Recently I took part in a different sort of event – similar idea of keeping moving for a long time. But only running. And not on the even road surface but off road on trails and over mountains.
Ok, fair enough, the non-triathletes among you will consider this little different to what I normally do, but those amongst you who dwell in the sport or absorb some of what I say may not. Anyways, I thought I would explain why I decided to do something a little “off the beaten track”.
My priority A race of the year was Mooloolaba 70.3 World Championships at the beginning of September. I’d spent a good 6 months focusing on that race. The lead up hadn’t been too straightforward, with a bike crash in July that made me useless for a couple of weeks. Anyways, that amongst with the pressure that I tend to put on myself, meant that I wanted a bit of a mental break, but to still do what I love most.
So what else to do than to sign up for an Xterra race (off-road triathlon)? Initially this was the idea to involve a bit of mountain biking. But as I did the bike recce, I soon realised that I could run the course faster than bike it, and be at a lower risk of injuring myself. So that’s exactly what I decided to do: a 31km trail race. In 34C heat.
The beauty of trail races is that a lot of it comes down to not burning yourself out. So I started at a steady pace and just kept it constant, taking plenty of time at aid stations to cool down with sponges and water.
I was in the lead from the beginning, and soon caught up with the last straggling duathletes who had set off 45 minutes before us. They seemed impressed with the pace I was setting, but I held even more respect for relatively novice athletes taking on a pretty tricky course.
But it was fun, I chatted with a few of them along the way and had the most stunning morning exploring Koh Samui by foot.
Trail races may seem like a scary concept, but I would thoroughly recommend taking on the change of pace whether it be for a training race, a serious race or just an excuse to discover a new part of the world!
Either way, I finished feeling mildly dehydrated, and psychologically ready to throw myself back into full time training. But also really pleased that I had managed to complete this new challenge.
Thank you to Oat and his family for hosting us in the most stunning resort, Smile House Koh Samui – I thoroughly recommend it to any one who has the opportunity to visit this incredible island! Also to Serge Henkens and his team at AMA events for putting on yet another beautiful race. Finally to Alex for last minute lending me a hydration pack…the generosity of the triathlon family never ceases to amaze me!
Next stop Challenge Kanchanaburi in a couple of weeks.
Keep smiling and keep pushing. Don’t be afraid to try something different.