After months of not knowing when or where my next race will be due to the ongoing pandemic, a friend and I decided to enter the Castle Triathlon Series middle distance triathlon called “The Gauntlet”, set around Hever Castle in Kent, UK. A standard 1.9km swim, 90km ride, 21km run in July, which we booked a couple of weeks ago.

Wait wait… July?! But it’s already June! Indeed it is, but in these uncertain times we wanted a race that we had confidence in being able to participate in! I’ve had to kickstart my running, building up from gentle 5kms to longer runs. I think I’ll use my TT bike, so I have switched my road bike to TT bike on my home turbo trainer connected to Zwift, to get used to the bike position. I also jumped in the deep end (literally) with open water swimming. You should have seen me – a brand new wetsuit (that I’d purchased after my last middle distance tri two seasons ago), new neoprene socks, and an outdoor swimming venue that I’ve not visited before.

I think the swimming centre’s staff thought I was a hazard to myself – I turned up without a lock for my bike, with my new kit that I struggled to put on, I had issues with my goggles in the water and my neoprene socks almost came off in the water. Plus I was also one of just a few people stepping into the 11c water… brr!

Here’s my TT setup!

The biggest challenge for me will be the pacing: I haven’t done over 5 hours of cardio in a block in a few months, so I’ll need to pace. I’m a little concerned about should strain from the position on my TT bike, and I am slightly concerned about maintaining speed on the half marathon run. I’m not even worried about the swim because it’s my worst discipline, so I’m just happy to make it out of the water!

The key things I am focusing on in the one month that I have left to train:

  • Bike setup: I’m fitted to my bike, it’s serviced and I have new elbow pads (last tri ended up with me resting on scratchy velcro… ouch!)
  • Zipp 404 wheels in race-ready condition (I have issues with the rear hub)
  • Familiarity with my new Huub wetsuit, which features an awesome breakaway zip
  • Rebuilding my confidence in open water swimming, including sighting
  • Getting used to the position on the TT bike
  • Getting used to longer periods on the TT bike
  • Backup bike plan to use my ride bike
  • Building up running stamina
  • Eating and drinking plan and setup in transition, bike and run
  • Staying injury-free
  • Building in a few brick sessions
  • Planning transition and practising it!

These are my reminders for myself. I’m sure for you they will vary, and you may have different priorities. I’ve done many triathlons over the last decade or so, but I, like many others, am feeling a bit rusty, having not raced in a while. I look forward to writing about the race in a month’s time!

Whatever your upcoming goals, I hope you train hard and excel!

Keep training


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