Swim, bike, run, write.

The Training Diaries #IM703: Duston Sprint and MK Half Marathon

It's T-minus 114 days until Ironman 70.3 Zell-am-See and I can honestly say I'm starting to feel excited about seeing what I can do - rather than crapping my pants about the distance! So that's a good start. Training has been going really well and I feel like I've made some good improvements over the last few months - not just in terms of fitness but mentally too. My bike FTP is up and I'm running faster than I've ever been able to, but the biggest change is that I've actually started to believe that "I can". Self-belief is something that I've struggled with a lot in the past, but I feel like I've finally found my mental toughness again and I'm ready to take on anything (yep, even the climb on the Zell am See bike course!)

My triathlon season kicked off with Duston Sprint Triathlon up in Northampton on 23rd April. This was my first ever triathlon last year so I was really looking forward to seeing what I could do compared to last year me. When I raced it last year I'd only just about set arse on a road bike for the first time a month before and had graduated up to my big girl clip in pedals just one week before the race. I can remember just being so relieved that I'd made it to the end of the bike split without falling off! This year was a completely different story - the bike has been a big focus in my training and I'm definitely feeling the benefits. My other half, Graham, treated us both to power metres earlier in the year which I've found so useful in terms of knowing when to push and managing my effort so I don't turn into little miss jelly legs on the run. Combined with some great 1-1 sessions with Campbell from Re-leaf I'm really enjoying cycling - who'd have known! The course at Duston is slightly undulating with a little stinger up towards a church (I'd love to tell you where but I can barely navigate my way around a cardboard box, let alone the Northampton countryside). I felt good the whole way round and completed the bike split 7 minutes quicker than last year. After getting a little bit overexcited and nearly running straight past my area in transition (what a muppet), I headed out on to the run course. I'd picked up a little niggly lower leg issue the week before the race so I wasn't entirely sure whether my run legs were going to make an appearance but thankfully they were ready and raring! After a nice downhill start to the run route I just decided to dig in and see what pace I could hold until the end. I finished in 1hr 17 minutes 57 seconds (compared to 1hr 30 in 2016) and somehow managed to win my age category too so I got to bring home a shiny thing! This was a great start to the season and the fact that it is only the start has got me feeling so excited and motivated to keep pushing with the training - there's still lots to work on (especially speeding up transitions!) so hopefully the best is yet to come!

The next week it was time to turn my attention to the Milton Keynes Half Marathon on 1st May. Other than the odd park run, this was my first non-triathlon race since 2015 and it felt so weird not to have my bike and a million other bits and pieces with me! It was a pretty big race (I think the commentator guy was saying there were around 4000 people racing!) but it was really well organised and a wave start system meant there weren't any fisticuffs or tripping up on the start line. The course went up through central MK, where there was some great support, and then down the ouzel valley through some parks to finish up with a lap round the stadium. I've only done a half marathon once before so I'm not that experienced in racing the distance but I had a pace plan and felt in control throughout. My aim was to get round in less than 2 hours and I finished in 1hr 53 mins so I'm pretty happy with that! Now to just get my head round doing that after 56 miles on the bike...

Graham has been smashing it with shiny new PBs both for the sprint triathlon and the half marathon - I'm determined to catch him one day! ;) It's so exciting to be working towards the half ironman together - especially as it was Graham's double Ironman effort back in 2015 that got me into the sport in the first place. It definitely helps that we both 'get it' in terms of all the training, galloping around in lycra and the very early nights!

Next stop is our Majorca training camp early next month and I am so ready to get some sunshine on my pasty little legs. Sea swims, mountains and Tolos beckon!

Check out my previous 'Training Diaries' posts here.

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