Oulton Park Duathalon by Paria Triathlete

Paria Triathlete Mr J Milton, gives us his feedback after busting a gut in Oulton Park

The first race of the season is always a bit nerve-racking, especially following a change of coach over the winter season and an overhaul of your training schedule, you never quite now how your body is going to react until you’re in a race situation. The fact my first race this season was also a qualifier for the world duathlon championships did nothing to help me sleep well the night before…

Despite these worries, I came into the Oulton Park duathlon safe in the knowledge that I’d had one of my most solid, well structured blocks of winter training under the guidance of Jake Ragan, my new coach. Over the off season we’d worked together to focus on my weaknesses and concentrated on my techniques within the three sports with the main aim of a top 10 spot at the European championships in Lisbon, so this race was going to be my first chance to see if this hard work had paid off.

Turning up at Oulton Park nice and early on Mother’s day possibly wasn’t the most popular move, but thankfully it was a clear, dry albeit chilly morning. As soon as I arrived, I quickly realised the quality of the field I was up against, recognising names from the top of results sheets at European championships gone by. I quickly got my transition set up and got warmed up (something easier said than done on a freezing cold morning!).

The start was one of the most packed, but excited fields I’ve been in which made the first 400 metres a little bit hectic, getting my heels clipped more than a couple of times! I got through the first kilometre in 3:15 before settling into a more threshold level pace to finish the first run (4.3k) in 15:49.

Following a bit of a sloppy transition I got myself out on the bike and put in an initial big effort to try and reach the group of about 6 guys out in front, all the while trying to get my head round the new format draft legal racing. Once I got into this group we finally organised ourselves midway through the second lap of five and we tried chasing down the lead group. The draft legal racing was so different to anything I’d done before, it took a lot of getting used to the shorter harder efforts required just to stay in contact with the group but it was great fun none the less! The seven of us came off the bike together into T2, and once again my cold hands fumbling with the tri laces made for yet another sloppy transition.

Out onto the second run and I got jelly legs like I’d never had jelly legs before! I feel that this was in part due to the efforts I’d been putting in on the front of the bike group and also due to my lack of brick sessions in my winter training (I find they’re a treat best saved for the summer!). This meant I struggled to put in a fast first kilometre on the second run, something I’ve been trying to do in most of my previous races and I was stuck in the same group as I’d been in on the bike. Much of the run went without incident or excitement until we entered the final few hundred metres when a huge final effort from behind meant I ended on a sprint finish which thankfully held him off (just!) for sixth in my age group.

Although my actual result may not have been as high as I may have hoped, having seen (and recognised) a number of the guys I was racing against and knowing the class performances they have put in, I was extremely pleased with how this early season tester went. My time was nearly two minutes quicker than this race last year, and as the tri season fast approaches I’m beginning to incorporate more speed work and brick sessions into my training to ensure I peak at the right point of the season. I’m now going to focus on my triathlon as much as possible over the coming months to allow me to put in a performance I’ll be proud of in Lisbon and fingers crossed a top ten position! I’ll keep you all posted with how I’m getting on!

Big thank you to Jake Ragan for the awesome (and sometimes punishing) training; even when I’m a few hundred miles away and to Paria Cycling Apparel for their help in keeping me well dressed whilst out on the bike!

J Milton: Paria Triathlete

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