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Challenge Weymouth preparation - #RememberBen

timPby timPAug 19th 2015
Hi Ben,

As promised here is a quick update on how our preparations are going for Challenge Weymouth. It’s hard to believe that the event is less than 3 weeks away, I think we both feel that 3 months would be much more comfortable. Still the whole point was to challenge ourselves so I guess feeling uncomfortable is quite appropriate!

We didn’t have much of a chance of a rest following Thunder Run as we needed to get out and run some longer distances. Debbie has been working very hard over the last 4 to 5 months and her fitness levels have improved dramatically, however with the injuries over the past couple of years most of the work has been gym based and concentrated on building a strong core. This seems to be working really well but it has meant that running has taken a little bit of a back seat, not ideal with the thought of a marathon looming. Still as our goal at Weymouth is [simply] to finish (within the cut off time) a realistic strategy for the marathon will be run/walk.

With that in mind we took the opportunity of the ‘Shaun the Sheep’ trail currently on display throughout Bristol to plan a longer run visiting as many sheep as possible. This is a great way of having a huge amount of fun whilst still getting in the miles. We ended up running 27km and visiting 35 different sheep having deliberately chosen to visit a number of the outlying ones first. Even better there seemed to be plenty of time for ice cream and coffee stops!
Challenge Weymouth preparation - #RememberBen
The following weekend we took a trip down to Weymouth for a recce of the course itself. The idea was that I would have a chance to swim in the sea, Debbie would be able to run a lap of the run course and on the way home we would drive the bike loop.

First up it was time to have a look at the run course. It is approximately 9k per lap and starts with a half lap from T2 to the finish line and then four complete laps to make the marathon distance. The course itself is pancake flat and a good surface throughout. The full lap is essentially an out and back from the The Pavilion to the Oasis cafe along the prom with a couple of loops through the town centre to add some interest. The run along the prom comprises about 6k with the remaining 3k through the town. Having come down to watch the race last year the support in the town was fantastic so I’m sure that part will be really enjoyable. The biggest thing we noticed from the run along the prom, other than the wind, was that the turn point was visible far in the distance almost from the beginning of the lap. That will make it a pretty tough mental challenge on the day of the race especially for the early laps. All in all a big thumbs up from Debbie and I know she is raring to go.
Challenge Weymouth preparation - #RememberBen
Interestingly I was probably more nervous about this trip than I was before the start of the Cotswold 226. This would be the first time that I had swum in the sea and having witnessed the conditions and carnage at the 2014 race I was more than a little apprehensive. Luckily on the day of our visit the weather was pretty good and I was able to get out and swim two laps around some swimming platforms without too much difficulty. The extra buoyancy from the sea water was very noticeable as was the unpleasant taste when inadvertently swallowed but overall it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I now know that I will need to sight more frequently than I do when swimming in lakes and practice breathing to my weaker side will be really beneficial. So a big confidence booster ahead of race day, obviously the weather conditions could have a big impact but they’ll be the same for everyone so I’ll just have to man up and get on with it.

Following the swim there was just enough time to get changed, enjoy a nice Sunday roast dinner before having a look at the bike course, well at least that was the plan. It turns out that the early part of the bike course is on a cycle track making it a little difficult to follow in the car. We could have joined later on in the lap but decided that coffee and a slice of cake would be a much better option before heading home. All in all a long day but a very useful trip.
Challenge Weymouth preparation - #RememberBen
Roll on another week and having heard good reports about previous years events I’d entered the Sodbury Sportive. The timing was perfect an opportunity for a century ride a month before Weymouth was too good to miss. Although I knew a few people who had entered (including one of my oldest school friends who was using this as a warm up for Ironman Wales, his first ever Ironman!) I’d planned on riding on my own. However, once we were in the start pens I bumped into a friend from work and we rode together for the whole event.

The good reports that I had heard were entirely correct, the event was fantastic. There were three distances on offer, 30, 60 or 100 miles. The signage was first rate so there was no chance of a wrong turn, plenty of friendly marshals were in evidence and the feed stations were stocked with tons of homemade cake. The route itself included approximately 1900m of vertical ascent and as a nice touch there was a board at the start of each of the major hills (5 on the 100 mile route) giving an indication of the length and gradient profile that you would be facing. For me the stand out features of the ride were the descent from Minchinhampton to Nailsworth via alpine like switchbacks and the climb of Frocester hill. Apparently this hill features as one of the 100 best cycling climbs in the UK and I can certainly understand why, 1.6 miles long with and average gradient of 8% with a couple of stretches at 15%. Still once at the top there was an easy downhill stretch to the second feed station to stock up on more homemade fruit cake to make it worthwhile.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day out, it proved to be a great training ride and I would recommend the ride to anyone.
Challenge Weymouth preparation - #RememberBen
Since then we have completed another 25km Shaun the Sheep run and will do one more longish run to leave Debbie enough time to recover before the big day. I still have a few long swims to complete but will probably just keep the bike ticking over with some shorter rides.

Of course the weekend before we race there is the second edition of your memorial sports day, organised by your school friends. We will be there and take part in some of the more sedate activities, I was asked to play football but I think that would just be asking for trouble so close to the big day!

Fundraising is still going well, we are just over £100 short of our target and I'm confident that we will achieve that by race day.

So I'll sign off now, Ben. The next time I write I'll be able to report on how the race went, but you'll know already as your photograph will be on my bike and in Debbie's race pack spurring us on.

Lots of Love

Uncle Tim & Auntie Debbie
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