Ironman 70.3 Weymouth 2018

Well, where to start…. I came back to Weymouth for two reasons. Firstly I didn’t have a great swim last year and wanted to conquer that. Secondly, after a poor performance at Staffs I wanted to get a decent race under my belt.

Despite the poor start to the season, the mid part had actually gone well, aside from another niggle that I was carrying in to this event. I had been swimming very well and my cycling was improving greatly too. I’d completed a 110 mile hilly ride at the Mad Summer Sportive a few weeks before and despite sustaining a knee injury early on, had performed well. Side note here, it’s a great event, really well organised, very challenging ride but you set the limit by deciding how many steep hills you do! Highly recommended!!

I wasn’t hopeful of qualifying for the World Championship as I was a 39 year old in a 35-39 age group… but practice is good!

Typical of my luck, we’ve had an amazing summer, but somehow, of all the weekends a couple of tropical storms decided to converge and head over this way. Great. The weather was warm and sunny up to the Friday and then again from the Monday. The weekend however was a 100% chance of rain throughout and a drop from around 15 degrees to 7 or below for the times during the race. Ironman had even sent an email a few days before advising people to think carefully about their choice of wheels and clothing!

Ironman Weymouth 70.3 Friday Night Sea
Ironman Weymouth 70.3 Friday Night Sea


Ironman Weymouth 70.3 Saturday Night Sea
Ironman Weymouth 70.3 Saturday Night Sea

As you can see from the above. Things definitely changed!!

Despite the incoming weather, registration and bike rack went well on the Saturday. It was a bit wet and there was a huge queue for the bikes towards the end of the day, like 500m long huge… Given the warning from Ironman I decided to pack a gilet in my bike bag just in case. Oh how I wish I had opted for some gloves, maybe arm warmers and armour…

After all of that we had an early dinner at the wonderful Dorset Burger Company – carb loading with style! Then back to the hotel for an early night. I was a bit puzzled as to how I was getting to the race the next morning as Hayley wasn’t keen on the 4am start. The race briefing spoke of the park and ride which was very close to our hotel but online information suggested otherwise. So I was planning on walking the 2 miles.

Race Day

I got up bright and early at 4:30am. Shoved some porridge down my throat and sorted all of my nutrition. After much trialling I’ve pretty much settled on OTE as my nutrition of choice. It seems to agree with me, tastes good and isn’t completely chock full of rubbish like some of the others. I’d been using my early season races to fine tune my nutrition and following some advice from Alistair Brownlee (probably knows a thing or two) was taking more than usual for this race.

Ironman 70.3 Weymouth - OTE Nutrition Strategy
Ironman 70.3 Weymouth – OTE Nutrition Strategy

As I was setting off for my walk I was fortunate enough to bump into a family who were taking their son down, they very kindly offered me and another athlete a lift to the start. Whilst this was much appreciated, it did mean I was rather early, arriving in transition at 5:15am with very little to do, other than put my nutrition on my bike and get changed!

Right on cue, the weather came in… as the clothes I was wearing were the ones I was going to be putting back on at the end, I elected to get changed into my wetsuit (it being somewhat waterproof and fairly warm!). I was fortunate enough to find a toilet that I don’t thing was intended for athletes so was able to shelter for a while in the dry.

Then came an announcement… due to the weather and water conditions, not just now but what was being forecast, Ironman had taken the decision to shorten the swim to 950m and to delay the swim start until 7:30am for us age groupers. Joy. I stayed where I was as long as possible and then went and, ironically, joined a queue to go to the toilet… then I took my place in the swim queue and relished in what was to come.

The Swim – 22:28

Large waves and big swells were the order of the day! Watching the pro men set off it looked pedestrian. Either the swim was not 950m or everyone was really struggling… the fastest of the pro men were around the 15 minute mark, which is pedestrian by their standards.

We all slowly inched our way forward and when it was my turn to go, the reality of what was ahead made last year look lovely and calm. Oh good! Once I was in, it was every bit as bad as it looked. The waves weren’t as choppy as last year but they were a lot bigger, once you swam over one there was a huge swell behind it and a strong current pushing you back towards shore. Sighting was a problem and swimming straight (something I’m normally good at) was nigh on impossible. I was all over the place. I was looking forward to the first buoy as I hoped it would mean it would be easier. Nope. Still horrid, now I was battling to make the next buoy as I was being pummelled from the side and pushed toward shore. It only got easier when I turned the next one as at least the current was now taking me where I wanted to go! I certainly wasn’t surprised with my time, but it did make me think it can’t have been 950m… I was not far off the times I had been doing for 1500m earlier this year!

Transition was a tad on the slow side as I elected to put on my calf guards (I’ve stopped swimming in them as I get cramp during and after). I was thankful for the gilet but as alluded to above I wish i’d packed more… it wasn’t a quick time, but in this weather there was more sense in being careful.


Out onto the bike, it immediately became clear that the weather was with us for the long haul. It was heavy, persistent, horizontal rain. And it was cold. The first few miles are along the sea front and then heading north, towards a nice little leg warming hill early on. Heading along the front I saw 3 people heading back, I’m not sure if they were going back for more gear, or abandoning. I could understand either!

I was making good progress, I wasn’t all out as it was so cold, visibility was poor and I was being cautious. The first climb is a good one, it warms your legs up; it’s not too steep, not too long but it’s tough. However, today, it was wet, grim and crowded. I’m rarely the quickest up hills on my TT bike as coach wants me to stay in a certain heart rate/power zone. This time i was passing people who were clearly struggling in the conditions. As is law, what goes up must come down, and the first descent was a delicate affair – this was my first foray into wet braking with carbon brakes and after the initial ‘nothingness’ I was pleased how well they bit. Again though, I was all about getting through the descents, not necessarily breaking any records!

Whilst I could go on in great detail about the weather and the rest of the bike. In summary, it was cold, bitterly cold. 7 degrees celsius with 40+mph winds is not fun, absolutely the worst conditions I’ve ever been in on a bike. I had removed the visor from my helmet as I simply couldn’t see. I had resorted to banging the tip of my aerobars to change gear with the eTap Clics as it was taking several attempts to use the thumb shifters on the bull bars. My core was warm thanks to the gilet and I was glad I packed it, but I wish I’d taken more as I was shivering on the bike. I was averaging a decent speed, slightly slower than last year but the first 2/3 of the course are a steady uphill. I was pleased that I was passing people and things were going well.

I was over half way, feeling great in my legs, strong even. My nutrition had been going well. I approached an innocent 90 degree left hand, and was just passing another athlete. As we went through the corner I was on her right hand side accelerating, I was on the bull bars as I had braked through the corner. I went to shift down on the bull bar as there was a small climb and somehow my hand slipped off the bar. What happened next is unclear. I tried to regain control but obviously slowed. Whether I was clipped from behind or just lost control I still do not know. Either way, I was heading for a kerb stone, doing 20+ mph and not in control. I hit the ground hard, i’ve no recollection of what hit first, or how.

Thankfully I didn’t hit my head or lose consciousness but it was pretty clear, very quickly, that my race was over. My knee was in a bad way and I could feel pain elsewhere. A few riders went passed and asked if I was ok; thank you for the good spirited nature all of you. A spectator came over to ask if I wanted to go and sit in his van to keep warm, then turned around fairly promptly and got a police woman to come and see me – thanks to you, whoever you were! I later learned that the police woman who arrived was a motorcyclist, called Lyn, I managed to get in touch with her later via Facebook after asking Ironman to try and find out who she was. To her, I will be eternally grateful. To say she went above and beyond is an understatement; she assessed me quickly and arranged an ambulance. She found blankets to wrap around me to keep me warm (I was convulsing with the cold/pain at this point – pretty sure hyperthermia was on its way!) She got me hot, sweet drinks and somehow even stumbled across a doctor who was spectating just around the corner! The real winner for me though was when she lay down on the floor next to me and cuddled me in my blanket cocoon to try and keep me warm whilst we waited for the ambulance. Thank you Lyn!

An ambulance eventually arrived, it turns out it wasn’t the one intended for me but was off to collect someone else, they decided I was probably more in need though! After they rerouted the cyclists around the ambulance I was lifted on to a stretcher and strapped in for the bumpy ride back! It turned out that we were about an hours drive from the medical tent, which was back at transition. We had 2 more passengers to collect too, one turned out to be Pro athlete Claire Hann who had come off on a bend further up the road, she had been cared for by a lady who had invited her in and wrapped her in duvets! Clearly I wasn’t the only one struggling with the cold. It was an interesting chat understanding the joys of being a Pro athlete, the vast swathes of prize money (or rather lack of them!)

During my trip in the ambulance I had 3 main worries; Is my bike ok, am I ok, Is my wife going to kill me. The last one worried me the most. I had given her details to both Lyn and the ambulance but wasn’t sure if she knew yet. I assumed that I’d have disappeared from the tracker but that didn’t explain what had happened, I knew she’d be waiting for me at T2… in a strange twist of fate, when we arrived at the medical tent I recognised Emily, another athlete who Steve coaches, she was waiting for her partner who had also had an accident on the bike. Thanks to the power of social media, even though I’d never met her, I recognised her and was able to reel of my wife’s number (apparently the fact I knew this surprised a lot of people!?) and get her to contact her for me.

I was put on a stretcher and checked over by a few people. Given a few more hot sweet drinks and some strong painkillers. Went to the loo several times (hydration had clearly been on point!) Eventually Hayley arrived and that was when I could shed a little tear about what had happened. Thankfully she wasn’t too mad at me, mostly she had been concerned about me and had been grateful that Emily had got in touch – second big shout out of the post to Emily!!

Not the finish I had in mind....
Not the finish I had in mind….


Next began operation clean up. As you can make out from the above picture, my knee was a bit swollen. It was also a bit bruised, battered and bloody…



Not quite what we planned... swollen much??
Not quite what we planned… swollen much??

Now I’m no doctor (but an actual one confirmed) that it isn’t supposed to look like this…. they cleaned all of my hands, shins and ankles but whenever they tried to do the knee I was wincing in pain. A few more people came to check me over and they were concerned that I may have broken something so wanted an X-ray in order to rule it out. This took a bit of time to arrange due to road closures – jeez, who’d organise a massive triathlon when some of us needed to get to hospital!! Eventually I was bundled into my second ambulance of the day, Hayley trekked back to the hotel to get the car to come and meet me at the hospital.

Can I still hop over the line?
Can I still hop over the line?

I’m not sure if it’s because of how I arrived (apparently I was the first person from the race to go to hospital – does that count as a victory??) but I was seen immediately. Seriously, I was out within an hour having been assessed, X-rayed, confirmed I hadn’t broken anything (Hayley arrived as they were checking the X-ray and agreed my knee looked ok) and had my wound cleaned (wow, that hurt) and was on my way!


With all that said, in summary, not the race I had planned. At all. Hindsight is everything. I genuinely believe that a pair of gloves would have made all the difference, as no matter how I actually came off, I am certain it was down to a loss of feeling in my hands.

I’m writing this a few weeks later as it’s taken me some time to feel up to it. I’m still limping along, I’ve had another visit to A&E as I was concerned I may have had DVT. I’ve been to the doctors twice only to be told that there is still too much swelling for them to examine me any further, and lots of blood pooling too!

Pretty colours!
Pretty colours!

Currently I’m managing pain with strong painkillers and anti inflammatories and not thinking about racing at all – which to me makes me feel pretty sure that my body is definitely still in healing mode. I’m hopeful for an MRI soon so they can tell me what I’ve done and we can start a full recovery programme. Clearly it’s going to be some time before I’m training though… which isn’t good news as my muscles are wasting away!!


View this post on Instagram


Missing, one quadricep… last seen 23rd September #stilltryingtoworkoutwhativebroken

A post shared by Scott McKenzie (@srbmckenzie) on

Thanks again to all those that helped; Lyn, Emily and Hayley especially. And thanks to Ironman too, people moan about the costs of entering these races. Having now seen ‘behind the scenes’ a little… it’s worth every penny.

Here’s hoping for a better 2019…

Oh and one final note, this was the weather the next day….

The day after Ironman 70.3 Weymouth... lovely weather!
The day after Ironman 70.3 Weymouth… lovely weather! Probably should’ve taken some of that safety advice on board yesterday….

A season to forget

I feel like I’ve been neglecting my blog for a long time now. Truth be told, I went through a bad patch in the latter half of last year. My running continued to struggle due to injury. I caught campylobacter in the week leading up to RideLondon that I was doing to fundraise for the BHF in memory of mum. I had a shocker of a race at Weymouth, it went on…

I went into my winter training block with a new aim, to get fit and healthy so I could start the new year on the right foot. This went well, training times looked good, I felt strong, I smashed my 100 and 200m Swim PB’s on Christmas Eve… then the wheels fell off completely. During a ride on New Years Day I felt weak. The next day I felt a bit flu like. Thankfully it seemed to clear up pretty quickly so I only lost a few days training. Sadly, 3 weeks later it was back, with a vengeance. I ended up taking time of work, something I rarely do. I went through many stages of chest infection that culminated in my childhood asthma being declared back. In total I lost 11 weeks during which I did nothing, I couldn’t, walking briskly was an effort that had me wheezing.

With the help of inhalers, steroids and antibiotics, coupled with the enforced rest, I finally began training again in mid April. With Staffs less than 2 months away, it wasn’t looking great. I had already missed my regular season opener; the Halesowen Triathlon. I entered a couple of local races, the Worcester Double Sprint (an Olympic Distance with a 40 mile bike ride), on 13th May and the Upton Triathlon on 14th July. Considering my build up I was pleased with 11th overall (8th in AG) and 30th overall (4th in AG) respectively especially as I had entirely forgettable runs in both (but progressively swim PB’s too!)

Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire

Staffs was chosen due to the locality but it was more of a faff this year then 2 years ago. The split transition was even more split with a 2 mile walk from the recommended car park to registration! Sadly, the registration faff was the most memorable part, my promising performances in the shorter races proved that whilst I hadn’t lost my speed, my endurance had definitely suffered.

The swim was ok, but nothing more. The bike was going great until 35 miles where suddenly I felt weak, unfortunately this coincided with the arrival of all the hills in Cannock Chase. I started the run feeling ok and the first few miles were right on pace, then a combination of a recurring foot injury, heat, horrid twisty course and nutrition issues (I dropped my own and the on course stuff was grim!) meant a terrible result.

Thankfully I was able to dig deep within myself and a combination of thoughts of “if i can finish the half marathon in under 2 hours I should bet my previous time” and also that I saw a fellow coached athlete and was determined to not be beaten by him! Meant that despite it being an entirely forgettable race I did beat my time from 2 years prior by a few minutes.

The London Triathlon 2017

It started with a tweet from The AJ Bell Group announcing a chance to win entry in to the London Triathlon 2017.

As a few of you will know, I like competitions. I seem to do quite well in competitions. I had forgotten about this one though… so receiving a reply a week later to say that I had won, was quite a surprise!

I had been toying with the idea of another race between the Cotswold113 and Weymouth but nothing had leaped out as suitable or desirable. To be honest, this coming a week before RideLondon was probably why I’d dismissed it before anyway, but I’m not one to let a challenge go!

At the point of registration I had to choose the event; Sprint, Olympic or Olympic Plus (the bike leg was 80k otherwise the distances were standard Olympic). To confuse matters further there were different courses for the Olympic depending on whether you wanted to compete on Saturday or Sunday. The Saturday race seemed more like the ITU style, with lots of laps of a short course. The Sunday race was called the ‘Westminster’ and had you riding out along the river and turning around at Big Ben. After much procrastination, I opted for the Sunday Westminster route as I figured I may as well see a bit of London, also my tri bike is better suited to long straight roads and not lots of turns.

We were planning on travelling down on the morning of the race so I asked to be put into the latest start possible. This turned out to be the ‘Sub 2:30’ event. Having never done an Olympic distance I had no idea if this was viable. Man maths told me that I can complete more than twice the distance in less than twice the time, thus it was fine. Ultimately when we factored in traffic, registration etc we ended up staying over the night before so my procrastination was even more unnecessary!

Race Day

Race morning turned out to be a very straightforward affair. We had booked to stay in the Hotel Ibis as it was very close to the Excel, however we were upgraded to the Novotel as it was full. This was a full 30m closer to the Excel. Result. I had my usual breakfast and then we headed on over to registration.

On my way to The London Tri
On my way to The London Tri

Despite thinking we had loads of time, we quickly ran out of it, which left me dumping our very heavy bag on my poor wife! Transition was a very organized, if a little cramped, affair. Racks were allocated by wave on a first come first served basis. I was fortunate to end up with a spot about 3 from the end of the row, hopefully making it easier to spot. Along with the green bar tape! I set up my nutrition, although this was a bit of a mystery to me, it felt like I’d got nowhere near enough with 1 bottle and 2 gels on board!

After sorting my bike and transition area it was time to get into my wetsuit and then make my way to the pre race briefing area. Despite being a ‘Sub 2:30’ wave there were a number of people who raised their hands to the question of “Is this anyone’s first triathlon?”. Err… ok, confident, no!?

Thankfully I managed to spot my wife just as we were heading down, minus the heavy bag which she’d managed to take to the car. It was on my way to the water that I learned that we had some pretty steep, shiny concrete stairs that we would have to ascend on the way back to transistion, not ideal!

The Race

Swim – 0:25:20

As we got dock side everything suddenly became a bit of a rush and we were hurried in to the water. I had discussed a different approach to the swim with my coach as typically I’ve struggled to go off hard. Thus the plan was to do exactly that, try and find some feet and hopefully still finish strong having saved energy. Frustratingly all that went out the window as whilst I was making my way to the front of the swim, the gun went. This left me in the midst of the most violent swim start I’ve ever experienced. I was grabbed, kicked, punched, swum over – you name it.

Writing the plan off as not going to happen, I pulled into some space out to the left and stuck with it. The new plan was the usual plan; stay out of trouble and finish strong. Fortunately the swim was long enough for this to be viable and as I got on to the ‘back straight’ I pushed on hard. The taste of diesel from the water will stick with me to this day, whilst the water was reasonably clear, it was clearly not clean! The remainder of the swim was fairly uneventful, however I was frustrated when I exited the water and the time didn’t make me feel any better. Clearly the start, or rather stop/start had cost me badly.

Different to the norm was that you had to remove your wetsuit before going upstairs to transition. Fortunately willing volunteers were present to assist where they could.

I've gotta get out of this suit...
I’ve gotta get out of this suit…







Transition was a major concern for me as in my usual distance speed is less critical. It turned out to be quite a valid concern, taking minutes more than the fast guys. I’ve no idea how I took so long as it seemed fairly quick to me!?

Bike – 1:05:22

The route I had opted for took me to Big Ben and back, with another loop thrown in. The first part of the course however involved a rather treacherous exit down some ramps from the Excel. Once I was out on the road I settled in to a decent rhythm. Pacing was going to be a tough one, so we decided that Z4 was the order of the day. The course map implied it was flat, reality was far from it. Fortunately this was the first race since having eTap fitted. I now completely understand the benefit of electronic gears, being able to change from the bull bars whilst climbing or descending was a wonderful thing.

To be honest the bike leg was quite uneventful, although I did enjoy riding through the long tunnels – something my Garmin did not! I didn’t notice any of the sites, other than the familiarity from the London Marathon course. I did spend quite a lot of time cursing the lack of rides spent since my new bike fit though; my neck was a tad stiff! The turn around was a pleasant site, quite a lot of support was still out despite the late point in the day. I was only passed by 2 riders on the way. The journey back was more irritating as I was passed by a further 2 guys riding a lovely little draft. They clearly knew what they were up to as they backed apart as the motorbikes went by and also when they saw photographers. I don’t understand, why cheat??

As we got back near the Excel we had to ride by and do another loop back towards Canary Wharf before heading back again. About this time a guy caught me up and we had a great little back and forth (legal!) for the final loop before I finally dropped him with about 2 miles to go.

I was pleased with the ride as even though it wasn’t flat, I’d felt good. Obviously it was a new PB for 40k and I was ‘only’ 6 minutes off the fastest guy from my Age Group. Not bad for a Long Course athlete!

Thankfully T2 was quicker and I was off on my way fairly promptly, but again still way slower than the best!

Run – 0:43:54

I’m almost bored with writing this now, but the run was to be yet another managed affair. I had injured my right foot and was suffering from pain on the outside edge near my ankle. It didn’t seem too bad, so I set off with the intention of ‘running within myself’. The plan was to get round as fast as I could but with no expectation.

The run course was a very uninspiring 3 laps but also thankfully quite flat, with only a small ramp up and down before doing a circuit inside the arena.

I tried to run with minimal impact on my foot, so striking gently but actually felt very smooth and light on my feet throughout. Even, dare I say it, feeling like a runner again!

The London Tri - Run Course
The London Tri – Run Course
The London Tri - Run Course
The London Tri – Run Course
The London Tri - Run Course
Hmm.. heel strike! The London Tri – Run Course


Not my finest race, but an Olympic Distance PB. This was a given as it was my first… – Results

I’m not sure it’s a race I’d do again as the swim was pretty grim (I also managed to contract campylobacter within the next week which prevented me from doing RideLondon and this was the obvious candidate!) Still it was a decent event, fantastic for supporters with a decent Expo to keep folks entertained.


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

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – The Perfect Bike Cleaner?

Something slightly left of field for today’s post. A blog about triathlon and a review of a pressure washer is slightly odd I agree. However, I was recently at the London Triathlon Show and spotted the Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner at their stand.

I will admit I’m not the most dedicated when it comes to cleaning my bikes. Often due to the fact that if it needs cleaning it’s because it’s been raining and thus muddy. Consequently I’m muddy and want to get inside and get clean and warm. I have dutifully purchased the Muc Off Bike Cleaner Kit and can’t fault it. However it’s more effort than I was looking for.

Enter Kärcher with the OC3 Mobile Cleaner.  At a basic level it’s a lower pressure version of the renowned pressure washers from the brand. The biggest differences being that it’s battery powered and eminently portable. It weighs in at just over 2Kg (without water) and is completely self contained – the hose and water container are integral to the unit.

In the Box

The first test was an impromptu test of the strength of the shipping box. Being a cat, she loves a nice new box… she’s also a fairly hefty breed. The box handled it effortlessly!

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Box Strength Test
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Box Strength Test
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - The Box
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – The Box

Inside the box, is a fully assembled unit.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Inside the Box
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Inside the Box

The only additional items further to the packaging are a power supply and an instruction manual – being a man, i’ve no idea what’s in this!

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Box Contents
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Box Contents

Power & Charging

The power supply is a simple 3 Pin plug, with the transformer built in. It’s a moulded unit though, so each country will have it’s own specific adaptor I assume. What would be handy is a 12v charger for use in cars. Whilst it would remove some portability, it could come in handy in certain use case scenarios. Personally I didn’t find any issues with battery life, managing to clean the bike in the pictures you’ll see below with the power it arrived from the factory with! The unit is unique and not a figure eight lead as it may appear.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - The plug
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – The plug

The plug fits in behind this waterproof seal when charging is required.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Charge socket, behind waterproof seal
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Charge socket, behind waterproof seal

The green light indicates that the unit is charging. This could possibly be confusing as there is only one light. In one colour. However it’s unlikely you’d be confused with charging or using the cleaner.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Charging Indicator
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Charging Indicator


The unit has a capacity of 4 litres, with handy markers in case for some reason you need an exact quantity. It’s a decent capacity and a full 4 litres is perfect for giving an adult bike a quick hose down after a ride. It needed more for the challenge below.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Capacity Markings
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Capacity Markings

I’ve no idea why I figured keys were good for scale. But I couldn’t lay my hands on a ruler. Hopefully it’s a useful indicator for some!

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Front On, Keys for Scale
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Front On, Keys for Scale

The large rubber section on top is the seal to hold the water in. It’s a bit of a faff to fit, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not a major bother. It fits outside the plastic lip FYI…

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Above Keys for Scale
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Above Keys for Scale

Below is a short video demonstrating that whilst it may be fiddly, it’s definitely watertight. Hopefully it remains so over time.

The larger, top handle secures the water reservoir in place. I haven’t tested it yet, but I am confident that with this secured, you could fill the unit and travel happily with it in your car.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Front On, Ready to remove reservoir
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Front On, Ready to remove reservoir

It’s also very robust and I’m sure will stand the test of time. It locks down in place with this strong bracket.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Carry Handle Robustness
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Carry Handle Robustness
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Three Quarter Angle
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Three Quarter Angle

Self Contained Unit & Tools

As I said above, everything you need is contained within. The little yellow bit is the nozzle that fits in the end. Personally, I’d rather it was permanently attached as the pressure is non-existent without it. You don’t use it if you have any of the accessories, such as the brush, as they attach directly.

I’d quite like the bike accessory box as it’s a perfect fit for my needs.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Self Contained Tool Storage
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Self Contained Tool Storage
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Split in two
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Split in two

Below is a quick video showing the unit and the accessories contained within.

The Challenge

On the left we have the Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner. On the right my current system from Muc Off. I’d like to add that I have no issues with the Muc Off stuff, in fact it’s great. But, as I said above, it takes time and I’m fairly lazy when it comes to cleaning my bike! I still need the chain cleaner and lube etc too!

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner vs Muc Off Bike Cleaner
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner vs Muc Off Bike Cleaner

The extent of the challenge ahead, and my sheer laziness is visible below. In my defence I don’t usually let my bike get this dirty before cleaning it but I was waiting for the unit to arrive before cleaning it. Due to a short delay the bike got dirtier…. I also wanted to demonstrate the cleaning power as there had been some skeptics at the London Show.


Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - A Filthy Bike!
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – A Filthy Bike!
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - A Filthy Bike!
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – A Filthy Bike!
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - A Very Dirty Bike - The first challenge
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – A Very Dirty Bike – The first challenge


Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Dirty Bike Result
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Dirty Bike Result

And below a video demonstrating the power of the cleaner. This is with no detergent or pre-soaking of any sort. Just the cleaner, on the bike from the above pictures. I’m seriously impressed!

I’ve used the cleaner again since and it’s perfect for a quick rinse down after a ride. 4 litres is about perfect to clean it quickly and it takes minutes. I’d love the full bike accessory box as at times a detergent cleaner and brush would be helpful to remove all of the dirt.

To answer my question at the top. I think a qualified yes,  it is the perfect bike cleaner. Combine it with the bike accessory box and it genuinely is. Even as an out and about unit or for a quick rinse down though, it’s so much better than the manual method. I fill it up before I go out so I can rinse the bike down when i’m back. Used as a portable unit for say, Mountain Biking, i think it would be ideal. You could hose the mud off on site and then clean it more thoroughly when you got back.

I heartily recommend it though – go buy one!

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…

Being Coached – A Review

Coach Review

As you know, I have been a coached athlete since October last year. This has been an enlightening period for me and I felt it was time for a bit of a review. One of the biggest issues I faced when following a generic plan was that of exhaustion. I blindly followed the instructions and constantly found myself very tired. With no-one to talk to, it’s hard to understand why and what you should do about it.

Since having a coach, one of the biggest benefits has been having someone to discuss minutiae with. How a session went, what you should do if you’re just not feeling it etc. It’s been very refreshing! Secondly I’ve also found that whilst I am working very hard, the gains have been significant; across all aspects. I’m tired, as the sessions are hard, but with the structure of someone who knows what they’re doing, I rarely find myself beyond the brink. If I do, we talk and we adapt. Simples!

Swimming Improvements

I’ve always been a fairly strong swimmer, but it’s fair to say also a little lacking in technique. I’m fairly resigned to the fact that I will never have a decent kick, but hey it’s something to work on. I’ve seen huge progress in the past few months, with times (for all they matter in training) tumbling down. Shaving 10 seconds off a 400m PB AFTER a 1900m set was a highlight. Equally, almost a year apart to the day I did a 20 x 100m set and each 100m was 15 seconds quicker. Fingers crossed this form continues over to the outdoor stuff!

Running Improvements

The single biggest area of progress in my mind has been in my running. Since changing my shoes I have seen massive gains in my running performance. I still don’t know if it’s psychological or a genuine change from natural running, but it’s working. I am now comfortably running in excess of 10k in every training session, from easy runs through to tempo sessions. Most importantly I’m able to run faster and further with it.

Running Improvements
Running Improvements

Cycling Improvements

These are harder to measure. Most of my work over the winter has been, like many, on the turbo. I’ve done a few rides outdoors and initially didn’t feel like much had changed, probably due to the point in the training block. Recently i’ve done a couple of solo rides where things have just clicked. I was able to zip along at speeds that previously were only really done when in a large group on a fine day; rather than alone in a hurricane! Time will tell with this one, but things are looking good!

One thing I did try recently was some different nutrition products. I’ve been a Science in Sport user for some time and figured that the off season was a chance to experiment. I won some Ucan at a show last year but hadn’t got round to trying it. First impressions were that whilst it seemed good from an energy point of view, (although tricky to tell off one ride with so much else that has changed), the consistency isn’t great. It was reminiscent of certain gels, I felt like I needed some  water to wash it down. Not ideal from the hydration element of your fuelling strategy! So things aren’t looking good for our relationship!

Ucan - it's thick!
Ucan – it’s thick!




We’ve recently entered another level of training, so we’ll see how that goes. But fingers crossed, things are looking good for the season aims.


Hello Skechers

Goodbye Brooks

I’ve had a fairly long term relationship with Brooks. Since deciding to get back into running for my ill fated London Marathon attempt, Brooks were my go to shoe. That appears to be over. Welcome Skechers! More specifically, welcome the Go Run 4 – 2016.

Skechers Go Run 2016
Skechers Go Run 2016

I had looked at them a few times online, mainly due to the awesome colour options! But, i’d ruled them out on the grounds of having a very low, 4mm, drop.  Based on my previous bad experience with low drop shoes, Brooks Pure Flow and Pure Cadence, I had assumed that low drop was bad. I can’t pinpoint when I first started having calf problems but it was around the time I started using the Pure Flow. As a result, I moved to a more cushioned, 12mm drop shoe, the Ghost 8.

During all of this time, I continued to do what I always do, research, research, research. I tried all manor of brands (Saucony, New Balance, Mizuno, Asics to name but a few) and kept coming back to Brooks as the most comfortable. I also kept putting my ongoing calf problems down to other factors.

Calf Problems

My ongoing injury problems are well documented on here. For over 3 years I have suffered with problems in both calfs. I’ve seen physiotherapists, had regular sports massages, tried all manor of exercises and stretches even wearing calf guards semi permanently  but the problem remains.

Since I have started working with a coach I have spent a great deal more time on Strength and Conditioning. Particularly this workout I found on Youtube, she has loads of other great workouts too so I’m sure you’ll find something that works for you!

I am sure that part of my decision is psychological but I feel as though something needs to change, so…

Hello Skechers

Quite by accident, whilst on holiday in Somerset, I found a pair of Skechers reduced to clear in a sports shop. Whilst my wife was buying a few things I decided to try them on. First impressions were almost of disbelief. They are so light, but at the same time so comfortable! (220g vs 290g). I had often noticed a bit of a hard spot on my big toe with the Brooks but hadn’t really taken any notice of it. Clearly Skechers just suit my feet, more so than any other shoe i’ve worn. The cushioning is more inline with the Launch 2 (277g) that I used for races.

I didn’t buy them there and then as I was concerned about the low drop. I discussed it later with coach and we decided on a plan to introduce them steadily. So I went back and bought them the next day, a steal at £40!

It’s early days, but my initial thoughts haven’t changed. They really are crazy light. There is less cushioning than with the Ghosts, but that’s not too surprising. From asking an expert, it seems that the Forza is the shoe I may need to add to my repertoire.

Other things of note, in no particular order; I find them noisier when running though this has eased off since i’ve got more used to them. I love the little ‘Quick Fit’ loop at the back. Did I mention how light they are? The colour is awesome, though I may have to get the latest model too! The knitted front feels literally like a glove. Oh and they’re fast… I’ve only been running short runs at the moment but they feel very quick, they encourage a quick ground transition (Garmin agrees with me!) So things bode well for the future. I even forgot to take my calf guards with me one day and was fine – back to the psychology I guess, do I or don’t I need them!?

I guess in summary. Don’t be afraid to change things but do try every single shoe on, you’ll know when you’ve found the one that fits you. Fingers crossed this really is it this time and I can move on to racing!!!

Lost Mojo, Saved by a Coach!

Lost Mojo

Anyone who’d class themselves as a regular reader of this blog would notice that I’ve not posted in a while. To be frank, I’d lost my mojo. I’ve done two races this year that never got a race report (they went well, thanks for asking). I’ve got a gear review half written for my rather lovely ashmei gear (hopefully coming soon, meanwhile, here’s a picture!)

Awesome Ashmei Gear
Awesome Ashmei Gear

I can put this down to two things: the emotional surroundings to Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire and the consequential ending of my training plan.

I’m sure there’s a fancy word for it but I’ve concluded that I need structure. With nothing nagging me and no future plan I have found myself meandering aimlessly around training sessions. I’ve not really ridden my bike. I’ve done a few runs, but had calf issues again. The only discipline I’ve actually stuck to with any consistency is swimming, predominantly because it’s timetabled at the gym!

BRAT Swim Club
Monday Night BRAT Swim Club – with Steve’s Product Placement


I had a training plan that I purchased from Trainingpeaks and whilst it was a little generic it did at least crack me in to shape.  I was also using their Premium service to get further detail on my sessions. Despite things being against me, I was actually proud of the performance at Staffordshire, particularly as I was self motivated and self trained.

When it came to planning ahead for the next year I returned to Trainingpeaks. It was then that I took a step back and examined what I was trying to achieve. I had ideas of stepping up to Ironman but feel that I have ‘unfinished business’ with the 70.3 distance. Re-scheduling the plan I already have was another option, but with Ironman 70.3 Weymouth being the targeted ‘A Race’ for the year it would leave me lacking for a while as it’s a 26 week plan. I then considered other races that I may wish to do and looked at adding a Sprint and an Olympic distance training plan and stacking them up.

A Coach

After I reviewed my options, I kept coming back to the idea of something a little more customised. Having done a few shorter events last year, my plan was far from optimised. I also lacked the ability to chat things through, ask questions, review how sessions had been going. When I had reviewed the costs, admittedly the non-coached option was pretty much just one-off payments, there wasn’t too much in it. So the coach hunt began.

Talk about a minefield!

I’ve been looking into this for a while but found that coaches range from some sort of generic online thing for £20 a month, to well over £200 for current pro’s. My budget put me very much nearer the cheaper end. Each have their own peripheral benefits, the more you pay, the more you get – such as Premium Trainingpeaks thrown in.

The biggest difference though seemed to be around communication and frequency of session planning. Most coaches I found offered a multi tier system, the ‘Bronze’ package gets you a monthly plan, a couple of emails a week and a monthly 30 minute Skype chat (or similar). The ‘Gold’ package would get you weekly planning, as many phone calls as you wanted and power based training but was typically twice (or more!) the price of the cheapest package.

After a while, I realised this was silly, I need structure but I also like to understand what I’m doing, why i’m doing it etc. After a bad session, with my fixed plan, that was it, I just had to deal with it. I’d like to be able to chat that through with a coach, but my planned budget covered ‘an email a week with a response in 48 hours’ – do i want to use that to question why i felt like a drowning sea lion?? Easy answer, no.

As it turns out, I needn’t have looked too far. My swim coach also happens to be a BTF Level 3 coach. We chatted about a few things and over the course of a few weeks it became clear that the right choice was literally staring me in the face! We know each other, we get along (he may disagree), we have a laugh, he knows what’s wrong with my swimming (everything). Most importantly, there are no restrictions on communication and he lives locally!

So, here’s to a coached future, fingers crossed it works for me, but welcome on board Coach Keenie! Thanks for having me.

(not) just another triathlon site