Monday, January 20, 2020

Race Report - Newbury Duathlon 26 March 2011

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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.

From about the 1km mark it was clear I didn’t have much in my legs, so just settled on a measured first run and then planned to give it everything on the bike.  The 5km run course (actually about 4.7km) contains a couple of hills that get your heart working, and with my legs in sub-prime condition I was suffering (dark thoughts in my mind, not good).  Still, I staggered into T1 in 19:08 (nearly 90 seconds faster than my 2010 time of 20:32).  Transition 1 was dispatched in 28 seconds and straight onto the bike with no problems this week (unlike Dambuster!).

I picked off my first ‘target’ on the bike after less than a kilometre, but then settled in for a lonely ride for the next 4km or so.  I could see a pair of riders in blue tops about 1km ahead but it took a while to close them down (unsurprisingly they were still well within drafting distance when I did catch them both up; but more on this later – rant warning…). 

I have to admit I’ve become accustomed to my races going like this:  Get into T1 mid-pack, overtake lots on the bike, get overtaken by a few on the second run.  But Newbury was different, with only a handful of places made up on the bike – it turns out I actually had the 9th fastest bike, yet it didn’t feel it at the time.

While it’s normally my favourite part of a duathlon, I really didn’t enjoy the bike ride at Newbury.  The road surfaces were poor, the topography just didn’t suit me (long slow hills) and the junctions were frankly dangerous in places – there was one particular junction which was not highlighted as a danger spot, but I came to it way too fast and nearly overshot the turn – if a car had been coming the other way it would have been ‘goodbye Matt’.  Now, I know it’s my responsibility to navigate junctions safely, but there was no effort from the race organisers or marshals to point out just how tight the turn was.

Anyway, whinge over. I came into T2 with a bike split of 44:52 for the 25km (three minutes faster than my 47:53 in 2010) and it was off onto the second run.  By now I had nothing left in my legs, so the second 5km run was simply a case of keeping one front in front of the other and vice versa.  I lost a few places, but by this time the field was getting pretty strung out.  I was surprised to see the all-white trisuit of occasional training buddy Michael Randall up ahead and I have to confess this gave me a bit of a boost to finish strong.  I passed Mikey with just under 1km to go and he complained of cramp – tough luck as he’d had a fantastic race in 2010.

Onto the playing field for the final pre-finish lap and I could see that not only was I unlikely to catch the guy in front, but I also had a good gap behind me, so I just concentrated on maintaining a good strong pace to the finish.  The second run came in at 21:26; far from great but still an improvement on 2010 (by 40 seconds).

Overall time for the 5 / 25 / 5 duathlon (GPS confirms overall distance was bang on, if you include transitions) was 1:26:21 – good enough for 3rd in the 35-39 age group and 15th overall.  More importantly, it was a significant improvement on 2010’s 1:32:10.  In fact, I improved in every single part of the race, including transitions.

So despite heavy legs and feeling the effects of racing plus a full week of training, I have to be satisfied with my performance gains.  However, I’m not sure if I’ll do the race again though, for two reasons:

1. The bike course really doesn’t play to my strengths. I don’t like the poor road surfaces, long slow climbs and I think some of the junctions are just plain dangerous.

2. The lack of motorcycle referees meant that I saw two extremely blatant examples of drafting (and more ‘pack riding’).  One I’ve already mentioned above, but far worse was competitor 22 (you can look him up, I won’t name him here) who came past me about 12-14km into the ride with his Bianchi road bike tucked right into the wheel of a very fast guy on a Specialized Transition.  The two of them stayed in my sight for the next 2km or so and not once did competitor 22 break from the Specialized’s back wheel.  Frankly, that kind of cheating just pisses me off.

Finally a note on the event itself.  First of all thanks to Team Kennett for allowing me to be very naughty and register at the last minute.  Thanks also to the marshals who were, on the whole, great.  Just please have a think about doing more to slow competitors down ahead of that junction in East Ilsley!

Still, focusing back on me and my race, here are my takeaways:

Three Negatives

1. I was tired, wouldn’t have raced normally
2. I really don’t like the bike course!
3. I had the wrong mental attitude at times, came very close to DNF

Three Positives

1. My first AG podium of 2011!
2. Run #1 was strong, despite feeling really tired
3. Even though I dislike the bike course, I was still three minutes faster than 2010

Three Must-dos

1. Same as Dambuster, need more hills work on bike
2. Need to be stronger mentally and dig deeper
3. Be more intelligent about ‘riding the course’

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Matt Fisher runs - so it's all his fault! He pretends to be a triathlete, but really he is a husband, father and company VP. But he has raced for the GB Age Group squad a few times and is a two-times qualifier for the IM70.3 world champs


  • Jo Tuesday, 29 March 2011

    Hi Matt!

    Really like your site and blog. Congrats on moving up in the world to your own site from triblogs!

    I have my own tri training blog and if you have a chance to check it out, I would really appreciate it!" rel="nofollow">

    Keep up the awesome work!

  • Matt Fisher Thursday, 07 April 2011

    Looks great Jo! I especially like your salmon reicpe, might have to try that one ;)

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