All posts by twinbikerun

Twin Running Cycling Swimming Scotland

Celtman 2022 – Pre-race (Iain)

Extreme triathlons tend to take place in beautiful remote locations. Celtman is no exception. It takes place in Torridon. A tiny village enclosed by mountains and sea. But there is a downside to the location. It can be very difficult to get accommodation near to the race.

If I’m interested in an event I try to book my accommodation before I get a confirmed place. That way I beat the rush of other people looking for accomodation too. I was able to sort out a house 45 minutes from the start. Which for this part of the world counts as being close by.

The place I booked was https://www.booking.com/hotel/gb/the-wee-coolins-strathcarron.html

It wasn’t cheap but nothing here is. But it was clean and comfy. It was a good base for the weekend. There is a local supermarket just 5 minutes away. They had a good choice of local food and mainstream brands.

The accomodation

I’d booked the accommodation from the Thursday to the Sunday of the race weekend. I headed to it on the Thursday. I like to arrive two days beforehand so that the Friday is not a rush. Andrew, his wife and his daughter were due to arrive too but he phoned to say they’d all come down with a sickness bug.

Which was a slight worry as they were my support crew. But I was confident they’d make it up so I didn’t let it worry me.

I got a good nights sleep. I’d brought my own pillow to ensure that I did sleep ok. I learnt that tip from the Tour De France. The riders also bring their own pillow as they don’t know how good their bed will be each night.

On the Friday I went to the social swim. This is a small gathering in Sheildaig were you can do a practice swim in the sea. The conditions were abysmal. There was big waves in the sea so the organizers shortened the course. I quite enjoy swimming in waves so I went straight in and did a quick loop. The water temperature wasn’t too cold (12.5C) and it boosted my confidence that I wouldn’t have to worry about temperature the next day.

In the afternoon I had to register. They are very strict about the mandatory kit. I had a baseball cap with me but they deemed it not good enough as a cap. Thankfully my brother had turned up by this point and he had a spare beanie cap he could lend me.

I would argue the baseball cap was a better cap than his beanie but its the organizers who have the final say.

I asked them what most people get wrong and they replied “Bringing toy whistles instead of proper whistles.” If you do the race, don’t skimp on your whistle!

After the kit check I sat for an hour listening to the race briefing. By the end of the hour I had a very sore bum! That is why its an extreme triathlon, normal triathlons would have supplied chairs.

After getting back to the accommodation there was time for a last check of the kit and then a photo. I was in bed by 1930 in the hope I’d get a decent sleep before the race…

Celtman 2022 – Training (Iain)

When I look back at my Norseman training plan https://twinbikerun.com/2018/08/28/norseman-training-plan-iain/ this statement stands out.

” I couldn’t have done much more, based on the time I had available and the desire to still have a life outside of training.”

So that was my key goal for training for this race – still have a life outside training.

To remove the anxiety of knowing whether i was training enough I decided to buy a Celtman training plan. I got it from https://www.tmrcoaching.com/

I had to purchase a training peaks (TP) account to use it. It was an interesting way to train…..I will write a separate blog about it.

SWIM

The training plan advised two or three swims a week. I did one session a week. Swimming is my most time consuming exercise as it involves at least an hour round trip from my house to my pool. I didn’t want to spend my time driving too and from swimming when i could be biking/running instead.

Thankfully my swim technique is pretty good so I decided all I really needed to do was work on my swim fitness. I did one 2.2K swim a week. And that was fine for me.

I’m also pretty confident dealing with cold water so I didn’t feel the need to overly practice swimming in it. I did a couple of pre-swims just to remind myself what it would feel like. That was also fine for me.

My view of swimming in triathlons is that if you are not looking to win the race then spend your time training the parts that will actually make a significant difference to your time – biking/running.

BIKE

The key sessions for the bike were a shorter faster set on a Tuesday and a longer bike ride at the weekend.

I mostly used Zwift until about April. It was the most time efficient way to train as I could do it in my house.

From April I tried to do the longer ride outdoors BUT I mostly did it on a mountain bike. Yes – a mountain bike. I don’t really enjoy long rides on my road bike. I find it a bit boring. So instead I would head off on my mountain bike and find interesting roads and tracks to ride.

I also (maybe mistakenly) thought that these rides would be better for me as the bike is heavier and therefore it would need more effort to ride it. I hoped this would mean that when I finally did get on my road bike it would feel easy.

My longest pre-race ride was 6 hours. Which I did a couple of times to ensure that I was used to being on a bike for a long period of time.

I only rode my road bike three times before Celtman. And that was mainly to check it still worked.

Run

The running schedule was a shorter hillier run on a Thursday and a longer run at the weekend.

I enjoy running so this was easy enough to follow. It was actually slightly less than I would normally run.

The only issue was that I developed an achilles injury at the start of April. This meant I choose to only run once a week. Which was enough to keep my running fitness but not enough to make my injury worse.

I’d have liked to have done more but I think I made the correct decision to ensure that I made it to the start line of the race,

Celtman 2022 – Intro (Iain)

Celtman is my local extreme triathlon. It’s extreme because it’s colder, longer, hillier, windier and more jellyfishy than a normal triathlon.

I’m the one in the pink cap

You can see what I mean by watching this video

I was supposed to do the race back in 2020 but it was understandably cancelled as the jelly fish refused to socially distance from the swimmers. My place was deffered to 2021 but due to a family bereavement I didn’t have the time or motivation to go through with the race.

The organizers then announced a new Celtman race called Zero Point Five. A shorter less colder, less longer, less hillier, less windier but with the same amount of jellyfish than the big race. Lets call it baby Celtman.

It sounded great so I entered it. Then a few week later I won a place at big Celtman. I hadn’t planned on doing the big race, I had only entered to increase my chances of getting in at a later date.

The races were scheduled to be one week apart. How difficult could it be to do an extreme triathlon and then do another tough race a week later?

The fact the celtman zero point five number is tattered and broken is a visual spoiler of what happened…

Film Friday – Can artificial intelligence replace a graphic designer (Iain)

Film Friday is a weekly recommendation of one video to watch this weekend.

I did an Artificial Intelligence course as part of my University degree.

One evening I was drinking in a pub opposite the AI building. Smoke came in through the door of the pub. I thought “That’s strange but not strange enough that it will make me want to leave my pint to find out where the smoke is coming from”

5 minutes later a policeman came into the pub and told us all to leave as the AI building was on fire. That explained the smoke!

I lost all my AI work in that fire. It was no loss to humanity. I got an F in the exam.

Outdoor Swim Review: North Third Reservoir – May 2022 (Iain)

I previosuly wrote about North third here https://twinbikerun.com/2019/07/19/outdoor-swim-review-north-third-reservoir-iain/ and here https://twinbikerun.com/2021/05/18/rugged-run-north-third-reservoir/

In recent years there hasn’t been as much water in North Third as there was when I wrote my intial review. I decided to pop by (May 2022) to see what the water level was like this year but it was still very low.

Which is disappointing as my usual swim would actually be mostly walking. The water was that low.

I suspect it will be like that for the rest of the summer. Ill keep an eye on it and hope it improves but I don’t think I’ll get any swimming here.

REVIEW (when the water was full)

Ease of Access: There’s a small car park beside a gate next to the path that leads down to the reservoir. If the spaces there are taken then there’s spots nearby to park.

Water quality: A bit murky and a little bit shallow in places. There was much less water in the reservoir than when I was last here in March. The water temperature was 18.5C.

Swim Quality: Excellent – There’s a nice loop around the islands. The water was calm.

Other People: There’s usually folk fishing at the side of the loch and I’ve occasionally bumped into other folk either heading in or leaving after swimming themselves.

Would I go back: Yes. Its one of my favorite places to swim.

Outdoor Swim Review: Carron Valley – May 2022 (Iain)

I had my fist visit to Carron Valley since the Autumn. The water temperature was 12C which meant it was chilly but not too cold for a swim.

I was hoping the Osprey’s that nest in Carron Valley might be there but there was no sign of them yet. Maybe next time…

Check out the video to see what a swim in Carron Valley Reservoir is like.

Ease of Access: https://goo.gl/maps/vkcjfRm5cx6dYWt7A Park at the gate next to the loch. Its 10m to the waterside. 

Water quality: Warm and shallow at the edge of the loch but it can noticeably drop in temperature the further out you get. 

Swim Quality: Excellent. Lots of things to sight against. Water is choppy but that makes it more fun!

Other People: A couple of folk out walking and the odd car/cyclist going by. 

Would I go back: Yes. It’s my default swim location. 

Loch Leven Half Marathon 2022 (Iain)

How much trail is on the Loch Leven Half Marathon?

Before the race, I was asked this by two different people. Both were very disappointed when I said “none, its a road race!”

I think people assume its a trail race because there is a nice walking route around the Loch. But it is actually mostly on roads. There is a sneaky little bit of trail right at the end but not much.

The route is an anti-clockwise loop around Loch Leven. I’ve ran the course clock wise and anti clock wise. I did it anti-clockwise the year Andrew I turned up and realized we’d forgotten to enter! We didn’t want to cheat and run with the official runners so went the opposite way instead.

How difficult is it to run a circle in reverse? It turns out it was very difficult. We took a wrong turn and ran 16 miles instead of 13. At one point we ran across a farmers muddy field whilst it was pouring with rain. Considering its a 100% road race I’m not sure how we ended up in a field!

The race race registration and finish line is the local school campus. It was then a near two mile walk to the start line. Some races start in beautiful locations, this one doesn’t. It was side street next to some industrial units.

A woman walked up and down the road shouting at everyone “keep off the road” but it was too little avail. As soon as she passed everyone moved back onto the road.

I was desperate for the loo so I decided to stand in a long queue and see if I could make it to the front before the race started. To succeed at this, , the key is to hold my nerve. As the race gets closer more and more people abandon the queue. I bet that if I held on long enough most people would have left and I’d get a cubicle.

I was correct. Most people left when there was only a couple of minutes left to the start.

The first part of the race is on a partially closed road. Even though it was cloudy it was very warm. I felt good but I was planning on biking for 5 hours the next day so i didn’t push too hard.

The picture does not do justice too how hot and sweaty I was.

The main hill is half way around. Annoyingly this was also the hottest and windiest bit of the course. The wind was against me. Normally i like running up hills but it felt like hard work.

Andrew kicked and left me with about a mile to go. I didn’t have any power so I didn’t even try to keep up. I ended up finishing about 30 seconds behind him.

My aim was sub 1hr 45 min. I did that…just!

Andrew and I at the finish line. I’m 30 seconds behind him.