Race Report – Rockingham Duathlon – Sunday 5th November 2017

I’m writing this three months since the race took place, so the detail may be a little lacking! Following Worksop where I felt like I ran really well despite some niggles, the week leading up to Rockingham was a case of trying to recover as best as possible while managing injuries that weren’t showing any signs of disappearing soon. The day after saw a recovery 5k on the treadmill before an easy effort at the spin session. Wanting to protect the hip especially which was aching I went on Trainer Road for three days, enjoying looking at a graph for the final few weeks before I got a new laptop and was able to immerge myself in the virtual cycling utopia that is Zwift.

I ran on Thursday evening with the club, enjoying a cider mile post run which has become a welcome staple of Thursday night runs in recent months. The left hip was feeling a lot like a bout of sciatica, but it was more bothersome than burdensome at this point. Saturday morning saw the second anniversary of Belton House parkrun and a round of the Grantham Running Club GP Series. I hoped to put in a fast time somewhere around 17 minutes to boost my chances of winning the series. Alas that sort of time wasn’t on the table, a lonely run at the front and some soft conditions underfoot meant that it was first place and just 17:56. Worse was that I’d managed to tweak my left calf muscle during the run and had to limp home. I was convinced it was related to the hip and the sciatica like issues. The only good fortune I enjoyed that morning was that I’d managed to drop my phone on the opening lap of the parkrun. I was aware not long after I’d dropped it and as I was leading at the time I was convinced it had trampled on and smashed into a thousand pieces. Very luckily a boy in a skeleton costume who was just behind me saw the phone bounce around, risked life and limb to pick it up and hand it to a marshal. A little muddy but otherwise fine, I was one relieved runner when I retrieved it after I finished!

That day I imagine I spent many hours working on my calf and hip. I remember the following morning when driving down to Rockingham I wasn’t convinced I’d be able to manage much more than a few hundred meters. My rather depressed mood wasn’t helped when I was guided into the wrong car park and wasted twenty minutes or so trying to get to the correct car park. Wore was to come. In a rushed warm up I jumped on my TT bike and rode up and down the paddock car park. I was told by a marshal to not use a particular bit of the car park and in turning to heed that advice managed to get my rear disc wheel stuck in a small drainage concrete gap. I still don’t know quite what happened (I haven’t yet been able to bring myself around to survey the damage) but all I know is I heard a loud bang and the escape of significant amounts of air. Being a tubular tyre it should have been game over. But, for the first time ever I’d bought a spare rear wheel – not thinking about a puncture, but because of the wind and fearing a disc may be too hard to handle.

To my credit I believe I remained rather calm while changing the wheel, which also meant adjusting the brakes; things that can take me the best part of hours and plenty of cursing. This time I effected all the repairs with plenty of cursing in just five minutes. I rushed the bike through to the transition zone, racked it, gave a cursory look around to work out where I was in relation to the pit lane markings and went out to attempt a running warm up. The warm up was just over a mile of jogging up and down the car park. The hip and calf felt bearable, to be honest I was running on so much adrenaline given the dramas with the bike and running late that I think I could have had a shattered hip and still feel nothing.

I lined up just in time to miss most of the pre-race briefing, but having been here a year before I knew the score: two laps of running the infield circuit to make 10K, 16 laps of cycling the oval to make around 40K, and 1 running lap of 5K to finish. I knew the hardest thing would be to count the right number of laps around the 1.25 mile oval bike leg – last year I memorably miscounted, rode a lap too many and lost the race win as a result. The prime objective of returning was to at least complete the race having done the correct number of laps. Anything else was a bonus!

The start of the Rockingham Duathlon.

Not quite as cold as 12 months earlier, but still fairly bracing, I was lined up in fairly full winter attire. Thankfully I was not in conspicuous but rubbish Team GB kit, the tri suit debuted at Sleaford a couple of weeks earlier was back having been a big success. Without much fanfare we were sent on our way and immediately I was finding myself somewhere near the front. To my relief there was little discomfort in the calf especially and I pushed to the front of a pack of five, clocking a 5:31 first mile.

The start of the Rockingham Duathlon.

As we turned and faced a fairly prominent headwind, sensing the opposition was of a similar running ability, I played tactics and tucked in at the back of the group making it quite clear that I was unwilling to take the pace. With others willing to push on the second mile was 5:35, but I was feeling really good, perhaps the best I’d felt racing in 2017! The third mile became a tactical affair as we ran on the oval apron into a wind and it slowed to a 5:48 as the lead runner began playing tactics of his own and the pack dwindled down to just three of us.

The opening run lap of the Rockingham Duathlon.
The opening run lap of the Rockingham Duathlon.

In spying upon gauging the opposition before the race, I’d noted that the standout athlete based on previous events was a member of Loughborough University. As the backside of the leader’s tri-suit had Loughborough Tri Club emblazoned upon it, I assumed that this was the guy I needed to be tracking. I was therefore caught a little napping when, as we ran down the pit lane to end the first lap, the Loughborough Uni athlete and his similarly youthful opponent peeled off into the transition zone. They, it transpired, were sprint distance athletes who were running just 5K for the opening run leg. I looked around a little nervously and realised I was running alone, with a sizeable gap to the runners behind me.

Leading the first run leg.

Wondering if I should ease up or push on I went for the latter, reckoning that maximising any gap during the run would help mitigate the inevitable losses during the bike leg. Mile 4 was a 5:27 and felt easy (The nice tailwind undoubtedly helped). A 5:38 fifth mile and a 5:46 sixth mile meant that I ran a 35:12 opening 10K leg. This was over a minute quicker than last year and gave me around half a minute over the second placed runner as I went into transition and found my bike.

Leading the first run leg.

The helmet on went okay, as did unracking the bike and taking it to the transition exit. That’s when the race began to unravel. I’d opted to attach the bike shoes to the pedals with the tried and tested elastic band trick. As I mounted the bike and slowly got up to speed I was able to get the left foot in the shoe and snap the elastic band. The right foot though would not go into the shoe. Firstly I went slowly trying to get the foot in the shoe. Then realising that I was losing loads of time I decided to get up to speed and then try and perform the operation at 25mph. This quickly proved to be impossible and impossibly dangerous as I was coming up behind slower riders taking part in the sprint race and being passed by quick riders also in the sprint race.

By the time I reached the exit of turn three and began the gentle uphill drag to the pits, I knew the only thing to do would be to stop and get the shoe on. I pulled over to the outside of the track, propped the bike against the wall, removed the shoe from the pedal (Not a totally straightforward procedure under pressure) and fixed the issue with the shoe – which was caused by the velcro fastening getting wedged inside the shoe when I’d tried to force my foot in.

Shoe on foot and back on bike and riding I lost probably only around 20 seconds but all momentum and first position had been lost. I spent the next hour or so riding not particularly well. The conditions were not as windy as last year, but the wind was just strong enough on the uphill run back to the pits to be quite demoralising. I found myself simply unable to push myself as hard as I’d done the year before. It may have been because I’d gone off too hard in the run, I think it was also a case of just not being willing on the day to put in a do or die effort, and being disappointed in not having my disc wheel available to me, which in the conditions would have been a big benefit.

The bike leg of the Rockingham Duathlon.

I was pretty sure I’d lost the lead, but had no idea of who or where the leader was, nor who was also possibly behind or ahead of me, given the unique multiple lap configuration of the Rockingham Oval race. I made sure I counted the right number of laps by not trying to count the number of laps and instead going by distance, knowing that when the Garmin clocked 23 miles it was time to come into the pits. This did work; I know that for others, once again, they under counted or over counted the number of laps they rode. I think if I am going to do this event again, they need a system in place to help people know when they’ve ridden enough.

The bike leg of the Rockingham Duathlon.

After a fairly disappointing hour and  eight minutes, which was a net three minutes slower than twelve months earlier, I was at last off the bike and heading to the run leg. I avoided cramping up for perhaps the first time ever in a Duathlon and was on my way. There was no-one behind me and for a while no-one ahead of me either. I went off steadily and controlled, resigned to finishing in whatever position I was currently in. The first mile was 5:43 – I could have gone quicker. It was then I spotted a runner ahead of me who looked quick enough to not be a straggler in the sprint race and so, I deduced, was ahead of me in the standard distance. With nothing else to maintain interest in the race, I kept an eye on him, keeping the pace honest, if not entirely flat out. He was at least a minute ahead when I first spotted him, but slowly and inexorably I began to reel him in. The second mile all but matched the first at 5:44, the final mile back to the pits was harder than in the 10K leg as the wind had by now picked up. And by now I was definitely catching the runner up in front quite quickly.

Entering the pits to finish the race I’d clocked a 5:53 and now put the hammer down approaching 5 minute mile pace as I sprinted towards the finish. In the end it was too little too late as I came home around 15 seconds behind the runner in front, but I was pleased at least with how I closed the race and that the 18:27 5K to end the race was a minute or so quicker than in 2016.

Coming to the finish.

I congratulated the runner in front on beating me, wherever he had finished and headed to the machine that punched out the final results. It was the receipt printed that told me I was third! I immediately cursed my misfortune on by bike mechanical for had I not had those I would have almost certainly have finished second. Somehow (and I cannot remember how) I was able to see the official results, and the winner was nearly ten minutes clear. Immediately my suspicion was that the winner had ridden a lap or two too few on the bike leg. But when I caught up with him later that morning and realised it was the Loughborough Athlete I’d reckoned would be the biggest competition I was not too concerned. When I dug into his Strava profile later that day it turned out he was simply bloody quick on the bike, clocking 58 minutes for the leg. This made me feel more at easy over the shoe incident and the wheel puncture – he was and is simply a better Duathlete than me, and unless I found eight minutes on a 23 mile bike leg, I was never going to beat him.

I got to chat to a few BTC and GRC folk who had either completed (Or who had disqualified themselves from) the Duathlon or who were taking part in the 5K, 10K and 10 mile races later that day. I was then presented with my trophy for finishing third in the Duathlon and the day was done. I had originally planned to hang around and watch the race but right then I’d had enough of Rockingham and so left for home.

The Rockingham Standard Distance Duathlon Podium (L to R): Matthew Kingston-Lee, third; Laim Walker, winner; John O’Dwyer, second.

And that was it for racing in 2017. A few days later the hip issue turned into full on can’t run pain, which lasted right until the start of 2018. I managed a couple of parkruns in December but couldn’t run for days thereafter. Thankfully some physio early in 2018 appears, touch wood, to have solved the issues, and hopefully I can enjoy as good a 2018 as I did 2017.




Race Report – Rockingham Duathlon – Sunday 6th November 2016

I had two weeks following the success of the Holdenby Duathlon to prepare for the Rockingham Duathlon, where I was taking part in the standard distance – 10k run, 38k bike, and a 5k run to conclude. The week following was a mostly easy affair recovering from the duathlon which had certainly taken it out of me. It was the first time since early September where I tried to resume running relatively normally. The left Achilles continues to be a source of some pain and frustration. I was testing out my new Hoka Hoka One Clifton 2 trainers, which were certainly packed with cushioning and pretty light with it. Both Wednesday and Thursday’s run were noticeable for the high heart rate for the pace, a legacy of the racing and the lack of running miles in recent weeks. Thursday’s run saw the Achilles ache a fair amount. I was most enthused by Saturday’s run though. Out of the door later than usual thanks to late night working on Mexican time, I was back in my Brooks and I managed 13.4 miles around town with barely a whiff of Achilles aching and coming in just under seven minute per mile average.

Sunday saw a rare excursion with the Witham Wheelers on a 55 mile or so ride which was mostly gentle in pace. Still feeling fresh once home I headed out for a brick run which turned into a ten km effort. With the first mile an easy 6:27 and the second a still comfortable 6:10 I was enjoying this run loads, even if the left Achilles was grumbling away. I kept the effort up, putting on a near flat out effort on the Auf Widersehen Pet Strava segment to regain my KOM which I’d lost a couple of days earlier. This effort proved a useful fartlek style effort as I returned from sub five minute mile pace to run the final mile and a half at 5:40 pace. Sub 38 minutes for any training 10k is pleasing, more so off the back of a bike ride and with a crazy fast effort two thirds of the way into a run.

The week before the Duathlon saw less running – a rare intervals session on Tuesday with the Harlaxton Harriers was run at 80% effort as I was feeling tired after a long weekend of work and exercise. I put in two easy effort two hour efforts on the elliptical trainer, an easy turbo trainer session and a GRC town run where I was hopeful of experiencing no Achilles pain, but came away disappointed to see it the worst it has been for some time. That aching meant I reluctantly opted not to take part in the first anniversary of Belton House parkrun, putting the time to good effect with an extensive stretching routine on the left calf especially, hoping (believing) that the source of the Achilles discomfort is coming mostly from the calf muscles.

After a particularly mild and dry October, weather forecasts for race day were looking fairly appalling, with strong winds direct from the Arctic feeding heavy rain showers over Rockingham Motor Speedway from 9am through to early afternoon. Thankfully when I awoke on race day morning, although it was dark I could see that the skies above Grantham were clear – an indication that the weather forecast was maybe not quite 100% accurate. What was apparent though was that it was cold – temperatures only three or so degrees above freezing. What with the cold weather and the onset of a cold brewing (I was full of cold by late afternoon) I opted to eschew some aero performance and wear a long sleeved thermal base layer below my tri suit, tights over the top of the shorts, with long socks and half overshoes for the bike leg – hastily purchased midweek when forecasts predicted the cold snap. I even went with the buff worn around the neck to offer some extra warmth on the bike leg in particular. I did though opt to not wear my thick cycling gloves and made do with the same thin running gloves underneath the cycling mitts used at Holdenby. It was a bit of a gamble but I had big problems at Rutland Water in March trying to fasten the helmet with big gloves on, so I was prepared to risk a bit of frostbite for a swift transition.

Rockingham Motor Speedway may be something of a white elephant when it comes to motor sport – the number of races actually held on the oval are probably in single figures – but it makes for a pretty good sporting venue when cycling and running is concerned. As with most motor racing circuits, facilities are better than most races with ample parking spaces, plenty of places to warm up and ample permanent toilet facilities. I arrived 80 minutes before the start with my family in tow. Registration was painless and I was pretty relaxed before the start, making sure the bike was okay, my transition area was prepared, and my warm up done with the minimum of fuss, even if there was a little aching in the Achilles. I had the chance to meet some club mates from Belvoir Tri Club and my good friend and work colleague Russell, who is making his first steps in the world of duathlon and had an impressive fourth place finish on his debut a few weeks previous.

The pre-race briefing. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.
The pre-race briefing. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.
The pre-race briefing. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.
The pre-race briefing. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.

I headed to the start ten minutes from the off for a pre-race briefing. All seemed fairly straight forward, and I was pretty relaxed as we were called to the start line at the pit lane exit at 9:30am. With a countdown from ten we were off.

The start of the race. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.
The start of the race. Team GB tri suit on again…. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.

I made a bit of a tardy start but soon found myself third behind the two runners leading above who quickly established a gap on the rest of the field. I put in a bit of an effort in the opening couple of minutes of the race to catch them then, as we made a U-turn off the oval and onto the infield circuit and into the stiff headwind, tucked myself nicely behind the two of them, trying to seek as much shelter as possible. We were soon faced with something I wasn’t expecting – a small incline which saw the runner in the grey top drop back. I kept with the blue-shirted runner as we passed through the first mile in 5:41. I kept on this guys heels for around half a mile further as we endured the worst of the wind, but I sensed the pace was dropping so I pulled alongside and passed him, pulling clear fairly comfortably as I clocked 5:46 for the second mile.

At this point I had a runner in the sprint event come haring up to us and past us just after he inquired which way we should be going. I laughed inside at his inability to follow the course, I wasn’t laughing so much a few minutes later as we headed back to the pit lane to complete the first lap. I wasn’t sure whether I should follow him on the inner pit lane entry or bear right and take the later exit or even stay on the oval itself by passing the pits. I went for the later exit and very nearly headed down the main straight before a marshal guided me the right way.

Approaching transition and with 5:58 clocked for mile three, another marshal assumed I was second in the sprint event and tried to send me into the transition zone. It was only at the very last minute another marshal realised I was in the longer event and sent me down the correct pit lane path. It was stress I could have done without and sent the adrenaline pumping. Looking back to see that no-one was behind me, I made a conscious effort to ease the effort. That said the fourth mile was still fairly fast at 5:43, although this was all within my half marathon HR parameters, so I felt comfortable.

Completing the first lap, taking the correct route... Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.
Completing the first lap, taking the correct route… Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.

While trying not to exert too much energy I knew I couldn’t relax too much on the run for I was likely not to be the quickest on the bike. Mile 4 was 5:43, mile 5 a 5:56 and mile 6 slowing a touch to 6:01 as I battled with the headwind and the slight incline.

Easing out the lead on the second lap of the 10k leg. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.
Easing out the lead on the second lap of the 10k leg. Some spit expertly captured by the photographer! Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.
Easing out the lead on the second lap of the 10k leg. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.
Staying relaxed on the second lap of the 10k leg. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.

As I approached transition I tried to relax, remembering that my bike was racked by garage 22. I clocked the 10k in 36:05, which was the fastest by one minute fifty four seconds. It also transpired that this was just six seconds slower than the winning time in the supporting 10k road race held after the Duathlon.

Despite rehearsing the run into my pit box a couple of times, I still managed to run a few yards past my bike, but, thankfully, only lost a few seconds and managed to not panic following this slight error. Attempting the elastic bands securing the bike shoes to the pedals trick for the first time in a race, all that needed doing was trainers taking off and helmet putting on. I spent a couple of extra seconds making sure the trainers were neatly placed for the second run, but other than that transition went well. It turned to be the third fastest of the race. Given that some efforts in other races have seen me near the bottom three this was pleasing. I didn’t quite manage the flying mount, preferring to stop and get one foot in a shoe before heading off, but it wasn’t long before I all in and racing along.

Heading along the main straight. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.
Heading along the main straight. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.

I enjoyed around 30 seconds of tailwind riding before turning into the headwind. The easy 30 mph quickly became a battle to break 15 mph as there wasn’t just a stiff cold wind to contend with but an imperceptible ascent to climb too. With 16 laps of this I settled into a rather dull, repetitive ride of a minute or so of easy fast riding and three minutes of headwind hell. Although I’m feeling far more comfortable in the TT tuck position of late I opted to sit up on the tailwind sections, partly to try and catch the wind and also to stress different parts of the quads which I feared could suffer if I maintained the same position for over an hour of riding which afforded absolutely no opportunity to stop pedaling.

The ride was pretty monotonous – riding around in fairly small circles, completing each lap in a shade over four minutes. What kept things mildly interesting was the volume of traffic to negotiate with over a hundred sprint and standard distance cyclists on the circuit at one point. The speed differential between slowest and fastest was significant, thankfully the oval circuit is very wide and it wasn’t difficult to sweep around the outside of riders.

Cyclists heading into turn 1. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.
Cyclists heading into turn 1. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.

I didn’t think I was having the best of rides – I felt unable to give it absolute full gas. That said the lack of people passing me was relatively reassuring. I was passed by one other rider at around halfway who soon pulled clear. I wasn’t totally convinced though he was actually ahead of me in the race, reckoning he may have unlapped himself, so to speak. One other rider approached me and sat on my wheel for a little while before being warned by the race referee for drafting. I didn’t see him again. Another rider pulled up to me, passed me, then didn’t move ahead as I rode fairly close behind him for 2/3s of a lap, pulling out wide on the banking to make it clear to anyone watching that I wasn’t drafting. I was then able to pass him on the main straight and he quite quickly dropped back, presumably having made a big effort to catch and gone too fat into the red doing so.

Battling with the wind. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.
Battling with the wind. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.

It was at around this point, after around 12 laps, when I began to to get very concerned over how many laps I had completed and how many I had left to ride. I had used the auto lap feature on the Garmin to lap every 1.48 miles, this being the official length of the oval. However this was proving to be none too reliable thanks, in part, to forgetting to attach the speed and cadence sensor to my bike and so relying on GPS. Lap one was clocked at the start of turn one, by lap 12 it was nearing the approach to turn 2, pretty much halfway around the lap. That wasn’t helping. In the heat of the racing I also couldn’t decide whether I needed to complete 16 full laps or come in at the end of the fifteenth lap. With perhaps one or two laps to go, my support crew (the wife) didn’t seem too sure either when I began gesticulating with a couple of laps to go – they suggested I needed two and I decided to err on the side of caution and complete sixteen full laps.

A bit of shelter from the grandstands. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.
A bit of shelter from the grandstands. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.

I headed into transition, successfully removing my feet from the shoes and dismounting before the line. I found my rack position and got the trainers on without cramping up the left calf – a first in my brief duathlon history. I had time to ask two spectators what position I was in. ‘Third or fourth’ came the reply. Bugger! Something was amiss. The scenarios quickly ran through my head as I left transition (in the third quickest time, I’m pleased to report retrospectively). Either I had done too many laps; two or three competitors had done too few; or the spectators had mistaken the standard distance competitors for straggling sprint competitors. Whatever the scenario I was pleased that I was quickly into my running; a quick look at the average pace suggested that comfortably sub six minute miles was attainable, should it be needed.

In reality the final 5k was uneventful. The nearest competitor behind was the one who had passed me on the bike leg, but he looked to be several minutes behind. Other than a couple of sprint event stragglers I passed, there was no-one within visual distance in front of me for the entirety of the run. The legs felt okay, but the right glute in particular felt a little numb, cold from the wind chill on the bike. I opted to keep a steady pace as I clocked the three miles in a 5k in 5:54; 6:00; and 6:09 – pretty much even paced when the hills and wind were taken into account.  The biggest issue I had was trying to keep my number visible and actually on the belt, the wind having ripped it clear from three of the four attaching pins.

Halfway around the 5k run to conclude. A lonely run. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.
Halfway around the 5k run to conclude. Race number holding on by a single pin. Picture c/o SBR Events / Wild Coy Photography.

As I came to the finish line it was strangely quiet. My wife and family cheered me home but there was no-one at the finish line. The PA, which I’d vaguely heard while on the bike, was quiet. I hadn’t celebrated as I crossed the finish line, I got the impression I hadn’t finished first. I turned the corner and headed into the race HQ building to be handed my medal and to be told I finished fourth. I was pretty upset, but managed to remain relatively calm. I explained that only one rider had passed me and he was still out running. If I had completed the correct number of laps I could not have legitimately lost the lead.

I was told to try and find the race officials, who I found near transition in a van huddled around the timing system. As it happened they were trying to work out the discrepancies in the bike leg times between the top five finishers. I was six minutes slower than the rider who had come in first. Either he and the top three had ridden one lap too few or I had ridden one lap too many. It was when I went to collect my bike and see that my bike computer logged 24.6 miles that I feared the worst. 38km is 23.75 miles, evidently I’d ridden a lap too many (Post race Strava analysis suggests those who rode the correct number of laps rode 23.1 miles – it also suggests around 10% of the field made the same mistake I did, including Russell, who would have finished well inside the top ten had he not committed the same faux pas I did).

When this unfortunate result was confirmed to me I was disappointed but far less upset than when I first thought I’d been robbed of victory by competitors who had ridden too few laps. I made a mistake, lesson learned, and it won’t be made again. I didn’t miscount the number of laps, no elastic band or tape system would have helped with that. I just got confused out on the circuit what 16 laps meant. In hindsight it was obvious, the 10k run required two laps which saw us head into transition at the end of the second lap. I should have swapped bike for trainers at the end of the fifteenth lap, rather than the end of the sixteenth. Something to do with how the brain treats large numbers differently to small numbers is what I blame – that and not fully prepping myself before the race. At least I wasn’t the only one!

Just the medal to take home the Duathlon
Just the medal to take home from the Duathlon.

So rather than the winners’ trophy to take home, I was resigned to just taking the rather snazzy medal and first place in my Age Group (No prizes for that, alas). My final 5k run was timed at 18:57, which was 39 seconds faster than the next quickest (A guy who finished 11th) and 90 seconds quicker than the winner. It is estimated that had I completed the right number of laps I would have won by over a minute. The actual winner was genuinely around two minutes quicker than me on the bike, but I was three minutes quicker on the runs and around 30 seconds quicker through transitions.

A disappointing outcome but there were plenty of positives to take from the race. After a couple of miles the Achilles ache disappeared and I didn’t feel it again for the rest of the race. My transitions were light years better than they were back in March when I took part in my first proper duathlon. My runs were solid but with room for more, as was the case on the bike – a different helmet (the pointy bit was too high in the air a lot of the time), some proper wheels and wearing aero kit are all free improvements to be gained in the future (As well as improving the actual riding bit). Most pleasingly, I stayed mostly calm at the end of the race and didn’t make a total idiot of myself (A little one maybe….) At the end of the day we were just running and cycling around in circles. There are far more important things in life – such as seeing Russell’s new baby daughter for the first time at the end of the race. That, I am sure, was the moment I lost any anger from the outcome of the race. As long as I stay fit and healthy there will be other opportunities to race and hopefully do well. For now I have a tell to tell of the race I through away by not being able to count. I’ll see the funny side of it one day!