National Elite Duathlon Champs - Loughborough - 26/04/2009

Report from Jill Parker

Loughborough on a car racing circuit.

10km very flat run 4 laps next to the circuit, 41km bike pretty flat 14 laps of the circuit very windy, 5km run 2 laps following the same course of the 10km run

This was a race which you had to qualify for to enter.
I submitted my application form and was happy when my entry was accepted. However, at the race I was a little disappointed to see that quite a few of the usual Elite duathletes, and triathletes for that matter, were not on the start line.

Anyway, I knew this would be a tough race in any event and at least I was here, putting myself on the line, willing to race hard and improve as an athlete.

I set off at quite a steady pace on the 10km run, I didn't want to push it too hard as I wanted to save some energy for the bike. I was tempted to go off with the super speedy runners but I just set about doing my own thing at my own pace. I finished the run in 6th place in 37:40, only 50 secs outside my PB so I was happy with that. On to the bike and it was hard. I was on my own and no group to work with, could I have gone quicker on the run to make the top group????
Would I have blown up trying????
I remember what agony I was in after getting my 10km PB at Eastleigh and there was no way I would have been able to cycle 40km after that.

Anyway, I worked hard on the bike. Very hard, my heart rate was through the roof but I held it together and gradually overtook people in turn who were falling off the lead group.
I know the idea of Elite racing is to draft and work together as a group but I also know that if I have caught a girl up who has fallen off the lead group then 1) they are not as strong a cyclist as me so will only slow me up and 2) they were in the lead group so can run faster than me so I need to shake them off and get as much lead as possible between me and them so they don’t catch me on the run.

The second lady I overtook was an Elite athlete I recognised. The last time I saw her was in 2007 when she was on the podium in the Windsor Elite triathlon. I overtook her then she said, "come on Jill, we'll work together on the bike" I thought, "how on earth does she know my name?". We worked together for nearly 2 laps and then I looked around to see where she was, waiting for her to take her turn at the front, but she had gone and fallen back. I smiled to myself thinking, the last time I saw you was on the podium and now I've just dropped you!!!

It took me a while to actually shake off the last girl I overtook, an Irish athlete who is a very speedy runner. I really needed to get as big a margin as possible between me and Irish as she is a much better runner and has great endurance. I used all my new found biking skills to manoeuvre, tactically place myself and change pace to finally get her off my wheel. It was a tough task as she didn't give up easily but I managed it in the end.

I finished the bike in third place (1:08:17) and set off on the run (40 secs behind the leader and 40 secs ahead of Irish) in complete world of pain and cramping very badly as time trialling the bike had really took it out of me. I don’t regret this, you need to put yourself out there and give it everything you've got as otherwise you'll never know whether or not you'll survive. Also I needed to give myself the best chance for the last run.

I did the last 5km run in 20:34 mins so I was pretty disappointed with the time and I got caught by Irish who had been trying to hang on to my wheel for dear life to finish in 4th place.

Ah well a tough race, all good experience and will definitely make me stronger.

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