I figured out on Sunday that my first ever duathlon is only two weeks away. Sure it’s a mini one – 4km run, 20km cycle, 4km run – but that doesn’t stop me feeling worried about the distance (particularly cycling distance).
I spoke to my fellow duathlete Sarah during last week about how she is getting on and she’d felt good doing a half version of the distances (something I hadn’t attempted yet). It’s my first sporting event of the year and the nerves are setting in. I’ve been running and cycling as regularly as possible but decided with the time left I should do a trial version to see how I coped with the distances.
Stage 1 – 4km run
I set my alarm for bright and early yesterday morning so that I could do a trial run of the distances and still have time to do something else with my Sunday afternoon. Dragging Elaine with me, we set off to do a 4km close to home. Although it was a shorter distance than I was used to doing, I always find running first thing in the morning a challenge. My legs felt heavy, the distance felt much longer than it should have and I could feel that I hadn’t digested my breakfast and morning medication properly. Also, conditions weren’t great. Although the sun was out there was a very strong wind making breathing more of a challenge than it should have been. Part 1 was a bit of a drag and I was dreading the next 24km.
Stage 2 – 20km cycle
Without a doubt, this is the section I was most concerned about. I had done the same distance a few weeks before but never bookended by runs. It took about five minutes after the run to get all our kit sorted and bikes ready, but once we got going, I started to enjoy myself. The wind that had been challenging during stage 1 had died down and the sun was heating up so that it was even warm in the shade now.
We took the same busy route through Camden to Regent’s Park with a couple of challenging hills that seemed like they would never end. Once we had reached the park, we raced five 1km laps of the inner park road to see what time we could do it in. I managed in 15 minutes and 20 seconds which I was happy with. We then took a 20 minute break stretching out in the sun (I was craving a caffeine fix) before heading back home. Although I had the traffic lights with me on the way home, I was still overtaken by casual cyclists and a grandad out with his small grandson who was holding onto the front handlebars. Think it’s safe to say I’m not going to be the next Bradley Wiggins.
We ended up doing 21km by the time we reached home and my legs were starting to feel like jelly as I stepped off the bike and got ready for stage 3. This was the bit I had been waiting for.
Stage 3 – 4km run
Within the first few steps I knew I wouldn’t be able to race the last 4km in. The switch between cycling and running made it feel like I had to train my legs how to run again – gradually – or I might fall over. I ran the same route as earlier still lacking any spring in my step – here I was thinking the running part would be easy.
Consciously trying to do a better time than the first 4km, where I was coasting, I managed to shave about three and a half minutes off by sprinting the last half km. The knowledge that I would get to stop at the end driving my tired legs on.
It took me around two hours (excluding breaks) to complete the duathlon. After I stopped, I had enough energy to do some cleaning and go for a light walk before finding a comfortable armchair to relax in.
I’m feeling much more comfortable about the duathlon being days away now that I’ve tested myself. As long as I’m feeling good and get enough rest in the week before, I am now confident I’ll be able to cross the finish line which is more than I could say yesterday.