The ‘5×50 Challenge’ is for people like you to walk, jog, run or cycle 5km for 50 days in a row and it started today…I did 59km’s!
A ‘Duathlon’ consists of two disciplines with a cycle and a run being the most common but sometimes the organisers are nasty and they put a run before the cycle and run.
Welcome to ‘The London Duathlon‘. Run-Bike-Run.
As I’ve said in previous blogs, every thing I do this year is all about 23rd September and The London Triathlon. So I booked the Edinburgh Marathon to make me run, booked the Marlow 3Km open water swim to make me erm…swim and had booked Capital to Coast to make me cycle. However, The Stone Roses reforming forced me to miss the cycle event so up stepped Richmond Park’s London Duathlon.
These 3 events are not your run of the mill events as they require training otherwise they can bite you in the ass…HARD!
I ‘suffered’ in Edinburgh and Marlow so I thought it’s about time I ‘owned’ a race. I felt good about this race until I saw that yet again I was taking part in another race on a HOT day. Bath Half Marathon, Edinburgh and The Concorde Triathlon were all on scorching hot days so maybe I should apologise to other London Duathletes as I feel I’m some sort of a jinx.
I’m a firm believer in not worrying about things you have no control over but you do have to adapt to the blazing sunshine and it does affect you…especially if you’re Scottish! 😉
I would now class myself as a runner after a 1.21 half marathon and 3.08 full marathon but cyclist I ain’t. I’m keen to learn but I love running as it’s you and your body vs the race but with cycling, the bike is a factor. I have a Trek bike that my Mum bought on Gum Tree in Aberdeen and on hearing it wasn’t being used I shipped it down to London. It ain’t carbon, it ain’t light but to me that’s the challenge. I need to make the engine work to transport this thing from A to B as fast as possible.
I upgraded it a wee bit with cleats and pedals then went for a few cycles around Surrey and even ventured into Richmond Park a couple of times but what I found was even though I thought I was doing well, others would fly past me with it seems less effort. I wanted to ask them what their secret was! I googled ‘How to make your bike faster’ and tri bars came up so I bought a set but apart from buying a more expensive bike I had to do the best with what I had. So I went to Richmond Park and cycled from Kingston gate to Robin Hood gate 5 times and learned to work the gears better. I started to overtake people and I was loving it. I started to feel faster and to me that was progress.
So roll forward to Sunday 9th September. I decided to get up early to pick my spot in transition and apart from the ‘Ultra Duathletes’ they’re was probably only 5 other bikes in transition when I racked mine up at the edge.
Always good to get your pick of the rack as that way it’s easy to find but you also get to plan the best strategy for the entry and exit phase without anyone else dictating this for you. This photo, taken 30 mins later should show you what I mean.
This gave me time to chill out (no need to register as I’d done that the day before) and chat to a few people I knew would be there and do the customary ‘toilet stop’ before getting all my kit ready in transition and on my person. Doing a multi-discipline event requires so much preparation in terms of water, electrolyte drinks, gels as well as all the bike equipment. 15 mins to go as the ‘Ultra Duathletes’ left, I popped my 1st gel and was ready.
I was in the very first wave and being number 300 I thought I’d be called up first as the race numbers for the ‘Classic Distance’ (10km run, 44km cycle, 5km run) went from 300 – 2906. That wasn’t the case as 150 duathletes were put in each pen and were to start in blocks of 10. I was having none of it and went to the front…it would’ve been different from what I anticipated so forward I went. 10 of us were called forward and as usual I checked them all out. I still let myself get intimidated by the look of others but am getting less so the more confident I become in my own ability. RG Active went off about 4 minutes before us then it was my turn…3…2…1…HONK!!!
I set off at a steady pace and immediately started thinking about London 2012 and some of the athletes and their recent successes. It was rubbing off. I went into the lead but had someone hanging on my shoulder for the first km and I started thinking about putting a bit of a kick in to get rid of him and then quickly thought of my ‘You vs You’ mantra and kept to a pace that I was comfortable with. He soon dropped off and then it was me at the front. I’d run the 15km (10km and 5km routes) in one go so I knew the route and was ready for the steady climb to Richmond Gate. As soon as that was done it was pretty much flat or downhill…bonus. Another bonus was that I started catching some of the RG Active runners and the ‘Ultras’. Before I knew it I was approaching the transition zone and seeing that I’d done a sub 39min 10k, faster than I had planned but I ran at a comfortable pace and it happened to be a very quick time especially as we had the early hill to conquer.
As I came into transition I saw Kirsty and Sam cheering me on, well Kirsty was, Sam wanted to run to meet me! I am keeping myself fit for many reasons but two of the main ones are to remain attractive to Kirsty and to be the most active I can for Sam especially as we both grow older so seeing them is always a very welcome boost.
I got to my bike and thought ‘be calm’. Trainers off, bike shoes on, sunglasses on, helmet on, grab a well deserved drink ( I put a bottle of water in the freezer overnight so it was well cool by then) and then get the hell out of there.
I got on to the road and mounted my bike and prepared to be caught by the masses behind but I seemed to hold my own. I know Richmond park and with the previously mentioned hill training and the fact that I’d done 3 laps of the park about 3 weeks ago I set into a rhythm and prepared to attack ‘Challenge Hill’ for the 1st of 4 times. I wasn’t worried about the hill but seemed more concerned about the speedy cyclists catching me. Again, I thought of ‘you vs you’ and got on with it. The first lap was quiet as I was one of the early cyclists out there but during laps 2-4 at times we were riding 4 abreast. I got over taken by no more than 20 people with some of them being ‘Ultras’ so I was impressing myself. What I did have a problem with was that my calves kept giving me ‘cramp twinges’. As we all know that when cramp sets in you are in trouble but I started to glug my Nectar Fuel Hydro Tab drink which is full of electrolytes to try to calm them down as I still had a 5km run for goodness sakes!!! I got through the cramp on laps 1-3 by also stretching my calves on the lovely fast downhill stretch from Richmond Gate to Roehampton and by lap 4 it seemed to have gone. I was well chuffed.
The course/park is fast especially as you go from gate to gate with some very tight corners and at a couple of them I felt that luck was on my side as my peddle scraped the floor on one particular tight turn. At one point I felt as mass pile up was on the cards as about 15-20 cyclists including a hand bike entered the turn but we all came out unscathed. I saw a few people sorting out punctures and about 4 people who’d been involved in accidents…this cycling lark is harder than running I thought.
As I passed Sheen crossroads for the final time I took my feet out of my shoes and peddled on top of them as all the pro’s do that 😉 and made my way back into transition. A bit of a scary moment as I misjudged the cyclist in front of me speed and did a little ‘endo’ as I slammed on my brakes. Off the bike and run into transition sounds easy but it was anything but. I was running in socks over very undulating ground with tight legs an Achilles pain ( It stems from my Marlow swim when someone landed on my calf as they jumped into the Thames) and pain in my right foot (my bike shoes are causing me this when I cycle). I got to my transition zone, racked my bike, helmet off, trainers on, took some more (still cool) water and then attempted to run the 5km route.
Doing a 5km run at the end of a 2hr+ bout of hard racing means you ain’t gonna run a PB…you ain’t gonna come close so that thought goes out of your head as you feel heavy! What I had to do is keep going, keep fighting and get to the bloody finish line!
It was hot! I was tired but I had the weight of everyone that participates in #FitTeam12 on my shoulders. Now I’ve worded that wrong on purpose as having the weight of something would be seen as a burden but I thrive on this. My job is to motivate people to get fit. Over the past 2 years I have found the power in inspiring people as well as motivating. Since joining twitter and since I’ve been ‘kicking my ass’ to get out of my comfort zone I’ve become, as a personal trainer, more succesful. The weight I’m carrying is bettering me as well as inspiring you. Ian Golden is one person who was at the duathlon today and I wanted to get to that finish line for him, for Mary Estall who was also there, Pauleen Gosnold another #FitTeam12’er, Anne even Mark Raynsford who most of you will know, I want him to push himself harder as I know he was trying to catch me the same as I was making damn sure he didn’t. Weight? What weight? These are reasons to succeed and cross that bloody line.
I looked at my Garmin and thought that I could possibly achieve a sub 2.30 but I only had one pace…stopping wasn’t and never is an option. I’ve read Mark’s blog and now know that he walked a couple of times and honestly I thought GOOD. I know Mark quite well and he’s not a quitter, so for him to walk, he cocked up somehow. Why I say GOOD is because that error, whatever it may be, will drive him on to better himself in a way that only failure does. I’ve been there and I learn more when things go wrong. To some of you this may sound a bit OTT but when you do the job that Mark and I do with the twitter following that we have, it is serious as Mark now has to go out there and lead from the front as there are a lot of you that look up to him. In the nicest possible way, well done on your ‘failure’ Mark now learn from it and inspire in next week’s duathlon!
I didn’t have the perfect race as my 5km was slow (not sure of the time) and was more about survival but I know there were things I could’ve done better and I’m always learning. Today was still ‘training’ for me as the London Triathlon is my main goal and if I can do what I did today on their flat course then I’ll be well happy.
I caught a few people on the 5km run which always helps and on approaching the finish line I remembered that I’d asked Kirsty to have Sam ready for me to carry him across the line. Now firstly, I wanted to carry Sam as he has loved the whole London 2012 experience (it’s probably the biggest thing to happen in his life of 2 years) and he likes shouting “YEEESSSS!!!” whenever an athlete wins a race or wins a medal so I wanted him to experience the whole crossing the line thing and getting the medal around his neck with people cheering. What I didn’t think about was how tired I’d be and that in the short time it would take me to slow down and get him that I might cramp up and not be able to finish the race without tears in my eyes.
As you’ve seen from the title photo, I did manage to carry him and he was smiling as we crossed the line. He got the medal around his neck and Daddy was beaming through the pain of 59kms in that heat! What I also love about the photo is the other Dad with his child on his shoulders as I hope he’s thinking ‘Next year, I’ll do that!’.
I crossed the line around the 2.31 mark and I can’t complain as getting a time wasn’t an aim, my aim was not to embarrass myself and I certainly didn’t do that especially as when I met up with Dermot from RG Active and told him my time, he took one look at my bike and said “You did 2.31 on THAT!” My back tyre is rather wide and is much wider than the front tyre and would’ve shaved a couple of minutes of my lap time if I’d had the same width on the back. My engine must be good! 😉
Recovery was as per usual with some food and drink that says to me well done on your achievement now savour me…Guinness, Burger and Chips…
London Duathlon…I’ll Be Back!!!