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?!

Holkham Training – Week Two

It’s been a good week – managed again, to stick to the plan – although when I originally wrote the plan, I knew I would need to tweak it for my race on the 30th. Had a good week on the swimming front, managed to fit things around work and socialising – so all in all, I am pretty happy – until I look at my to do list of neglected things this week! I’ve also eaten well – which was causing me worry – meal prep to the rescue. Just need to cut down on the sugary stuff now. I also ended up buying a new bike – more about this below….

Swim- 6400m –¬†Swimming is my favourite and this is no secret – this week has been a good week in the pool, managing three swims and an excellent average pace – so much so I shocked myself – maintaining 1:50/100m for 3000m! There is a story here though. There are two lads who swim together on a Tuesday morning (one swims Wed too). Sometimes when I have walked in, they have been swimming two abreast – which annoys the living daylights out of me. I admit, I have thrown dark looks and glares at them every Tuesday morning for the last few weeks. Anyway, after a moan to friends, I decided I might as well just get in and swim with them if they are going to swim in the medium lane when they should be in the speedy lane. So I did. I didn’t want to slow them down so I worked around them – and blasted out some speedy 100s – I’m not that horrible and insensitive to fact they were doing a set, faster than me and I was in after (both lads ended up moving). Similar thing happened on Wednesday and I was doing a longer set – again swimming with one of them made me faster as I didn’t want to hold him up. I am intrigued with their training and I think I really should apologise for glaring at them – partly because I want to quiz them about their training plan! Watch this space – there might be an update next week on this. I also think I could do to do a CSS test this week.

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The Ridley Phaeton T – what a beauty!

Bike – 32.37km – Well, I cycled a bit. I tried cycling after running Coniston 14 yesterday but there really was nothing in the legs. Again, this week has been a bit pants on the bike – empty turbo miles don’t make up for actually being on the bike. This morning’s effort was so hard. And worse thing is I try to push too hard when I cycle on my own. On the plus side though – I’ve just bought a triathlon TT bike. It wasn’t planned or anything – it was a link from a friend who was thinking of buying it. The bidding ended on it at 5.55am on Friday morning – I had a max bid of ¬£300 and really did not expect to get it. Yet coming home from my race yesterday – I picked up a Ridley Phaeton T and she is beautiful! I’d best get used to riding it if I’m going to race on it! I am very excited! I cant believe how light she is even though she is aluminium with carbon forks – I’m seriously debating putting the race wheels on her. Really need to RIDE MY BIKE!

Run – 36.65km – Absolute epic week of running – we are at the end of march and this month I have run more in a month than any other since I started running years ago. It’s paying off! Zone 2 running is working and my race at Coniston was good – to the point that I think I could have pushed it a bit more. I ended up with a half marathon PB – and on a hilly course with not that much more training than the last one so all in all – good week running! I am also going to add here that Tailwind Nutrition is the bees knees – kept me going with no side effects!

Overall – happy with this week – particularly with my swimming more than anything, I even managed to be sociable on Thursday night for Helen’s leaving do! I am still concerned about my cycling but now Coniston 14 is out of the way, hopefully I can concentrate on getting big miles in rather than long runs – next weeks LSR is only 75 minutes according to the plan! Best just crack on with the to do list thats been left now!

 

Coniston 14 – PB!

It was a PB – just! Half marathon distance – 2:35:54 – official race time – 2:45:41.

Coniston 14 is a road run – around Coniston in the Lake District. It was this or Keilder Night Sky and I missed out on a place (my own fault) at Kielder. Regardless, Coniston 14 was going to be another solo road trip and another epic.

Alarm went off at 5.30, I hit snooze. Finally dragging myself out of bed, sorting kit, sorting the car and eating breakfast, I was out of the house for 7.10am. As is normal on such road trips, the music was loud, the mood high and second breakfast awaited at Scotch Corner Services. A routine/ritual that signals road trip!

I rocked up a little later than intended to Coniston – made things a bit more rushed than I would have liked but to be fair, there was only me to sort so wasn’t really a big deal. Parked up, got myself sorted, went to the loo, had a chat to some other ladies in the same queue and wandered up to the start line – still wandering up when the whistle went – although my plan was to start near the back and just plod it out.

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The course elevation for Coniston 14

I’ve decided I need to get more familiar with looking at the profile of races – this will become clearer in a minute. I was expecting the second half to be harder. In the car driving over, you drive part of the course and there was a little voice in the back of my head whispering ‘what the hell have you signed up for?!’ Undulating. That would be one word for it! Before the start there were a few frantic texts out to friends along the line of ‘arghhhh” and ‘wtf have I signed up for?’.

The first four miles – well. They were both awful and hard and great all at the same time. You only need to look at the elevation to see why but it was constant up and down – then it got better but for the first 4 miles I really did wonder whether I would make it round. My glutes started twinging (another reminder that I need to do gym work!) first. I really did worry.

Then suddenly I found a bit of run mojo and I found some sort of pace that was comfortable and I started to enjoy where I was and what I was doing. Wonders will never cease, and slowly the miles started to tick by. Don’t get me wrong, my feet were not particularly happy – but around the mile 9-11 mark, I had some really good chats with different people and at mile 10-13 I ran with a chap called Tim, another cyclist from Lyme runners who was selling his track bike – Coniston was his longest ever run – we walked a huge hill – see photo of the elevation, but ran back down and into Coniston – where I left him to get to the finish.

What did I learn though while running this course?

  • Running can occasionally be enjoyable. I could probably have pushed harder too.I need to run more hills – and do some strength work.
  • Tailwind Nutrition in my water (I wore a running vest – not many did but it was so worth it) – it’s awesome. Top running fuel – no bonking or major hunger pangs at the end – really impressed me – as I have mostly used it on the bike. No bad guts either.
  • I miss running races – I haven’t really done many for a while – but it was nice to be out with others running!
  • Local, smaller events are usually better (this isn’t anything I didn’t already know!).
  • The Lake District makes for fab races!
  • I can actually run a hilly half marathon.

Slightly sore and uncomfortable – all the marshals and the course were fab – lots of support and cheering – and possibly one of my new top fave races – although not knocking CTS Northumberland off its perch!

What was even better – I knocked about a minute of my half marathon PB – and on a hillier course (Brass Monkey = flat – but I had barely trained for it). I am really looking forward to Edinburgh half marathon now!

I just need to get the cycling sorted (my epic road trip home involved picking up a new bike….)

 

Here goes nothing!

‘Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.’¬†Gail Devers

I’ve had a busy month and neglected writing. I’ve been away on holiday (which was exactly what I needed at the time, surrounded by friends and living the good life!), gained some more work in the form of new one-to-one pupils and completed my Level One Triathlon Coaching – all in all busy and productive. On the same note, it’s brought home some truths about the next few months.

Next week sees the ‘official’ start of my training plan for Holkham.

I am equally excited and terrified by this for several reasons. I have found that trying to eat well at the beginning of the week is incredibly hard. Monday through to Wednesday I am barely home – Monday I leave the house at 7am and get home about 9pm, Tuesday – gym before work means I can leave the house at 6am, go home for 20 minutes after work, then head out again, not to be home until 9.45pm and Wednesday is similar – gym pre work, work, tutoring and then running – so 9pm before home. I am going to have to start properly meal prepping if I am going to eat well enough to be able to train properly – and not eat so much rubbish. I’ve a few ideas on that front.

The other thing I’ve found is on the dating front – I just don’t have the time to date, that process of getting to know someone. I deleted my POF account the other day and felt better for it – it served its purpose at the time. If someone walks into my life that I find I willing want to make time for (mega bonus points if they swim/bike/run) then great, if not, then so be it. I am actually enjoying the single life too much to be too worried.

I am trying to balance saying yes to exciting things and how this is going to fit in with training/life. My major concern is actually cycling. As in May I am away three weekends – lots of running – little cycling. So that will be interesting. Coupled with the fact I am taking on an extra day at the day job – I have a lot going on. I’ve also got members day and renewals coming up in my club (being membership sec – this is the busiest time of year).

These are my main concerns in terms of general life getting in the way of training. Eating properly and fitting it in. I am going to try and keep myself a bit more accountable by blogging once a week purely about my training. A diary of sorts, in a mission to keep on top of training and keep myself motivated. Basically, I think I am just going to have to be a little (read as lot) selfish for the next four months.

Hopefully, come July 7th – I’ll be ready to smash out a great race and come back happy!

Best get cracking!

CTS Northumberland – Race Day Review

This is my all-time favourite race – and the only race I have done three times on the trot.

Coastal Trail Series Northumberland incorporated 4 different distances – 10k, Half Marathon, a Marathon and an Ultra and takes in the beautiful and scenic Northumberland coastline. It is so well organised and enjoyable that I keep coming back!

I drove up in the morning – as always, meeting my mate at the services and driving up in convoy. A cold and foggy start changed as we headed north and the sun burnt off the fog and the skies cleared. I always feel happy in Northumberland, although driving across from Beadnell to Bamburgh, I felt a bit choked up as memories from last year flooded back. I knew there was a bit of a risk this happening but on the whole, it was good to be back.

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The finish line flags

Parking up at the bottom of the Castle, walking up and registering, I was a little gutted that we weren’t inside Bamburgh Castle like in previous years (I later found out why – no Warden to let us in, and the stables were being converted into a bar!). The sun was glorious and as it was so mild – I decided to run in capri pants and t-shirt.

The briefing was long and thorough and because the buses were running late, I did get cold waiting to get bused to the start however, once down there and once running, I knew I’d be ok. It is genuinely the only time my mate has seen me smile before a run! Much to her amusement.

The start line was nearer the harbour this year (making the course 400m shorter with alterations to the finish line) but we didn’t have to wait as long on the start line to get going. I will point out now that anyone who has read recent blog posts or follows the Twitter feed, I spent two weeks very ill and did very little training for 4 weeks. Unlike last year where I actually trained! Regardless I wasn’t nervous, I just enjoy this race as a run.

We set off and my pacing wasn’t too bad. I know the area quite well and knew what to expect. People say running on sand/trail is harder – and it is, but somehow I seem to enjoy it more and run better. The first half of the race went well but there is always a but. After the checkpoint at Seahouses, I could feel the familiar feeling of burning on the ball of my right foot. By the 7k point I was really feeling it. I knew there would be a blister and I knew where I had gone wrong. I’ve been using Tri-slide (this is so much better than body glide) with my road trainers due to ongoing issues and didn’t need them with the socks I was using and neutral shoes. By 8k I was wishing I had a Shotblok or something just to eat, like last year. I don’t normally for this race but going at lunch time I was hungry by the time set off. What was most glorious about it though was just running the race, in the sunshine, in February in a t-shirt!

There was no major disasters or anything – I felt a bit sick – I was definitely working. The last 600m has always been horrific and nothing has changed. The race photos were actually pretty cool and I was smiling on them. I was glad to finish though – I always am!

The fish and chips with mates at the end was just the icing on the cake!