Category Archives: Events

Reviews of events i’ve participated in or watched

RideLondon in support of the British Heart Foundation

After my limited success in gaining ballot entries to significant sporting events in London, I didn’t expect much from my RideLondon application. A group of friends had also applied, with the ill conceived idea of us riding together. As it stands no-one else I know got in, but I did! A huge difference from my success rate with the Marathon!

RideLondon Success
RideLondon Success

So, on Sunday 30th July 2017, i’ll be lining up with a plethora of other Lycra clad folk for a lengthy jaunt around London and Surrey! I’m sure this will come in handy as useful endurance training for Weymouth too. Fortunately it turns out that one friend is taking part as she has a deferred place, so I may not be totally alone.

From everything I’ve read and heard, it sounds like quite an event. Fairly flat and fast to start, lumpy in Surrey and a steady descent back into London to finish.

The British Heart Foundation

As you may recall, my mother tragically passed away just before Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire last year. We now know the cause of this to be a heart attack. As a result I am raising money for the British Heart Foundation. By supporting the life saving research that they do, I hope can prevent others having to go through the pain my family felt last year.

I have set up a JustGiving page where hopefully many of you will be willing to make a donation.

JustGiving sends your donation straight to British Heart Foundation and automatically reclaims Gift Aid if you are a UK taxpayer, so your donation is worth even more.

 

A blog neglected!

Apologies dear reader(s), I feel like i’ve neglected my blog for a while… and for no particular reason! When I started this it was initially a bit of a training log to myself but I’ve since tried to make it into a bit more than that. The sad reality of the last few months is that I’ve just not been up to that much other than training!

I figured that whilst I haven’t done much worthy of its own post, I have at least been up to a few things of note:

ashmei ambassador

It’s that time of year where all things are crossed as I’ve applied to become an ambassador for my much loved ashmei brand. Selection is taking place now, with the ambassador day taking place on the 25th. Hopefully i’ll be successful this time, as the new gear is looking very impressive!

ashmei bib shorts v3 - new squishy padding!
ashmei bib shorts v3 – new squishy padding!

Resolution Run

Having not taken part in a run for a while, when thetrinerd spotted this and suggested that we might want to do it, I agreed. It was a local charity event for the Stroke Association, taking place at Hagley Hall; with distances of 5, 10 or 15k. Obviously, we went for the 15k option. There was no information online so we were in the dark as to what to expect other than it was off road and ‘tough’. Naturally being the brave souls we are, we scoffed at this.

Oh how wrong we were.

Hagley Resolution Run
Hagley Resolution Run

 

It was very muddy, initially very rainy, and as can be seen from the above, a touch on the hilly side! Probably one of the toughest courses I’ve run. It also showed that whilst I’ve made big improvements in my running, my calfs are still not quite the solid objects I would like. Unfortunately part way round Lap 2, I felt a sharp twinge in my right calf. With my sensible head on, I stopped and we walked back and called it quits at 10k. It was a shame as whilst it was tough, I was enjoying it and we were right at the front.

Footwear was clearly an interesting choice too – many competitors were wearing standard trainers, I’ve no idea how they got up the hills! I was wearing my Merrell All Out Charge that I purchased for the ashmei day. They just about held up, but thetrinerd’s newly purchased Inov-8 X-Talon 200’s were significantly better in the muddy stuff!

Fingers crossed it’s not too serious an injury and I can be back to normal running soon. I clearly need to incorporate more off road running though, and some serious hill work – both up and down!

SRAM Red eTap

Quite excited about this one, and something that predates many blog posts! When I bought my Scott Plasma, it was always my intention to upgrade from the base model. The wheels were changed quite quickly, the gears had to wait. Finally, after placing an order in September last year, my eTap finally arrived a couple of weeks ago.

I weighed up my options, and am aware how solid and reliable Di2 is, something about eTap just appealed more. Certainly the ease of install and thus re-assembly when travelling was a big appeal, but everything just excites me about eTap!

Next challenge is fitting it… hopefully in time for my first race!

SRAM Red eTap - TT Groupset
SRAM Red eTap – TT Groupset

The London Triathlon Show

In continued tradition, we once again acquired free tickets for a Triathlon Show. This year, 220 Triathlon, had opted to become title sponsor to the London Triathlon show rather than to host their own. Tickets included entry to the Cycle show and Outdoor Show also. It was hard to differentiate between the Triathlon and Cycle parts, unsurprisingly, but the Outdoor Show was a bit of a non-event!

It was the largest show we’ve been to and undoubtedly one of the best. There were a lot of brands represented, though oddly not Garmin; which was frustrating as I wanted to see the new Fenix 5S seen as I have pre-ordered one! Or Skechers 🙁

It was good to meet up with Darren from Pedalcover, who we met on our outing to meet Helen Jenkins last year. It was through them that we actually got the tickets too – thanks Darren! We spent a fair amount of time on their stand, from blending smoothies on a static bike, to meeting Triathlon royalty; present and future! We even bumped in to the lovely Helen, Editor of 220 Triathlon.

Smoothie Blending on a Bike!
Smoothie Blending on a Bike – I’ll take that position!
Some editor type woman...
Some editor type woman…
Two lovely ladies - Heather Sellars and Vicky Holland
Two lovely ladies – Heather Sellars and Vicky Holland

I also spotted a couple of bikes that for some reason appealed… odd that despite the fact my Tri Bike is a 56cm, upon checking, I’d need a 54cm in the road bike range. Oh well, good to know! Having sat on them briefly, i’m erring toward the Foil too #aero.

Scott Foil and Addict Team Edition
Scott Foil and Addict Team Edition

Season Race Plan

Finally, I’ve been making a plan for the season. Which consists of the following (at the moment):

Ironman 70.3 Weymouth. This is my A Race and everything is geared up to a good performance here. Fingers crossed.

Cotswold113. I’ve marshalled at the Full Distance event a couple of times and as a result pretty much got free entry! It gets great reviews, the course is flat and thus should be a form tester.

Halesowen. The first race I did and one I come back to every year. It’s a tough little course, but quite enjoyable. This year, I’m planning to try it on my Tri bike…

Ashmei Ambassador Day – 5th March 2016

Ashmei Ambassador Day

So, today was the day. For those with short term memory issues, I recently received an invite to the ashmei ambassador day. I completed my homework and my final Polaroids I chose for the day were:

Ashmei Ambassador Day - My Polaroids
Ashmei Ambassador Day – My Polaroids

Earlier this week, things got off to an interesting start. First we received the itinerary:

Ashmei Ambassador Day - Itinerary
Ashmei Ambassador Day – Itinerary

They seemed really keen on these trail shoes… then they posted this leading up to the day.


So it seemed there was little to do but order some trail shoes. These are new to me, whilst i ran Cross Country at school, trail shoes are a new entity. Given how little time I had I was rather restricted on choice. My usual Brooks preference was out as nowhere local had their Cascadia 11 in my size. I was also a little wary of spending so much, just in case. Thus, I resorted to old faithful, Amazon. After much searching I had narrowed it down to, well, one pair of shoes that was the right size, could be delivered in time and wasn’t too expensive. The Merrell All Out Charge.

Merrell All Out Charge - Ashmei Ambassador Day - BEFORE
Merrell All Out Charge – Ashmei Ambassador Day – BEFORE

Then on the morning of the event, we see this. Hmm… glad I bought those shoes!

I had a couple of folks to collect from the local station and from there we headed to Ashmei HQ. We met the folks informally and then at 10am had a proper briefing. Stuart, the founder of Ashmei, gave an outline of the company, what they stand for, why they do what they do and what they expect from an ambassador. Not just plugging the brand everywhere (although feel free!) but more about a combined journey. Refreshing. In terms of the gear, their ‘mission statement’ says it all, ‘outperform the best’. Fascinating stuff; prioritising the performance of the garments over everything else.

Stuart Brooke, Founder - Ashmei. Ashmei Ambassador Day
Stuart Brooke, Founder – Ashmei. Ashmei Ambassador Day

We also met the ‘winners’ from last years ambassador day; they gave a brief outline as to what it had meant to them over the years. Louise Croxson – a triathlete of pretty impressive pedigree. Owain Williams – A runner.  Simon Green (fellmonkey) – a fell runner with a penchant for video. He showed the below during the introduction which was pretty stunning: ASHMEI Running in Winter from Simon Green on Vimeo.

After meeting the current ambassadors, three people were chosen from their photos to tell ‘their story’. Tales of epic adventures in the Marathon Des Sables, broken collar bones leading to appearances at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. And me. Eeek! Fortunately my story is an easy one, and hopefully familiar to you readers of my blog. I bought it up to date with my entry into Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire later this year, though I completely forgot to mention the onward plan of completing a full Ironman next year. Afterwards we headed out for the run on the local trails. The route was stunning and I was very jealous of such awesome running on their doorstep! It was a great opportunity to meet the other shortlisted folks and chat with them as well as the ashmei staff. I had a great chat with a lot of folks, including Jess Gray who had a pretty similar outcome to the London Marathon as I did, even down to the point at which she started walking!

The shoes are no longer quite as clean… but I am also really pleased to report that they were very comfortable, pretty grippy and I had no calf pain. Admittedly, I was wearing my calf guards this time which may have contributed but I think trail running may be added to my repertoire! I loved it!

Merrell All Out Charge - Ashmei Ambassador Day - AFTER
Merrell All Out Charge – Ashmei Ambassador Day – AFTER

The best bit though, all the awesome home baked cakes that we had when we got back. I loved these, in ashmei colours and personalised to each sport. Obviously I chose this one:

Ashmei Cakes - Ashmei Ambassador Day
Ashmei Cakes – Ashmei Ambassador Day

In summary, a great day. Lovely people, a lovely run, lovely gear and I have everything crossed as I’d love to work with the team going forward.

#ashmeiambassador

#ashmeiambassador – It might seem an odd word, but it’s a very exciting one for me. I recently filled out a form having seen that ashmei were looking for new brand ambassadors. As someone who enjoys writing about my sporting endeavours and is a self confessed serial researcher it was my kind of thing. So I applied.

Imagine my excitement  when somewhat out of the blue (or grey, red, white and black) an email with the subject “ashmei – CONGRATULATIONS you have been shortlisted” appears in my inbox, with the following content:

#ashmeiambassador - shortlisted!
#ashmeiambassador – shortlisted!

So we have to head down to visit them, meet the folks behind the brand, go for a little run. Then, the scary part. Homework. Now I haven’t homework since school, which was a ‘few’ years ago…. this could be interesting!

So the first part is I have to create some polaroids of myself, my sport – anything goes, except nudity – which is probably for the best!!! I need two, I can’t decide between three…

#ashmeiambassador - why I tritriagain...
#ashmeiambassador – why I tritriagain…
#ashmeiambassador - a Sunday Social ride with the BRATs
#ashmeiambassador – a Sunday Social ride with the BRATs. Photo Credit – Paul Tanner
#ashmeiambassador - a tritriagain self-portrait
#ashmeiambassador – a tritriagain self-portrait. Photo Credit – Aniko Towers

Now, all three fulfil the brief:

The first one, is a sad and pitiful affair but is actually the whole reason why I got into triathlon in the first place. After countless unsuccessful attempts to gain entry to the London Marathon, I finally succeeded. Sadly a training niggle two weeks out turned into something much more. Not wanting to be defeated, I went anyway. Things were fine until about half way and then the niggle turned into a full on injury. Obviously the sensible thing to do here was to pull out and prevent anything further. So naturally I limped along, looking all sad and forlorn. The main thing though, I didn’t quit. I finished the race in a hopefully easy to beat PB of 6:31.50 – thanks for the seconds London, not really necessary at this point. It lead to the title of the blog too – to this day I’ve only ever quit one race in my entire life (an 800m at school when my hamstring pinged – in case you were interested).

The second is me, on a recent Sunday social bike ride with my local triathlon club – the BRATs. This is one of the events I look forward to the most in the weekly training regime. It’s still a good, solid endurance workout but it’s also a lot of fun. Something that’s hard work doesn’t have to be all pain, punishment and sweat. Enjoy it and it’ll be much easier!

The third picture is just one I love. Taken by a friends‘ wife, the rather fantastic Aniko, it was taken whilst supporting her husband at the Nottingham Sprint triathlon last year. I love it as I actually don’t have a stupid grin on my first – which is very rare!

So, over to you lovely readers – from whatever source. I need two of the three…. which should they be?

 

 

A Weekend Training with Helen Jenkins

Last weekend I was incredibly lucky to spend a weekend training with Helen Jenkins, it was a competition I won from 220 Triathlon magazine and was facilitated by Science in Sport, so a special thank you to them as well as Marc, Helen’s husband and triathlete himself!

I received an email earlier in the week informing me that I had won and even better that I could take a friend, cue invite to Anth (thetrinerd). The weekend took place in the sunny Welsh town of Porthcawl, home of the only (in my experience) tarmac beach! Even better it was actually sunny pretty much the whole time!

Porthcawl Tarmac Beach
Porthcawl Tarmac Beach

We had arrived early and were a little unsure what to expect but it turned out upon meeting Helen, Marc and Emma (from Science in Sport) that it was going to be a fairly intensive weekend of training but that they would be joining us for everything – including breakfast! We were presented with a nice Science in Sport Endurance Pack and their new Electrolyte Gels to help us get through the weekend too! We were joined by the other competition winners, Heather, Pete, Ashley and Matt.

Our training schedule for the weekend was as follows:

Saturday
9am – Park Run
11.30am – Bike Ride
5.30pm – Sea Swim

Sunday
6.30am – Sea Swim
11am – Recovery Bike Ride
12pm – Brick Session

After all the excitement of the first day we went to bed, ready to do both mine and Anths’ first ever Parkrun in the morning.

Saturday

We were up at 8am to meet in reception at 8.30 for a warm up. It turns out the Helen had found out the course record and being a typical athlete had decided she needed to have a crack at it – go girl! My right calf has still been causing me grief so I wasn’t expecting much from the Parkrun so I had decided to go out steady and see how we felt…. which was fine until we got to a descent with a dead turn at the end. My calf screamed no as I tried to head back up the hill, thus I had to take it even steadier back, but overall i was happy with a debut time of 23:40!

Scott McKenzie - Porthcawl Parkrun August 15th 2015 - Photo Emma Barraclough
Scott McKenzie – Porthcawl Parkrun August 15th 2015 – Photo Emma Barraclough

More importantly is that Helen went out and nailed it, finishing 1st overall and taking the women’s course record in 16:40! Hugely impressive stuff! The prize from Parkrun is probably already in her trophy cabinet…. that’s right, a stick of rock!

Helen Jenkins - Porthcawl Parkrun August 15th 2015 - Photo Emma Barraclough
Helen Jenkins – Porthcawl Parkrun August 15th 2015 – Photo Marc Jenkins
Helen and Marc Jenkins - Parkrun Award Ceremony
Helen and Marc Jenkins – Parkrun Award Ceremony

After the run we headed back to the hotel for a highly nutritious breakfast, a fried breakfast! Following that we had a short break before meeting downstairs for our cycle ride. The original schedule had alluded to a 2 hour ride, what we ended up with was a little different. A 3+ hour out and back 78km ride through some beautiful countryside, culminating in a climb up a local legend of a hill called the Bwlch. It was a bit of a beast and I was lacking energy… still it was a cracking climb and although I got dropped, who cares, i’d spent large portions of the ride chatting with a double World Champion – the sort of thing you have to pinch yourself for! We were also joined by a friend of Marc and Helen’s, Darren, owner of PedalCover

220 Triathlon Competition Winners - A Weekend Training with Helen Jenkins - Photo Credit Emma Barraclough
220 Triathlon Competition Winners – A Weekend Training with Helen Jenkins – Photo Credit Emma Barraclough
220 Triathlon Competition Winners - A Weekend Training with Helen Jenkins - Photo Credit Marc Jenkins
220 Triathlon Competition Winners – A Weekend Training with Helen Jenkins – Photo Credit Emma Barraclough
On the bike with Helen Jenkins - Photo Courtesy of Emma Barraclough
On the bike with Helen Jenkins – Photo Courtesy of Marc Jenkins
On the bike with Helen Jenkins - Photo Courtesy of Emma Barraclough
On the bike with Helen Jenkins – Photo Courtesy of Marc Jenkins
The top of the Blwch with Helen Jenkins and the other 220 Triathlon Competition Winners - A Weekend Training with Helen Jenkins - Photo Credit Marc Jenkins
The top of the Blwch with Helen Jenkins and the other 220 Triathlon Competition Winners – A Weekend Training with Helen Jenkins – Photo Credit Marc Jenkins

After the epic ride we had a stretching session with Helen (we got some very odd looks lying on the restaurant floor!) some lunch and a bit of a rest before heading to the sea front for my first ever ocean swim, and indeed the first ever open water swim for a couple of folks!

First Ocean Swim with Helen Jenkins - Photo Courtesy of Emma Barraclough
First Ocean Swim with Helen Jenkins – Photo Courtesy of Emma Barraclough

Things were a little interrupted as, as we were entering the sea via the lifeboat launch, they got called out. A minor disruption but slightly exciting! This was my first time swimming in the sea for any reason other than a holiday paddle. I found it very different to a wetsuit swim in a lake, the salt water tasted awful of course but I felt the extra buoyancy it offered. I also learned that the currents play havoc with my inability to swim in a straight line… something I need to work on and also something that Marc and Helen gave me some guidance on!

After the swim it was back to the hotel for dinner and some well deserved sleep, I was knackered!

Sunday

Up very early as we were meeting on the beach at 6.30am for our second sea swim, getting into a damp wetsuit is not fun! We were entering the sea from the beach this time which gave us an opportunity to practice beach starts and mid swim beach exits too. Such a shame that I hate sand between my toes!!!! This time I had some time with Marc, Helen and another friend of theirs (sorry i forgot your name!) who were all helping with my sighting issue – it seemed I was able to swim, breathe and sight, just sadly not all at the same time! It also transpired that we were there early as there was a local sprint triathlon on at the same time.

Second Ocean Swim
Second Ocean Swim
220 Triathlon Competition Winners - Porthcawl Beach with Helen Jenkins
220 Triathlon Competition Winners – Porthcawl Beach with Helen Jenkins
I beat Helen Jenkins out the sea!
I beat Helen Jenkins out the sea!
Second Ocean Swim
Second Ocean Swim

After a well deserved breakfast (another fry up!) and a short rest we were setting off on a gentle recovery ride, that turned out to be the same route the triathlon had taken earlier that day. This was a more relaxed affair but still enjoyable. We had planned a sort of brick session for when we got back, but my calf was still sore from the run the day before and I only managed a very short one before it was too painful.

We all re-convened back at the hotel, with the others going for much longer runs than I! We then sat around and had a really casual chat. Such a surreal environment but it never felt anything other than normal and great fun, Helen and Marc are two of the nicest and most genuine people you could meet. Emma was lovely too – don’t want her feeling left out! Thanks all for such a great weekend!

Me with Helen Jenkins - Excuse the Hair!
Me with Helen Jenkins – Excuse the Hair!

And in other news….

I appear to have signed up to compete in Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire next year. Shit. Best get training! Maybe it’s a good excuse to revisit this topic though…

It has been a while…

It HAS been a while!

Apologies, I’ve not been posting recently! The good news is that the reason for this is that i’ve been training, sadly not entirely injury free but hey, baby steps!

Since my last post it has taken a while to recover from my calf injury and irritatingly it has started niggling again recently, usually as a result of training on brick sessions – so not ideal really! I’ve gone back to basics and have been training with my wife, who is getting back into running. By training with the good lady I run at a slower than usual pace which has been great for getting my legs back into it, so here’s hoping it’s good for the long game.

So, what have I been up to? In no particular order:

Joined a new/another triathlon club.

This was rather accidental in that I popped to the gym for a swim on a Monday; which is not a normal training day and discovered that the BRAT Club have coached swimming lessons from 19.30. I was invited to join in and got chatting about other sessions too; which ended up in me heading along to their open water session on a Thursday also. The joining happened as the open water session is for club members only and rather than miss out, I figured I may as well sign up! So far so good…

Did my longest cycle to date.

“Shall we go for a ride this weekend?” – a perfectly normal question from thetrinerd, culminated in us taking part in the Birmingham Bikathon for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. This was a 52 mile (or 54 in my case after a wrong turn) ride that started in Cannon Hill Park on 5th July. It started out as a relatively steady affair until Mr Competitive started getting bored sitting behind people…. so just over 3 hours was a touch more competitive than I had intended and it certainly took the legs a bit of time to recover, but it was a lot of fun!

The Tri Nerd and I having just completed 52 miles of the Birmingham Bikaton!
The Tri Nerd and I having just completed 52 miles of the Birmingham Bikaton!

New Bling

As a bit of a treat to myself, I decided to upgrade the rather heavy standard wheels on my bike. I stumbled across a rather good deal on a pair of Vision T30 wheels in a nice stealthy black finish, coupled with some Schwalbe One 700x25c tyres.

Trek Madone 2.1 with Vision T30 Wheels
Trek Madone 2.1 with Vision T30 Wheels, Selle SMP Dynamic Saddle – stealthy!

Perhaps through my odd pursuits I got it into my mind that I NEEDED a 16 tooth rear cog; maybe as I kept finding myself searching up and down the rear gears at around the mid point. It seems that Shimano don’t seem to make anything suitable that has this, so enter SRAM with the PG1070 12-28 Cassette. I didn’t see much point in an 11 tooth cog as I’ve never spun out yet….

The final bike treat was a Selle SMP Dynamic saddle. This came after a recent visit to the Triathlon Show in Manchester, where I spent quite a bit of time looking at them. It was a bit of an indulgence but it is rather lovely, it also has the added bonus of apparently saving my man bits!

Selle SMP Dynamic Saddle
Selle SMP Dynamic Saddle in situ

Finally, I treated my feet to a new pair of running shoes. Due to the calf injuries I’ve taken a time out from the natural motion phenomenon and decided to try a pair of the new Brooks Ghost 8. They’re incredibly comfy, well cushioned but have a hell of a spring out of the forefoot – thus far, I’m really impressed!

Brooks Ghost 8
Rather lovely Brooks Ghost 8 – in the hopefully less common Yellow/Grey colour.

Had another Bike Fit

I had a bike fit earlier in the year but felt that I had started to improve somewhat and there was scope for improvement. I met Tony Corke of Torke Cycling at a show earlier this year whilst looking at Selle SMP Saddles. Tony advised me on saddles and we got chatting about bike fitting also. I happened to be heading on holiday to Somerset and by chance found out that he needed a ‘guinea pig’ for a fitting course he was doing in Bath, this seemed like a dream scenario! There were no computers telling us what to do, just me, my bike and some rollers with lots of flexibility/strength tests, rider feedback etc – it turns out that my initial fit wasn’t far out, but i had improved my flexibility somewhat so a 2cm drop in stem spacers was required – we also fitted my new saddle which necessitated some tweaks to the height/angle of it.

Bike Fit 2 - Torke Cycling
The second of my bike fits. I’ve improved a bit and wanted to see where things now were…

After the fit on my current bike, we also had a play on a more techie piece of machinery, a BioBike, designed to judge my fit for a triathlon bike prior to purchase. This was a lot of fun, though I was a little disappointed to learn that seemingly my lack of flexibility suggests that a triathlon bike may not be the most suitable thing for me…. i’ll continue to work on the flexibility and see later on though, i’m determined to get new shiny things!!

Tri Bike Fit - Torke Cycling
And this time, I got to play with fancy machinery to get a Tri Bike Fit!

Mammoth Bike Ride

Whilst down in Somerset I felt the need to take the newly adjusted bike on a bit of a ride. Unfortunately it became quite apparent that from our base, the only options were very hilly route or very hilly route. So I opted for a very hilly route and decided to take on the Porlock Hill. In hindsight I wish i’d left the original 30 tooth rear cassette on, in fact I wish i’d fitted a 42 tooth! Such was the absurdity of the climb – sections were 25% incline that I stood no chance. I also managed to break a chain link so had quite a long, uphill walk to find a spot to fix it! Thankfully, after that, despite the earth being stupid and having lots of down, followed by up bits the ride was very enjoyable. The scenery was pretty breathtaking also:

Pollock Hill Climb - Bike
Ouch. Nothing else can describe what I was feeling at this stage.

The Strava elevation graph is below….

Strava - Porlock Hill
This was the overlay from Strava for my cycle around Somerset – heading up and over Pollock Hill. Not for the feint hearted!

Open Water Swimming

I figured I needed to get some practice in at this. Unfortunately my first few attempts were a bit of a fail. I suffered fairly major anxiety issues and was struggling to breathe correctly. Which is depressing when the scenery was as stunning as this:

Open Water Swimming - Upton Warren
A lovely day for my first Open Water Swimming at Upton Warren

Not long after this I received an email about a British Triathlon Open Water swimming day taking place at the West Midlands Water Ski centre. I figured this was just what I needed, so signed up! It turned out to be a really good day and the tips and tricks I picked up have helped me on my way to swimming my first 1k in open water last week – rejoice! A few pictures from the day:

Triathlon England Open Water Training Day
Triathlon England Open Water Training Day
Triathlon England Open Water Training Day - How To Breathe
Triathlon England Open Water Training Day – How To Breathe
Triathlon England Open Water Training Day - How To Breathe in practice
Triathlon England Open Water Training Day – How To Breathe in practice
Triathlon England Open Water Training Day - Racing Starts
Triathlon England Open Water Training Day – Racing Starts

Met This Guy…

Bit of a legend and thoroughly nice guy!

The legend that is Dave Scott
The legend that is Dave Scott, 6 time Ironman World Champion at the 220 Triathlon Day.

Entered a Half Marathon

Slightly challenging trying to train for a 5k in my next Sprint Triathlon and then a Half Marathon a few weeks later, but hey… I’m running this with a friend of ours who is taking on her first half marathon, i’ve heard some scary things about the finish in Birmingham! It was during my first longer run for this that I felt my calf ping a little… fingers crossed we’ll be ok!

I am a triathlete

It’s not quite the same as those immortal words entered at the end of a certain race in Hawaii but I can now say that I am a triathlete!

Today was the Halesowen Triathlon, a local sprint event with a pool swim. A while ago I decided it would be a good first race and so it proved. It’s safe to say that my preparations didn’t go as well as planned, a number of niggling and occasionally ridiculous injuries blighted things but we got to race day in more or less one piece; or so I thought.

Halesowen Triathlon 2015
Halesowen Triathlon 2015 – First Triathlete Number!

The Swim – 9:08

I hadn’t done any swimming of note since wrenching my shoulder trying on wetsuits in late January, however I felt reasonably comfortable following a gentle tester last week. The first difference to my normal swimming was the 33m pool, but it turned out to be a non event. I felt the best I’ve ever done in the pool, aside from missing a breath or two, and was very pleased with a time equalling the time trial I did in January, which given the lack of training was excellent.

Halesowen Triathlon 2015 - Triathlete Swim
Halesowen Triathlon 2015 – First Triathlete Swim – Photo: Aniko Towers

The Bike – 57:21

After a very leisurely T1, note to self need work on that, 3:16 is not ideal but then again descending wet concrete stairs isn’t either! One of the niggling injuries was a calf strain I did about a month ago, so I’ve been using Compresssport R2 Calf Guards and they were a hassle to get on too. The course was a pretty hilly one and the wind was evil, strong sideways gusts on tricky descents and then strong headwinds on the uphills! Once more I had a major speed wobble on one of the downhills, but I was more prepared for this after the recent recce. I need to find out why I’m having the wobbles though as I was steadily gaining on the guy in front of me on the climbs, but he left me for dead on the downhill bits due to my lack of confidence. I did eventually get him on the longest climb and he never came back passed me. Not much more to report, it was a decent ride and I beat my PRs on pretty much every section according to Strava. I need work on my bike skills though as despite maintaining a decent average cadence of 84, I never felt like I was really working that hard but simply couldn’t transfer the power through the bike – it’s early days though, I’ve only been riding a few months!

Halesowen Triathlon 2015 - Triathlete Bike
Halesowen Triathlon 2015 – First Triathlete Bike – Photo: Aniko Towers

The Run – 35:08

Thankfully T2 was much better at 39s, the Nathan lock laces certainly helping here! Sadly that was pretty much the end of the good news for the run. Straight away my calf muscles felt very tight and were cramping quickly. I took it steady and stopped to stretch occasionally, eventually I got into a bit of a rhythm and started to pick the pace up, but sadly just before the turnaround I felt my right calf give up. I had no choice but to walk and headed back to the finish line. After about a mile I was able to ‘hobble jog’ and being determined to finish with some degree of a run went for it.

Halesowen Triathlon 2015 - Triathlete Run
Halesowen Triathlon 2015 – First Triathlete Run – Photo: Aniko Towers
Halesowen Triathlon 2015 - Triathlete Medic
Halesowen Triathlon 2015 – First Triathlete Medic! – Photo: Aniko Towers

There was great support from everyone at the finish and I finished with an overall time of 1:45.30, currently a PB! Here’s to the next one, as I’ve definitely been bitten by the bug and plan to do more!

A nod at this point to thetrinerd who trashed his time from last year and finished in 1:15 – great stuff!

Halesowen Triathlon 2015 - Triathlete The End
Halesowen Triathlon 2015 – Triathlete Over – Photo: Aniko Towers

220 Triathlon Show, Back to Training and Lapland!

Not too much recent to report other than a recent visit to the 220 Triathlon Show. Thankfully the manflu has finally abated after coming back to haunt me, it was decent enough to stay gone for my trip to Lapland to celebrate my good wife’s birthday though!

Lapland

Mild tangent to report that if you can, make a trip to Lapland, it’s an amazing experience. We booked for a four night stay at the Muotkan Maja Wilderness Lodge where aside from being fortunate enough to witness the Northern Lights, we also went husky sledding, reindeer sleighing, snowmobiling and snow shoe walking. All of the events were fantastic and really enjoyable, even though the temperature dropped to -30 degrees celsius and never got above -4! The staff couldn’t be more friendly or helpful either, a highly recommended trip!

Back to some sort of training…

Back to the more triathlon related stuff, I’ve been slowly getting back into training both on my own and with the club that is at my local gym. I’ve established that I’m currently not very fit, relatively speaking am a slow swimmer but thankfully still seem to have decent running pace in these old legs! The gym sessions are on a Wednesday evening at David Lloyd Worcester and start with either a Bike (Spin) or Run (outside) followed by an hour in the pool. I don’t have my ‘bike legs’ yet but I’m assured these will come, so find some of the bike sessions pretty tough but the running sprints the other day were a little easier for me. I am struggling in the pool though, mostly with getting calf cramp toward the end of the sessions. I was pleased to get a benchmark time for the 400m, even if 9:06 is pretty damn slow!

I finally got to play with my Garmin Edge 1000 too as I had a bike ride planned for Sunday morning. The “Round Trip Route Planning” is excellent, simply select an approximate distance for a ride and you’re presented with up to 3 options with a quick summary of distance and elevation. So off we went, selecting the route and heading off. What I learned here is that you also need to actually start the journey tracking as otherwise it doesn’t log the route, ride, cadence etc…. bit of an oversight on Garmin and my behalf I feel!! Either way, a very enjoyable ride taking in some new areas that we’d not been too and encountering a lot of other cyclists out enjoying the brief bit of dry, if rather windy, weather. This was also my first ride since my bike fit and I’m pleased to report that the bike felt much better, as did I!

Following the bike ride we even threw in a quick brick run so I could start to practise transitions. This needs work as my legs felt like unknown objects below my waste that were doing their own thing. I’m sure it’ll improve with practise but we’ve some way to go yet…

220 Triathlon Show

At the weekend The Tri Nerd and I headed to the 220 Triathlon Show, held at Sandown Park in Surrey. We both had some things to look at; a wetsuit for me and an aero helmet and tri shoes for thetrinerd. Sadly he left empty handed as there were none of the above on display, which seemed a bit of an oversight for a triathlon show! I was more fortunate and spent a great deal of time forcing myself in and out of neoprene. All in all it was a very useful experience and i learned that I’m a different size from all manufacturers and price does not always indicate quality. I walked away with a lovely Zone3 Aspire which was a decent price and they threw in a few goodies too. In a make you feel good moment, I needed the size down from my expected weight too….. The picture below shows the level of delirium that had kicked in, this was the stall before Zone3 though, so ended soon after!

2xu A:1 Wetsuit - 220 Triathlon Show
Hey good lookin’

There weren’t many bikes on display, a Boardman display that had all the tri specific models and a decent offer including a Huub wetsuit… sadly i don’t have the money for a bike just yet and it wouldn’t be the entry level Boardman anyway! What did stand out was the Dassi TT Bike. Started up and run by ex-aerospace engineers with a clear view on how to approach and design an aero product. It’s also designed and built as much as possible in the UK – groupsets being the biggest problem. There were some lovely touches to the design, such as they setup your geometry with an adjustable stem and you then have the option to have a custom carbon stem manufactured to reduce 300g of weight – bit of an issue if you want to change later mind…. The other great thing was that the design and colour is completely unique to you, so whilst it takes about 12 weeks to get your bike, it’s completely to your spec and design. I was quite surprised at the pricing too, the display model had their own aero wheels and cockpit but was running Campagnolo Chorus EPS. So all in all a decent spec but less than £5k as shown. I want one.

Dassi TT Bike - 220 Triathlon Show
Engineer design and built, best looking bike at the show
Dassi TT Bike - Rear - 220 Triathlon Show
Not much for the chasing pack to see…

We spent a great deal of time sampling Protein and Energy bars too. I think we might have been slightly over energised for most of the day but given the lunch options on hand, maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing!! I suddenly have a yearning for a Clif Bar again….

The final thing we did was to have our swimming analysed by Paul Newsome from Swim Smooth. This took the format of an endless pool (want one) and an earpiece over which you could hear the instructions. Whilst we didn’t get ages on this, it was a novel concept and certainly useful! Overall I’d say the show could have done with some better organisation, the website was not particularly helpful and we had to contact Zoggs directly to find out how to book for the swim. As it was we were the first people through the door on the day and the only spaces available were at 5pm, despite the fact that we were told you could only book on the stand. Our only assumption was that people from other days had booked for the Saturday.

One final thing, I did find this beauty hiding downstairs…. at least I’ve realised It’s not ideal. The colour really is yellow as expected and not the green it claims. I view that as £9k saved!

Scott Plasma Team Edition 2015 - 220 Triathlon Show
First one i’ve seen in the flesh…. beautful!

I’ve signed up for my first triathlon!

First Triathlon

Great news, I’ve signed up for my first triathlon, the Halesowen Triathlon. It’s a Sprint Distance but most significantly for me has an indoor 400m swim in a local pool. I’ve no experience of open water swimming yet so see this as a good first event. I’m also considering signing up for the BRAT Standard later on the year as I’ve heard very good things about it.

New Year’s Resolutions…

Not really, I’ve just done the stereotypical thing and joined a gym with the good lady. Unlike many others I fully intend to go regularly and have done so thus far. Sadly where we used to live we had a great public gym, whereas where we are now we’re limited so we’ve ‘ended up’ at David Lloyd. The facilities are fantastic and most impressively the pool has been practically empty whenever I’ve gone, despite the new year rush! I had my initial meeting with a personal trainer and was again very impressed, after 40 minutes discussing what I want to achieve, my drive, my aims etc he is devising a strength and conditioning program to compliment the triathlon program I am already following. Incidentally the program I am following is the Beginners one recently published in 220 Triathlon. At first glance I thought it looked simple, 5 days in I’m definitely feeling it!!

Garmin Forerunner 920xt

I’ve been playing with my shiny new Garmin Forerunner 920xt which was a Christmas present to myself. I’ve done one of everything now, from a running and cycling point of view its remarkably similar to the Forerunner 620 I used to own. Today I got to try out the swim section which was the main reason I upgraded in the first place. Today’s session called for a 30 minute warm up (How fit do they think I am!!!??) followed by a nice pyramid of 25-50-75-100-75-50-25 with a 30 second rest between each set. I started to struggle with form as I got more tired but remained fairly consistent with the pacing, the watch was very useful to review post event but I didn’t feel confident to monitor it during the swim. I’ve certainly improved my swim since I started in September but I’m far from a ‘Master’ yet.

Nutrition

I’ve been researching nutrition extensively as I am conscious that it’s something i neglected in my running training. I’ve been a fan of Maxi Nutrition so figured i’d give that a go and hey, if it’s good enough for the Brownlee’s…. So far, i’m a fan of the Viper Boost Energy Bars, but the Recovermax tastes pretty awful. I’ve never been a fan of Orange flavoured drinks anyway but i find it really hard to get down, if it works though maybe we’ll stick with it. I may find myself mixing some SIS in there as the Rego Recovery gets good press and comes in much nicer flavours!

Droitwich Half Marathon – one proud brother!

The Droitwich Half Marathon was finally held today, an event I was due to run in the build up to London 2014. Sadly as my knee still hadn’t recovered and owing to the hernia I handed my position over to my sister. She’s a good runner but had never done anything over a 10k before. Perhaps giving her more then a months notice might have helped too…. As it was though, with a bit of coaching and some nutrition advice she went out there and set a PB (obviously) but more impressively was 2nd in her age group and finished in 1:44:50. Great stuff!!

One bad thing, I may struggle to get my Garmin FR620 back as she borrowed it in the build up – i think she’s rather taken with it too!!

Results will appear here soon: Droitwich Half Marathon 2014 Results

Julia Droitwich Half Marathon 2014
Julia’s First Half Marathon – Droitwich Half Marathon 2014