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Guest Blog: Heather Dawe - Celtman Triathlon Preparation

Friday, 28 June 2013

Heather Dawe running on the Chevin above Otley. Photo: John Coefield.

Heather Dawe running on the Chevin above Otley. Photo: John Coefield

Pretty soon I will be heading up to the mountains of Torridon in the north-west Scottish Highlands to compete in what looks to be the most amazing triathlon in the UK.

Held for the first time in 2012, the Celtman is an ironman distance triathlon – a 3.8-kilometre swim, 202-kilometre bike ride and 42-kilometre run. The majority of ironmans are run over fairly flat ground and are often repetitive in their nature – competitors complete laps of the swim, bike and run circuits. The Celtman is quite different. We will start at 4 a.m. with a swim across a sea loch, followed by an undulating bike ride along some wonderfully scenic mountain and coast roads. The run will then head over one of Torridon’s trio of amazing mountain ridges – Beinn Eighe. It looks awesome in at least two ways – awesomely hard and awesomely beautiful, and that is what has drawn me to it.

I think it’s fair to say that three or so years ago this race would still have made me nervous but not have filled me with the sense of trepidation I feel today. Back then I was getting out for long sessions riding and running all the time. These days I don’t get out as much as I am busy having fun with my 15-month-old daughter. That said, I am not moaning! I have a very supportive partner – and a very chilled out baby – and with their help I have managed to up my training since January and also complete a few of my favourite kind of races.

This started in April when I did the Highlander Mountain Marathon with my good friend Andrea Priestley. It was held over the Creag Meagaidh range in the Highlands and was a brilliant weekend’s running and navigating over some stunning terrain. Andrea and I then ran the Old County Tops fell race – 38 miles in the Lake District taking in the summits of Helvellyn, Scafell Pike and the Old Man of Coniston. The weather was pretty foul and I made a couple of navigation errors but it was a grand day out and brilliant to be running long distances in the mountains again.

A couple of weeks after the Old County Tops I did a fell race I have always wanted to do but never quite got to the start of – the Welsh 1000-metre Peaks race. This race in Snowdonia starts on the coast and finishes at the summit of Snowdon, taking in the Carneddau and Glyder ranges on the way. I had such a fun time during this race I don’t think I tried as hard as I could have done, I was too busy enjoying the view …!

The last long race I have got in before Celtman was the Rapha Gentleman’s Race last weekend. A cycle race with a twist. Riding over the North York Moors from York to Whitby and back in teams of six, there were three checkpoints and you could choose your own way between them. Our scenic route came in at just over 120 miles on the road with plenty of the short, steep climbs the North York Moors are renowned for.

Along with all of this I have been managing to up my swimming distance and getting a reasonable amount done in open water. The water in the sailing lakes out the back of Otley is not as cold as Loch Shieldaig hopefully I will be able to cope with the temperature. 

So, I am now as ready as I can be for the Celtman. Hopefully it will be enough. One of the things I learned from writing Adventures in Mind was that – for me at least – challenges aren’t challenges unless there is at least an edge of nervousness about my ability to get to the finish line, whatever the finish line may be. I won’t be letting failure dwell on my mind, however; I am looking forward to a fantastic day in the mountains. Bring it on!

Heather.

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