Long bikes, long runs and big blisters!

Dare I say that training has been going well... Speed (well, lack of) is still an issue and the back pain is my ever present friend on the bike, but I have been putting the hours in over all 3 disciplines.

Repeated punctures (I have new tyres now) led to me not completing a long bike on one Saturday and so I found myself looking at a very long turbo session on the Sunday. My friend Geoff was braving the weather and was doing a 75 mile charity ride and I text him to say that I would stay on the turbo until he had finished. I don't think he actually thought I would, but somehow I managed it. 5 hours later. I collapsed on the floor, soaking wet and totally knackered! Great mental training, not sure I could make myself do it again though...

The Wales trip a few weeks ago was fantastic. I drove up on the Wednesday and as soon as I had arrived, I hit the bike course for a 'quick' lap. It wasn't quick obviously but I loved it and it stopped me stressing about being (totally) dropped on the hills the next day. The following morning we met up with Gabby from Gone Swimming at Llyn Padarn. I love this lady, she is an awesome ball of positive energy and she knows about my OW demons and always gives me some helpful tips to make my swims a little easier. We swam for about 90 mins, the water was quite choppy in the middle but I coped pretty well, no major freak outs!!

This is the film we made -

After the swim, we met up with Antony (who is our Brutal Double Blogger) to ride some laps. The wind was pretty strong but it was dry at least. The scenery on the bike course never fails to take my breath away, it's just the best place to be in my opinion. We rode 3 laps without any drama and made our way to Pete's Eats to refuel. That night at the campsite, we experienced a huge storm that wiped a few tents out and I was pretty glad to be in my teeny, tiny tent for once as it stayed firmly attached the ground!

Last weekend was my 24hr Cotswold running event. I had entered this after my Quin no-show, when I was feeling crap. The few days leading up to it, I wondered if it was such a clever thing to do... at no point in this year's Deca will I need to run more than a marathon, so should I be doing it in training? Still, I really wanted to go and I said to everyone that if I even felt a twinge I would stop. Yeah... right!!!

The 9k course was 70 / 30 off road and had a couple of little hills and rough bits, that I walked throughout the event (with TC saying 'always walk the hills' in my head!) but generally it was a nice course, plenty of views and an aid station halfway. I was feeling kinda cocky laps 1 and 2 but then lap 3 was horrible! I seized up, felt rough and really questioned what I was doing there. I was coming back to my tent on every lap and my lovely flapjack making mum was my crew. After lap 3, I had a proper stretch, cup of tea and some decent food. Feeling better, I cracked on.

The rest of the event was a bit of a blur of fields, lanes, other runners passing me (relays), darkness, headtorches, lots of bananas and tea and PAIN. Yes, I was experiencing more than twinges. My knees, feet, IT bands, shins etc etc. Did I stop? Did I f*ck. But I got slower and slower, which takes some doing when you are already pretty slow!! Mentally I felt very strong though, I wanted to keep going throughout the night and only having 10-15 minute breaks and that's pretty much what I did.

The last but one lap it started to rain. This was serious rain, the kind that gets every item of clothing you are wearing soaked. Underwear included! I was wearing a stupid 'shower proof' jacket, which was completely pointless and as I returned to HQ, I was very cold. Once I was into my tent, I was shivering badly and so began the game of getting as many clothes on as possible, so I could finish the event.

The final lap I was a sorry state. Cold, wet, tired and in pain, I limped the whole course. I was seriously pissed off with myself as my terrible maths had worked out that I had only done around 72 miles and I was set on 78. I was also aware that I was second and thought that if I didn't manage one more lap, then I would slip to third. The whole way round, I shouted at myself to do 'just one more lap' but in my heart knew I shouldn't. As I got to the finish line, the announcer said that unless you were sure that you could make it back by the cut off, to not start another lap. I knew that I wouldn't be able to run it and called it a day.

After I had got my medal and returned to the tent, I burst into tears. After feeling so strong and positive for 90% of the event, I was just broken and I was disappointed in myself. until I looked at the results and saw that I had done 78 miles and that I was still second. Cue more tears, but happy ones this time.

Once home I looked at my feet and saw the damage. Not pretty! I think it was the biggest blister I have had since I poured boiling rabbit stew on my leg at a school camping holiday. But all in all I was pretty pleased with the how the event went. For me, a massive part of my training at the moment, is mental. How I deal with things when they get really black is as important as training my body for the Deca and the only way of doing it, is getting to some dark places in training and learning to cope with the emotions in the best way possible.

Right, I'm off to tend to my festering zombie toes.

PS. 2016 Deca event plans are in full swing and a venue / route recce is happening this weekend! Hopefully I will be able to publish location / entry dates etc late next week.