As I sit here there’s a sense of lethargy. Sitting still is tiring and walking up the stairs my legs moan; a chorus of hamstrings, quads and calves, singing out, beckoning me back to the sofa. I know it would probably be good to jump on the bike and spin my legs for 30 minutes to give them some fresh blood. We’ll see. They can have some fresh tea and biscuits in the meantime.
At 8am this morning I set off on a 10k run, the first leg of the standard distance, Dartington Duathlon. The event is run by Ben Tisdall, a fellow Totnesian, who ran the South Hams Tri earlier in the year. The Dartington Duathlon has Sprint and Standard distance races every year – I did the sprint last year and would have done it in March had I not picked up an injury on a night run. Not this time though. This time I was feeling fairly fit coming into the race. The running has not been anything special but I did a fair bit of exercise at Club La Santa earlier this month. I haven’t felt the boost a few weeks later like I did last time I was there, but timing wise, I should be recovered and fit. I guess the run speed has been hampered by the broken toe from July.
From the gun, or should I say ‘go’ (I really wish race directors would give you a count down, or marks, get set) there was a guy off the front, followed by myself and 3 others. One of the others was club mate, Jon Parkinson, and I guessed we would run together. The route was hilly, and I was reminded at how bad my down hill running is when the others put a couple of seconds on me there. The 3 of us closed together on the flat path past Dartington shops, the guy off the front was not messing around and had about 20-30 seconds on us. One of the guys in our group tried to push away and ended up running the next few miles on his own, 5 metres in front of us. The pace felt steady and I didn’t want to push too hard, too early. The run was two laps. Jon dropped back a bit towards the end of the second lap, and I was about 10 metres behind the other two guys. The lead guy had about 1.30 on us from what I heard.
The first lap of the run with Torbay team mate, Jon P
This was the order as we set-out from transition on the bike. I opted for shoes not already clipped into pedals this time. There is an early descent which is a little technical and I wanted my shoes strapped on from the beginning, no messing about. As we made our way down the hill, I passed the first guy and we headed towards the roundabouts which take us onto the A385 towards Plymouth. The guy ahead was going a decent pace, it wasn’t until the end of the A385 as we headed up the hill to the turnaround point, I decided to put in an attack. The leader at this point had passed us coming back and I thought if there was any chance of catching him we needed to get properly moving. Coming back on the A385 is great, super quick. You can sit in the aerobars all the way; none of the corners are too tight. I was hammering back, and was suprised after about 10 mins to get caught. I think it was the guy that I passed when I first started the bike. He was cycling more or less the same speed though. I sat a few bike lengths back until the roundabout and a slow driver bought us together. Then a squirrel got killed right next to us, and before we knew it, we were climbing up the hill to Dartington. My gears might need adjusting a bit. If I don’t go from big to little sprocket before I get into the hill proper, it can refuse to change and this was one of those times. I muscled my way up which I think had the added effect of dropping the guy that had caught me. I then managed to change down before the second steeper section. As I passed the spectators they shouted that we were closing the gap to the lead guy.
The second lap was similar. I felt I was cycling strong but going out, which is hillier, did feel a little slower this time. The lead guy was still some way off. At the end of the second lap I was caught, this time by the other guy who has originally been in second off the run. We arrived in transition together but I got out about 5 seconds before him and headed onto the run. I thought I might have a battle to hold that, but I think I had better post-run legs than him in the end. I actually felt pretty good running, and I think that’s where the fitness comes in from training on tired legs. The run was 5k and had a proper off road feel. The first part had pretty big rocks to run over. Then a downhill through fields. Into the woods, thankfully, it’s been pretty dry lately or the mud would have been pretty slippy. There was a turnaround point where I saw the leader who was perhaps about 40 seconds ahead. The guy behind me was close enough to keep me pushing the pace. I live close to these woods, so the fact that I run them most weeks and know the drops and bends, was a bit of an advantage. When we hit the open fields, we were relatively well spaced out. The last climb up the concrete path to Dartington was tough, but really completed a run that had everything. The more things to distract you on a final run the better, so cows, trees, mud, rocks and general nature is good.
It’s always bloody great to come back into the finish. I’m pretty happy with the race. I was never going to catch the leader who had a decent bike as well as good running legs. I’ll have to put some work in over the winter and improve both running and cycling times, if I’m to get this elusive victory. First things first thought. Next week is the Bristol-Bath marathon and then I promised my legs a couple of weeks off running. I know they’ll moan if they don’t get it and there’s only so much you can tell them to ‘shut-up’.