I found out about this ‘race’ via a fellow Team Catenary athlete and couldn’t turn the opportunity down. For myself and probably all other fellow athletes, the current situation has been really difficult with most of our upcoming races being cancelled or postponed. It might not seem much on the face of it as we are still extremely lucky in this country to be able to continue some form of training within the government guidelines – particularly for those of us who have turbo trainers and home gyms. However, not having a race to aim for can heavily impact your motivation to train. So it is fantastic that virtual races such as the Castle Triathlon Series Easter virtual duathlon are popping up – and I hear they are going to be doing some more in the near future, so will be keeping an eye out!
As this ‘race’ was very last minute – I think I signed up about 4 days before it started, Tim was great and adjusted my plan accordingly. It obviously wasn’t an ‘A race’ so there was no taper and following my hardest training week to date I was certainly not going to be racing on fresh legs. But what was important to me, following my elbow fracture at the beginning of the year, was to ‘race’ and set a good baseline for where my current fitness was. I knew I wouldn’t be setting any PBs, but this would set a great benchmark to allow me to visibly see progress over the next few months – something that personally is a great motivator and will give be great for my confidence as I hopefully start seeing my times improve ready for races later on in the year (all fingers crossed that we will get some races this year).
Slightly different to a normal duathlon, to ensure it was within current government guidelines, the race was split across three days – Friday the 10k run, Saturday the 40k bike, and Sunday the 5k run. the longest transitions ever! On the Friday, we were blessed with lovely sunshine, so I made sure to get out early morning (still managed to get sun burnt though). I tried to replicate a real race as much as I could, so had the same breakfast as normal a couple of hours before I started (overnight oats with honey) and a gel (Torq) just before I set off. Frustratingly, part way through the pre-planned route, I had to start improvising as a bridleway had been shut off. This threw me a bit as I have zero sense of direction, so just had to run along random roads and hope for the best (and hope there weren’t any huge hills!). I somehow managed to not get lost and set a half decent 10k time – nowhere near PB times, but it was a great feeling to be back ‘racing’ with no elbow pain or calf and shin pain – the latter being injuries I suffered from last season. What was evident is that I need lots more threshold type runs to get me back to racing run fit (hate these sessions, but no pain no gain!)
On the Saturday it was the indoor 40k. Having only cycled indoors so far this year due to my elbow injury, I was confident that I could keep my focus staring at the Zwift screen and just concentrating on my pacing. Having looked back at my previous race power data (yes I am sad and have a spreadsheet), I knew over 40k what I could previously achieve (normalised power) so I set out to at least hit those numbers. I actually surprised myself and got a 40k PB, and a negative split! One thing that seems to be coming back quickly is my cycling fitness – thanks to Catenary sessions! 2nd fastest female bike time for the duathlon, and in the top portion of overall times too.
On Sunday it was the second run and on tired legs – not sure what is worse, going straight off the bike onto the run, or having 12 hours in between so DOMs have had time to start kicking in from the Friday run! Fortunately today, I had my partner Clive running with me. It is honestly so much harder to ‘race’ without the race atmosphere and adrenaline running through you, so having words of encouragement shouted at you every now and then did help to keep me going. Again, no record-breaking times were set but I was happy to push myself with tired legs, not suffer from any pains, and set my fastest 5k so far this year – almost 3 minutes faster than my first park run back after my elbow injury at the end of Feb. Progress!
To top off a fun weekend, I finished 3rd female overall and 2nd in the 15-39 age cat alongside fellow Catenary athlete Megan who had a great race to take the win. We even had a virtual prize giving with a virtual podium – brilliant!