My first bike

Before I was a runner, triathlete, ultra runner and any other category I might put myself in, before I entered any race or even contemplated the idea of a training plan, I was a mountain biker. I can remember going with my dad to the bike shop to get my first mountain bike aged 13, it was a glorious aluminium framed rigid (of course this was the 90’s) Giant with 18 gears and shiny silver bar ends (remember them?!). It was bright yellow, team Giant colour scheme I believe and I thought it was awesome.

Growing up in the quiet Oxfordshire countryside this bike gave me freedom, the chance to explore with mates or ride to the local river to go fishing. We’d ride through the forest to the bomb drops and see if anyone was brave enough to face near certain death trying to drop in on one of the slopes. Faces in awe as a ‘proper’ mountain biker rode through and smashed through the jumps.

Sonder Frontier
Back from another muddy adventure in the glorious Welsh woods
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St Illtyd’s ultra race review

I’m not sure about you but I tend to enter races that capture my imagination. There can be many reasons why a race grabs me; a beautiful route, a unique challenge, great reviews, to compete with friends, perhaps no obvious reason at all, but there does need to be a motivation to take part, some sort of why. I don’t race for the sake of racing or for that matter enter many races at all.

St Illtyd’s ultra definitely grabbed me, there was a real buzz on social media after last years race with lots of those I follow on Instagram and Twitter having taking part and raving about it. Throw in the fact that the race start/finish was less than an hour from where we were moving to in Wales and would be a nice intro back into some longer trail races and I found myself clicking the enter button.

Event overview

The race concept is relatively simple, start next to Burry Port harbour just outside Llanelli, pick up the St Illtyd’s way just outside town and follow it for 25km. Turn around at half way and retrace your steps. Simple. The first/last 5km is super flat along a cycle path, the 40km in between however has 1200m of climbing, plenty to punish those who run the first half too fast.

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2018 in review – change, cycling and finding my mojo

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).

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The no plan training plan

Sometimes you need to push yourself to stick to a training plan and get through a tough period. Sometimes, however, you need to listen to your body and mind and back off. This is one of those times. I’ve never been a prolific racer but the whole idea of taking part in a race at the moment doesn’t motivate me at all. The discipline of training and then the hassle of race day just to get a medal doesn’t appeal nor does religiously following a training plan.

Maybe I’m a bit jaded from such an intense 6 months last year building up to my Ironman? Whatever it is I’m currently using the no plan training plan. I don’t have a colourful table on my fridge telling me what I’m doing each day, instead I’m just doing what I feel like (or don’t feel like for that matter). I’m still trying to train as a triathlete and do all 3 sports each week I’m just doing so without feeling I HAVE to get the sessions done. It’s really quite refreshing.

Enjoying the view rather than worrying about the pace

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Sleepwalker night race review

When you find yourself thigh deep in a bog in the Brecon Beacons at 8pm on a Saturday night you do have to question your sanity. Especially when you’ve voluntarily ended up there and are doing it for ‘fun’. Although in a strange, slightly sadistic kind of way it actually was fun, I may even have laughed as I tried to climb out of the bog and find some ground that was a bit more solid.

The reason I found myself in this situation was the Sleepwalker night race, quite a low key event with about 45 entrants that starts and finishes in the small village of Talybont on Usk with just the 20 miles and 744m of ascent in between. As the name suggests it’s run at night with the start at 6pm, I’m told the route has some beautiful views but all I saw was the 2 metres of mud and water in front of me lit up by my head torch. That was of course when I wasn’t trying to keep the driving rain out of my eyes or shelter from the 40mph winds.  This really wasn’t a race for the faint hearted and I’ll be honest I was glad I was running it with my brother and not completely solo.

Sleepwalker night race route profile

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