It was great to get back to racing on Sunday after 4 months off through shin splints (tibialis anterior tendinitis to be exact). Arriving at Castle Combe to see hundreds of people running the Chilly 10K event – an event taking place before the Chilly Duathlon – in such atrocious conditions was inspiring and the excited, endorphin fuelled conversation at registration was great to be a part of again. Overhearing peoples’ concerns about clothing, fuel, pacing and so on is always reassuring! DB Max put on such great events too. I’ve never seen so many laptops and computer screens in registration and by the finish line for the competitors. It was like Houston’s Mission Control! In fact, I was half was expecting to see a rocket launching itself from the field of solar panels in the middle of the circuit. What all the technology actually provides is immediate print outs of all your splits and the results are immediately online to peruse on your drive home. It really is an impressive set up and makes the event that bit more enjoyable: everyone from the novices to the elites love to analyse their times: and the sooner after the race the better! All the marshals were also very friendly, led by the ever happy Will Whitmore and there are also a decent number of flags and inflatable gantries to add more significance to the race. The weather was certainly unpleasant: 40mph winds and driving rain, but judging by the number of smiling faces at the finish a lot of fun was had. Thank you, DB Max!
Chilly Duathlon 21st February 2016 (2 mile-10 mile-2 mile)
It’s often wet and windy at Castle Combe but today was the worst weather I think I’ve ever raced in! The 40mph+ gusts and driving rain certainly made things tricky on the bike: 62kph in one direction and 27kph in the other! Despite the weather, I was really excited – and a fair bit apprehensive – because I haven’t raced since September due to shin splints. However, as soon as the starter horn sounded the nerves and worries disappeared and the adrenaline took over. The opening minute of the run was incredibly fast with a strong tail wind propelling us forwards. Soon it was just me and Alex Matchett out in front. He put a bit of a dig in after a mile and I couldn’t keep in contact: the mind was willing but I didn’t have it in the legs. I kept him reasonably close and entered T1 15 seconds down.
We then headed out onto the soaking wet racing track for 5 laps of gale force bike buffeting. I could see Alex a little further up the road but I couldn’t drag him back. Again, I wanted to push on – my heart rate suggested I had plenty more – but the legs were screaming and I couldn’t get anything more out of them! Just before T2 I was overhauled by another competitor but knowing my final run us usually strong I was not overly concerned at this stage in the race. I headed out onto the final run and quickly regained 2nd, but Alex was too far ahead to challenge. Knowing that I had 2nd place secure and that 1st was never going to happen, an internal battle with myself ensued about how hard to push: one minute I was thinking, ‘take it easy, no need to push’. The next I was thinking, ‘come on push on, let’s see what sort of shape you’re in and get some good hard miles in’. In the end I didn’t really do either and finished just over a minute behind Alex, 10 seconds slower than him for the final run. However, once I checked the results after the race I was quite pleased with my time splits. I was slower than this time last year but not by a huge amount: encouraging as I was in really good form last year and this year I raced with very little running in the legs and in terrible conditions. It’s 6 weeks till the Elite Duathlon Championships: my A race for the year. Several weeks ago I had ruled it out, but after today, I reckon there’s a chance I could make the start line in decent shape. It’ll take 6 hard weeks of training though!