Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Aviemore triathlon " The long hard durty"

I was overwhelmed with the support I got after publishing my last blog “And then the wheels came off”on my website. From experienced coaches to close friends and acquaintances, I received messages from all over the world which felt like a massive huge hug. It took me a while to get to terms with the idea that although we were only in July my international racing season was over. My training was cut in half and there were words like “sleep, snooze, take a nap” taking over my training program. High intensity training was replaced by easy work outs. Nico ‘s words put a smile on my face though : Tuesday : swim squad : but only gliding, I want you to do all this week really slow, I mean like the old lady with the flowers swim caps !!!”  With his light hearted approach I started to accept that this was what needed to happen, regardless of what I wanted to happen.
Fynn enjoying my "easier" training
With every door that closes there is one that opens and with a lot more free time on my hands I started to enjoy long easy rides and runs with friends in the Scottish hills and introducing Michael to what MTBing is all about. Not racing overseas meant that I had the time to explore the local trails on the weekends and learned that “Epic” is the Scottish word for “Insane” whilst checking out the “Epic MTB rides of Scotland” involving some of the most gnarly, steep, rocky, trails I have ever ridden. At one point I was worried I was going to lose my boyfriend one way or another!
Michael suffering after 3hrs of climbing on one of the "Epic" Scottish rides

Not being able to completely let go of my season failures and being a racer at heart, I searched the internet for some races around Scotland. I had great experiences with Durty events before which made me return to their website. From MTB races, trail runs to off road triathlons and multi sport races they cover almost anything for everyone at any level. Fellow Scottish athlete Rory Downie himself was a big fan of the races saying that anything to do with Paul from Durty events meant that the course would be more than just a challenge. He advised me to race the Aviemore triathlon, so with mixed feelings wether I would be up to it or not I entered. “you will love the course” Rory said and I trusted my friends judgement.
The beauty of my back yard

I hadn’t raced or done any intensity training since Xterra France July 6 so I felt a little under prepared when I arrived at the Badaguish Centre near Aviemore where the race was held. Durty events are a truly professional company and all the instructions were easy to follow, the volunteers were friendly and helpful and the atmosphere was bubbly and inviting.  I hadn’t checked out the course and I overheard people saying how technical one part of the bike leg was. I had a slightly arrogant attitude towards this being presented with brutal MTB courses on the Xterra European circuit. But these guys weren’t wrong, there was one section in the course involving steep muddy descents, hair pin corners and plenty of handle bars attracting tree roots and rocks. A recce of the bike leg would have been highly beneficial for my bike time!!
I was nervously waiting for the start of the race, not knowing how this all would go down, where I was at or how my body would feel during the race. Michael and dog Fynn were quietly watching me for moral support. My heart stopped when we were told the water was only 11 degrees and I was told post-race that that was a positive measurement. “I am going to die” I mumbled to myself. I didn’t die, quite the opposite, my swimming had improved with leaps and bounces in the pool and for the first time I managed to put it into practice during an open water swim. Instead of feeling like a spastic in the water I felt like a real swimmer! and even though I couldn't feel my body in the freezing water I actually enjoyed the swim!!
Fynn getting used to sharing the car with bikes

Coming out of the loch I was so cold I felt like I was in slow motion taking off my wetsuit. I heard Michael’s supportive words “great swim”. On the bike and I talked to myself, relax, eat drink. Still probably way to tense I didn’t manage to eat, I felt a bit nauseas but I made sure I drank. I passed quite a few people in the first half of the bike leg until I was alone and raced by myself most of the way to the finish line. It felt good, I could set my own pace, not feeling pressured or disheartened by people passing me. I loved the course and the supportive words from people along the trails. I knew I wouldn’t have any speed on the run without the appropriate training and that it was going to hurt. I tried to find a pace I could hold but struggled a bit. Being an out and back course the front guys were coming back whilst I was climbing up and the cheers from them were awesome! It was only then that I found out I was in the lead and at the turn around point I decided to try push a little harder on the way down as the 2nd girl 2014 Celtman winner Marie Meldrum wasn’t that far behind. Hurt box! Very happy to see the finish line I was relieved I managed to hold it together, and I finished with a little (not much) left in the tank. It was good to be able to prove to myself that I could still win a race. I had a celebrity moment when James Hodge, a fellow athlete, introduced himself to me as one of my “twitter followers”. “It’s lovely to meet you in person” he smiled.

Having a laugh with champ Marie Meldrum at prize giving
I am still nowhere near where I should be and this victory didn’t make me resume to the  hectic racing schedule I had just wiped out. Baby steps. For the rest of the season I will stay in Scotland, enjoy a lighter training schedule, hanging out with friends, racing on home ground, learning to relax. I have even booked a holiday in the Southern Spanish mountains in November. One of the first holidays in 4 years unrelated to a sporting event. With endless MTB trails to explore I won’t be able to leave the bike at home though!!


Its great to have companies in Scotland like Durty Events organising awesome races, with great courses involving lovely outdoor people. A big thanks to all the organisers, volunteers and competitors involved. I look forward to racing more of these type of events!!

"Close some doors today. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because they lead you nowhere" Paulo Coelho



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