JD DUATHLON – THE APPETISER - 25th Jun 11 - By Charlotte Gavin

Christchurch – Ruapuna Raceway - Novice: 1.3 km run, 13.2 km bike, 1.3 km run

Who would have thought 18 months ago I would be heading into my 13th competitive sports event.   Before this the last sports event I was involved in was “dragon boating” and this was over 11 years prior, which to be honest didn’t require a very high level of fitness to paddle a boat for just over 60 seconds.

Anyway, after encouraging my friends to join me on this journey we made up 7 of the 20 enrolled competitors in the novice section of the duathlon making it extremely social and a touch more accountable as the results were definitely going to be discussed in this circle of friends for some time, so nothing but your best effort would be required.

The warm up began 10 minutes prior to the race start, during which I was going over the mental strategy of what each leg of the race was going to entail. My watch was at the ready to record my time and I had developed a “split time band” which is a piece of paper showing each time I needed to achieve to reach my overall goal time.   It noted the following: Run 7 mins (this included transition), Lap 1: 14mins, Lap 2: 21 mins, Lap3: 28 mins, Lap 4: 35 mins, Run: 42 mins (to finish). The times carefully calculated based on past event times and training times (with a push). In order to make it into a good band, coat it in cello tape on either side as this makes it “sweat proof”. It was very handy to keep me on track and pushing hard all the way.

The starting horn sounded and we galloped off setting a blistering pace, I noted that at the 1km mark my watch showed 4:47 mins which is the fastest 1 km I have ever run. Into transition, my heart rate soaring, concentrating on getting the bike shoes on quickly I then propelled me and my bike towards the mounting line to get the bike done (which is one part of the event I really enjoy). After losing time on transition I knew I had to catch several of my friends, so quickly looked out for them and “reeled” them in.

Before long and with one friend not yet “conquered” I quickly racked the bike, ditched the cycle shoes and headed off for the run. Legs felt strong and not too much pain involved to get them moving along again so I looked forward to my next target and went through my mental check-list from Craig at Tri-Planet – high knees, tilting forward, kicking out the back, mid foot strike, lengthen the stride out the back, staying focused and head up.

Tick, tick tick and I was gaining. Got to the last 300 meters and I knew that not only the end was near but so was my friend, plus they were showing signs of fatigue and slowing down with every step. I knew from experience that when you get that close to the end you mentally start thinking “oh thank god it’s over”, but after having learnt in the past that you can be beaten out of a place by .01 of a second I was not giving up till I crossed that finish line.

Soon I was 100 meters away from the finish, then 50 meters and saw that finishing ribbon, the crowd was cheering and I remember saying to myself “go for it, you can rest later”. My entire body felt hot and I pumped my arms and legs as fast as they would go till I passed not only my friend but another competitor in my category thus thrusting myself from 6th place to 4th place by .01 of a second.   An overall time of 42:16 (not far off my 42 min expected time).

I can’t believe I just did that and boy it tasted sweet. That is exactly why we compete; it turns a lot of training into fitness with a purpose and gives you the opportunity to prove to yourself that you can do things you never dreamt of in the past. Would I have gone that fast if I was by myself “no way”.   Now that I have set a new benchmark for myself I have to improve on that which launches me into the next phase of training. I know for sure my friends are not going to let me sprint them down next time if they have a shred of strength left, so I need to be even stronger. Bring on the next event...