I don’t want to be coy about it… I LOVED the London Duathlon, I loved being in Richmond Park, I loved cycling and I loved shouting ‘on your right!’ whilst overtaking guys in aero helmets riding TT bikes. It was my first ever time competing in a multi-disciplinary event and its safe to say it wont be the last.
Being my first Duathlon I didn’t really know what to expect. I had however done a lot of internet research… so in theory… I knew how it all worked. But then in theory I know how to make a lobster bisque (avid Masterchef fan) so I guess that’s neither here nor there.
I signed up for this race way back at the beginning of the year and not knowing any better had gone for the Classic distance (10k run – 44k bike – 5k run). At this point I could barely cycle one lap of Richmond Park, so four laps preceded and followed by a run was going to be a bit of a shock to the system.
Following the fairly disastrous Edinburgh marathon I wanted to shake up my training and see if incorporating some strength work would make a difference. Since June I have been working with the lovely Baz Moffat (point2fitness and Crewroom) to get fitter and generally be less weedy. I think it must be working as well because I don’t think I have ever felt so on form as I did on Sunday. Despite expecting to hit a wall I just felt stronger and stronger as the race went on. Basically the exact opposite to how I felt in Edinburgh. Happy days.
Anyway enough waffling…
On Sunday morning the entire Farrington posse (Mum, Dad, Sister, Grandad, Uncle Stuart, his mate Roger) arrived bright and early in Richmond Park and despite the weather forecast looking absolutely dire all week the sun was out and the expected gale was just a light breeze. As we followed the trail round to the starting area we watched the Ultra distance competitors setting off on their first run leg (a mere half marathon) and after pausing to cheer those crazies on we made our way over the big bridge and into the transition area.
Arriving at about 9.15am for a predicted 10:30-11am start turned out to be pretty perfect tactics as after a quick brakes and helmet strap check by the marshals I was in transition with my pick of the rack spots. Again having no real idea what I was doing I followed a couple of Kingston Wheelers (my Dads cycle club) who looked like they had done this sort of thing before and attempted to copy their set up exactly.
Helmet went over handlebars with sunglasses (optimistic) inside, gloves on the drops, cycling shoes on the towel next to the bike and I taped a couple of gels to the top tube with electrical tape (one of the tricks I picked up from my hours of internet research). All set. Before I left I made sure to put the bike in a low gear so when running out of transition and getting on the bike I would be able to pedal straight from the off. Coming out of transition there was now a fairly lengthy queue so I was chuffed to have got in and sorted when I did.
Granddad advising me today was not the day to attempt my first flying dismount
In no time at all we were being called to the start and they began setting us off in waves of 20 every 75 seconds.
Surrounded by tall blokes in tri-suits in the starting pen
Run 1 (10k): 53:48
My race plan was basically to take it really steady in the 10k because there was an extremely good chance of death by bike.
I set off up Sawyer’s hill merrily bouncing along and generally really enjoying myself. It was exciting to watch people cycling in the other direction and knowing Richmond Park like the back of my hand I knew exactly where we were going and what was coming up next. The 10k flew by and though it wasn’t particularly quick I felt 100% fresh going into transition.
I have no idea what I was doing that took 3 minutes, ultimate faffing.
Post faffing, running the bike out of transition and up to the mount line went smoothly and I hopped aboard and set off. Things did not go so smoothly for the guy in front of me who attempted a sprint into flying mount and instead executed a perfect face plant into the ground in front of his handlebars.
Sound advice Granddad.
Bike (44k): 1.33.18
Richmond Park is my home turf and I practised all my brick sessions on the exact bike route the London Duathlon follows. I figured this was the only way of knowing what I was really in for and also meant I always knew what was coming up, where to push, where to change gears and how much further to go.
The stars really aligned for me during the bike, I don’t know how it happened. Maybe it was all the baguettes I ate on #letour or maybe it was my new found quad muscles but I felt so strong. During the last couple of laps in particular I felt like I was flying past people. I saw the time on my bike computer click over to 1.30 as I came down the final straight towards transition and I just couldn’t believe how good I felt.
I bet Non Stanford never has to stop and blow her nose
Run 2 (5k): 22.49
I knew the 5k route was basically uphill to the Ballet School and then downhill to the finish. A lot of people seemed to be really struggling at this point, and I guess if you’re not expecting the first 2k to be uphill it can be a bit of a mental blow. I decided to not look at my watch take it steady up the hill and then just concentrate on picking off and passing people on the way down.
I tucked in behind a couple of guys and just hung onto their heels. There was loads of support around the entrance to the finish chute and I made it my mission to take down as many people as I could with a finishing sprint. Mission accomplished!
In all the excitement I walked straight past the medals/goodie bags/bananas and tried to remain upright while the many family members I had present all took their own identical personal photo.
My finishing time put me in 3rd place in the 20-24 age group (out of about 8 so don’t get too excited!) and 31st overall. I reckon next year I would want to knock at least ten minutes off that though so watch this space!
Like I said at the beginning I thought the event was fantastic, but here are a few of the key plus and minus points.
- Over zealous 2014 entry pushing: from the moment you were in the starting area, people with iPads were trying to talk you into buying an entry into next years London Duathlon.
Rosie looking super keen to sign up for 2014.
- Richmond Park: the perfect setting for a multi-sport endurance event.
- The volunteers: were amazing, incredibly supportive and generally brilliant. Special shout out to the guy at the turn off to the 5k route who took my gel packets and water bottle when there was no bin around, and the blonde girl at the entrance to the bridal path who was shouting encouragement continuously throughout the whole 3 hours and the five times I went past her.
- Organisation: was basically seamless, Limelight Sports really know how to put on a good show.
- I will definitely be back next year, in fact I have already been researching other Duathlon’s – I think this might be my new addiction.
Ealing Half Marathon in two weeks! Lets see if I can remember how to run further than 6 miles.
Over and out.
Polly ‘Duathlete’ Farrington