The Wildman Duathlon took place at Hankley Common and consisted of a 10km run , 18km bike and 5km run . After already completing the two previous Duathlons in the winter series my focus was on maintain form and pace during the last 5km. As the gun went off I kept on telling myself “I’ll be catching up with you lot later!” as I was over taken by a steady stream of runners anxious to win the race in the first ten minutes. Of course some would, but I was hoping to reel some athletes in during the final run. After the first lap, comprising of a long steady ascent, 10 metre muddy water dip and two notable hills at the end, I focused on running at my own pace for the second lap. Into transition feeling comfortable I decided to put another layer on as the wind had picked up and I didn’t want to get cold. In hindsight I should have selected a different clothing strategy as I lost 40 to 50 seconds in transition. Out on the two lap bike course, I suddenly realised how challenging cycling on sand was. Not only does it sap your strength, your front wheel has a mind of its own…. as I found out on a particularly loose section of track as I went over the handle bars. On the positive side, sand is relatively soft :J. There were a couple of fun downhill sections with loose rocks, surprise drop offs and ascents requiring a dismount to complete the hills. Coming into T2 I knew I had recovered a few places during the bike and was ready for a quick transition to overtake a youngster who had flown past me on the last descent. Having transitioned well I took 30 seconds out of this youngster, but more importantly confidence was high and I was chasing down my next victim athlete. During the next 4km I ran down 3 or 4 more athletes to place myself about 20 seconds behind another male vet at the bottom of the final two leg sapping hills. I managed to get right up behind him at the top of the first hill but the quads where destroyed and could only hold my position to the finish line. Overall I had a solid race and paced it as planned leaving fuel in the tank for the final run.
After a disastrous 1st race at the New Forest Olympic distance last summer I swore that I would never race again. But, as you know, the bug bites!
Thanks to CWTC and Jo Friel’s Bible I made modest progress. My personal goals for 2012 are to complete a 70.3, an ironman and GB age group (50-54) selection for the worlds in NZ. What I lack in talent I make up for in ‘aspiration’. Many have warned that the Ironman (IM) is not compatible with selection with only 8 weeks gap between them. Time will tell!
My key problem was how to get motivated in the winter, hence deciding on the 70.3 and IM. That meant looking for warm weather. By chance, a brand new Tri circuit have been set-up in the US (see the website at http://hitstriathlonseries.com/ ) with 13 events over the year at every distance. The HITS Series is the brainchild of Tom Struzzieri, Mark Wilson and Dave Scott (5 times winner at Kona) and is in its first year. I entered the 1st event at Naples, Florida on 11 Jan. The flights were dirt cheap, the entry cost less than the UK 70.3 and the weather was perfect. I even rented a great bike locally which saved hassle and cost. Having joined their pasta party on Friday night and acted as a volunteer for their sprint and OD courses on Sat, the Half and full IM started at 7am on Sun. We were briefed on the Gulf beach as the sun was rising. We swam with a pod of 20 dolphins 25m from us and pelicans flying overhead … it sure beat the black line at Westgate! The Bike was superbly organised with a fast straight course, using over 50 police to block off the roads to allow us to keep cadence high at all times. The run was just long, hot (76 degrees) and hard – I made the rookies error of taking a new carb gel on the run and was doubled over in pain 15 mins later!
My splits were S 36;B 2:44; R 1:50; total 5:15. I had aimed for 6hrs, so chuffed with 12th place and 2nd in age group. I am now set for the Full IM on 24 Mar in Ocala, Florida (just North of Orlando) … another dirt cheap flight (actually free because Delta Airways ‘bumped’ me off my flight on 4 Jan, sent me a day later and gave me a $1000 token). But first some serious training to do … the Lanzarote long distance camp for 2 weeks in late Feb and a few lonely miles on roads/pool/track! I can’t recommend the HITS team highly enough. it was an incredibly friendly atmosphere, very relaxed and a series that is surely going to be a huge success.
PS. At the breakfast after the event, a competitor, John Wragg, was giving me a few tips on the full IM. At 61, he seemed experienced … I asked him how many he had done. He holds the world record … the event on the 11 Feb was his 131st IM!!!! I just want to finish one!