North Carolina – the first few days

Last week was a bit of a non-entity. A rest on Monday after the Vachery tri on the Sunday, a swim Tuesday with some efforts (on achey legs) and a turbo Wednesday by then the legs were fine.

Thursday was working late, then packing and we flew out Friday morning to North Carolina. We arrived late Friday afternoon and met up with The Lee’s, my wife’s cousin and his wife Dee and daughter Rachel, also there was my wife’s aunt (Valerie), her daughter (Esther)  and her daughter’s  son (Gavin) all of whom flew in from New Mexico, then came my wife’s other cousin Brian and his wife (Nicki) and their son (Lewis)  – they live in Peterborough but had been in New York the week before). So Friday night was catching up as we all stayed with Rich and Dee Friday night.

Saturday morning another of my wife’s aunt’s pitched up (Sally) with her husband (Rodney) and the motley crew was complete. We then all travelled to the Emerald Isle to stay for the first week of our holiday. Getting us all there and the luggage and the food etc meant using a trailer as well as three cars full of people and luggage.

My beautiful picture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a circa 3 hour drive we arrived at our home for the week.

My beautiful picture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After unpacking the cars and trailer and also unpacking our cases a short 20 minute sea swim was done with Rich Lee, my wife’s cousin – you all keeping up?). I owe a lot to this guy as he got me into Triathlon initially and helped me a lot answering numerous questions via email when I did my first few events.

My beautiful picture

With the beach only a short walk away – and I do mean short – a lot of sea swimming is on the cards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday morning I did a 40 minute walk along the beach and then did an easy 20 mins run back. Just to get the legs moving after two days of travelling and sitting.  The sea was too rough to swim in but luckily we had some body boards so spent the afternoon doing that. At some points it was a bit brutal as the water was very rough, some people were actually surfing while we were body boarding.

In the evening Rich and I went for an easy 1 hour bike ride just to ride around the area and spin the legs. It was a bit more than easy but not mental.

Today I did manage a swim, not sure I should have done as it was still a bit rough. At one point a wave caught me square on and took my goggles and swim cap clean off! It was a lot of hard work you breath to the side and see the beach line and all the houses, breathe to the other side and hit a wall of water square in the face breathe to the other side and that beach line has disappeared as you are in a trough an surrounded by water.  After 50 mins of quite hard effort, akin to being in a washing machine, I called it a day. I had also swum through a storm! Later this evening I did a 2 hour bike. All under 80% max heart rate and one of the best rides I have ever done. The roads are so flat, and smooth and with the drivers very considerate it was such a pleasurable experience. I even rode through rain for over an hour, but due to the humidity it was actually very refreshing to ride in the rain.

A dip in the hot tub before bed hopefully means the legs will be good for the tempo run tomorrow morning.

Alarm is set for 6.15am so I can beat the heat!

Thanks for reading.

 

Guest blog – Pete Greenham’s Outlaw Ironman

A real good friend of mine has recently participated in the Outlaw Ironman – his guest blog is below:

Outlaw Ironman 2013 – Nottingham – Race report by Peter Greenham

I have wanted to compete in an Ironman ever since I was inspired by my boss who now at the age of 52 has competed in 3 Ironman comps, but all since turning 40. I had run a few marathons in my past and am a keen cyclist but I had never competed in a triathlon, so last year I completed 2 sprints and the Reading Olympic distance triathlon and loved it so promptly booked the Outlaw 2013 as my first Ironman.

I had always been a strong competitive swimmer when I was younger but now apart from with the kids on holiday in the pool I hadn’t really swam lengths for years; however after attending the Tri20 swim coaching sessions at Crosfields school throughout the winter and practicing in the open water at the Tri2O Reading Lake from May onwards, I built up my swim technique and slowly increased my distance over the last few weeks leading up the the event to the full 2.4mile distance, although suffered regularly with cramp.

The cycling training was on course with my 16mile daily commute to work as my base, but I knew that I had not done enough run training. I had recently switched to forefoot running from the traditional heel strike form and had only built up the transitional distance to about 8-9 miles. So I knew 26.2 miles would be a challenge but I intended to have a strategy of walk/run on the day so wasn’t overly concerned a I can walk for miles and I just wanted to get through the bike without any mechanical failures. (Although I had as much equipment as I could take on the bike).

My taper down in the 3 weeks leading up to the Outlaw was severely hampered to the extent that it only consisted of one 5km run, and three 1.5km swims, this was due to my youngest daughter of 4 suddenly being diagnosed with Leukaemia; so this is all I could fit in around our hospital stays, not the best but all I could manage in the circumstances. I only decided to continue with the Outlaw on the Friday before the event which was dependant on her condition at the time.

I was very lucky to have my friend, neighbour and Tri2O swim buddy Alisitair volunteer to accompany me up to Nottingham in the absence of my wife who was looking after our daughters.

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My registration and briefing was good and bike was all racked by 3pm on the Saturday whilst I watched Alistair complete in the outlaw organised 3km ‘Big Swim’ in an impressive 54mins. Then it was off to checkin at our hotel and for an early ‘Jamie’s Italian’ pasta dinner and an early night before a 4am wake up for a 6am start.

I decided to start the swim at the back of lane 1 of 4 (should have been in lane 3 due to my predicted time). Lane 1 was the lane for the fastest swimmers where the theory was that they would clear out of the way and give me some space, but was also the nearest to the bank and meant I didn’t have to swim across the width of the rowing lake to join row 1. I held back about 30 secs from the starting hooter and started well for the first few strokes but took a confidence whack after receiving a left hook to my eye within 20secs of starting the swim; a thought instantly came into my head ……..’WTF am I doing!!’ I put my head down and with a bit of breaststroke, I found by rhythm before finding my own space and I got back to front crawl after about 300m. I couldn’t even see the half way turning point of the swim 1.2 miles down the rowing lake, this was going to be more of a challenge than I thought, so just put my head down and tried to concentrate on the style we had been taught in the coaching sessions.

I took a quick peak at my watch at about 100m after the halfway point and couldn’t believe it when it read 45mins… as the fasted I have ever done 2.4miles is 1hr 34 mins in training, so I realised I hadn’t lost too much time at the start. As mentioned I had suffered with cramp in training but after a regime of bananas and magnesium supplements I had maintained it and it only came on in the latter stages of the race. My right calf and shin started cramping up with about 500m to go so, with some circular foot rotations I was able to suppress it for the remainder of the swim. I was ecstatic when I was helped up the gantry at the end that Ihadn’t drowned but when I saw the time of of 1hr 30mins I was even more elated.

The transition to the bike went in a flash and before I knew it after checking I had all my bike gear, 12mins had elapsed!! This did include about 300m of running although I was still in a bit of a dizzy daze from the swim and my adrenalin was very high but I did remember to apply sun screen as the bike was going to be a scorcher.

The bike course was undulating and HOT but I tried to push as much as I could. The first 56 miles I kept an average of over 18mph which I was pleased with as I visited some very dark places at abut 40 and 60miles where I found myself just staring at the white line on the roadside. As it was so hot I found myself drinking 7litres of HighFive throughout the bike course!!. I was going to only carry 2 bottles and collect the rest around the course but decided last minute to carry all of my fluids on the bike as I didn’t want to get caught short and I had always trained with all my drinks…this turned out to be a good decision as I was thirsty!

PG bike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also carried all of my nutrition which consisted of black current ‘Cliff shot bloks’, Jelly babies, snickers and Rice Krispies squares (nom nom) and this worked very well, exactly how I had trained, although stuffing half a snickers down me then turning the corner to find i was at the bottom of longest steepest hill on the course, was then did not seem like a good time for a snack! I caught up a few other riders who had passed me earlier in the day and ended up riding with them for the last 30miles which went in a flash. With 5miles to go I realised that I was estimated to finish in just over 7hours which was 30mins slower than my previous best time from training and my average speed had dropped to about 16.3mph, so with a renewed energy I put my pedal down with every attempt to finish in under 7hrs. I entered T2 on exactly 7hrs 0mins dead . …which considering the heat, I was really pleased with!

My transition to the run was much better than T1 completing in 7mins (which included toilet stop) and although I had wobble legs I ran out of transition well. I was just so elated to get through the bike stage without any maintenance it was now down to my own body failure which would be my only barrier to non completion (which for me was NOT an option)

PG bike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The time was about 2:30pm and the sun was very strong now but I started off the run with a mixture of 75% fast walk and 25% run for the first 6 miles whilst I shook off my bike legs, and I decided to carry a small bottle with me which contained HighFive which I would eventually top up at every food station, that and crisps too:). The miles started clicking down fast and at this 6 mole point I seemed to get my running legs back and switched to 50:50 walk:run ratio which i continued until about 15miles. After this I started to decrease the amount of distance i walked compared to run and at about 20miles for some reason I had definitely gone through the wall, was well hydrated and nutrition was good as I seemed to get all my energy back. I looked at my watch and realised that i was well inside the 7-8 hours I had estimated for the marathon part and if i pushed on i could get near thr 15hour mark for completion, I may even break the 15hour barrier…. I ran 90% of the remaining 6 miles to the end and with a sprint finish for the last 50m I finished 2 hours before the cutoff, completing my first Ironman in 15hrs 2mins and 13secs…..so pleased even if I did miss the sub 15hr, as I gave it my all!!!

Thanks for reading

Peter Greenham

 

The Vachery Triathlon Festival – Half Ironman

The early morning start (up at 4.30am) meant it was chilly enough to keep the sponsors happy kitted out in Ironmate and Tri Topia gear.

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The weather was good. Not hot or sunny but not cold either just overcast. But I knew if, or more like when, the Sun came out it would impact the race.

The lake temp was taken and to surprise us all the Middle distance race was deemed ‘wetsuit optional’. The other, two shorter races were non wetsuit still. So we were all kitted out in wetsuit except those who had regrettably gambled the other way and not bought their wetsuits with them.

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My swim wave started at 7.30 am. I was ready way in advance and keen to get going, especially as it was a wetsuit swim. The klaxon went and off we went. My swim was excellent (if I do say so myself). Very strong, well paced, good sighting. The only downside was the lake was full of weeds, but that was the same for everyone. I had loads of clear water due to good positioning at the start. I tried to draft but as I caught people they would slow me down if I drafted so I opted to plough on.

Swim time 36 mins 34 secs. Happy with that – had estimated 35 – 40 mins so being the lower end of that was good.

T1 was long(ish) as I opted to put socks on mainly for the run but I thought it’s either T1 or T2 that is slowed due to the time to put socks on and if T1 I have the comfort of them on while on the bike. I also put on a cycling top, mainly to keep the Sun off my shoulders for when the Sun came out.

T1 2 mins 14 secs

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Then off on to the bike leg. The first lap was good. I felt a bit tired/flat on the first lap. Getting to Leith Hill, the massive climb, seemed to take an age and Leith Hill itself was a hard hard effort. Hardly surprising as it’s the highest point in Southern England.

After the summit of Leith Hill it’s a fast decent and generally fast roads back to the Vachery Estate or in our case Lap 2!

I did lap 1 in 1 hr 29 mins. But it was a hard lap, so I decided to knock off the pace a bit and take lap 2 a bit easier. Leith Hill was so hard I was worried I wouldn’t get up it the second time if I went hard on the way to it.

So lap 2 I eased up, did Leith Hill again (which was a bit easier the second time) so taking the lap easier would have been a good plan until I looked at the Garmin and saw Lap 2 took 1 hrs 32 mins. Slower yes but 3 mins slower over 40K wasn’t as slow as I thought.

On the bike I drank 750ml of Lucozade sport, 2 x 750ml of Energy 5 drink and 750ml of water, plus 4 Torq Bars. So hitting the run I felt good.

T2 took only 1 mins 27 secs and off I went on the run.

I noticed the sun was out (Sam later told me the Sun came out during the second lap on the bike, but I guess with all the fast roads I hadn’t noticed.

The run was 5K out and 5K back twice, the out had a gradient on it so it was harder going out then coming back. The course wasn’t ideal either. Running about 2K on very uneven fields, with tractor tracks and long grass, then a track with pot holes for another 1K before you got out of the estate and on to country lanes. There was a feed/water station as you left transition which I rejected as I was ‘full’ after the bike and the briefing said there was feed stations every 3K, but the next water/feed station was about 4K away. I got to the first turn around point in 31 mins 30 secs, and that’ where the trouble started.

The lap back was hard, but as it was down hill it was easier then going out, so it masked the effort I was putting in. I hit the feed station, two cups of energy drink, two cups of water and a gel. I consumed the energy drink and gel and threw the water over me. And off I went.

I got to the end of lap one which is 30 metres from the finish line and had to turn and go through the hell again. And it was hell. I don’t actually know how I got through it and finished. A marshall appeared on his bike and asked how many laps I had done, I said two thinking I had missed the cut off or something and my effort was in vain, but he said Ok, he’s checking as a lot hadn’t started their second lap yet, while I was on my way back to the finish. This perked me up a bit.

The high light of the run was a young kid (with his dad) in their front garden and as we ran past if we put our hands in the air his dad said he could spray us with the hose pipe. IF WE PUT OUR HANDS IN THE AIR – we were stopping and standing there while he soaked us, as he giggled away.

I did the last lap with a sponge soaked in water down my back and another down the front of my top. The feed station was two cups of energy drink, two cups of water AND two cups on the sponges so the water trickled down me as I ran. During the run I had 4 gels and about 10 full cups of either water or energy drink. I won’t bang on about how had the run was – I will just say ‘it was hell’.

In terms of run time, my PB for a fresh half marathon (not before a 1.9K swim and 80K bike) is 2hrs 1 min. I was aiming for 2 hours 10 or 2 hrs 15 mins, those times went out of the window when the sun came out. I just wanted to better my previous half marathon off of a half ironman of 2 hr 20 mins. But the legs said NO. I finally finished the run in a time of 2 hrs 23 mins.

So stats are:

Swim 36:34

T1 2:14

Bike 3:02:09

T2 1:27

Run 2:23:24

Total 06:05:50

As I was running I was thinking about having to pack the tent away and load the car etc in the Sun after the run, so one of the highlights of the weekend has to be when Sam told me she had packed everything away and loaded the car while I was on the bike – What a babe!

Thanks for reading.

 

 

This as NOT in the race build up plan

I am trying to remain calm.

Trying to keep it in perspective.

Trying not to over react.

This week was good, quite a bit of running including a one hour run, at an easy pace, Thursday morning. I couldn’t do this session as I had an early morning meeting so I had to run in the evening. There was also a work event that evening – drinks at the pub as someone was leaving and someone else joining.

So I took my running gear to work, went for a 60 mins run at 6pm, had a shower when I got back to the office, got dressed and went to the drinks at 7.15pm. All good. I had a couple of Beck Blue’s and caught up with some work colleagues. It was a bit chilly as we were outside the pub and it was right on the river’s edge and so we left at 9.30pm and went home and had some food when we got in – so food at 11pm!

Friday I felt crap, really tired and achey. But Friday is a rest day so no training and an early night meant Saturday I felt fine.

Saturday I was up at 5.15am and in the lake by 7am. Good swim and a nice run after the swim. Home by 9.30am. Still a bit tired so I tried for a power nap, but whilst I was in bed for an hour I think I only got 20 mins shut eye.

I had to go into Croydon to pick up my new glasses and whilst in Croydon I started to feel rough. When we got home I had another 90 mins shut eye in the afternoon and then the runny nose and headache came. I took some cold and flu tablets and had an early night.

I had a good 11 hours sleep last night and have spent today on the settee. Two crap films, the MotoGP and now the TDF live overage.

I blame Thursday. Doing the run and a) not refuelling straight after and b) standing in the ‘cold’. Friday I recovered a bit but then the early start Saturday was the icing on the cake.

So rest day today, see how I feel tomorrow and get input from Mark on what training to do this week. I don’t feel too bad, a bit achey and a bit of a headache and every now and then a runny nose, but not all the time. If I wasn’t racing in 6 days I would be out there training – kill or cure type approach. But with my first A race of the year 6 days away I am playing it safe and took today off from the scheduled 2 hour bike ride and 30 mins run session. I am hoping tomorrow I will feel better/fine.

I might be clutching at straws but as I said at the top

I am trying to remain calm.

Trying to keep it in perspective.

Trying not to over react.

Thanks for reading.

Thanks babe x

Two things to achieve this weekend:

1) do an open water Lake swim – not a lido swim

2) ride the bike course for the forthcoming half ironman in two weeks

The first is a confidence builder. I have swum quite a bit in my wetsuit so the swim part should be OK, I just wanted to practise sighting, which you can’t do as easy at the Lido.

The second point was to ride the course to make sure there were no ‘surprises’ and also to ride up Leith Hill to see just how bad it  is.

I couldn’t have chosen a better day to swim. Up at 5am, on the road by 5.45am, in the lake by 6.45. And what a glorious swim it was. A real nice vibe at the lake, for some strange reason it was really busy, which just made it a nicer atmosphere.

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I got into my swim stride very quickly and did as Mark instructed, some easy, some pushing the pace. I passed a few swimmers, then a few more and before I knew it the swim was over.

Quick transition and off on a 20 minute run. All very enjoyable. Objective number one ticked off.

Today (Sunday) was the ride. Up at 5.45, on the road by 6.30 and at where, I think, The Vachery Estate is by 7.30am. I had the map of the bike route, I had loads of fluids on the bike and energy bars etc and more fluid and energy bars in a cooler in the car. The course is two laps so plan was: lap one, then back to the car and refuel the supplies and then lap two – then wang the bike in the car and off for a run. Simple plan – what could go wrong?

I rode the start of the course, which was quite a fast route, I hit Leith Hill which was hard going. In the ‘Webb scale’ I would say harder then Box Hill and on an even par with Ditchlin Beacon. Then I got lost, I took the descent fast and missed the left so ended up going too far. A kind fellow cyclist pointed that out for me and I doubled back. Within 10 minutes I was lost again, so I decided to go back the way I came. It was hot, I was running low on supplies so going back the way I had come seemed the best idea – within another 20 minutes I was lost again! I ended up riding around trying to find my way back to the car. I had to stop at a newsagent to get more energy drink and a tracker bar otherwise I was going to blow up.

I finally made it back to the car, 76K in total, not a full lap but I do know the area very well now!

The run went without incident and after peeling sweat soaked clothes off – I drove home.

I downloaded the Garmin stats and looked at where I went wrong on the map. It was almost comical. I rode over three quarters of the route, missed a turning and then rode the long way back almost doing the entire three quarter loop again. IDIOT!

Anyway, that’s another good week in the bag – 9 and a half hours training this week, including a lot of running sessions.

Two weeks to go and I don’t think I can be any more prepared then I am for this first ‘A’ race of the year.

Finally a big thanks to the wife for offering to go on a family day to the seaside 1) on her own, as in without me not on her own otherwise it wouldn’t be a family day out would it, meaning I could do the ride and 2) for going in two cars so I could have the Freelander to take the bike to the bike course. Thanks babe x

Thanks for reading.