The Race of My Life….



A week on from the World Duathlon Championships…

I thought it was about time I put pen to paper/fingers to iPad to reflect on last week’s World Duathlon Championships race in Ottawa.

The World Duathlon Championships in Ottawa has been in my diary since I qualified by finishing 3rd at the British Duathlon Championships at Dambuster back in March. That event seems an age ago; we (Ed, Ian & I) had an awful 5hr journey to get there on a Friday night after work and then drove the “undulating” cycle route in the dark and pouring down rain…yuk; my two, least favourite race conditions – rain and hills! However, race day came and finishing third was way above my expectations for that race.

facebook podium

What were my expectations for the WORLD Champs…? To be honest, training over the last 6 weeks has been somewhat hit and miss due to an Achilles injury and a family bereavement, so my expectations were really to JUST ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE, and if I’m lucky finish in the top 10 (there were 25 competing in my 25-29 Age Group).

Arriving at the Team Hotel in Ottawa was the start of pre-race buzz… A compulsory read of the Team Board in the hotel reception for the 200 strong GB athletes ranging from 18-85 years old competing in either Sprint (5km run/20km bike/2.5km run) or Standard (10km run/40km bike/5km run) distance was shortly followed by bike re-assembly, something I’m very good at keeping out of the way for and letting “Mr Lubricator” (aka my hubby Ian) do what he is best at!

Familiarisation of any course that you are competing on is something I always recommend to my clients and therefore something I always make time to do. There was a Team bike course recee that we all joined including Cindy Goslar (fellow David Lloyd Reading member/Tri2O Triathlete) who I’ve helped get to the start line of her first international competition.

Cycling in a group of 50+ through a city with traffic lights on every “block” was somewhat stop-start. Once out of the main hustle and bustle we were at the Transition zone (although 48hrs prior to the race there was absolutely nothing to indicate it was soon to be the home of 2,000 bikes!) A fair amount of visualisation was required! The bike route was a 2 lap (20km each lap) straight out and back along  a flat dual carriageway, with considerably less potholes than English roads, and a little “technical” area around an industrial estate. This is my idea of a perfect course…although weather conditions (especially wind) can play havoc on a course like this.

The run course was also along the same stretch of dual carriageway (on the other side!) which meant you were always near other cyclists/runners…and my paths crossed with Ed and Ian a couple of times so some verbal encouragement and high-fives were exchanged!

The last few days before the race we did very little training except a leisurely cycle along the Rideau Canal to a nice shady spot (was 26 degrees) for some R&R and then a short run 2 days before with some 30 second intervals. My body was feeling “OK” and actually enjoying the rest, “time out” and relaxed meals out after a busy few months leading up to this point.

The compulsory Race Briefing the day prior to the race told us everything we needed to know about the course and where/when and who with… We were also very lucky to receive a “Pep Talk” about preparing for the day and dealing with the ifs/buts from Olympic Rower, James Cracknell who was part of the 40-44 Age Group (direct competition for Ian).

RACE DAY

5am alarm – 2 slices of Quinoa bread with peanut butter and sliced banana, feeling ready to get this race underway!

6am – on Team shuttle bus to the start with Ed & Ian discussing the fact that our bikes that we had racked the previous day may have been moved as the racking had fallen down overnight…. Admittedly, the flimsy plywood that was being used as the struts didn’t look the most manly for the job – but who was I to comment on that?!

7am – into the Athletes Zone to collect Race Timing Chip and finish final race preparations; water and final toilet stop!

7.25am – all 171 female athletes aged between 18 – 50 were off… I started very near the start line with a couple of other GB athletes who were aiming for a similar time of sub 40 minutes for the first 10km. Within the first 400m it was very clear I was part of the LEAD PACK OF RUNNERS IN THE WORLD DUATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS… I decided not to look at my watch to see my pace but to stick with my Race Plan which was to ENJOY THE RACE. For approximately 1km I was actually the lead runner – a very surreal moment which I will never forget and enjoyed immensely. Running past a water station and not getting water was a slight issue but was soon resolved by a friendly Candian behind me who offered me the remains of her water – that’s what sport is about…

running

Once onto the bike I was well aware that I was leading my Age Group and that there were only 4-5 other women ahead of me in total – this was made clear when I ran into transition and there were so many bikes still hanging (thankfully the reinforced racking was a little more manly for the job)

All I could think on the bike was KEEP PUSHING and this was reiterated to me by several supporters on the course – Chris & Cindy Goslar, Ian (who was still waiting for his race start at 8.40am) and David Kirk (fellow Tri2O club member who was competing later in the day in the Sprint race).

Cycling

Very few women passed me on the bike…I actually caught a couple which was unheard of for me as a runner! However just before the start of the second lap a super speedy cyclist flew past me and I caught glimpse of her leg which said “W25-29” – “bugger, she’s my age group – keep her in your sights Barnes” I tried but man she could cycle…gone like the wind…
Into transition 2 alongside a Canadian (in the age group above me) who was the first runner into Transition 1 and I thought just stick with her for the second 5km run and you’ll be fine – unfortunately the legs weren’t quite responding how I wanted them too…Miss Canada was gone within 1km and had lots of support around the course…
Still, I finished second at the World Duathlon Age Group Championships and LOVED EVERY MINUTE; even a very sweaty hug from Clare Miller the World Champion of my Age Group, who also beat me at the qualifying event by 8 minutes (didn’t let her annihilate me by that margin again, was only 90 seconds today)…. what a day, and the results in black and white are here

podium single
Two days later and my quads were still sore – knew I had worked hard, but a welcome few days in Montreal with a great friend of 10+ years was idyllic before some more air travel to South America to start our delayed “Honeymoon” of trekking the Inca Trail.

Once home it will be “all systems go” for the World Triathlon Championships in London on Sunday 15 September, my race does start quite early on that day at 7:35am but am hopeful there may be a familiar face or two in the crowds?!
Next blog will be just before the World Championships….will also update you on how one of my clients gets on in the World Aquathlon Championships (1km swim/5km run) on Weds 11 September, he recently sent me an email to say “Thanks for your help with the training Ellie, it is really making a difference.  I wish I had got some coaching sooner.”
Believe To Achieve and set your next fitness goal – how about the Fairoaks Five (Sat 13 Oct) or Lexus Reading Dinton Duathlon (Sun 17 Nov)?