Late last week, it occurred to me that my first ever duathlon was on the horizon and not only had I not really practiced biking (save for a few spinning classes), I didn’t actually have a bike. Not a minor issue, considering that 10 of the race’s 13 miles were by bike. I mentioned this challenge over a lunch last weekend and as luck would have it, my friend Alexandra offered to let me borrow her bike.
Then as Friday rolled around, I realised that I had yet to even ride this bike, despite the fact that my race was on Sunday. So, on Saturday morning, I tried my borrowed bike for the first time. I was a little nervous and wobbly. Navigating London traffic is a real challenge but I figured if I could manage that, a closed course with other cyclists was going to seem easy by comparison.
The event was hosted by the East London triathletes and took place at the Lee Valley VeloPark at Olympic Park. The race consisted of a 2 mile run, 10 mile cycle and a 1 mile run. Easy, right?
It was definitely not easy, but it was a lot of fun! It was my first multi-sport race, and a really different challenge from my usual events. Despite the ferocious wind, I managed to finish with a respectable time of 1:05:43. In a small group of serious athletes with really expensive bikes, this definitely put me in the bottom in terms of finishing times, but all things considered, I’m very proud of my first race.
My run was amazing. In fact, it may very well have been some of my fastest miles ever. My first two miles were at a pace of 4:49/km and my final mile, despite having just completed a really challenging 10 mile cycle, was still just over 5:00/km. Sub 25-minute 5K, here I come! Must be all that swimming I’ve been doing recently…
That said, my cycling leaves room for improvement. The track was a curvy little course with rolling hills. One side of the track was great. Smooth, fast, free of wind. The other side was uphill into one of the most aggressive head-winds I’ve ever encountered. Despite using every ounce of leg strength I had, I felt like I was barely moving. People with super fancy bikes lapped me numerous times, speeding along as if barely trying, while I huffed and puffed up every hill.
Even though I felt like I was going at a snail pace, my lap times were pretty consistent – about 4 minutes per mile. At the time, it felt like 40 minutes per mile.
I have a lot to learn about transitions. Even though I didn’t have to change into cycling shoes, I still struggled with my helmet and awkwardly mounted my bike, veering off into the grass for a second or two. Total amateur.
But overall, it was a fantastic race. I loved the running/biking combo and challenging myself with a new type of race with a whole new strategy. And the best part about new race? Guaranteed PB. I look forward to the next (less windy) ride so I can crush this time.
Shout out to Graham for his third duathlon, Pavan for a great showing on a less than ideal bicycle, Mila for being our cheerleader and race photographer and Alexandra for lending me her bicycle.
Goal 1 of 3 for 2016: accomplished!