This year I’ll be running the two most challenging races of my life so far:
- The Ring of Steall Skyrace: a 16 mile trail and sky race summiting and running along the ridges of four Scottish munros. The race has a total altitude gain of 8200 feet (or 2500m), and is the most dangerous trail and hill running I’ll probably ever do. This race takes place Saturday, 17th
- The Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon: my very first marathon, on the 9th of October. I’ll be running it with my Primal Eye boss and blog friend Georgie from Greens of the Stone Age.
With fifteen weeks until the Ring of Steall and eighteen weeks until the marathon, training needs to start now. I am shitting myself. There is so much – too much – to think about for these races. On top of the usual day-to-day work to-do list, meal planning and prepping, and trying to be a free-lance writer, most of my thinking has been focused on these races and my many complications involved with them. These complications, or worries, are pretty stressing, and I’m making my way through each one, trying to find a solution.
Sunday, I was listening to the episode 71 of the Primal Blueprint podcast, an interview with big wave surfer Laird Hamilton, done by Mark Sisson. Two pretty impressive names in fitness. Two memorable messages stuck with me from that episode: train smarter, not harder, and approaching training more holistically. I found this last message most important because it perfectly describes my current approach to training for the Stonehaven Half Marathon.
Attempting a triathlon was actually a goal I toyed with at the start of 2013. While I never worked toward that goal last year – instead opting to train for and run my first half marathon – it has been a sport that has captured my attention for years. As a child, I would watch the Escape From Alcatraz triathlon and the Ironman World Championships (held in Kona), on TV and dream that I too could be one of those athletes. With Pat taking up triathlon, it’s all gotten much closer to home. I see what his training is like on a daily basis, and have been a spectator for every one of his races. I love the atmosphere at a triathlon and the anticipation of the competitors coming into transition before heading out again.
I used to think I’ll just stick with running, but then I got bored with it, and needed a new challenge; entering my own triathlon was just a natural step. I thought I’d take it easy by entering a Try a tri, where the sole purpose of such an event is to give triathlon newbies a taste of the sport without having to invest large amounts of time to train for longer distance races, or to simply wrap their head around participating in a race where there are three disciplines, plus two transitions, to worry think about.
While I never worry about races and what to do – I don’t actually think I worry about much at all – it was a difficult task to mentally prepare for three disciplines. My mind would flutter between swim bike run, plus transitions, and everything would get muddled into one. When I told Pat how I felt as I was setting up my transition area, he said he goes through the same thing.
The day before the race was a travel day: we took the high road from our home off the east coast of Scotland, through the rugged and beautiful hills and mountains of Royal Deeside and the Highlands. Although the race itself was in Grantown-on-Spey, we stayed at the youth hostel in Aviemore instead, 30 minutes south west of Grantown. We arrived to our hostel before dinner time, and after checking in, we went for a stroll through a nature reserve close to the hostel. We dined on Primal Chilli con Carne and sweet potato (my carb-load food choice of the week), in the dining room and played a game of Monopoly before heading to bed before 10. We were both tired from the day, from the week really, and had a 6:30am start the next day.