Cotswold Classic race review

It’s official, I’m a triathlete! Cotswold Classic middle distance triathlon – done. Another bucket list race ticked off, although as ever when you complete a challenge you’ve been building towards for a while it feels a little anti climatic. I probably spent more time getting my kit prepped for the race than actually doing the race, not to mention the many many hours of training. However (and I’ll whisper this quietly) despite saying after the race I’m not doing another one again I think I might add this race to my calendar for next year also.

I thought just doing the race would scratch the triathlon itch, but having done it I think I have a real chance to go quicker by making a few simple changes. I generally come away from races happy that I’ve done the best I can but this time it’s really nagging at me to have another crack. My plan was to try to improve my marathon time next year so we’ll have to see how it fits in.

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Who needs a race?

Completing any endurance challenge is as much about being strong in the mind as strong in the body. You have to go into the race with the mind set that you can do it, you can complete the challenge. Even if that requires you to lie to yourself a little about the reality of how prepared you are or even how capable you are. All through training for this triathlon I’ve been telling myself that it’s ok that my first triathlon will be a half ironman, that I’ve done plenty of big challenges now so my body knows how to get through it.

But I’ll be honest Mr ‘I’ve done 2 ultra marathons so a triathlon will be easy’ freaked out and panicked. Often happens as you approach the end of a training plan but still not something to ignore a month out from race day. Which is how I ended up standing next to the lake last week with my brother and 2 of his mates ready to do our own Olympic distance triathlon.

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When it starts to get real

I’m at that point in my training where race day is looming and the doubts are setting in, 6 weeks to go until my first ever triathlon and all I can think is I haven’t done enough cycling. Or running. Or swimming. Although I am probably more worried about the cycling, I can do the distance but not sure on speed, whereas my run target time is way below my PB so should hopefully be reasonably comfortable. But is that going to matter if I slowly grind to a halt on the ride? Argghhhhh!

Turbo trainer in the garden to fit it all in

I try to remind myself that I’ve done as much as my training budget will allow, sure I probably could have pushed harder in some sessions but by and large I’ve ticked off every session I planned and have made a huge change to my swimming and cycling fitness. But still, reality bites sometimes doesn’t it? That’s ok as long as I get a grip before race day arrives, you can’t go into these kind of endurance events with doubts can you? You have to be confident (and realistic of course) in your abilities.

Do I sound like I believe myself?

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Maximising your training budget

Chrissie Wellington wrote a great blog post a few months ago called Juggling Balls all about how to fit training for a triathlon around your work and personal lives. We all know that we have to manage around the other priorities in our lives and as much as we’d like to train whenever we want few of us have that luxury, but hearing a former pro triathlete talk through the decisions she’d had to make really resonated with me (incidentally it’s rare to find someone who is both a top athlete and a good writer so do recommend you have a read of her blog).

Being mentally committed to your training is so important and reading her blog made me face up to the realities of my training and what realistic goals I should be setting myself for my half Ironman in August. When a challenge feels too big it’s easy to avoid facing up to the reality of the training you need to do and not set good goals.

Chinese philosophers came up with Yin and Yang to symbolise the 2 opposite forces in our lives but when it comes to training there are (quite aptly) 3 competing forces you have to balance; work, family and training. All 3 pull you in different directions and you need to find a way to balance them if you are to be successful and I generally find it’s hard to achieve what you want in one area without also achieving in the others.

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One month to go

Exactly one month from today I shall be (hopefully) finishing that little race I’ve signed up for. *whispers* you know the one that involves crossing Scotland from coast to coast. Which means I’m at that point before a big challenge where I’m part excited and part in denial about exactly what I’m going to do.

I’m also having a small panic over whether I’m fit enough, I think I am but the cycling still worries me as I haven’t done as much as I would have liked. Work has limited my plans for evening rides, not to mention the 2 weeks of travel to the USA. But this was also why I found myself setting an alarm for 5.30am today to get out for a 2 hour ride before work. The advantage of working from home 1 day a week is I can be a bit flexible with start times on those days and not worry about commuting to the office.

My legs felt terrible all the way around the ride, but when I got back it was not only my highest average speed (16 MPH) but also the longest at 28 miles. Not even halfway to the distance I’ll do in the race but good to know that even when feeling that my legs have no energy I can do a good pace and one higher than we plan for the race anyway.

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