Our weekend in York was so much fun! We hadn’t had a road trip in a while, the weather was perfect (for spectating!), York is a beautiful city, AND the two of us managed THREE race wins over the course of two days!
We got down on Friday night, stopping at a lovely Yorkshire pub for dinner. On Saturday morning, we headed to the Yorkshire equivelant of a Highland Show, where Kyle did the half marathon. It covered three hills, had more elevation than Stonehaven a few weeks’ prior, and was ridiculously hot! He finished in 1.18 – proving how tough it was! – and won the most hilarious prize ever…
…wait for it…
…a POWER WASHER!! I think 2nd place got a BBQ!? SO random!
He felt pretty ill afterwards as he hadn’t anticipated that heat or those hills (I can vouch – I went for a wee cycle after they started and did some of the route; my brakes were screeching with the incline!!) And of course I found the steepest hill in the area with 10minutes of climbing an average of 14% – perfect prep for my race the following morning!
After repacking the car to fit this power washer, I demanded we headed to the nearby outlets – I refuse to rest my legs if outlets are in the area! Lots of spending later, we realised we hadn’t eaten, so attacked some bagels in the food court! REALLY recommended McArthur Glen; much better than what we have in Scotland!
We headed into York centre later than planned, as I wanted to hit up a local bike shop, Fulford Cycles. A couple of things hasn’t been right since we got back from the continent, and they were so attentive, conscientious, and just great banter! 45 mins and the Felty was good as new! I had so much more confidence coming out of there, as I knew the bike wouldn’t let me down (unless of course I punctured gaain…grrr).
York centre was absolutely stunning; the Shambles, the Minster, quirky shops, award winning coffee/fudge/chocolate. I had a list I had to tick off before leaving!
An early night (finishing watching the Staircase on Netflix!), a lack of sleep due to the lurking back pain made me seriously nervous on race morning. I had no idea why it had appeared, because every other time it was while I was riding. All I was doing was walking around the shops and sleeping?
I knew I would be able to swim (wasn’t sure on how much motion I’d have but I knew I’d complete it), but then I was almost certain there was no way I was completing the bike.
Kyle kept telling me it was a training race, and I just need to give it my best considering, taking one discipline at a time. Well that calmed me down a bit, but I didn’t bother to warm up (it was already 28C at 7am, so I was melting in my wetsuit anyway!).
The lake was so shallow after the heat wave that the water was barely up to our waists! Basically, the reeds reached the surface, which meant I was about to swim 1900m in a marsh! I had to laugh at just how gross it was!
The gun went off and I sprinted about 75m and found someone’s feet. It was a mass start, so I had no idea what guys were fast, and didn’t look at the start list to recognise any fast females. The sun was in my face the whole time (polarised goggles should have been worn…oops!) so just focussed on the feet and tried to stretch out my back.
It was an out and back swim, which broke up the pack, and after lap 1 I was feeling much better! There weren’t many people around me, so I was just praying that was because I was in the lead and not because we’d been dropped, but I had a good feeling.
At the swim finish, I tried to swim as far in as I could, because the bottom of the lake was really squidgy and I kept falling over. I heard the commentator say “and the first guys are out of the water”.
Grrr. I am a girl!
2nd out of the water, and as I started running up the MASSIVE 600m hill to transition, he spotted my sex and corrected himself excitedly.
I got into T1 in 3rd and tried to take some confidence out of the my swim placing. My mantra that day was “relax”, hoping my back wouldn’t seize up!
Out T1 in 2nd I went.
…and over the 1st speedbump out my bottle went.
7 gels were in that bottle. But I was now well past the speedbump to retrieve it.
Could I go 20km without gels? I was going to have to.
This stressed me out, but it was done and I couldn’t do anything about it. Luckily there was a water stop put on about 5mins later so I grabbed a bottle and felt some relief!
The course is really windy, with a couple of cat 4 climbs (on the 2nd lap I saw people on their 1st lap walking up the hills!). It kept the course interesting and time passed so quickly!
At the first official fuel station, I physically stopped. I wasn’t risking missing anything. I grabbed 5 gels and stuffed them away, and an electrolyte drink. Luckily, High5 were sponsoring the event, and they sponsor me too, so I knew exactly how my body can handle the gels and drinks!
Lap 1 over, I aimed for a negative split (given I stopped on lap 1!). Since I didn’t have a garmin, I actually have no idea, but the effort was a bit more! Plus I now knew the course!
Into T2 I was now in 6th…boo to being beaten by more boys! Trainers and shades quickly on, grab a ROASTING HOT gel (gross) and off down the hill I go.
Luckily, my foot and back felt fine! I did feel my back with about half an hour to go, but because I expected it I knew how to handle it mentally. I sat up a little more (so my lap 2 split probably was slower), and tried to stretch it every so often.
I went on effort as the run was all on either grass or trail. Geez the amount of grass we ran on was hilarious – so bumpy! I went over my ankle so many times due to the uneven terrain but, again because it was a 2 lap course, lap 2 was actually easier because I knew where the tough sections were. And also where the aid stations were, so I could look forward to them.
I walked through every single one, given the heat and how exposed the course was. And I only felt like a wall was coming with 1km to go, so my fuelling worked almost perfectly! (suck it, Holkham Debs!)
I have genuinely never felt such comradery in a race before. The amount of fellow athletes cheering me on when I passed them was almost emotional. Luckily, I was never passed which gave me a buzz, but I got so many pats on the back, cheers, positive messages that really perked me up every time. The spectators were enough, so to get it from other athletes too was incredible.
With about 3km to go, you enter the grounds of the Castle. There is a 2nd lake, some gardens (all absolutely stunning), and then you go up this MASSIVE grassy incline. It only lasts about a minute but it feels like an eternity. You know when you’re little and you go sledging, and enjoy going down, but then each time you run back up to the top. It hurts, but it’s worth it. Well, that was me! It hurt so much on lap 2!
I’ll be honest, they organisers never realised I was finishing so soon, so nothing was announced on the speaker. The crowds knew and were cheering, because I had a different colour number to the Olympic distance guys, but I crossed the line with no tape and no announcement.
At the time I didn’t care, because people that were at the finish and knew were so complimentary and I was so proud of myself for pushing through the pain in a mature way for once! It’s just a shame I don’t have a new profile pic 😉
The finish had acoustic singers, bands and lots of food trucks. It was like a festival! And prize giving wasn’t hours and hours later like at Holkham! We left at a decent time, and headed for home, stopping in Penrith for more award winning food…this time fish and chips! UNREAL!
Happy to have executed a race I am proud of, given I am in full training for Challenge Almere in less than six weeks. Yep, that’s right…I am doing another FULL DISTANCE TRIATHLON!!!
When I told coach Lewis my plan, I finished my sentence with “YOLO”. He had no idea what that meant, laughed at me, and agreed to it. So now I am entered! I am terrified but excited at the same time! In 2015, after being hit by a car 3 months’ previous, leaving me with permanent lung and knee damage, I managed a 10.49 and stamped my ticket to Kona as an age grouper. This year, I am a pro and will be hoping to compete and not complete! Please wish me luck…I don’t have much time to be fully race ready, but “YOLO”!
Oh, but first I am heading to London this weekend with the Scottish Team for the International #mixedrelaycup … not sure how I’ll feat in a 20 minute race, but excited to race against some of the best in the world 🙂
Total: 4.43.15 *2nd fastest female time ever 🙂