On Sunday I competed in first event of the Portsmouth Duathlon series. This duathlon consists of a 5k run, a 15k bike ride and then a final 5k run. On paper extremely doable (not sure if doable is a word but I am sticking with it) and with my fellow Grazing Saddles team-mate Mr Andy Bawden taking part with me I was excited for the race.
Now as I have blogged before, these races all seem to require you to get up very early in the morning. Luckily for me, my baby has decided that getting up between 5:30am and 6:00am seems to be the way forward. Combining this with the brand new puppy that we have just gotten whimpering downstairs as soon as he hears the baby cry meant that I found myself awake at a very civilised 6:30am.
Now organisaton is not my strong point, so upon waking I charged (well sauntered really) around the house looking for things such as shoes and socks. Andy arrived bang on time at 7:15am (no great surprise) and after I messed about for another 15 minutes we rode our bikes down to the race.
Following racking the bikes (this is a technical duathlon/ triathlon term, meaning to hang it by the saddle from a piece of suspended scaffolding pole made into a “rack”) we then stood around discussing how cool the race was, and how there seemed to be quite a lot of nice bikes around. Now I have never coveted another man’s bike before; however I must admit that with Andy’s beautiful new Trek Domane, and many other lovely looking bits of carbon fibre and aluminium suspended from their racks, I did find myself thinking how perhaps investing in a new bike would be a worthwhile use of a couple of grand. Memo to self: Discuss this with my wife.
Following a race briefing, and spotting Dame Kelly Holmes about 4 metres away on the start line we were off. Now my shins were already hurting from our 50 metre warmup (pathetic I know) and Andy graciously ran with me for a couple of kilometres before putting his foot down and pulling away. When I crossed the 3k mark I was in agony in my left shin and genuinely thought I would be better off just stopping. I was hugely upset that I had rested solidly for the week before to try and help me heal a bit but this had clearly not worked, and the excitement I felt at the start of the race was all but gone. As more and more people overtook me I reminded myself that I only had 2k to go before I could get on the bike, and this spurred me on to running the first 5k in 28min 16sec (which actually isn’t bad for me at all).
Into transition and onto the bike. I like bike riding, have always been naturally good on a bike and quickly settled into a steady 18mph, which into a stiff sea breeze was not a bad effort. Carrying on at this pace we wound our way east and I overtook people. In fact I overtook a lot of people. When I eventually got downwind I cruized up to about 24mph and knowing that Andy would be at least 2 or 3 minutes ahead of me, and was determined to catch him. Eventually I caught sight of him on my second loop of the common, said a quick hello and then pushed on, knowing that I would be close to useless in the second 5k run so I must make time up on the bike.
Finishing the ride in 32mins 39 seconds, I jumped off the bike and was into the second 5k. Once again this was agony and each time my feet hit the floor it felt like lightening shooting up my shins. It felt like all of the people I had overtaken on the bike breezed past me as I staggered my way along. I barely managed an almost run for the final 100 metres to finish the second 5k in 31mins 38 seconds, giving me a total race time of 1hr 32mins and 35 seconds, 3 minutes behind Andy (who was one of the many people that overtook me on the second 5k.
It was great to see his smiling face, and I was very proud of myself for finishing when I was so close to giving up at the start. Also Andy told me he ran a PB on his first 5k, which is an outstanding achievement and something that really made me smile after a very painful final 5k beforehand. I have learned many things from this race. Firstly I must improve my running, secondly I MUST sort out these blasted shin splints, and finally that the buzz you get from these events is simply superb.
As I sit on my sofa typing this I literally cannot wait to get back to training tomorrow. Perhaps a swim or a ride though rather than a run!