“The formula for success: half of your rate of failure”. At least, I think that’s the quote. It’s a pretty apt way to sum up what my history at the NZ Duathlon National champs has been. I’ve been injured or very sick every time I’ve attempted to race it. This year, I had a great build up, with some of the best numbers and training I’ve pulled out in recent weeks – and most importantly, I wasn’t injured.
After a good couple of days of tapering and remaining un-injured, I came to race day looking forward to testing myself against some of the best men in NZ across a run, a bike, and another run. After a pretty good coffee (a suggestion from my good friend Jason Hunt) a light warm up and setting up in transition, it was go time!
The first run was a 4.3km run around a mix of concrete, tarped areas, and a gravel track. I was feeling excellent. This was my first race out in the recently-purchased Nike 4%’s, and they were performing nicely. I was stoked to still be striding with Malcolm King (a professional triathlete who’s currently living the dream!) and feeling very good. Sitting just behind the lead men with an average of 3.26/km pace at the end of the run has never felt easy for me, which was a great sign! I was in a good headspace and thinking about going through the first transition – I’d moved up a couple of places in preparation for getting onto the bike as swiftly as possible.
I left the transition area second out of the group, just behind Malcolm. The leap onto the bike went smoothly, I got my feet into my shoes and it was time to pedal hard. I held a good advantage and was looking forward to hitting the 20km bike out of the park. It was a wet day, meaning that cornering was going to be
most nerve-racking thing I’d done in a while fun, but I was confident in my handling ability to stay upright at speed. The first half of the first lap was going well – until I ended up being taken out by two muppets/unfortunate lads who came down behind me my back wheel was hit by two people crashing out behind me on a corner! I was sitting on a wide line which meant I was able to correct (just), but unfortunately I wasn’t able to correct completely and was taking the wrong line going into the second corner, and I ended up having my nearly-corrected wheels slide out from underneath me on the wet track. Luckily, I slide quite well, and moved from one side of the track to the grass on the other side. I wasn’t in much pain, and the only thing on my mind was getting back onto the bike and getting going again! I continued and got back on the bike, and after looking back I realized that the other two guys who came down unfortunately couldn’t continue (I later saw them being taken away by the course medics) – hopefully they recover quickly! The next bike group, consisting of 4 solid guys, was coming fast and I managed to get myself back into the race with them.
The next 5 laps of the bike continued without incident – we all took turns, worked hard, were careful during the technical parts of the course and all stayed upright. On the seventh and final lap, Chris Johnson and Liam Carson (some short-course athletes I’ve raced with before) made a break and I had to chase to get back onto them. The break stayed away, meaning that the three of us came into the second transition together without incident.
I had a reasonable second transition, but I was starting the feel the effects of my ill-fortuned crash on the bike. I was stiffening up but trying to work hard to keep the run pace up. I ended up finishing in the top 10 overall for the open men and 6th in the age group. I’ve got to say congrats to everyone who was out on course today – it was some genuinely terrible conditions with cold, wind, and rain – these things are never fun and make racing tricky, and there were lots of crashes out on course.
Considering my luck, I’m going to take that as a positive. Being a long-course athlete and someone who likes to swim before cycling and running in a race, this sort of racing isn’t usually the kind of stuff I like to do. Having said that, I’ve never run as well as in that first run, had great transitions, had a great mindset throughout the race and had good feelings during the race despite my crash. I have a bit of healing up to do, but outside of that, I’m looking forward to the next block of run-focused training, announcing my next sponsorship partner, and getting ready for my next race!