Perhaps we were a little optimistic hoping the taper would start a month before the race. I was quite exhausted last week and may have come across a teensy bit grumpy in my blog. Indeed Crawford texted me after reading it to apologise lol. Not that it in any way persuaded him to go easy on us this week right enough.
The weekend was as busy as anticipated – our early morning yoga was great (poor Yoga Jess was only back from her honeymoon for a day but agreed to come early to let us get away to Loch Tay) and very much enjoyed. Keeping going with the yoga has been brilliant – especially just now when everything is stiff, sore and tight. After nearly falling back to sleep during the wee nap at the end, we managed to rouse ourselves, shovel down another enormous bowl of porridge, grab our swimming gear, and set off for the two hour drive to Kenmore, on the north east corner of Loch Tay. By the time we arrived in the soggy field put aside for parking, the morning sprint distance triathlon race had finished and we bumped into lots of GTC members who had all done very well.
Jamie and Holly were both entered for the 750m swim – we had no worries about Jamie doing this – he regularly swims with us outside and indeed would have done a longer distance if his age had allowed. Holly however has never swum that far in the open water before so we had already had some misgivings of how she would manage. At 12, she only just made the minimum age for this race. And when we saw the size of the waves in the loch, we worried for our own swim let alone hers. After some discussion, and to my relief, Holly opted to change to the 250m race which the organisers helpfully allowed her to do.
All registered, we set off down the road to the Taymouth Marina – were the swims started. This is right next to the Crannog Centre, a tremendous interactive museum which takes you back to the Iron Age. We’ve been before when the kids were younger and loved it. I would recommend a visit if you’ve never been. With this beautiful backdrop, and the sun starting to come out, we started getting into our wetsuits. Holly was off first and much to our delighted surprise won her race quite comfortably. This was lovely as Holly is not the fastest triathlete in the world, especially recently when her training has rather been overtaken by theatre school, and usually there is cause for celebration in the Glen household if she is not last in a race. Next was Jamie in a much more serious looking heat, but again to our delight, he and a fellow swimmer got off to a great lead which they held to the end, despite the challenging conditions. He was just pipped over the line but tremendously pleased with his second place (as were we).
Whilst we watched the 1500m heat, Paul and I struggled into our wetsuits with increasing trepidation owing to the size of the waves, and the comments of the other competitors when they exited the water – clearly this was going to be a tough swim. I’ve never actually swum 3km in one go without stopping in the open water, and certainly never swum in such challenging conditions so was feeling quite ill as we made our way down to the start. Our anxiety was not particularly helped when the officials started having some debate about when we were going to start – there was talk of changing the time due to the clearly obvious weather front that was rolling towards us down the loch.
But in we got, in the now pouring rain, and gingerly made our way over to the deep water start point. Our race consisted of four 750m laps – each lap was essentially a long rectangle, with the first long stretch being directly into the huge waves, followed by a short traverse, before heading back with the waves behind us. A last short traverse finished the loop and then we’d be off again. As we started I found myself being quite convinced that I wouldn’t make it to the first buoy (which I couldn’t see anyway due to the size of the waves), let alone round the whole course four times. A few mouthfuls (lungfuls) of water were ingested, but slowly I started to adapt to the conditions. There seemed to be a knack to timing your strokes and breathing to each crashing wave, and after I made it to the first buoy I was feeling much better. Breathing was really only possible to one side on the first short traverse (otherwise you got hit by the crashing waves right in your face), but then when you made your turn back, it was like surfing. We were propelled along at a great rate of knots and made it back in record time. By this point I’d relaxed into it and actually really enjoyed the whole experience – it was a bit like playing in a water park in the end, and I finished in a quicker time than I’d expected, and without getting seasick (which had been a concern) despite the conditions.
A delicious chippy for tea (I know deep fried pizza suppers are wrong but I can’t tell you how good it was) then early to bed because we were up at dawn on Sunday as we were helping at the GTC Youth Aquathlon – a twice-yearly event that the club holds. Having once helped on the finish line, I subsequently found myself in charge of this section of the race which is highly stressful due to the fact that we don’t use timing chips and therefore have to record every finisher number and time manually. The event has grown in size over the years and also now includes an adult novice race which meant for a rather tense morning, but in excellent company, and ultimately a success (bar one tricky moment with essentially a photo finish for first place, but without the finish line photo technology, just a bunch of middle aged mothers trying their best).
A quick dash home for (more) porridge (I think I have single-handedly kept Scott’s Porridge Oats in business this year) then out for an 80km very hilly cycle in (more) driving rain and gale force winds (it felt like that anyway). If we find ourselves in Wales in anything other than a force 5 weather system, we will be laughing. Fortunately very patient Lochlan, one of our GTC coaches and a fellow IMW competitor came with me for this cycle. We went at approximately half his usual pace but he was very nice about it and it made the cycle much more enjoyable.
A lovely evening with good friends to celebrate a birthday followed, and then I had a quick glance at my training plan for this week before trying to get some sleep prior to Monday morning’s 6.30am circuits class. Any hope I had of passing the worst were not realised. Following my usual Monday/Tuesday sessions, I had a 25km run and open water swim today, cycle tomorrow (Thursday), and then a 140km cycle with a short run afterwards on Saturday. And a rather worrying entry on the following Monday stating ‘just one more hard week to go’. Heaven only knows what that will involve.