Embrace Sports Algarve Triathlon Holiday – Day 3

I woke early on Monday morning, although it was nice to know that we had a relatively late start. I felt mixed emotions about what we would be doing.

Monday schedule
Monday schedule

I knew that the trail run consisted of 5 mile loops, and that each runner could choose to do as many or as few as they wanted to. Last time I did 10 miles, and I knew that there would be no pressure on me to do that much as no-one seems to expect triathletes to run… however, I wanted to do better than I did in January, and also knew that I should do some training ahead of Gosport Half Marathon on 17th November. This also needed to be balanced with the fact that I knew I had a tough week ahead of me.

In January, my run started out well at a good pace with Ruth and Dave, but I fell half way around and cut my hands as well as badly scraping my thigh. It really knocked my confidence and made me run tentatively for several months afterwards (as well as giving me a lasting scar on my butt!!!) I ended up having to walk part of the first loop, and jogged the second lap slowly with Eric having to motivate me in the end, so this time I was determined to remain alert and have fun.

Graeme explained the route to us
Graeme explained the route to us © Embrace Sports

We posed for a photo before the start of the run – it’s striking to compare the size of the group with the one in January (see the bottom of my ‘About Me‘ page). I know I was in this picture (somewhere on the left), and I could definitely see the photographer, but there doesn’t seem to be any sign of me!

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Trail run Trail run © Embrace Sports

My 5 mile PB (43:21) was set at Victory 5 Mile in September 2012, but my other 5 mile race times have all been between 45:12 and 46:16.

The start of the trail run
The start of the trail run

I set out quite steadily as I didn’t want to go too fast and I know that I need to maintain an even pace. Katie ran with me for a while, but I decided that she as running faster than I wanted to, so I slowed down a bit. This also meant that I was running on my own. I was happy about that as I didn’t want to risk being distracted and falling again.

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Running by the wind turbines Running by the wind turbines

At about 7k, I heard another runner coming up behind me. I didn’t want to be over-taken, so I sped up a bit, knowing that we would soon be at a downhill section. Luckily, this tactic paid off as my ‘opponent’ was less confident at running downhill than I was, so I was able to regain my lead. It wasn’t long before I could see the finishing stretch, so I pushed on and was pleased to finish in just over 54 minutes. I was feeling strong and confident, so I didn’t stop for long before continuing onto a second lap.

First 5 mile lap: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/402161260

Woodland trail run - first lap
Woodland trail run – first lap

I got to near the windmills, and saw quite a few of the others who had decided to do part of a lap before returning to the minibuses. I continued on, enjoying the tranquility. I knew that at some stage, Scott would pass me on his third lap, so it was a little challenge to myself to see how far I could go before he passed me. I suspected that Scott would pass me at 3k, but in the end, I had done  between 5 and 6km before Scott went whizzing past. He looked so relaxed and comfortable despite the fact that he was moving at a tremendous pace – he even managed to smile and call out some encouragement.

This was where I fell in January
This was where I fell in January © Embrace Sports
Enjoying the scenery
Enjoying the scenery

When I got back to the finish, I found that only Andy was waiting as all of the others had just left in the minibus. This gave me a chance to drink and stretch whilst waiting for the others. Next to finish were two ladies who had also run 10 miles (Sam and someone else), and then Sandra from Portsmouth Joggers who had run 15 miles. Finally John and Denny came in, having completed 15 miles. I assumed that Scott had got on the earlier minibus, but he had run around with Graeme to pick up the cones, so he completed 20 miles in total! I felt quite pleased that I wasn’t the slowest person to complete 10 miles, and was also relieved that I was feeling significantly better than I had in January.

Woodland trail run – second lap: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/402161267

Garmin details form second woodland run
Garmin details from the second woodland run

Unfortunately, when I got back to the apartments, I made the mistake of looking on Garmin Connect to see how I did in January: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/268718588 I did the whole thing in 1:49:03, which was 3:02 minutes faster than the 1:52:05 that I managed this year (which is only seconds away from my half marathon PB). The pace of my entire first slap was 1 second per km slower than my average pace in January. I felt so disappointed when I realised this and was torn between the fact that I had actually enjoyed the run and the fact that I clearly hadn’t tried hard enough. Unless I put more effort in, I will never improve and get back to where I was 🙁

In the afternoon, we headed to the car park that Eric had used for the running technique session in January. We cycled down there, and then Graeme asked us to dismount and attach our shoes to the pedals. We had to practice running down to the cone and back pushing our bikes… which sounds easy, but we had to steer them by holding onto the saddle. Graeme is an expert at this, but it’s not something that I had tried before. (When we did our 6 ferries and 100km extravaganza, I was wowed by everyone else being able to steer their bikes just by putting on hand on the handlebars – this is not something that I can do with my commuter bike, as it is far too heavy. It was a complete revelation to get my road bike and find that it is light enough for me to steer it just by holding the handlebars.) I found it easy enough to push the bike in a straight line, but it wasn’t so easy to turn a corner. I’m looking forward to practising this with my own bike and will try to remember to only push it by holding onto the saddle, so that I can perfect my skills.

Next we had to practice mounting our bikes by putting one foot on a pedal and swinging our leg over the saddle whilst the bike was moving. As that’s what I always used to do when I was a child, it didn’t seem so bad. The next step was to practice dismounting. We had to swing one leg back over the saddle and then ‘thread the needle’ i.e. swing our leg in the gap between the other leg and the bike. This was a drill that we had practised with Ant during our triathlon training weekend, but it was easier then as I didn’t have clipless pedals and the saddle of my other bike was lower. I’m not very good at doing it – my excuse is that my legs are too fat to give me much room between my leg and the bike frame. Obviously, there are two things I need to do about this – lose weight and practise more!!!

The next challenge was to mount the bike with my shoes already attached. Graeme showed us the ‘triathlon hack’ of attaching our shoes with elastic bands… which was another tip that Ant had shared with us during our tri weekend. Fortunately, when I bought my bike shoes, I chose some tri specific shoes, so they have a large heel loop as well as large velcro straps. I found it easy to get one foot in my shoes (right foot), but I struggled to get my left foot in and I was nervous about leaning over to try to help my foot into the shoe as I was worried that I might crash. Removing my shoes was the easiest part.

At the end of the session, Graeme told us that he wanted us to practise what we had learnt every time we went out riding, so that we would improve and be able to use the skills in a real triathlon. This is something that I am determined to do, as I felt reasonably confident that I had the basics of the skills and I know that I will feel proud if I can show off these skills at my next event (possibly Winchester Duathlon). I’d also like to do another triathlon holiday with Embrace and would like to be able to show Graeme that I have learnt from him.

A selfie from John on the recovery ride
A selfie from John on the recovery ride

In the afternoon, we went for a recovery bike ride. I had assumed that this would make it feel significantly easier than the last ride, but the route seemed quite hilly, which made it feel quite challenging. It was only about 13 miles long, but that was long enough for me!

Another selfie from John on the cycle back
Another selfie from John on the cycle back
Garmin data from recovery bike ride
Garmin data from recovery bike ride

When we got back there was time for a shower before dinner. It had been another amazing, but exhausting, day!

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