Parks, Zombies and a Big apple!

It’s been two months since I penned my last post of the triathlon season and according to Facebook it’s been 5 years since I started this blog.

The last two months have been fairly packed out, although to be honest, there hasn’t been much racing going on mainly because it’s the off-season. Basically, the off-season is a good excuse to eat and drink and add a few kilograms of unwanted weight to the skeleton

I did pin a race number to myself in October to take part in the Royal Parks half marathon. This is a race that was on my bucket list for many years and never managed to get a Ballot place. This year I decided to run for Cancer Research and secure my place on the start line by raising money. Firstly, thank you to everyone who sponsored me. With your help I managed to raise £420 (Plus Gift aid) for a very worthy cause.

As I mentioned this was a race that has been on my bucket list for years, admittedly this was mainly for the wooden medal! Anyway, I stood on the start line before the race and really wasn’t in the best position to race. With focus being very much on the end of the triathlon season I had largely neglected longer runs due to a niggling Achilles issue. So in all honesty, I was under prepared and probably shouldn’t have run. However, I had raised money for charity and I wasn’t about to let people down who had sponsored me. So I ran.

I say ran, I use that term very loosely. The first 3 miles went really well, I had started at a good pace as we left Hyde park and headed through green park past Buckingham Palace and rounded St James park. The good pace continued through admiralty arch and on the out and back past downing street and into the strand. Then my Achilles decided it wasn’t happy and it felt like someone kicked me in the back of the heel. My paced slowed significantly over the rest of the race and as a result I finished some 15 minutes outside my PB.

Considering this was a race on my bucket list, I was hugely disappointed. I totally get the attraction if you do not live \ work or train in London. The chance to run around the sights and through some lovely parks should be very appealing. However, to someone who has worked and trained in London and run the majority of the route in training runs it was just…. dull. Perhaps my frame of mind at the time took the shine off the experience as I was struggling and in a lot of pain, but I just found the route a little uninspiring and annoyingly complicated. There seemed to be an excessive amount of out and backs and zig-zagging which just added to my frustration. As you can tell, not a great race for me. That said, I did finish and I did get my wooden medal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks later my girlfriend and I took part in a local “Zombie run”. There I was, decked out in full run attire ready to power my way through hoards of blood thirsty walkers in true walking dead fashion. I feel that the organisers had slightly mis-sold this one . Upon arrival it seemed that we were the only ones in running gear and the only ones not smoking and drinking! The “race” director (who was dressed in drag) then took to the stage and advised everyone that it was too dark around the lake to run. Therefore it was now a Zombie walk…

Forty five minutes later we finished the walk \ jog \ run and in all fairness it was a lot of fun. I have to admit that we did have a good laugh and it was worth the entry fee. Yes, I still felt a bit of an idiot in run attire but whatever, most people were too drunk to notice. My girlfriend was over the moon to find that she was the first lady back. Happy days.

The off season also contained a number of great weekends away and an amazing trip to New York to watch the girlfriend take on the New York City marathon. She did really well on what was a really tough day. I also took part in a 5k whilst I was out there but with 12,000 people doing a 5k I managed to do an additional half a mile going round people so again, not one for the record books.

With the end of the off-season approaching it’s time to turn my attentions to the season ahead. I have my race entry and hotel booked and my Tri-suit purchased and ready to go thanks to my race sponsors “Leading Talent” (www.leadingtalent.co.uk).

Training for IMUK starts in Mid-December and will continue all the way through to July 15th. I have a big learning curve ahead and for once I am slightly nervous about what’s to come. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited but I know there is a lot of hard work ahead of me.

I would just like to sign off this blog by saying thanks to everyone who has read this blog regularly over the last five years. (Thanks both!!! ) Here’s to a much more successful 2018!

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

January Blues

So it has been just over a month since I last wrote and I hope you are all well and  still keeping your resolutions?

It’s been a mixed month personally. Having found some run fitness I went and destroyed any progress I had made by pushing myself too hard whilst on my Level 2 coaching course. Stupidity and male ego took over and something that was meant to be a simple drill turned into the biggest race on the planet. Detect the massive undertone of sarcasm as I say “Hoorah, I won”. The cost of this “win” was another 21 days of not running. Let’s just say my Osteopath and Coach were less than impressed. Lesson learned!

So it’s been a month of further frustration on the run front but again I have found myself pushing the bike, Swim and Strength and conditioning so all is not lost.

The last two weeks have seen me running again and completely pain free which is fantastic. I made the decision to pull out of the Ashridge Duathlon as I don’t think I would do myself justice and that is not the biggest focus of the season.

On the 24th January I also turned another year older! However, I had a great birthday and got some great gifts which is always nice.

So now I am fit it’s time to buckle down. I am a little behind where I would prefer to be in training but the important aspect to remember is that I still have 3 months until the first Humanrace ITU qualifier at Eton. So that’s the target fixed firmly in sight now. I need to ditch a few KG, regain some run speed and continue to work on the top end of my cycling which seems to be coming along nicely.

It’s a recurrent theme but I’d like to thank Carly @ Luton Osteopathy (https://luton-osteopathy.co.uk/ ) for her patience and knowledge to continue to “fix” me and get me back on the path to Rotterdam.

The next few months are critical for the success of the season.

 

Oh and…. keep an eye out for this – Spring 2017!

 

 

 

Happy new year

Firstly, Happy new year to you all. I trust you all had a good Christmas and enjoyed your new year celebrations.

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To say that I am looking forward to 2017 is a huge understatement. As I said in previous posts, 2016 was an experimental year with a disappointing end spending 3 months on the injury bench. However, I don’t believe in dwelling on the past and there was certainly my fair share of good that also took place in 2016. As I have said to one or two people recently, I now know that everything happens for a reason, you just may not know or appreciate it at the time.

The past month has seen me get back some much needed base mileage in the run which in turn has given back some fitness whilst fighting off the inevitable Christmas calories. I have also managed to clock a couple of sub 20 minute Parkruns which I can’t really complain at having been off for so long and I even managed to represent the run club at a local cross country race which was as pleasant as ever. I still think back to the days in upper school when the very mention of cross country simply meant having to run to the local railway bridge, hide underneath it, extract the cigarette and lighter from ones sock and wait patiently for the rest to return and join on the back. Job done. How times change!

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My swimming has remained constant throughout winter and over the festive period which I know will pay dividends when the season comes knocking. For that I have to thank Putteridge swim club for being such an awesome club, not just the coaches but the other members who make getting up at 5:15 worthwhile.

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The bike has been fairly static, as most are this time of yeah. Ice on the roads and freezing conditions making it a little too dangerous to venture outside, so plenty of sessions spent on the Turbo trainer trawling through episodes of Vikings, The grand tour, The walking dead and anything else I can find on Amazon.

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Another mention has to go out to Carly @ Luton Osteopathy. Without her dedication and knowledge (not to mention patience) I don’t think I would now be running pain free, so a huge thank you to her for getting me back out there. However, I am still getting nagged to stretch and foam roll on a daily basis. My only question is, does foam rolling ever become pain free?

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Looking forward to January there are no specific race plans but the plan is to shift the winter weight and get back down to what I consider to be the racing weight. This is a weight that I have felt I have raced best at in the past. Since working with Alex @ Insight Nutrition I have learned that it is key not to focus on numbers too much but focus more on how strong you feel come race day.

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I will continue to build up the race pace on the run. I need to find 2 minutes over the 5km distance before the first race day lands in May. However, I trust my coach and my training so I don’t see that as an issue, it will come. I just have to believe… always.

All the key races are now booked, hotels reserved and plans are firmly in place, so it’s truly time to hit 2017 with full force and make it a year to remember. Watch this space!

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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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ITU World Championships – Chicago

Well, what can say about the World Championships? Actually, it’s pretty simple. Firstly I want to say thank you. I was totally overwhelmed by all the support in the lead up to the race and all the messages whilst I was out in the US.

So, thank you to all my family and friends. The people that have perhaps been neglected the most over the past few months. Thank you for your understanding and your unending friendship and love. I couldn’t do it without you all.

Next, thank you to all my club mates at Transition Tri, Stopsley Striders and Putteridge swim club. You have all been amazing and your support and help along the way has been one of the reasons I love doing what I do, no matter how hard the sessions get or how cold the lake gets!

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Finally, none of this would have been possible without my sponsors. triathlon is a pricey sport and without the help of Inframon (www.inframon.com) I wouldn’t have been able to represent my country in Chicago. Alex at Insight Nutrition (www.insight-nutrition.com) has been keeping a close eye on my nutritional needs and this ensured that I fuelled correctly through all my phases of training and hit Chicago in the best possible shape. Of course, thanks also to Fabio at Fabio’s Gelato (www.fabgelato.com) for making sure those well-deserved treats were of the highest standard.  I hope by wearing your brands I did you proud.

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So, I guess I better mention the race and Chicago itself!

Ok the flight to Chicago was full of GB age groupers so I made the right decision and decided not to wear my GB colours on the flight. I prefer instead to stay clear of the macho BS that begins the second a group of triathletes are in a confined space. You can see people eyeing each other up, wondering if they are doing the same race distance or are in the same age group. I stayed largely under the radar, put my earphones in and made my way through 4 films. Upon arrival the transfer was appalling, I won’t go into it but if you ever visit Chicago do not use “Go airport shuttle”. Simply appalling.

My apartment was superb. I decided to use “Air BnB” and found a great apartment which was just outside the city in a cool little American suburb. It meant I had my own space away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the event hype itself. I also had my own kitchen so I was able to keep the race nutrition on track. Based on this experience I would definitely use Air BnB again. A fraction of the cost of a hotel and so much better.

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The next couple of days were spent with the usual race registration, packet pick up, meet and greet, opening ceremony and team briefing. All of which lead nicely up to race day itself.

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My start time for the race was 11:10am which meant an early racking time of 07:30. With everything in place I had an anxious three hour wait until I was finally called to the swim loading pen. We entered the water and had a few minutes to get used to the temperature and the waves. (It is a very big lake!) then we were called to get ready, this is it I thought, months of hard work. A season of focus. Everything I had worked for put into one final race. The hooter sounded.

A hundred pairs of arms started pounding the water and each other. I had made the decision to start wide on the left to ensure I got away unharmed and settled into a good pace right from the start. This paid off as I got into a solid swim immediately and stayed clear of any fist fights in the water. I felt the swim was slow but in fact upon exiting the water (and confirmation later on)  the swim was actually 100m longer than the published 750m. A solid swim. I was glad to get my weakest discipline out of the way.

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The transitions both comprised of long runs. T1 meant a run in my wetsuit over about 600m. That together with the usual chaos in transition meant a 3 minute transition time. Again, on reflection this turned out to be a good, fast transition.

The bike course was frustrating. I would have expected a better course for the world championships but it was what it was. I guess it was the same for everyone but the course was very technical with two hairpins and numerous narrow segments. The course was also too congested and it was difficult to find a clear route through. Whenever I could, I put the hammer down hard and went for it. I felt strong on the bike and the legs felt like pistons hammering up and down. The road surface was also pretty poor considering the event it was hosting. I know in the UK we should be used to potholes, but these were ridiculous. As I said, the bike was a little frustrating, very stop and start and slowing down for obstacles that I wouldn’t expect to be there in a race of this magnitude. My bike made it safely through in just under half an hour for the bike leg and into T2. One thing I did suffer with was the heat under my new TT helmet. I thought my head was on fire!

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T2 was long again, another 300m run to rack the bike and switch the shoes and out onto the run course. I was relieved to get the bike helmet off my head!

At almost midday the run course was hitting around 29 / 30 degrees and you could feel it with every step. The heat was bouncing back up off the road. That said, I wanted a strong run so I started well. I held a good solid pace as I headed away from transition towards the city, the first 1.5km went as planned and the heat wasn’t too bad. I approached the first hairpin and POW the heat hit me full on. Not only could I feel it on my head and skin I could actually feel the heat in my mouth and tongue. I used the water stop to take a sip and then pour the rest of the cup over my head. I tried to continue to push the pace but the more the run went on the more the heat took its toll on me. I managed to hold a decent pace throughout and managed to speed up a little for the final 400m around Buckingham fountain. I stepped on the blue carpet and crossed the finish line of the World Triathlon Championships 2015.

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I had earned my right to be there. I had raced. I had completed and I was 33rd in the world. I’ll take that 😉

My splits were as follows:

Swim 14:01 (850m)

T1 3:24

Bike 29:44

T2 2:30

Run 19:56

 

Certainly not the best race I have ever had in terms of speed, in fact there was a lot of things “wrong” but definitely the most special race. I was happy with my individual performance on the day but disappointed in the course itself. Like I said, it was a level playing field so everyone had to put up with the same issues. Just one of those things.

With the race over it was time to enjoy my first trip to Chicago, so I did!

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In summary. It has been a long road to Chicago. It started way back in May with the qualifiers and there was plenty of drama involved there! The news of my qualification meant I had to save hard to make it to Chicago but make it I did at the expense of a family holiday! I went, I raced, I completed and I know have a world ranking. I am the 33rd best AG triathlete IN THE WORLD. That is something that I am very proud of and it has made the endless hours of training worthwhile. I had a great time in Chicago, I met some great people and had a great laugh and even managed to rub shoulders with some stars. It will be an event that I will remember for the rest of my life.20150919_19403420150919_194332 IMG_20150918_205145IMG-20150918-WA0005received_10153489205805861received_10153489206810861received_10153489209620861

Once again. Thank you to everyone who made this dream come true.

 

ty