The Gauntlet aka The Hever Castle Half Ironman

On the positive side, another completed race (still no DNF’s for me) and a ruck sack as part of the goody bag.

You know it’s not a good race when one of the positives is the goody bag! Especially when I achieved a PB!

Let me explain.

The swim was awesome. 1,900 metres – all the talk of it being really cold, shallow and dirty were wrong. The water temp was OK, the swim was strong and straight (as in I followed the course) and I did the swim in 36.27 mins previous swim PB for 1,900 metre event was 36.34. It was a bit ‘aggressive’ mainly swimmers not swimming straight – but I don’t mind if it’s a bit of a bun fight.

Run up to T1 and a T1 time of 3.30. Not the fasted, but I put on socks and a cycling top as it was a bit chilly.

The bike was hard. I rode it as a recce a few weeks ago and it took 2 hours to ride it at a hard pace but with some stops to point out where marshals would be etc. So I was hoping for 3.45 – 4 hours. So to do it in 3.48 I was happy with that. A 1.48 for lap one and 1.58 for lap 2.

T2 2.46 – including a long run from dismount to my space in transition.

And that’s where the fun ended. I knew I was in trouble on the run within 2K. I do a lot of running as part of brick sessions (a ride and a run or a swim and a run, one after the other ) and I am comfortable running off the bike. I also usually go off fast (too fast) for the first 5K and regret it after, but this time I started slowly and even then I was in trouble.

I won’t bore you with tales of pain, anguish, gritted teeth, dark periods (most of the run) more pain etc.

Suffice to say I did the run in 2.31. My worst half marathon time ever. Previous worst 2.24 blamed on the heat.

So a total time of 7hrs 02 mins.

The PB (and this is also a way of explanation for the time) this is the first full half (if you get what I mean) I have done. Previous ‘half’s’ have had reduced swims or 80K rides (not 90K) or both. This is the first full distance. So the bike was 10K longer and also harder then any previous event. So my official half PB is 7 hrs 02.

I am not sure what went wrong today. I have had a cold for the past week or so, but I felt fine this morning and the past few days leading up to the race.

It’s been a long season, two half’s, an Olympic, a sprint, two boot camps, a 150K bike ride, a few 10K’s, a half marathon. But it has also been a perfectly planned season by an excellent coach. So if it was too much he would have said.

But we do need to plan the winter and that is what triathlon and triathletes is all about. After a ‘bad’ race it isn’t ‘sod this I am going to take up darts’ it’s ‘right what needs to be improved and how’.

Thanks to Sam for coming and Chloe and Sophia for keeping her entertained and for Russ and Camilla for coming up to watch me cross the finish line. Much appreciated.

Thanks for reading.

Mental positivity is the name of the game for the next two weeks

It has been another two weeks since my last blog, mainly due to being busy training and not much to report.

It has been two hard weeks of training. Not a high volume, both weeks have been 7 – 8 hours as usual, but the intensity has been right up there. This week I have also done a lot of running, 3 and a half hours, which is a lot for me. And a lot of the running off of a (big) swim or off of a (long) turbo ride.

Yesterday was a cold session too. An hours open water swim at Tooting Bec Lido in the rain, followed by a two lap run around the common (one hour) again in the rain. This is after a rain soaked run in the week.

Two weeks to go now until the main event of the year being the Hever Castle Half Ironman. Mentally I switch between ‘one last big push to put all this years hard work to use’ and then I flick to ‘why did I book an event so late in the year when it will be cold and raining and horrible’. So I need to get more of the mental positivity going and start to man up for the event. Watching the WTS on the TV just now really helped. My wife also pointed out this day last year we were sitting in the garden having a barbeque. We have decided NOT to camp for the event and just drive there for the day. Which means an early start but also a good comfortable and warm night’s sleep.

But physically I am feeling good. Weight is under 11 stone – so am at race weight, I expect the week before the race will be more of a taper week, so I can then start to get mentally fit to match the physical fitness.

Last week I rode the bike course for the half, which felt hard. One lap took us 2 hours but there was some waiting and we stopped for the leader to point out where the feed station etc would be. So I think the ride will be 3 hrs 30 mins – 3hrs 45 mins, not the usual 3 hours. So the aim for a 6 hour finish time is out of the question.

The swim will be cold and therefore maybe slow? The transition will be slow as I will definitely be putting socks on and maybe an extra layer (cycling top) and then T2 should be OK as it will just be taking the top off and putting trainers on, and then its the run. But the run is part tarmac, part gravel and mostly grass and some mud (advised to take trail trainers if it is raining!) so the run might be slow too. So 6 hours is out of the question – looking more like 6.30 or 7 hours. I wonder if there is a cut off.

Finally a big GOOD LUCK to my coach Mark Kleanthous for his Ironman next weekend at Lake Tahoe, California. I am sure he will do well and continue to be the true inspiration to us all that he is.

Thanks for reading.

Reading Olympic Tri

In homage to my buddy Andy Wood, let’s start with an apology. Sorry for no blogs since the last race two weeks ago.

This weekend was the Reading Olympic Tri. A warm up event to the next ‘A’ race being the Half Ironman at Hever Castle at the end of the month (29th Sept).

Training for the build up for the Reading tri was good. Mark doing his magic again. After my holiday I was popped and Mark expected this and set me an easy week followed by a hard(ish) week so this weekend I was raring to go.

We stayed in a hotel overnight, which turned out to be the actual venue for the event, so it was literally on our doorstep.

The swim was OK, I swum really well, carving through the field like a dolphin (well it felt like it) but at the end of the first lap I followed a couple of others to the far buoy, which turned out to be the buoy for the exit. As I had another lap to go I should have gone to a different buoy. I think I lost at least a minute here or maybe two mins? STUPID!

Swim went well thereafter, a good pace and good sighting etc – swim time of 29 mins 38 secs.

Transition was OK. Quite slow at 1 mins 55 secs but that was OK. I don’t practise transitions so no reason why I should be fast at them.

The bike was OK – two laps of a 20K course (turned out it was 2 laps of a 22K course). First lap was OK. I felt slow on it and sluggish but I wanted the bike to be under 90 mins and completing the first lap in 43 mins meant I was on target for that time. I worked harder on lap 2. I was in the big ring more and pushed it where I could. Unfortunately there was an accident and we all had to stop and wait for a minute. Others were held up for longer but the police let us continue after I had only been there a minute. This meant there were a lot of us all together as we rode of, probably 20 or 30 of us all riding together.

Lap 2 of the bike was good, I pushed more and right to the end and I did lap 2 in 41.56, so a minute faster even though I was held up for a minute. Total bike time 1hr 25 mins.

During the bike I ate one and a half Torq bars – a bite every 20 mins and 750ml of energy drink.

T2 was again slow 2 mins 28 secs, mainly due to putting socks on to a) warm up my feet and b) avoid any blisters on the run.

On to the run – which was 6 laps – 90% of it on uneven grass running around the lake. The first few laps I felt good, really good and consistent.

Lap 1 – 9.1

Lap 2 – 9.26

Lap 3 – 9.42

I took a gel towards the end of lap 3 and lap 4 was 9.49. Lap 5 it started to get tough to keep the pace. I slowed to 10.35 for lap 5 but the joy of being on the last lap meant I did that in 9.35. So a total run time of 57 mins 46 secs. Not bad for a 10K off of an Olympic distance race. Looking at the Garmin it shows total distance of 10.87K so almost 11K for that time rather than 10K.  Even better.

So a total of time of 2 hrs 57 mins 15 secs. I am happy with that, slow transitions, mucking up the swim on lap 1 and getting held up on the bike (not complaining about that) meant the pace meant an under 2 hrs 55 mins IN THEORY.


What is weird is I do not get any faster for shorter distance races. A half ironman I am around 6 hours (5.57 in Marlow and 6.05 for Vachery) for an Olympic I am half that time at 2.57) and for a sprint I am half again? So my times are predictable. 1hr 30 mins, 3 hrs, 6 hrs for Sprint, Olympic and Half.

The usual thanks for the support of my wife but also big thanks to Pete Greenham. Unable to compete due to injury he came to watch and I heard him bellowing my name every time I was near the hotel grounds. With Sam cheering me on at each lap of the run I had one of the best support teams there.

Thanks for reading.