Thursday, November 23, 2017

I’d heard rumours it’s always windy at Dorney Lake.  But nothing quite prepared me for the howling gales that greeted me as I parked up and got the bike out of the car for the Beijing sprint triathlon qualifier on Sunday morning. 

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(First of all, this is a long post, I apologise in advance!)

In case you hadn’t noticed (hard not to, what with my incessant Tweets and Facebook updates!), this weekend saw my first opportunity to don the Great Britain age group team trisuit and compete at the European Duathlon Championships in Limerick, Ireland.

After a cramped but bearable (and cost effective!) car / ferry journey to Limerick, we checked into the Maldron Hotel on the outskirts of Limerick (a great find by Rach – and very accommodating to three athletes arriving with a truck-load of kit) and got the bikes squared away.

We decided to take a quick shake down of the bikes to check the journey hadn’t affected the gears etc.  As we were leaving, I spotted my seat post had dropped a touch and made the decision to raise it back up.  Mistake.  Drama #1 ensued as we were unable to get my seat post bolt to hold and it kept slipping back down.  A little swearing and much brute force later, we did manage to get it tight and even took the risk of raising the seat 5mm or so (Mark had previously noted he thought I was too low on the bike).

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So let’s get the excuses out of the way right now.  I was tired from my exploits at Dambuster plus a full week’s worth of heavy training.  Newbury Duathlon was not an A race by any means, but having competed in the pilot event in 2010, I was keen to measure my improvements over the last 12 months.

And so it was that I lined up with the other 181-odd competitors on Saturday morning, with legs as heavy as lead and a very tight left hamstring.  The start was on a sports field still damp with morning dew, which is I suspect what lead to the guy in front of me taking a faceplant within 50 metres or so of the starting ‘gun’.  Unfortunately, I went down straight over the top of him!  Somehow I think managed to commando roll back into an upright position and was back in the main pack.

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DambusterHaving visited Rutland Water three times in 2010 for the Duathlon, Triathlon and Vitruvian in a support capacity, Saturday saw me make my competitive debut at this iconic British multisport venue. 

For me, entry to the Dambuster Duathlon was primarily an exercise of course familiarisation ahead of the Triathlon later this year.  With running my weakest discipline, I was never going to challenge the front-runners (well, not this year, anyway!) but I had personal goals for each leg that would show whether or not I am making progress in training.

Unlike all three visits last year, which were invariably cold and wet, the weather conditions on Saturday were near-ideal. The clear frosty start did lead to a clothing dilemma (a lot of people later admitted to over-dressing) but it turned into a beautiful morning.

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MAD Tri teamSo today was my first multisport race of 2011; a good opportunity to test the effectiveness of my Winter base training before we get into speedwork in earnest. Matters were not helped on Friday when something in my back went 'pop!' and I've been subsequently left popping ibuprofen and cocodomol for the last 48 hours. I'm not quite sure what I've done, whether its muscular or a trapped nerve. All I know is that it's bloody painful!

Whatever, it was far from ideal timing and lead me to be in pain before I even started the race.

For once, the weather was bright (if, as always, breezy) at Castle Combe, which made a very welcome change from the usual drizzle regular competitors must have become used to. As my fourth appearance at a Chilly Duathlon, my main goal was to continue the trend of setting a PB each time.

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