Part 1 of Castles, Mountains and Dragons ended with a 3rd place at Castle Howard Olympic distance and I was putting away my jousting pole and getting ready to chase Dragons in Wales...
Formerly the Snowman, Always Aim High events had re-named this epic North Wales Triathlon to 'The Snowdonia Triathlon Festival' A whole weekend of triathlon fun based at Plas Y Brenin National Mountain Centre in Capel Curig.
A voicemail from Christian at Always Aim High the week before convinced me to go over and get involved in the fun. Also the memory of the stunningly scenic bike and run route from the Raceforce/Always Aim High training weekend earlier in the year was etched in my memory. There really is no better outdoor playground.
Obviously I spent the week between Jousting at Castle Howard and riding up and down Welsh mountains, with my feet up, resting and recovering.....
Several hours after the race I was enjoying (not sure my glutes and body were) the 2Magpies Ventoux Play at Leeds Slung Low theatre (well worth checking this place out, really is, something very different and unique) Depicting the Lance Armstrong vs Marco Pantani Rivalry on Mount Ventoux.
Working in London followed, I was actually pretty relieved to spend Monday morning sat down on the train, my legs and body in general felt absolutely smashed. Normally i quite like jumping on a Boris bike to get to the Teach First London Office, not this time,my legs voted for the tube.
The benefits of London meetings. Huge swimming pools! Tooting Lido, one of the biggest in Europe. Nice to enjoy a Tuesday morning swim here with my big mate the biggest Sue Swaine.
In between work meetings in the big smoke it was nice to catch up with friends from my time living and working down here. London seems like a world away from Yorkshire but as they say "It's never the place but the people that matter" and I feel lucky to have met some incredible people, in the different places I have lived.
Back up in Leeds, I returned to the treadmill on Wednesday for the first time in almost 2 years. In 2014 I did a lot of my run sessions in the gym, on the treadmill, it's a love hate relationship. I love the quality you can get and the mental toughness you can develop, but oh my, it really does produce a bucket load of sweat and pain. Having been steady running since October, It was nice to finally be doing a run session. The gradual build up of running this year has tested my patience but I believe it has given me a really solid foundation to hopefully sprinkle with some faster work for the next few weeks leading up to my main race at Weymouth in September. 10x400m at 10k pace with short recoveries was the order of the day.
Good job I had dropped into OTE bunker earlier in the day for more supplies. Weekend supplies and help for the recovery.
Thursday my calves were a wreck, so I got myself down to pre breakfast morning yoga with former Teach First Colleague turned Yoga Teacher, Shelley to try ease the tightness. I jumped on the computrainer in the evening to produced yet more sweat to add to yesterdays. I really need to buy a fan.
Funday Friday Malcolm's Masters swim bonanza.... needless to say after this, I eat and very very big breakfast. 5 Banana Smoothies are my favourite.
Saturday, I was off to Snowdonia. I got a little dip in the lake, thank fully far warmer than the last time I was here.
Aqua Sphere Flag marking the swim start. Pretty cool view from the lake
Yes the rest and recovery element in between races, has room for improvement. But for me, my focus is on Weymouth 70.3 in September and I am viewing everything as building blocks towards that. I hoped my calves would have recovered by Sunday and my excursions from Castle Howard and the days that followed would leave me with some energy.
The swim was a balmy 15.8 degrees in Llyn Mymbyr. Surrounded by mountains, this is a stunning swim venue and race start. I swam with my host for the weekend, Stel Farah, both of us clocking 16.48 for the 1km swim, the timing mat being at the start of transition, allow me to catch Stel up on the run between the lake and transition, as she exited the lake before me. Despite being in the Vet 50 category she is still an incredible swimmer.
The bike is 60km loop around Snowdon, a world class route in terms of scenery. Compared to last weekend where I felt terrible for the whole bike, my bike legs seemed to have come back to me. I enjoyed rather than endured the bike leg.
The run, a trail 10km along the Ogwen Valley, is beautiful. This is one of the main reasons i love running, it allows you to explore stunning places.
It was great to be back in Snowdonia and to be back on the top podium spot. Thanks Always Aim High for another really well organised event. Well done to everyone who completed the race, a really beautiful and honest course.
Well done Paul Hawkins for Winning the Men's race
Big well done to RaceForce's very own Kate Linsley for 3rd spot int he savage competition.
Again as with many of my visits to North Wales for the Always Aim High events I stayed with Stell and her family. I decided to take advantage of their incredible hospitality and stay Sunday night after the race, to avoid driving home with painful glutes and hamstrings. Monday morning we walked down the mountain from Stell's house to the lake, for a pre breakfast swim. And then walked slowly back up again!
Post race stroll up and down the mountain for a fresh swim with Stell the day after the race.