Stacked doesn't do the Parbold Duathlon justice!!!!
Well the season has definitely started with a bang in the best possible way, with the good old British weather doing us proud once again!!
This week saw the Epic events Parbold Duathlon take place, and as usual it gripped the interest of what I would class as a lot of Big hitters, all determined to knock chunks out of each other and get their season off to a flyer!! and guess what, I reckon not one of them would have it any other way. Something we would have chosen a little differently would be the weather, it was crap. Cold, windy and raining. But, as I have said many times before, it was the same for everyone, it's just a matter of who copes with it the best. GAME ONE.
Prior to the small matter of my race though, my little Lucy Loo was going to chase a somewhat damp looking fox (Joanne McWiliams) around a field accompanied by another little girl in the Epic Kids run. A great idea from the guys which I really hope picks up a little momentum once the weather improves. Lucy came in a creditable second (out of two), to collect her finishers medal. Enter dad to explain the finer details of "flowering a story up". by the time she got home to her grans she was second out of 100, I dread to think what it will be at school this week!! anyway, she can't wait for the aquathalon at Ulverston in a few weeks.
So, that done, it was onto the start line of for the duathlon. I already mentioned in the last blog that I would be happy with top 20 and looking at the competition, I didn't feel any different. Brian Fogarty, Matt Nuttall, Rodger Wilkins, Marc Laithwaite, Richard Bardon, Steve Hilton, and Steve Gregory to name but a few and I suppose I have to mention Chris Rainford (V50) or he'll be sulking, and this list is just the people I knew were mega.
So, with my work cut out off we went. Now, the run at Parbold is 3.2 miles and undulating, to be in the top 5 into T1 you need to be running between 17 and 18:30. Somewhat of a fast run considering what is to come! The usual suspects went about their business and I tried to minimize the losses. Matt Nuttall was first into T1 Closely followed by Rodger Wilkins and Brian Fogarty. I tried to run with Marc Laithwaite, but he distanced me in the last mile or so. I came into T1 in 13th position, so definitely a reason to put the hammer down on the bike.
Onto the bike and a lesson in pain and fear management. Why, because three times over Parbold hill hurt whoever you are and three descents of Hunters hill in the pouring rain with a road full of cow poo and potholes, on less than ideal carbon rims, would scare the crap out of anyone!! and so it began. I soon picked up a couple of places prior to the first climb, but ominously when I hit Parbold for the first time, with the exception of a couple of people, I couldn't see the leaders (not that I expected to with the speed at which they ride). Still ride your own race and get up in one piece. What I was pleased at was the ease in which I climbed Parbold all three times. Looks like the over-gear work and weights are paying a few dividends. The first two laps were pretty uneventful to be honest, but there was a little shifting on lap three, I managed to pass Steve Gregory (something that won't happen again this season I suspect), Matt Nuttall, who was doing a lot of cursing at his bike, but was passed by a top chap Richard Bardon. We had a bit of a chat about how great this sport of ours is before he disappeared into the distance never to be seen again. All was going well to this point and I wasn't living with Richard on the last climb. To try and go with him would have been suicide from a race point of view. But, as always, I worked hard on the down hill. That's till the rear mech decided to get all tangled up with the chain causing me to stop and fix it. The only person to pass me was Steve as I was setting off again. I probably lost about 30 or so seconds, so I don't think it affected the overall result. Plus I didn't panic, which is a good thing.
As I was approaching the final descent of Hunters hill, I could see mothers covering their children's faces as they screamed with fear, it could only mean one thing, the ugliest man in triathlon was in the vicinity. Sure enough there he was Mr Rainford, flying on the bike as he does. So time for a few words of encouragement. 'You better get your run legs ready you old goat"!! and with that we hit T2. My time on the bike 53:05. Mr Fogarty 47:15, Mr Wilkins 47:37. I don't even know where to begin working on that deficit!!
T2 was ace, four of us all together, me, Mr Rainford, Mr Gregory and a chap I didn't know. My T2 was shocking, wet Solomon lock laces don't unlock easily (that one is for free). So I was last out with Mr Rainford. At this point I had to give him more words of encouragement. "God I feel old" were his words, my response, "you look older". You gotta love firefighters. I love him really x
This is where I decided to try something I have heard the Brownlees talk about. Crush the opposition early then settle in. Two issues with this from my point of view, firstly I'm not a Brownlee, secondly, I would be trying something new in a race, but fortune favors the brave. So, as Mr Rainford later said, I set off like a Kenyan Distance runner (I'm not quite sure how to take this knowing the source of the comment), but it worked. I passed Steve who quite rightly said 'good lad, but you need to work on that transition'. I acknowledged him then got my head down for the first lap of here goes nothing. I'm happy to report the legs held up quite well and I got to see one of my pals Moose on the start of the second lap as he was starting his first, at least he had a target and I had someone to try and keep away from thus testing my plan, it all helps! So there I was tapping it out with only a couple of targets in sight, or so I thought. On lap 2 something I considered to be remarkable happened, Matt Nuttall. He flew past me with about a mile to go, a quick glance at the Garmin told me I was running 6:15 miles. To put this into context Matt put 1:13 into me in that last mile. 5 minute miles at that point is impressive, like I said at the start, a stacked race. So that was the race. I finished 9th in a time of 1:33:03, which I was more than satisfied with and only a couple of minutes back form a bunch of really good athletes!!
Winner of the Race was Rodger Wilkins, beating Brian fogarty by only a second. That's the trouble with racing these guys, you don't get to see the great races produced. Rodger actually took health and safety to a whole new level by completing the whole of the second run with his bike helmet on. He was too cold and couldn't undo the straps. As I said to him afterwards as he was still shivering, 'y need t get some meat on y mate' Having said that he'd probably be with me back in 9th rather than First if he did that!!
What I would like to say is thanks for all your support out there, it really is appreciated by all the athletes especially in those conditions. I had a lot of people (some of whom I didn't really know) cheering me on along with my tribe of course.
A big thanks to Mr Rainford for handing out our flyers for An Evening of Ironman. While we're on the subject, according to my profile, I only own and wear Ironman branded clothing. At the race I wore Hollister trackies, Epic Events T-shirt and hoodie and a Giodana Cycling jacket. Mr Rainford wore Ironman Buff, Jacket, T-shirt and I have no doubt undies and socks (from his first one back in the day). In all seriousness though well done on being the first V50 and I'm sure you'll make great use of the mask!!
One last thing. Well done to Tom Rigby, a relative new comer to the sport who is going to create some big waves I'm sure, My good pal Joe Elding who is training for his second Ironman, and Ian Hurst who has ventured over to the dark side of multi-sport from Time trialing.
Thanks the Epic events for another Epic event and thanks for reading.
Take care everyone