!
This Tri-Anglia organised event thankfully went a little better than the previous weekend’s outing. There were no penalties, no disqualifications but also no real pressure. This time out I was racing solo on roads I train on regularly as the event is near to home.
Since I didn’t have anyone to help me out on the bike this time, I decided to back off a bit on the first 5k run. Like the previous weekend I set off way too fast but quickly realised my error and eased off a touch. I still ran faster than normal and a lot quicker than I had done last time I did this event so that was pleasing. I took the 30k bike steady-ish too as it’s quite technical and the roads were wet/oily in places, working hard where it was safe to do so. Onto the sec ond run and I was still feeling decent and settled straight into a good pace trying to maintain my form. Sure, it was hard but I felt I could sustain it or even up the pace further . I pushed on over the second half to finish in 1 hour 42 minutes for 22nd place from 140 starters. For a solo effort I can’t grumble with that.
Over-all it’s been a decent start and something I/we can now build on when the triathlon races start in May. The most pleasing bit for me is that my running is clearly improving, both in terms of top end speed and 5k times. I just need to sort my pacing out…more to come I think!