Webby’s back

My last blog ‘IM Vichy’ was quite a negative one. I don’t think my opinion of the event is any different 10 days later. I still feel disappointed with the event and the time I achieved etc. But I have come to terms with the fact it’s done and it’s time to move on.

And that is what I am doing. I started training this week, with no negative effects from Vichy. Apart from, I still have partial numbness in my fingers which is worse the more I use them. This is a minor irritation but 10 days after the event is now a bit silly.

In terms of what’s next, I am planning on riding the SRS Events Brighton to Brighton cycling sportive (172K) at the end of September and all being well I will probably do the Ball Buster again in November.

I have put the TT bike on the turbo to practise on over the Winter and will now start riding my road bike at the weekends, on the B2B ride in September and for the Ball Buster. I am really looking forward to getting back on the road bike after months of TT riding.

And a week in Egypt in October – will be a nice little boot camp in the Sun as good prep for the Ball Buster.

I will be back to focussing on my running from now on and also riding to work regularly over winter and doing less swimming, like last year.

Next year is already taking shape. Brighton Marathon in April (which will mean some 10K’s and half marathons leading up to that). And I have today booked IM 70.3 Barcelona in May, which I am really looking forward to. Event booked (my first official 70.3 IM branded event), apartment booked, flights sorted etc.

I am also planning on doing Challenge Weymouth next year (September) and will decide next year whether that is the Challenge distance or half distance. There are also several other races I plan to look at around these events to get racing again, which I missed this year. So on top of the Marathon, Barcelona and Weymouth I can also do Cowman middle distance, Bedford half, Bewl water Olympic distance etc or look up other ‘local’ events I haven’t done before.

I also have half an eye on the Long Course Weekend in Tenby.

A key disappointment for me this year was I put all my eggs in the IM Vichy basket. In 2016 I want to race more.

The only target next year is to have fun . . . . but then a sub 6 hour half IM in Barcelona would be nice!!

Thanks for reading.

IM Vichy

Ironman Vichy held great expectations for me, so this blog is particularly hard to write. Mainly as I still don’t really know how I feel about the event.

My minimum expectation was a finish time of 13 hrs 30 mins. Just over an hour off IM Austria. In the week leading up to Vichy this went to 13 hours and the wife predicted 12 hours 45 mins in the car on the way there. These times weren’t just plucked out of the air. Nine months of consistent training meant I knew were I was at for my swim, bike and run endurance.

But it didn’t go to plan. In fact it went badly wrong.

The swim was great. Plenty of space to swim in. A few bumps and bashes but that’s IM swimming. My first Australian exit, so I got a chance to check my time halfway through. Perfect 37 minutes. Second lap was just as good. All fine – and I thought I was on for a PB. Swim time was 1 hour 19 mins – 5 mins slower than Austria but I knew I was not as good a swimmer as last year – so that’s fine. It was still inside my worst prediction of 1 hr 20 mins.

T1 was OK and out on the bike. I was on the TT bike. I rode out of the park and on to the first of two laps. Mark’s instructions were to take the first lap easy so I did. I had my energy drink (2 x 750ml bottles), Torq bars and cliff shots taking something every 5 – 10 minutes.

It was hard going – almost always up hill and there was a head wind slowing me down. First lap 3 hrs 25 mins. That was slow. I wanted 3.10 but was happy to do 2 x 3 hrs 25 mins rather than a 3 hr 10 and then a 3 hrs 35 mins.

The second lap was hard. The heat was blazing down on me (turns out it was 97 degrees), the head wind was full on making it tough going, I had never ridden the TT bike for this long or in wind like this and I just couldn’t stay on the bars. So I was riding on the handles. My neck was aching and my shoulders were aching. So much so just looking behind me hurt. I had been stung on the stomach by something as well which initially hurt, but then itched.

But the bigger issue was my small finger, my ring finger and part of the palm of my hand, on both hands, were numb. This was from squeezing the handles so hard in the wind. In fact I still don’t have the feeling in these fingers back yet 48 hours later.

The ride was weird. There were riders on the side of the road lying in the shade, many were stopping at the feed stations and getting off and taking 5 mins out to fill up and chat to the helpers. I know this as people passed me a couple of times. They passed me, stopped at the feed station whereas I just grab bottles as I rode through, and they passed me again 15 mins later.

The ride time, when I finally finished was 7 hours 20 mins. So the second lap was 3 hrs 55 mins – 30 mins slower than the first lap. Disaster.

What was worse, was that I was completely spent. I went into transition with nothing. I got changed and stumbled out to the run. Within 1K I knew I was in trouble. I just had no energy – I was literally empty. A fast walk was hard going, yet alone running. I walked for the first 5 – 6K until Mark passed me. He asked what was up and I said I had nothing. He shouted back ‘drink coke, take salty biscuits and whatever you do don’t stop’ and he was gone.

So at the next feed station I took coke and had some Ritz type biscuits. I couldn’t run as I was full of coke but after another couple of K ‘s walking I started to feel better. So lap one (of four) I had walked. I was feeling better but I knew my finish time was shot to pieces. I was going to be slower than Austria, by some way and I knew I wouldn’t run a complete lap in the final 3 laps.

So why carry on was what I asked mysef. I could call it a day, have a shower, a meal and think about the future. I got into the turnaround chute at the end of Lap 1 and Sam and Clare were there shouting encouragement screaming at me to keep going and not give up.

Before I knew it I was on lap 2. I don’t remember deciding to carry on – I just decided not to give up.

Lap two was harder. I was trying to run (but still walking in a lot of places). The sun was still screaming down on me. There were loads of others walking, being sick, and many runners lying in the shade with tin foil blankets around them and medical staff.

I saw Lee from Tri Topia and others from Tri Topia and Lee run with me for a minute or so giving me encouragement.

Lap three, the sun had finally gone in and it was getting dusk. So it was probably 9 pm or something like that? There were a group of us all with two wristbands (so we were on our third lap) and we were trying to better each other. I run past them, then had to walk to recover and they run past me, then they walked and I run past them. All of us pushing each other on.

But the thoughts in my head were dark. Why do I do these events? Nine months of training and I am worse than I was a year ago. This is embarrassing. I am barely going to finish before the cut off. This just kept turning around in my head.

The last lap and it was pitch black in places. Ironically I was running more on lap four then I had in any of the other three laps. Not sure if this was that I had rehydrated or because it was nearly over! My neck was stiff to the point of pain, my shoulders had seized up. It was still hot and I had taken my hat off and I could feel where I was sun burnt – my neck, arms face. But I was running. And it felt good to be a) running and b) coming to the end of this nightmare of a day.

On the bridge for the last time my watch said 6 hours 25 mins for the marathon and there was about 1K to go, so I just run the rest of the run to the finish as fast as I could. The finish chute was a mass of noise, the music playing loudly, the crowds cheering the finishers ‘DARREN WEBB – YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.

But I didn’t feel like one as I crossed the line. 15 hours 24 minutes. Almost an hour slower than Austria. It had all gone so very wrong.

Initially I was just glad I finished. It was now 11pm. I had been ‘on the go’ since 7.30 am. I just wanted to get out of there and go back to the hotel and shower. Mark and Clare were there to the bitter end (as were Sam and Lee but I didn’t see them).

Mark helped me get my gear back and check the bike out and we left. As I was putting the bike in the car, the final finisher, before the cut off, finished and the fire works went off.

I just thought – What a disaster!

Ever since then I have found out a lot about the day itself.

The day was hot. It was 97 degrees at its peak but when I finished at 11pm it was still 80 degrees.

The wind on the bike was bad, it was head on wind for most of the course and it got worse as the day went on (so many had a worse lap two time versus lap one).

Many participants didn’t finish. Many dropped out on the bike but more didn’t start the run or dropped out on the early stages of the run.

The winner was 25 minutes slower than usual IM winning time (for a fast course such as Vichy).

Mark (finisher of 38 Ironman events and probably the most experienced IM athlete in the World) was 90 minutes slower than he thought he would be.

The energy drink at the feed stations on the bike was so watered down they were barely flavoured water. This is why people were stopping to drink more at the feed stations (I didn’t).

I chatted to a couple with Mark the next day. They guy was saying he walked the first lap of the run as he finished the bike with no energy due to the watered down drinks. There were no salt tablets or salty foods on the bike so triathletes were starting the run in a bad way. His wife had also struggled.

So I was never going to PB that day, for someone of my caliber, a finish was the best to hope for. Not due to one thing but due to all the ‘little’ things. Not being very aero on the bike so the wind was hitting me hard, not comfortable on the bike so not concentrating, the head on wind on the bike, the heat, not refueling as much as I should on the bike so I hit the run empty. Then not knowing how to refuel (until Mark passed me and told me). And not realizing I wasn’t doing as bad a job as I thought.

There are some big learning’s from that day. I need to do an event and see what time I finish in. Not go into an event with a pre-determined target to achieve, because as soon as I miss a target ‘it’s all over’. My targets are always over optimistic, they never take into account the course profile, the temperature or how I feel on the day. They are x amount of time off the previous time because I (believe) am I supposed to get quicker every time I race.

Nutrition isn’t about knowing how many bars to eat – it’s about knowing what to take, when and in what conditions to change that strategy.

It’s also about the overall time. ‘Losing’ time at the feed stations but starting the run in good shape is better than saving 10 minutes by whizzing through feed stations and walking the first 10K of the run (taking 35 minutes longer).

It doesn’t all end with one bad period. 2 laps of the swim, 2 laps on the bike and 4 laps on the run. If I walk the first lap of the run, I had a bad first 10K so an average finish overall. Not a bad first lap, so what’s the point in doing the event it has been a balls up.

The biggest learning is to remember to respect IM races and these distances.

As for what’s next – I don’t know. 48 hours ago I wasn’t ever doing another IM event. On the drive home yesterday that changed to not for a few years. If I am honest I didn’t enjoy the event. I don’t feel the sense of achievement I want to after all that training and build up.

I want to do more events I enjoy. I am getting the hang of 70.3 events now. Getting closer and closer to the sub 6 hours (current PB this year was 6 hrs 4 mins). I can do more of these a year than the one IM event per year. I did the Bewl Water Olympic distance and enjoyed that distance too. I am enjoying the training events more than the event I am training for.

So I think I want to race more at the 70.3 and Olympic distance races for next year. Keep the run and bike training high and leave the swimming to sort itself out.

Rayleigh 70.3, Weymouth Challenge half were always on the cards for 2016. Maybe Marlow 70.3 again, Bedford 70.3 again, the Cowman again, Bournemouth and/or Weymouth Olympic distance. Maybe even throw in a sprint distance or two?

Do stuff for a laugh with less pressure on myself than I have been putting on myself for the IM events. And then in a year or two see if another IM event is on the cards.

Finally a massive thankyou to my wife and number one supporter. For supporting me on the day and every day leading up to Vichy. Supporting an Ironman athlete is not a one day deal, they live the training with you and the highs and the lows with you. The holidays where you disappear on the bike for hours at a time, they wake to find an empty bed as you are training before the sun gets strong etc. 15 hours of analysis of what went wrong and what to do next in the car on the way home. I could go on but just to say Sam, thank you. x

Thanks for reading.

One week and counting

Ironman Vichy is one week away. The big question is ‘am I ready’?

In November 2014, I did the Ball Buster Duathlon, struggling over the finish, having walked up parts of Box Hill on the final run. I said to Mark (my coach), that I wasn’t prepared to keep doing these events and struggling on the run. We needed to up my training and focus on improving my run over the winter.

Nine months later and I have completed 313 hours of training since that conversation. Very little swim training, as agreed (19 hours), 172 hours of Cycling, 101 hours of Running and 21 hours of body conditioning (which was mainly Yoga).

As a comparison – for Ironman Austria I only trained for 5 months doing 172 hours in total, of which 100 hours was cycling and 37 running!

So the work has been put in, especially on the bike and on the run. The volume has been done but also with consistency, some work on nutrition and a lot of work on pacing.

I have run 991K (615 miles) over the past 9 months. Completed my first standalone Marathon (4 hrs 25 mins) and two half marathons (1 hr 55 mins and 1 hr 56 mins).

I don’t think I could have done any more to prepare for this race. It’s just up to me to get it right and perform on the day.

So no pressure.

This week’s training was good ending with a one hour swim set yesterday evening, a 2 hour ride this morning at IM pace and tomorrow is an easy 75 minute run. Then it’s taper week.

Two hours training in total for the entire week next week. Lots of rest, lots of early nights and lots of visualisation for the race.

I think it might be a long week!

Thanks for reading.

Bewl Water Olympic Tri and 3.8K OWS

I woke up bright and breezy at 4am on Saturday morning. The alarm was set for 4.15am so I turned it off before it went off and got up and got ready.

We left at 5am – me and my number one fan aka the wife. We got there fine, registered fine, sorted transition, sorted the swim in, bike out etc caught up with my mate Steve in transition. All nice and relaxed – it was a ‘C’ race after all.

The expectation for the race was low. I have only done two Olympic distance races in the past. Both were around the 3 hours mark. So my ‘target’ was Swim 30 – 35 mins, Bike no idea (you can never estimate or guess on unfamiliar roads) and Run 55 – 58 mins.

The walk down to the swim was quite steep and it’s then we realised that this was also the run course!

We were in the third wave of the start at 7.30am but at the race briefing at 6.50am it was so foggy you couldn’t see the turn bouys. In fact you couldn’t see anything. So the start was delayed and we didn’t get going until 7.50am when the fog had cleared.

The swim was good, nice and easy, plenty of sighting. I exited the water and literally right in front of me was Steve. I looked at my watch 33 mins – happy with that.

Then there was the long (2 mins 24 seconds) uphill rise to transition and I slowly saw Steve pull away. So we hit transition about 30 seconds apart.

T1 was OK, and I was on the bike and clicked the Garmin on – locating signal. I cycled more than 5K before the bloody thing picked up signal and could give me any info. So I just rode on feel.

Lap one on the bike was good, it went very quickly, quite fast roads. Lap two was busy. A lot more cars on the road, the villages I was riding through quite fast on lap one now had parked cars and people milling around, children walking on the pavements (near the road) etc so it was a slower pace. And the junctions were busier and instead of being waved on by the marshals we had to stop and wait for a gap in the traffic before we could pull out.

The bike leg took 1 hr 23 which surprised me as I thought it was slower than that due to the traffic, so happy with that and then on to the run.

I left transition down the steep twisty downhill section to a short flat section, then a gradual downhill for circa 300 metres, then another short flat, then a gradual uphill for 300 metres, then a hard right turn up a steep hill to get us on top of the reservoir, a nice flat run over the top of the reservoir, then a set of steep steps, and then the hard sharp climb up the twisty hill back up to transition to turn around (this uphill section is what we did after the swim to get back to transition).

The run was 4 laps of the above. The run went OK. I had to knock off the pace after the first two laps, as the hills were sapping the energy out of my legs. I did the run in 1 hour dead – outside my 55 – 58 mins expectation but that goal was set before I saw the run course.

Catching up with Steve afterwards (an experienced runner) he said he didn’t like the run and it was tough. So my 1 hour was all the more pleasing.

So a total time of 3 hours 4 minutes. I wanted to go under 3 hours – the last Olympic I did at London Excel was 2hrs 58 mins – but that was on closed roads and a pancake flat run. So add in the traffic on the bike leg and the hilly run I am happy with that.

Once we got back home I sorted out my kit, sorted the bike, cut the grass etc. I tried to have a power nap in the afternoon but after 30 mins I gave up. It was just too hot and too bright.

Sunday was déjà vue.

Up at 5am, me and the wife were an in the car by 5.30 back to Bewl Water for the 3.8K Open Water Swim.

No fog issues, less people so more laid back. And we started the swim bang on time.

I swum well and had no real goal. It was about swimming the IM distance (for a confidence boost) and to swim with others rather than on my own. But the pack soon spread out and I swum most of it on my own. I did catch up with a guy on lap 3 (of 4 laps) and practised drafting behind him for a bit which was good experience. I tried to take him on the fourth lap and the last 1K we were side by side both pushing for the line.

I did the swim in 1 hr 15 mins – less than 1 minute slower than IM Austria, so very happy with that. I haven’t really lost any swim speed over the winter where running was the focus.

In fact my average speed was higher for the 3.8K swim on the Sunday than it was for the 1.5K swim the day before!

I did manage a power nap late morning of almost 2 hours before settling down on the sofa for the afternoon.

Then late afternoon I went for a 4.5K run with Hannah my niece. Hannah has got into fitness in a big way in the past few months and is running regularly in the gym on the treadmill and we have been saying for ages we should go for a run.

Hannah normally runs for 10 or 15 mins at a time so to go for 35 mins on her first real ‘road’ run was a great achievement.

Not too surprising an early night was called for Sunday evening. Quite a fun, racing packed weekend!

Three weeks to go until the biggy.

Thanks for reading.

T’was a nasty one

Following The Cowman the cold I had turned out to be a nasty one.

It knocked me for six on the Tuesday and Wednesday although I struggled into work both days, but I then paid the price and was in bed and slept for most of the Thursday and Friday. The weekend wasn’t much better and I was pretty much a coach potato.

The ‘highlight’ of the weekend was Fast and Furious 5, 6 and 7 back to back on the Sunday. I was hoping that 2 days in bed and 2 days on the settee would mean I would be a lot better the following week, but I was still suffering. I went back to work last Monday and I slowly felt better each day but training wasn’t an option. It wasn’t until last Friday that I started to feel like I could train.

So this weekend I did some training. I opted for a turbo rather than a ride Saturday morning, just in case I felt bad while I was out. So a 1hr 20 minutes turbo Saturday morning on the TT bike with a 10 minute run off the turbo. This was followed by a second 15 minute run later that day.

Sunday I took a bit easier with firstly a lie in and then a 45 minutes turbo before a day out to Brighton. We went to the Sea Life centre followed by sometime on the beach with little Ollie my grandson. There is always an element of training involved trying to keep up with Ols as he darts off to the next fish tank and I am running after him!

We got home about 7pm and I went for a 45 minute easy run. It was good timing as it wasn’t as hot as if I had run during the day.

So I think (and hope) the Cold is behind me. Two weeks of rest isn’t the end of the world and hopefully it means the next 6 weeks of training up to IM Vichy will go well. Fingers crossed.

Thanks for reading.

The Cowman

The lead up to the race was OK ‘ish’. The wife and I camped at the venue and due to a group of noisy Polish people partying all night we didn’t get much sleep. It didn’t affect me for the event but it was annoying. Especially as there was a good vibe at the camping area. Chatting with other competitors who were racing the next day. Comparing war stories on good and bad events of the past etc.

The Swim

A really good, comfortable and confident swim. 270 swimmers for the mass start. I positioned well, stayed out of the fracas and was happy with my 38 mins and 58 seconds. All felt very good. No zig-zagging, good sighting. The time was the slower end of the scale but not too slow to worry about.

IMG_0010

T1

Quite flappy – 2 mins 21 secs – put on a cycle top, socks and cycling shoes, helmet and glasses. Socks took the time. Wetsuit came off in a flash.

Bike

Bike was good – Lap one I did in 1hr 12 (ave speed of 29.79 kmph) I felt very comfortable and fast. I was in the aero position about 60% – 70% and felt good.

Lap two I did in 1 hr 16 mins (ave speed 28.2) I think this was because I was in the aero position less often – probably less than 50%. Legs felt good and riding was OK, just shoulders and neck aching in this aggressive position.

Third (little lap) was an average speed of 27.6kmph. This was the slowest speed and was a harder lap as the cut through road was hillier. Less aero again as noticeably more traffic especially on the fast road back to Emberton Country Park so I wanted to cover the brakes etc.

So ave speed was slower each lap from 29.79 kmph, 28.2 kmph to 27.6 kmph. Total ride time of 3 hrs 10 (same as my current PB for the bike leg) but the Garmin said 91.5K NOT 90K – with the extra 1.5K taking 3 mins so at 90K was 3 hrs 7 mins?

Bike leg felt OK. At no point did I think I was going too hard or had to hold back as tired. Legs always felt fine – was more about being aero. This is not surprising as I am still getting used to riding on a TT bike.

IMG_0013

T2

1 mins 51 secs – again flappy. Rack bike, helmet off, cycle top off, race chip off, calf guards on, timing chip back on, gels in calf guards, trainers on, hat on, Garmin strap on, Garmin computer off of bike and on to wrist and run.

Such a lot to do!

Run

Lap 1 felt strong and comfortable, easy pace all lovely time – 30.14

Lap 2 felt as good and felt fine was still feeling good – 31.40

Lap 3 was hard, more mental challenge (two more laps to do, only half way there, can I keep this pace up etc) time of – 34.06 (slow!)

Lap 4 felt good mentally and hence physically, just this lap to finish and done, felt I could push the pace a bit, went past 4 or 5 other runners – a time of 33.08 but the last 2.5K K was at the pace I started.

IMG_0026

Total time 6 hrs 04 mins and 4 secs.

Vichy was my previous half distance PB at 6 hrs 15 mins – so a big improvement, mainly the run and shorter transitions (as local event not big event with large transitions to run through).

The run was a time of 2 hrs and 9 mins a new 70.3 run PB by 7 minutes. The run training of the winter and so far this year is paying off in a big way.

IMG_0027

It was at the end of the race where I made my big mistake. Sam had packed the tent away while I was on the bike leg, so I got changed in the toilets, put the bike on the car grabbed a coffee and we left. We had said we would eat before leaving, but I had the brilliant idea of getting on the road and stopping at the services.

Traffic was good and the roads were clear so I decided to plough on home and eat at home rather than stop at the services. When we got home I then decided unloading the car and sorting out the camping gear was a better idea then eating so I didn’t really eat (other than a banana and an Oat bar) until almost 3 hours after the race.

Monday I felt like crap and Tuesday this blossomed into man flu and now I have Webola.

So training is on hold and my endurance training is trying to stay awake for more than 3 hours without a little snooze.

Remember people – always eat within an hour of exercise, and ideally in the first 20 minutes, not 3 hours later, after 6 hours of exercise.

Thanks for reading.

I will be a Triathlete again

The last triathlon I took part in was Vichy 70.3 in August 2014. That’s 10 months ago!!

I have done other events since then: The Ball Buster Duathlon Nov 2014, the Brighton Marathon April 2015 and the Pearson 150K sportive. But it’s time to put my triathlon head on.

On Sunday I am competing in the Cowman Middle Distance tri, then in early August is an Olympic Distance tri at Bewl Water. Both of these are preparation for the biggy IM Vichy at the end of August.

My objectives for the Cowman Middle Distance event are below:

Swim

The objective is to see where I am at and see if my swim performance has reduced over the winter due to lack of swim training. I took the decision over winter to focus on running and cycling (in that order) and to neglect swimming. Sunday I will see the impact that has had on my swim time.

My swim times for 1,900 metres are very consistent:

Vachery 36.34

Gauntlet 36.27

Vichy 37 mins

IM Austria 1 hr 14 mins (half that being 37 mins)

So I am aiming for 37 mins on Sunday. If I drop to 40 mins or worse, than I need more work on my swim. I am happy to stick with 37 mins for 1.9K and improve my bike and run.

Bike

I will use the new TT bike and this event is about getting a race under my belt on the TT bike. I am ‘not really worried about’ the time, especially as it’s not a course I have ridden before. I will know if I didn’t ride well and if it was the bike, my handling of the bike or my legs/fitness etc.

70.3 Ride times are:

Vachery 3 hrs 2 mins  (but only 76K but very hilly)

Gauntlet   3 hrs 48 mins (very hard course)

Bedford 3 hrs 17 mins (fast course)

Vichy 3 hrs 10 mins (fast course)

IM Austria first lap was 3 hrs 15 mins (first lap)

So 3 hrs 9 mins or less is a PB but 3 hrs 30 mins and learning more about the bike would be tolerable.

Run

The objective is a strong run off the bike and a strong half marathon time. Ideally slower first 10K and build the second half or at worst an even pace over the entire run. I don’t want to start (too) strong and fade.

So lap one speed of circa 10.5kmph – higher than marathon pace (10kmph) but slower than half marathon pace (11kmph). If I can sustain this pace this would give a run time of 2 hours – so 2hrs – 2hrs 10 mins is the target.

This is obviously linked to the bike leg. If the TT bike is strong and I do a fast bike time then I may need to start the run slower at 10kmph and aim for a 2.10 or 2.15 run. If the bike isn’t a great ride and I don’t feel confident pushing the bike then I will run harder as should have more stored in the legs

Previous 70.3 run times are:

Vachery 2 hrs 23 mins

Gauntlet   2 hrs 31 mins (hard course all fields off the back of a hard bike)

Bedford 2 hrs 25 mins (fast course)

Vichy 2 hrs 16 mins (fast course)

So 2 hrs to 2hrs 10 mins is a big ask but my running has improved so much I think this is doable.

I am also using this event to experiment with Nutrition. Basically trying to use less or no gels on the bike and replace with Cliff Shots, more solids and energy via liquids. Saving the gels for the run.

Transitions I think will be slow as I haven’t practised them – only so many hours in the day!

So this event has clear objectives and unusually for me it’s not all about hitting an, unrealistic, finish time.

I can’t wait to get it on.

Thanks for reading.

Living like a pro

This weekend I have been a professional triathlete. The wife and family went off to Peppa Pig World for the weekend leaving me to train, rest and eat like a pro.

I was up at 5am Saturday for an open water swim at Heron Lakes, lovely and warm the water too. And a short run off the swim.

Back home by 9.30am for a little sleep, some brunch and a few chores and then the 16K run (the majority of which was in the rain), a bite to eat and two episodes of 24 and then bed.

Up at 6.45am this morning, out the door and on the bike by 7.30am for the 100K bike ride. I rode to Richmond Park, 5 laps of the Park and rode home.

Today’s ride was on the TT bike and it was really comfortable and my confidence is right up there now on that bike. Especially riding on the road as well as at Richmond Park. I was disappointed with the speed, a lack of it, doing 100K in four hours is slow. But after a big training week I think the legs had just had enough and weren’t up for me pushing too hard on the bike.

When I got back from the ride it was a shower, some food, wipe down of the bike, two more episodes of 24 (that’s season 8 done and dusted), another power nap and over to my dad’s for fathers day.

Now a relaxing evening and hopefully an early night.

A lot of sleeping and rest in there but the weekend is the end of a monster training week of 15 hours. 10 hours cycling covering circa 226K, just over an hours swimming (circa 3.3K) and just under 4 hours running covering 37K.

That’s more than the first week of Albuquerque Boot camp. That would be why I am knackered.

Thanks for reading.

(Time) Trial and Tribulations

I have never had jet lag before – so waking up at 3.30am and getting up at 4am on Tuesday morning was alien to me. This meant another rest day then originally planned until normality resumed. So training didn’t start until last Wednesday with an easy turbo. It was supposed to be a swim session but leaving work late meant a turbo was more practical.

But by Thursday I was back on it. Thursday I rode to work and back with a run off the bike, a swim set Friday evening, a long run Saturday morning and a short turbo Saturday afternoon.

By Sunday I was super keen to finally ride my new Time Trial bike on the ‘road’.

IMG_0527

I had been looking forward to this ride for weeks. I had done so many hours on the TT bike on the turbo through winter, getting used to the ride position, Yoga to strengthen my back and core all to make the transition to the TT position easier.

I opted to drive to Richmond Park and do three or four laps of the park, where there were less cars , less hills and a smoother road surface.

I got on the bike to do a 10 minute warm up before the first full lap. It was horrible.

I was wobbling all over the place and it felt like I was riding on ice. The slightest bump in the road had me grabbing for the handles rather than being on the bars.

Within minutes I was regretting buying a TT bike. After 10 minutes I had almost written the advert in my head for putting it on ebay when I got home.

I worked out that if I drove home to get my road bike and then went for a 2 hour ride, how late it would be, so I might as well just ride this bike for 2 hours. And that was the ONLY reason I carried on with the ride.

So I did a lap. I was still wobbling like hell, everyone (man, women, child, road bike, mountain bike, penny farthing!) everything was going past me. I just took it steady and tried to build up confidence on the bike and an understanding of how the bike was feeling.

That first lap took me 25 minutes and 44 seconds. My PB for a lap of the park is 22 minutes something. I did another 10 minute small ride to take on some drink and take a gel. It was getting better so I went for a second lap. By now I had been on the bike about 40 minutes.

This second lap was steadier as in less wobbling, I felt better and I was going faster. I was in a harder gear and pushing more, rather than being in an easier gear and spinning more. The harder gear meant I was steadier on the bike and hence the bike was steadier under me. The faster I went the more stable the bike felt.

I got held up with traffic on the fast downhill so I was pleased to see my time for lap two was 24 minutes and 52 seconds. I did another easy 10 minutes before my last lap. During the easy 10 minutes the wobbling returned and the uncomfortable feeling raised its head again (although nowhere near as bad).

It was starting to click. I realised the following:

  • The bike is built for speed, the harder you peddle, (pushing a harder gear and not spinning) the more stable you are on the bike and the more stable the bike is.
  • The faster you go on the bike the more stable it is and the more you absorb bumps
  • The position on the bike means you naturally look down at the front wheel and the road immediately ahead of you and not up the road where you are heading. Big mistake.

The last lap was completely different taking all of this onboard. Taking it easy is almost a mistake and the worst thing to do. You need to go hard. The faster you go, the more stable the bike, the more smooth the peddle stroke and the smoother you are on the bike.

Lap 3 was 23 minutes and 32 seconds. I didn’t have neck ache or arse ache or sore shoulders or aching elbows. I felt good.

I did another easy 10 minutes warm down and realised it had actually been raining. That’s how hard I had been concentrating while on the ride.

I am now super keen for next week’s ride, where I plan to ride the TT bike to RP, do some laps and ride back. I will go early so initially there is less traffic on the ride to the park, see how I am progressing by time of the laps and then an easy ride back. If the bike lets me ride back easy!

After next Sunday’s ride I will decide if I ride the Cowman on the TT or the road bike.

Finally, a big shout out to my coach Mark Kleanthous for coming third in his age group at IM 70.3 Staffordshire. 33 consecutive years participating in IM events and taking to the podium is remarkable. A true inspiration.

DSCF3042

Well done Mark.

Thanks for reading.

Err ….. I think …. I might have become … an average runner?

Running has always been my weakness. I said to Mark at the start of Winter 2014 that my focus was improving my running. I am slightly above average at swimming and average on the bike, so no discipline is brilliant, but my running has always my weakness, far behind the other two.

Now, some 30 weeks later, I have just completed my training while on holiday in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I have trained a total of 23 and a half hours with almost 11 hours of that running, 12 cycling and one Hot yoga session. I have run 10 out of the 13 days we have been here including double run days, several sets of running off the bike and my longest run was 18K taking around 1hr 45 mins.

In total I have run 102K in the past 13 days.

Now Albuquerque is around 7,700 ft above sea level and over the two weeks the temperature has been around 85 – 90 degrees (Fahrenheit).

Add in my first marathon 8 weeks ago (4 hours 25 mins) and finally getting under 2 hours for my half marathon time (twice) this year – 1.56.20 and 1.57.36 . . . So, all in all, I think I need to redefine my running to being average. BOOM!

I am really happy with what I have achieved in Albuquerque, namely a high volume of training across the two disciplines. There has been no swimming but this isn’t an issue as it isn’t a priority for me. A few open water swim sessions and a few trips to the pool when I am back and I will get my swim fitness back.

Plus, a couple of really good, almost sports massages, while here from Aunt Val have helped a lot, especially as I arrived with a back issue from lifting a heavy suitcase.

Nutrition has been good, as in eating well and not over doing it with the portions. With only one night of drinking, so far.

A very successful bootcamp!

I have my first triathlon of the year in 4 weeks time on the 5th July being the Cowman Middle Distance. I am hoping for an average swim, steady ride learning on the new bike and a strong run. Actually I am hoping for more than that but I am trying to keep my expectations in check!

Over the next four weeks I need to get some serious miles in on the new TT bike to get comfortable with it’s handling and riding position on the road. Since I bought it I have only used it on the turbo. Plus those open water swim sets.

Thanks for reading