Season ending Ballbusting!
by tiggaNov 8th 2010
There really are so many reasons I love the Ballbuster duathlon.
Boxhill is incredibly beautiful on the right day, the Zig Zag (that's the 2.5km hill we ride up at the end of every lap), the great organisation by Humanrace, an end of season blowout, stiff opposition, superb bikers bike course, the other competitors thoroughly enjoying the challenge, the cheers at the top of the hill on each of the five laps... but most of all it was my very first race in the UK back in 1999.
I'd come from SA via a duathlon season in Europe and was told that training and racing the UK is just not the same as SA, so when I'd arrived in the UK in the back of my mind I knew that I may never race duathlon again. The Ballbuster changed that thinking and before I knew it I was back on the training and racing wagon. I won it back in 1999, returned to get beaten by Gary Gerrard and his still standing course record day in 2001. Won again in winter editions of this now bi-annual race in both 2008 and 2009. Effectively means I've only been beaten once, by the guy that set the course record which will be 10 years old next year! This year, 2010, meant for a whole lot of selfish and personal satisfaction I wanted this win more than any other year. Firstly it would mean a win of this race in three different decades and secondly I'd won a duathlon/triathlon every year since 1995, some big ones some small ones all the same I'd won nothing this year and it's a record I'm secretly quite proud of. Not so secret now I guess;-)
For those two reasons I trained hard, after a year of racing long distance tri/duathlon my running speed was non-existent but my biking has been super strong all year apart from the one 'blip' that was BALA.... grrrrrrrr!!
I felt like I was in a better place when I started the race preparation this year compared to last year. Post Zofingen last year I had a torn calf and suffered a cold, this year although Zofingen didn't quite go to plan, I recovered well and was able to get back into some resemblance of speed training after a 2 week easy period. I know I was never going to get to 42min BB run shape which I did when I set my best time, but I felt so much stronger the bike that I thought I'd run well off the bike. I got in four weeks of track workouts and a long run that I'd built from 23km to 30km. I was however, still 'sprinting' my track sessions and they weren't particularly fast. The first run I saw as my weakness, but it's hard to train your weakness for an event in just 5 weeks.
As I've said before, this race brings out all sorts of athletes. Triathletes, hardcore duathletes, speedy runners, strong biker boys and their toys.... if I wanted this win, I knew I had to be in shape for a course record if the weather was good. I did my usual homework on the competitive field that was on the startlist with Matt Moorehouse, David Vaughn, Rich Hunt probably my biggest rivals given they are more experienced duathletes, but of course I noticed a 65min half marathon man in there, a decent trigeek, an awesome biker chap who'd done a 75minute half marathon but never a duathlon, on top of which there were a couple of newbie duathletes. Probably not quite as strong as long years field, but nonetheless a competitive one.
My tactic is the same every year... ease into the run, don't run the steep downhills hard on the first run loop and once it flattens out and then goes vertical for the final 2.5km - have a burn up into T1. It normally works quite well as the transition area is long and you get a decent break running your bike across some bumpy, muddy, wet grass before you hop onto the bike and head up a 'false flat' for about 1km or so. Everyone says to pace yourself on the bike... but I know this first lap of the bike is the only time I won't be lapping anyone, or even see anyone on the course so I really do blast it. The roads this year however, were a lot wetter than last year and although it would not normally slow me by much, when lapping lots of fellow competitors my corner speed is pretty much limited to their speed up to a point. It's the same for my main opposition so I know it's not a big deal... but if I compare it to when I raced in 2001 on dry roads and fewer competitors, I was going to struggle to make up time on the bike if I was looking at the course record. I fully expected to be slower than last year, it just felt slower... so was pleasantly surprised when I found out I'd bike over a minute quicker than last year? Lee Rankin had punctured whilst in second place, Hugh Mackenzie crashed out and broken all sorts of bones whilst in second too, unfortunately David Vaughn's car broke down just 7miles from the start on the way to the race and poor Matt Moorehouse suffered a calf injury which kind of left the way for me to hop off the bike in T2 with a healthy 4min lead. I knew I was off course record pace but still ran reasonably hard in the second run to try record the fastest 2nd run of the day. In the end I had a whopping 7min lead, I'd felt strong all day and finished in 2hr37min58secs in what I'd consider pretty tricky conditions. Maybe it was not raining, but it was wet and the number of people simply not riding on the left side of the road made it hard to pass sometimes.
This was a very satifying race win, but do feel like I would have enjoyed it more if I'd been in a ding dong battle.
Following the race we made a dash back home, quick shower and went to watch some rugby in Wimbledon town where South Africa pipped them Irish and my mates made sure I celebrated the victory and season ending race by keeping my beer glass full and making sure I was keeping up my fair share of Jaegerbombing! Not only did I wake up with aching legs, but my head felt a bit worse for wear too... what kind of mates do I have eh? Well, I have to say they made the effort to come along and watch and cheer which meant getting up at early bells for the 8am start, so I guess the only thing I could really do is 'drink up'. All year I've had the excuse that I have another race in the pipe line... that excuse had run dry now!
It's now time to take stock, have a breather enjoy some time out.
So for now I'll say thanks to my team... Team Feat, a great bunch of people with whom I've enjoyed a cracking season. The team did not exist a year ago, now we are 70+ strong friendly bunch of athletes, long may the fun continue!
Of course thanks to my mates, and a huge well done to all those that got around their race course, wherever and whenever it was!!
RAAM looms large on the horizon in 2011 and Team Feat will be there and loving it!
PS Photo attached. L-R: Ant finishing, Ant+his sister Caryn (the photgrapher), me on da bike, Pat me and Geoff, Stefano me Geoff & Ant, me collecting prizes... yay!!, Focus before the start!
Edited to add some stats my GPS threw at me:
Fastest 1km in the first run: 3min4sec
Slowest 1km first run: 4min05sec
Boxhill ascent first run: 10min5secs
Fastest 5km on the bike: 6min20sec
Fastest speed: 68.5km/hr
Slowest 5km: 10min27secs
Fastest ascend of the hill: 6min08secs
Fastest 8mile lap: 20min45secs
Fastest km in second run: 3min21sec
Slowest km: 4min21sec
Boxhill ascend second run: 10min40secs