It’s all about the Journey.

Four months ago I did my first ever duathlon. I was fit and was doing loads of training on the bike so I thought, why not try out a duathlon? I have done a triathlon and an aquathlon, and the only thing I haven’t tried out was a duathlon. So I signed up to a duathlon at the Bedford Autodrome. But the weather had other plans and in the end the pouring rain and the lashing crosswinds got the better of me. It was really grim. Every time I was overtaken during the race (which was a lot) I lost more confidence and motivation. My legs had no power and while everyone else sped past, hardly affected by the wind, I was locked in a battle, my (slightly too upright) body swaying against the force of the wind. By the third lap, my hands were numb from gripping my handlebars too tightly. I couldn’t drink and couldn’t eat. By the end of the bike course my legs felt tired, every pedal stroke had been an effort.

That day I came 3rd in my AG, and I finished about a minute outside the time I needed to qualify for the 2019 duathlon world champs. It was a bit of a disappointment – not because I didn’t qualify – but because I knew I had lots more to give. To have the perfect race the mind needs to be on the right page but that day mentally it was just so tough, and it was a struggle just to complete the race itself.

Fast forward to January this year. I decided to have another crack at the whole duathlon thing and made a decision to sign up to Ashridge about a week before race. With the ITU aquathlon world champs coming up, my main focus had been swimming and running (rather than cycling) but I thought I would try it out anyway. It was a qualifying race so I had a chance of qualifying for the GB duathlon team too if I did well.

The weather wasn’t perfect but I decided to just embrace the challenge and just do the best I could – no point in moaning about something I had no control over! So on the run, I ran HARD. On the bike, every time I felt pain I said to myself: “What would Lucy Charles do here?” On the second run, all I cared about was racing the person ahead of me.

The results came out: I came 3rd in my AG and I’ve done it! I’ve qualified for the 2020 duathlon world champs! 

Not every race will be perfect, that’s part and parcel of the process, but it’s overcoming that and looking at the bigger picture that counts! I’m not a cyclist but I put my head down and do the work, and it’s amazing when the hard work pays off! Only a year ago I was falling off the bike learning to ride with cleats and I can’t help but think that I’ve come a long way since then!

– Jess