Posts Tagged ‘Duathlon


Marlow Duathlon – Race Report

“It’s a lot of hard work for a commemorative race t-shirt, isn’t it”. This pearl of wisdom was uttered to me by a fellow competitor as we rounded a corner 2kms from the finish line of the Marlow Duathlon. We’d already completed a 7km run and a 25km cycle and were almost at the end of the second 7km run.

Months ago I had the idea that I’d like to attempt a duathlon… It made sense, see, because I like to run and I like to cycle. And as I do most of my running in Vibrams and most of my cycling on my singlespeed, it also seemed like a good idea to do a vibram / singlespeed duathlon. At the time I applied for the race, it still seemed like a good idea although standing by a cricket pavillion at 7.30am on a lovely, bright Sunday morning wearing funny shoes and holding a steel framed bike with only one gear I felt a bit of a tit. Especially as everyone else seemed to have beautiful bicycles with many gears costing many hundreds of pounds and be warming up / psyching up and taking the whole thing very seriously. I was relieved that Hauling My Carcass had agreed to take part as well so at least there would be 2 of us riding wholly inappropriate bikes.

The other thing that had unnerved me somewhat was the list of rules and regulations that had arrived a week prior to the event. Bar ends must be plugged, handlebars must be of a certain style, you must not remove your bike from transition unless you have fastened your helmet… the list seemed to go on and on and I was sure that I would be disqualified for some accidental infraction. Being used to running races where you just basically turn up and run around for a bit, it all seemed a little daunting. Fortunately all my fears were unfounded as the race organisers and the marshals were all lovely, helpful, friendly individuals who got everything underway and kept us safe and on course for the duration.

The course sets off from the cricket pavillion and heads out in a big loop along some wooded paths, following the river before coiling round back towards where we started. It was advertised as 7km but my Garmin reading a touch over 7.5kms for the route as the measurement for the final “kilometre” was of questionable accuracy. The slipperyness underfoot at the start and end of this stretch caught me out. I’d planned a fast final km on each of the running sections but instead had to slow down as the Vibrams gave me absolutely no grip on the muddy surface. Now the tricky bit, into transition, off with the silly shoes, on with the helmet (BEFORE unracking the bike) on with the Camelbak and then walk the bike out of transition. Once out of transition, you are able to mount the bike and take off… to be met immediately with a steep 2km incline which saps the legs and the spirit. I got some shouted encouragement from other riders for attempting the ascent on a single speed as they zipped past on their geared machines. Once at the top, it takes a few moments to get the breath back and then it’s a lovely, undulating 25km ride along country lanes in the morning sun. I was feeling good so pushed hard and felt a slight sense of satisfaction when actually managing to overtake anyone on a geared bike. Back into transition for the final run but a struggle to get the, now wet, Vibrams back on lost me about 45 seconds. Then, back out to run the same 7(ish) km course we ran earlier but in the opposite direction. The first couple of kilometres are tough with the legs shot from the ride but the rhythm soon comes back and psychologically you know that the hard work is done and you just have to maintain and finish. I crossed the line in 2:24 and was delighted! The course was 1.4kms longer (40.4kms in total) than the planned 39km total and I’d estimated before the race that I could finish between 2:20 and 2:25. On the Garmin, I noted that I passed the 39km mark at 2:19 so had come in slightly quicker than I’d hoped.

After the race, it was nice that a few other competitors and marshals stopped to talk and ask what it was like competing on a singlespeed. Overall there was a sense of camaraderie and friendliness that is not found at many races. It is a lot of hard work for a t-shirt. But it was a good day. And it is quite a nice t-shirt.

Soundtrack to this post: Equations Of Eternity – Baron Samedi


bricked up

The last week or so has seen me nip out for a crafty 10-11k on a few occasions, squeezing my runs in around other commitments. I’ve tried to up the frequency a little as I have been feeling fairly sluggish and uninspired and this in turn has meant I run less which means I feel sluggish and unispired…
So, the weather getting milder and the impending Marlow Duathlon in a few weeks time have both given me a well needed kick up the behind.
Another thing that got me moving again was a response to one of my posts about my forthcoming Duathlon attempt. I got a good tip from the 5k runner who suggested I try “bricks”.
Bricks, for the uninitiated (such as I). is concentrating on 2 disciplines in the same workout in quick successiion. As I am training for a run/bike/run Duathlon, I decided to attempt a training session of run/bike/run/bike/run covering the same overall distance as my intended Duathlon (39kms) but in smaller chunks giving my body a chance to practice changing from one discipline to the other.
So, in my customary “Bull In A China Shop” style, I formulated a loose plan in my head on Saturday evening and then set off on Sunday morning to attempt my Brick Session.
First leg was a run of 5kms, a pleasant little run that felt easy. A quick change of footwear and onto the bike for 13.5kms. I’d drunk some water at the transition and during the ride guzzled some Lucozade sweets donated to me by the lovely Fit Artist. They seemed to do the trick as I felt rejuvenated for the bike ride with only the hill back home really making me work. Off the bike and back into the Vibrams for a 6k run. And this where I really started feeling it. The transition to the run after a cycle is a tough one – thighs that have been moving up and down for 13kms now have to learn to move back and forth again and this takes a little while for the body to understand. The first kilometre felt odd and then for a brief period everything was ok before a sudden onset of weariness. With a bike ride and another run to go, I was beginning to wonder why I had attempted this. Still, onwards and upwards we go so I returned home, jumped back on the bike, wolfed down some more energy sweets and I felt ok again. The bike ride was again quite enjoyable as I find it relatively easy but at the back of my mind, I began to dread the last run.
I arrived back, dropped the bike, swapped shoes and set off for my last 2k run. It was really hard. The transition was tough and I didn’t shake off the feeling of weariness. It was only a relatively short leg but I felt disorientated as I ran it, unsure of how long I’d been running and a bit detached from my self. I have had this feeling before towards the end of some of my more challenging runs… it’s not fun and is physicaly and mentally uncomfortable.
I was so relieved when I got back home. Glad that it was over but also glad that I had done what I intended. My time (2h 32mins) was about what I expected to complete the race in but this training session had 2 additional transitions and they involved unlocking the front door, carefully manouvering my bike through the hallway etc. which I obviously won’t have to concern myself with during the actual race.
As a footnote, I retrospectively researched “Bricks” and found that I’d gone about it completely the wrong way – advice on Beginner says “If you have never done a brick before, you should get used to them before attempting these kind of workouts”. And also that the individual legs should be over shorter distances, ideally “5-6 miles bike + 1mile run”. I really need to learn that instructions and advice are what you seek before attempting something and not afterwards to check if you’ve done it right.

Soundtrack to this post:
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Starfighter



It has been a week of accidental laziness, if such a thing can be said to exist. Work and life in general have joined forces to rob me of opportunities to get out and run. Last Sunday I set off early in the morning to get some of what I loosely refer to as “Duathlon Training” done. Basically I go for a cycle and go for a run. A few weeks ago I did a cycle/run so this time I thought I’d try a run/cycle so I did 10.7kms run and then straight onto the bike for 25kms. It didn’t feel too bad and certainly not as tough as doing the cycle first and then transitioning, on wobbly legs, to a run. The acid test will be in a couple of weekends time when I try to recreate the duathlon itself by doing run/cycle/run…something tells me the legs will complain.
So since my outing last Sunday there has been no additional running. There has been lots of work related driving and some work related overnight stays in hotels and very little else. Apart from eating. Mostly pizza. And cake. It was my eldests birthday, you see, and owing to us celebrating it as a family with pizza and cake and also him having a sleepover where him and his friends celebrated with pizza and cake and then us living off the pizza and cake leftovers the day after, the dietary intake has mostly been pizza and cake.
So I really felt I should make an effort this weekend and get out and make up for the laziness and gluttony of the previous 6 days. And here is where I had a pleasant surprise. I set off on my run with a vague route in mind but, a few kilometres into the run, felt I should extend it a bit as I was feeling particularly fresh. Another few kms in and I was still feeling good so deviated some more. What I had set out planning to be a 12kms run soon metamorphosised into a 17.5km run and the only reason I stopped at 17.5kms was that a friend was coming over for lunch and I needed to get back home. I felt I could have easily run 21kms, possibly more.
Which is how I came up with the above formula for the title of this blog:
P=pizza, C=cake, R=rest and S=stamina
So copious amounts of pizza and large quantities of cake combined with 6 days of no exercise gave me the stamina to run 17.5kms without feeling weary.
I think I’m onto something here…


cold feet

3 runs this week. All along the same route, all just under 11kms, 2 in Vibrams and one in the Saucony Kinvara 2’s.
The more I run in the Vibrams, the harder I find it to run in regular running shoes. The Saucony’s are magnifcent – light, comfortable, bright yellow(!) but it becomes increasingly difficult to transition from no elevation from heel to toe and no padding to a minimal running shoe with only 4mm of lift and a little cushioning – perhaps I need to take the plunge and go for the Saucony Hattori’s with their flat, minimal soles.
The problem with the Vibrams is one of temperature…. in as much as my feet get bloody freezing in temperatures below about 5 celsius.
Vibrams are great for feeling exactly what is beneath your feet and this is also true when the ground is icy – you feel the ice on the surface and the cold. The slippery sensation is oddly reassuring – big padded trainers only usually let you know that the ground is very slippery as you lose your footing and scramble to maintain your balance. The Vibrams allow you to feel exactly how slippery the surface underfoot is and you are able to adjust your pace / gait. Unfortunately, they offer little grip but I suppose forewarned is forearmed. Perhaps some of the other more “off-road” style VFF’s may offer more grip but I’m not about to shell out £120ish just to find out. And the problem with your feet getting cold is that you lose feeling and end up pounding the ground harder as you can’t feel exactly how hard your feet are hitting the floor. Ah well, roll on Spring… we’re only 3 days from the shortest day and then we commence the giddy descent into longer daylight hours. And that was my attempt at optimism….

Talking of Spring and Optimism, I am currently thinking of races I could take part in that would be a bit different from the standard 10k and Half Marathon. I’m already signed up for the Grim Night Terror in February but am considering a Sprint Duathlon in the Vibrams and on the Singlespeed. I’ve never done a duathlon before, and perhaps making it more difficult by doing the run in minimal footwear and the ride with no gears is lunacy, but I think it has the potential to be fun. And I’d like as much fun as possible please before I begin seriously training for the Berlin Marathon.

Soundtrack to this post: DRC Music – Hallo ft. Tout Puissant Mukalo, Nelly Liyemge

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