Category Archives: Race Reports

Cotswold113 2017 Race Report

The Cotswold113 was my second middle distance event. I entered this as I have previously marshaled the full event and thus had a free race entry (anyone interested in the same, get in touch with them as they’re always on the look out for marshalls). I’d heard good reports about it and the course fitted in as a ‘mid season’ tester.

It’s a pretty flat course, which was something I was after to see what speed I had in my legs for the bike. The run is also very flat, a total of 22m elevation gained according to my Garmin! Given where my running has been recently, I was grateful for this. As regular readers will know I still have calf issues and haven’t run more than 9 miles in a single go since last year. I’ve also only run twice in the last 6 weeks after aggravating the calf problem in Portugal.

Registration was the day before which was a bit of a pain as, due to hotel costs, I wasn’t staying over. This meant I had to drive down on the Saturday, but it did give me a chance to see the course marked out and thus drive it. My main observation from this was that it’s not quite as flat as everyone makes out with a short sharp hill half way round the lap, still a total elevation of 341m isn’t that much. Secondly, the road surface was pretty shocking, lots of pot holes, loose gravel and patches of dissimilar tarmac from road repairs. Still, the lake looked lovely and calm and was 20.1 degrees and the run course despite being narrow at times looked nice and firm under foot.

Race Day

As far as ‘not ideal starts’ go, this was up there! I woke up at 3.30am, made up my nutrition, had breakfast and started loading up the car. I’ve recently started using CurraNZ and had been advised to double up on Race Day, so threw those in too! Fingers crossed the lack of muscle fatigue I had experienced in training would manifest in race mode!

Then i spot a totally flat front tyre on my bike. Bugger. I’d checked and inflated them the night before so was rather concerned. I figured the best thing to do was to reinflate, take the track pump and reassess when I got there.

The next hurdle was that the motorway was closed where I was expecting to join in. There was also a surprising amount of traffic given the time of day on a Sunday! Fortunately I wasn’t too badly affected and had left extra time. What I hadn’t planned for was the huge queue of traffic in to the car park on site. There had been 3 emails telling everyone to have the money ready, but I guess many ignored this. Still, I parked up at 5:10, a bit tight but transition didn’t close until 5:45.

First thing to check, front tyre. Gone down again. Bugger. Not knowing the issue I elected to change it however, in my haste I must’ve caught the tube in the tyre as when I went to inflate it, there was a very loud bang – which woke everyone up! Now I had a problem, I only had one tube left, which required the valve extender – the one currently doing its job quite nicely in the rear tyre. Note to self, get a spare valve extender…. I then took a calculated guess (hope!) that the problem with the first tube was a leaky valve. Valve from tube 2, into tube 1… cross fingers. By this time it was also 5:45…. a very helpful car park official offered to go and let them know at transition that I was having issues! Thank you, whoever you were! 

With everything eventually sorted I dashed for transition and got racked, leaving my drink in the car. During racking, my stomach decided to inform me of some mild issues, next port of call, the loo! I dashed out of transition just as the race started and joined a very long queue for the toilets, not ideal but I had 40 minutes until I needed to be at the waters edge.

Calm eventually ensued, I headed back to the car, to get my wetsuit on. On the way I spotted a number of people wearing the new Zone 3 Aspire Ltd Edition – jealous much!? It looks awesome…. mine felt decidedly ordinary! I’d been thinking about upgrading to the Vanquish anyway – snazzy looking or better suit, tough one!?

I drank as much High5 EnergySource as I could and threw a gel in for good measure as I clearly hadn’t taken enough on board. Then I made my way to the race start and tried to compose myself.

The Swim – 0:30:21

After a quick race briefing we were allowed in to the water 5 minutes before the start to acclimatise and warm up. Then a 1 minute count down… I had positioned myself away from the bulk of people on the left hand side, giving myself the straightest line to the first buoy. However it was still a bit of a scrum at the first turn. I had gone out hard, but not too crazy, with the intention of building to a strong finish.

Cotswold113 Swim Course
Cotswold113 Swim Course

The plan was going well and I settled in to a strong rhythm and was picking people off nicely. Sadly I was unable to find any decent feet to swim off. I was swimming parallel to one guy who was adamant I wasn’t getting past as he surged every time I tried to break clear. To make matters worse my goggles were starting to fog up. At the second buoy we turned and I found a foot in my face, knocking my goggles clean off my head. Thankfully they didn’t disappear completely but it took a moment to get them back on and then notice that the culprit was ‘already known to me’. The time cost wasn’t too bad, but from this point on the goggles situation just got worse. I had to stop twice to remove them and rinse them with water. Frustrating but I tried not to let it get to me.

Towards the middle of the swim I started to catch the slower swimmers from the wave ahead. One of whom was doing backstroke. Who does backstroke in a race!? Despite the time taken to pass people it helped with sighting and also gave me targets to pick off one by one.

In the last third I started to push harder as any concerns of breathing issues had all settled by now. I was passing people readily now, many with blue hats (my wave) who’d clearly gone out too hard. The cheers that could be heard from the crowd were an added incentive too. I saw dry land and grabbed an arm to pull me out the water. Hit lap on my Garmin and then swore. Despite it being a PB swim by over 5 minutes I was more irritated that I’d missed going sub 30 minutes by 22 seconds!

Cotswold113 2017 Swim Exit
Cotswold113 2017 Swim Exit

The Bike – 2:33:29

I was pretty pleased with my transition time given how the day had gone and the distances I had to run between swim, rack and bike start.  I threw a caffeine gel down in T1, based on advice from High5 and Lucy Gossage. The anger at missing the swim time gave me plenty of encouragement and I swore at a friend, Kerry, as I went past her! At the bike mount line I managed to kick my water bottle out of the rear cage, not ideal. Fortunately it didn’t cost me too much time to stop and collect it.

This was the first time I had raced in anger in my new Green Huub DS Long Course suit. It had a previous outing at the Halesowen Triathlon but pool sprints weren’t what it was designed for. Here’s hoping it lives up to its reputation! Dave Scott was convinced:

The bike course was a 2 lap affair and having driven it the day before was fairly flat but notably had a pretty poor road surface, with pot holes, loose gravel and uneven tarmac to contend with. There were 2 hills, one reasonably short but fairly steep and these were both about half way round the course.

Cotswold113 Bike Route
Cotswold113 Bike Route

As I set off, I passed a number of people on the other side of the road who were just coming in to start their second lap from the early waves – clearly they were quite quick!

The first part of the course was on fairly wide roads but unfortunately this also meant cars. Throughout the course I probably overtook 10 cars; I appreciate that they were waiting behind cyclists to overtake safely but they were holding me up! Where the loops started on the bike, the road surface was the worst, but thankfully this was also where the roads were narrower and thus less busy with cars.

Cotswold113 2017 Bike
Cotswold113 2017 Bike
Cotswold113 2017 Bike
Cotswold113 2017 Bike

The plan for the bike was to set off steady to let my HR drop into the target Z3. This settled down quite quickly and whilst coach had told me not to bother with power or speed I had elected to use my Garmin Edge 820 after not doing so in Staffs and paying the price! As a result, my HR came into target quite quickly and I noted that my power numbers were pretty steady and my speed was too; all good. I was averaging around 22 miles per hour which surprised me as throughout my training rides I had felt like I was struggling to maintain this sort of speed.

Cotswold113 2017 Bike
Cotswold113 2017 Bike – POWWWER!

I stuck religiously to my nutrition plan and had once again elected to be self sustained so had my BTA bottle, a large spare behind the saddle and an aero bottle just in case. All were filled with High5 EnergySource, my new favourite energy drink (it’s very light in taste and not too sickly). I also had another favourite thing, a High5 Gel Flask, filled with Raspberry EnergyGel Plus – a caffeinated gel. The flask is a thing of beauty, it fits 5 gels and is super squishy thus making it really easy to take ‘a gel’ quickly and easily without battling to open a wrapper whilst trying to remain aero. Buy one!

I stuck to my own race on the bike, I was going at around the same pace as a couple of people early on in the bike and we were all passing others readily. Thankfully there were no crazy cyclists to contend with, making it a relatively uneventful first lap! Given how flat the course was it meant very little rest from pedalling and I was almost pleased to see the hill. My average speed dropped quite markedly though but the change in cadence on the up and down gave my legs a bit of a break. One of our trio dropped like a stone on the hill and was never seen again.

Cotswold113 2017 Bike
Cotswold113 2017 Bike

Making my way to the turnaround was good, although I got stopped at a junction by the police only to be nearly knocked off my bike by a guy who went sailing past me and the office, barely acknowledging what he had done! At the start of the second lap I took a moment to mentally assess how things were going; really good. All the numbers still stacked up, my legs felt good and I was familiar with the course now. I was really pleased with the High5 nutrition too. I’ve tried a few drinks/gels over the years but these are so light in taste and texture it was great! The Gel Flask was making taking the gels so much easier too. I said it before, but I’ll say it again – buy one!!

I got passed by a couple of serious folks on Lap 2, pointy helmets, seriously aero, disc wheels… that sort of thing. Serious bike envy as a guy went by me like I was stationary on a Scott Plasma 5 with Lightweight wheels and disc on…. that was the last I saw of him! Overall though I think i was passed by around 6 people in total which pleased me greatly. During Lap 2 I noticed that my HR was starting to drop into high Z2 rather than Z3. The power and speed numbers were steady though. Slightly ignoring coach’s advice I decided to go with it and not push harder. I felt good but didn’t want to risk killing my legs for the run. Maybe those #magicberries were doing their thing!?

Cotswold113 2017 Bike
Cotswold113 2017 Bike
Cotswold113 2017 Bike
Cotswold113 2017 Bike

At the dismount line I did a double take. The course was a little short, just under 55 miles, but to have taken 22 minutes off my last time surprised me! Yes it was a lot flatter and very much less rainy, but that’s not necessarily easier…

The Run – 1:39:39

T2 was fairly speedy, a short run back to park my bike, another gel down me, running shoes on and on our way! The run course was also very flat, but was on mixed terrain, from grass, to sand, to gravel and finally tarmac. The most frustrating part was that it was very narrow in places, meaning that passing was nigh on impossible unless you fancied some stinging nettles!

Cotswold113 2017 Run
Cotswold113 2017 Run
Cotswold113 2017 Run
Cotswold113 2017 Run

In some ways this was a positive as it encouraged you to push before you got to a narrow part if you needed to pass someone. This was another multi lap course which followed around the lake that we’d swum in and then did a loop out on to cross the bike course (not a good idea!) before heading through a small country park and then a housing estate then back to the transition area again.

Cotswold113 Run Route
Cotswold113 Run Route

The run was the area I was most concerned by, as I’ve already mentioned I hadn’t run more than 8 miles so was concerned where I would be. I was mentally focussed on the time in my head, I already knew my aggregate time and was aware that I needed to do a sub 1:52 for the half marathon in order to hit my target time. 8 min miles was the target. As it was, I started out steadily and was averaging 7:30min/mile for the first 6-7 miles, I was running ok but a tightness in my back and hip that I had felt in training during the week was omnipresent. I was able to run through the discomfort but never truly hit a rhythm. I was passing people and being passed but I was making good progress.  I couldn’t get my HR where I wanted it to be but just went as well as I could.

Cotswold113 2017 Run
Cotswold113 2017 Run
Cotswold113 2017 Run
Cotswold113 2017 Run
Cotswold113 2017 Run
Cotswold113 2017 Run

About miles 9 things started to get tough and my run splits started to slow. Seeing an 8 at the beginning of a mile split wasn’t good. However, there was an awesome support crew 1 mile after the start who had been cheering emphatically every time I had passed, this gave me something to aim for!

Cotswold113 - BRAT Support Crew
Cotswold113 – BRAT Support Crew

Once I was passed them, it was sheer determination that was going to get me home. I pushed through the pain, and whilst it didn’t look pretty we were still moving and the pace picked up again. With a mile to go, I gave whatever I felt I had left in my legs, it wasn’t much but I was determined to give as much as I could. Crossing the line I was elated. Not only had I set a new PB for the Half Marathon by 9 minutes, I had gone and smashed my target time by a full 12!

Cotswold113 2017 Run
Cotswold113 2017 Run

The Result – 4:48:44

I’ll take that! The aim I set myself at the start of the season, before any injuries, was a sub 5. Given everything that has happened I am over the moon. Not only did I achieve my goal, I took a full 40 minutes off my PB. Admittedly my PB is from my one prior race at Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire and that was different in every way, but it’s still a massive achievement that I’m really happy with. Equally, I set a new PB in every discipline by at least 5 minutes!

Cotswold113 2017 Finish
Cotswold113 2017 Finish
Cotswold113 2017 Finish
Cotswold113 2017 Finish

When you embark on a journey with a coach you don’t know if it will work out. I’d had question marks in my mind about where my cycling was at. I knew my running was off too. This result solidifies it for me. It’s hard work, but it’s absolutely the right thing! Thanks Steve, I genuinely couldn’t have done it without you… here’s to the next goal!

As for the race, I highly recommend it. The bike course is a bit tricky in places but the event is brilliant fun. The marshals are friendly. It’s really well organised! I’d add it to a list of recommended races to do, if I had one!

Cotswold113 Result
Cotswold113 Result

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…

I am (half) an Ironman – Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire

This one’s for you Mum.

Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire

A bitter sweet day. Last week was Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire, keen readers among you will know that this was the race I’ve been training for since mid last year. However, it’s safe to say that the last 12 months haven’t been the best. Injuries are one thing, family tragedies are another. I had been struggling with a niggling calf injury for 18 months. This had greatly affected my running, to the point that I hadn’t run much more than 10k this year. With this in mind the prospect of a Half Marathon was not something to relish!

However recent events put things in to context. Tragically my mother passed away very suddenly a month before the race. Training went out the window as emotionally I had no focus anywhere but the obvious. I was in two minds as to whether or not to do the race given everything that had happened. As Mum had been one of my key supporters though, it was obvious what I should do. So at 7am on 12th June, I lined up with 2286 other folks on an overcast day at Chasewater Reservoir. But first, a quick rewind…

Registration

Registration was available from the Friday but as I was working, I opted to do this on the Saturday before meeting the good lady in the evening to check in to the hotel for the night. Bridgtown Cycles were kindly offering free bike safety checks before the race, so i popped in there on the way.

Afterwards, my first mistake, I headed to Chasewater and it wasn’t until i’d removed my bike from the bike rack and walked part of the way there that I realised that registration was at Shugborough Hall… an hour later, upon arriving at Shugborough things were looking up. Irritatingly due to my own stupidity I had now managed to miss the earlier briefing, meaning that I would have to come back to Shugborough again for the last race briefing. The registration process was very straightforward and as I was now in no rush I took some time to check out the Expo. 2 minutes later I was on my way… I checked my ‘Run Bag’ in since I was there and had the time, then it was back to Chasewater to rack my bike and check in there.

Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire 2016 Registration
I guess this counts as a warm up – right?
Through my own stupidity I’d given myself a pretty good warm up it seems! After finally attending the race briefing I learnt one issue. I had checked and been assured that I was ok to wear my race belt under my wetsuit. The race director said otherwise, thus I’d have to try and gain access to by ‘Bike Bag’ on the morning – one stress I could have done without. As it turns out, it wasn’t an issue at all – phew!

Race Day

Waking up before 5am is never fun but I felt surprisingly calm. On the mantra of nothing new on race day, I had bought my own breakfast along, even though the hotel was offering an early breakfast for competitors. Bringing my own bowl and spoon may have been a bit much mind… I applied my sunscreen, got ready, triple checked I had everything and off we went.

My wife dropped me off as near to Chasewater as she could and went off to park the car. She had ambitions of seeing me through the swim and then trying to catch me at a few pre-arranged points on the bike. This turned out to be nigh on impossible and something I hope they can look into. Closed roads are great for athletes but rubbish for supporters trying to get around. I have suggested some guidance on how to access certain key spectator spots going forward, I shan’t hold my breath though!

I had spoken at length with my coach about nutrition strategy and some general guidelines for the race, so I ran through these in my mind and checked everything was where it needed to be.

I  loaded my nutrition on to my bike, sorted my race belt issue and then set about gathering myself for the morning ahead! This was far and away the largest transition I’ve been in and there was quite a buzz around the place! A perfectly timed visit to the facilities and then on with the wetsuit. I walked down to the start, handed over my ‘End of Race bag’ with my dry clothes in and fortunately bumped into my wife – something we hadn’t planned as we assumed it would be impossible! I also bumped in to a guy I had been chatting to on twitter in the months leading up to the event – good to see you Dan.

The Swim – 35:36

The swim was a rolling start where you placed yourself where you figured your time would be – there were number markers starting from <30 minutes. I estimated between 30 and 35 minutes and placed myself accordingly. My age group (35-39) was first off after the Pro’s, so we got a good spot to watch both Male and Female Pro’s set off. With that, we made our way on to the pontoon and waited an anxious 10 minutes.

As it turned out, despite my position I was somehow quite near the front, not a lot I can do about it now! The hooter went off and we made our way in to the water; straight away I felt what seemed like a wash of people coming past me. My lack of race start experience and slight nervousness in the water maybe to blame? Either way, I didn’t set off very quickly and felt like I was going backwards, I desperately sought some feet to draft off but had no luck.

The course was one single point to point and at the first buoy, turning left, there was a long drag to the next turn. This was a lonely time as I saw no-one, I  caught one guy, but he disappeared again. I stuck to my rhythm and tried to focus on being efficient. At the next turn I had caught a few people up but when I turned I seemed to be alone again. I checked my sighting and noticed that whilst I was heading straight for the next buoy, everyone else seemed to be over to my right. I had already planned to push at this stage so did and I passed quite a few people. The final buoy was a right turn and in to the finish.

I glanced at my watch as I got out and was a little disappointed to have gone over 35 minutes but the distance also read long. Whilst contemplating this my left calf subtly mentioned that it had a small issue with cramp. The veins in my neck in the photo below give some idea as to my thoughts on this. After refusing medical assistance(!?) I stretched it out and went on my way for the rather lengthy trip to T1. It later turned out, I was 67th out of the water, so not too bad.

Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire 2016 Swim Exit
CRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMPPPPPP!

The Bike – 2:35:14

The journey from swim exit to bike mount was a little over 400m and thus my T1 time was a little tardy at 5:50. I was very impressed with the volunteers in the tent though, helpful without being in the way. I got my socks, shoes and helmet on fairly quickly, dumped my bag and ran to my bike. I spotted Hayley yelling at me at the bike mount, I think it was encouragement too!

The first part of the bike course was pretty horrid. In the race briefing they had told us that there was no overtaking and no aero bars due to a poor surface and speed bumps! As you can see below, they weren’t wrong!

Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire 2016 Start of the bike
Just the thing the Triathlon bike was invented for; bunny hopping speed bumps!
I had driven the bike course the previous week so knew that the first 10 miles were fairly technical; narrow lanes, loose gravel and some short, sharp hills. I set off at what I thought was a fairly steady pace and kept an eye on cadence and heart rate, noting that I needed to bring the latter down to the mid 160’s as per my plan.

About half way my lack of experience came back to bite me. Despite thinking I had gone off steady I seemingly hadn’t. (I would later learn I set a new 40k Bike PB of 1:09 – whoops!) My legs started to feel very tired on the hills so whilst my heart rate was good, I felt like I had little to give. I was drinking and taking gels to my pre-prescribed plan but felt a bit flat. I was having some good to and fro moments with a few folks too, until the faster cyclists from the next wave went past like I was on a BMX!

To keep the excitement high it was about this time that the ‘light shower’ that someone had mentioned hit. It seemed a little more like a monsoon though and I found myself struggling to see out of my visor, it also hurt when it hit me! There not being a lot I could do, I soldiered on, wondering at times why on earth I was doing this and remembering the opening lines of the post as I did.

I knew in advance that there was an evil hill at Cannock Chase, not too steep but a long steady drag of around 10km. The support from locals at this point was fantastic though and it gave me a good dose of encouragement though sadly not speed. My legs hadn’t come back to me and I pushed as best I could but was passed by a handful of riders.

Thankfully at the turnaround something clicked back in to place and I was able to push on the last 6 or so miles to Shugborough. One thing I wasn’t too pleased with was the number of 90 degree bends placed at the bottom of steep descents, this was exacerbated by the weather but still…

The ride into T2 was great as well, most of the supporters had gathered here, not bothering to venture out on the bike course. The volume of support as we arrived was fantastic. Thankfully I had no issues with cramp as I jumped off the bike. I think the fairly long run in from the dismount line may have helped as well as coach telling me to up the cadence on the last part of the bike. T2 was also a bit more respectable at 2:45, again fantastic support from volunteers but still a long run through it!

This was the first time i’ve really ridden my Tri bike in anger too and I have to say, I loved it. I think I might be after a new saddle though – ouch! I was due to go back for another bike fit leading up to the race but due to events that occurred I never made it. I think I have work to do to get more aero!

Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire 2016 Out on the bike
Out and about on the bike – thankfully dry at this point!

Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire 2016 Front on on the bike
Suffering on the bike!

The Run – 1:48:54

As I may have mentioned already, due to injuries I haven’t run very far this year. In fact I haven’t run more than 6 miles! So it was with some trepidation I left T2 with a Half Marathon looming… I had run the course the previous week so knew what to expect. The mix of terrain was loose gravel, tarmac and trail and the rain had done us no favours! The gravel ended up with large puddles and the trails were more like a cross country course. The support however was fantastic, everywhere you went there were people cheering you on.

There was one large hill on the course, thankfully on tarmac, but with 3 laps of the course not something to look forward to. I set off at a reasonable speed but trying to be steady. I had planned to do 8 minute miles (thus a 1:45 race) but as time went on, I slowed a little. The weather continued to be horrid but I stuck to my plan and waded through.

Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire 2016 A wet first lap of the run
A wet first lap of the run!

Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire 2016 Still wet, but on to Lap 2
Still wet, but on to Lap 2!
I finally saw Hayley again as I started my final lap (just to my right in the pictures above) and I found this very emotional as she hadn’t managed to get to see me on the bike. Having had another chat to myself and my mum it gave me a boost to finish as strongly as I could. So the last lap was about giving the last my legs could.

I was passed in the last mile and knew that I didn’t have a sprint finish in me so opted to finish with the chute to myself. It was at this point that emotion hit me. I knew I would cry at the finish but the sheer relief of finishing and what I had used to channel myself there hit me pretty hard. No glory photos for me, arms aloft…

I must apologise to coach too, my run form was horrendous!

Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire Run to the Finish
Note the excellent form in the run to the finish!

Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire Finish Line
An emotional finish to Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire
Hayley was there to greet me, I’m not sure she quite expected the emotional mess that I was but seeing her fuelled the fire a bit more. Thanks for being there as always….

Overall Finish Time – 5:28:19

Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire Run 2016 Support Crew Hug
A much needed hug at the finish!

In Summary

At the finish I was disappointed. I had always wanted to go Sub 5 hours. In the build up I knew this wasn’t going to happen but I couldn’t help feeling as I did.

It didn’t take long to realise that I was happy with my result. It was never going to be the best day  but I had thoroughly enjoyed myself, somehow! Despite entering T2 and offering my bike to anyone who had £50 it didn’t take long to casually check what other Ironman 70.3 events were upcoming… I urge anyone who thinks they might like to, to enter one.

It’s wonderfully horrific!

Some stats from the day (official link):

343rd out of 2287
316th Male
53rd in Age Group

I have now amassed 2503 ‘2017 IRONMAN All World Athlete Status Points’ too – whatever they are!

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