I went to bed at 9pm last night and switched out the light at 10. I was conscious that I had to get up at 4:45pm to get to Winchester Duathlon on time. Unfortunately, I get so nervous that I won’t wake up on time, that I barely slept. As soon as the alarm went off, I leapt out of bed to get ready.
I had hoped to have my new favourite (date and walnut porridge) for breakfast, but I had no dates, so I had to have chocolate brownie porridge and a pint of water. I also made the mistake of looking on Facebook, so ended up running a bit late. It wasn’t until I was dressed and cleaning my teeth that I realised that I wasn’t sure where Ant’s house was.
I quickly looked up Ant’s address and realised that I would have to cycle fast to get there by 5:45am. I shoved everything into my rucksack, remembered to fill a bottle of water and rushed out of the house. Unfortunately, I realised as I was arriving at Ant’s house that I had failed to pick up my hoodie from the tumble-dryer, but there was nothing I could do by then.
Ant loaded the bikes onto the car and Irene, Lindsey and I got in. We then spent the journey trying to work out which park and ride to park in. Fortunately, it was just across the road from the stadium, so we unloaded everything and rushed over as quickly as possible. It was already very busy and the queue to collect numbers was out of the door. We collected our bags and then went down to the locker room, which was a little strange. All of the keys had been removed, so they were actually unsecured cupboards. 🙁
I removed my waterproof trousers, made a final decision to keep on my base layer and put on my amazing Sealskinz waterproof socks. I then pinned on my number before heading outside with Irene. We then realised that everyone else had put their bikes in the bike racks. We went to move our bikes but had to remove our chips to put the bikes in the racks. Then we had to put our chips back on. By that stage, everyone else had headed inside for the briefing, but there was no room for us inside. We squeezed in the doorway with Ant and Lindsey held an umbrella over us as we tried to pick up as much information as possible. Then it was outside to the start.
The start of the race
Two events were being held: the sprint event at 7am followed by the novice event at 7:10am. We headed over to the start corral with the other ‘sprinters’ and then we were off… or were we? There wasn’t a mat at the start, so it was unclear.
We headed out of the stadium and around a corner onto a path with lots of deep puddles. Then we headed onto a field. The grass was really wet and muddy and I instantly wished that I hadn’t worn my brand new trainers. Trail shoes would have been the best option. We headed around the first lap and passed Donna who was marshalling before heading out for a second lap. It quickly became clear that we were towards the back of the field. We were also conscious that we didn’t want to go out too hard as we had no idea what to expect.
When we arrived at the bike racks, we were surprised to see that Jim was there to cheer us on – thanks, Jim! I got my bike off the rack and pulled on my waterproof jacket before realising that I had no bike helmet on. Every tips article that I had read stated that it is essential to put it on first, so I can’t believe I forgot it! I didn’t zip up my jacket and did up my helmet wrongly, but decided to go for it anyway.
We sped out of the stadium and onto the road. About a mile into the ride, we had to stop at a junction for a bus, which held us up but gave me a chance to do up my helmet correctly, then we headed into Winchester. We passed Debby Bartlett (a retired former colleague) before heading up a steep hill. I cycled most of the way up, but plenty of other people had got off their bikes and when Irene joined them, I thought it would be rude not to join in. We made it to the top of the hill and then remounted our bikes. It wasn’t long before we were being passed by people on the other side of the road. One of the people we saw was Katherine who was on her way to being the second female in the novice category – way to go!
After a while, the rain eased off, which was good, but then a short while later it started again, and then turned into hail 🙁 It was so cold. I lost the feeling in my hands and feet. We reached Avington and passed someone whose bike had a flat tyre. Unsporting as it sounds, I was relieved that for a short while at least we weren’t the last people on the course. Sometime later, the cyclist passed us again. Eventually, we were nearing In-tech when we saw Jim up ahead. He was waving and encouraging us. He also pointed out another very steep hill, which he said that a lot of people had walked up. This time, I didn’t hesitate and jumped off my bike. At the top of the hill, I got back on and we cycled the rest of the way back to the stadium.
We put our bikes onto the rack and headed out for our second run. Then we realised that we still had our bike helmets on. Our hands were so cold that we couldn’t undo them. We both struggled but eventually decided to help each other. Technically, that’s an offence that could get us disqualified. As we were the last two runners, I think they weren’t going to be that mean! There were still people running, which was a relief, even if they were all on their second lap. Jez had already finished, so he was there cheering, along with Ant. They encouraged us into the finish – WE MADE IT!
Ant came over to congratulate us… and we found out that he had won the event. Amazing! There was then just enough time to change (into a dry t-shirt, but no other top) before posing for photos with some of the other Run Campers. Then we collected our bikes and headed back to the car.
On reflection, moments of the event were hell. I feel I had a lot of energy left at the end, so maybe I can do better if I enter another event. At the moment, I am thinking about entering Ferndown triathlon. I just need to crack the swimming!