The Bedford Half Ironman (ish)

What a day and what a race!

Not a brilliant night’s sleep courtesy of a wedding going on at the hotel we stayed at and guests going to bed drunk and making noise etc, but up at 5am, breakfast, sun lotion, check kit (again) and we left at 6am. I had already registered on Saturday so it was just bike racking and getting my kit on.

Racking and set up was fine and before we knew it we were ready to go.

Due to Blue Algae on the lake we had already been told the swim was off and it was a 2.5K run to start.

Now the plan for the race was as follows: first run take it easy, bike take it easy and final run take it easy. By easy Mark wanted me to do it all at 75% max HR. And I am always one to follow the instructions.

So the first run, 2.5K – was women and those over 40 years of age. The pack spread out quite quick, I was running with three or four others all nice and easy, so I upped the pace and over the run dropped all 4 of them, going into T1 after 13 mins 31 secs of running, ave speed of 11 kmph, ave HR 88% tut tut Darren – but I felt fine. In fact I felt good and comfortable with that pace.

Off on the bike, which was very flat, 1 small lap and 2 longer laps making the 91K. The start of lap one was fine, nice and comfortable with the Garmin saying HR was 85% of max. I eased off down to 80% and a rider went past me. I looked again and the HR had dropped to 77%. Basically the route was flat with one big hill per lap. My HR fluctuated between 80% and 85%. If I pushed a bit and went on the drops and took advantage of the flat, nicely tarmac roads, the HR went to 85% if I sat up and eased up it dropped to 80%. But both were fine. I felt good. I did the two laps and decided, on the third, I would ease up a bit with 10K to go in preparation for the run. So I put a ceiling at 80% max HR and tried to go down to 75% were I could. This was fine, very easy, very comfortable and bang three other riders came past me with 8K to go. So I thought ‘sod this’ and I upped the anti back up to 85%. I had re-passed 2 of the 3 with 5K to go and passed the last person with 2K to go. I was going to ease up for the run in, but I thought -why? the third rider will just repass me and all that hard work will be for nothing. So I ploughed on at the same pace.

The Bike was 91K in a time of 3 hours 16 mins an ave speed of 28 kmph and ave HR of 84% of max. Done as Lap 1 (the small lap) 51 mins 16s, lap 2 in 1 hr 10 mins and lap three in 1 hr 13 mins – so slowing up cost me 3 mins. During the bike section I had 4 Torq bars, two gels and 1 x 1,000 ml of energy drink and the same of water.

Transition was OK, not fast but I wanted to put my calf guards on, make sure I had my gels for the run etc.

And off I went. The run was nothing more than perfect – absolutely perfect. I hit a speed of 9 – 10 kmph and ran at that pace for the first 1K or so. Then I slowed the pace down to 8.3 to 9.5 kmph. Basically I tried to run slow at (8 kmph) but without realising it I sped up to 9.5 kmph over time, but realised I was going faster and so I slowed again, so as to pace myself for the entire 21K run.

The run course was lovely, tarmac paths, running by a lake, through parks, it was bliss. Three people went past me quite soon after I started the run (as they always do!) but I kept my pace and ploughed on. I didn’t have distance as a data field on my Garmin, which turned out to be a very good thing. I realised at 32 mins of running I would have no splits to I hit the lap button at 32 mins and hit it every 32 mins there after. I took a gel after 10 mins of the start of the run and a gel every 40 mins. I also took on water at each of the 4 feed stations. I caught one of the runners that passed me and I went past him, I hadn’t upped the pace I had kept it constant, he was slowing. I then passed the other guy who had passed me as he was walking! He was doing ‘an old me’ going off fast and then having to walk to recover. But that was the old Darren. This new improved Darren was running at a steady pace, he felt good, strong, comfortable. The only issue with the run was I needed a pee! I stopped and one of the runners re-passed me. No worries ‘I will catch you’ I thought. But I couldn’t, we ran at the same distance for the rest of the run, he never increased the gap, but I also couldn’t close it.

I cannot begin to tell you how good this run was. No stopping, no huge pace fluctuations, no struggling to finish. I drank at every feed stations, took 4 gels (one every 30 – 40 mins) and I ran the best run I have ever done in my life. No exaggeration.

I did the run in 2 hours 26 mins – an average speed of 8.8 kmph with an average HR of 84% of max. The laps went like this:

– first 32 mins I covered 4.96K with an average pace of 6.28,

– second 32 mins 4.73K average pace of 6.45,

– third 4.75K average pace of 6.49,

– the fourth 4.56K an average pace of 6.57

– with the last 17 mins covering 2.65K and at a pace of 6.40.

So a slight drop on the fourth split but recovered for the fifth.

I am over the moon. A really good confidence builder for IM Austria. The fastest bike ride I have done in any middle distance tri followed by the fastest half ironman marathon and crucially all at the same pace. Pace, pace pace I am starting to get this pace lark and wow what a difference it makes.

Results aren’t up yet, not that I care. But the provisional time was 6 hours 00 mins and 24 secs. I reckon that pee on the run cost me a sub 6 hours race!

Big thanks to Sam for calming me down when we got there and I saw all the TT bikes, aero helmets, GB shirts etc. She told me to run my own race, remember why I was there, to practice pacing, to run my race and to put into practise the theory we had spoken about the night before. She really did get me into the right frame of mind for the race. Thanks babe x.

And as usual my thanks to Mark, for getting me ready to race and getting me to where I am now. He is a true genius.

Also a big shout out to my buddy Steve Groom who raced too, winning his age group and coming second overall. Also thanks to his mate Ashley who kindly showed us the bike route the day before after registering. He also did well winning his age group and coming 7th overall.

Thanks for reading.


The Marsh Man 70.3

Darren Webb – DNS

After such a good boot camp in Egypt and a good solid block of training over the bank holiday weekend last weekend, this week has been a nightmare, resulting in a DNS for the Marsh Man half ironman.

Wednesday I woke up with a sore throat and a headache. My immediate thought ‘here we go again’. I rested Wednesday and Thursday, including going to bed on Thursday at 8.30pm.

I was still hell bent on racing today so I did the Friday swim set to see how I felt. The swim was good, a very good session in fact, all felt easy, no issues. But Saturday I felt worse when I woke up then I had done in the week. I did the easy sets to limber up for Sunday and was sweating more than I should have been for the effort I was putting in.

So it wasn’t looking great. It didn’t stop me packing all my kit, getting the bike ready and sorting my drink bottles out etc.

I had my pasta and meat balls last night at 6.30pm and within an hour I was throwing up. I was sick a couple of times and ended up going to bed at 8pm feeling very rough with an upset stomach.

I woke up at 11pm, still feeling sick, still had a stomach ache, sore throat, headache, coughing etc and now add to the list back ache from straining over the toilet and I STILL set my alarm for 4am to do the race. My thinking being ‘I might feel better in the morning’. But I couldn’t sleep. So I got up at midnight and went downstairs to watch TV until just after 2am. Then decided as ‘the morning’ was actually in less than two hours time and racing would be pointless, so I turned off the alarm and finally got off to sleep.

Not sure want the upset stomach is from. I think it is the combination of cough mixture, cold and flu remedy, vitamin C, gels and sports drinks etc to try and cure my cold in one day! I haven’t eaten anything yet today, but I am keeping down fluids, so you could say an improvement!

I have found a half ironman in Bedford on 25th May, only two weeks away, so it should be within schedule as the warm up race for Austria IM.

The week after is the 3.8K mass swim at Reading which I want to do as well for practice. So this week (or hopefully the next few days) is about getting better, not doing sessions.

Thanks for reading.



An easy Bank Holiday

Mark asked what I had planned for the bank holiday. ‘Not much at all’ I said, quite a relaxed one.

In reality it went like this:

Friday evening was an easy 45 mins turbo

Up early Saturday for a shopping trip to Bluewater including lunch and didn’t get home until gone 3pm.

Followed by a 2 hour turbo and 20 minutes run off the turbo session, it was late evening before I sat down, ready to babysit baby Ollie.

Sunday was a 45 minute run straight into a 45 mins turbo, after a lay in. Then rush around getting ready to go to watch Chelsea play their last home game of the season. Stayed for a beer after so home late and a curry! Bad boy.

Today was a morning of gardening, cutting the grass, weeding the drive, sorting the garage etc, then out for lunch with my parents. Did some work this afternoon and now off to the gym to do a short (40 – 45 mins turbo). Then hopefully have a sit down before back to work tomorrow.

All sessions this weekend have been good, quite easy, but off the big set while away I was pleased with how well I have recovered. I had a stiff shoulder over the weekend courtesy of sleeping funny Thursday night and having an achey neck and shoulder so I have not swum all weekend and restricted myself to the turbo rather than ride on the road. Glad I did as it feels a lot better and will be able to swim on it tomorrow.

I will suggest to Mark that I do the swim set, that was set for today, tomorrow evening and then see what he has in store for the rest of the week building up to the half ironman on the 11th (next Sunday). Really looking forward to the half ironman next Sunday to see where I am at.

Thanks for reading.