Glen Affric Duathlon
I entered my first ever duathlon this weekend, as a practice race for the Ben Nevis tri, with the aim of trying out kit, eating and drinking strategies etc. without knackering myself too much. So the aim was for an 'easy' race and telling myself that meant I could still go out for an 'easy' road ride on the Saturday instead of resting! I definitely need to rest loads before the heb though as despite an easy week I was still feeling tired. I know that closer to the time I'll be excited and want to train more so I'm telling myself now that I must taper and rest!
We drove up to Inverness on Saturday , luckily realising before we got there that while Elspeth and Emily had booked the Loch Ness YH, I'd assumed Inverness. Anyway, they let us change it and we stayed in Inverness which felt strangely like a hospital. I'm not sure whether the building has been converted but I'm sure you'd never accuse it of being 'homey'.
Sunday morning was a bit of an early (and chilly) start as we drove up the tiny winding road to Glen Affric. There was just over 100 people taking part in the Duathlon so quite a small field and the race had a really nice feel to it. Took me ages to decide what to wear and in the end I went for a Hely baselayer, tri shorts and tights. It was freezing at the start line but I'm glad I didn't wear the windproof as it didn't take long to warm up and I actually appreciated the river crossing on the course to cool me down. Somehow we got pushed to the very front of the crowd at the start line so for the first ten minutes I was getting overtaken by just about everyone. I decided that I didn't want to go out too hard so just told myself that I'd overtake them in due time. Sure enough, after the first 1/2 hr only one person overtook me for the rest of the race and I got to enjoy overtaking instead.
The run was really beautiful, especially coming over the top of the hill and seeing the valley below. There were times when I even felt like I was running alone as I couldn't see any other racers. The 7.5miles took me almost 1hr20 which is maybe a bit slow but definitely meant I felt strong going onto the bike. Despite the fact it was supposed to be a 'training' race, I suddenly developed a competitive 'evil' twin during the bike leg and went a whole lot faster than I would normally go. It was a really enjoyable course with some fast downhills (though one really evil uphill where the ground seems to be made of glue).
The last wee run had been billed as 2.5miles of flattish running but they obviously forgot about the killer hill near the end, up some steep steps. The loop beside the water was really pretty and I wish I could have actually stopped and enjoyed it, such a well-made path with all the stepping stones and bridges. It's a great way to make the Glen accessible to people who don't want to hike up big hills.
I finished in 3hr 20 I think, though the results haven't been published. I'm really pleased with that and I particularly enjoyed my bacon buttie, trillionaires shortbread and multiple yummy biscuits afterwards. Racing hard definitely has its upside! Elspeth was up there with the top finishers at 3hr10 (and a new determination to get faster on a bike I think?) and Emily really enjoyed it as well.