So 2018 has really been the year for crazy challenges, and a real highlight of that has been London Duathlon. I had no idea what to expect from my first duathlon, but I embraced the training and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. The morning of the duathlon came around quickly and we packed our bikes onto the roof rack and we were off.
We arrived at Richmond Park super early because we were really nervous and apprehensive! But I’m so glad we did! We got chance to take in everything that was going on and watch some of the duathletes transitioning- and realised its deffo not as scary as we thought. The park had been transformed into a race HQ with barriers, and walkway and all the racks to hang bikes and leave your kit. It was a hub of activity with an amazing vibe.
After cheering some of the runners it was our turn to head to the start where you lined up and were then set off in waves of about 20 people. Each wave started with a quickly safety talk before you were counted down and set off. It was all very efficient.
I buckled down to the five 5km run making sure not to go out to quickly, but quick enough to make the most of the run as I knew that my nerves on the bike would slow me down. The first 2km or so seemed to be a gradual up hill slog, but I kept at it, knowing what goes up must come down. When the downhill came I felt like I was flying, and I was soon back where I started ready to head out on the bike. 25 minutes for my first 5km and a speedy transition, I knew it was game on.
I had secretly hoped to get around the 2 hour mark, but I knew that would require putting in a decent effort on the bike. I’m still not the most confident cyclist on the downhills which Richmond is full of, so I had been concerned how this would impact my overall time. We had been out to Richmond a few times prior to practice on the circuit and the quickest lap I had managed had been just over an hour. If I wanted to be around the 2 hour mark, I needed to keep as close to 1 hour on the bike as I could and that would mean a PB. But coming out of transition into the cheers of the crowd I was motoring along. From nowhere this power came, I kept on at it, battled the first hill and attacked the downhill the best I could. I was suddenly fearless and flying. I pushed and pushed, willing my legs on. First lap down and I clocked my watch, 28 minutes. I was on the hunt for sub 2 hours now. It was mine for the taking. Fatigue started kicking in, I downed a clif bar and kept up the fight, not even thinking about the final run. I knew from my marathon training I could run a 30 minute 5km on tired legs. Coming back into the transition just over 57 minutes on the bike. I had done it, a new PB!
I quickly hung my bike, changed my shoes, sipped some water and started on the final run. The first 1km on the uphill was a struggle, my legs hadn’t quite switched onto running mode, but I pushed on. I knew from my training that the first 1km off the bike was always the worst so I stayed positive. Thankfully my legs began to come round and I was rewarded with a sudden burst of pace, only stopping to usher a baby deer across the road to join their mother (only in Richmond haha). As I approached the finish I wasn’t even clocking the time, the euphoria of completing my first duathlon took over. It was only when Liam (@tri_liam) messaged me congratulating me on my sub 2 hour time (1:56:04) that I realised I had smashed every expectation I had!
I waited for Guy who came in about 20 minutes after I did, he has been having some knee issues and made a wise decision to take the second run steady. We then both enjoyed a sports massage and some time enjoying the Autumn sunshine in Richmond Park. A successful and very enjoyable day all round.
A couple of tips from our first duathlon:
- You don’t need to run it all. A lot of people walked it especially the second run- even Guy walked some. There’s no shame and the race is only against yourself.
- Similarly you don’t need to be a fast cyclist- just keep left and enjoy it. If people want to pass you they will pass you, it is no big deal!
- Transition isn’t scary! and if you’re worried just head down early like we did and check it all out!
- Do go to Richmond and try the course- you ride the opposite direction to what you would expect so get used to the big crawler hill!
- Practice run, bike, run combinations- your legs need to get used to it and it will give you the confidence to know that your legs will start working again on the second run.
- Eat on the bike, your body will thank you when it is digging deep on the second run.
I was really grateful to have been given a place at London Duathlon, otherwise I don’t think I would have been brave enough to sign up, I’m so glad I took part and we definitely hope to be back next year. One thing I really want to highlight, and this is my own opinion and not influenced in any way, but London Duathlon has to be one of the best organised events I have ever been to. The volunteers were exceptional: extremely helpful and very friendly. The day was warm and there were large bags of water distributed everywhere that you could help yourself to. The race started in waves, all perfectly spaced to avoid congestion. Both Guy and I expected a certain level of organised chaos, particularly given there were so many people doing 4 different distances, but everything ran smoothly. The vibe in the park was simply wonderful. It was such an enjoyable day. The Jersey included in the race kit is amazing too!
If you would like to give it a go, and I really really recommend it you can sign up online
Or to learn more about getting into multi-sports click here.