In a house of triathletes a bank holiday weekend can only mean one thing – more time to train and going back to work on the Tuesday after the long weekend somehow feels a lot harder than a normal Monday. This weekend was our last big weekend of training before Staffordshire and I have to say that I am rather looking forward to the next few weeks of winding it down a bit.
Parkrun and Rugby
Exeter Chief’s success against Wasps last weekend meant that our weekend plans were slightly altered to include Saturday afternoon in Twickenham watching the premier league final!
It was a super day out, and nice to have a bit of time to relax!
That morning we’d planned to go swimming with the tri club but were too tired when the alarms went off so reset them for Parkrun and went back to sleep. At 9am we were lined up ready for Abingdon parkrun. This was only my second time on the course, and after the recent sunshine it was quite different from my first attempt with firm ground underfoot and bushy stinging nettles either side of the path! For a short race it was hard work, and I can’t confess that I enjoyed it that much going round! Though when the results came in I had done quite well, finishing in 23:42, a course PB and best Parkrun time this year. Next time I think I need to start faster to try and avoid getting stuck behind people in the narrow sections, and maybe just get on and enjoy it!
My first win and a 10 mile run
Sunday dawned bright and early (as it always seems to) with a 6:30 alarm. After a breakfast of trusty bagels we headed off to the lake while my dad headed to the pool. It was a rather chilly morning but nice to be back in the familiar setting of the Tri2O lake. We pulled on our wetsuits, applied some bodyglide (I’ve worked out exactly where I need it after last weekend) donned our new bright yellow swim hats then put our hoodies back on for extra warmth whilst we waited for the pre-race briefing.
Reports from TVT had warned us that the lake was pretty weedy this summer, but when we got in it really didn’t seem too bad! Nothing can compare to the weeds at Thorpe Park last summer!
Once in, we lined up ready for the start, then suddenly we were off. I’d started near the front so got swum over a little – it’s amazing what you can get used to! We rushed off to the first buoy and I spotted Dan by my side as we came to the second. My goggles were steaming up and I decided to take the plunge and pause to readjust them rather than relying on following everyone else’s feet for the rest of the race. The gamble paid off and by the time I entered the scrum round the third buoy I was back neck and neck with Dan. We raced each other round the second lap of the course, working hard but enjoying the confidence of doing something we’ve practised so many times. I particularly noticed this in the crush round the buoys, I’m not scared to go straight in knowing that I’m a strong summer. Hopefully this confidence will help on the first leg of Staffordshire.
We picked up the pace as we got to the finish line, sprinting to the end and I came in first and joyous. I’ve got no chance against Dan on the bike or run but I love our competition in the water!
Later we looked at the results and it turns out that not only did I beat Dan, but I also was the first woman! Wow!
After a good breakfast of crumpets and bacon sandwiches we set off from Wokingham to the ridgeway for our final pre-Ironman long run. It was pretty windy up there in the hills but it was so good to be running in the countryside again, away from cars, buildings and rushing people. We did 5 miles out together working the hills, stretching out on the downhills and having a good chat. At 5 miles I turned back and Dan continued. On the way back I only got slightly lost once and worked on not stressing out about slow pacing on the hills – instead working to claw the speed back bit by bit. I think this was pretty successful – I was running a lot happier, and probably better without stressing about my watch, and the whole point is to enjoy it isn’t it?!
I completed my hilly 10 miles in 1:24.42, averaging 8:28mins/mile a whole minute a mile faster than last time I did the same run. Hooray! Nice to end the long runs (for now) on a high!
Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 Bike Course Recce
We had a bit of lie in on Monday morning – then some more bagels. We taped my tri bars to give them some grip and avoid having to put on gloves during the race. I think they look much better now too!
The weather was pretty grim when we arrived up in Staffordshire – grey, cold and generally uninspiring. Luckily by the time we’d faffed around a bit the sun came out just in time for me to abandon my cycling jersey and just head out in my new tri suit – busy trying to avoid visible silly tan lines for the wedding!
So the course itself was definitely ‘undulating’ -that sneaky word used to disguise big hills and hard work! I’m very glad we’ve cycled it in advance so have a bit of prewarning on the steep bits / parts to go flat out and am looking forward to the roads being closed on race day. The countryside was beautiful all the way through and there’s certainly no chance of getting bored en route! When we got to about 20 miles from the end, I was cheered by the sight of a power station that looked just like ours in Didcot – it almost felt like it had come all the way up to Staffordshire too to cheer us on! Just as I was starting to feel pretty good and close to the finish we got to the hill up Cannock Chase which was horrible, though any hard-earned average pace we lost we gained back on the descent.
By the time we got to Shugborough – the site of the run – I was feeling pretty broken and despite a yummy pub lunch, I really struggled on the ride back to the car. I don’t think I could have followed up that ride with a 13.1 mile run on Monday, but I am really hoping that Sunday’s 10 mile run might be partly to blame as my legs were tired from the word go!
I think we’ve now done all we can do. Roll on tapering and Staffordshire in two weeks time!