Report from Howard Jeffrey: The much awaited sequel to last week’s attempt to qualify for the world age group sprint duathlon finals in Aviles, Spain, started with a 3.00am alarm and a 160 mile drive mostly through fog. No problem! I had ‘rested’ during the week with a couple of short tempo runs and no swimming or biking and no Park run yesterday. You can’t get better in a week before an important race but you can get a lot worse. I had thought this was a make or break for Aviles but I had overlooked I had entered for the standard distance qualifiers as well in the next fortnight. No matter I had set out my stall to do an ‘eyeballs out’ today and make the other contenders take my place from me!
The venue is an old airfield, now with a car race circuit and it was shrouded in a thick, cold mist and visibility was down to about 100 yards. The temperature was just above freezing so it was a might chilly waiting for the start. I had warmed up and kept breaking off the line to stay loose. It was like being young again, I was full of zip and bounce, just got to reign it in to last the course! Back on the start I was surrounded by shivering youngsters and I was glad I had kept moving. The hooter sounded and the usual breakers of rule number one (don’t set off too fast) zoomed off along the tarmac. Two or three minutes in and I was high stepping past them in droves, I felt great. Two laps of the track to do 5K in a solid 20.20. Into transition and with beany hat, windjammer quickly pulled on and a weird cycle helmet perched atop and like Andy from Little Britain, ‘I looked like a Pillock’. No worries, armed against the bleak conditions (cold, damp and a bit of a breeze along the straights which somehow did not blow away the mist) I hit the 20K bike circuit. This was again draft legal which today worked in my favour in two ways. Some of the better bikers caught me up and I was able to dig in and draft behind them. I also lost count of the laps and thought I still had a couple to do (I said it was cold) probably because of the concentration on the wheels in front. Luckily I knew one of the guys who I have always passed on the last run leg and he turned into second transition so I followed the group in, otherwise I would probably still be out there lost in ‘The Mist’ (remember that film?..Spooky). The day was quite eerie with the shroud of mist silencing everything and the barely visible shadows of riders and runners on other parts of the course.
I overshot my bike rack which cost a few seconds but no places as I bounded off for the second 2.5K run, still feeling pretty perky (11.33). Was it all worth it Amigos?…Si, Yo voy a Aviles!! I came in 5th in the group and 3rd qualifier within 5% (has to be within 15%) of the winning time in the age group for automatic qualification, so the tickets and hotel I had (rather optimistically) already booked will come in dead handy!
I am pitching at the standard as well because if the training goes well I can usually give those foreign gentlemen a better run for their money in the longer distance.