Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Greater Springfield Duathlon 2015

I generally don't do duathlons. I'm a fairly decent swimmer and I like starting my races with a swim. My running isn't bad either but my strong point is running on tired legs after the bike, not to hitting the gas as soon as the gun goes off. But I signed up for this race anyway. In my lead up to Ironman Malaysia in mid November, I've been scheduling a race every 4-5 weeks just so I can drop the weekend volume in the race week but still keep the intensity fairly high at the race. Plus, it's good practice as we don't always get the opportunity to put race pace efforts into our training.

Springfield Central is located a good 30kms from home. It was a cold morning and I could see the temperature drop from 9 degrees Celcius as I left the house to 5 when I got to the race site. The venue was held in the campus grounds of University of Southern Queensland. When I arrived just before 6am, the roads into the campus were already blocked and I had no idea where the detour was. I parked at the nearby residential area, about 1km away.

Picked up my race pack and racked my bike. With only 125 participants for the full distance and another 127 in the sprint, it was a fairly quiet and low key affair. I met up with the others at the Reddog tri club tent, everyone was wrapped up with gloves and beanies from the cold! There was a long queue for the portaloos but luckily someone pointed us to the public toilets a few hundred meters away. Then it was time to start.
The first wave was at 6.50am for the males over 45, mine was the second wave, 2 minutes after. The first run was 10km broken into four 2.5km laps. We went through the park and there were a couple of twists and turns. There was steep descent before the turnaround and we climb up that same slope. The final few hundred meters of each lap was a slight descent as well. From the start, everyone sprinted forward and very soon I was towards the back of the pack! Though I would have liked to clock a sub 40 minute 10km, I kept it in control and maintained just under 4:06 per km pace. Even then, it was still pretty hard work!

Reached the transition area in 40:50, it was good that my body was beginning to warm up. My transition wasn't as quick as I would have liked but there were no major dramas either. I even overtook a few as I got off the mount line. But here's where the wheels came off.... not literally, but it might as well! The bike course was 6 laps, each lap about 6km or so. We started off with some climbing and then a descent, a u-turn, sharp corners, small climb, another u-turn, small descent, another sharp corner and repeat. My bike handling has been an issue in the past and with a course like that, this issue stood out like a sore thumb! I ride past Springfield Central regularly in my weekend rides but I never did these laps within the town.

The longest straight line was probably about 1km or so, and that's probably the longest I stayed in my aerobars. It was embarrassing for me to be braking until almost a complete stop at each turn. I rode like a novice and Coach Trent did have a word with me after. I did get better after a couple of laps but the damage has already been done. The course was meant to be 40km but each lap was measured short and by the end of the 6th lap, it was just under 35kms. In fact, I doubted myself and almost went for another lap but I noticed there weren't many others left on the course and I took note of those who lapped me before.

I wasn't prepared for the dismount line, so my feet were still strapped in the shoes. Running into transition with the bike shoes slowed me down even further. Bike split was 1:17:45 with a slow average of 27kph. To be honest, I was glad that the course was under distanced!

I did still find my running legs and managed to keep about the same pace as the first run. And happy to be able to start overtaking a few in front of me. The second run was 5km and we did the same laps as before but only 2 laps this time. I was aiming to be my Olympic Distance triathlon PB and especially now, with the shortened bike course. I was close but after the 2nd run lap there was an extra 200m we had to do before we go through the finish line. 21:43 was my second run time, giving me an overall finish time of 2:20:19, about 2 minutes shy of my OD tri PB. I was 10th out of 17th in age group, enough to add 3 points to my tri club tally as there were some non TA members before me. Overall, I was 60th out of 125.

A nice non alcoholic Erdinger beer in the recovery area followed by a painful but effective massage. I didn't quite get the result I wanted but it's pretty obvious which area I need to keep working on. Coach Trent was very kind to give me a one on one bike skills session a few days after the race and passed on some very useful tips for me to put into practice.

Next race - Bukit Merah 113 triathlon! Would be making a quick trip back home for this. Let's hope there are no more than 3 laps for the bike course this time!