It’s the Ultra Trail Wales inaugural ultramarathon weekend!
We had a crack at the Cotswold Way Challenge! Can I run 100km?
I try to run this race every year, and this year I was testing myself, my legs and my hips to see if everything works.
I’ve been responding pretty well to training so far this year. Skills have been developing nicely and my fitness and core stability have measurably improved. Numbers are similar to last year, and my left leg is working better. So I was really knocked back when I had an email telling me that this year’s new race for XTERRA (off road triathlon), XTERRA Wales, had been cancelled.
I train for about 6 months to prepare for a big race that I want to perform well in. This year is my 8th consecutive year racing triathlon, and it’s a lot of work (fun, but also work) to prepare myself as best I can. So what do I do now?
Running the Christmas Pudding run at Merthyr Mawr. Sand dunes, mud, streams and hills. Great fun. It’d be even more fun if I could run fast.
I’m building up in training towards the TTG Gloucester Triathlon at the end of May, which will be a training race itself, and then the Pembrokeshire Coast Triathlon at Broad Haven at the end of June. That race will also be the Welsh Championships for that distance, and apparently the club champs. I haven’t had a crack at the Cardiff Triathlon club championships for years. The European Championships in Lisbon are in May this year, on the same weekend as Kim’s birthday, so I’m skipping that. I can’t afford to enter the World Championships, and there has been no sign of XTERRA UK in 2016 so that’s died a death. Which sucks, because that’s an awesome race. So after Broad Haven, what do I do?
In 2017 the European Triathlon Championships have been split between Dusseldorf for the sprint distance and Kitzbuhel for the standard distance, so if most of my buddies race the sprint distance and I go to Austria on my own, what’s the point? Triathlon is partly about competition but largely about friends and experiences, so I’m not motivated to spend the latter half of this race season training to qualify for international 2017 races. Maybe I’ll look out for some other multisport events that catch my eye, like the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun series or the OMM… I’ll need a partner for those.
What happened? I was happily looking forward to the end of the triathlon season, followed by a whopping increase in gaming time, doughnut eating, lazing around, and probably some sleep too, and then XTERRA happened. After a summer of struggling to train consistently, mental fatigue (and a whole load of physical fatigue), and thick with work I’m now keen as hell to race more XTERRA, to learn what I’m missing in my MTB XC skills, to try out tubeless, and to tweak my race bike for mud (and any other condition we might get). My legs tell me that I’m not as fit as I thought I was, and that I need to do a whole bunch of different stuff so that next time I’ll be better prepared. This is great! I’m keen! I’m enthusiastic! I want more! Oh wait, my last race of the season is at Bala on Sunday.
I had a lovely swim. There were no nerves before the start whatsoever, as I stood around chatting to Jamie, a graduate of our medicine programme in Swansea and now a working doctor that I hadn’t seen for a while. The swim in Vachery pond in XTERRA England is always nice and relaxed for some reason. My race plan was to swim easy (which isn’t really “easy” but at a pace that saves my shoulders for later work), bike smooth and then run. I.e. RUN! Like someone’s chasing you. Which they were. Over large ditches, through bogs and over fallen oaks. I would also be doing some chasing. Hunting.