We are just about clinging on to our training plans during our normal working weeks, but this can prove difficult as soon as there is a break to our normal routine. Last week threw up all sorts of barriers to normal training – the first half of the week was half term and we were away with friends; the second half saw me travelling to San Francisco for a conference.
Training on holiday is much easier if you are on holiday with similarly-minded friends. Our great friends from the triathlon club are the Donaldson family who, since joining the club, have become some of the people we spend most of our time with. Funnily enough our children have been at the same school all through their primary years, but as they are all in different years we had little contact with each other, unless I was buying school disco tickets, which mum Michelle seemed to be in charge of for many years. But then we decided to try out triathlon, and I found myself swimming in the same lane as Michelle when we coincidentally both signed up and started the club beginner swim sessions on the very same night. We didn’t however stay in the same lane for very long as Michelle has progressed very much quicker than me on the swimming front and trains in the same speedy lane as Paul now. Her husband Mike is one of the coaches in the junior club who, despite not necessarily looking like a typical triathlete at first glance (I hope you don’t mind me saying that Mike) is an absolute machine at triathlons and regularly beats the fastest members of our club in races, who are half his age. The younger two of their three children are both active members of the junior section of GTC and as a result we have spent much of the last two years training and racing together.
Half term saw us all travelling to Tighnabruaich, a village on the east coast of the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll and Bute, on the west coast of Scotland. Paul’s granny was from Tighnabruaich and although she died a few years ago, her cottage on the water is still there and we try to go when we can. Some of the best views in Scotland (in my opinion) can be found in this area, and despite being less than two hours from Glasgow, it is pretty remote, meaning ideal for running and cycling as you rarely encounter traffic on the roads. And it is especially good for cycle training given that you are hard-pushed to find a single flat bit of road for miles.
Picture from Visit Cowal website.
On this occasion the weather was unexpectedly kind (it was still pretty freezing and a bit rainy but we had some beautiful clear skies and not too much in the way of wind which is good for February in the west of Scotland). Having travelled up on the Saturday (after a family Parkrun (PBs all round hoorah) and quick circuits session) we headed out on the Sunday for a 50km group cycle – round Ardlamont Point at the very tip of the peninsula, then on and over to Otter Ferry, further up the coast. A really beautiful ride, with nearly a Munro’s worth of climbing, helped very much by the coffee and enormous scone in the marvellous Oyster Catcher pub, where I also made friends with the gorgeous resident dog Frankie.
After a hearty lunch, Michelle and I ran over to Portavadie on the west coast of the peninsula, where we met up with the others and spent a few lovely relaxing hours in their outdoor hot-tubs and infinity pool, watching the sun set over Loch Fyne and Tarbert. Bliss. We were back at Portavadie early the next morning for a circuit session run by Fyne Fitness, having awoken to a stunning sunrise. Then a group walk up the Duin Hill and through much of the Kilfinan Community Forrest.
We managed another shorter cycle on the Tuesday, back round Ardlamont point (but in the other direction), this time unfortunately in poorer weather conditions, before heading back home.
Early on Wednesday morning I had to leave as I was attending an international conference on urological malignancies in San Francisco. And it was much harder to factor in any training here at all. Having slumped into bed on the Wednesday night after a full day of travelling, I awoke at 3.30am local time, and by 4.45am admitted defeat on the getting back to sleep front and headed to the hotel gym. I would have rather run outside, but it was still pitch black, and California was rather sadly having their stormiest weather for decades, so a treadmill run had to suffice. I find indoor running very tedious but managed 10km before heading down for an enormous breakfast and was still in plenty time for the 7am conference start (Americans start everything unacceptably early – the only saving grace being that you tend to be so jet-lagged, that you’ve been up for ages by then anyway). There followed three days of rather intensive conference sessions and evening meetings but I managed to sneak off a bit early on the middle day during the much anticipated penis and testicular cancer session, neither of which I treat. I dragged my two colleagues with me and we ran out to Fisherman’s Wharf and back between torrential downpours, although it was still a bit on the windy side.
Back to the airport straight from the conference on Saturday, another full day of travelling and I was finally home late Sunday evening, having had very little sleep, done very little training, and 4lbs heavier due to the amount Americans feed you. I have vowed not to go to any more international conferences between now and the Ironman, or I’ll be ruined.