Even beds of roses have thorns

I have been pretty quiet recently and to be brutally honest it’s because things have not been going well. I wondered whether to even bother writing a blog at all but I have been told that it is important to show people that real life is not always a bed of roses.
So as regular readers will be aware that my season goal was to qualify for and race in the ITU World Championships in Rotterdam in September. You will also be aware that this season goal literally crashed during the qualifying race at Eton Dorney in May.
Three months have now past and the injuries I sustained in the accident have long since healed. However, my mojo has taken a massive hit and I just have not been able to get back into the swing of good consistent training.
It’s difficult to feel fired up and passionate about training when your season goal is now out of reach. Many people have said to me “It’s fine, there’s always next year” but that doesn’t really sit well with me. I’m a very goal driven individual who is currently without a meaningful goal.
I don’t like wasting a season and still want to achieve something in 2017 and although it is only August, the triathlon season ends in a little over 6 weeks. So, I’m stuck in between a rock and a hard place, do I a) pull myself together and see what I can do in September or b) right off this season completely and start planning next season. Only I can answer that and at the moment, I simply don’t know. It would be very easy to mug this season off but I would feel that I have failed. Given up. Quit.
Due to the lack of consistency in training my speed on the run isn’t quite there, I have lost a little strength on the bike and my swimming was never my strong point anyway – and remains that way. I will race in September because I have paid for race entry but it certainly will not be the best version of me.
I am of course my own biggest critic and although this admittedly sounds like a very negative blog, I am confident that I will come back stronger and hungrier.
I am still hungry for success and I still want to challenge myself to the limits. It just won’t be this year.
To all the people who have supported me this year, I feel I have let you all down. I wanted to make you proud of me. I’m sorry.
Here’s hoping my next update is more positive, no one needs grey skies and we have certainly had enough of them this “summer”!

Until next time ….

One month later

Hi all

Just a brief update as I left you last month feeling somewhat sorry for myself having being taken out on the bike at the Eton Dorney ITU qualifier. You will be glad to know that I have pulled myself together and am in a much more positive frame of mind this month.

The first piece of good news was hearing that my shoulder will not require surgery and that with hydrotherapy, physiotherapy and sensible rehab I should be back training fully in 6 – 8 weeks. Luckily I’m in a fortunate position to have the very best Osteopath by my side.  I may be biased but she has worked wonders on me before so I trust her completely.

The downside is of course that I will miss my “A” races for the season and I will not qualify for the ITU World Championships in Rotterdam. However, all is not lost!

Upon hearing the news that surgery will not be needed I stopped feeling sorry for myself and took another look at the events calendar for 2017. With a bit of luck I hope to be back racing by the end of July \ start of August which “should” allow me to train and be ready for plan B.

Its early days in the recovery so I don’t want to jinx it and say too much, but I am really positive and have the best support around me. My coach and girlfriend have been amazing as have the rest of my friends and family. I was overwhelmed by the number of messages received on social media. It means a lot, thanks all.

I have at least started running again and doing some meaningful work on the turbo trainer. The last week has seen a return to the pool but I am only able to swim until I feel an ache. That said, I have gone from 500m to 1800m within 10 days, so again that’s positive.

If I do not get to race again this season then that will set me up to be hungrier than ever and qualify for the worlds next year. It’s on the gold coast so why not!

That’s it from me. Just to say thank you again for all the support.

 

Its good to be back!

Wow Mid-March already! Where is this year going?

February was a really positive month for me. Training has been consistent with only a brief interruption due to a dose of the deadly man flu which I managed to survive. Just.

The injury that has plagued my off season seems to have finally disappeared and this has been down to a combination of things.

  • Sensible training. Not rushing to get back up to speed and building gradually to protect the injury and not risk having any further setbacks.
  • Regular treatment from Luton Osteopathy. Ensuring I am fit and well and ready to put my body under the strains of pre-season training.
  • Finally daily stretching and using the foam roller. I used to think I hadn’t got time to do this daily, perhaps I even managed to convince myself I didn’t need to. Needless to say it is now part of my daily routine and my legs and back have certainly thanked me for it. I am a convert!

Things went so well I decided to enter the Winchester 10km held on the 26th Feb. Those of you that know me well will know my nerdy side involves Vikings and Norse mythology. So a visit to Winchester was a good excuse for a race. Winchester is where Alfred the great defended England (OR more specially Wessex) from the Vikings.

The race itself went well. A great course and a really well organised event saw me finish 38th out of 900+ entrants. The time was 40:15 which is over 3 minutes away from my PB but the important thing was that I raced pain free for the first time in two years. Brilliant T Shirt and Medal too! (Viking related of course)

 

The final week of February featured a visit to Alex @ Insight Nutrition. I had feared the worse but actually I was pleasantly surprised. I left feeling boosted by my visit and a nice finish to February.

Before I got injured I made plans for my 2017 season. My main focus is of course to qualify for and represent GB in Rotterdam in the World finals in September. My “B” goal is much the same but for the ETU Europeans next year. A sub goal was to qualify for GB ITU Duathlon.

My one shot at this sub goal was 12th March at the Bedford Duathlon. Based on not being 100% fit and not having the best preparation over Winter I was not overly hopeful at achieving this goal and certainly wasn’t looking forward to the event. I was put off even more when I woke up and saw the rain lashing down. However, I decided to pull my finger out and race, if nothing else it would act as a line in the sand to understand where I am in the road back to fitness. This would also be my first race in a draft legal race, so good practice for the rest of the season. One less thing to get disqualified for!

The weather didn’t improve much and transition was wet and grey, it was clear that the competition on the day would be fierce. I prepared my Transition area and retreated to the warmer pit lane buildings to keep warm and await the start of the race. After a brief warm up and race brief we were called to the start line.

Bedford Duathlon – Race review

Format: 5km run \ 20km Bike \ 2.5km run.

Organiser: NiceTri Events

The horn sounded and we were off. I followed my coaches’ advice and hit the first 5km run hard and came in just under 18 minutes (17:58). I was really happy with that considering my lack on running over the last few months!

With no wet suit to faff around with T1 was quick and I was out on the bike in around 30 seconds. I managed to chase down a decent group on the bike and working together managed to progress through the field and pick up additional riders. A group which started as 5 grew to over 15 and as usual we had 3 or 4 of us working on the front while some slackers sat and drafted happily for the entire 20km. The conditions were wet and slippery and the hairpins on the bike proved interesting as a few places were gained by some people sliding off onto the verges. There was some pretty impressive road rash on show after the race. Fortunately I stayed out of trouble and posted at 29:55 bike split.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

T2 was trouble free and I was quickly out onto the final 2.5km run. The legs were tired from the first run and a hard bike but I pushed on and did whatever I could to hold position.  The final 2.5km run was sluggish and something I need to work on as I came across the line in 10:15.  My overall time was 59:15. A good race and I am really pleased I took part, it gave me a boost in confidence and highlight areas I need to work on. In addition it gave me some practice in racing a draft legal event. Not only that but……

As I type I believe I have qualified as Q4. I am awaiting confirmation from the BTF but we are certain that my position and time was good enough to earn a spot on the GB AG Team. Not a bad day all in all, watch this space!

 

Up next – 10 days in Majorca J

2016 Season review

If I had to summarise my 2016 season in a single sentence it would go something along the lines of…

“2016 has been an experimental year with a lack of an end goal, with many challenges and a change in focus which on reflection I haven’t enjoyed as much as previous seasons”.

Reading that sounds rather negative I have to admit, but, it isn’t entirely and that is certainly not the case.

After the ITU world championships in Chicago and having represented GB at both the European and World championships I made a conscious decision to step up a distance and have a year where I would try Middle distance triathlons. For those readers that are not aware that is a 1.9km swim, 56 miles on the bike and a half marathon thrown on the end for good measure. A total of 70.3 miles. Don’t get me wrong 2015 and in particular the grand final in Chicago was a fantastic season. The best yet, but I just fancied doing something a little different.

Having made that decision I realised that my season didn’t really have any goals to aim for. No qualifying races, no world finals…. So alongside my longer races I decided I would attempt to do my bit for charity and race 500 miles in 2016. In addition I would attempt to break the 3 hour mark for the marathon.

With these targets in place I started the hunt for suitable races. I needed a flat (preferably downhill) marathon and enough races to keep me busy all season and get me to the magical 500 mark.

After much deliberation I decided to sign up for Manchester marathon, where better to get my sub 3 hour marathon than in the shadow of Old Trafford.

I decided to sign up to the Grafman middle distance triathlon as that was nice and local to me and also the wonderful Brian Adcock donated a place at each of the Hever castle “Gauntlet” triathlons to assist me on my way to 500 miles. Hever Castle would be a return to my childhood as I grew up in that area between the ages of 9 and 12. That would do for a start and I would find other races as the season progressed.

So I am going to go through my races and key points in chronological order at a fairly high level in an attempt to keep this review as brief as possible.

Milton Keynes 20 – As part of the training preparation for my sub 3 hour attempt I entered the MK 20 in early march as a final check that my pacing and training was where it should be. In short it was. 20 miles completed in 2:14:44 which meant and average pacing of 6:45 per mile which essentially meant I was on for a sub 3.

Manchester Marathon – 16 weeks of training, 700+ training miles, Travel costs, Hotel costs, all for one event. Imagine that one event going truly tits up after 18 miles. Well, I don’t have to imagine. I started the race feeling good and ready to crack the 3 hour mark, I paced well until about 18.5 miles and then things just fell apart, cramping and sickness took over and I eventually crossed the line in 3:27:27.

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MK Marathon – With the disappointment of Manchester I felt I owed it to myself to have another shot at the Marathon sub 3 before my triathlon training kicked in. Unfortunately it was like de ja vu, the 18 mile mark came and went and I was comfortable then bang, just before the 19 mile mark the wheels came off again the same way as in Manchester, the time was worse at 3:42:04.

It was later discovered that I have a “defect” in my body’s ability to retain or create its own salt. Therefore, at the pace I was pushing myself over 2 (ish) hours my body was simply reduced of the salts it needed to continue. Causing cramps and sickness. This helps now but at the time my love for running disappeared completely.

Grafman – Time to forget about my marathon disasters and focus on what I love. Triathlon. The first event of the season was the Grafman, based at Grafham water in Cambridgeshire. A great event and perfectly organised by the guys and gals at Nice Tri. I can safely say that I enjoyed the first tri of the year and was reasonably happy with the splits considering my focus had been marathon training until 3 weeks prior to the event. Swim 33:54. Bike 2:40:34. Run 1:34:35.

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Southwark 10km – I entered this race last minute as my training plan suggested a 10km pace test. The only way to get me to push hard is to get me into an event. It worked! I nailed a 10km PB in a time of 37:38 and second place overall.

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Hever Gauntlet (Round 1) – Excited to return to a place I spent many happy years growing up I neglected one very important aspect of racing. ALWAYS read the race information. I learnt a valuable lesson during this race as I attacked the hilly bike course on a TT bike and the toughest off road hilly half marathon in a pair of very light race shoes. Having said that, despite the tough course and the cold wet conditions I did enjoy myself.  My Swim time had improved since the Grafman but the bike and run was significantly slower due to the dramatic profile of the courses. Swim 31:54. Bike 3:20:12. Run 1:44:43.

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Boxend County club championships – So back to sprint distance in the name of the team. Stopsley striders fielded its first ever triathlon team for the county championships at Box end. I really enjoyed being part of the team and used this race as a hard training session the splits a fairly average 12:49, 32:32, 21:55.

Stewartby Sprint – Having returned from holiday I decided to enter my second sprint of the season. Again, using this as a hard training session. The event itself was run by Active Training World and fairly local to me. I was surprised to exit the water in second place and battled between 2nd and 3rd place until the end of the race. A slightly long 12:59 swim, 31:08 bike and a 15:46 (4km) run saw me finish in second place overall.

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St Albans Stampede – Back in March when I suggested to my team mates that we entered this race it sounded like a really good idea. At the start of September it seemed like much less of a great idea. That said, the team of four started the relay strongly and took our turns on the 4 mile loop. It was clear from the second loop that the course would test our legs before the 12 hours was up. The team was in high spirits throughout the day and with three teams from Striders there it made for a great event and a good day out despite the very best of British weather trying to dampen our spirits. Our team continued to run well and we quickly found ourselves challenging for second place. However, in the 11th hour (literally) they just beat us into second place and we had to settle for third. We had run a combined total of 104 miles in 123 hours and I personally had covered 27 miles.

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Unfortunately the hangover from the Stampede meant I had a common runner’s overuse injury. Initially thought to be bursitis of the hip eventually turned out to be damaged tendons in the hip\ glute meaning I would not run for two months. It was clear then that any running related races were not going to happen. That said, back to hever!

Hever Gauntlet (Round 2) – So back to Hever Castle again for the second time this year. My goals were to nail a sub 30 minute swim and beat the time I had completed in back in July. Well as mentioned above I knew I wouldn’t finish the race as I was unable to run. It is a strange feeling getting up at 4am on a Sunday morning, driving 2 hours to Kent to take part in a race you know you won’t finish. Regardless of that I decided to push hard on the swim and the bike and call it quits and grab a massage after T2. So, having left my trainers at home, that is exactly what I did. I swam harder than I have ever done before and way outside of my comfort zone, but that gamble paid off as I exited the water bang on 29:59. The official results pinched another 1 second off me but I’ll take that. 30:00 bang on for my swim was a huge PB for me and proof that the increased hours in the pool with PSC had paid off. Onto the bike and again I was conscious that my triathlon would end once I had finished the bike, with that in mind I pushed hard and managed to keep a decent average pace up over the two hilly loops. I knocked over ten minutes off the time in July. Finishing the bike split in 3:08:13. Into T2, packed up and headed to the massage tent. My triathlon season had ended.

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Nice to Cannes Marathon – Well I had planned to do the French Riviera marathon all year and I hoped it would yield the magical Sub 3 hour marathon and along with it sign off on my 500 mile charity challenge. Unfortunately, again due to the injury this would not happen.

Summary

In a year which has had a lot of change personally I think this season was as good as it could be in the situation.

I have moved house, struggled through the worst employment of my life and eventually been made redundant (thank god!). I found another job and have settled into that job nicely and then just when I thought I could finish the season on a strong note. I got injured.

As I alluded to at the start of this blog, it was an experimental year and I have had some good results. Some good memories and some good learning’s. I have forged a new partnership with my fellow GB athlete and friend who will coach me into 2017 and beyond and I am really looking forward to the time ahead. This was certainly not a wasted season, I tried something different and I didn’t enjoy it as much as previous seasons. That doesn’t make it a failure. Not trying is a failure. Never be left wondering “what if”.

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One thing it has done is fire me up for next season! The best version of me comes out in 2017. I can’t wait!

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For now, it’s a little bit of down time and a decent recovery block before the off season training starts. Thanks to everyone for the support throughout the year. My friends and family have been as wonderfully supportive as ever and I couldn’t have done it without you.

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That’s a wrap!

So I have started my working life with TUI and so far, so good. It is certainly busy, but busy in a good way. As always in a new role it will take time to get to grips with 100% of things but as I say, so far I am enjoying it.

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September started fairly brutally with the St Albans Stampede. For those that are not aware what this is (lucky you!) then allow me to explain. It is a 12 hour endurance race which you can complete as a team of 8, 4, as a pair or if you’re totally mental you can do it on your own. Back in March it seemed like a really good idea to enter a team of 4 from the running club. On Saturday morning it seemed far less of a good idea. The loop was four miles (measured by the same person as the Luton parkrun clearly!) and the plan was simple. I would start, run a loop, hand over to the next runner, and so on and so forth until the 12 hours was up. To be honest, things went to plan, the off-road course was tougher than expected and soon started to take its toll on the legs and of course tiredness set in but on the whole, yes, I’d say it went to plan.

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Overall, it was tough but really enjoyable. The team did well and there was a great team spirit. The men’s team which I was part of finished safely in 3rd place which earned us a nice trophy, a bottle of wine and a Brewery tour.  On the downside, my legs felt it for the following week and my hip has not been the same since.

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No time for rest as the training continued as normal towards the Hever castle triathlon at the end of September. However, Disaster struck as a hangover from the Stampede hit home. I had Bursitis of the hip. No running! Not the greatest race prep, fortunately I have two other sports to focus on!

The following weekend I enjoyed a 60 mile sportive organised by TUI, aptly named the “Tour de TUI”. The sun shone, the bike flew and despite two punctures I completed the hilly 60 mile course in just over 3 hours, great training towards Hever and another 60 mile in the charity box for the year.

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Unfortunately my hip issues hadn’t disappeared before my second visit of the year to Hever castle, so I had a decision to make. Do I a) pull out completely or b) hit the swim and bike hard and stop after that, not getting a medal and obtaining a DNF. Well, I went for option B.

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It is a strange feeling getting up at 4am on a Sunday morning, driving 2 hours to Kent to take part in a race you know you won’t finish. Regardless of this I managed to get into the mind-set to swim outside of my comfort zone in order to achieve a sun 30 minute swim time and to push the bike harder as I didn’t need to run off the bike. The idea being to improve on my split times from Junes event.

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In summary, I did exactly what I set out to do; I swam hard and completed the swim in 29:59 – although the official timing robbed me of a second to make it 30:00.

A careful “hobble” into T1 saw me away onto lap 1 of 2 on the bike. It’s amazing how your brain forgets just how brutal certain aspects of races are! I was soon reminded. The endless slow draining climbs are occasionally rewarded but sweeping fast descents. Again, the knowledge that I wouldn’t actually finish this race played with my mind when the legs got tired but I managed to ignore that and push on, with lap one done, I pushed through the second lap with everything I had left and by the end I was very pleased not to be facing the tough half marathon. Instead, I went for a massage. This could be the future! Swim, Bike, massage.

So altogether a really good day out at Hever castle, a superb event and seamless organisation made it a great event to be at. I got a new 1900m PB and smashed my personal bike course record by just over 10 minutes. I also managed to tackle a few demons. Since my crash in 2012 I have suffered with confidence on the fast descents but on this course, you simply have no choice but to put your big boy pants on and get on with it. I’m hoping the more I throw myself down rapid descents, the more comfortable I will be with them.

So that pretty much puts a wraparound September and indeed the Triathlon season. It’s now time to sit back, relax and to get my bloody hip sorted. My next blog will be a very honest and open season review and race plans for 2017.

Finally if you have not given yet we are rapidly heading towards the end of the year! Yes, really! So my 500 mile quest is coming to an end. Please dig deep and donate for a very worthwhile local charity. http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Sub3500

I’ve had a blast!

Regular readers of my blog will know that since July 22nd I have been on “Gardening leave” as I was made redundant in mid-June.  Fortunately I managed to find myself a job very quickly and agreed a start date of 22nd August! Therefore, I found myself with a month off… paid!

So of course as it is called “gardening leave” I decided that I would do no gardening whatsoever and immerse myself into training. A taste of what the pros do! The only exception was that I also had a week’s holiday in Mallorca, but more on that in a moment.

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Let’s just say, I have covered more metres in the pool, more miles on the bike and run than ever before and I have loved every minute of it. My hope is that it sets me up with a strong end to the season.

At the tail end of my last blog I told you that I had teamed up with my mate Fin who I raced with in Chicago to push me to my limits and he has certainly taken my training and given it a much needed shake up.

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So August continued very much the way June finished. Training anywhere between 2 and 5 hours a day. Most days hitting at least two of the three disciplines.

I enjoyed a holiday to Mallorca in the first week of August. It was my first visit to the Island and it will certainly not be the last. I took the opportunity to run and swim most days and hired a bike on two days to explore some of the awesome routes on the island and one or two of the climbs. I loved it and I will definitely be back. If anyone is heading to the north of the island and needs a hire bike I can fully recommend the “Pinerello Experience” which is based in Port de Pollensa. Great gear and superb service.

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Having retuned to the UK I raced the following weekend at a local Sprint Tri – my first Sprint of the season. A great race held by Active Training world in the old Brick works of Stewartby. Well worth looking out for next year.

I had a decent swim for probably the first time ever and came out of the wet stuff in second place! Which is pretty unheard of for me. I left T1 in first place and put my head down on the bike but unfortunately I lost a place early on to a strong athlete, this time round I just didn’t have the legs to stay with him. The legs felt a little heavy, I put this down to holiday \ mountainous bike routes \ excessive holiday food. I hoped he was a poor runner! In the final 200m of the bike I was overtaken again and so I finished the bike leg down in third place. T2 could have been better as my bike decided it didn’t want to stay on the rail but with that issue dealt with I gave chase to second place and took it back midway through the run. It was an out and back run leg so I saw first place come back the other way, he wasn’t a poor runner! Oh well! I hit cruise control and was happy to hold second as I knew I wasn’t going to catch first, he had done the damage on the bike. I crossed the line just over the hour and claimed a nice trophy – so a good days work.IMG_20160814_115401

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I thought I has deserved a rest day, apparently not. It was straight into another tough week of training but as it’s the last one before I return to a full time job, I don’t mind at all.

The next event lined up is the St Albans 12 hour Stampede – which will see me cover around 30 \ 35 miles in 12 hours and is done as a relay team. I then have two weekends of no racing before I travel to Hever again with the aim of beating my time set on the same course in June. A busy month ahead.

I am on the lookout for corporate sponsorship for the 2017 season. So if you or someone you know think you may be able to help then please do get in touch. It would be very much appreciated.

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Its been a while

So its been a while since I last wrote but in truth it has been a pretty mixed start to 2016. If I am honest, its not one I have been particularly happy with.

My last update focussed very much on Winter training and the quest to land myself a sub 3 hour marathon. I am not going to bore you with the details around it but suffice to say, I had two attempts at it and failed. Anyone that knows me is no doubt bored to death of the reasons why and what I am doing to overcome the issues.

So that target is now going to be pushed back to the end of the year when I visit Nice in November.

With it being June and as I sit here and type the Sun is streaming down through the window and the Triathlon season is well and truly underway. My first Tri of the year was the Grafman middle distance. I had three weeks from my marathon to quickly remind myself what biking and swimming felt like before I took on what was only my second ever middle distance Tri.

The chaps and chapesses at Nice Tri events laid on a super event as always and the race went well, I went there with little expectation and no pressure on my shoulders so I actually enjoyed the race! I remember actually smiling when I was finishing the bike leg!

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I was pleasantly surprised with the result – the swim was shocking, but then what can you expect when you ignore the pool over winter in favour of tattoos! The bike was comfortable and perhaps I should have pushed harder. The run, was also pretty comfortable. That is until about the 6 mile mark when 3 big blisters decided to make me run like I had shat myself! I was happy with the performance on the day as I know I have got better in me. Remember I had managed just 3 weeks of Tri training since the marathon!

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I am now in week 2 of a 4 week building block which will see me train hard all the way up to the 10th July which will be The Castle triathlon at Hever Castle. I am looking forward to racing around the part of the world I grew up.

In summary, A disappointing start to the year has been now put behind me. I’m back doing what I do best. Racing. Triathlon. Bring it on.

Most importantly, please remember I am raising money throughout the year for a local charity based in Luton.

If you can help please do so – http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Sub3500

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May – Part 2!

The second half of May continued to be as busy as the first half. With the St. Neots race behind me I reviewed the race and identified areas which could be quickly improved. This is a process I go through after every race. I would advise anyone to do the same, no matter what level you are, each race gives us a chance to learn and grow.

I decided to enter a local sprint event based in Hatfield (HSV Triathlon) to iron out some transition issues and get some more race pace in my legs. It turned out to be a good plan. The pool swim of 400m went well and I hit my targeted time before exiting into T1 and tackling the undulating 20km bike course. I made up a few places on the bike and maintained a decent average speed throughout. The run was nice and flat which was a relief and again made up a couple of places which saw me cross the finish line in 4th place overall and first in my age group – which earned me a nice medal and a prize of a run training session with “Perfect Balance”. Something to look forward too.

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The following weekend saw me return to the scene of my first ever triathlon back in 2012, Eton Dorney.  Again this was an ITU qualifier and the field of athletes was of a very high standard. I was relieved by a later than usual start which is one advantage of racing at Dorney, the bike being 100% on closed roads means we do not have to get underway in the small hours of the morning to avoid traffic. That said, in my usual fashion I still arrived early and racked before watching a couple of friends set off in their earlier waves. Once underway I was disappointed again with my swim time and exited the lake further down the field than I wanted. Out onto the bike and I started to gain back some places, a lot of places. I surged through the field again keeping my average speed high and powered through the slightly over distance flat 20km course. The run is fairly non eventful at Dorney, its flat, you go up and down the side of the lake twice and then you finish. That said I had pushed my legs hard on the bike so the run was fairly tough but I was still happy to post a decent 5km time. Overall I finished 10th in my age group and had a decent time for ITU qualification. Lots of positives from this race and I was happy with my own performance on the day.

 

Eton Dorny looking glorious on race morning

Eton Dorny looking glorious on race morning

The following week saw me take a proper taper week, with a few tougher sessions on the Monday and Tuesday with a couple of easier sessions and some days off towards the end of the week, I used this time to escape to the coast for a few days with the family and to go fossil hunting in Lyme Regis, which was awesome! I highly recommend a visit if you are down that way.

The final race in May and the final ITU sprint qualifier loomed on the last weekend in May. Again returning to a venue I have had a love hate relationship with in the past. Last year I had a great race but upon finishing I discovered the loss of my timing chip. Having stayed and registered in Nottingham (Holme Pierrepoint) on the Friday I was once again relaxed and ready to race on the Saturday morning. Again a later than normal start meant I got to cheer a club mate on in his race before racking my own bike and preparing transitions. With the race briefing done we entered the 11 degree water and awaited the starter’s horn. Once sounded the washing machine was in full spin! For once my swim was improved and I clambered out of the water slightly battered and bruised in a reasonable time. T1 went smoothly and I was out on my bike on a nice flat fast course. Again the bike saw me gain a huge amount of place and a great bike split saw me dismount into T2. Again, transition went smoothly and I was out on the single loop run course. The legs felt good considering the effort they had put in on the bike and I finished the race in a decent time. Another good race under my belt. I walked upstairs and printed off my race splits and made my way to pack up my stuff and return to the car, that’s where it all went wrong!

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A text came through from a friend simply saying “Mate, why the DQ?” At first I thought he was joking so I sent the usual abusive reply but he seemed adamant. Sure enough, he was right. I had been disqualified. Why? I am still trying hard to find out. The event organisers are unable to tell me, the race referee wasn’t present (don’t get me started on this!) and the BTF themselves have been very close to useless. At the time of me writing this I am still none the wiser as to why I was awarded a DQ, without knowing that I am unable to appeal (which they charge you for!) and therefore a potential qualifying race for me has been declared null and void. So all I can do is wait….

That sees the end of the sprint qualifiers and to be honest it has been a bumpy road and a lot tougher than I had expected. Will I qualify to race the sprint distance in Chicago in September or Lisbon in 2016? Truthfully, I don’t know. I will have to wait and see.

USA

June now turns my attention to Olympic distance qualifiers, races to enjoy and a bloody long bike ride. Oh and who knows maybe the race organisers and the BTF between them will perhaps let me know why I was disqualified. I wouldn’t hold my breath!

inframon

Insight

 

Race Season – At last!

OK so I know it’s only the second week of May but it has already been such a busy month that I fear if I don’t write down what has happened so far, I will just forget. Or (even worse) the blog entry for May will be about 27 pages long and very dull….

I knew May was going to be a busy and tough month in terms of training and racing but it really has lifted off with a vengeance.

The tail end of April saw my final pre-race visit to my nutritional sponsor Insight Nutrition. (http://www.insight-nutrition.com) and the news remained positive, I am at a good racing weight with good lean muscle mass and a body fat percentage that remains in single figures. However, the nutritional intake balance is vital because I need to ensure I am eating enough of the right things to fuel the training and racing in the coming month.

Saturday 2nd May was the day in 2015 that I dared to enter open water and yes it was bloody cold. I joined my transition Tri team mates for the first “Galeforce Mass swim series” races. I figured if I was going to get cold I may as well do it for a reason! So, as the horn sounded I headed off on the 750m loop of the lake. I think it was after about 200m my left foot went numb, the right foot followed shortly after and both hands and my face had gone before I finished the loop. However, I did learn that I was the first male home. So I got a nice trophy for my efforts… and more importantly first in the hot shower!

 

3rd Place overall. 1st Male

3rd Place overall. 1st Male

Two days later and I was racing 13.1 miles around Milton Keynes. I won entry to this event in a raffle way back in December and didn’t really put any specific training in for it. I turned up on the day and ran well throughout finishing in 30th place overall and only 10 seconds outside my half marathon PB. Does make me wonder what time I could do if I actually trained for a half! The race itself was…… forgettable. The start was heavily congested, despite being organised into pens and as it turned out the first 2 miles cost me a PB as I weaved and winded my way through the crowds. The route was very dull, numerous out and back sections which left very little to inspire the legs and lungs to keep going. In my personal view the best bit was the final km. Firstly, you’re near the end which is never a bad thing, secondly, a nice scenic loop of one of MK’s numerous lakes and finally a stadium finish at the home of Wimbledon FC… sorry I mean MK Dons.

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Just 10 seconds off my PB

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Just after the climb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two days later I took part in a midweek Aquathlon in Welwyn (Stanborough lakes). The 750m swim and 5km run served as a good timely brick session and again I was happy to exit the water in a good position and complete the run to finish in 3rd place overall.

Three days after that I decided to take part in the new Luton park run which is only in its 4th week. The route is 3 and a bit laps of the towns Wardown Park and attracts around 200 people every Saturday morning. Aware I had a big race the following day I eased off a little as I raced round. Happy to complete the course just under 20 minutes and in 7th position.

Full of smiles

Full of smiles

So that’s four races inside a week. Not the best taper for my first triathlon but some valuable training all the same.

Sunday 10th May saw my first triathlon of the 2015 season take place. Talk about in at the deep end! The first race was held in St Neots and happened to be the British Sprint championships, an ETU European qualifier and also an ITU world qualifier. So it’s safe the say the competition was fierce!

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The race itself was disappointing, it’s not often I write something downbeat about a race but my performance on the day just wasn’t there. The swim was laboured due to a niggle in my shoulder and was about 90 seconds slower than it should have been, this meant that the bike leg was spent gaining places that should have already been mine. The bike performed well but lack of race practice meant I held back too much and in retrospect I should have pushed the average speed of the ride much more. As I hit the start of the run my feet were like two blocks of ice and it took the first half of the 5 km run to regain any sense of feeling in them. This did however lead to a reasonably strong finish and a decent run time overall. I finished 16th out of 40 in my Age group which for me is far from acceptable. I know people will say that the field of athletes and times were phenomenal that day but I still believe my individual performances should have been much better.

Still, that said it was the first one of the season and the next one is fast approaching. So it’s time to take lessons from that first race, work them out and move on and hit the next one stronger and faster. I’m a triathlete, it’s what we do.

insight inframon

Up and running!

Sorry for the absence in my blog writing, I have been busy training, working and also completing my Level 1 coaching course which should see me a qualified triathlon coach before the end of April.

Training has been going well since we last spoke, I have managed to get some consistency into my schedule which has seen benefits come thick and fast. Another big part in my preseason improvement is my nutrition guidance provided by Alex at Insight nutrition, his monitoring and advice has seen me get back to race weight and feel ready for the season ahead.

Insight

On the back of a successful first build phase of training I enjoyed a much deserved “rest and test” week. This means I had a much easier week training but also put in some timed efforts as a baseline for performance. The initial signs are good but there is still room for improvement before the season kicks off. The biggest win is that I have increased the intensity of sessions and remained pain \ niggle free. The hamstring injury which has plagued me for the last few months seems to be well and truly on its way out and I am able to regain some of the speed I had lost during a period of non-running. I actually find myself to be itching to race!

March was meant to see me take part in the Welwyn half marathon but I decided against it due to the lack of specific training I had done for it. I feel that this slightly over-protective approach is probably the best course of action in the run up to what I hope will be a successful season.

Before I knew it, April was well and truly upon us and the days are longer which makes training much more agreeable with everyday life. April also saw me run a Park run as my timed effort which produced a decent 19:40 and 9th place. Although I’m reasonably happy with that I want to take a minute off that time in the coming months. I travelled to Paris to watch some friends and fellow striders take part in the Paris marathon. I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed not to be taking part, but I jumped in with a friend for the last 12km and ducked out just before he went on to finish. It made for a great weekend away and I even managed to fit in some interval training alongside “Le Seine”.

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Upon returning to England I decided I wanted to do another race before any triathlons kicked in and by chance the Flitwick 10km was held on Sunday 19th April. I entered straight away as I have done this race once before and it’s a tough undulating course which is by no means a fast PB course. That said, I managed to complete the course in a respectable 39:15. Which by chance is actually a road 10km PB. I have spent so many years running a 10km but only as part of a triathlon I had totally forgotten what my PB was in a road race. After much searching through old race logs I managed to find my previous 10km PB. It was 39:35. So on a tough course I managed to take a full 20 seconds off my PB. I will have to find a nice flat course and really give it some welly!

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So, in summary, as you can see the injury seems to have passed, training has been going really well and I am starting to see positive results from consistent training. With May rapidly approaching it will soon be time to get my backside back in that lake! (Just the thought of that is sending a chill down my spine). Of course May also brings the first four consecutive weekends of racing! It’s going to be a busy month!

inframon Huub Design