Maxifuel Duathlon

So a few months ago my friends (& speedy cyclists) Suzy Robinson & Kate Scotter and I arranged to get together for some training and a catch up. Suzy offered to be the hostess with the mostess and we went to stay with her in Oxford (or was it Cambridge?) for the weekend where she would wait on us hand an foot. But there was a catch….? We had to race with her at the Maxifuel Duathlon at Dorney Lake!! My first thoughts were “no way, never, what…in February?” but I figured no-one else would be mad enough to race this time of year so it might be a nice easy chance to blow away the cobwebs.
How wrong was I?!? When I saw the start line in the week, the field was stacked!!! The event was also to host the Oxford Vs Cambridge Varsity Race. There was also super speedy and ex-international hockey player Natalie Seymour, and the Age Group World Duathlon Champion Eloise Du Luart, along with at least 10 other GB Age Group athletes who have all raced at a high level, a whole host of Thames Turbo Athletes and even the legend herself…..Dame Kelly Holmes (cue major excitement!)
So anyway we rocked up at 8am in the morning and did a whole load of faffing and with 1 minute to go to the start I was still in the queue for the portaloo, missed the whole of the race briefing and had a mad dash to make sure I didn’t miss the race.  There I found Kate….who had forgotten to put her timing chip on! More faffing before she decided to race without it and then the horn went off and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. That said, the first run went relatively well. Having done no speed work whatsoever (that’s right Neill Crump, I am not faffing about with zone 6 training just yet!) I expected it to be a shock to the system but it was OK. Unfortunately for me the run was a whole 250m long according to my garmin (fellow athlete Alan also thought the same, you can read his blog here) so the time on paper looks disappointing but not to worry at this time of year.
I came in off the first run in 7th place and hopped on the bike. I was keen to check out the bike course as I have never raced here before and after a rather tentative first lap I soon got into it and enjoyed the battle against the wind. I also enjoyed riding my bike for the first time this year and getting used to the new position thanks to my bike fit at Speed Hub (thanks Tim!). I must have over taken most of the girls quite early on but it took me part way into the third lap to catch Eloise.  I knew I’d have to put as much time between us as possible if I was to stay ahead of her on the second run. I finished the bike a little too fresh but was so happy to clock the second fastest bike split of the day, behind speedy Suzy (who beat most of the men aswell)!
Suzy, Kate and I at the end (I have so many layers on I look like the Michelin Man!)
Pink trainers on in T2 and off on the second run. Legs OK? Yep. Snot everywhere? Absolutely! Sore hip and back? No. Fabulous! Let’s crack on! So I ran with a guy from Leeds & Bradford tri club and had a little chat “Guess what…I’m coming second!” I said to him. “No way! That’s awesome,” he replied. “I know, but Elo is catching me,” I said. To which he replied “Well stop chatting and run harder!”.
So by this point Natalie was absolutely storming the field. She had led from the start and she was on it! I had a comfortable lead on Elo….or so I thought…..but your legs can only move so quick when you’ve done no speed work and with just under 1.5k to go she caught me and gave me a cheer of encouragement.  I stayed with the Leeds & Bradford tri guy (friendly Northerner) who told me he had punctured in the race which was a shame. He kept my feet ticking over to help me finish only 20 seconds slower than my first run, taking third place overall to complete the podium trio.
Podiums and goody bags!
It was great to catch up with Natalie and Elo at the finish and it’s fab to see these new athletes coming through and really throwing their markers down as the ones to watch! You can read more about Natalie’s successes and adventures here and Elo’s here. (Good luck for the rest of the season girls!). My friends Suzy and Kate came in not long after us and had both done really well following various injuries and stress fractures! They were closely followed by Dame Kelly Holmes who was full of smiles after puncturing at this race here last month.
So this is the highlight of my year so far… super talented friend Rowena Cole is an amazing (and I mean A.M.A.Z.I.N.G) track runner and she has been part of the On Camp With Kelly (OCWK) set up for years whereby she has been mentored and supported by Kelly to help her realise her potential. She had text Kelly in the week to say I was racing so when I told Kelly I was a friend of Rowena’s I got a super lovely (and super sweaty!) hug!!! (Thanks Kelly, and thanks Rowena!) The thing that was so nice to see was this Double Olympic Champion had time for everyone! She was having her photos with people, chatting away, motivating and inspiring. I will never forget that!
I’m hoping now to get cracking with a bit of speed work and that my hip and back will continue to play ball. The venue, sunshine and race organisation was absolutely spot on. Would I recommend an F3 events race? Definitely. Any lessons learnt from the race?  Take your own portaloo!

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