After l'Alpe d'Huez tri I totally failed to take a break as I was in the mountains and enjoying myself way too much. I managed 4 days of pottering on the bike, on foot and in the pool and then decided to go benchmark myself on one of the climbs I fine the most difficult; the ascent to Vaujany ski station. The result was.....pleasing and I came dangerously close to getting the Strava KOM for it which was a big surprise as I find the climb a) too steep b) too much variation in gradient c) too short for my preference.
Cold showers, van life and lots of training resulted in me getting super lean and really flying on the climbs like I haven't done since 2012. I was running well too but my swimming took a bit of a hammering despite regular open water sessions any time I was near a suitable body of water.
I hauled myself back to the UK for one of my favorites and as close as I get to a 'home' race the 9Bar Helvellyn Triathlon as the start of September. Sadly I got ill on route (swallowed dodgy water in St. Moritz) and the drive kind of messed my neck up but I raced anyway. Body packed up spectacularly early in the run but I did enough for 3rd and fastest bike leg so it could have been much worse. I'm hankering after the win and course record for this one so I'll be back....
A week on and next up was a couple of cheeky hill climbs on the bike. Doesn't fit with my training anymore but still love them. First up was Border City Wheelers Hartside Open Hill Climb were I took 2nd. I was well outside my PB for the climb and may have made an error in my choice of full TT rig but I was frankly a bit pissed off with myself as I feel I just didn't try hard enough to win. This was confirmed when I headed over to Great Dunfell immediately afterwards and in a bit of a rage squeezed a higher power out over a longer climb to get the Strava KOM for Englands highest vertical gain road climb on theoretically tired legs. Ho hum.
2 days later it was Watermillock HC kindly (?) organised by Beacon Wheelers. It is a god awful hill with a ton of changes in gradient and is only about 8-9 minutes worth of riding. Not fun but it was only about 15 minutes from where I was staying so at least the limp home afterwards wasn't too bad. I stuck it in at the end of a rare outing with the old man who was under instructions not to wear me out too much. I ended up having practically a rolling start as I was late arriving but hauled myself up for 3rd albeit pretty distant from 1st place steep hill specialist Niall Patterson.
By the middle of the following week I was dragging my bike bag in to my apartment in Lanzarote for the IronMan 70.3. This was my second time at this event typified by its hot, humid and windy conditions. 18th MPro after my first non wetsuit swim was a solid result and although a similar time to 2013 I would credit it as a much better performance due to more difficult conditions on the bike and the aforementioned lack of wet suit in the swim.
Back to UK and the Brownlee Triathlon at Harwood House near Leeds. This was a fun day out playing at short distance and a chance to meet the people behind BetterYou Ltd. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong but I had a blast anyway. I punctured 7km for T2 and rode in on a flat, got lost on the run, lost my cycling shoe clips, later found them in my running shoes about 500m into the run, the list goes on but mostly came down to not being very well prepared. Was surprised to see from the results that I'd come 6th overall and won my age group for the sprint distance.
By this point I was running flat. I was strong, fit but exhausted after 4 consecutive weeks of racing, travelling and training. In Lanzarote my HR had been running close to 20 beats lower than it should have been for a 70.3 but it just would shift up and given how short the Brownlee event was my HR response was even more laughable. During my 'sprint' finish I did even top 170 when I'd be expecting to hit closer to 190. So I pretty much did nothing aside from some easy technical swims in the week before the Ben Nevis Braveheart Tri. You can read how that went here.
So all in all a pretty intense few weeks, a crazy variety of racing and some decent results along the way. Onwards....