My 1st ever experience of a duathlon event on 13th June 2010 was great. As is now the norm and expectation the event was organized very well by Runners for Life. The collection of bibs at the Track and Trail store in Koramangla on Saturday(12th June) morning was a smooth affair well managed by A2, Nikhil, Ashwin and other support staff. I had decided to take complete rest the two previous days(Friday and Saturday) before the event. This has been my practice whenever I participate in an event with a timing target. In this case I was even reluctant to cycle down a Km or so on Saturday morning to fill air in my cycle. That is also the reason why I decided not to use the RFL option of transporting the cycle to the venue as it would have meant cycling 6-7 Kms to drop it off and also to pick it up. Besides I wanted to take care of transporting my new Schwinn Searcher Sport bicyle myself.
Five of us(myself, my son Rahul, Satish, Ashok and Neera) left Domlur layout just before5:15 after loading our bicycles on a tempo. We reached the venue Prakruthi resorts a little after 6am. Unloading the cycles we wheeled them to the transition area and parked them in pre-marked areas there after duly registering the cycles. This is the first RFL event with chip timings. Also this being a multi-sport event(with running and cycling of course) A2 explained in detail what to do(and not to do) in order for participants to get accurate and detailed split timings. The route was also explained in detail with the running and cycling happening in opposite directions - the runners going towards the Airport road and the cyclists the other way. After brief speeches by the marketing head of TI cycles (the title sponsor ) and Bhaskar Rao - Bangalore's transport commissioner and an accomplished runner and cyclist himself the latter flagged off the long category run at 7am.
I made a strong start to the 5K run clocking the 1st Km in just over 4 minutes - helped by the pace set by several fast runners and the cool weather. Of course, that was not a pace I could sustain.Nevertheless, I completed the 5Km in 22:55 my fastest ever 5K beating the 24:34 in Urban Stampede 2008 by 91 seconds!!
I managed to grab my cycling helmet and the cycle and start cycling after a transition time of about 1 minute 36 seconds. It took me 52: 40 to complete the two 10Km loops. I think I did each loop in roughly the same time at an average speed of 22Kmph. With both the event category cyclists on the road concurrently, at times the narrow road became fairly congested and one had to ride a bit carefully. Plus the occasional car, bike or truck was also a bit of a pain specially when they honked. It would have been better if the traffic had been blocked for about 2.5 hours but that is easier said than done due to the complex permissions and also the challenges of actual implementation. The faster cyclists specially those with road bikes were cycling at amazingly high speeds. I found the area near the 5K cycling turnaround point very cluttered as the aid station was also at that point. I had to actually get off my cycle at the turn point losing a few seconds in the process. This has to be wider so that the cyclists who do not want to stop at the aid station do not get hampered. Also, the turn around points both for running and cycling could have been marked explicitly with a chalk mark. However, overall it was a good fun experience. While my performance would definitely have been better with a road bike I feel I need to improve my cycling efficiency. And of course it would have been much tougher with a MTB or worse a single gear bike like the one Rahul used. I lost quite a bit of time in the transition area the second time around as my cycle would not stand on its own and kept falling down. This was due to the cycle stand not having a bush and the metal stand sinking into the damp mud. Finally after 5 attempts I pushed the cycle against a tree close by and started to move out of the transition area and towards the start area.
This was my first week with my new Garmin 305 after the previous one had died after nearly 3 users of usage. And of course this was the first event with it. In my enthusiasm of setting up the new unit I discovered the multi-sport mode functionality of the device and decide to use that in the duathlon. However, in my hurry to get going with my 2nd leg of running I pressed the power off button instead of the mode button and so instead of switching back from cycling to running mode the device switched off. I immediately switched it on and rushed to the start area leaving it in the cycling mode. In this process I lost a few more seconds of time.Therefore, it was not a big surprise to me that the split timings showed that I took 2:29 in the 2nd transition. Most others had transition times below 2 minutes both times. For detailed timings including all splits click here.
I started the 2nd 5Km run with stiff and sore legs. Honda-San (the Japanese super ultra runner) led the way encouraging and cheering me and all the runners we saw along the way. His enthusiasm and energy was incredible. While I struggled to keep up with Honda-San I focused on keeping my pace below 5 minutes per Km. It was specially difficult during the return leg as my hamstrings began to hurt. It was a big relief to turn back into the Prakruthi entrance and finish the race to the cheering of lots of friends with my Garmin showing 1:43:44. The official timings showed that I finished in 1:44:44(the 2nd 5K taking 24:33) - 21st overall and 4rth in my age category. While I was a bit disappointed that I ended up finishing at the higher end of my target timing of between 1:40 and 1:45 and missed the age category 3rd place by less than half a minute, I was overall quite satisfied and enjoyed the experience thoroughly. The top three finishers in the event finished in amazing timings of under 1:19 - completing the 20 Km cycling in under 40 minutes and each 5Km leg well under 20 minutes !!! Neera Katwal who rode with us to the event showed amazing grit and perseverance. Despite falling off her cycle and injuring herself due to a crash between two cyclists in front of her cycle, she won the women's category finishing in 1:47:46. My son Rahul also completed his 1st duathlon in 1:16:41 in the short category - a wonderful achievement to add to his 1st 10K at the SW10K 2010 in May.
|With Vikas Grover|
As always it was fantastic to cheer and meet and a lot of familiar friends and runners both during the race and in the finish area. And of course, kudos to Honda-San for pacing and cheering the runners on-the-run and Nitin Gupta for enthusiastically cheering everyone at the turning point to the resort. After hanging around for some time and taking a few pictures we re-loaded the cycles on the tempo just as the prize distribution ceremony was underway around 10am and headed back on the long road home reaching Domlur just after 11:30am.