Mud, rain and cold – winter off-road races + training

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Having had a few weeks off to rest and recover from a busy season of racing, December was about easing back into everything, and putting a lot of time into swimming in particular.

Alongside the training I had also entered a couple of the Human Race off-road duathlons, just to try something different and get some good hilly runs into the legs. Having never mountain biked properly, turning up to Wildman to pick up my rented mountain bike, I was fairly nervous! It was a proper winter’s morning, freezing cold but a beautiful clear, sunny morning. Having eyed up some of the very impressive looking bikes in transition area, I knew this would be a tough race!

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Having been huddled together on the start line, the gun went off and there was a real charge to get to the front for some of the narrower sections of the run. The run was brilliant – all through the forest, pretty hilly and muddy in sections but a great course. Entering transition as the first lady I knew I needed to just see what happened when I got on the bike! Setting out I could tell straight away that mountain biking is a completely different skill to road biking (yes. . . obvious I know but I had hoped it might not be too different!). Along the flats I was doing ok, but as most of the course was either up or down, I was quickly being overtaken by a lot of people! The particular highlight was the one steep descent where the photographer was, that I wimped out on each lap and had to get off and walk! Coming back into transition for the final run my legs were pretty shot, so I just wanted to push on through. Crossing the finish line I found out I was 3rd lady, which considering the compete lack of mountain biking skill I was pretty happy with! It was a fun day out and I was looking forwards to the next one.

 

Having had a good few weeks of training, I was feeling good for the Iceman duathlon, which had an added edge of competition with 2 of my siblings having entered as well. Another great course was lined up, and we set off from the start with my one aim being to beat the siblings. The run was even tougher than Wildman, with one section being constantly up/down repeat for about 2k. Coming out on the bike I was ahead of the siblings, but aware that my brother could come flying past on the bike at any moment. Feeling slightly better on the bike this race (at least not having to get off and walk down any hills!), but still very much feeling the burn and slightly dreading the final run. Coming into second transition and managing to be ahead of the siblings I was fairly confident I could keep ahead of them on the final run. I was able to relax and enjoy the last 5k, although my competitive nature kicked in for the finishing straight putting in a bit of a sprint to beat a guy just in front of me! Another great race, although I definitely won’t be converting to mountain biking anytime soon!

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Going into Christmas I feel like I have had a good few weeks of training, and am looking forwards to putting the hard work in from January onwards and hopefully seeing some good results.

I had a great weekend in Loughborough with my coach, Will Clarke, managing to get some good time in the pool especially and making a few tweaks that made a real difference to my swim. I will be working on continuing to improve that so next year I am not losing as much time coming out of the water. We also did a FTP test on the bike, where I was happy to see a 30W improvement on the last test I did (back in March).

To top off a great year, we had the tri club Christmas party, where I was both surprised and over the moon to receive the Best Middle Distance female triathlete of the year trophy, and Most Improved. It was also great to see Barney getting the Best Newcomer Award, even though he is changing clubs to focus on his cycling! Photo below to prove that we own clothes other than lycra!

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Christmas and New Year will be relatively relaxed, keeping things ticking over but enjoying time with family and friends before hitting the ground running next year.

Happy Christmas everyone!