I have a duathlon approaching at the start of next month so it’s time to stop messing about and get a little bit more serious with my training. I booked into this event at the end of last year as I thought the timing was ideal (it isn’t exactly, but I will explain why later) and I needed something to focus on from the start of the year. It’s being held at the Oulton Park race track in Cheshire and I’ve gone for the full event rather than the sprint so it will be 2 laps of running around the 4.3km circuit followed by 9 laps on bike then a final one back on my legs.
I haven’t been out on my road bike yet this year and missed a golden opportunity yesterday but I was too busy climbing hills, flying kites and getting utterly lost in a forest. My running training is sort of on track, a very quick half marathon(ish) run a few weeks ago suggested I had the stamina and although I was slightly disappointing with a drink affected 5k last weekend I think I can aim for 4 minute kilometre pace without doing too much damage to my body.
The riding will be harder to judge. I was suprised with my pace over the 20k of the Liverpool Triathlon last summer and how comfortable I felt. The surface of the race track should aid my speed and the rolling profile will provide some interest. I remember attacking the short hill climbs in my first Nantwich Fun To Tri event and then pushing hard down the hills as well in order to feel the buzz of some high speed riding.
I might try riding to work on the roadie in order to settle the bike and myself into regular action and then a 20k lap around Pilsworth this weekend. I need some new shoes that don’t involve laces (and look prettier too) and since the race is on a circuit I’ll try using aero bars for the first time ever as my second hand road bike arrived with some fitted to it.
I saw the track over the weekend as we went to a school friend’s 40th birthday party at Peckforton Castle about 5 miles away. We had a splendid evening at Ant’s fancy dress party with some lovely people in truely magnificent surroundings and then the next morning I enjoyed more of Cheshire’s fine woodland than I had anticipated. I set off from the castle just before 7am (not too hung over) and jogged the kilometre down the main drive to the nearest road, then ran to and around the walls of a neighbouring castle. It was a ruin and sadly the grounds around it were only open to the public between specific hours so I couldn’t explore. As I returned to our hotel castle I took a private road into the estate which I though might be more interesting. After a kilometre I picked up a path which started climbing upwards and hopefully towards my intended destination. I overshot the castle at this point but then found a track which I guessed was part of the Landrover Experience trail that ran from the hotel. Great, I thought, I don’t have to think any more just follow the orange mud road to the palace. After a while I came to a junction, with no signs and I guessed left. Then a little later another junction where I guessed at right (didn’t want to loop back on myself). The trail meandered and I started to think that I should have spotted a large castle shaped building by now. I was in the middle of the woods now and couldn’t see buildings in any direction. I found a more substantial track and decided now was the time to cut my losses and head for a proper road that might have sign posts on it. After another kilometre (the 4th after entering the wood) I thought it might be a good time to look at a map. However, there was no signal on my smart phone so no Google maps or Latitude application to help me, what could I do? I was getting quite worried at this point as I literally didn’t know which direction I should be heading (even if there wasn’t a path actually going in that direction). I then grudgingly sacrificed my workout session on Endomondo as it uses GPS tracking. By ending it I could review the trace and compare where I currently was with where I started and would like to return to. The last 2k had been completely the wrong direction so I retraced them but still couldn’t see a castle. I climbed a little higher until the trees started to clear then spotted the castle another 3k away on the next hill. Panic over I returned for a much needed full english breakfast.
I suggested we stop off at Oulton Park as it was only a couple of miles diversion off our route homeward. It then dawned on me that the event was scheduled for Mother’s Day and my better half trying to control our two excitable children at a busy event with lots of expensive bikes not to be touched would not be her ideal day. Fortunately there are tables available at the hotel through the afternoon for a late Mother’s Day lunch to make amends for this diary clash. The kids will be thrilled by a tour of the Peckforton, seeing the peacocks and birds of prey that reside at the castle as well as walking around the ruins of the neighbouring castle. I will be sure not to take them on any woodland walks though.