Done and busted, the winter ballbuster is a hell of a race. That was my final "proper" race for 2010 and I am glad to say it went better than I expected. Since the Vitruvian - which was my A race this year, I have been experimenting with longer training sessions in an effort to build my endurance for next year. The result has been slower times but less fatigue on bigger distance - exactly what is needed on a tough course like box hill.
This race consists of an 8 mile loop of running down and back up box hill , followed by 3 laps of the same loop on the bike, before ending with another lap of running. My aim for this race was to get to the end. I had heard so much talk about this being the toughest dualthlon in the UK before the race that I was starting to get worried that I may not even complete it !
I went out slowish and settled into a good pace. Despite holding myself back I found that I was still over taking people along the way. I started to worry that maybe they were more experienced and knew something I didn't, but carried on regardless and found the first hill climb easier than I thought. Transition was a mud bath and seemed like an age getting through. I don't like running with my bike shoes on - preferring the "hop on" option I use in triathlon, however this was not possible on this course. The bike went well and I made up a few places straight away. I got the impression everyone was taking it easy in preparation for the final run. I decided I would give it everything and see how I felt at the end. The last climb did feel a bit tough, but the long rides over the previous few weeks had prepared me well for this feeling. Finally I was putting my shoes on for the last run. I knew I had to hold back, but I wanted to be running with some other people to gauge my pace. I spotted a few people ahead and managed to catch them within the first km. Keeping my pace I continued on and was surprised no one had passed me by 6km. Usually this is where I start going backwards but I felt good and it seemed I had given myself a good start. At 8km suddenly about 8 people went passed me as though I was stood still and it reminded me just how tough this race was and how I was flagging. I hit the foot of the final climb of the zig zag road and pushed on. Looking back I think I could have pushed harder but I hit the top feeling pretty weak and at the time thought I was giving it everything. It was a great feeling to have completed the "toughest uk duathlon" and the support at the top, crossing the line was great. Lots of cheers and clapping really did help make everyone push at the end and added to a great day out.
We were really lucky with the weather as November is not always the nicest of times for a race. But the sun came out and dried the roads a little making the quick descents a little safer!
In conclusion I was happy with the result - having a goal of just "getting round" meant I didn't need to push for a time. But, I think I could do better so will have to go back one day to better that time. Total finish time was 3:16:15 which placed me 74th out of 347 finishers and 16th out of 52 in my age group. My split times were 0:55:25, 0:01:41, 1:19:43, 0:01:35, 0:57:46. So my pace was not too far off. If I get better at descending on the bike and I could knock some time of that, and I think I could take a minute or two off the run with more training. Maybe aim for sub 3 hours in 2012!