Dambuster Duathlon- British Standard Distance Championships, An uncomfortable start
My aim this year is to qualify and race at the World Age Group Champs in Hyde Park in September, with this in mind a few races to push me outside my comfort zone were pencilled in. Dambuster was the first of those- a longer distance for a mere sprinter, tough competition and riding a new TT bike on only its 3rd time on the road.
Owing to our winter of awful weather, coupled with a winter plagued with illness my practise races were cancelled, leaving me feeling very unprepared for this race. Driving up to Rutland Water the night before in thick fog didn’t inspire me with confidence either! The night before the race I tossed and turned stressing about whether I had made the right decision to ride my new TT bike. After spending the whole winter scouring the internet for TT bikes (a big thanks to Matt Jackson for all his work) and finding there isn’t much of a market for ladies TT bikes, I expected just to get on and ride it. Too simple….I couldn’t sit on the saddle for more than 10mins without being in agony (how do you blokes manage to sit forward with even more ‘bits’ in the way??), the new position gave me sciatica thanks to my short hamstrings and my wrists and neck hurt, moan, moan, moan. A trip to Triharder about something completely unrelated was a light bulb moment, Ben offered a ISM demo saddle to try. What a dream, no pain straight away.
I don’t normally get race nerves until I stand on the start line, on this day I was shaking (at 2 degrees and hours before the snow fell some of it may have been due to this) and trying to vomit hours before the race. The ladies were the 4thwave so after watching the young boys, fast boys and old boys it was my turn. Having seen the results from last year I knew the first run was going to be fast. We went off as if it was a 100m sprint, I was a bit more controlled being a little unsure how to pace myself. The run was around the dam, half paths and half through a mud bath, wise people used cross country shoes. I hadn’t considered this reading the race info before hand. Lesson 1- course experience is vital. I found the first run hard, the field was opening up and I didn’t have much to respond. Just before the turn point I saw fellow Tri-Anglian Roland Shaw, his cheering made my day. I ran into transition in 16th place, upset at how far back I was until I read my watch saying 40 mins, I had to be content with that. The first lady flew in at 36.30, amazing. I was so relieved to be on the bike. The position was comfortable and I started the bike feeling more confident. Then the hills started, ‘the Rutland Ripples’ I am told. The ups were fine, having little experience how the TT bike handles, it was the down hills that were a problem. In a TT position you are so far forward there was little weight on the back wheel, this meant when going down hill, especially in the wet conditions the back wheel was sliding about everywhere. To add to this, due to an ongoing viral infection in my eyes, my vision was pretty poor. My survival instinct kicked in and I ended up braking down every downhill, which was not conducive to a quick bike time. Despite my difficulties I caught up from 16th to 7th place. For the last 5k run I just needed to hang on, in the last section of the bike I had caught one of the faster runners and I was desperate to finish ahead. I did thankfully and completed the second run in 18.39.I was coughing and trying to be sick over the finish line, my body had definitely forgotten what race pace felt like! So overall 7th and 2nd in my age group. I drove home physically and mentally exhausted by the experience, having learnt lots and given me lots of food for thought about what I needed to do before the next race.