Fiona went out for a 2 hour ride on her TT bike the day after Tranent Triathlon – see previous weekly roundup. Half way into that ride her chain snapped adding to the misery from the previous day. Luckily Ian and his mate Jon were on their ride at the same time and could help. The repair took longer than expected though and I was getting a bit worried about the time this was taking.
A couple of days later I’d ordered everything in to fix the ailing bike and got to work expecting this to not take long. Unfortunately the eyelet that holds the gear cables in place on the frame broke and a real solution wasn’t in sight anymore.
We had already been discussing the option of switching Fiona to my TT bike which is a bit smaller and may thus fit her better. So I got on with setting that up. Fiona is taller than me but that his mostly her leg length, the upper body is of similar height.
Once set up, Fiona went out on a test ride but reported back that we’d need to make some changes as the pads on the Tri bars were hurting her arms. Got that sorted too and hey presto, Fiona had a new bike for Stirling Duathlon, or so I thought.
Scottish Duathlon Championships – Stirling; and other team news
Fiona headed over to Stirling for the Scottish Duathlon Championships over the standard distance of 10k run, 40k bike (42 actually) and 5k run.
We were hoping for improvements with transitions having practiced a bit more since Tranent and to get a good performance on both bike and run with the bike being mechanical free. We got a number of these things but not the bike bits (except those that included transitions).
Fiona sadly had another mechanical issue on the bike, this time with the tri bars dropping as the screws hadn’t been tightened well enough by the mechanic (bangs head on wall). With her race head on Fiona kept going as best she could, but – in her own words – longer than she should have, before fixing the issue properly. It is difficult to say how much time was lost but what we can safely say is that it was significant.
On the positive the transition exit and entry were improved and Fiona came away with the fastest 2nd run time in her category and the 4th fast first run time but was left 2nd last due to the bike issue.
I am suitably annoyed with myself for having not tighten the bolts up properly. Fingers crossed this is the end of the issues and Fiona will have a good race next time round.
In other team news, Carolyn had a great run at Edinburgh parkrun on Saturday morning beating her parkrun PB by a good minute. Considering the reduced run volume this is very promising.
I headed off to the Eildons trail race in Melrose, while Fiona was racing at Stirling. I did this race in 2015 – the first time it was run. It is the middle part of the Jedurgh ultra route and I like it for the fact that I can blast a route I’d normally have to take easy as I’d already have done 18miles before starting on the part that the trail race covers.
I had 2 main unknowns to this race: I’d be racing in a pair of new trainers – Inov8 X Talon – and I’d be racing 3 days after a 42k run in the Pentlands which seemed a bit foolish. Nonetheless I was hoping for a PB from last year as at least with 2 days to go the ground was due to be bone dry. This was until the heavy rain the day before. The forecast for race day was rather interesting too. Heavy showers accompanied us on the drive down and on the warm up jog to the start. We were told to carry a waterproof jacket for the race and I expected to be wearing it throughout.
The sun appeared seconds before the start and felt rather hot. I scrambled to get my waterproof off and stowed away just as the start whistle went. Last year I tried to keep a tab on how many were ahead of me at the start to see where I was placing myself. I was going to do the same but when the numbers went into the high teens on the first km I gave up. Once I crested the first summit it looked though as if I had moved back into the top 10. With a flat ascent up the 3rd Eildon Hill I could assume that those I could see ahead of me were all that were ahead of me and therefore placed myself into 8th. I was hoping to match or improve on last year’s placing (10th). I picked up a place as I went through Maxton (the other competitor stopped for a drink while I went through) and lost a place to another competitor just after. Overall I was feeling good but recall having a good race last year too so wasn’t sure how things would compare. Through St. Bowsells I regained the spot I lost earlier as the other guy made a navigational error. I managed to hold him off to the finish as there was more climbing than descending and this seemed to suit me better than him.
I was amazed as to how rough and washed out the river section was, it had taken quite an impact from the recent floods. As I started to head back to the finish I knew that a PB was going to happen the question was by how much. I had completed the course in 1:27 hours in 2015 and it looked like a time in the low 1:20s by my reckoning but the race director had said it would be closer to 10.5 miles and at my current speed I wasn’t sure about the low 1:20s. Luckily the course was spot on for 10 miles and I finished in 1:22 hrs and 7th place. Very pleased with my day’s work.
Inov8 X Talon 190s
While I was standing at the start of the Galashiels XC race chatting to James Harrison I noted that he was wearing a pair of trainers that very much looked like road race flats and said to him: ‘You’re not racing in those are you?’, noting the type of course and the fact that we had snow. He lifted his foot to show me the sole and I quickly changed my mind as it looked ideal for rough trail and fell. I’d seen him wear those at Carnethy 5 the day before but thought he had changed to a ‘decent’ pair of shoes for the race.
My mind was set that I wanted a pair and I got round to get some from Run & Become a few weeks later tested them the day before the Eildons race in rainy conditions and had a good feeling about them.
For the race they felt fantastic, fitted like a glove, gave me great grip on the muddy climbs and the same for the steep and muddy descents. At the same time their lightness and the softness of their lugs provided a great feel on the tarmac road sections too. The X Talons feel like a race flat for the hills that works on the road too. Remarkable really. The 190 stands for their weight. I’ve definitely never worn a trail shoe as light as this and the one danger is that they won’t last long but I’ll be racing in them whenever I can. I am currently debating if they can be used for a long race such as the Highland Fling. My feeling is that it should work but I’ll need to test them over 20+ miles at some point in the upcoming weeks. They definitely added to the improved time at the Eildons race. My increased trail running speed from the winter cross country races has been a factor too.
Long Pentland Skyline
This has been a want to do for a while. I have done the Pentland Skyline Race 3 times so far and have run the Skyline route or most of it on various other occasions, never though have I done if from my doorstep in the centre of Edinburgh and back to the same place. I was also not sure how long this would really be. The race route is 27km and I know there was an out and back for me so it would be around 35-40km. I chose a slightly different route and also decided to do the Skyline in reverse. The variation was that I would start with Capelaw and then head west over the Norther Hills to Hare Hill, pick up the drove road and start heading back along the southern hills. I would therefore get to the top of each Skyline hill but not duplicate any of them – the race duplicates 2. In the end I didn’t go to the top of Castlelaw either in favour of a nicer path.
The weather wasn’t quite what I had been expecting; wind was forecast but I wasn’t really expecting rain. Luckily I headed out prepared, as the baselayer came out heading off Capelaw, the rain jacket got donned going up Hare Hill and coming off the kips I put on the waterproof trousesrs. It was mostly driving drizzle and I was rather pleased to have headed into the wind in the first half. By the time I was ascending Carnethy I was bathed in sunshine and feeling rather overheated but awarded with an awesome rainbow. The run ended with a total of 42km and around a mile of vertical ascent. I was out there for just under 6 hours and very pleased with how this went. The achy legs the next day made me wonder though how this would affect the Eildons race. As per above, it didn’t, and is probably testament to the speed I can recover now and probably also sits a bit within the double race weekends I have done in recent months.
Next time there will be stories of a trip to Oxford.