The year started with so much promise, a trail race booked for mid January in an attempt to finally get over the post Ironman blues and rediscover my love for training. Almost a whole year later I’ve finished the year with my 2nd race of the year doing the Llandeilo New Years Eve 10 mile (race review to come). In between those 2 races there has been a lot of false starts with training, a protracted move to Wales where I found myself living a single persons life Monday to Friday in AirBnB’s and a rekindled love for cycling.
After the Naunton Nearly 19 in January I started making race plans for the year as you do in the post race endorphin high. Pencilling in revisiting the half ironman distance again for a crack at a PB, some longer trail races and maybe even a marathon PB attempt in the Autumn. A job offer in February that triggered our move to Wales and a realisation that stress at work and a house move weren’t a good combination meant all those plans were quickly shelved.
Instead the year has been about just enjoying being active again without the pressure of preparing for races. Learning to take a step out the front door in the mornings and simply move. Plus trying to get some adventures fitted in (although in June I got a bit more adventure than I planned!). What I hadn’t planned for was developing a real love for cycling (both road and more recently mountain biking).
It certainly helps living on the edge of the Brecon Beacons with miles of quiet roads that generally have a good surface. Roads that come with glorious views and challenging climbs but alas lacking in many cafe stops. The first few weeks being here on my own were hard, the cycling was fun but there is no such thing as a flat ride around here! Slowly I found my hill legs and from then it was a joy. The huge perk of living like a single person in the week was being able to get home from work and head straight back out for a 2 hour ride. I spent lunch times plotting routes on Strava ready for the evening and working out which new climb to challenge myself on (including my first of the Top 100 climbs in the form of the Black Mountain).
One of the AirBnB’s I stayed in just happened to be next to the trail head at Afan Forest (pure coincidence obvious), so I dusted off my long ignored Mountain Bike and rode some single track for the first time in probably 10 years. It was a blast! Heart pumping, legs burning, scary myself bouncing over rocks. Fabulous. I’d forgotten how much fun dirt riding can be and while I got some funny looks in my Morvelo road lycra I didn’t care and hit the trails 3 times that week. In fact I enjoyed it so much that last month I took advantage of the Cycle to Work scheme and bought myself a shiny new Sonder Frontier 29er. There are 3 small trail centers within 25 mins of our new house so lots of options to get my fix of mud (once my collar bone heals after a full superman impression over the handlebars last time out!).
Which brings me to today’s race, 10 gloriously hilly (320m of ascent) miles with 300 other people, cheap entry and a free buff! What’s not to like? Today felt good, I felt strong and able to push for the first time in a while. No coincidence that I got myself a coach for the first time just over a month ago (will blog about that also soon). Got back to some consistent training and kept accountable for completing each session per the plan.
I go into 2019 full of optimism, the new coaching relationship will hopefully help me progress in my performances while also keeping some of those adventures in the schedule (bike packing in the summer already on the list). Race wise I’ve booked the St Illtyds 50km in May plus a couple of warm up races. For triathlon I’m planning to do the Olympic distance for the first time as the training time needed is more achievable, probably Cardiff and one other. I’m also pacing my wife at the Marathon Hebrides in August for our wedding anniversary (as you do). That’s it for now. Leaving plenty of room for adventure and any races that inspire me.
How was your 2018? What’s are your plans for the New Year?