Team training weekend
This was our last team training weekend before Portugal and a chance to check our tactics, skills and equipment. We based ourselves at Glenmore lodge, where the staff had kindly agreed to let us traipse in and out at all hours of the weekend to fill water bottles, drink cups of tea and shelter from the cold.
We trained through Friday night, starting at 11.30pm and doing lots of short loops to practise transitions: running to biking to rollerblading, to biking. It was good to try out the amazing new headtorches and also our trekking poles. We had a beautiful walk up Meall a Buchaille and turned our headtorches off to look at the stars. There’s something really amazing about being out on the hills in the middle of the night. We all took chances at navigating and worked out how we were going to cope with the different transitions so that everyone has a role to play, whether that's sorting maps for the next stage, making pasta in a nalgene bottle or putting up the tent. I think the problem will be keeping warm when we're tired and also making sure everything goes in the right kit box.
We finished at around 8am on Saturday morning, just as the sun was coming up to take the chill off what was a really cold night. Flecks of frost had been appearing on our trekking poles and I had to wear a down jacket to ride down the hill from the ski centre.
We spent the next few hours snuggled up in sleeping bags getting a few hours of kip before going out in kayaks in the afternoon. We tried to practise all the different skills you need with sit on tops - pretending to launch in big waves (quite hard on a tranquil loch), towing, drafting and balancing the things on trolleys. I think we got some funny looks for that one but we had assured the staff at the centre we weren't running away with their boats.
We took time on Saturday night to talk through a lot of the team stuff -hopes, fears, motivations etc. I don't know how many teams do this before a big race but to me it seems so important that we understand why someone has suddenly gone quiet (or potentially flown off the handle). None of us really know how we're going to react after 4 days of sleep deprivation but I'm pretty sure if something stresses me out or makes me uncomfortable when I'm otherwise happy and cheerful, it's going to be even worse during the race.
We met Dan's friend Nick outside Glenmore lodge. He was so amused at the site of us charging about on rollerblades he instantly pulled out his camera to record our skating prowess. You wouldn't believe how long it took for us to arrange ourselves in a straight line on a hill without falling over!
The race is going to involve some caving and climbing so we were delighted that Glenmore lodge were able to do such a useful session on rope skills with us. When I'm climbing I always hate all the rope stuff but I feel really confident now about what we have to do in the race and it was actually great fun whizzing up the rope like some sort of demented frog (stand up, push the ascender, sit down, pull feet up to frog position... repeat...).
Now I can start to taper and get really excited about the race. Just a few tiny kit things left to do. This week's task is writing a food plan for five days...