Wednesday evening found me looking at the BBC weather forecast for Sunday, trying to decide whether to do the Castle Coombe Chilly Duathlon as a season opener. The weather looked cold, dry, and windy, but no rain was forecast in the meantime so that was good. Then I checked the list of entries to date, and there was the name of the guy who beat me by 6 seconds on my first race, and whom I beat by 2 seconds last time. Decision made - I had to race and beat him properly.
Now I have nothing against the chap - I barely know him - but I needed to get my season off to a good start, and beating a "rival" seemed like a good idea. There were a couple of minor flaws in my plan, including the fact I had not prepared specifically for the race, the bike was still on the turbo trainer, I hadn't practiced transitions since September, on-line entries were closed, the race is four days away and I am not at home for three of them. Minor details.
Saturday comes and I decided I had better get the bike ready and do a quick run. The bike prep was fairly simple, and I even managed to change the tyre without puncturing the inner tube (a rare success). My run however had felt a bit slow and sluggish recently so off I went to put in a quick couple of miles to prove I still had it. A short while later (and a new mile PB to give me hope) I felt ready - I had even managed to come up with the innovation of using elastic bands to stop the icy cold wind whistling up my non elasticated sleeves. Genius
Sunday morning comes with a civilised 10:30am registration. Bike racked, multiple pit stops (too much hydration), race briefing, say hello to the rival, and it's off to the start line. Off goes the gun, and unlike last year I set off at my pace - not that of the racing snakes near the front. Halfway through the first lap the girl next to me started beeping and confirmed that we had reached one mile in a respectable 7:10. My rival had dropped back at the 1km mark so I knew all was going well.
Into T1 at 14:25 and what followed can only be described as a case study in why you should practice your transition - I did not and 1:25 later I finally emerged on my bike, Doh.
Five laps of Castle Coombe racetrack follow without incident, but I was now frozen due to the 0 deg 13mph wind. Into the final straight heading towards T2 and I managed to get my feet on top of my shoes for a fast exit off the bike - that at least worked and we quickly rack the bike and get the trainers back on. It rapidly became apparent that I need to do more bike-run transitions as "gazelle" was the antithesis of my running style at that point.
My wife was by the T2 exit and I shouted a query about my rival - "he's right behind you, cane it" she yells - off I went like a startled sloth. My wife's yell started to haunt me and I got my legs going a bit faster.
I noticed a few runners a couple of hundred yards ahead of me, and having ignored the two runners zipping past, I realised that I was actually catching them. At the 1.5mile mark I caught them, and at a useful hairpin on the run course I looked back to see where my rival was. He was nowhere to be seen and my wife was confirmed as being a lying toe-rag who should not be trusted for race advice.
The final half mile passed without drama and a quick sprint took me to the finish line.
Negative split on Run 2 v Run 1, all bike laps within 3 seconds of each other, 87th overall compared to 164th last year, a new PB of 58:25 for the race, and more importantly I beat my rival by 6 minutes (!!!). Happy, happy days.
My wife pleaded guilty to perverting the course of injustice, and was sentenced to an afternoon of repeated second by second analysis of the race without chance of parole.