Freedom Tri Club Duathlon

Well I don’t normally blog about small, exclusive, club races, but I’ve written a fairly detailed debrief to my mate Paul, so decided to use that email as the basis for a race report.

The club only duathlon was due to be raced on a mid September evening, but was rescheduled to Sunday morning due to losing light too early.

The weather for the week had been pretty lousy, and the forecast was for heavy rain.  I posted on the club forum that I was a fair weather cyclist, and if it was raining when I woke up on Sunday morning, I was staying in bed.

Some Rain

Some Rain

I was promptly quoted rule #5, and thought better of skipping out.

This is peer pressure in action – these guys are going to have me sniffing glue and shoplifting by the end of the week!  I jest, my club mates from Freedom Tri are an encouraging and supportive lot, and their gentle cajoling was taken in the spirit intended.

The weather was actually OK on Saturday morning, so I was hopeful that it might be OK on Sunday morning.

I couldn’t have been more wrong!

The alarm went off at 7am, and I jumped out of bed and looked out of the window.  It didn’t look THAT bad, but to be fair, it was still pretty dark.

I crept out of the bedroom, then crept back into the bedroom to grab running tights to put on under my cycling shorts.  I have no idea why I didn’t just put on my cycling tights, but never mind!

I forgot to photograph breakfast, but it looked a bit like this:



Nutritious and delicious.

I had already decided that I was going to ride to the start of the race, as it was only a couple of miles away.  I was going to get wet anyway, do I thought I might as well get on with it.  In the 10 minutes or so I was riding to get there, I was bloody soaked already!

The duathlon is a run/bike/run, and thankfully this one was quite short – 3k run/10k bike/3k run.  The run is partly on the Letchworth Greenway, and partly cross country.  The bike leg is the Standalone 10k loop, just starting at a slightly different point.

Getting off my bike at the start, I fiddled with my watch a bit, and thought I’d successfully put it into multi-sport mode. There was so much rain on my glasses and the watch, that I couldn’t really see what I was doing. Somehow I managed to start it straight away, so was off to a bad start.

The race was handicapped, starting with the slowest, the at 5 minute intervals, to try and group the finish together.  I was in the second wave with three other club mates, Angela, Anna and John.

I didn’t realise my cock up with my watch until after the first half mile or so, so reset the watch, and just put it in “run” mode.  I wouldn’t have the splits for each leg of the duathlon, but I wasn’t going to stop to mess about with my buttons.

The run was tough. It was only 3k, but cross country, parts were pretty muddy, and it was quite hilly.  Running across one of the exposed fields, the wind really took it out of me.

I did manage to catch up with Alison and Jackie though – the two girls who started 5 minutes before me.  Out of my foursome, John and Angela had gone off ahead, but I had pulled slightly ahead of Anna.

The first run was over in about 16 minutes, and then it was time to change shoes, get the helmet and gloves on, and get out on the bike. Getting into cold and wet shoes and gloves was pretty grim, and took a good bit longer than a transition should.

I was out on the bike after a couple of minutes, and zooming along through the rain. There was a pretty horrible headwind in places, and the rain was hurting my face. I’m sure it wasn’t cold enough, but it did feel like it was hailing at one point.

Anna and Jackie got out of transition ahead of me, and Chris overtook me about half way through the bike leg. I managed to get ahead of Jackie again, and speedy Jane who started 5 minutes after me overtook me towards the end of the bike leg.

Back into transition to ditch the bike gear, and after emptying the rain water from my running shoes, I was back out across the fields. I couldn’t see a thing – the rain had steamed my glasses up, so I decided to take them off to carry them.  My vision generally isn’t great, but felt less impaired without the glasses!

I was overtaken by Gareth about a third of the way into the second run, then I didn’t see any of the other competitors until the end.

I got back to the finish, to be greeted by my club mates.  After a couple of minutes, we were all finished.

It was still chucking it down, so after a few minutes of chat, we called it a day.

I rode home, slightly faster than I rode there, and had a bath to dry off.

I have no idea of my finish time or position – the results haven’t been posted on the club forum yet.

Here’s my Garmin link –

I hope I got in under the hour, but I think it’ll be a bit tight!


Standalone 10k race report


So, back to where it all started – my favourite race of the year, the Standalone 10k.  I ran this race in 2010 as my first race, and have ran it every year since.

It’s a very friendly race, the North Herts Road Runners seem like a very friendly bunch, and they’ve been organising the race for donkey’s years, so it’s a very slick operation.

Despite having done loads of training for triathlon this season, my distance running has been massively neglected over the past few months, and I’ve only ran the 10k distance a handful of times since my last half marathon at the beginning of May, so I’ve not been that confident about the distance.

I’ve had a year long goal of running a sub 50 minute 10k, and had been hoping (hoping rather than training!) that the Standalone 10k would be the perfect time to do it.  The training hasn’t been there though – I haven’t ran a decent paced 5k for ages, let alone 10k, so the prospect of accomplishing this goal seemed unlikely on this occasion.

Spin forward to Sunday morning, and being so local, it felt like a lie in – the start time was 9:30, which is late, compared to the crack of dawn triathlons.  I had the usual breakfast of porridge and a coffee, and we headed out at 8:30, collecting Tom en route.

I’d cycled over to collect our race numbers on Saturday afternoon, so we didn’t have to queue up to register on the day.  This is quite a big race – I think there were 1,400 places available, and it was sold out, so there were a lot of people about.  There were a lot of supporters too – friends, family and children bowling up to cheer on the runners.

I met up with a load of old school friends who were running, as well as club mates from Freedom Tri.  Sam and her Mum, Pat, headed towards the back of the pack, as Sam’s been suffering from various niggles, so the goal for them was to just get around.

Feeling optimistic, I lined up at the start between the 45 and 50 minute markers, and it was soon time to start.  The klaxon sounded promptly at 9:30, and we were off.  I set off with Emma, Tom and Nick.  The lads soon disappeared off into the distance, and I ran the first 2 miles with Emma.  She was unfortunately suffering with a bit of a niggle, so we parted company, and off I went.

Miles 1 and 2 were 8:19 and 8:24, so a bit off the required pace of 8 minutes per mile to get under 50 minutes.  I managed to pick up during the 3rd mile, recording my quickest mile of the race at 8:16.  I think I overcooked it a bit though, because I was struggling by this point.  I crossed the half way 5k marker in 25:47, and half way in, I started feeling really hot.  The sun was blazing down, and I was dressed all in black, which didn’t help.

I was slowing down, and getting hotter, and miles 5 and 6 are pretty much all uphill.   Self preservation kicked in, and I decided I was going to have to walk a couple of the hills.  I walked 3 times in total during miles 5 and 6, and they took me 9:06 and 8:55 respectively.  I only walked for 0.35 miles in total, over a time of 3:44, so my walking pace is 10:40 per mile.  Not sure that’s right, but never mind.

I managed to pick up the pace for a strong finish, and the final 0.23mile too me 1:34, so a pace of 6:46 – one thing I am happy with! 😀

My official finish time was 53:31, so a personal best for the distance, and a decent personal best of the course.  At the finish, there were plenty of bottles of water and free bananas, as well as a very good quality technical t-shirt memento.

I am disappointed not to have gone sub 50, but would have needed a miracle – the training just hasn’t been there.  Considering what I’ve done this season, I’m pretty content.  I have done neither the miles or the speed work to deserve a sub 50, but I will aim to get there by the end of the year.

To give an idea of my progress, here’s my results from previous years Standalone 10k races.

2010 – 1:09:24
2011 – 0:56:18
2012 – 1:11:39
2013 – 0:53:31

And here’s my all important Garmin stats.