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2017 / 2018 Racing Update - TT Progress and English & British Age Group Duathlon Champs Success

It's been more than a year, again, since my last post so now I have to try and remember anything interesting that has happened in my training and racing. We left off in Sankt Wendel, and the beginning of a decent summer on the bike...

2017 Time Trialling

It's fair to say that time trialling took centre stage through the middle half of 2017, bringing a raft of very satisfying results, including new PBs at every distance I attempted. I ended the year with the following new benchmarks:

10 miles - (F2/10 CAM, May 2017) - 20:38
25 miles - (F2A/25, September 2017) - 52:58
50 miles - (F1B/50, July 2017) - 1:52:02
100 miles - (E2/100, June 2017) - 3:50:23

That also meant a top 50 finish in the 2 distance (50 /100 mile) national BBAR championship, and even a couple of name checks in Cycling Weekly for top-10 placings!

Form also extended to Thursday night racing on the famous #Abbo circuit. Over the course of the year I inched my PB down to 24:55, and in July set a new 2 lap record of 51:32 in the Ashman Trophy (recorded here for posterity). [Sadly I think that record quickly moved on in 2018.]

English Standard Distance Age Group Duathlon Champs at Oulton Park (October 2017) - 3rd Place

With TT season effectively over, attention turned once more to duathlon. So I added a little intensity to the running program, and promptly broke myself - a recurrent calf strain which hampered training. With sporadic rest, I made it to the start line of the English Standard Distance Age Group Duathlon Champs at the Oulton Park racing circuit. Unsure if I could even complete the distance, I surprised myself with a first run at 6:00 pace.

The bike was comfortable and typically solid, but the second run was a limpy mess. Nonetheless, I dragged my sorry ass round for a third place on age group... and an English Triathlon podium and medal!

That pretty much closed the book on 2017, there was no way I could race the following week in Bedford... but training for 2018 soon began in earnest.

British Standard Distance Age Group Duathlon Champs at Bedford Autodrome (March 2018) - 1st Place

My 2018 racing season started inauspiciously, the Beast from the East brought the Cambridge Half into serious doubt with snow standing on the course the day before the event... but I was ready to run. Training had been decent and I plugged in the numbers for a PB attempt. However, only a few miles into the race it became pretty apparent that this wasn't going to happen. Rather than bailing and cracking my confidence, I dialled back and cruised round for a third page finish in the results with 1:22:16. Veteran teammate Rich, faired much better and drilled home a solid 1:23:52 on his first attempt at the distance.

The continued bad weather saw the delay of the English Champs at Clumber Park, clearing the way for me to make final preparations for my target race of the early season - the British Champs at Bedford Autodrome on March 25th.

It's fair to say everything came together for me on the day. I ran confidently, taking the long first 10km leg in 37:22 just a handful of seconds behind two rivals in my age group. One of the challenges in age group racing is recognising your opposition in a mixed field of different aged athletes. However, I knew one of these guys pretty well and was confident if I could stay close to him I'd be near the sharp end of the results. Since he was a solid biker I was even happier to catch and pass him at the end of the first lap of the Bedford race circuit - little did I know, I was now leading my age group.

I've raced this event several times now, and it has to be said I love the bike course. The power straights and fast corners suit my aero strengths and TTing style. I kept low and focused and smashed it round for the third fastest bike leg on the day. Emerging onto the second run, I had a younger guy for company. Knowing he was a pretty talented duathlete I was somewhat shocked, but hung with him for the first of two laps. Another younger racer came past with just 1km to go, I battled home to take 9th overall.

I'd raced well and given everything, so I was optimistic that I might be in the medals... I had never expected to win a National Age Group Championship, but I'd done it.

I can't claim to have beaten the strongest field (it wasn't a qualification event for Team GB - except for the AG winners of course!), but I'd beaten the opposition on the day, and now I had the podium shot and medal to prove it.

To make the day even better, team mate Rich put in another fine performance to take the silver in his age group and cement the Secret Squirrels' position as easily the strongest 5-man multisport team in the St Neots area.

2018 - Back to the Grind

With my best result safely nailed to the wall of the garage, I went back at the training. I could claim a 5km run PB of 17:29 at the Freret 5km in New Orleans, but I reckon the course was at least 70m short. I will however, lay claim to a new cycling personal record. On 31st May on the F2A/10 course I joined what was once an illustrious club (but which is now rather run of the mill). I knocked out my first sub-20 10 mile time trial (for those who struggle with maths, that's 30+mph).

Although this picture isn't from the event I think I may have exhausted the aero gains available to me... sadly I'm going to have to find some more power for 2019! But before that, let's see if I can still run distance.

Thanks to everyone who's helped and taken an interest along the way. Thanks to Rich (and sometimes Ian) for being there through a bunch of freezing run sessions, to Ian for all the advice and guidance, and Daz & Mark for whatever it is that you do.

Thanks for reading!