Category Archives: Update

Oops! I did it again…

2013-07-12 08.21.46I originally wrote this post in September of 2013, two months after completing the Outlaw in July. At the time I’d pretty much not done any swim/bike/run related activity since crossing the finish line – I was desperate for a new challenge, a new focus. Just going for a run, or for a ride didn’t seem like it had a purpose without a goal to aim for. Anyway, I signed up for Outlaw 2014 – wanting to give it another go and to see if I could do a little better than my first attempt. Fast forward 4 months to early 2014, and for one reason or another I withdrew. I’d been unable to run for the best part of two months due to injury, and just wasn’t finding the motivation to train – add to that the pressures of a new job and I wasn’t realistically in any shape to punish myself come the July.

To cut a fairly long story short, I kicked myself out of my exercise malaise and signed up for Outlaw 2015 in August last year and will be on the start line (injury permitting) on July 26th to try and better my previous performance. I’m at the end of Week 11 of a 30 week training programme and (touch wood) everything is going well so far. My target this time is not to “just finish”. I have a goal in mind which is going to be a challenge, representing at least a 10% improvement in my time. In real terms that will mean more pain and a lot more training up to the big day. But that’s what’s kept me going through the winter and will hopefully keep me motivated through to July. Hopefully.


So, what’s next?

ironmanI thought it was about time to start thinking about what’s next. It’s been a few weeks since I did any training, or if I’m honest any real exercise at all. I think I’ve deserved some time off to rest and recover and to come to terms with starting to train for anything as big as this again. The wife and kids have certainly put up with a lot and have deserved some quality time from me – but I suspect I’m just getting in their hair now and they’re probably ready for a little less attention again!

Sitting down today and re-reading my race report and lessons learned from The Outlaw, I’m re-motivated to think about events for next year. I’d like to think that I have a sub-12 hour Ironman in me, and certainly have unfinished business at the 140.6 mile distance. The question is which event, or events, will I attempt next year to see if I can improve on this years performance. Do I re-visit The Outlaw where I know the course, or do I branch out and enter an Ironman branded event such as Ironman UK. Unfortunately the two events are only a week apart next year, so doing both is not an option and there’s the small matter of Ironman UK falling on Lily’s birthday, which is an argument I haven’t considered yet!.

I believe that Outlaw is my best chance of a fast time, given the course profile compared to Ironman UK in Bolton, but I do want to do an “official” event before I can consider myself “done” with the distance. Should this be next year? I don’t have an answer to this question yet, but will need to decide soon, since both events open in the next few weeks and sell out in a matter of days.

However, one thing’s for sure – I’ll be doing another Iron distance event next year and will be looking at training plans and schedules ASAP.

Watch this space….


Bedford Priory Middle (70.3)

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The first BIG test; a middle distance 70.3 (Half Iron Distance) event back home in Bedford. The intention here was to use it as a practice run for Outlaw. Testing everything from pacing through to nutrition and equipment. Little did I know that those would be the least of my issues, and actually areas where I’d not considered any issues would rise up and bite me squarely on my neoprene covered arse.

Pre-Event

TransitionThe event was due to start at 7am. I set my alarm for 4, got out of bed and immediately force fed myself a high carb breakfast (big bowl of cereal, two bananas, High 5 Energy Bar & 500ml Energy Source). To be honest, that was difficult enough – me and breakfast don’t see eye to eye on most days, but a big breakfast like that at 4am was hard to stomach. I just about kept it down. I got to Priory Marina at about 5:30 and set up in transition – put my nutrition on my bike, laid out my bike and run gear to change into in T1/T2 and squeezed myself into my wetsuit for the race briefing at 6:45. So far, so good.

The Swim (47:57) – Verdict: Disaster

Swim exitAfter the race briefing we had just a few minutes to walk to the start and acclimatise before the gun went. On getting to the lake, I said a quick hello to Mum & Dad who showed up for the start (thanks!) and dived in. I got used to the temperature pretty quickly (13°c!), filled my suit and felt good. But when the gun went and I threw my face into the water for the first stroke everything started to go wrong. I couldn’t catch a breath for the life of me, panic set in and I started to hyperventilate. I turned onto my back and sculled for a couple of hundred metres but was still struggling for breath. I consider myself a very strong swimmer, and someone completely at home in and around water, so this totally took my by surprise. I stopped for a few seconds and just floated in the water and gave myself a good talking to, forcing myself to crawl again, slowly starting to get my breathing back in order.

Swim exitIt took me the best part of 47 minutes to get around the swim course and back to the “beach”. Awful. Lesson No.1 – get acclimatised early, and get some more open water swimming in before July 7th! To make matters worse, 40 metres from the beach I started to do breast-stroke kicks to loosen my hip flexors. For some reason, both calves immediately seized up leaving me in considerable pain. The run back to transition sorted them out, but maybe some added salt/potassium in my breakfast to counteract?

T1 (6:17)

Back in transition and I quickly removed my wetsuit, threw on some bib shorts, dried my feet and put on some socks and my cycling shoes. The weather was a bit overcast (at this point) so I also put on a long sleeved cycling top. This is where it got comical, I went to put on my new helmet (Giro Selector – never used in an event but worn on a couple of occasions) widened the “aperture” (for want of a better term) to squeeze my massive head into and promptly unclipped one of the side panels. In trying to put it back on, I then managed to pull the clip off one side of the “buckle” which holds the thing on my head. Bad times. I spent at least 4 minutes longer than I needed to sorting this out, including tying a knot in the strap. Nightmare.

The Bike (3:14:18) – Verdict: Win

TransitionThis was the stage which least concerned me in terms of physical effort, and more in terms of nutrition and any potential problems with the bike over the distance. As it turns out, once on the bike I felt good. Average speed over the course of the distance was 28kph, I drank when I was thirsty, had a gel every half an hour and ate something more substantial (energy bar / flapjack) if the mood took me. I also wasn’t going full tilt, mindful of the fact that I’d not run so far off such a long ride before. It will clearly be important on the day for me to hold back like this so that I’m not completely knackered for the marathon.

Swim exitI was also very mindful on the day of any potential mechanicals, particularly punctures in the tubular tyres. So I’d packed Pit Stop, a spare pre-stretched tub, tubular tape, and had filled both tyres with liquid latex, designed to prevent any punctures. As it happens on the day, I had no such issues. Fingers crossed I don’t have any in a few weeks. Overall, pretty happy with the performance on the bike.

T2 (2:39)

Not a lot to say here. Got back to transition, took off my cycling shorts, jersey and shoes and threw on my trainers. I grabbed a handful of gels and threw them in my tri top and took a few seconds to take a drink of High 5 before running out. Not much I could have changed here I don’t’ think.

Run (2:18:26) – Verdict: Fail

Swim exitThis is where it all went wrong. I set off at my normal pace (5:00/km) and felt good for around 10km. I was taking a gel every 20 minutes and feeling good, not slowing down despite the weather getting pretty hot and humid (for England anyway). My mistake was in drinking everything I was offered at every aid station, which was in some cases a couple of cups of water, and maybe an additional High 5 drink. I can’t refuse a free drink I guess 😉 After 17km my body just seemed to stop processing all the liquid and it just sat in my stomach, sloshing around.

Swim exitI still felt like I had energy but it was too uncomfortable to run at any pace. For the last 4k I jog/walked. Lesson to learn is to continue to drink only when thirsty and not because it’s offered. Stick to the gel every 20 minute approach. Clearly I saved a little for a pained looking run across the line though 😉

 

Overall

I finished in 6:29 and I wasn’t too unhappy with that – I finished after all ;-). And I finished *just* under the time I said I’d be happy with (6:30). But I know I could have done better, and there are lessons to learn all over the shop. There are things I know I would do differently next time, and things I need to sort out before I get to Nottingham. Mainly, I need to re-gain some confidence in the water and stick to my nutrition plan. I wonder if I can fit in another 70.3 (Cotswolds 113 maybe?) before Outlaw, just to fine tune things? Shh, don’t tell the wife.

Still, at least I’m not taking part in an event that’s double the distance in just over a month. Oh sh….


Every penny counts…

While the training continues to go well (ish – usual aches and pains not withstanding) I finally got round to settling on two charities to raise money for; CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) and Children with Cancer UK. Both charities do great work, mean something to me and deserve every penny I can raise. So whether it’s just out of pity for me, or because you want to help out these two amazing charities, please search the back of the sofa for all that loose change (or maybe the odd missing roll of bank notes) to donate as much as you can.

With 137 days to go, there’s plenty of time for more training (I’ll need it!) as well as plenty more opportunities for me to harass you for your hard earned cash 😉 I’d like to raise as much as I can and take every penny as further inspiration to cross the line on July 7th.

Thanks for listening.


Injury is a &*^%$

7 weeks training down and just over 7 months to go until the Outlaw. On the whole training *was* going well – I’ve been slowly building up both the duration of my sessions and the intensity. I’m now spending over 2.5 hours on the bike at a consistent Z2 HR (128-147bpm) and have built up to 1.5 hours on the road also at Z2 (137-156bpm) which considering I was never a runner is something I’m very happy with. Despite going semi crazy on the turbo trainer (and watching more content from iPlayer than any man with two kids should) everything was progressing well, even the swim is becoming a semi achievable target.

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Anyway, I say it *was* all going relatively well, that was until I was out for a run about two weeks ago and felt a sharp pain to the right side of my shin. Being a man I obviously ran on until I reached home but by then it was pretty painful, I put it on ice and wore a compression bandage and didn’t run for around 10 days – I then did a very brief run (~5k) during which it felt great until about 4.5k and then the sharp pain came back. Sod it. So now I’m back with my foot up, compression on and Ibuprofen in 4 hourly doses to reduce the swelling. But staying off the road is tough; i can still swim and cycle without any pain, but running on the road is a no no. I’m itching to start again (which i find it hard to admit) and not relishing having to stay off it for much longer. I might even need to take myself to the gym and try the elliptical just to expend some of the extra energy. Hmmm.

Training events in the run up to Outlaw are slotting into place, with my entry into the Bedford Middle (70.3) confirmed for May 19th – which should be fun 😉 I’ve also been giving some more thought to taking part for charity – more to come in the New Year (when I start harassing you all for your hard earned cash).

Merry Christmas everyone.


299 days and counting….

So I finally did it, I signed up for an Iron distance triathlon. Am I nuts – no (at least I don’t think so), massively unprepared – yup, in the midst of a mid life crisis – almost certainly. In just under 299 days I’ll be dragging my sorry self to Nottingham to join 1100 others taking part in Outlaw 2013; 140.6 miles of pain (2.4m swim – 112m bike – 26.2m run). I clearly need to do a lot of preparation, and not least a whole heap of training. My plan for the next few days is to put a training plan together and get started. My intention for this blog is to diarise the whole sorry story if not daily, then certainly regularly. I’ll share my training plan and other useful information I collate over the course of my preparations; equipment, nutrition, exercise etc. Not all of it will be interesting, most of it will remain unread but for me it will serve as a memory of the pain and torture i’ve undoubtedly put myself through, and possibly a useful reminder that should I ever think about doing something so daft again I should cut up my bank cards and hide my laptop…..


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