Oulton Park Standard Distance Duathlon was my first event of the year, and I was really looking forward to it. Having done some good consistent training since Christmas, I thought it would be good to test myself in a race.
The race consisted of an 8.6km run (two laps of the race circuit), a 38.8km bike (nine laps of the circuit), followed by a 4.3km single run lap.
I arrived at the venue with plenty of time to spare, so once I’d registered, I enquired whether I would be allowed onto the track to ride a lap as a reccie. There were a couple of other competitors who were also asking the same thing. Unfortunately we were told it wouldn’t be possible, as there were currently still cyclists on the course from the earlier sprint event, and even once that had finished, they wanted to keep the course clear. Un-deterred by this, I had a short ride around the considerable grounds to make sure everything was set up perfectly with my bike, and then went to watch the finish of the sprint.
Transition was in the pits, where the cars would normally pull in, so it was long and thin, and set down from the race circuit. I had realised from the race notes, that we wouldn’t have much time before the start of the race to get set up in transition, as the sprint competitors had to clear out all their bikes and gear before the standard distance competitors would be allowed in, so I queued up with my bike to get in as soon as possible.
I got into transition with about 45 minutes to get ready before the race brief. I had spent some time working on my transitions with Rodge, and I was determined to make sure I got it right. I have a real tendency to “faff about” in transition, and to “sort it out” is one of the targets I have set myself for this season. I practised the run in/outs and bike in/outs as part of my warm up and planned out T1 and T2 in my head.
The race started with a mass start on “the grid” start line. On the blow of a whistle we were underway, and everybody shot off at a very fast pace. Although I was anticipating this, it quickly became apparent that there were some fast runners taking part, but I didn’t panic, and resolved to stick to my own pace.
After completing the two laps of the course, I went into T1 quite a way down the field with about 30 women in front of me, but I was confident that I’d be able to pull some time back on the bike. T1 went really well, no faffing!
Although I hadn’t had chance to ride the bike course, having just run two laps of the course I was aware of where the bends and undulations were. This meant that I could get into my rhythm pretty quickly.
The track was quite narrow in places, with the inside part sectioned off for runners, so it proved congested at times. There were several bends, although none were too sharp, and just three small uphills, only one of which was steep enough that you’d get out of the saddle. This meant that I was able to stay on the aerobars for virtually the whole 9 laps.
Knowing that the bike is where I am strongest, I concentrated really hard on holding my line and pushed the pace as hard as I could. Apart from suffering from a little cramp on the last two laps, the bike leg went well.
T2 went according to plan, and I was out onto the final run lap. I was aware that I’d gained significantly on bike, having passed many, so my plan was very simple, to run as hard as I could, and hope to hold off as many as I could before the finish line. I ended up being passed by five women on the final run, finishing 12th female overall, and 2nd in my Age Group. The 2nd place in AG means that I have qualified for the 2015 ITU World Duathlon Championships in Adelaide this October. Amazing!
I was also very pleased to note that I posted the fastest female bike time on the day. Not bad for my first ever duathlon, I’ll just have to learn to run a bit faster for next time!! (Wendy Drake)