As you may have gathered from reading my previous blogs, I do like, a sporting challenge.
Chilham Duathlon is one such event that is challenging and a love of mud helps.
This was my second year taking part in the Sprint distance – 5K Run – 27K Cycle – 2.5K Run. Last year, rather stupidly, I competed whist recovering from a chest infection, making the event even tougher than it already is.
This year, I was fighting fit and no excuses available for my performance.
A 5.30 am start, large bowl of porridge and a couple of coffee’s to get me awake and raring to go. Chilham is near Canterbury, Kent and the area tends to be a little hilly or rolling as locals like to describe it.
Registration dealt with speedily, as well organised as I have found all Tri Sprit Events to be. Quick check over my bike before heading to the transition zone to rack the bike and prepare my box, with all the bits I will need for the cycle part of the course. I tend to get my bits organised the night before and lay it out, ready to collect as quickly as possible when I come off the run, before grabbing the bike. Races are won and lost by how quickly you can get through transition, or so I was once told by another competitor.
Right on cue, as we lined up for the 8am start and it began to rain, well at least it was mild and would keep me cool. Horn sounded and we were off, Garmin 910XT started and the fun began. The run course is quite hilly and the first mile and a half is through mud, so watching your footing, keeping your trainers on and avoiding those who do fall is the biggest hurdle. My breathing settled and I just relaxed as best as I could, as you head towards the transition point, a nasty little kick of a slope, just to test you.
My bike transition was slow, as I struggled to turn my number belt and grab my gillet. Helmet on, un-rack bike and run to the mount section. You exit onto the main road and straight on to a steady slope, the bike course is tough in the beginning, with a nasty hill about 3.5 miles in, but I was rewarded with a lovely downhill section and favourable wind behind. As I reached 30mph on my beautiful Cannonade Slice Tri bike, I was feeling the speed rush. The course rolls, up and down all the way towards Canterbury, then you circle the roundabout and return. I passed several other cyclists who had finished the run ahead of me and thought, focus I need to get a good lead to stay ahead of them on the final run.
As I approached my final transition, the thought of putting my caked in mud, barefoot trail shoes on, to head back out on to the course, made me wonder why we put ourselves through this on a Sunday morning. Bike racked, helmet off, quick swig of water and remember to press Garmin 910XT lap button for the last effort.
Jelly legs does not do justice to how my legs felt and the down hill sections were just as difficult, as the burn took its toll. My mantra, keep lifting those feet, saw me approach the last slope to the finish knowing I could crack two hours which, with the conditions, would make me extremely happy and be a PB.
My husband cheering me on, as he had already finished and the claps and well wishes from those lining the finish, was all the encouragement I needed & I crossed the finish with a big smile. That feeling of euphoria after completing a challenging event like Chilham duathlon, is why I get out of bed in the morning and train. Would I do this event for a third time? Possibly, maybe, never say never, maybe even the longer course, but thats the exercise high talking, we will see next October!