Loch Gu Loch SwimRun Race Report

SwimRun Loch Gu Loch Race Report

Last weekend, Lisa and I headed up north to the Highlands, Fort Augustus for our first SwimRun event, Loch Gu Loch. We had joked in training for the last year or so that we would be ideal for SwimRun as we have ‘similar’ swim abilities (Lisa is a much faster and stronger swimmer than me). Lisa had been injured most of last year and hadn’t been running but was now running again. During one Sunday morning ride, after much debate we decided to enter Loch Gu Loch, six weeks before the race.

SwimRun is still a relatively new sport to the UK, but growing in popularity. SwimRun is an endurance race which involves open water swimming and trail running with multiple transitions of swim and run (swim, then run, then swim, then run etc.). It is a point to point race, all the equipment that you start with has to be carried to the finish. You compete in pairs, running and swimming together, not straying more than 10 metres apart. Unlike triathlons, SwimRun has much more freedom there are no standardised distances or kit requirements. The origin came from Sweden, after a drunken bet between friends. The original race ÖTILLÖ meaning island to island is recognised as the SwimRun world championship (the Kona for SwimRun).

Loch Ness

The total distance for Loch Gu Loch is about 8km of cold water swimming and 47km of mixed terrain running. Lisa’s longest run that year was a half marathon during Edinburgh Ironman 70.3 (21km!). On the run up to the race we had short sessions together practicing transitions and running in our SwinRun wetsuits and swimming with trail shoes. We certainly got a few strange looks running around the Pentlands in our wetsuits! I found the extra weight from my shoes dragged my legs, and found it much easier to swim with a pullbuoy and paddles. Lisa was fine without any aids during the swim. I got a new pair of light SwimRun shoes however they did not give me much support when running! In the future, I would go for a more supportive trail shoe and play around with my kit more prior to such an event.

Kit check

We had a race briefing on Friday afternoon, checked kit and lined our stomachs for the challenge the next day. We had a wander around Fort Augustus and observed the cold, monster- filled water of Loch Ness. It looked calm with no signs of Nessy!

Loch Ness

This year they changed the transport to the start with coaches so we had an extra hour in bed (whoop!). The race starts at Urquhart Castle on the shore of Loch Ness. It started to get light when we arrived, after a quick toilet stop, bag drop and group photo, we headed down to the Loch with a bagpiper to greet us.

Photo by Loch Gu Loch team (unsure who actually took the photo)
Photo by Loch Gu Loch team (unsure who actually took the photo)

I like to acclimatise to the temperature of the water before starting, we got in a little too early as the kayakers hadn’t arrived for the start and the race started a little late, 10-15mins. I was pretty cold and glad to start swimming once the race began. The first swim was the longest at 2km. I was close to the back of the pack, I think it was because I was cold but after ten minutes I got into the race and we started taking over others in the swim. Once we got the front of our pack we couldn’t see where we were the swim exit was, the kayakers were close by so knew we couldn’t be too off course. Although I was cold I really enjoyed the swim -the water was so clear and there were no signs of Nessy! Once we got the other side, I had been in the water for over an hour and had not been kicking my legs so my legs were totally numbed. After a few attempts of trying to stand – Bambi legs, fits of giggles- we both managed to get out the water. I checked my watch 1.7miles, I think our sighting was a bit off and we swam a little extra. Once out of the water the wind made me even colder. I’ve never been so glad to run, or even run up a hill, to warm up. After a couple of miles, I could feel my legs again and my feet began to tingle. I really enjoyed this run along a forest trail; the views overlooking Loch Ness were beautiful. During the run we managed to overtake two or three teams.

Just before the start

Swim two at Loch Duntelchaig -the water was crystal clear, we kept close to the shore to try and keep warmer but it was extremely chilly. We saw a few familiar faces kayaking which spurred me on. I was very glad of the feed station after this swim, a cinnamon roll never tasted so good! We were told by the volunteers we were the first all-female team so after a quick sip of water we were off again.

The race took us across a vast variety of terrains, we found we were much slower on the boggy and heather terrains, that’s where other teams overtook us. On trails, hills and tarmac we were able to catch up. Fell running has never been my greatest!  

The coldest swim had to be swim five in Loch Mhor, it was Baltic and I needed help getting up the rocks onto the land to start running, I was physically shaking. There was a feed station after that swim and I found it a real struggle to eat or drink anything. It took a long time for me to warm up after that swim, luckily that was when we had the longest run and the sun came out. During the 16km run Lisa’s leg was playing up so we opted for a 7-9min run and 1min walk tactic which worked well as we passed four teams.

Running towards Loch Tarff

The longest run finishes at Loch Tarff, (after a long uphill climb) with beautiful views of the Loch. The last feed station was here, one of my (or our) downfalls of the day was that we were too chatty to the volunteers at the feed stations. We were too busy enjoying the day and not being very competitive (time- wasting). We were 8hours and 30mins into the race, with two more swims and one 6km of run we were hopeful of getting under ten hours. The swim at Loch Tarff was a little more interesting with short swims between small islands on the loch. Lisa got cramp during one of the swims so we resorted to skulling and then walking on the islands. The last swim is more of a knee deep bog but swam it (doggy paddle) as we didn’t want to lose a shoe.

Last swim at Loch Ness. Photo by Mike Brown

Out of the swim, Lisa’s cramps gone, we were aware of other teams behind us. The run took us back onto heather and tough bracken terrain which was slowing us down. Somewhere we missed a marking or sign and before we knew it we hadn’t seen a course marking in a while. We stopped and checked the map. We had gone too far and re-traced our steps. Sadly, this was when we knew we had blown it. Now our fatigue had kicked in and enthusiasm for the race gone, we were just desperate to finish. Once back on track, we noticed the flags, they went up a very steep hill and we were scrambling to the top. This was where other teams started to pass us, the four teams we managed to hold off all day caught us and it felt like they were flying past us. I think we added about 25-30mins extra getting lost, urgh! The views, from the top over Loch Ness, were worth it. We decided to jog the rest of the route back to the water for our final swim.

Before our last swim. Photo by Mike Brown

We were greeted by Mike and his wife, marshalling for the day at the last swim start and we jumped in. We were escorted during the last swim by our triathlon club swim coach Gavin, on a kayak. Once we got to the red buoy we waded the last bit of the swim and had a gentle jog to the finish. Total time 10hours 25mins 26secs.

Finishline photo

We really enjoyed the event, just frustrated by our error on the last run. The course was well marked maybe in our tiredness we weren’t focused enough or we didn’t want to climb another hill, ha! The race is well supported with marshals at the start and exit of every swim, all very friendly and helpful with directions and tips, thanks! I’ve also got to thank Mandy for lending her compression socks, life saver!

Finishers

I really enjoyed my first SwimRun event, the best bit was racing as a team and having a buddy with you throughout the day to share the highs and lows. I like the freeness of SwinRun events, in natural beauty, trail running and open water swimming; it’s more of an adventure. I found it challenging after the swims being cold, the wind chill didn’t help! The wetsuits do help warming you up quickly but it does take it out of you doing it numerous times throughout the race.

Even after our detour, somehow, we were the first female finishers and 13th overall. We were both pleased with our efforts considering we only started training six weeks prior and we weren’t at our peak fitness. The next day when the results came out, we found out we were the only female pair finishers that year, the other two pairs did not finish the race.

After defrosting, we headed to the boathouse for some food and received a prize for our efforts.  I would recommend this race, be prepared for cold water 8-12degrees, long sleeved wetsuit is definitely required. It was well organised, we were regularly checked up on and kayakers on every Loch. I may be a little biased as I live in Scotland but the scenery was totally worth it! Would we do it again…. Lisa is already planning how we can get enough points for ÖTILLÖ next year!

Jenwaar

Aberfeldy Middle Distance Triathlon Race Report 2017

 

Aberfeldy Middle Distance Triathlon 2017

This year’s race was now organised by Dirty events (previously live active sport) so the race course was slightly different and no longer the Scottish Championship race. The swim was exactly the same in Loch Tay. The bike course was essentially the same cycling over Schiehallion and around Loch Rannoch but instead of cycling to Aberfeldy to finish the bike course, it took you back to Kenmore. The bike route was a little short at 90Km (usual middle distance is 91Km). The run route was completely different: a three lap course around the grounds of Taymouth castle. Perhaps they should change the name of the race to Kenmore triathlon as the race no longer goes to Aberfeldy!

 

I headed up to Kenmore on Saturday afternoon with Sam via Sterling. Sam bought a new bike at Velocity 44 in Sterling. We just made it to race briefing for five. After briefing we checked in our accommodation at Kenmore hotel (few hundred meters from the start). In the evening a few of us from Edinburgh triathletes had a pre-race dinner at Taymouth restaurant.

Sunday morning my alarm went off at 5.15am. The hotel put on an early breakfast for athletes. I unusually felt hungry, so had two slices of toast and my usual pre race breakfast of porridge and green tea. I had breakfast with my friend Cat and then headed back to the room to take my bags, kit and bike to transition.

This race has a split transition, transition one and two were only a few hundred meters apart so I dropped my running kit at transition two and cycled with my bike to start for transition one. I lay out my kit in transition one with my bike and walked to the start.

I met up with a few club members at the start and donned my wetsuit. We had a quick team photo altogether before the start. The weather was perfect, it was warm, sun shining and everyone was in good spirits. I genuinely felt good and was aiming to push hard on the swim to get a good swim time.

I was in the first swim heat so headed into the water. Last year I remembered the water was really cold. This year I was pleasantly surprised, it felt warm when I got in. It was 15 degrees, I think it was about 12-13 the previous year.  My plan for this race was to swim fast, then pace the bike and run. The swim start was between two canoeists about 20-30metres from the water’s edge. By the time I swam to the start, the siren went off and the race began.

 

Swim (1900m / 1.2miles) 34minutes 34seconds

 

I started swimming and my positivity and optimism of the race diminished. I felt nauseous as soon as I started swimming.  The water wasn’t particularly choppy but I felt every motion. I got around the first buoy trying to ignore my stomach, but after the buoy the pack got quite brunched up. I thought it wasn’t too bad until I started burping and tasting my breakfast. I had a couple people drafting me, by my side and on my feet. Suddenly I had what felt like a blow to my side and hip then uncontrollably I vomited, and moved over from the pack. I didn’t really stop and slowly continued to swim (avoiding vomit) breathing every other stroke but after 150metres I vomited again. I thought about stopping but I managed half the swim so carried on. I did feel better after but the feeling of nausea remained. I continued my swim at a much slower pace and hoped for the best.

Swim to Bike transition (T1) 3minutes 58seconds

 

When I got to the marina and was so happy to have finished the swim. I jogged up to transition and sat down to get changed. I was so relieved to be out the water but also annoyed at myself for eating too much at breakfast. I didn’t even look at my swim time as I knew it wouldn’t be great. I felt much better being on land and headed out on the bike.

 

Bike (90kms /55miles) 3 hours 12minutes 40 seconds

 

I started the bike well, trying to make up the time I missed on the swim. The weather was sunny and warm which also helped! My nausea just wouldn’t shift; I found it difficult to take sips of my drink never mind food. By the time I was over Schiehallion and commenced cycling into head wind around Loch Rannoch my energy levels were low. I felt like everyone was overtaking me at this point. I ate and drank slowly.

When I was cycling on the other side of the Loch I felt much better and ate as much as I could before the climb back up Schiehallion. I was overtaking other athletes up the hill and managed to pick up pace again. I really enjoyed the dissent back down to Keltneyburn. I narrowly avoided a crash when another athlete just overtook me and judged the corner ahead wrong. Luckily when she fell she slid to the side otherwise I would of gone straight into her. I checked she was ok and continued my race. I found out later she only had bad bruising and road rash grazes across her face, nothing too serious. I got back to Kenmore to transition and was ready for the run.

Bike to run transition (T2) 1 minute 35 seconds 

 

Transition two, was quick in and out. My only problem was that there were no toilets in transition. The bike route also doesn’t have toilets at the feed stations. I didn’t want to expose myself on the bike or run. When I started my run I had to go off course to use the portaloos, I was pretty desperate at this point. It is also against the triathlon rules to get naked during the race and will be taking this up with dirty events.

 

Run (Half marathon 21kms/ 13.1miles) 1 hour 52mins 44 secs

After my toilet dilemma I started the run well, I felt the best I had all day. I had a planned pace and tried to keep it up. The run was actually quite similar to Edinburgh Ironman run route, three laps and one big hill. I really enjoyed the new run route, spectators were able to cheer you on and the route was much more interesting, a mixture of road and trail. By the third lap my legs were goosed. I couldn’t keep the planned pace my legs were very heavy and sore.

The last three miles were a real struggle, however I think everyone else around me was the same. All the smiles and enthusiasm from other club members and competitors had gone. I tried a sprint finish but my legs didn’t have it in me. I was so relieve once I finished!

 

Finishing time- 5hours 45mins 32 seonds 70.3miles (70.3)

Overall I was disappointed how it went but also pleased I managed to complete it. I really liked the new run route however my Garmin did clock up 13.6miles! I had a great time with fellow club members and the race was well organised. This is still one of my favourite races in such a beautiful setting. I still somehow manage to get a faster time than last year but the course had changed. On reflection essentially never do anything new on race day! I usually find it a struggle to eat in the morning so I thought eating a little extra wouldn’t do me any harm, I was so wrong!

Last week I finished my last triathlon this year at Haddington Sprint triathlon, a week after Aberfeldy. The race report will be coming soon. My next big race is Loch Gu Loch on 30th September. It’s my first Swimrun event which I’m completing with my friend Lisa. We race as a pair and complete thirteen open water sections and twelve trail run sections. In total we will swim 7.4km and run 47.4km. I do love a challenge and very excited to try a new event!

Jenwaar

Edinburgh Ironman 70.3 Race Report

Edinburgh Ironman 70.3 Race Report

I wasn’t in the best condition or well prepared for Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh. Two weeks previously I completed Celtman Extreme Triathlon followed by two weeks of travelling around the west coast of America enjoying myself, eating my weight in food and minimal exercise. Celtman was my focus this year, any other race was an extra and I wanted to enjoy my holiday away after months of solid training. A few friends and family thought I was a little crazy to do them so close together but how could I miss the first Ironman event in Scotland on my door step?!

I arrived back in Scotland on the Friday night after a six-hour flight delay from America, urgh! Registration and bag drop off was the next day so I packed all my triathlon gear, ready for Saturday. My wonderful friend Eilidh washed all my kit post Celtman (as we pretty much drove straight to Manchester airport from finishing Celtman). Thanks, Eilidh!!!

Saturday morning, I got up early to register at Meadowbank stadium. I got my race pack, number 406 and bags to drop off at transition. This triathlon has a split transition, a point to point race. This means there are two transitions, I had to sort my kit into two bags, drop them off in two different places and also rack up my bike. I filled both my bike and run bag with kit, and headed firstly to the swim location at Prestonpans. I saw a few members of Edinburgh triathletes (ET) at transition and had a quick chat. By coincidence I saw Eilidh at the bike rack and she was next to me, number 407. I dropped off my bike and bike bag in transition and collected my timing chip. I drove back to Meadowbank stadium for the mandatory race briefing and dropped my red run bag at the run transition- by Holyrood Palace- afterwards.

Briony, my friend, was visiting this weekend so after dragging her around Ironman transitions in the morning. I spent the rest of the day hanging out with her in Edinburgh and having a big dinner. I went to bed early whilst she and my husband Sam had a few cocktails (not jealous at all).

Everyone competing in the race received an email at 7pm from the race organisers. Potentially the swim may have to be cut short to 0.6miles (instead of 1.2miles) depending on the sea conditions the following day. We would all know at the 6am race start. I was a little disappointed as the swim is my best discipline but our safety is paramount.

Sunday morning I awoke at 4am, Celtman was 2am so practically a lie in! I got ready, made my breakfast and left. I met Eilidh and we walked to Meadowbank for the coaches to transfer us to the swim start at Prestonpans. I ate my lukewarm porridge on the coach. I bumped into Robin on the bus who also completed the Celtman triathlon two weeks before. We all discussed the uncertainty of the swim and the wind speeds. Yesterday morning when I was at transition it didn’t look too bad but apparently the wind was very strong overnight. Once I got off the coach, I felt how strong the winds were and I started to get cold. After a quick loo stop, I checked my bike and got my wetsuit on an hour before the start as I felt so cold! The wind was bracing but once I had my wetsuit on it was fine.

Swim (950metres/ 0.6miles) 20mins 29secs.

At 6am they announced the swim would be cut short, even for the pro athletes. This was no surprise as the conditions were crazy for swimming, waves over a metre high, lots of athletes were happy with this decision. I got a quick group photo with fellow Edinburgh Triathletes, then dropped off my dry clothes and headed for the swim pen. I decided against my pre-swim banana due to the rough conditions. I lined up with fellow athletes based on our swim predicted swim times. Most Ironman events now start with rolling starts. You place yourself into your predicted swim time and each group commence a rolling start based on these times with the fastest athletes first. Each athlete’s race started once they crossed the swim timing mat. The pros started and because the swim was shortened we saw them complete the circuit before I started so I knew exactly where to swim. The buoys were also quite close together so less chance to go off course (which I’m really bad for doing). We were set off in fours, 4 seconds apart and before I knew it, I was running into the sea.

Prior to starting the race Ironman very kindly advised that the hardest part of the swim would be the swim to the first buoy, as we were swimming into the waves. They suggested you kick as hard as you can during this part and after turning past the first buoy the swim would be better. This was now my game plan, however once I was in the water, my plan changed to swimming hard for the whole swim.  I’m a strong swimmer and now a fairly experienced open water swimmer, it was tough and the roughest conditions I’ve ever had in a race. I swam through the waves to the first buoy and decided to bilaterally breath (I usually unilaterally breath) and sight every other stroke. I did not want to swim any extra distance in these conditions! I inhaled a lot of sea water during this part but once I turn after the first buoy I was able to get into a rhythm and feel comfortable swimming. After that I found the swim fine, it was still very wavy, like swimming in a washing machine! Although the conditions were challenging I found no one was drafting each other, so no kicks or hits to the face or legs which I enjoyed and it was not really congested, even at the turning buoys. I think it’s the best I’ve ever sighted during a race, my lines were pretty straight on strava rather than wiggly. I was much more relaxed as I knew I wasn’t going to get a fast time and just wanted to get out in one piece. I didn’t see anyone getting pulled out of the swim but I heard 60-80 athletes were assisted out and a few people decided not to start the race after looking at the sea. Swim time wasn’t great but so was everyone else’s.

Swim to Bike transition (T1) 5 minutes 39 seconds

Surprisingly, the sea wasn’t that cold so running out of the water into transition I felt warm. I grabbed my bag, sat down and got the rest of my wetsuit off and bike kit on. I saw a couple of people vomiting, I was so glad I didn’t eat that banana! I felt a little disoriented but once I was on my bike I was fine, a couple of others around me fell off their bikes after mounting them.

Bike (91kms /56miles) 3 hours 24minutes 22 seconds

Initially, I felt strong on the bike- a tailwind does that! Along the east coast trail, I was in my TT bars and overtaking others. I was making sure I was eating, I didn’t want to bonk on the upcoming hills and the challenging Gifford/Garvald loop. I had the advantage of being a local, completing most of the course a few times before and practising the hills. On the first big hill, just before Haddington, I was powering through and enjoyed the long hill down into Haddington. Out of Haddington the head wind was strong and my lack of training between events was evident. I just didn’t have the power in my legs to keep up with the others around me so I kept eating and dug deep. The rest of the bike was just a battle with either cross or head winds: when I could I pushed. You would think I would be accustomed to the wind after Celtman and living in Scotland but today was particularly bad. The bike course was quite technical in parts, I took them safely. I’m glad I did the course before as I saw the results of a couple of crashes, a few athletes receiving aid from ambulance crews.

Some of the bike course is a “there and back with a loop” which was great as I saw so many of the club members and everyone was cheering each other on. On the last big hill to Cousland I got a second wind and it’s more inland so the wind didn’t feel as bad. There was a sign in Cousland stating this was “the last hill” which was is a cheeky lie! After Cousland it’s a windy course back to Edinburgh through Dalkeith county park; Bonnyrigg; and then a cycle around Arthur’s seat; a nice short steep hill to finish your legs before the run. The views coming back down to transition are worth it. Again, not a great time but my legs just didn’t have the power or energy since Celtman.

Still smiling after climbing up Arthurs seat!

Bike to run transition 2 minutes 39 seconds  Transition two was unremarkable: in and out pretty quick and grabbed my energy gel for later.

Run (Half marathon 21kms/ 13.1miles) 1 hour 53mins 43 secs

Out on the run, the sun came out and it was warm. The run course is the usual Ironman three lap course, starting with a run up Arthur’s seat (900ft ascent), with a few turn and backs with gentle inclines and a run up and down the innocent railway tunnel.  Not the easiest half marathon I’ve ever done. Lap one was fine, I was elated with the support from club members, volunteers and other supporters, wearing club kit in a home race was so much fun. I, stupidly, didn’t take on any fluids on the first lap and paid for it in the second, so drank at every feed station thereafter: Edinburgh was surprisingly hot for once. Energy levels were low as I started the third lap so had my energy gel and pushed on to the finish. I managed a sprint finish in the last 500m and down the red carpet to finish.

Finishing time- 5hours 46mins 70.3miles (69.7)

Hands down, this was the hardest 70.3, well technically 69.7 middle distance triathlon, I’ve ever done. It makes Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 last year seem much easier in comparison. The course is brutal; rough sea swim; hilly, windy, technical bike; and hilly run. Despite the harsh conditions and gruelling course, I still had a great time. Plus my legs hadn’t full recovered from Celtman and also the none existent training over the previous two weeks didn’t help. The support during the race was immense throughout the race and especially on the run! Being a home race, wearing club kit meant I was cheered all the way to the finish. I wouldn’t recommend this race as a first 70.3 middle distance race or for a personal best time but more for the challenge in the beautiful Edinburgh and East Lothian surroundings.

Thank to Sam my wonderful husband for supporting me. Also thanks to Aisling, Alex and Briony for cheering me on at the end and post-race treats!

My next race is Aberfeldy middle distance race in two weeks.

Jenwaar

Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon 2017

 

Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon 2017

Photo credit: Colin Henderson Photography

Friday morning my support crew Sam and Eilidh, and I drove to Sheildaig in preparation for Celtman. We headed straight to registration at Torridon Community Centre to register, had a quick lunch and then back to the community centre for race briefing. I saw a few friendly faces, we caught up and talked about our excitement for Celtman the following day.

Race briefing commenced with a short film of last year’s race, with a musician playing music that inspired him during his race at Celtman in 2015. It was inspiring and emotive, I nearly had a tear in my eye watching the film! This was followed by the Torridon Mountain Rescue Team, who support athletes during the mountainous part of the course. They are currently fundraising for new facilities, they are a vital volunteer team that save lives in the mountains in and around Torridon (including 17 Munro’s!). Please donate: http://www.torridonmrt.org.uk/

The rest of the race briefing was the usual do’s and don’ts as per the race pack. After leaving the race briefing my nerves well and truly kicked in! We arrived at the accommodation: I checked my bike over; had a quick spin and short run. I made up all my food ready for the race. We all had dinner and I was in bed by nine. Eating dinner was a real struggle, I was extremely nervous and quiet (very out of character). I don’t think I’ve ever been nervous the night before for a triathlon before. This race had such a big build up, seven months of training and sacrifices all for one day. I wasn’t even this nervous before my own wedding! I knew I could complete it but that didn’t settle my nerves. I was also a little worried about the weather, it was forecast for strong winds and rain all day.

I awoke at two, got ready and slowly forced myself to eat my bowl of porridge. I double checked, then tripled checked I had everything ready for transition. I was convinced I had forgotten something. Sam and I made it to transition, leaving Eilidh to sleep. I collected my GPS tracker and set up my bike and bag at transition. I stupidly forgot my midge spray (I was right) and got bitten lots in transition. I had about twenty fluid filled blisters a few days later! Sheildaig was a little windy and warm so I was optimistic about the weather. Once I got acquainted with my surroundings and my kit in transition, I got my wetsuit on and walked over to the swim pick up point on the other side of Sheildaig.

celtman

I saw Kevin who I did a recce of the bike course a few weeks earlier by the coaches and boarded the coach with him to the swim start. Sam waved us off. I was so lucky to sit by Kevin, he was chatting away, whilst I was so nervously thinking about the race. He was a great distraction, and put me at ease, thanks Kevin! The journey was short but once we were off the coach I felt an instant relief. I had a quick toilet stop, donned my neon pink Celtman swim cap and had a group hug from Andrew, Kevin and Robin (Celtman recce crew). Before I knew it… the Celtman sign was lit, bagpipes and drummers started playing, followed by a group photo before heading into the sea. The majestic start to Celtman that everyone sees on the videos and clips I didn’t really absorb or enjoy, I was too focused on getting in the water for the start on time. It all seemed like a blur looking back.

Photo credit: Alligin Photography

Once I was submerged in the water, I was pleasantly surprised how warm the water felt, in May on the recce it felt so cold. The water was still only 12-13 degrees but having a heat vest under the wetsuit and gloves on definitely helped or maybe it was also the adrenaline pumping through me. I made it to the start line between the canoes just in time and we were off. I was a little too wide at the start so initially felt quite far away from the front pack. For once I didn’t have my usual panicky start in the swim, I kept my cool and swam at a comfortable pace. I didn’t want to overdo it on the swim as I had a long day ahead. I was able to pick people off one by one, I could see the fast swimmers ahead so I was sighting them and the White House on the hill (as per race briefing instructions).

Photo credit: Steve Carter (I’m on the left looking at the rock/ tree with blue goggles)

The jellyfish appeared about 20-30minutes into the swim. There were so many however I was fortunate that they were about a metre below me, apart from one that touched my face, yuck! I actually found it quite fascinating watching hundreds of them swim below me, the water was so clear. I was mesmerised by the volume of jellyfish dancing beneath me, it was a great distraction. I found I was breathing every five so I could observe them all flout in the water. It was like they were performing and I would have been disappointed if I didn’t see them. They have become such an iconic part of the swim in the race.

Towards the end of the swim at Sheildaig the water got a little choppy but I managed a fast finish. I was assisted (yanked) out the water by one of the volunteers, thanks! I always get a dizzy feeling after a long swim from horizontal to vertical. Sam met me by the water, kept me steady and held my hand going up the ramp. Swim time one hour, twenty five seconds, I was aiming for under an hour but pleased as I felt really fresh for the bike and what’s a few seconds in a fifteen hour race?

Photo credit: Alligin Photography

Both Eilidh and Sam helped me out my wetsuit and into my cycling gear, I had a quick sip of hot chocolate, and was ready to go. Suddenly I started feeling this burning feeling on my neck. I had crazy neck burn which developed the following day into what looked like ligature marks around my neck and proceeded to scab over. Maybe I forgot to use my bodyglide? Luckily I had a long bike ride to distract me! Transition was 6 minutes, 17 seconds and whilst getting changed I was interviewed by one of the camera crews. It had started raining so started the bike with the waterproof on.

Neck burn!

Photo credit: Meg Jones (Just out of transition and on the bike)

Out of transition and onto the bike, the course starts with a short steep hill. The first twenty miles, to Kinlochewe, were quite challenging- the rain was lashing down with strong cross winds, I was barely on my TT bars even downhill as it felt so unstable and unsafe. Some parts I was clinging onto the bike, praying I wouldn’t fall off. A few competitors overtook me during this period but I couldn’t have gone any faster. I did manage to eat and drink well. My watch was only showing me my overall time but not my distance and pace. When my support crew appeared, I was getting them to work out my pace. As I had previously done on recce of the course I did have a fair idea of what distance I had done so I had a vague idea what pace I was doing. It wasn’t until I started the run I noticed I must have pressed my watch twice so my transition two time was actually my bike time, pants! When I first saw Sam and Eilidh it was about two hours into the cycle. I got them to pull over, I had drunk two bottles in 90 minutes, so had a quick toilet stop and swapped my bottles. The rain had stopped so took the waterproof off, as I was hot. The wind was an absolute killer, and the roads wet. I tried to go as fast as I could when it felt safe to do so.

Photo credit: Ross Millar

Just after Gairloch I caught up with American Parker, we were chatting prior to the race. I got him on the hills and he would pass me on the way down or flats. We had a little chit chat about the great Scottish weather and encouraged each other on. I didn’t see Parker after seeing the seals on the rocky beach by Little Gruinard. I also have to mention Parker’s partner she was full of cheer and support on the bike course thanks!

Photo Credit: Ross Millar

Second quick stop, for the loo and topped up my food and drink. I was feeling a little tetchy, I hadn’t eaten enough so after a talking to by the team, I ate as much as I could stomach. It really helped and I felt good going over the last of the big hills. From mile 70 the pace slowed down, the cross winds were strong, I just kept peddling and eating when I could. I stopped for a third time, kept needing the loo, I was drinking lots as I did really struggle eating. Both Sam and Eilidh were great at giving me updates, encouragement and making me eat during a pee stop. My stops only lasted 1-2minutes so I was speedy and back on the bike quickly.

Photo credit: Ross Millar

After mile 100 I had well and truly bonked. It was raining again and the head wind was so strong (20mph). I had my emergency cheese twist and thought I was going to be sick. I got lots of support from my team and other support crews as they drove past. I kept drinking, having gels and eating when I could. I had Eilidh’s voice going round my head, “you have to keep eating and drinking”. Bananas went down easily so kept eating them. I was genuinely worried I couldn’t finish the race and felt awful, cold and was in a ‘dark place’. I loathed my bike at this point. I didn’t want to stop as I thought I wouldn’t get back on my bike. It felt like other athletes were flying pass me, when I was almost at a standstill. The last twenty miles were tough and more about survival. I knew at this point, it was unlikely I would get to the check point for the blue t-shirt time. Surprisingly, in the last 3-4miles on the bike I got a second wind, felt alright and went as fast as I could towards transition.

Photo credit: Alligin Photography

When I got to transition cars were turning around and blocking the road, I had to go between cars and cycled up the ramp to finish. My bike time was 8hrs 25mins, I was disappointed and I know I could have gone quicker but the conditions were horrid and I should have eaten more on the bike. My goal was 8 hours. I’ve also got to stop being so harsh on myself, only a few weeks before I cycled my first hundred miles on the bike and last year I hadn’t cycled more than sixty miles. I am still relatively new to triathlon and this was my first long distance event. I met Eilidh in transition two, had a quick change of shoes, toilet stop and we commenced running together. I spotted other athletes with fold up chairs, changing. I was pretty jealous, whilst I looked and felt like Bambi on ice changing my shoes.

The heavens had well and truly opened, the rain was lashing down. It felt amazing to be off the bike and running. Eilidh informed me that no one was going across the mountain because the conditions weren’t safe so everyone was doing the lower course. The run starts with a long hill up Coulin pass, I was picking off people up the hill and was the only competitor running all the way to the top of the hill. That was down to Eilidh pushing me and distracting me from my groin pain, that settled after a couple of miles.

Down the hill the path was a mud bath, I was so glad I had trail shoes on. Eilidh kept me going and telling me to eat and drink. I was having small sips if water and gels when told. We both knew after the hill it was unlikely I was able to run a personal best run time to make the blue t-shirt cut off of 11 hours to Transition 2A(T2A). I felt alright so kept a steady pace to T2A, so my race plan changed to trying to get the best white t-shirt time and enjoying the race. I got to T2A in 11hours 14mins 55secs, 15mins short! I had my mandatory stop for two minutes for a kit check and I ate a banana. A few of the volunteers for Celtman were from Edinburgh triathletes and I had a quick chat before I set off for the second part of the run.

In the second part of the run, I was feeling good, running up the trail and walking only at steep or rocky parts. The trail was really water logged and felt like we were gorge walking and river crossing rather than running. I started to get cold at this point as I couldn’t run due to nature of the course and we were completely soaked. We both swapped our wet tops for dry tops and put on our waterproofs, hat and gloves (I was so glad of my mandatory kit!). I didn’t think we realised how cold we were until we did this!

Photo credit: Alligin Photography (looking tired)

Along the ‘trail’ we regularly passed the Torridon mountain rescue teams, cheering us on and providing us with homemade cakes and gummy bears thank you! We also passed a bag piper playing in the pouring rain which kept my spirits up, thanks!

Photo credit: Alligin Photography

My pace slowed but when we got closer to the road the trail became a path so started running again. Back on the road I was overtaking the runners that overtook me on the rocky parts of the path, most were walking and I ran all the way to the finish. The rain finally stopped during the last couple of miles and Torridon looked beautiful.

When I saw the finish after the last hill I sprinted to the finish. I was so elated and sore, and so very glad to have finished! I hugged Eilidh, then John (race organiser and Edinburgh Triathletes coach) and Mandy (fellow ET member and John’s wife). It was wonderful seeing friendly faces at the finish. Sadly, Sam missed my finish. I received my beer from John- I completed Celtman!! Overall time 14hours 37minutes, 47secsonds, little disheartened I didn’t make the cut off for the blue t-shirt but I wasn’t far off. This was my first long distance and extreme triathlon in awful conditions. It didn’t go to race plan but I kept going and finished.

Post Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Post-race, we all had a meal at the community centre-macaroni cheese- and caught up with other finishers and volunteers. I was even talking about doing the race again to get the elusive blue t-shirt! We headed back shortly afterwards for a shower and set off back to Edinburgh. I was going on holiday the next day. Sadly, I couldn’t go to the ceremony the next day but received my white Celtman finishers top before I left. Celtman was a truly amazing experience. This race is a community of friendly like-minded nutters, like no other. I’ve enjoyed the whole journey from training, to the organisng and the race itself. It really did live up to expectation despite the weather, typical Scotland!

Me and Andrew post Celtman

I honestly couldn’t have done it without Sam and Eilidh, they kept my spirits up and supported me amazingly throughout the day.  I need to thank my coach Barron for his support and training plans. My friends and family, I have to thank you for all your encouragement and understanding this year. A special mention for Sam who has supported me during these last seven months of training, including lots of early 5am alarm starts and mood swings from hunger after training. I can’t thank you enough, I’m a lucky lady!

Dream Team!

 

Now a month on from the race, I definitely want to return, surely it can’t be bad weather two years on the trot?

Go pro Video of my Celtman race coming soon.

Jenwaar

 

 

 

 

 

May Training update

May Training Update 

May has been a busy month! Big birthday, big training sessions and weekends away! I’ve been a very lucky and busy lady.


Big Birthday….So a few days ago I turned the big 3 0! I’m excited to be in my thirties, just worried
 how quickly the last few years have gone! I’ve been spoiled rotten with a surprise trip to Copenhagen with one of my close friends Naomi, trip to Las Vegas, LA and San Francisco in June, meals out and my birthday party at Musselburgh races last week. I’m so lucky to have such wonderful friends, family and husband. Thank you for all your love and generosity!!

Big tra
ining sessions… less than two weeks to Celtman, I feel ready to race, I think training has gone well, my fitness has vastly improved over the last few months and I just want to complete it now!

Over the last few weeks, once a week I have a long brick session usually consists of a bike ride followed by a run. Progressively over the weeks the distance and time has got longer and longer. During the longer rides and runs I have been asking friends to come along with me for support. A few members of the triathlon club also have upcoming Ironman or long-distance events and have been keen to join me, thankfully! Although on the race day I will be by myself, during training it helps to have a friend to keep moral and make the training more fun. Thanks for th
e support everyone especially Sam, Zoe, Laura and Carrie!

At the start of May, I finally got time trial (TT) bars on my bike and a bike fit with Edinburgh Bike Fitting. I don’t know why I was ever scared of getting TT bars, I find the position comfortable and not as unstable as I thought. I feel I am faster on the bike especially with a head wind. I may even buy a TT bike in the future. 

In May, I have been trying to focus on doing my long runs on trails and hills and at least one open water swim a week. I have been running mostly on the Pentland hills or up Arthur’s seat to try and mimic race conditions. I’ve also managed to keep up my open water swims every week, even on holiday in Copenhagen without a wetsuit in fourteen degrees sea dock water (it wasn’t a long swim)!

Early May I went up to the north of Scotland to Sheildaig, to recce some of the Celtman course with my husband Sam. I met up with other competitors over the weekend, Robin, Kevin and Andrew. On the Saturday, we cycled the bike route (plus a little more), my longest bike ride to date 135miles! On race day, it will be 127miles. Sam joined us for the first hundred miles, and Robin for the first forty due to work commitments.

We were very lucky with the weather with only a sprinkle of rain but mostly a cloudy dry day.  The first part of the route takes you along the west coast, it’s a beautiful coast, and we even spotted seals sunbathing on the beach! After mile 75-80mile the route takes you back inland, it is less hilly but we were hit with a brutal head wind for about 20-25miles. Kevin’s wife Louise was practising supporting Kevin driving the course and stopping at lay bays. We were fortunate to be able to give our drinks and food to Louise, and top up when we stopped. I was able to practice eating and drinking regularly on the bike. We stopped three times in total to refuel, it took us just over eight hours in total. 

On Sunday early morning, I had a quick dip in the sea at Sheildaig with Andrew and Kevin. This is where we will be coming out of the water on race day. The water was cold but once I was fully submerged and swimming I warmed up. The water temper
ature was cold but living in Scotland I’m used to it, so not too shocking for me. I have been told about jellyfish during the race. That morning there were no jellyfish but I have been warned they come in June. I will definitely be wearing gloves, I really don’t want to touch their slimy bodies!

After breakfast, we headed over to transition two (T2) to complete part of the run course. The first section of the run is called Coulin Pass, its 18km. This section starts with a gradual hill for the first few kilometres, followed by a downhill and fairly flat to Transition 2A (T2A). From T2A the run starts climbing up Be
inn Eighe. Unusually, there are two transitions on the run T2 and T2A. The second transition you are checked to see if you’re fit enough to go over the mountain and also a time limit cut off for the race. The first limit is 11 hours (blue t-shirt) from race start to completion of the full mountain course and 13 hours (white t-shirt) for the lower mountain course. After 13 hours, you have to stop the race. We took the run fairly leisurely, my legs were very tired from the ride the day before. After the run, we headed home. Ideally, I would have gone up Beinn Eighe to get an idea for race day but didn’t have enough time. Thankfully I have a support runner to help read the map and guide us up the mountain on race day.

It was a successful weekend and it was great meeting fellow competitors, Celtman triathlon has a real family feel to it, supportive rather than competitive. It gave me a real confidence boost, I now know I can complete the bike course (my biggest worry). Being faced with Beinn Eighe Mountain however, looked very daunting! I am fully aware I will be walking some of the marathon on the climb up the mountain.

With only two weeks left, I’ve now started my taper before the race. Tapering is basically when you reduce your training load over a period of time leading up to a race. Aiming to recover from training fatigue and maximise race day freshness.The key is to cut back your mileage, but to maintain training intensity (not to stop or relax). I am actually finding it strange reducing training but enjoying the extra time. However, that is being filled with race preparation, ha!

Overall, I am excited about the race and looking forward to putting the last seven months of training to good use!

My next blog post should hopefully be me celebrating finishing the race. Not long now, eeeeekkkkkkk!!!

Jenwaar

April Training update

It’s actually quite scary how quick this year is going! I can’t quite believe it’s May and only six weeks till Celtman! I am excited, worried and scared – all at the same time. It’s the final push and my training swims, rides, runs and brick sessions are getting longer and longer!

 April’s distances: I swam 22.3miles, cycled 207.5miles (not including turbo sessions) and ran 99.1miles. During April I swam and ran more and cycled less but I think that was down to racing twice in April. This will certainly change in May, looking at my training plan!

I completed a couple of races in April; East Fife Sprint triathlon and Great Edinburgh Run, (see my previous post for the race reports), I now have no more races until Celtman so I will be concentrating on the long-distance training.

In April, I went back to blonde, the blue has gone (for now ha!). I prefer being lighter but not really sure what colour I will go next!

 I’ve been reading lots of blogs from previous competitors of Celtman, and trying to find tips about the course. I’ve been really inspired by all their posts and it’s spurred me on in my training. Many people have mentioned the jelly fish in the Loch, I am dreading touching their slimy bodies on race day. Throughout all the posts I’ve read, everyone has thoroughly enjoyed the race and highly recommended doing it, which is reassuring.

I have been buying kit for the race, and starting to use them in training. Due to the nature of the race, I am required to have mandatory kit. During the run I have to run with a bag containing kit, food and water. I’ve been practising running with my bag with full kit, in preparation, and practising eating and drinking whilst running.

 Training has gone much better now the weather has improved. Last week was my first open water swimming session. I organised a social swim with members of Edinburgh Triathletes at Threipmuir reservoir in the Pentlands. It was a very windy day. The normally calm reservoir was very wavy, with almost sea like conditions! Lots of club members came and managed a short swim, it was very cold, I’m glad I had my extra heat vest under my wetsuit!

May training is getting quite intense, lots of long brick sessions, increasing every week. I’m practising what I plan to eat during the race, I’m awful at eating and exercising but definitely need to eat as I will be exercising all day!

Jenwaar

 

Great Edinburgh Run Race Report 2017

Great Edinburgh Run Report 2017

The Great Edinburgh Run is one of my favourite races. It’s my fourth consecutive year completing the run.  I may be a little biased, as I live in Edinburgh, but the route is a scenic hilly run through the heart of this wonderful city.

Sunday, I woke up feeling fresh after a good night’s sleep. I had my usual pre-race breakfast (porridge, blueberries and golden syrup / honey) and left the house. I’m fortunate to live close to the race and walked to the start line, meeting my friend Tiffany along the way. The sun was shining and I then realised I forgot my sunglasses. It was too late to go home to retrieve them, the same error I made last year!

We managed to get to the start line with a few minutes to spare and joined in the group warm up. We were in separate waves and parted ways. This year the run had a shorter five-mile route as well as the usual ten-miler. The short run had an earlier start at 9.30am and 10.10am for the longer route.  We were penned in our waves on the grass and when the start was ready, moved onto the road. I found this difficult to work out how to get near to the front and ended up nearly at the back.

I had no plan or time in mind for this race… my training has been focused towards long distance, keeping heart rate low and slower pace for Celtman (think Duracell bunny). I decided I would just run how I felt on the day, practice pacing and try and get close to last years’ time.

My start wasn’t great, the first couple of miles I was running around other competitors. The roads and paths in this section are quite narrow and it was hard to pass. Once I got to the first hill up the royal mile from the Scottish Parliament building, many runners started to space out and slow pace so I was able to get pass and settle into my own race.

After the first hill, I was so relieved that I decided to wear shorts instead of tights, the sun was shining and I was already feeling hot. The course no longer goes along Princes Street up the mound. Instead you go up Market Street, a steep hill by the mound. To make up the extra distance, the race now has loop through the meadows. My friend Eilidh was cheering me on at this stage, it was great to see a friendly face.

The half way point mile five goes through Grassmarket, lots of supporters and bemused tourist were cheering and clapping everyone on. I felt really good at this point, I looked down at my watch and I was keeping 7min 15secs pace I decided to try and keep this pace. I knew the next hill would be tough, it’s a steep start followed by a long incline up The Pleasance to the Royal Commonwealth pool. I got to the mile six sign and looked at my watch 44minutes.

After the long incline of mile six, you are rewarded with couple of miles downhill along the railway path to Duddingston village. I kept my pace steady, ready for the last hill of the course. From Duddingston village, the hill commences with wonderful views across South Edinburgh. At this point a few fellow runners around me started flagging and I encouraged them to keep going.

The last mile is downhill with a short flat dash to the finish. I just let my legs go and ran my fastest mile on my Strava! I finished strong with a sprint finish to the line.

My time; 1 hour 12minutes 5seconds, a personal best, 1min 35secs quicker than last year. Not much difference but last year I really pushed it and felt it! This year I finished feeling fresh, comfortable and I felt I could have run further after the race. I was pleasantly surprised I was 11th Female overall and 8th in my female age group.

Tiffany also did really well, with a personal best. We celebrated after by having a roast dinner and a catch up!

The Great Edinburgh run again this year was well organised, with a good atmosphere and well supported along most of the course. This year I noticed they stopped the iconic bagpipers at each mile, I missed them and also the finisher’s bag didn’t have any solid food just water and a yoghurt breakfast drink. I need some sort of substance after a race. Overall I would definitely recommend this race, hopefully next year I can get below 1 hour 10mins.

Jenwaar

East Fife Sprint Triathlon

East Fife Sprint Triathlon

I woke up Sunday morning feeling tired, and with a sore tummy, not a great start for a race! After breakfast, I did feel a little better, I worked Friday night and I hadn’t quite caught up on sleep. My husband Sam wasn’t feeling great either but that could be down to race day nerves. It was his first ever triathlon!

We arrived in Cupar early, registered and racked up in transition. This was a pool based swim, unusually the swim heats were not in the traditional slowest swimmers first to the fastest in the final heat. They changed the format, the fastest two heats went first followed by the two slowest and then the two heats in between. Sadly, this meant I wouldn’t see Sam swim but I would see him finish the race.

Photo credit; Mac Images Active Lifestyle Photography

After race briefing, I went straight to the pool as I was in the first heat. Pool side nerves kicked in especially when everyone else about you is wearing Scotland and Great Britain age group team tri suits! Once I started I felt fine, the lanes were pretty crowded with 6 in each lane. The swim was a bit of a disaster, I was third in my lane it took a few lengths before I was in front. The swimmer behind me touching my leg and I moved over (as per race instructions) but then she would swim slower after that, basically kept swapping between 3-4 of us. Some of the athletes got a bit vicious with the leg pulling and I didn’t want to go all out on the swim so dropped to second or third in the lane and drafted. In hindsight, I should have gone a bit faster to begin with, then settled into the swim rather than swim at my long-distance pace in preparation for Celtman. Swim time 11mins 50secs but I was aiming for 11mins, but considering what happened I was pleasantly surprised it wasn’t slower.

  Photo credit: Chris Wallard Photography

Out of the pool and into transition when it got was a pretty heated between two athletes in my swim lane. I kept my cool and got out of transition as soon as I could. T1 time, 1min 35secs.

Photo credit; Mac Images Active Lifestyle Photography

I felt pretty fresh after the swim, and jumped on my bike out of Duffus park. The first part of the bike race was on a gravely path before getting onto the road and straight up a long steep hill. The course has a two loop around Moonzie and then back down the big hill at the start. I really enjoyed the course, mixture of hills and flat sections, apart from the strong head wind on the A92! I passed a couple of people cycling up the hill and kept my pace. No one overtook me, which is really unusual! I definitely feel I have made vast improvements on the bike and managed an 18.9mph average! My bike time 47mins 54secs- super pleased. Transition two was uneventful, T2 time 52secs.

Photo credit; Mac Images Active Lifestyle Photography

The run course was one lap, 4.7km. Out of the car park and up a long hill for the first couple of kilometres. Surprisingly, it was sunny in Scotland and I actually felt hot in just my tri suit! The run route took us through a farm and along a closed road back to Duffus park to the finish. My legs were pretty tired, one of my club members overtook me towards the end and I couldn’t keep up with him. Run time 20minutes 55secs.

Photo credit: Rose Campbell

After the race I got to see Sam finish his bike leg and cheer him on during the run and finish. He did really well and I’m super proud, however I don’t think I can convince him yet to compete in another triathlon anytime soon.

Overall my race went well… I was fifth female and second senior female! My first ever podium and most likely last, total surprise! My total time was 1 hour 23minutes 7secs. The race was well organised, the volunteers and marshals very friendly. I have a few areas for me to improve on but overall the race was a success. My next race is Edinburgh Great run on 23rd April.

Jenwaar

March Training Update

March Training update

Less than 3 months away from Celtman (OMG!!!).  I’m starting to get excited but on the whole a nervous wreck! Race day is slowly creeping up, I keep wondering why I even entered? I do know why… I love a challenge and to push myself (maybe too much). I am really enjoying training (most days), but keep having moments of self doubt.

This month the volume of training has increased. In March I swam 16.2 miles, cycled 325.3miles (not including turbo sessions) and ran 82.8miles.

Run and bike sessions, especially, have been further and longer. Swimming is the same, one to three sessions a week. I have noticed I am swimming slightly slower and weaker in the pool but I will be cycling and running much longer during the race so need to concentrate on these disciplines more.   I’ve been having a mixture of mainly good but a few bad or tired days/sessions.  I am feeling a lot fitter, I’ve lost weight and my times in training are getting quicker.

My main problem is getting the right balance between, work, training, and sleeping. Shift work can work in my favour sometimes, such as having more days off from work. It can also work against it as 12.5 hour shifts, mean I can only do a short session that day. My shift pattern is irregular and I can work a mixture of nights and days in the same week, with interrupted and little sleep. Not so great with training. I am trying to get more sleep, with at least 6 hours but aiming for 8 hours most nights or days.

In March I have been starting brick sessions, doing back to back sessions to imitate the race. Brick training refers to the stacking of two disciplines during the same workout, one after the other with minimal to no interruption in between. It is really essential to practice this prior the race. The brick sessions so far have mainly consisted of long bike ride followed by a short brick run. Over the next few weeks, the bike and runs will be further distances and also adding in a swim session.

This week I bought some trail shoes, I will start running on trails and hills to mimic race conditions… two Munroes, I’m sweating just thinking about it! I’m quite excited about getting out and exploring hills and trails, rather than running on roads and urban areas.

In April training sessions are longer and more brick sessions. I have my next triathlon at East Fife and would like to improve from Tranent triathlon. Now the weather is starting to get warmer, I hope to start open water swimming sessions.

 

Jenwaar

Tranent Sprint Triathlon

Edinburgh University Tranent Sprint Triathlon

Tranent Sprint Triathlon is a popular race which sells out each year with a long waiting list. Finally, this year I got my act together and entered as soon as entry was live. It is a well-established race hosted by Edinburgh University Triathlon.

First race of the season, I was excited and little nervous at breakfast. My wake up wasn’t too early as the race is fairly local. I really didn’t have any expectations, time or goal for the race, which maybe I should have… I kept having random thoughts such as; I’ve been running at zone two pace (running slower for aerobic endurance) and heartrate for most my runs the last three months I wondered if I could run faster? Should I go all out at the swim? Will I be able to sprint the whole race when I’ve been training for endurance? I think it was just race nerves but having some sort of plan may have helped. I decided to see how I felt at the start and have fun.

Being so close to home, lots of the Edinburgh triathlete club members compete. I think we had a head count of about twenty-ish of us, all in purple. Seeing so many other club members always puts me at ease on race day. I can talk over my race day nerves, discuss the course, kit and tactics etc. The support is also great, cheering each other on and celebrating PB’s and podium places.

I arrived at Tranent for 8am to register and set up in transition, briefing was at 8.30am and the race started at 9am. The swim is in a pool, you are placed in heats on your predicted swim time. The longer swim times swim first with the quickest in the last heat. There were eight heats, I was in heat seven which didn’t start till 11.25am so had a long wait. I just relaxed, chatted with other club mates and cheered on others who started before me.

When my heat was called up, I was quite relieved and just wanted to get on with the race. 750metres in a 25metre pool, 30 lengths in total. Each lane had five swimmers, each of us had a coloured cap to wear. The caps represented which order in the lane you started in. I was the fourth swimmer in my lane. From looking at my heat prior to race I noted my whole lane had the same predicted time. I usually put a slower time, so if I wasn’t feeling great on the day I don’t feel overwhelmed by my predicted time. Once we started I felt at ease and within four lengths of the pool I was the first swimmer in the lane. After a few lengths I lost count, I looked down at my watch and realised it was in open swim mode, oops. Luckily there are marshals counting for me but I couldn’t really predict how fast I was swimming so I went at a comfortable pace until I was told it was my last two lengths by the marshal and sprinted the last 50 metres. I jumped out the pool, and cautiously ran downstairs and outside to transition. Swim time; 11mins 41 secs, little disappointed as I know I can swim faster but a solid time.

Transition one was quite quick for me; helmet, shoes, socks and bike on and off I went. Transition one time; 1min 33secs.

The bike course is 12miles, fairly hilly route through Elphinstone, towards Cousland and Ormiston, back to Tranent. I did a recce of the bike course in the run up to the race, unfortunately, it is not a closed road event and there are two sets of traffic lights. This year at the four-way traffic lights (second set of lights) organisers arranged to have the path over the bridge reserved for competitors so you didn’t have to stop at the lights.

Sadly, in addition to the one set of permanent traffic lights, the local council had commenced some roadworks with temporary traffic lights in Ormiston. Marshals were at the roadworks, if you got stopped, they took down your number and deducted the time of your wait at the lights from your total cycle time. I got stopped at the roadworks for about 60-80seconds, at this point I got cold from the wait and it did interrupt momentum somewhat.

When I started on the bike, the heavens decided to open and as I am quite a timid cyclist at the best of times I went as fast as I felt safe. Once I got back to transition my hands and feet were numb. Why did I think competing in just a tri-suit in March was a good idea? I was fairly pleased with my bike ride as I’ve improved so much in the last twelve months however my bike time wasn’t amended! Bike time; 38minutes 16secs.

Transition two was uneventful, T2 time; 1min 5secs.

The five kilometre run route was a double loop of the local housing estate. I was pretty cold after the bike so was looking forward to warming up on the run. I managed to keep a steady pace and my feet warmed up quiet quickly. I was pleasantly surprised I could keep up a faster pace despite my zone two worries. Run time; 22mins 50secs.

The race was a success and it was nice to get back into racing. I was fourth female overall and third in my age group, my total time was1 hour 15mins 28secs. Looking back at my previous results my last sprint triathlon was at Hawick 2015 and my overall time was 1 hour 25mins 15secs so a massive PB, super pleased.

I really enjoyed the race, it was well organised and had a very relaxed atmosphere. All competitors, volunteers and marshals were very friendly and encouraging. Apart from the wait to start the race (unavoidable) and my bike time not being amended, I would highly recommend this race especially for your first ever triathlon. Well done to all the Edinburgh triathletes especially Eilidh Yates for winning overall female and Lynn Hanley for winning female super Veteran.

My next race is East Fife sprint on 9th April. This will be my husband’s first triathlon, so really, I’m supporting him but hopefully I can improve my times.

Jenwaar