I enjoyed an amazing couple of days’ training in Snowdonia this weekend as we checked out the route for the Double Brutal Triathlon. So, what did I learn?
1. Pace on the bike is crucial. We did two laps of the 45km loop – one on Saturday and one on Sunday. There’s a long drag of a climb up to Pen-y-Pass in the second half that only averages 5%, but goes on for 6km. On the Saturday, international triathlete Lucy Burn paced us up the hill and although I stuck on her wheel without too much trouble, my heart rate was way up. By way of comparison, on the Sunday, I let her go ahead and slowed it all down, reaching the top still feeling fresh and alert for the descent.
Bearing in mind that I will have to do that climb eight times on race weekend, it’s really important that I don’t get carried away early on, and keep the effort levels as low as possible on a 6km climb. For the sake of a couple of minutes, the benefits are enormous.
2. It’s a bloody mountain. I know how ridiculous this is even as I type it, but I don’t think I had fully appreciated the fact that the run up and down Snowdon was going to be… well, it was going to be a bloody mountain. We walked 90% of the way up, and all my thoughts about skipping up the path rapidly dissolved.
Also, although I had a lot of fun running down the path on the way back to Llanberis, I am not sure how feasible that will be on race weekend as it will probably still be before dawn as I pick my way through the loose rocks and potential ankle breaks. I think I have to accept that the majority of this section will be done at walking pace, and just allow enough time to get up and down the mountain safely.
I also think I need to lose about 5kg before September…
3. My support crew are vital. This weekend was great fun with Zoe and Lucy, and although the Brutal is going to be a long and at times lonely challenge, I will have friends in Llanberis supporting me through the weekend. I need to trust them and listen to them, and let go of my control freakery.
But as well as their logistical help, their emotional support will be the difference between me completing this race and collapsing in a messy heap after 24 hours. When I get back from Snowdon and eat my breakfast before the final 64km of running, getting back out and on it is going to be incredibly tough. That’s what friends are for.
4. This is stupid. Highlight of the weekend, as we completed our run around Llyn Padarn, was a local woman who moved her pushchair to one side and paused to watch us pass. We were sweating in the 28° heat and squinting into the sun. She watched us past and then quietly said, in a thick north Wales accent, to nobody in particular, “They are off their fucking tits.”