• Nikki Bartlett

Scottish Middle Distance Championships

This race has always been on my 'wish list' for 2015. However, the timing of it wasn't great with Castle Howard and IM Dublin 70.3, meaning this would be my third 70.3 in 4 weeks. However, I wanted to come back and race and retain my title from last year, plus it's one, if not the most stunning course I've raced on. I really couldn't recommend this race enough. Last year, this event also hosted the British Champs too, and I had a silly panic in the water - So this year, I wanted to build on from that, and enjoy the scenery! I was going by how my body felt since Dublin (which I raced the weekend before this), all week, to make a decision whether to race or not. I was in limbo land of no idea how my body would react, and why not try? So off I went into the hurt box... Race day Swim: Unfortunately the swim was cut short to 750m, due to temperatures in Loch Tay, just touching 12deg, if not less, with an air temperature of 8. Safety first obviously, but still gutted to not have the full distance in there. Especially for my one paced swim speed! I exited the water 4th, slightly down on Jen Stewart and Kirsty Anderson, but Nat Milne was flying ahead, with roughly a 2min lead out of T1. Bike: The bike course is just breath-taking. The views are incredible, and I love the climb you take on pretty much straight out of T1. You then descend and go around Loch Rannoch, to climb back up, then down, and into T2. I took 2nd place around 10k out of T1, and felt okay, until about 10k later where my body really did start to almost shake, go into a bit of a hurt box bubble, and never returned until the finish line. It was pretty hard mentally battling through that, and basically cycling in a 'dark hole'. But I weirdly enjoyed battling this place, and towards T2, I could see Nat in sight. I felt pretty zonked tbh, but the crowds in T2 were fantastic, and it helped going out of T2 with Nat, so there was an instant distraction from how much I was hurting. Run: This year, it was an accurate half marathon course, climbing straight out of T2. This course is super hard, and on a moused body, I knew I was in for a hard run. I kept to my plan of going out hard, and settling, and managed to go into the lead, around 1k into the run. I kept pushing this pace, and tried to create a gap to settle into. The run is challenging, with no massive sections to really get properly into a rhythm, with it's undulating nature. But this distracted my mind. At the 10.5k turnaround I had about a 2.5min lead, but my calfs were tiring slowly but surely, and my right one was twinging and it felt like it was going to pop any second. So I backed off the pace, and did enough to retain the title and take the win. Super happy, super moosed. The crowds were fantastic on the swim and run course, and the volunteers around the course were super friendly, and amazing. I tried to say thanks/thumbs up whilst racing, but a big thank you to you all, and to Richard who always puts on a fantastic event. Well done to everyone who competed, tough course, and to Ferg and Nat who came 2nd in their first 70.3. Sure that's the first of many to come! Thanks again for all the amazing support from family, friends and sponsors. What's next? Some much needed tlc rest/unstructured training until I come alive again. Then most probably Hever Castle and Challenge Paguera as my final two races. x

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