Big Cow Emberton Duathlon

AM. Big Cow Emberton Duathlon 10km/40km/5.3km: 2:06:05, 83rd overall, 8th in age group

Run 1½km w/u

Run 10km/39:04 (6:17 min/mile), HR163(170)
T1. 1:03
Cycle 40km/1:03:18 (37.9km/h), HR157(167)
T2. 0:54
Run 5.3km/21:43 (6:36 min/mile). HR162(167)


An early start for this event, my first proper race of the season. The forecast was good, although it was cold and the grass in transition was damp, so I decided to leave my bike shoes off the bike and run in them out of transition. We started in four waves, very close together. My +45 age group wave was the third to go after senior men and the 35-44 age groups and we had the women starting 2 minutes behind us. I said hi to a few people from Oxford Tri – Peter Larbalestier, Hanno Nicklau, Matt Rowley – I must get myself some of their kit sometime. I also bumped into Joe Gardias, ex-Oxford City RC, on the startline. Not spoken to him for a couple of years, he also seems to have made a bit of a transition to du/triathlon.

The pace off the start was very quick and I tried not to get carried away with it, although I probably ran the first 5km in under 19 minutes. After that I settled into an easier, half-marathonish pace as the field thinned out and the last lap of the lake coming into T1 was more comfortable. The fastest three women caught me just before T1. I think I faffed about a bit too much here but emerged at the same time as the other guys I’d been running with so it can’t have been too bad.

On to the bike, and into familiar territory. It was a rolling course with one steep hill – 45×19 got used there – although I passed plenty of guys trying to ride up it in the big ring! I blasted past quite a few people on the first lap including the three women who’d beaten me into T1 and it felt good to be picking off slower riders ahead. It wasn’t too windy – I was OK with my trispoke + disc wheels and although there was some sunshine about I still got a bit cold. I managed to drink all my 500ml carbo-bottle but I didn’t fancy the gel I had taped to the top-tube. Coming into T2 I took it easy, just to catch my breath, and then headed out on the final run.

I left transition with another guy from my age group but he slowly ran away from me – I had just settled into a pace that was comfortable with whatever energy I had left, although looking at the splits my first lap of the final 5.3km was my second fastest of the event. My feet were cold and stiff, which didn’t help. I think he eventually pulled out 200 or 300 metres by the time we’d got to the finish. Julien Lhomme passed me on his final lap, having started in a previous wave. He’s a fast runner and just disappeared into the distance. I tried to lift the pace at the end but there was very little left in the tank. I was exhausted crossing the finish line.

I got some good training out of the day although it seems that at this level, duathlon is very much a sport for the specialist runner – you need to be able to knock out 35 or 36 minutes for the first 10km and that’s beyond me at this stage of the season. I must’ve made up loads of time on the bike – I was never passed – but the runners get you back in the end (Julien Lhomme took 9 minutes out of me in the running and transitions and I only clawed just over a minute back on him on the bike. I’m sure he was pleased to hear me tell him I found it much harder than a tri!).

Very stiff legs when I got out the car at home. The tendon in my left knee that was sore after my 25km run last week was sore again and my right quads also very stiff. I faffed about at home in the afternoon, did a bit of digging for our potato patch, caught up on the Paris-Roubaix results, drank a couple of beers with Jules who’d spent the day with some friends of hers on a cycle ride with Abingdon freewheeling. Sounds like they had a good day.