Alnwick Sprint Triathlon

Where to start?

At the beginning.

In the beginning there was…..

Haha ok maybe not. So it may have come to some people’s attention that North or ‘The North’ is my favourite place to be. More precisely – Northumberland. In fact the temptation to move there increases regularly. As a result it should come as no surprise that entering Alnwick Sprint Triathlon was a bit of a no brainer! I’d set a reminder on my phone – which didn’t work so originally missed out – until I spied over social media that some more places had become available as people hadn’t wanted them. Bingo! This was months ago.

Fast forward to the day before.

Accommodation was booked and sorted – I arrived in Northumberland in plenty of time. All good you’d thing – I was too early to go to my accommodation so decided to drive the bike route. Well what a BAD idea that was. I knew it wasn’t flat but argh – talk about putting the wind up myself. Undulating is a rather mild word for it! Either way – it was a scenic route but it did put the wind up me and result in some frantic texting! This kind of set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Stayed in my favourite village – Beadnell – at Farne Lodge – what a gem of a find! I’ll be back over the summer! Really nice rooms and didnt need breakfast so was more than happy – although a little gutted my mate couldn’t make it. In all honesty I had a bit of an emotional wobble about life which again was solved/helped by some conversations with mates and I snapped out of it.

I had some jobs to do work wise (I had taken laptop) so sat and worked through a bit of the to do list then headed over to the pub next door for tea and some Guiness – why not? I took a book and just sat chilling on my own – looking distinctly like billy-no-mates.

Netflix and bed.

RACE DAY!

My first triathlon in nearly a year. I really think I am one of the laziest racers in the club. Alarm went off, I hit snooze. I thought about moving and wondered how close I dare leave it before dragging myself out of bed and getting up. Ate some food – thought that was wise! Pulled on my trisuit and some trousers before loading the car and tootling off to Alnwick. The joys of knowing the area meant no worrying about getting lost and knowing exactly where I needed to be and how long it would take. Bonus points really.

Rocking up on my own was a bit novel. I HAD read the race pack re registration and the briefing but after liberating my race number and my bike and racking up in transition – someone kindly reminded me I needed to be at a race briefing! Perfect planning there.

Thankfully not before leaving my long sleeved jersey with my bike. I hate being cold on the bike. Even in a race.

Briefing done, Let the waiting game commence!

My swim wave was 8.30 – I’d put down 7:30 swim time when I entered which put me in the 5 wave – out of 7 or 8 so heading towards the top half. The wave in front – one lass was quite slow in finishing, leaving no time for any warm up so it was a case of straight in. After focusing on my form – I was annoyed that I forgot in for the first 150m. Then it clicked – higher elbow, more power, pull and relax – then things eased up and I managed to keep on the toes of the lad in front – I’d let him over take. Stopped my watch dead on last stroke – 7:19 thank you very much! I was over the moon.

Then I buggered up my watch. I use my watch in triathlon mode so little that I forgot how it worked – so trundled through transition with the full intention of keeping warm on the bike (so that could have been quicker…). It took me half a km to get my watch on to cycle mode but….

The bike had almost given me nightmares but there was no point in sacking it off – I needed to do it. Turns out though that as tough as it was – it wasn’t as bad as I expected. It was as undulating as it was scenic and in the end I was genuinely happy with my finish time – my average pace as 15.8mph which was better than I was expecting. My attitude on the bike is better than running – I seem to be able to push through the pain on the bike more than I do the run.

Talking of the run.- I faffed into transition – and as I set out on the run – remembered just how awful that heavy leg feeling is off the bike. I really should remember to do brick sessions. Either way – the run was four laps of the local secondary school – a long slow gradual uphill with a corresponding decent and in all honesty – once I got into it, managed to maintain somewhat reasonable pace for me, but I will admit I spent the last half an hour never wanting to do a triathlon again. I was properly miserable at one point! And so glad to see the finish line! At least the sun was shinning and. there was a good support crowd! The race photos are definitely amusing!

Of course after finishing – without having a support crew there, a flurry of texts went out with ‘I NEVER WANT TO DO A TRIATHLON AGAIN’. Obviously two hours later once normality had been restored I took most of this back!

Biggest worry now is actually getting enough training in for Holkham. Any chance I can take the next 7 weeks off work?!

Finding headspace

Heading up North to prove you can travel on your own and be ok, despite a broken heart and an old car!

There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go.
– Anonymous

The weekend following the conversation and splitting up with the ex was hard, and this week was made that bit harder as I was supposed to be racing this weekend with him at a 24 hour endurance race that promised to be a lot of fun. I just couldn’t face doing it, especially as my emotions, I’ll admit, are still fluctuating between anger and grief. So it seemed like a sensible idea to do something completely different.

So I booked a night away at a B&B in my favourite part of the world – Northumberland. I muted references to the race and certain people I follow on Facebook, deleted the Strava app off my phone and after having late breakfast/early lunch with one of my friends, drove the 2 and a half hours North to Wooler.

I had a fantastic drive. I’d updated some of the CDs in my car to something more upbeat than normal (apparently, my normal taste in music is depressive). The traffic was good and for the first time in well over a week, I felt genuinely quite cheery. I used to love driving, but over the last few years, I didn’t do much of the longer distance stuff and left it to him. I decided to stop worrying about the car – if it broke down, I was in the AA and I had my credit card with me. Turns out car was brilliant and probably just needed a good long drive itself – my old tank of a Volvo was definitely made for cruising!

I arrived about 5ish, stayed long enough at the B&B to dump my bags and freshen up a bit before heading off to Salt Water Cafe in Beadnell for my tea. I’d planned on doing my favourite things while I was here in an attempt to cheer myself up and claim them as my own, making new memories and all that jazz. Tea was lovely but, being on a heartbreak diet and having no appetite, meant I just couldn’t finish it. I wandered down to the harbour – it was too nice an evening not to, before heading off to Alnwick for a twilight swim. Keeping myself busy so far was working.

img_8588Saturday was a bit of a different matter. Managed to push down some breakfast and had a lovely chat with a couple who were cycling. Checked out and headed over to Alnwick to mooch around the beautiful Alnwick Garden. Despite being busy, I managed to find a quiet place of solitude on a hanging swing, so sat, wrote in my diary and read a little. Hunger pangs started and I went into town in search of food, managed to eat and then headed to Barter Books. So far, travelling and holidaying solo going ok – a few moments of wanting to have a weep nearly creeping in.

The afternoon was the hardest, having head space is all well and good (and being all that way from home, on my own, proving to myself I could go it alone so to speak, was a good thing) but you can be alone with your thoughts and feelings too long, and the walk up to Dunstanburgh Castle proved to be quite hard. Last time I did it, the ex and I ran it. It’s one of my favourite castles too. All this lead to was a complete mash of emotions and probably proved hardest part of the day. I walked to the top of one of the towers – and could feel light-headness kicking in. This is unusual and I’m not sure how much of this to contribute to not eating enough verses emotional feelings. For the first time in a while, I was glad to be back in the car and heading back towards Beadnell. I was determined to get some form of run in, having taken my kit to run as well as the fact I had backed out of a race I’d been looking forward too (I have since debated whether I should have just gone and done it to make him feel awkward – though I might have felt awkward too and it wouldn’t have been fair on everyone else in the team).

Running is hard. Really hard. Especially when I’ve barely run in a month. But run I did.¬†Only 4.5km around the village and along part of the beach. But I think it helped. I switched off a bit as I was more bothered about how hard this running was! Sport and exercise are definitely good therapy. By the time I’ got back to my starting point, I felt somewhat better and went to paddle in the sea before consuming ice cream. Deciding it was time to head home, I rung home to tell them when to expect me.

The drive home was different again to the drive up. On the way up, I had stopped at a friends for lunch, stopped at the services for a drink and obligatory loo stop and then headed up, sun shinning, music blasting, determined to enjoy it. The drive home was different. It was an easy drive (I think football was on), there was little traffic and no really hold ups apart from the odd average 50mph zone. It was nearly a straight drive back at 70mph cruising. So much for the easy bit. Concentrating on driving meant little time for thinking about feelings, especially with music playing, but I made the mistake of driving right down to the A1/A64 turn off, past the turn off for the race I should have done, and bang! Emotion overload. Coupled with the fact that my sunburn was kicking in, I was actually glad to be home. I’d been away, on my own, mostly enjoyed it, and more importantly, survived without tears.

The biggest revelation? Not having to consult others or wait for anyone while travelling is quite liberating if you don’t mind your own company. I think it is going to take me a while to just readjust to not having to consider others wants and feelings quite as much.

And try as I might, I still missed him and I still had the same questions spinning around my head but for a while at least, everything was ok. I know there is light at the end of the tunnel, and my head knows things happen for a reason. In the mean time, I am still going to continue nursing a broken heart.