At the end of September last year I raced the Hever castle tri as my end of season race, and really enjoyed it. So when the race director asked me whether I’d like to return in 2011, it didn’t take any persuading, and I signed up for 3 of the 4 Castle triathlon series races. The first one was a only 1 week before Ironman France, so I had to give it a miss.

So on Saturday I embarked on an epic drive up to Yorkshire. Probably not the best preparation for a race, to spend 6 hours in a car without air conditioning, but thanks to numerous episodes of IMTalk and MarathonTalk podcasts I made it to the campsite by 4pm, and just went about relaxing.

I didn’t really know what to expect for the race with regards to my fitness. The last month had contained an Ironman taper (not a lot of training), an Ironman (a very hard session), and an Ironman recovery (not a lot of training). So all in all, not very much training, and if so mostly for a totally different intensity. What can you do, but to remember that you do this for fun, so my aim for the race was to enjoy myself.

Race day did not disappoint. Sunny, a light breeze, and a great location. I felt strong on the swim, and eventually found some feet to follow in the second lap. After the swim we faced probably the worst part of the race: A few 100 metres of uphill from the lake to transition. To me a transition that involves extra running seems just not fair… The bike course was two laps of undulating country roads. Road surface was quite rough in places, but there was little in terms of actual potholes, so you really just needed to be daring and let go of the brakes on the downhills. Fun! Not so fun was the fact that I hadn’t checked my gears before the race and had to crank up some of the steep hills out of the saddle with my heart rate hitting previously unknown heights. It was all I could to to not fall off. School boy error! I was also mildly irritated that a girl was outbiking me. Hats of to her, she went on to win, as well! Onto the run, I really didn’t know what to expect. I’m always anxious about the run, as it still is my biggest weakness. Because of Ironman France most of my running in recent months had been on flat, hard surfaces, i.e. Brighton seafront. Here the run was off road and hilly. Surprisingly I felt very strong, and once I noticed that I started to relax. I got caught by some speedy runners, and eventually crossed the line in 5th, and very happy with my race. It was much better than I had hoped for at this point.

Next weekend I’ll be racing the Milton Keynes Olympic Tri for some more racing fun, but then it’s back to doing some serious training. Ironman Kona is only 73 days away!

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