The Singapore Duathlon was the first duathlon race since I injured myself pretty badly at the last one in July. I was a little bit apprehensive about the bike course for this one - it's mainly in the park and comprises 6 laps of a 6-and-a-bit km loop which has some tight, narrow turns. If it's wet it's pretty dangerous and even when it's dry it's slow, crowded and hard to get into a rhythm. I decided the day before that if it was wet I would take the Ultravox Road Bike and if it stayed dry I would take the Neurogen TT bike. Both bikes have Maxxis tires on, I was confident that the ride would be great whichever bike I chose.
On the morning of the race the weather looked great, so I put the finishing touch to the Neurogen… taped two gels to the crossbar with masking tape!
We had a (very) quick breakfast with the boys and then I left. Usually the boys come with us to races, but this time we were both participating and our race times overlapped, so we couldn’t take the children as they’re not old enough to be left alone. The babysitter would take the boys to their gymnastics club a little later and we agreed to meet them there after the race. Husband left home about half an hour after me.
I cycled slowly to the race start in East Coast Park and went straight to the bike mechanic when I arrived. I had noticed that my aerobars were a bit loose and the further I cycled, the lower they got! I hadn't ridden the Neurogen for a while - good job I cycled to the race instead of driving! The guys from Bike Haus were very helpful and had it sorted out in no time! After that, straight into transition to check in my bike and set everything up. The race was 10km run, 36km bike and 5km run. With my Intuitions on my feet, I set up my bike with my shoes clipped on the pedals, elastic bands holding them up the right way, two full bottles of elete water, my helmet 'straps up' on the bars and my fast-to-put-on 3sums next to my bike for the second run. Next I checked where the "run in" and "run out" gates into and out of the transition area were, and then where the "bike in" and "bike out" gates were. My husband had just arrived and was setting up his bike too. We finished set up and then walked together to find some shade and a drink. It was really starting to get hot already and it was only just past 8:30am.
My wave started at 8:50, so quite soon I went over to the start to wait for the flag off. There were not many faces I recognised, but I chatted for a while with a woman named Trine who was Danish and had just moved to Singapore a few months ago. She had never done a duathlon before. I told her I had done a sprint distance triathlon before, but not this distance. We both tried to hide in the shade of the start gantry... it was really hot.
The horn sounded and off we went... fast. I was third after about 300 metres and then after about 1 kilometre I was seventh. It stayed like this for the next 8 1/2 kilometres, we ran as a group of three for most of the way with Yiwei Luo and Lisa Jones - it was a good pace but not too fast. I was trying, not just trotting along, but it was comfortable and I wasn't gasping for breath. Experience told me that running the first leg too fast is usually disastrous (and painful) for the rest of the race, so I was happy to take it a bit steady. Just before transition I saw my husband on the side of the course - he shouted, I grimaced but it was lovely to see him there rooting for me! I ran into T1 in fifth place at the front of our group of three. I remember seeing one of the women who had been in front of me sitting on the floor changing her shoes. I pushed my shoes off with my feet at the same time as putting my helmet on, grabbed my bike and ran out of transition before she had stood up.
I was out of T1 in third place but was immediately overtaken by one of the women who had run a faster 10 km than me. I started my bike computer so I knew how far I had cycled, to make sure I did the right amount of laps. It might sound simple... just count to six... but you'd be surprised what tricks your mind plays on you when you're fatigued, dehydrated and cycling round in circles!
Unfortunately the computer wasn't working properly and kept beeping and telling me it was in "demo mode". It didn't measure the distance properly, so I had to count and estimate the approximate time I should finish the bike course using my Mio Alpha heart rate monitor watch. The bike course was crowded but I kept a fairly constant pace, not pushing too hard. I ended up with the second fastest bike split out of all women and Kaz, the only other guy riding a Neurogen in this race, had the fastest bike split for his category in the Sprint race.
There were no water stations on the bike course, and by the time I started the last lap I had no water left in my bottles. I came into T2 in fourth place, but was out again in third after racking my bike, taking off my helmet and pulling on my 3sums in 1m21secs. As I ran out I heard someone shout my name. I don't know who it was but thank you!!
My legs felt tired, but not completely jelly-like. Over the past year I have done a lot of training runs straight after cycling, and even though I hadn't done it for a while, that conditioning certainly helped; I knew that I could run a decent 5 km even when my legs felt like that - all I had to do was keep up the cadence. So off I went with awkward feeling quick little steps, grabbing two cups of water at every aid station!
After about 2 km, just before the turn around point, I saw one of the women in front of me and as I got closer I could see another just in front of her. I passed them both quite quickly and was a little surprised at how slow they were running considering how fast they had run the first 10km. I think perhaps they'd gone off a bit too fast and pushed too hard at the start, especially considering the heat.
I looked behind me at about the 3km mark, but I couldn't see anyone. I could win this! Telling myself that felt great; I had run them down and all I had to do was hold on. The inside of my quads started to twitch with little cramps just above my knees but there was not far to go. I looked behind me a few more times... still no girls there!
As I came over the finish line the MC said my name, but didn't mention if I was first or any other position. After getting a drink, I went to the live results tent to check. I had won!
We sat in the shade for a few minutes then went to collect the bag and our bikes. My friend and colleague, Byron, was walking out of transition as I went to collect my bike. He asked how my race had been - he looked a bit hot - we had a quick chat and then he went off to find his wife who was also racing. I later learnt that he had finished third in his category for the sprint race!
Just as we had got our bikes, they announced the presentations were starting so we waited by the stage for a little while, chatted to Trine and her husband (who had won his race), swapped 'phone numbers, collected my trophy then jumped on the bikes and went to spend the rest of the day with the boys!