So I have started my working life with TUI and so far, so good. It is certainly busy, but busy in a good way. As always in a new role it will take time to get to grips with 100% of things but as I say, so far I am enjoying it.
September started fairly brutally with the St Albans Stampede. For those that are not aware what this is (lucky you!) then allow me to explain. It is a 12 hour endurance race which you can complete as a team of 8, 4, as a pair or if you’re totally mental you can do it on your own. Back in March it seemed like a really good idea to enter a team of 4 from the running club. On Saturday morning it seemed far less of a good idea. The loop was four miles (measured by the same person as the Luton parkrun clearly!) and the plan was simple. I would start, run a loop, hand over to the next runner, and so on and so forth until the 12 hours was up. To be honest, things went to plan, the off-road course was tougher than expected and soon started to take its toll on the legs and of course tiredness set in but on the whole, yes, I’d say it went to plan.
Overall, it was tough but really enjoyable. The team did well and there was a great team spirit. The men’s team which I was part of finished safely in 3rd place which earned us a nice trophy, a bottle of wine and a Brewery tour. On the downside, my legs felt it for the following week and my hip has not been the same since.
No time for rest as the training continued as normal towards the Hever castle triathlon at the end of September. However, Disaster struck as a hangover from the Stampede hit home. I had Bursitis of the hip. No running! Not the greatest race prep, fortunately I have two other sports to focus on!
The following weekend I enjoyed a 60 mile sportive organised by TUI, aptly named the “Tour de TUI”. The sun shone, the bike flew and despite two punctures I completed the hilly 60 mile course in just over 3 hours, great training towards Hever and another 60 mile in the charity box for the year.
Unfortunately my hip issues hadn’t disappeared before my second visit of the year to Hever castle, so I had a decision to make. Do I a) pull out completely or b) hit the swim and bike hard and stop after that, not getting a medal and obtaining a DNF. Well, I went for option B.
It is a strange feeling getting up at 4am on a Sunday morning, driving 2 hours to Kent to take part in a race you know you won’t finish. Regardless of this I managed to get into the mind-set to swim outside of my comfort zone in order to achieve a sun 30 minute swim time and to push the bike harder as I didn’t need to run off the bike. The idea being to improve on my split times from Junes event.
In summary, I did exactly what I set out to do; I swam hard and completed the swim in 29:59 – although the official timing robbed me of a second to make it 30:00.
A careful “hobble” into T1 saw me away onto lap 1 of 2 on the bike. It’s amazing how your brain forgets just how brutal certain aspects of races are! I was soon reminded. The endless slow draining climbs are occasionally rewarded but sweeping fast descents. Again, the knowledge that I wouldn’t actually finish this race played with my mind when the legs got tired but I managed to ignore that and push on, with lap one done, I pushed through the second lap with everything I had left and by the end I was very pleased not to be facing the tough half marathon. Instead, I went for a massage. This could be the future! Swim, Bike, massage.
So altogether a really good day out at Hever castle, a superb event and seamless organisation made it a great event to be at. I got a new 1900m PB and smashed my personal bike course record by just over 10 minutes. I also managed to tackle a few demons. Since my crash in 2012 I have suffered with confidence on the fast descents but on this course, you simply have no choice but to put your big boy pants on and get on with it. I’m hoping the more I throw myself down rapid descents, the more comfortable I will be with them.
So that pretty much puts a wraparound September and indeed the Triathlon season. It’s now time to sit back, relax and to get my bloody hip sorted. My next blog will be a very honest and open season review and race plans for 2017.
Finally if you have not given yet we are rapidly heading towards the end of the year! Yes, really! So my 500 mile quest is coming to an end. Please dig deep and donate for a very worthwhile local charity. http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Sub3500