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Forest of Dean Duathlon - DuathlonOther

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Cannop, Gloucestershire
United Kingdom
Forest of Dean Triathlon Club
70F / 21C
Total Time = 1h 54m 48s
Overall Rank = 8/40
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

I'm spending a week in the UK for work, and taking advantage of that to squeeze in some fun racing with my brother Robin, who is a bit of a runner. The main attraction is a big half marathon next weekend, but we're doing a couple of small local events before hand. First up was this duathlon, which was about as small and low-key as could be. It was Robin's first multisport event. I was hoping that he would enjoy it so that he would be back for more. Neither of us were particularly well prepared. I was still tired from the overnight trip to the UK, and was riding a partly fitting road bike (it did have a bell, though!). Robin had minimal bike training, and was riding a borrowed bike that fit him terribly (that one even had a nice carrier on the back).

But the race organization was at least as unprepared as we were. This was the first edition of the race, and let's just say that it left ample room for improvement (though what can you expect for an equally low-key entry fee of £20). Minimal race information was available before the race, and it was contradictory -- the website variously claimed that there would be a 20k or a 40k bike leg. No course maps. Folks often complain about races having too few portapotties, but this one took this to the extreme, providing exactly zero. Instead, racers were given directions to a bike center 1.4 miles away that had some facilities. Race numbers were big laminated affairs, that made us look more like we were in a police line-up than in a race. There were only enough transition racks for around half of the competitors. The first run course was more than 25% off distance, even with the extra distance that the leaders ran due to signage problems. The second run course was largely an exercise in hopping over tree roots and fishing gear.

Event warmup:

Warm-up: 3 mile ride to the restrooms, plus a few minutes of easy running to loosen up the legs.

  • 28m 30s
  • 4.4 miles
  • 06m 29s  min/mile

(Race splits are all estimates. I didn't get a good look at the watch, and it's unlikely that official splits will be available.) The first run was entirely on forest trails of varying quality: some smooth, some rocky, and some a little muddy/slippery underfoot. I settled into the second group of runners shortly after the start, feeling comfortable, but very unsure of how to pace myself. After 1.5 miles, when I was running in about 7th place, I met the leading group going in the opposite direction. They had taken a wrong turn due to confusing signage and were re-tracing their steps. Robin was among them at this point. There was a brief comedic moment where all of the faster runners were standing in a forest clearing, wondering which path to take next. They then set off on the path that turned out to be the correct one. Because of the regrouping I no longer had much idea of my position. But now Robin wasn't too far ahead. As we approached the 4 mile point I decided that I was feeling fairly fresh so it would be fine to step up the pace for the last couple of miles. But then I noticed that the route seemed familiar. We were already heading back along the path that we started on, and soon the transition area was in sight. The supposed 10k turned out to be only around 4.4 miles. How does one get the distance wrong by that much! Robin was 4th entering T1, and I was 7th, arriving right when he was unracking his bike to leave.
What would you do differently?:

Not a bad run for me given the terrain. But I'd have liked to know what I could have done over the full distance. One thing that I quite enjoyed was that I felt like I was in a race on the run. In triathlons I never get that experience, because I'm always making up ground after the swim, making it more like a time trial.

Transition 1
  • 01m 30s

Transitions are not exactly my forte, and this was one of my worst (not the absolute worst - I did at least remember to take my helmet). I had forgotten my headband at the start of the run, and I really need it to keep the sweat out of my eyes on the bike, so I had to empty out my bag to try to find it. Trouble getting the gloves on, and the helmet too, and fumbled with my glasses. It all seemed to go on for ever, though I gather that it actually took only about 1:30.
What would you do differently?:

Remember to not leave things buried in my bag before the race.
  • 1h 15m 30s
  • 23.6 miles
  • 18.75 mile/hr

The bike was on a fairly hilly 2-lap course (around 1800' of climbing). It was a little short (38k), but at least the organizers told us about that before the race. Scenic forest roads, often with rough surfaces, so it wasn't exactly fast going. I expected my speed to be slower than normal, but not as slow as I did. I passed a couple of people early in the ride (I think these were folks who had passed me in T1), and soon passed Robin, who was struggling on the bike. Then didn't see too much action for the rest of the bike leg. I had a bit of a scare towards the end of the first lap when it looked like Robin was catching me, but it turned out to be another rider who was dressed similarly. I caught the same rider again on the second lap. The ride was hard going. Most of the uphills were steady, and most of the downhills were too steep or winding to get much benefit from them. I was missing riding my own well-fitting bike, and my back was getting sore.
What would you do differently?:

I wasn't sure how to pace my effort on the bike in this race. I'm accustomed to saving something for the run that follows, but the second run in this race was so short that it was hardly worth saving anything.
Transition 2
  • 01m

This one was more uneventful. Fairly quick shoe change and I was off. Since the second run was only 2k, I left my bike gloves on and removed them early in the run.
  • 08m 18s
  • 1.23 miles
  • 06m 45s  min/mile

This was over very quickly, and so there was barely time to find the run legs. After a nice initial stretch on a smooth path, the rest of the 2k run was on a narrow and winding path that is mostly intended as a lakeside access path for fishermen. There were constant ins and outs to dodge trees, and a lot of tree roots to step through. I survived reasonably well, but did take a fall at one point. I didn't see any other runners on that leg.

Final position was 8th overall. No age-group information, as the organizers didn't collect that information (or any other contact information, for that matter). Robin struggled on his undersized loaner bike, so he came in about 14 minutes behind me. I'm sure that he will exact revenge in the run-only races that we have coming up.

What would you do differently?:

I'm tempted to say that I should have gone harder on the two run legs, as I felt perfectly fine after both of them. But on the first run my pace was based on assuming that we would run almost 2 miles further than we did. And on the second run I simply couldn't go any faster given the terrain underfoot.
Post race
Warm down:

I immediately felt fairly fresh afterwards. I picked up the finishers goodie bag. I don't much care about race schwag, but as in other areas this goodie bag was a bit unusual. It was entirely empty, except for one bottle of Lucozade soda, and a set of earbuds. Come to think of it, the earbuds are something that I might actually use, for trainer rides. Sat around on the meadow with Robin and my parents, and enjoyed a picnic for an hour, while waiting for the last finishers to come in.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Not having a bike that I was comfortable on.

Event comments:

What a shambles. I'm glad that it was clear already before race day that the organization was a mess. This allowed us to take it easy, and to appreciate all of the problems as quaint or amusing, rather than as annoying. So it was more of a hard workout in a charming part of the world. I guess I should have mentioned that earlier -- the Forest of Dean is a really pretty area, and so the entire route was rather attractive. Not a bad venue for a fast training workout. To the organizers' credit, they seemed to acknowledge that things hadn't gone entirely well, and so they said that they would offer participants in this year's race a free entry to next year's race. Whether anybody will take them up on the offer, I'm not so sure.

Last updated: 2011-09-04 12:00 AM
00:28:30 | 04.4 miles | 06m 29s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 7/40
Performance: Average
Course: Forest trails, mix of smooth, rough, and slippery. Advertised as 10k, but way off distance.
Keeping cool Drinking
Time: 01:30
Overall: Bad
Run with bike?
Jump on bike?
Getting up to speed and into shoes:
01:15:30 | 23.6 miles | 18.75 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/40
Performance: Average
Wind: Little
Course: Hilly forest roads. Around 1800' of total climbing.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 01:00
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
00:08:18 | 01.23 miles | 06m 45s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/40
Performance: Average
Course: Short loop around a couple of ponds. First half on smooth trail, second half on winding, narrow trail, with lots of tree roots to contend with.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Organized? No
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? No
Plenty of drinks? No
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 2

2011-09-04 7:27 PM

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University Park, MD
Subject: Forest of Dean Duathlon
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