With a couple of triathlons in my sights this year, what better way to spice up training than with a wee early-on duathlon fittingly called 'The Appetiser'.
After taking part in my first ever triathlon in September, the No Fuss Half Big Ben Triathlon, I knew that this off-road duathlon would be right up my street.
So I packed my VCM kit, running shoes and bike gear and headed up to Fort William on Saturday morning.
Sign-on and the race start, finish and transition area took place the picturesque Lower Falls at the far end of Glen Nevis. It was the ideal setting for the event with stunning views of the Ben, very little traffic and a pleasant feeling of remoteness.
The race format was a 4km trail & road run, a 12.5km road & off-road bike, followed by the same run again.
I did a bit of a warm up jog and some self-conscious lunges, then No Fuss Fraser gathered us round for a pre-race briefing.
Then it was 12noon and we were off! Heading up the road I tried to settle into a rhythm and not panic about how quickly my heart rate was rising! After a short distance we were off the road and onto a gravel path which follows the Water of Nevis. I had been trying to keep pace with the guy in front by watching his heels, and when I looked up, I saw the front runners winding their way a bit of a sharp hill. Telling myself it's not Ben Nevis, I vowed not to slow to a walk and I made my way up with short strides. The trail wound on a bit farther and eventually came to a road which we blasted back down to transition area.
I lost some places in transition while I seemed to take ages getting myself ready. Well, it wouldn't be a Sunday bike ride without some pre-ride faffage! I jumped on my bike and beasted it (well, 'my' version of beasting it) down the road to try and make some time up. Luckily the winding road was quiet and I was able to overtake quite a few folk. I only got overtaken by a guy on a road bike with slick tyres on, but by the time we got to the turn off to the fireroad I'd caught him again. I've no idea how he got on on the rough fireroad with those tyres but good luck to him!
I peddled as hard as I could along the fireroad & a female came into view in the distance. I tried my hardest but could not get any closer to her before we dismounted and went back into transition again.
Helmet & bike ditched and soggy trainers back on, I was back on the road trying to work out why I had swapped legs with Charlie Chaplin. I soon settled back into a rhythm and vowed once again not to walk at any point - even on the dreaded Ben Nevis Junior!
Soon enough the No Fuss flags came back into view and I even had enough energy for a sprint finish with a couple of guys.
I hadn't a clue where I'd finished and was so chuffed to find out at the prize ceremony that I'd finished 2nd Senior Female. A No Fuss medal and well cool Big Bobble Hat was dished out as prizes (not to mention the free Endura socks we got at registration).
The Appetiser was the first in a series of 3 winter duathlons put on by No Fuss. Looking forward to the 'Main Course' in February.