Sunday March 27th. Stirling. Scottish water Duathlon Champs. At last the day had arrived and I headed to Stirling in a buoyant mood.
With 20 weeks training under my belt and selection of run and bike PB’s I was quietly confident of beating last years time. As I headed into ever darkening skies and a light rain my mood got as dark as the skies.
As I squelched across the playing fields to the start of the Standard distance race my heart start racing and my spirits lifted. The race started under grey skies and I settled into a good pace. Run 1 is four laps of a mainly road course but unfortunately the off road parts were muddy and churned up by the events which has gone before ours. It was a case of slipping and sliding your way through them. Running without my Garmin which had failed before the start I tried as much as possible to judge my pace and time for the run and thought I was at least on time but as the laps were done I could sense that my pace was going the same way as my footing….slipping! Run 1 time 50:25 2:10 slower than last year.
I ran into transition donned my helmet and shoes and made my way to the mount point. As I turned out of the University the wind and rain hit me for the first time. The rain did not last long and soon the wind died down to a manageable breeze. The bike section is a 2 lap 42K long undulating course and one I quite like. I got into a steady cadence pushing a big gear and at the start of the second lap reckoned I was about 5 mins ahead of last years time. Back on the open road after the return through the university and I turned into heavy rain driven by a strong wind and although the rain stopped the wind remained and that was the case till the end of the bike leg. Far from being 5 mins ahead I found that I was slower than last year on the bike as well. 42K 1:34:24 2:07 slower than last years time.
Bike racked, helmet off and back on the run course which was in even worse condition 2 laps 5K 26:55 2:30 slower than last year.
Not a good day at the office!
As I have aged, disgracefully some might say, I have made changes to the way I train and as I provide training for others that too has had an impact on my training. Even when doing ultras I never went over 100 miles a week due mainly to lifestyle rather than ambition. Now that I have time I still have no ambition for mega mileage but rather to make miles, meals and rest count. Two weeks out from my first A race and I am feeling more relaxed than I ever have and with a new Park run PB under my belt my confidence is growing that I will put in a solid performance at Stirling on the 27th.
The stats for this week:
Run 22 miles in 3h 42 with 853ft of climbing.
Bike 94 miles in 7h with 5100ft of climbing.
With a month to go till Stirling I had decided that a race was in order so packed my gear and drove to 90 or so miles to Aboyne to take part in the Large edition of the Aboyne duathlon. Based at Aboyne academy and organised by the local council it was a good event and comprised of a 2.7 mile run an 18.5 mile bike and a final run of 2.7 miles. Well marked and flat course on a sunny day it really was a joy. It showed me what work I need to do to try and better my Stirling time from last year.
Stats: Bike 49.3 miles in 3h 17 with 1371 ft of climb.
Run 14.2 miles in 2h 8 with 472 ft of climbing.
Another hard week training. Spent time doing admin and focusing on the last 5 week block before Stirling. I have decided that, if possible I will enter a race before Stirling just to test and adjust my kit.
Three pounds lost this week without much trying on my part!
Run- 22.5 miles, the weather made it almost a waste of time trying to do efforts but try I did, in 3h 52m with 550 ft of climb.
Bike-64.5 miles in 5h 39m 2150 ft.
I thought that I had at least two races after Islay both of them Duathlons, both of them races I had done before and both of them races I had won Auld Bugger prizes at unfortunately it was not to be. The Knockhill race and effectively the series is off due to low entries, the other the St Andrews University I have decided not to enter due to other commitments that weekend. A wedding in Edinburgh and my former companies 30yr celebrations also in Edinburgh. That meant that my final event of any significance was on the 3rd of October a 21 mile relay leg on the Fife Coastal Path (19.8 miles in 3:03:05) Not my best run and one which aggravated an adductor strain I picked up in Islay.
So, with the racing season finished and an injury to get over, begins the close season – resting, planning and training for next year.
Nursing an injury will force me to take it easy on the running front and with a two-four week recovery phase planned my biking miles will be easy as well. This will give me a chance to check out all my bikes and do any repairs required before starting winter training on them. In the mean while I will get back to some core and strength training before starting training in earnest for my Spring A race the Stirling duathlon.
Im sure every sportsman and woman has a go to event one that they do every year come hell and high water. Stirling is like that for me. Its well organised, close and a good indicator of early season fitness.
There are two races run side by side a sprint duathlon and a standard distance. I always do the standard which is a 10K run 40K bike and 5K run the sprint is half these distances. The run is a 2.5k loop beginning outside the pool at Stirling Uni and heading out the grounds via a short sharp hill in to the campus and the business park. This is completed 4 times for the standard run 1 and twice for run 2. The bike loop is 20k and is completed twice with, this year a return to the transition area at the end of lap 1 a change to previous years. On quite busy main roads the first part of the ride is undulating with a gradual uphill to Glenochil then a short twisty descent down to hillfoots and a long flat straight back to the Uni.
The sprint was set off first with my event going about 5 mins later. I kept a fairly even pace on the first run at just under 8min miles. I was surprised to begin passing sprint entrants early in lap 1!
Run 1 completed in 48:15. A whole 3 mins:33 secs faster than last year. Into transition for the bike leg. The forecast for the day had been cold with rain and wind gusting up to 50mph so I decided to wear shoe covers and a windproof jacket in an attempt to stay as warm as possible. Grab the bike and out onto the bike leg.
T1 time a slow 2mins 22 secs. Although the weather was not as bad as forecast I had another problem to deal with. Early in the race I hit a pothole and this knocked my front wheel out of alignment causing my brakes to run on the rim. With just the one descent of note I decide to loosen the front brakes and just to redo them when I hit the descent. Problem solved! It was indeed wet and windy out on the course with sporadic showers but, what seemed like an unceasing wind. The first lap seemed to take forever but I had no sooner started the second than I was coming into the dismount area! 40k bike 1:32:17 3mins 33 secs slower than last year and better than I expected.
T2 was a pain trying to undo the helmet clip and do up lace locks with cold immobile fingers was no joke again a slow transition. 1 min 28 secs.
Out on the final leg a 5k run, 2 laps of the loop. My run was strong off the bike and although the field had thinned out as athletes finished I was still picking other runners off. There was a few that I recognised from being passed by them on the bike leg Go ME!!!!!! Take no prisoners!
Run 2 24 mins and 25 secs 2 mins 26 secs faster than last year!
A great day 89th/120 overall and 12 in my cat from 15.