I’ve been lacking in blog posts recently apologies. Sadly, my Granddad suddenly passed away four weeks ago and my husband broke his wrist during a bike race (on the same day).
My Granddad has always been a big part of my (and my family’s) life especially over the last few years as we’ve lived so close by. I got my sportiness from my Granddad. He had always been into sports, competing when he was younger playing football, golf and badminton. He was a coach and umpired many matches. He also umpired the Badminton for the Edinburgh Commonwealth games in 1970. In his later years he took up the role of the spectator. He supported me during my first half marathon four years ago in Glasgow, and watched me in London at ITU triathlon last year. He always thought I was mad completing in triathlons! He will be so sadly missed!!
Sam is making a good recovery, is now back to work and now doing some light exercise.
As a result my training and blog writing two weeks prior to Aberfeldy was sporadic and somewhat lacking.
Saturday afternoon Sam and I drove up to Perthshire, checked into our beautiful AirBnB accommodation overlooking Loch Tay. I then went to register for the triathlon, go to race briefing and drop of my transition two bag. In the evening we went to an Italian restaurant with some friends from Edinburgh triathletes for a good carbohydrate load.
Sunday morning 4.45am alarm, triple checked my kit, ‘evacuated’ and had my usual race day breakfast porridge with blueberries, banana and cup of green tea. I was surprisingly relaxed; I hadn’t put any pressure on myself this race. I’ve had a lot of trouble with my ankle and not been running (maybe 5-6 times in the last two months) so all I wanted to do was complete the race and not worsen my injury.
I made it down to Loch Tay with just enough time to check my tyre pressures, rack up, get my wet suit on and also get bitten by a few midges! I saw a few friendly faces from Edinburgh Triathletes, managed a quick team photo and we were called to the start.
The start was in the water between two buoys, the water temperature was 13 degrees, pretty cold and clustered start! Once I got going the temperature was no longer a problem and I was able to swim away from the main group. The swim route was one lap and in a triangle. This race I felt my sighting was better, maybe because I was in the first group and there were less competitors in this race. My garmin statistics say otherwise, I swam an extra 200metres and my swim time wasn’t great for me (34minsmins 33secs) so I was a little disappointed.
I got out of the water feeling a little dizzy and ran up to transition one to my bike. I had to sit down to take off my wetsuit and put my cycling gear on. When I was ready the dizziness had passed and I ran out of transition, and started cycling. Transition time 4mins, 28secs.
The cycle route went ok; the weather was beautiful which helped. I felt alright going up Schiehallion, however I found cycling around the first side of Loch Rannoch quite hard. There was a strong head wind, my legs were pedalling but I felt like I was going slowly and lots of people were overtaking me. Once I got around the other side of the Loch and had the couple of gels and jelly babies I had kicked in. I felt stronger and my pace was better. Going back over Schiehallon wasn’t too bad either; I think I was just looking forward to the long dissent back down. I found the last 10miles after the dissent from Keltneyburn to Aberfeldy a struggle, lucky it was fairly flat and made it back to transition two in one piece. My bike time was 3hrs 15mins 7secs, pretty pleased with that as it was quite a hilly course.
Picture credit: live active sport
Transition two was fairly uneventful, apart from my dash to the toilet, I needed to go for an hour on the bike and there were no toilets at the feed stations. I didn’t want to expose myself to follow competitors on the bike route. Transition time 2mins, 35secs.
So the run was hard, very hard! My legs felt tired right away. Straight out of transition we ran up a small hill and I honestly thought ‘was I going to complete this?’ I ran past Sam after the hill, shouting and cheering, which spurred me on. The course was a there and back along a quiet road, with the occasional car passing. It was now 11am, the sun was shining and it was 18-20 degrees! Lucky I remembered to put my sunscreen on in the morning. My plan was just to make it to the end so I decided to walk at the feed stations (under a minute each time), take on a little water each time and have at least two gels during the run. My tactics worked quite well, I managed to run past a few runners. The course was quite undulating, I was aware of my ankle (not painful) between mile three and five which then subsided. At mile eight my legs felt like pure lead. At this point I started to see fellow ET’s going the other way, the friendly faces and a few high fives helped me continue on. I was really struggling the last three miles, I knew I would finish but I was so tired and frustrated that my legs were heavy and sore. At this point I was constantly looking at my watching checking the total distance. I made it to the finish and even managed a ‘sprint finish’ through the finishing tunnel. Run time 1hr 52mins 38secs. I knew my time wasn’t going to be any good due to the lack of run training however I finished and my ankle held up.
Overall it was a successful race, I finished uninjured and it was a beautiful course and day. Total time was 5hrs 49mins 22secs. I was 5th in my age group and 14th female overall. This race was never going to be my best due to the build-up, my recent training and my ankle injury. Taking the pressure off the race did make it more enjoyable. Not to have that constant stress of finishing in certain time or being disappointed at the finish if you didn’t. On reflection I need to still work on my open water swimming and sighting, be quicker in transition one and hopefully get back to regular running again.
Next challenge is the Scottish half marathon on 18th September. Since Aberfeldy my ankle has, so far, been ok and I have been running twice a week. It’s so frustrating that I’m not at my usual fitness but I’m so glad to be running again. This next race I will be doing with friends; my aim is to finish uninjured so I won’t be pushing for a personal best or a particular finishing time.