Ballbuster 2016

Ballbuster: defined by Urban Dictionary as “A person, place or situation in which one experiences great pressure emotionally, physically, or mentally or in any combination of these.” Among other, slightly less PC versions… 🙂

For the purposes of sport, a long course duathlon consisting of 5×8 mile loops of Box Hill in Surrey; one on foot, 3 on the bike, and a final lap on foot.

Last year was my first attempt, I had a prize voucher from Human Race to use up. I did OK, taking 3 hours and 49 minutes and not (quite) coming last in AG.

This year I wasn’t going to do it. I didn’t have a voucher (it’s an expensive race) and I’d done it and got the hoodie so there was no need to do it again. Except there totally was, as several of my club mates had decided to go again, and somehow I found myself swept up in the excitement. Paul and I did a couple of practice rides in the weeks leading up, and it looked from my times that my riding had improved.

Race day came, and rather predictably the weather was grim. I opted to layer up, and had a grand plan to keep my hands warm utilizing 3 pairs of gloves. I suffer from Raynaud’s like many women do, and so hand and foot comfort are often at the forefront of race planning!

The first run felt alright, although I had stomach cramps for most of the middle section. I finished the loop in 1:05:52 – 9 seconds slower than last year (although with a slight change to the transition entry/exit this meant the course was effectively 500m longer). Not realising the added distance at the time and feeling a little put out, T1 went from mediocre to bad: I tried to pop my thick bike gloves over my thin run gloves, but all my gloves were so wet that neither were cooperating. After throwing a wobbly and wasting quite a lot of time, I dumped the lot of them and headed out gloveless on the bike.

Biiiiiig mistake. By part way through the first loop, both hands were stiff, swollen and bright red. I was having to operate both shifters using only the back of my right hand, and the pain was excruciating.  Each time I got to the cafe at the top of the hill, I had talked myself into a DNF. But I’m a stubborn bugger at the best of times, so I carried on. On my second bike loop I got stuck behind a car which was crawling behind another cyclist on the long undulating stretch on Lodgebottom Road – a right pain in the bum as that’s where I tend to put my head down and power along. By the time I got to the end of the bike, I looked at my watch and was dismayed to see that my bike split was actually slower than last year by 30 seconds (again forgetting the course was 500m longer on the final loop). Once again, I talked myself into stopping, but then carried on anyway.

Out of T2, where I’d had to ask a fellow competitor to take my helmet off for me, the first couple of miles felt hard but my legs were turning at least. Then, somehow, my pace began to pick up and I started overtaking people. It kept feeling better and better, and the anticipated bonk never arrived. I even got a few exclaims of “nice running” from a couple of blokes as I sailed past them! Cue happy face – it would be an understatement to say I’m not known for my running. The final Box Hill ascent was tough, and as I got to the last hairpin  I saw Paul cheering me on – he had seen sense and DNF’d after the bike. I crossed the line with a second run loop of 1:03:04 – over 7 minutes quicker than last year, and bringing home a race PB of 5 and a half minutes, on a course which was effectively nearly 1km longer. Whoop!