The krazy life of triathlon

Archive for July, 2009

The final few days!

Hello all,

Well after 300 hours of training, 30 weeks, 270 training sessions, over 3000k on the bike, 130k of swimming, 720k of running, 160,000 extra calories and one broken collar bone, the day has finally come. In all honesty I am absolutely bricking it (a nice tri pun for you there!) and the fear is at stupid levels. But I am seriously looking forward to it. Despite what many doctors told me 8 weeks ago, I am waiting to start with a fully healed collar bone and in some sort of shape, though carrying a few extra kilos than I was hoping. It has been an incredible journey with so many ups and downs.

Firstly, thank you so much to everyone who has donated some money. (And joe, say bloody hell, thanks to your dad from me!) It is going to a fantastic cause as all the northeners among you will know, and is a really good motivator when the chips are down. And I am going to need all the motivation I can come the final lap of the bike and 2nd half of the marathon. At the time of writing, I have raised £776, with only £224 til I reach my total of £1000, so if you havent already sponsored me, get yourself down to and click Donate Now!

I am heading down to the ‘Iron Village’ as it is called this evening to register, find my way around etc, then tomorrow it is an early morning swim, check I have everything, check out the last of the bike course, get myself even more nervous and meet up with the seemlingly hundreds of people I know who will be down there. Saturday is another early morning swim, quick check of the bike and short run to blow the cobwebs in the legs away, pre-race massage, a few naps, check my bike and transistion bags in then race briefing followed by pasta party!

Race day starts at 3 for me, as I get up and try and pile 1000 calories into me before 4 so I can digest it. I then check my post-race bag and emergency bag in, pump my tyres up, put my wetsuit and then just the small matter 140.6 miles to complete….

For those coming to watch, I don’t there are any starters among you, but if there are, the race kicks off in Rivington Reservoir at 6. You will need to be parked at the event site before then if you want a parking spot for the swim or the bike near the start, as the roads are shut from 6 til 1 (postcode is pr6 9hg). They then reopen the car park at 1 if you are coming to watch the latter parts, otherwise find a car park in the town centre or close to the bike route (details on The swim is 2 laps of the reservoir, then 3 laps of the bike course and then the run includes a couple of laps followed by the finish going into Bolton town centre, finishing outside the town hall. Good places to watch are (so I’m told) for the bike is Sheep House Lane, a horrible climb for us at the start of the bike lap about 10-15 min walk from the swim start, so I’ll be going slow enough to be spotted, or for the run, the Crown Pub, which is as about 20 mins walk from the swim start. For those arriving later in the day, the town centre will be the place to be to watch the finish, which finishes outside the town hall, just follow the noise and the quizzical looks of all the locals. Apparently Queens Park gardens will be very popular for parking on race day.

In terms of time, race starts at 6 and I should be out of the water at around 7.15, maybe a bit before, bit after, depending on how beaten up I get in the aqua ruck at the start. The bike course will take me around 6 and a half/7 hours, so I will be going round a lap every 2/2 and a half hours. So 9.15-10.00, and 11.15-12.15 there or there abouts, finishing around 1 – half 2 depending on how my body holds out. The run is then anyones guess, I should have been around the 4 hour mark, but a fractured collar bone saw to that, so it could be 4 hours, or it could be 8. So I could finish as early as 6, but as late as 11. Whichever it is, keep an eye out!

For those not coming to watch, if you are bored at all on Sunday you can go to and there will be a race tracker online, where you can see how I’m doing. This is updated live as I pass over various timing parts with my timing chip strapped onto me. I’m guessing there will be swim start, exit, bike start, start of every lap (possiby), end of bike, start of run and end of run. I am bib number #236.

That goes to all of those watching too, look out for # 236 and give us a shout! I’ll need it!

In terms of afterwards, I have no idea, as long as I finish I don’t really care what happens! Most likely I’ll need to be carried to the medical tent and have some fluids and my massage and then I will probably stay and watch the finish line for a while. For anyone who has never seen a finish before, go to youtube and search for team hoyt, a seriously moving story, or ‘ironman I can’ and have a look around if youre bored, some truly incredible stories on there. More than likely, I’ll pass out in my car til Monday, but if youre going to be around in the evening, reply to this and we shall sort something out.

So all that remains to be said is thank you to all the support, especially fellow tris and friends for the support after my crash. I went through some bad times after that, but still managed to prove the doctors wrong! Some off you, I’ll see you at the start line, others at the finish, the rest probably on facebook! And a final plug:


PS I have bragging rights for at least a couple of weeks after, but after that, if I’m still going on about it constantly, tell me to shut it!

Week 28 – The last of the big training

And that’s it. All my major training has now come to and end. 7 months of my life dedicated to this, and it is nearly over! Due to galas and work, my swimming hasn’t been all that good this week, but as my cycling and running come to a close, and I FINALLY have a house, I can now concentrate on that this week. I’m sure I can do the distance, especially with the wetsuit on, I just need to build up the distances I do to make it more comfortable, and as it requires less taper time, that shouldn’t be a problem.

My running was OK this week, a couple of midweek runs, followed by a half marathon on friday, in which I felt great! As soon as I settled back into my rthym, it was good. I ran it in around 1 hour 50, so am looking at 4/4 and a half hours on the day, not bad considering!

My cycling, well… I did a nice 60k at the start of the week, and finally started to get some sort of feel back for the bike on the ride. I then only had a short ride on saturday to loosen my legs up and then it was Sunday, and time to see if I could fo 180k. And boy was it hard! But I managed it!
Starting fairly tired, with my legs still recovering from my half marathon, and setting off in the pouring rain, it wasn’t the best start. But the first 80k were good, less the flat I got about 35k in. It would be this ride that I got my first very flat on this bike, and in nearly 4000k! I did have a bit of a panic when I saw the flat, seeing it had ripped through the entire kevlar strip on the tire, but thankfully Specialized had the forsight to put a tyre patch in the mini pump on my bike! Thank God. So anyhoo, I was climbing well and then my lack of fitness started to show. Thinking I had another 100k left and struggling to lug myself up some of the hills I had flung myself down at 70kph was tough to say the least! I did a 120k loop into the Welsh mountains, then went home to stock back up on food and bottles. Unfortunately I had run out of GO and SiS gels, which are the 2 things I find easiest to stomach. After 10k or so, things started to get tough, but my legs still felt OK, and I could still climb, albeit slowly. I then had problems with my front derailleur (again after the race last week!), and somehow it had managed to tighten the cable when it jumped whilst shifting so was now rubbing. Tool kit out, and a quick adjustment and it seemed fine, though it looks like I have cracked one of the plates that holds the two sides of the cage together, so that may need replacing. Hopefully, when I strip down the bike and replace all the cables etc, it should be OK.
At around the 140k mark, I started to have serious problems, I wasn’t eating properly, so my energy dropped and my mood plumeted. To add to my misery, the wind picked up to ridiculous levels, and I was going directly into it and removed any remaining strength and energy I had left. I was swearing and shouting at it, trying to move, but I just wouldnt go anywhere, and my stomach soon stopped accepting food, fed up of all the sugar it had been forced to consume over the last 5/6 hours. It was only pure stubborness that got me too my turnaround point at 150k, something that I am going to need a lot of on the big day!
Naturally the wind got bored when I turned around, so it was a 30k slog home, but it was going home, and so was easier.
I arrived home exhausted, but happy. The physcial, but most significantly, the mental benefits of doing that far outweigh the pain that I endured. And to top it all off, I even managed to run afterwards. Well, I say run, it was more of a shuffle, but I could move and felt much better towards the end, even though it was only a couple of k. But I am still waiting for my groin and stomach to forgive me!

At around the 140k mark, the thoughts of doing another 40k on the bike, and then running a marathon sent shivers down my spine, and I was having major doubts. Now I KNOW I can do it. It is going to hurt like hell, but whatever tiny slither of doubt I had about completely it is now gone.
I now have 2 weeks of tapering, reducing the duration of everything and upping the intensity to make sure I am as fresh as possible. At the weekend I will go to the course and do a lap of the bike course to familiarise myself with the course, and then the next time I ride the course will be on race day!!

Bring it on!


Week 27 – LLandudno Triathlon

Well after deciding last week that I could swim 1500m in the pool and entering llandudno triathlon a week ago, today was the big day. The week had been ok for training, I managed a few good rides on my bike, a couple of short runs and found a pool near me, which will do (providing I go during lane-only times). I wish I had done another swim to prepare myself, but thats life. I also went out with the office, discovering some of the roads round my new home, and there are some great roads! Not quite up to shropshire/wales standard, but hey ho!

So, after having the bike shop bend my hanger back into place yesterday afternoon when the new one failed to turn up in the post, I went out to blow away the cobwebs and put a short run after. In hindsight, I may have overdone it on the bike, getting a bit carried away with my zipps… they are fast!
So I arrived at Llandudno this morning, completely unprepared. I knew it would be a bit hilly, but driving up all I could see was rising land! Just the way I like it! I had no idea where the run was, where transition was, or where the swim was. I found a car park, full of bike, which is always a good thing about tris, easy to spot! Following the crowd, I found the main area and got my transition area set up, then had about an hour to burn waiting for the race brief. I checked over my transition once more, then decided to put my wetsuit on early as it takes me ages to get into that thing! Good job too, as I put it on backwards the first time! After entering the water, I found a space at the edge close to the back, trying to stay in the same position as much as possible, without the sea moving me to where it thought I should be! Then all of a sudden, the horn sounded at we were off. My first OD triathlon!
The swim was everything I expected, 200m of arms and legs all over the place, while everybody found their position. Finally I found some space, and then waited for it to calm down, only it didn’t. The sea was ridiculous! For the first kilometer, I was being thrown all over the place, had my goggles knocked off three times, taking air strokes as I was lifted so high out of the water, swallowed too much of the sea, and felt sick from being so dizzy. I was trying to sight, but all I could see was another big wave in front of me. It was impossible to find any rythym, and I had to breast stroke parts to point myself in the right direction. I was having serious doubts about my ability to swim 3.8k in a few weeks. But after a while it soon calmed down, and I actually began to enjoy it! I felt good, settling in to some long distance work, and my shoulder felt great.
T1 was a quick one, whipped my wetsuit off, helmet on and I was gone. Though apparently my bike had changed gear when it was being thrown around in the wind on the rack (deep section rims), and I started off in 53-12! The bike course was about 7k up, 2.5k down, 4 laps and the roads left a lot to be desired. Massive potholes on the steep descent, loose road, uncovered cattle grids, all for me to battle with. But I soon settled in, and my climbing was good. In the second lap I started to notice a grinding sound coming from my gears and saw that my front derailleur was bent. I wasnt sure if this happened in transition on hitting a hole on the descent, but it meant I was wasting energy grinding it down, instead up going up! The flat sections were good, and with a bit of wind behind me and my wheels, I was chugging along comfortably at 50 kmph! I was a bit too friendly with the brakes on the descents, and could have taken a huge chunk of time off, but I still don’t have all my confidence back that I used to, from my crash! But better to take 5 extra minutes now than crash and not doing Ironman!
T2 was quick again, though I probably overcooked it on the bike as my legs were dead! But each lap, I felt better and better, and spent the middle 5k with another guy, pushing off his pace. It was around halfway through the run, that I realised if I ran well, I could break 2 hr 45, which for the course, the sea and my collar bone I would be seriously chuffed with! So I pushed the pace up and up, feeling good, but not something I would want to hold for the marathon! But I had 2 hr 42 in the final straight, my visor even flew off and I left it, and clocked 2 hours 43! All in all, I am very pleased! I was 4th in my age group, and 55th overall. Not as good as my last tri, but all things considering! Will be an interesting chat with the doctor on thurs, when he has a look to see if I can go back out on my bike! Haha!
This week is my final heavy week, with 180k ride at the weekend, then I taper down for IronMan!!! Cannot wait!!!

Weeks 25 and 26 – Mental and Physical Recovery

Well after the last week (24) things really started to look up the week after. I regained all my movement back in my shoulder, it was almost pain free, I was getting back into training. I managed a 45 min run with no pain and then topped the week off with a 3 hour turbo in which I was feeling great. And then it all went downhill.

At the start of this week, I started work for BAE Systems, but don’t have a house yet (hence the no week 25 blog), due to injury, exams, estate agents, laziness and much more. This meant staying with family, which was great to have, but when you’re not cooking your own meals, it restricts the time you have. I was working 9/10 hours a day, was exhausted and ended up not training for the first half of the week, again. This really started to annoy me but I was ok. Then on thursday, I had had enough and went for a run, and it was good, I was feeling good and looking forward to getting back to some serious training on Friday. However on Friday, after a heatwave all week it pisses it down! What the hell! Was looking forward to topping up my tan! But it was a sign of things to come. I picked my new helmet up (which was blue as they didn’t have red, and I didn’t leave a phone number, what a tit! That is going to cost me at least 10 minutes on the bike section (a tri joke)), and proceeded to switch out my zipps for my training wheels and then realised that my rear derailleur hanger was still bent. This is the same hanger that apparently The Bike Factory in Chester, not naming any names, had supposedly replaced. I was not happy, in fact I was incensed. I fiddled about with the limits and then went out for an hour and it was not good. My chain was jumping everywhere, I couldn’t put any power down and I felt so unfit. Afterwards I went for a swim, but the pool was closed and that just tipped me over the edge. I completely lost it, mainly due to nerves and fear. I am hugely out of shape, and have 4 weeks until my Ironman, I cannot blag this. Mentally I have been all over the place, whilst pleased to be back on my bike and back swimming (the day after, see later) I am pissed off because I am out of shape, have lost so much fitness, and overweight (relatively speaking). But then I am happy when my training goes well.
On saturday, I went for my first swim since the crash and did a 30 min 1500m tt, much slower than how I was but I had no pain. But to show how messed up mentally I was, I was annoyed because it was slow. But then I went for a run, took a minute of my time from the day before and was happy. When you get to the stage where your mood depends on how your training goes then you are in a really bad place, especially as I nearly killed myself 5 weeks ago. To have had the crash I did, and to be back swimming long distances, be back on my bike, running fine is incredible. My healing has been stupidly quick, double what it should have been and I am not grateful, but I am getting there. I need to wrench myself out of this, and concentrate on the final result. Apologies if all of the above makes no sense, but it has been a tough few weeks, coming to terms with what has happened and my head is a bit messed up now.
Anyway, I have 4 weeks left and a lot of catching up to do. I am entered to do llandudno OD tri next weekend as a bit of practise as I haven’t actually done anything more than a sprint tri, going against everything you are supposed to do, though I am never one for convention, look and my shoulder. In terms of my injury, I am 99% healed now, the bone hasn’t finished knitting together completely yet, so am I taking it slow on the downhills, and laying off putting my rain cape on and off whilst riding til after my Ironman. For swimming I can build all the way up until half a week before then taper. For cycling, I am hoping to do a 180k ride in a couple of weeks, 2 weeks before D-Day and then taper down, and running I want to do a long run (2-3 horus) a couple of days after llandudno to give me a 2 and a half week taper. Then it is time to race. I am ready mentally, to hit this with everything I have, and the next 4 weeks are going to be eating like a monk and training like a pro. Physically I won’t be ready, and it is going to be tough, but it wouldn’t be an Ironman otherwise! I am going to finish, not to worry about time, and I will do that.
Bring it on