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TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper
TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper

Lies, Dam Lies and Statistics

TriHardAlanby TriHardAlanApr 14th 2013
Today was the Cambridge Duathlon, 7.5k 40k 7.5k. As well as being the English National Championship it was also a World Championship qualifier, for which I was registered. In the build up to the race I was realistic with my expectations in that I didn┬'t expect to qualify outright, my run training still isn┬'t up to scratch and my bike training whilst consistent is all aimed at Long Distance. Still, the night before, and I┬'m brimming with confidence. Why? I have no idea. Possibly, on some level, I┬'m inspired by others. I have several friends running the Brighton marathon, a few of which their first, and another friend attempting Kona qualification at Ironman South Africa. Maybe it was a mixture of their nerves, excitement etc rubbing off on me but I was feeling bullish and posted up on Facebook that I was ready to dig deep and hurt, just as well as it turned out┬.....

In the build up I addressed a couple of things that I thought needed attention after my last Duathlon, Althorp. First of these was transitions, they were poor last time. I practised the clipped in mounting on Saturday morning to get back to that (last season was my first doing this so still refining the art). The other thing was pacing. My second run was quicker than the first last time out, a neat trick but is it quicker overall? I┬'m not sure but I wanted to push harder on the first run and bike to make sure that second run is harder and to see if I could still run strong. I was also using an Aero helmet for the first time. When I arrived in transition I practised putting it on and taking if off with gloves on, getting used to the magnetic clasp. Frankly, I was a little inconsistent. Undoing it was fine but putting on not so good, sometimes couldn┬'t get it to clasp. More practise, reminded myself not to panic if it happens in T1 and then off to the briefing, some more warming up and the start line┬...┬...

Run 1: When I entered this I hoped for 29 minutes for both runs. And despite lacking some short course speed with the change in tactics I still expected it on the first run but it wasn┬'t to be. I felt fine, was running free of the recent hamstring and calf injuries but just not as fast as I would have liked, and I was pushing hard. I tried to treat it as an individual run, forget what was coming. As the run progressed it developed a familiar feel to it, after a sluggish start picking a few people of. A couple of guys seemed determining to outrun me but I sensed they were working harder than me so I left them to it and they eventually faded. As I made my way round the last field at the end of the run I was hurting a little and felt I had judged it just as I wanted. Time 30.13, not bad considering.

T1: It was a long thin transition and I was right at the front. Shoes of, helmet on with no problems and then weaved the bike round others down the aisle being careful to left over the speed bumps (yes, speed bumps) to make sure shoes stayed in position. Think this lost me a little time but no problems, 56 seconds.

Bike: Feet didn┬'t slip in the shoes quite as quick as I would have liked but no major problems mounting and I was of. First section was a cross wind, but after the first left turn it was in to a head wind. And on a two and a half lap course there was a lot of this. The wind was simply ferocious, in the cross winds I found myself leaning in to it at times to stay upright. Speed was hugely variable at times. With the different tactics in mind and speed variable I tried to concentrate on keeping my HR at 160 but even this was hard. I also had the strange occurrence of the elastic band on my shoe pinging my heel occasionally. It hadn┬'t snapped, but somehow slipped of the skewer and was catching on something and snapping me! Obviously an irritant rather than a pain but was glad to snap the elastic by hand at the compulsory foot down junction. Later realised this pinging had actually cut my heel! In terms of the serious business, was I catching anybody, only girls it seemed who had all started in an earlier wave. Had seen a few ┬"I┬" marked up athletes going by and a couple passed so nothing gained I don┬'t think. My legs were absolutely burning throughout and I ran out of drink before the end and was feeling thirsty but I did hold my pace till the end and was glad to get of the bike in one piece. Time, 1.14.40.

T2: Bike on rack, helmet off with no problems, shoes on and out. Passed two ┬"I┬" athletes in transition, time 37 seconds.

Run 2: Well, this was it, would I be significantly slower? I felt it! But I was passing people, everybody. My hips and quads were throbbing and I concentrated on nothing but trying to maintain good form. A few ┬"looking good┬" shouts from the marshals helped, whether they were just being encouraging or actually meant it! But it was getting harder and harder to keep going, especially as the course turned in to the headwind at various points. I was struggling, I┬'m hard pushed to think of a Duathlon second run that felt this bad. But still, I was catching loads of people, alas none from my AG, and the only people passing me were from younger AG┬'s. Round the final field towards the end of the course, the last head wind, and on to the finish line with nobody around me and a sprint hardly worthy of the name. Time, 31.20.

Total: 2.17.46. 11th in AG. Looking at the provisional results missed out on a Worlds spot by one place by just over a minute.

So, in summary, or a case of ┬"Lies, dam lies and statistics┬" if you like, was the second run adversely effected by running and biking harder before it? Hard to be conclusive but I don't think so. Majority of people in my AG had 2 or 3 minutes difference between their first and second run, mine was a minute. My last Standard Duathlon was last years Dambuster and I was two minutes quicker overall today. The bike was 5 minutes quicker. Undoubtedly the course is quicker but conditions were perfect at last year┬'s Dambuster, today was horrendous! Compared to my last Bike, Althorp, which of course was half the distance, my average speed was higher today and my average HR lower. Be easy to say the extra speed is due to the change of tactics and the extra effort but is the lower HR a sign of improved bike fitness over the last 6 weeks since Althorp? I hope so, that is the plan after all.
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