High pressure over the Scotland meant for a beautiful sunny day on Saturday but the temperature dropped significantly over night and, coupled with the start of British summer time, the frost was laying thick when we left the house to pick up Roy at 6:30am on our way to the Scottish National Duathlon Championships at Stirling University Campus. There was no change to the temperature on arrival as we registers and went to set up T1/2 hanging our bikes on ice covered scaffold poles. A quick recce of the transition area bike in, run in, bike out and run out followed by memorising the bike location and Roy and I headed off on our pre-race rituals. Race briefing was at 8:50am and we listened to the course details with 4 laps of the run course, two laps of the bike course, coming back through the campus, and passed the spectators, finishing with two more laps of the run course making up the 10km, 42km and 5km standard distance duathlon.
The sprint distance event covering half the distance set off ahead of us by about 5-minutes which kept us hopping about on the start line to avoid frosting up. A very long 1-minute to go and we were off initially on grass but then soon on the tarmac and the start of the nasty hill that joins the two halves of the run course. The run soon settle out courtesy of the hill and we settled into our paces returning down the hill to loop round on the grass passed the spectators to start the second lap. A bit busier the second and third lap up the hill with sprint distance competitors coming down the hill and a few back markers to negotiate on the way up.
The final lap and starting to think of the transition area, how to access it, where the bike was, what to do first when arriving at the bike (helmet on!). Back on the grass and transition in sight, a sharp left around the barriers and keep running in to transition – crash hat on and clipped whilst kicking shoes off, cycling shoes on, having opted for no flying mounts, passed the mount line hit the Garmin lap button and hop on the bike.
Some speed bumps to watch out for as we exited the campus and on to the main road. A few bikes in sight ahead to motivate putting in the effort on some very uncomfortable legs, that hill seemed to have taken its toll, and tried to settle into a cadence. Some traffic issues on the return leg meant backing off as cars queued behind some back marker leading to an opportunity to catch your breath and top up on fluids. A right turn across the traffic and back into the campus, through the transition area and passed the spectators started the second lap of the bike leg retracing the first lap and again getting caught up in some traffic – approaching the campus for the last time and starting to picture transition, shoes unclipped down the hill, feet out of the shoes on the flat just before transition and dismount. Running shoes on whilst unclipping the helmet and straight out for the final two run laps and that hill.
Legs turned but any modulation of pace wasn’t forth coming, up the hill and passed a marshal who informed me 15th on the road, “any oldies” I wondered, I needed to keep an eye out for the grey haired athletes who could just be on my shoulder. Rattle, rattle, rattle I could hear a number flapping in the breeze as I descended the hill, a quick assessment confirmed that this was a youngster, phew, lap two started and more foot steps behind, older this time, less hair than me but younger I’m sure? Survival instinct sets in “stick with this pace to the finish”. Finish in sight and now only one thing on my mind, will I be the first super veteran in? The commentator sees me coming in, checks his iPad “518 Dave Smith and first super vet” – result! A few minutes to get my breath back, enjoy the moment and give support to the rest of the competitor in what was now a warm sunny day in Stirling.
Roy: Firstly – great job Dave – well executed race. I had previously completed the Sprint distance course before so knew it was a (simple?) case of doubling up, although remember thinking then that I was glad not to be doing the full event! I enjoyed my first event on a new TT bike although got passed by more riders than I had hoped to – did get my fuelling right this time though with a gel at start of each bike lap. As Dave says, that hill on the run (x4 in Run 1) is one thing but then to face it again – x2 – on Run 2 when you are surviving on ‘fumes’ is a real test. As a result, my Run 2 experience was pretty much a case of ‘hang on’ and try not to fade too much.
From my perspective, being a first timer at this distance, I wasn’t well prepared enough for the shock your legs get when starting out on the bike having not run 10k before biking..so (logically) preparation through run/bike/run bricks would be useful. On second thoughts, maybe I will go back and do the Sprint again…but faster..?