So the weekend was fun; I did my first event since Tenby by taking part in the 9bar sponsored DB Max Castle Combe Chilly Duathlon down Bristol way – which meant I was on the road on Sunday morning at 6:30. I figured I would dip my toe into the mythical ‘waters’ of a duathlon seen as it would be the last get together in 2014 for a lot of the 9bar team. Plus it didn’t involve any salt water, so what could possibly go wrong.
Well rewind back 24 hrs and I was on the road by 6:30 on Saturday going north to Blackpool (it turns out it was nearer Preston, but that doesn’t work for the B blog, so Blackpool it is) to see someone called the bike magician. Who despite the title, wasn’t very good at juggling bikes or making them disappear. Adequately dismayed by a complete lack of a clown suit I managed to hide my annoyances by letting him play with the bike and stare at me in my sexy red tri bib lyrca shorts for the best part of a couple of hours.
This was my first experience of a bike fit of any variety and I was suitably impressed by the tweaks he did – he fixed an issue with a broken nut on my tri bars and we played about with seat height, seat location, angles and the tri bar locations, pads etc. I have had the bike for 4 weeks (ish) and due to commitments only managed one outside ride on it, but a fair few turbo sessions have got me seemingly quite comfortable and at ease with the new steed and its positioning.
The biggest change was seat height – he raised it 4 cms; which is a big difference, moved cleat positions on my shoes, altered the length of the tri bars and where the pads actually sit. All of what he said was calm, backed up by science and experience and I came away with some helpful tips on how to maximise stroke power and things to work on. Potentially the best £35 I have ever spent in the world of triathlon. The fact that my (still considerable) weight is now seemingly correctly positioned on the bike, should mean that I am more stable and will result in less back and hand issues which I used to suffer on the longer rides.
It will take some time to now readjust again to the revisions, but I have never been more confident that a bit of science will undoubtedly help me get the most out of the bike and ultimately myself.
However I didn’t have that time as I was planning on charging around a race circuit in 24 hours’ time. First I had a date with some reindeer, Santa and bloody ice skating.
It’s fair to say I am not a fan of ice skating and strangely it’s one of my fears in life – I have a deep routed belief that I will fall over and someone will chop off either my entire hand or a number of fingers by skating over me. I like my fingers and hands and if possible I would like to keep them all for the duration of my time on earth. I dislike ice staking it so much that I have only once been before ( in New York) and that ended disastrously by me asking the current Mrs budgie to marry me.
However not wanting to be the type of parent which passes on the irrational fears onto the offspring I manned up and slowly bumbled about the ink rink, then drank a couple of Guinnesses and ate a variety of flavoured pies and fudges. Pretty sure there is carbs in peanut butter and Nutella fudge pieces right? Had a quick meeting with Santa, after a ungodly long wait and he seemed perplexed when I ask for a new Garmin for Christmas – I guess he must be more of a Suunto fan. To compound this he gave the sproglet some cheap imported guff which she lost interest in, inside 5 minutes.
Happy Christmas everyone.
So Sunday morning and after a bowl of porridge I set off for the small 3hr drive without much knowledge of what awaited me – it goes without saying that I haven’t done anything particular in the way of training for this event and so shouldn’t surprise you to hear that I didn’t win. Damn it. Maybe if I had succumbed to the breakfast urges of a burger king at every service station on the way down I might have done better. I might need to do some research on that front in the future.
I have never done a race on a proper circuit before – but this wasn’t the long course at sunny Abu Dhabi – this was the Castle Combe Motor Racing Circuit and alas it was not sunny, although it wasn’t raining which is always a bonus. Really enjoyed meeting a few more friendly 9bar faces and watching some of the pros go about their business on race day. Have to admit racking the bike was brilliant – instead of my road bike I actually felt like I knew what I was doing, which although was clearly a lie, it still made me feel good.
Having never done a duathlon I didn’t really know what to expect and as my heart rate monitor is broken and I don’t have a cycle computer on the bike I just ran as hard as possible, then biked as hard as possible and then ran with whatever I had left.
I started mid pack on the run and remained fairly constant for the duration of the circuit, which included some surprisingly muddy sections and came in to get the bike a sweaty gibbering wreck.
Least as the bike is bright red it was fairly easy to find – another bonus compared to the previous white bad boy. Out on the bike and it took me awhile to clip in, with the new cleats and pedals but I was soon into the swing of things and had a feeler of a first lap, not really knowing what the course layout was. Great to overtake more than a few and instantly felt pretty comfortable, despite the changes from 24 hours before. As its only 2 mile circuits it was great to get support as you crossed the start and finish line each time round and always good for the legs to hear your name being shouted. I counted 5 people who overtook me on the bike – majority with some form or GBR suit on but I was going well – wished I had taken a small bottle as was gasping by the time I got back to transition again, next thing to sort on the list is the hydration system on the bike (along with a new helmet).
I was shaking like a shitting dog as I attempted to swap shoes and headed out for the last run section, I managed a quick swig of water and then ran the wrong way out of transition onto a slightly different route to start with and a lot of mud and amazingly for me I didn’t deck it like usual. Again not knowing how hard I was going I just attempted to run as hard as possible and was behind the same bloke the entire run and just couldn’t bridge the gap to him. I had 10 people overtake me and I nipped in front of two for a net loss of 8 folks – which is a marked improvement from usual, where I go backwards at an alarmingly rate.
Crossed the line and couldn’t speak for a while, but wandered across to the timing posts and got my print out. Amazed at the splits and how consistent they were, also happy that the second lap wasn’t that much slower than the first.
Running 4 x almost 7 minute miles is pretty unheard of for me, especially sandwiched between a 10 mile bike – which according to the maths I managed to average 24.3 mph. – with those stats the love for the red machine grew a little bit more. It really is a thing of beauty, aside from the rider, and if I can focus on getting rid of a bit more chub again I could really start to do it justice.
Overall very happy with the weekend and the outcomes (Santa aside) and again I have renewed vigour going forward for training and events. Meeting so many of the 9bar crew and saying goodbye to the ‘mum and dad’ of 9bar was strangely emotional – it’s a strange bunch of athletes, from Ironman winners, to international long distance runners down to little (ish) old me, but everyone treats you exactly the same and it’s hard to come away with anything other than a massive confidence boost. Some inspiring stories to and offers of training camps in Spain briefly make you forget that you’re not a professional but that you have to be back at your desk in 12 hours’ time, sigh. Next up for me is the sunrise to sunset challenge on the 27th December, where I will attempt to run 30 miles before it gets dark to lose my ultra-marathon cherry.
Should be easy yes?