Friday, 24 April 2015

RACE RUNDOWN: Newbury Duathlon

After months I actually have a race review to post. One I am also very proud to have been a part of.

Entering a duathlon seemed like the natural step to take for triathlon training. A nice double brick session to get the body familiar with transition is much needed and I opted to take part in an event in my home town. For two reasons: a) price point and b) stunning countryside views.

Advance entries for Newbury Duathlon are £20. A decent price for an event that normally comes with a higher price tag. But this one didn't involve road closures which meant it guaranteed a low cost fee. Turning up on the day at Chieveley Town Hall (the main base), there is a huge start and finish point located in the field and just behind is the transition area where you rack the bikes. Numbers are not sent in advance so after collecting mine from inside the hall, I headed over to the racks to position myself under my race number - 20.
I felt so nervous as the whole set up was alien to me. Luckily, I was positioned on the far outside rack which meant I only had bikes in the left aisle to worry about. I opted to line my bike up by the saddle pointing the other side away from the bikes so I had a faster entry & exit, avoiding the mayhem of other competitors running out of transition with their bike. Well at least I hoped.
(just before the race)
Looking around at everyone setting up - the field was very small. 165 entries to be exact. That's less than a regular parkrun! A sudden fear of coming last loomed over me, especially as it was dominated by men in all the fancy gear. But, coming last isn't the be all and end all. I had to do this for myself, regardless of the position so after shaking off my fears of potentially being the last to join the finish party, I lined up at the start with the others acting (and hopefully looking) as confident as them all.

After a few announcements from the race director (the event is organised by athletic club Team Kennet), the start gun was fired and we were off! It all started with a run around a large field on grassy terrain which was followed by exiting the town hall grounds to cheers from friends and relatives who came to watch. I had my best friend and running pal cheering from the side lines, along with her sister. Their screams and shouts of support sure got me through it all!

The 5K run was simply stunning. A trail run through huge open fields, there isn't a whiff of civilisation until the last half mile running through the quaint village of Chieveley back to the transition area. The weather was perfect - sunny but with a breeze and I found the first run fairly comfortable. I was running 7.30s and kept with two other women trying to remain steady.
(on the run!)
Next was the cycle and I did get a small case of butter fingers in transition. It was my first time after all, so I wasn't expecting a speedy change. I was a big jumbled changing my shoes and as I ran out of transition with my bike, my road bike shoes weren't on tight enough so I had to briefly stop to alter them. Still though - I made it out in one piece and was on the saddle cruising out of the village and into the 25K cycle.

The course was tough. It is incredibly undulating with a few steep hills. But it comes with the most incredible countryside views. Lots of men overtook me. I accepted it. Expected it even. I'm not a strong cyclist. But then two women overtook me. That I could not accept. I still managed to keep it steady and paced myself, I think, very well. My friends had driven round in their car to the halfway point to cheer me on which was super motivating. 
(coming into the second transition)
When I came back into transition, I knew I had to be quick to catch the two girls up. I managed to be 15 seconds faster which was great and I stormed out of transition for the final 5K run. My legs were so heavy. It was a strange feeling. Not painful, but neither comfortable. As I entered the fields for the main part of the run, my pace felt really slow. Like 11 minute miles. When my Garmin bleeped after the first mile, I was shocked to see I was at 7.30 pace!

The first girl was up ahead. Got her! The second not much further on. Got her too and a lot of the guys that had bombed it past me on the cycle. This is when I realised that running is by far my strongest discipline. By the last mile I felt like I was sky high and as I came down the road to the village hall, I knew the end was in sight. Crowds had lined the street cheering and I was pushing it.
(on the second run)
When I turned into the entrance of the town hall, I was buzzing and the finish was right there. Sprinting up the slope there was a marshal who was shouting 'there's still the lap around the field to go!'. 'What!? S**t! I didn't realise that.' 

Panic flooded through me. I had bombed it so much down the road that to hear the unexcited news on a lap around the field wasn't the best but I managed it round and felt invincible as I finally crossed the finish line in a time of 1.45 (15 minutes faster than I had predicted).

My friends were there for a big group hug at the end, including another who had come to surprise me at the finish. They really were the best cheering squad ever!

Was I tired? Yes, but not as much as I thought. My adrenaline kept me going and when I went to print off my results (this was handy to get so soon after), it came to my attention that I finished sixth senior female and 88th overall. No where near last. Phewph!

Elate, ecstatic and beaming are just a few words that would describe my feelings this day. It was by far my best race ever and I was smugly proud of myself. 
Overall, Newbury Duathlon will be a fond memory for me. A race I would recommend to anyone, especially as an introduction to duathlon and multi-sport. The only downside is that you don't get a medal or goody bag. But for £20 and the size of the field, I guess the event isn't at a decent size yet to dish this sort of thing out.


Course: 5/5
Scenery: 5/5 
Facilities: 5/5
Water Stations: 5/5
T-Shirt & goody bag: 0/5

My time: 1.45.04 (5K run 22.27, 25K cycle 58.07, 5K run 22.12)


Find out more about Newbury Duathlon here.

Lipstick Runner.

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