Durham Duathlon - Paul Clucas

After last week’s disappointment at the Firefighters 2up due to a mechanical I decided to jump straight back on the horse and attempt to get a full early season race under my belt. So up north I went to what looked like a good but testing course up in Durham.

The start list looked like some quality people were taking part which is always good to push you on that little bit further. The course consisted of 5/25/5km with the run a recognised off road schools cross country run which was a little tasty with a sharp hill within it and 3 laps to make up the distance! The bike also wasn’t straight forward with half the course climbing, including some out of the seat steep climbs to really get your heart pumping, having done a reccy the evening before I knew what to expect.

It wasn’t a big event as far as numbers go but one that was very well organised and established so when I rocked up early everything was already set up and in place. What was a little unexpected was the temperature at 8am!! By the time I had racked the bike and had everything set up it was a quick retreat to the car with the heaters blowing to get the feeling back in the hands and feet! The forecast was 8 rising to 12, slightly different was the reality! -1 degree!!! Prizing myself out of the car and away from the heating it was time for a warm up, quick reccy of the run route before briefing and off.

With this been an early season race and not a straight forward course it is always difficult to know how to pace it, so after several debates in my head I decided to just run on feel, working hard but not flat out, hit the bike hard to see how the legs responded and then discover what if anything would be left in the legs. All about getting the body back used to racing this early in the season.

The first run went well, trying to keep within myself a little and pushing on the hill, I was holding about 15th place until the last few hundred meters when I got a tap on the arse from fellow Geordie firefighter Ed, as I followed him into transition I asked how quick his transition was, I was in and out within 10secs leaving Ed to chase me down!

As planned I hit the bike hard, much to the annoyance of my screaming legs, ignore the pain, just keep pushing! Throughout the 25km course I managed to catch and pass about 6 of the whippets that had left me behind on the first run but boy did I have to work for it. Coming into transition I was really unsure how the legs would react? For the first half km they felt like there were on the edge of cramping, I backed off the pace a little and it thankfully subsided and I dug in and worked as hard as I could. This wasn’t easy, with another 3 laps meaning another 3 climbs of the hill that now felt like Mount Kilimanjaro. My legs at this point were numb and feeling a little light headed I knew I was working hard so just keep the form and keep pushing is what I was telling myself, oh and don’t let anyone catch you!!I managed to do all of this through to the finish line which I was very relieved to see.

My body certainly knew it had worked hard and the importance of recovery needs to start immediately. The demands on the body are immense, (especially as you get older) and to continue training and avoid injuries means stretching, massage, a walk in the park with the dogs even when you would rather lay down and of course early and ongoing quality nutrition. The body needs to repair itself, adapt and become stronger and I am fortunate enough to have the support of Monster Supplements who through products including MyEndurance, before during and after, help allow my body to work hard and become stronger.

On reflection I was very pleased with the result, coming in 8th overall in my first completed race of the season. These are important building blocks going into the season, assessing where I am and getting the body and mind back familiar with racing after a long winter off.

Where from here?

Well its back into another block of training before my next event and the first GB race of the season. This takes place in Soria which is mainland Spain, on the 30th April. I am looking forward to this event as it is always a great privilege to represent your country and something I am immensely proud of. I would also like to wish my fellow team mates from Humber Triathletes luck with 2 of them making their GB debut, relax and enjoy

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