This was supposed to be an ‘easy’ duathlon one considering it was just 8kms run, 30kms bike and 3kms run. Somehow however, things always get harder on the day.
I had no plan except finishing but my mind had calculated a time around 1h55m. This was assuming a 5min/km for both runs and 30kms/h for the bike and disregarding time taken for transitions. Jenny laughed at this when I told her the plan as we drove to the race site after dropping the kids at her parents. Not because I was being ambitious with my times but because as she puts it: ‘But you always take ages in transition!’. Oh well, so much for encouragement… however I knew she was right.
The previous night, the weather app showed me for race day the
statistics: min 0, max 6, light rain. I thought that it was going to be a fast race anyway so I would warm up quickly and given the race start was at the odd time of 13.43 surely it should be 6 degrees by then. So, I packed my summer tri suit and some compression socks. Jenny thought I was being too optimistic about the weather so I packed some arm warmers just to please her.
Jenny translated race briefing for me from German to English and when she tells me that the ladies start 10min before the men I jokingly told her my new plan was then just to overtake the last one.
I knew nothing about the race profile except that part of the run was along a canal so at least part of the first leg was flat. Before the race it was quite cloudy with gushes of wind and some rain but nothing too bad. As I undress leaving me just on my tri suit and compression socks I quickly come to understand why everyone else is dressed for an Everest expedition. The wind is freezing and the temperature was probably around 0 (zero) celsius, not 6 as I had expected. I decided it was then a good idea to put those arm warmers I had earlier packed against my will.
The race starts in the usual fashion: everyone sprints as fast as they can as if they can keep it up for longer than 300meters. I know my watch started telling me I was going at 3:40min/km and I panicked as I know I can’t sustain that for long. Soon enough I settled on a more relaxed pace and ended up running my first Km at 4:24min/km which was already a very good pace but the surprising thing was how fast everyone else was.
Even at this pace I had lots of people in front of me and not so many behind me which again showed me how high the athletic level is at these local races, where most of the athletes are actually part of the clubs around the area. Once again I was reminded that nothing is flat around this area and therefore I braced for a hilly run as I noticed what was to come. Still considering I felt good and was holding a good pace with the weather holding on. Cloudy but I wasn’t feeling cold. Things were looking good. The 8Km run ended up being 8.4Km, with 87m ascent, which I completed in 39m15s.
Transition had some issues as I had socks stuffed inside my cycling shoes which I had to remove (this was due to a recent flight where I stuffed some things in the shoes and forgot to remove pre-race). Since I don’t have proper tri shoes I, as usual, sit down to remove my run shoes and put my cycling shoes so I can then run to start of bike leg.
Bike starts well, with smooth pedalling and no leg issues. I overtook more people than expected and was keeping to a good power average.
Quickly I realized I was actually doing part of the Challenge Roth course as I could see the markings all over the place (Challenge Roth is one of the few races with permanent marking around here). The course was undulating but not hilly. It had some soft uphill with some nice downhills where you could make up for the lost time on the uphills.
Unfortunately I started cramping pretty much mid-way. Both my calves started to seize up with 14kms to go on the bike. My plan was then to try and rest the calves. It had gotten colder and my theory after some thought was that I was not dressed warm enough and the blood was warming up my body instead of feeding my muscles… result: cramps. My power was zero as I was not pedalling in most of the downhills to conserve the calves and I repeatedly just tried to stretch them. To make things worse, the weather worsened and a snow storm approached. Snow and wind were completely battering me in the last 10kms of the bike leg and by now I just wanted to finish as the fun was long gone. I was freezing, my hands were numbs (who needs gloves for a 30k ride?), and my calves were not much better. My power average went from a 190w to 161w towards the end of the ride but at least my calves weren’t cramping anymore and I could easily transition to running except… I couldn’t remove my helmet. Bike leg totalled 30.4km completed in 1h00m34s with 248m ascent.
At transition I actually started running with helmet because I forgot to remove it but Jenny shouted ‘Helmet!’ and I ran back to remove it.
Easier said than done. My hands were frozen and I had no idea if I was squeezing in the right place or not. Some time later helmet was off and I was onto a 3k run that was promising to be full of snow.
The run was more or less along the same forest path as earlier but with snow battering my face I had no idea how I was going to finish the thing. However for the last kilometer the snow just gave way to sunshine and just like that, it was gone! I finished 3.4Km in 16m44s with 31m ascent and crossed the finish line where they announced: “Paulo Matos from Absoloooote Tree”. Got to give that to the Germans, they have a funny accent.
The final result was 2h00m50s. Of these 4m17s were transitions. The results page doesn’t discriminate between T1 and T2 though. Overall, even though the final results doesn’t look great, I feel quite happy with the race. Bring on the next one… and some sunshine.