1/4lb with cheese

The body has absorbed the training at Tri Topia well I think.

I rested Monday and an easy swim Tuesday was a gentle way back into things, an easy spin Wednesday and another swim Thursday and the usual rest day Friday meant I was fully recovered for training the weekend.

However, training from Mark was still quite lite over the weekend. Saturday was a short run with some efforts and then body conditioning, so I was able to sneak a lay and get a good 12 hours sleep Friday night.

Sunday the weather picked up, I had a 90 mins bike ride session and I was up and on the road quite early for this. I followed the beginning of the route of the Pearson ride I did the week before, and by getting lost I found some really nice quiet, ‘country lane’ type roads. It was a really nice ride and then a 15 minute run off the bike and a cheeky little easy run later in the day as well.

Sunday afternoon, the wife and I went on a little road trip and checked out Leith Hill. This is the ‘massive’ hill I have to go up as part of the Vachery Middle distance triathlon on 21st July. I wanted to just see the hill and see how bad it was and to be honest I don’t think it will be a problem. It didn’t look as bad as Box Hill or Ditchlin Beacon, but I will ride the bike course nearer the time. I printed out the course earlier today.

Monday (Bank Holiday) was a longer run but still only 45 – 50 mins, again with some efforts and then I did some chores in the afternoon.  

So all good and all very relaxing after the Tri Topia efforts.

Tuesday being the day of the weekly weight in meant I was on the scales this morning and weighed in at 11 st and ¼ lb. So only 1/4lb away from my target weight of 11st. I was aiming for this weight ready for the Vachery tri on 21st July so plenty of time to spare, so I may dip under the 11st or at least stabilise at this weight.

Thanks for reading.

‘Swim Friends’

An ‘in the week’ blog is unusual for me but I am beaming from ear to ear. At Tri Topia (last week) I spent quite a bit of time looking at my swim stroke with Mark and trying to improve it. Tuesday I did some swim drills and the stroke felt better and stronger.

Yesterday (Thursday) I did a longer swim session. I saw my ‘swim friend’ who I see on most Thursday’s. I have seen him most weeks for the past 4 months, but being an introvert, over that time we have managed a few nods of the head, a couple of hellos and a few ‘the pools looking (busy/quiet – delete as appropriate).

 He tends to get in and swim 50 lengths bang, bang, bang, and gets out. I do drills, warm up, main set , warm down etc. He is faster than me and sometimes I wait after a length so he can pass me (swim etiquette).

 Yesterday he stopped to let me pass him. I stopped at the end of my set and asked if he was OK (as in injured) and he said no – you are just getting quicker.

 Now that was the equivalent of a swim PB for me! It’s all down to my new improved stroke, post Tri Topia.

 Feeling stronger on the bike, getting stronger and pacing better on the run and now swim speed noticeably improving – get in!

 Look out Brownlee – I’m coming for you (and your brother!)

 Thanks for indulging.

The Pearson 150

The Pearson 150K is a nice ‘local’ cycle sportive that starts at Royal Marsden hospital, near where I live. The route goes to Brighton via the usual London to Brighton bike route, then the route back is a different way back to the start at Royal Marsden.

 150K in total, a feed station at Brighton and also on the way back at Rusper at circa 115K.

 The ride was different for me as I was riding with my brother and it was our first sportive together. We are at different levels; he has a young family, works long hours and hence doesn’t ride as much as I am sure he would want. I knew my fitness was high, I knew I could do the ride significantly faster than I had previously in 2011 (6hrs 30 mins ride time) but this one wasn’t about me and having come off 20 hours training at Tri Topia that week I had strict instructions from Mark to go easy. I was hoping the two of us would equal out.

 The weather was perfect, a bit overcast and grim, so no need for sun lotion and we both got away with two thin layers, as although grim looking it wasn’t cold.

 We set off early and tried to find a pace that matched us both. I tried to be a bit tactical – getting my bro to ride off my wheel, trying to tag on to those who passed us and draft off of them etc. But in hindsight I think that took its toll on my bro and meant the pace was faster than it could have been.

Ditchling Beacon was the nail in the coffin. I pushed on at the start of the climb and used it to practice climbing ready for the Vachery Half Ironman where there is an equally big hill which I have to tackle twice. Because of this I wanted to climb Ditchling strong, so I had to leave Richard to climb on his own.

I was very pleased with my climb, even paced all the way up, passed a few others and felt good at the top. I waited for my bro and we rode to the first feed station together. It was on the way to the feed stop that I realised he had bitten off more than he was used to. We stocked up on cake, nuts, drinks etc and set off again to make our way back but the pace was a lot slower going back. Drafting was hard as Richard was dropping off the pace without me realizing and so he was losing my draft before I realized and I had gone off up the road.

There were some more hills coming back which took their toll and after the second feed station the Sun came out and drained the last bit of energy out of him. Around Box Hill was hard going to and while I stayed with him as much as I could, to keep my tempo and rhythm at times I rode on and then waited for him.

He was very pleased to see the finish and his daughter, partner and our mum at the finish.

Fair play to him, he finished the ride even though it was tough, he gritted his teeth and saw it through to the end.

I emailed him he next day and asked how he was feeling and if he enjoyed it and his reply was positive, that he was glad he did it and learnt a lot and we are looking at another one in June of a shorter distance. 

Our time to complete, well that’s not really important is it, it’s the taking part and finishing that counts!

Now where’s that cream for saddle sores!

Thanks for reading.

The Tri Topia blog

Packing was a nightmare. Everything I thought I would need was packed, plus other stuff I might need, plus the stuff I probably won’t need but might as well take just in case and then there was the stuff I won’t need but could take under the guise of ‘better take it incase the wife wants it’. There was so much stuff in the boot I am surprised the front wheels where still on the floor.

On Saturday we were up at silly o’ clock (5.30am) on the road by 6.30am and got to the tunnel just in time for final check in time. The drive through France was a breeze thanks to; Gloria (the nickname for our Sat Nav), the wife’s choice of music from the ipod and the cruise control function on the car.

the gitteAfter catching up with Sam and Lee – we were shown to our room which was one of the three new bedrooms overlooking the new, fully heated 25 metre pool. In fact there was a swim session going on as we unpacked and set up the bikes. Within 30 minutes of arriving I was in the pool having a swim to stretch out after the journey.

 Following this we introduced ourselves to the other athletes, which was weird, meeting people for the first time as they sat semi clad in the hot tub. Intro’s over and within minutes we were happily chatting away over events done, events planned, good performances, bad performances etc

 And that was the start of what I hope are some good, long lasting friendships; Paul (who was there with his partner, Francis and two children) was one of the most entertaining people I have met. Pulling out some classic one liner’s all week that left me in hysterics.  Iain who was more quiet than Paul but someone who also enjoyed a laugh and boy was he a strong triathlete, who just kept pushing for every session.

 Mark, my coach, was there with his wife Claire, plus our hosts Sam and Lee and that was the start of some fun times and some excellent training sessions.

After a lovely three course meal it was an early night after the long day of travelling and we had a run session set for 8am on Sunday!

Sunday went like this: 8 am run technique session coached by Mark – Paul had me in hysterics within 10 minutes of the session, followed by breakfast, set up of bikes and then a 2 hrs 30 min group ride, back for lunch and a relaxing afternoon with an optional easy swim.

Food was in abundance, as were the laughs, the teasing, the joking, the mickey taking, the tips and stories from Mark and Claire’s experiences of all the events Mark had done. How many times do you get to talk to someone who has completed a double and a triple ironman distance event over a lovely meal?

And that set the scene and the pace for the days to follow; an early morning session pre-breakfast – usually a swim in the heated pool, a ride or run after breakfast until lunch and then either a run or swim or on one day a sports massage or time in the hot tub in the afternoon/evening.

There were some special sessions – my three favourites were:

An out and back run of 90 mins. So 45 mins one way at a steady pace, turn around at 45 mins and run back at the same pace. If you are pacing correctly you return to the same place you started, within the same time. Easy, until you realize you cannot use your Garmin to pace yourself, you have to do it on feel.

runThen you realize you are going to be running along an old railway line on the most picturesque route (the tracks aren’t there anymore), crossing bridges where the railway used to travel. Mark was cycling between me and Iain (who as a true athlete had shot off at a significantly faster pace) offering us gels or drinks.

The best part for me was a) covering over 16K b) all at just over my half marathon pace c) returning back to the start with 7 seconds difference. Now that is pacing!




The second favourite session was a tempo ride back from the lake. We rode to a lake (circa 1 hour 55 mins) as a group at an easy pace, after meeting the ladies and having a picnic we did a tempo ride back. This basically meant riding hard, into a head wind in a line drafting off of each other. Concentration was key because as soon as your mind lapsed a gap of 6 – 8 inches developed over the bike in front and you had to up the effort to get back on their wheel. It was intense but you couldn’t help feeling like the GB time trial team. What followed this session, when we got home – a run off the bike. Three laps of a route just under 1K in distance, each one getting quicker. The first one I did in 4 mins 39 secs, the second in 4 mins 20 secs and the third in 4 mins 1 sec. Not only was I pleased with the ride, but the run off the bike and pacing myself to get faster each time shows I am finally starting to master this pacing lark!

swimThe third key session for me was a 20 x 100 metre timed swim set with 10 seconds rest between each 100. Mark was timing each 100 so I can see the pace I went off at and what average pace I held. Very interesting.






Now these were just the favourite sessions, others sessions included more leisurely rides with the group to a coffee shop and one with the wife which was nice. A 10 mile time trial as a chain gang, again an intense ride. The last full day was also great fun as we did a sprint and super sprint triathlon.

group rideme and sam

Tri Topia run the sprint triathlon for guests most weeks and there is a leader board in the lounge for everyone’s times and they are coded by age group – so you can try and get a good time for your age irrespective of who you are racing on the day. But better than that, Mark worked out a handicap system, so based on our swim, bike and run performances in the week, he worked out what time difference we should have for the start of the race so we should technically finish together and hence end up racing at the end.

Needless to say as the ‘Iron boy’, having not done an Ironman like the others (and being the slowest) I started first, before Paul and Iain and Mark also took part. I was going for a finish time of 46.32 which was my age group’s leading time.   

My swim was terrible, the ladies watched the event, with cameras at the ready, and as I started first everyone was cheering me on. So I went off like Alistair Brownlee – problem is I am no Alistair Brownlee. So the swim was a disaster.

To make up time I rushed through transition and cocked that up as well so had it all to do on the bike and run. The bike course I had ridden at a leisurely 11.30 secs earlier in the day so I was hoping for 10 mins per lap.

The bike course was a crappy one, some climbs that break your rhythm, some gravel so you cannot make up time on the descents, but after 50% or so there is a nice gradual descent where you can get the power on.

I did the two laps in under 20 mins and that included the transition so pleased with that and was off on the run, which was one lap of the bike course. And now I did feel like Alistair. I felt good off the bike, got into a fast pace (for me) and just went for it. There was no one around me and rather than work out if I would get caught and where, I just focused on the run, my pace, my stride, my cadence, my arms, my breathing (as Mark had taught me in the run sessions all week).

I just pushed and pushed and pushed. As I turned the corner on the road to the Gitte, I glanced behind and saw no one. ‘The race win is in the bag’ I thought. Then I caught a glimpse of Iain, going like the clappers hot on my tail. I couldn’t speed up as I was going as fast as I could. We turned the final corner and I could hear him breathing behind me. As we approached the finished the ladies were shouting and cheering with the wife screaming ‘Iains coming, speed up he’s going to catch you’. I found something from somewhere and crossed the line less than 2 seconds in front of Iain.

My finish time was 3rd for my age group – but I won the race! I know it was only a fun race, I know I had a huge head start, but that’s not the point! The handicap system meant we all finished together but we didn’t because I was faster than Mark thought I would be. And that, my friends, is because I am improving.

Iain, being the legend he is, won the race on everyone’s actual times and shot to first place in the Tri Topia leader board in a time that Lee thinks will be hard to beat this year. Well done Iain.

The race was so much fun we decided to do another, but shorter one, in the afternoon which the wife and Claire also took part in. This one was hard going after the sprint earlier in the day. The swim was 4 lengths, the ride one lap of the previous bike route and the run one loop of the short, under 1K loop, around the Gitte.

This was also handicapped with everyone starting at different times. A good solid performance by all meant I was second to last! The swim was OK, four lengths meant it was over before I knew it, the bike leg was OK probably my fastest one as I was used to the course, the run was very hard. As it was under 1K the assumption was I could go out fast and hang on. This assumption was wrong!

I did the run in 4.01 which is the same as the fastest lap for this loop I did off the bike a few days earlier so I was pleased with that. But it wasn’t a consistent pace, I went off faster and flagged at the end.

The heavens then opened so we dashed for the hot tub and chillaxed until the rain stopped.

Over the week I trained for just over 20 hours, split roughly as 3 hrs for swimming, 13 hrs on the bike and 4 hrs running.

A lot of the training focused on technique which was key for me and I have lots of thoughts to go away with.

We drove back Saturday, I shared the driving with the wife so I could have a snooze in the car, as I have a 150K sportive to do the next day!

Thanks for reading.

Boxhill is a popular place for cyclists – who knew!

Training this week, after the duathlon last weekend, has been good.

Monday was an easy turbo – no problems. Tuesday an easy run – but the legs said no. In fact they shouted NOOOOO.

After 42 mins of an intended 55 mins I called it a day. The program was 35 – 55 mins easy depending on how tired the legs were so it wasn’t like I failed. I did more then the minimum before stopping.

After an email to Mark the response back was a rest day on Wednesday, and that was a good idea.

Turns out Mark is full of them . I say it was a good idea as Thursday I felt 100% again as I tackled a big(ish) swim set with ease.

Which leads on to this weekend and Bank holiday weekend at that.

It was a good one. As I sit here on the patio with a pot of coffee and the sun blazing down on me, very relaxing. The only down side is this (Monday evening) is the only time I have sat down all weekend!

Friday night I left work at 9.30pm – yes 9.30pm! Home and almost straight to bed.

Up at 7am Saturday and I drove to Richmond Park – I only had a 2 hour ride to do, it takes 45 mins to ride to RP so the bulk of the ride would have just been riding there and back. Seemed a good idea at the time. It was a nice drive there, rode 5 laps, did the session Mark set out. Only got a few drops of rain (even though I had sun screen on as it was bright when I left home). But traffic back to where I live was a nightmare – took over an hour to drive back. Won’t do that again.

The afternoon was spent doing chores – life admin. I also drove to Boxhill and tried to work out a route around Boxhill so I could ride it Sunday. Also, my seat post position had slipped during my morning ride even though I had readjusted it before my ride so, worrying the seat clamp was broken I took the bike to the local bike shop to check it out. Turns out the seat post had dried out and as it’s a carbon frame and carbon post you need to put ‘stuff’ (called grip firm) around it to create friction. So problem sorted.

Sunday – up at 7am – and drove to Boxhill and then rode the circuit I worked out the day before. Was a really nice ride. Bike was going great, legs were great, sun was out. I did four loops, so 4 times up the hill. Turns out it was easy, very easy in fact. First time took 10 mins and by the fourth time I had got the time down to under 9 mins. I even changed up a gear half way up and powered up the second half of the climb.

Was a really nice ride, nice environment, loads of other bikers around, loads of ‘good mornings’ and nods of the head. The afternoon was spent cleaning my wife’s bike. Following my course, her bike was the first one to experiment on. Mainly as she is taking it to Tri Topia next week so it needs to look OK.

Jack Reacher film in the evening – I recommend it as an easy watch.

Leads to today. After two early starts I opted for a later alarm shout today. Was an easy ride on the schedule so as traffic would be light being a bank holiday, I rode up to London and around London a bit and rode back. Nice easy ride and in the sunshine too.

The afternoon was spent mowing the grass, building wardrobes, washing bird crap off the car, doing some weeding ….. it goes on.

I have just done an easy 25 mins run and now am relaxing before work tomorrow.

Long weekend seems to have been and gone and I almost missed it! At least its a 4 day week this week and then next week TRI TOPIA, so an easy training week this week in preparation for a hard week training in France .

I can’t wait.

Thanks for reading