The krazy life of triathlon

Archive for August, 2009

Coming into form?

Hello all,

Well it’s been a while since my last proper post. It is now 4 weeks since I did my Ironman and rather annoyingly I feel great! My knee has almost completely healed now. It is still a little weak at times, but as I continue with my exercises and increase the intensity of them, then it should get better. The good thing is I know the pain of it now, and know how to fix it all! The back of my knee where the tear was can be a little tight the day after a heavy session but you can’t really blame it, and if I stretched properly it probably would be fine!

So as the title of the post suggests, I appear to be peaking now. I am slowly easing myself back into full training, though still holding back as I am going to have some sort of life through September, which includes the odd drink or 10 for my 21st! My swimming has been going from strength to strength as I spend more time in the pool, and ignoring the long break I will have had over the last few days, I have been getting into swimming 3/4 times a week. I now feel much more comfortable in the pool, and am feeling as good as I did before my crash at points. My splits still have a bit of coming down to do, but I am back to about 1:42 average for 100m. Way down on what I was about 5 weeks ago, though still not quite close to the 1:30s I was swimming pre-crash.

Running is good as well too, I have done a few 1 hour runs and feel good on them. The HR is still a little high but it will settle down over the coming weeks as I get back into shape. In fact, the only sign that I did an IM a few weeks ago is my slightly dodgy knee and a little fatigue when I go back about 2 hours on the bike! On the bike my power seems to be up massively, and I am holding good pace, even in bad conditions. Which all leads me to suspect I am peaking a tad too late! I’ll put a post up at the end of Sept with a review of the year, and there will be lots in there about managing a big crash. However for now, I am just going to make the most of my current form, have a good race at Fleetwood, and use it as a springboard into a solid winter.

The Manchester 100 is going to be put on hold for this year I think, as I don’t see the point in paying 15 quid to do a 100k training ride essentially on my own, as I don’t think I know anyone doing it, so I shall just have a long ride on my own at home instead.

Still need to get round to sorting out my training plan for next year. The Training Bible appears to have fallen to the bottom of the reading list, though I am being more and more swayed by the Paleo Diet. Over the couple of weeks or so I have altered my diet dramatically and cut out all junk, and increased my fruit and salad and even thrown a few veg in! I can certainly tell I am a bit lethargic when I have had a big carbs binge, so I think it is certainly something worth looking at.

But right now, I am looking forward to a good final race, a nice 21st, a bit of a social life and then lots of improvement for the Winter.


Kona Krazy Goes Live! (sort of)

Hello all!

Its been a while but I’ll keep this short, will have a longer one over the next couple of days. Having finally decided on a name (which could quite possibly change, and which is a bit of a bold statement) I am slowly getting round to migrating round to my site. As part of his I have moved by blog to wordpress at as it offers more tools and pages etc etc. More will be updated over the coming weeks and I’ll add pages and training plans among others as I get round to them. It’s not quite my own site yet, but is a work in progress!


Knees – passive, reactive, proactive

Well it is the weekend, I can’t train, there’s nothing good on tv for a while so what better way to spend it than update my blog!

My knees seem to be a recurring theme, no matter what I do, and have plagued my training ever since I started training in a serious way 5 years ago as a rower! Genetically I’m screwed, it’s an old family problem, but despite this and all the signs I get from my body, I’m going to pummel it into submission until it accepts the fact that it is going to have to put up with this for a while!
Anyway, my knees… well rather unlike me, my recovery from this injury has been rather slow, even compared to my fracture! It has been nearly 2 weeks since IMUK, and it still has major problems. Though to be fair, it was swollen up massively, and in all the knee injuries I’ve had, I’ve never had swelling. It doesn’t bend very well due to the suspected torn tendon in the back of my knee, but this is slowly healing, mainly helped by a decent massage from Ambulant Physios in Preston. The massage therapist really knew her stuff, and forced my leg to bend, really loosening it up and has doubled my comfortable ROM. The other way, straightening it, is not going well. I still cannot fully straighten it, and despite all the swelling going down, it is showing no signs of improvement, and feels like there is something blocking it under the knee cap, which is starting to make me worry now, and I am really hoping it doesn’t need surgery. I’ve got an MRI on Monday to see if they can find out what is actually wrong with my knee, and will know the extent of the damage by then.
So instead of sitting on my arse, waiting for it t heal, I have decided to do something about it. Funnily enough, I have found I am not a 9-5 guy, and do not enjoy sitting behind a desk all day, as much fun as the work is. However, it is what pays for my triathlon adventures, so I don’t have a choice. I just wish I had an extended lunch break to get a good swim/ride/run in…and then a meal…and then a nap… So I am trying to help my recovery along, forced in part by the fitness testing I am supposed to be having next week at the University of Chester for a Sports Science study, the Manchester 100 which I want to do, and St Anne’s Triathlon (in Fleetwood!) which I have promoted around the office, and now everyone is expecting me to storm! More importantly, I am now desperate to get training again. So I will hopefully get on the turbo tomorrow to see how my knee holds up, and then back in the pool with a pool bouy on Sunday. I will also start my strengthening exercises on my knee to kickstart the recovery and try and avoid a repeat. When I was doing them and in full training I had no problems from my knee, even clocking up 20 hours weeks with 250k on the bike and 70k running! The reason for the problems was my crash, which meant I stopped doing my exercises and stopped training, so all the strength my knees had built up was lost, and my stamina faded and then I did an Ironman! Should have seen it coming really….
Anyway, as soon as I have my results from my scan I will know what to do to fix it. More than likely, it will include more physio and ultrasound, but I am hoping to be back training in a couple of weeks, ramping up for a good solid winter, assuming no surgery is required! Once I am back, I will continue to do my exercises to keep my knee strong, and assuming no more potholes I should have a good solid base of training come next year!
Given the chance to go back to my Ironman to the point where my knee went, I’d do it all over again though. I said from the start giving up was not an option, and I meant it! Hopefully next time I won’t have busted knees and broken collar bones to overcome!
Speaking of next time, I am entered into IM Switzerland 2010 for the 1st August! I got paid today and took the plunge. Wow the exchange rate is poor! Cost me an extra 70 quid than it would have done this time last year I reckon! As mentioned before I have the Manchester 100 and Fleetwood Tri lined up, depending on my knee and then it’s time to muscle down for the winter. Next year I have got IM Lazarote penciled in, assuming there are still places left when my Student Loan comes through and I can afford it (it’s for ‘educational’ purposes, honest!). This is probably the 2nd toughest IM there is, second only to Hawii, with a killer combination of wind, heat and hills and it will be a real test of how my winter went, and how I perform in the heat, which will be a good indicator of how I would perform in Hawii (which is on my long-term goals, before I leave my age group). I would also like to get an early marathon in, sometime around march, early april as a standalone. Other races I have in view are Weymouth Middle Distance (unfinished business), Oswestry Sprint (home town and a final bit of speed work before Switzerland) and preferably another middle at some point.
I am currently in the process of using up all the free time I have from not training putting together my training plan for next year, using Joe Friel’s Training Bible, which although taking a VERY long time, is very concise and will give me a very good training plan for next year. I just need to know my race calendar and knee implications! Once I have done this, I plan to get what every self-respecting athlete has… his/her own website! Seen as I am spending my life at work redoing the department website, I thought I would put my own together! This will include my usual blog, and also race diary, results, pictures, other info and I will try and get my training plans up, which as I will be doing it on my laptop, means lots of graphs to look at and compare!
Another thing that I am looking at implementing in the coming months is a new diet. Now I am not one for diets, fads, silly lose 20kg in a day eating cucumber smoothies all day type of diets. To me, it is simple science, Don’t eat junk, and more calories burnt than calories in and you WILL lose weight, just do some exercise and have the willpower not to reach for the biscuits. But there is diet called the Paleo Diet that has been gathering momentum for a few years now, and especially amongst athletes. It is based on the assumption that we have evolved over the last 250,000 years to be suited to what was around, and then all of a sudden we discover agriculture and started piling processed carbs into us. Basically it involves lot of fruit (yey!), vegetables (ah), salad (hmm), good lean meat and fish and that’s about it. You get all the carbs you need from the fruit and veg and other things like nuts that were readily available to cavemen and the results seem astounding. Obviously the rules have to be bent for athletes before, during, and after exercise to get the carbs in for the exercise. From what I can work out from it, you have the carbs to fuel your exercise, lots of protein to help muscle repair and then so much fruit and veg to have enough calories, you have ridiculous amounts of vitamins and minerals you feel great! This is going to present a problem, however, in that I don’t like vegetables, and have far too a great a liking for milk, yoghurts, cereal, pasta, biscuits, sweets and chocolate. However, I am prepared to stick it out for a month, and if it is a good as I have heard, well, looks like I am going to have to make the most of junk food during exercise!


Well now that I have had time to recover and reflect on my finish at IMUK, I thought I’d put some thoughts done about the race, my body and the future.

Firstly the race. I am so glad I finished it! I know if I had dropped out, I would never have forgiven myself and it would have constantly worn me down. Stubborness pays out at some point! It’s nice to be able to say I do Ironman triathlons, rather than I am training for one, though it still hasn’t really sunk in that I have finished, and to be honest I don’t think it ever will. The 2 reasons for this are first, I didn’t physiogically push myself to the limit because of me knee. I know I could have pushed harder on the run if I had been able to, and so I don’t feel like I gave it everything. But I finished so I can’t complain! The second reason is I don’t think I’ll have my PIB Post-Ironman Blues/Depression) pick up where I finally realise what I’ve done. This usually happens after an Ironman when the athelte has been training constantly for however many months and then all of a sudden they have this void. Once the elation has dropped off, you can get quite depressed. This is also partly physical as your hormones return to a new normal which can cause havoc to your mood. Once your hormones have stabilised and you have got used to the lack of training, you feel normal again and come to terms with what you have done. However, for the last 9 weeks I haven’t had any structure to my training, and have had a lot of time off due to my crash. I had my massive mood crash after this, and never got back into proper training due to my IM being too close, so I’ve already had mine, which also makes it feel like I haven’t done my race. But I will realise soon enough, and when I have my tattoo done, I’m sure that will help as a constant reminder! The race itself I was quite happy all things considering. The swim was quite a bit slower than I expected, but I have heard that it was substaitally longer than 3.8k so I managed more than that and still no problems with my shoulder, which makes me very happy! The cycling was going well til my knee went, so I can take a lot from that. I do need to practise my pacing though, as I would have blown up if my knee hadn’t have gone I suspect, so that is something to learn from it. I also need to improve my descending (*eek!*) and general endurance for holding a good pace. Finally some extra power to give me that speed boost would be nice too! To run a 5 hour marathon on a busted knee I was actually very surprised by, and was expecting more like 6 during that race. However, I really need to work on my running off the bike, and running properly than just shuffling. My endurance is good, but I need to do speed work to get a good marathon time.

Right well my body is not too bad! My legs are still quite tired, though starting to recover fairly well, and I feel fine in my upper body. I haven’t really slept enough due to making the most of being able to go to bed late, and then realising I have to get up for work, but that should improve. I am certainly making the most of no restrictions on my diet, so am eating anything and everything! I have weight to loose anyway, so what is an extra kilo or so…
My knee on the other hand is ruined! As a result I can’t stretch my right leg, so my calf feels like it has been actually halved in length, so I think baths and a massage are in need. The knee itself is slowly starting to heal up. I have never had a knee injury that has lasted this long, so it is a new experience. The swelling has now gone down, from having it nearly double to size to looking remotely normal, though there is still a lot of liquid in the knee, so it doesn’t bend or straighten very well, and I have a ROM of about 30 degrees. However, I can now sort of walk on it, with the help of my crutches, and it is very, very weak, and I still get the pain in the back of my knee that I had during my IM. So hopefully, the specialist will be able to tell me what is wrong with it on Monday. Though I am not too bothered, as I have a long time to recover and it is not getting in the way of any major races, so I am perfectly happy to let the body do it’s thing, rather then when I did my collar bone.

So the future. Well first I am hooked! Next year I want to do 2 IMs if I can, finances and logistics permitting, and then actually do some local halfs, especially Weymouth, which I hace some unfinished business with! I would also like to do a stand alone marathon and see how I do. Long term, I want to break 5 hours for the bike, though may need a tt bike for that, get close to an hour or break it from the swim and break 3.30 for the IM marathon run, and 3 hours for the very long term as a standalone.
In terms of the next 6 months or so, it all depends on my knee. If it is better in a week, then I’ll do a couple of sprints in September and the Manchester 100 bike ride, to have a bit of fun. Over winter I will then take a bit of a break for triathlon itself, and split the 3 sports up. I am hoping to join a swimming club up here, to get some proper lessons and this will drastically improve my swimming, although will be a killer at first. You never know, I might actually be able to do tumble turns consistenly by the end of the winter! Cycling over the winter will all be about logging the miles, and I’ll go out with the local cycling clubs to get some company and push myself a bit more, and hopefully the same for running. So hopefully by next year I will come back fitter and stronger and faster than ever! Plus I also need to get back down to racing weight, which I never lost since my crash. I’m sure all the long weekend bikes will help, I really need to get used to doing 4+ hours on a bike.

I know people usually treat themselves after they do an IM, but I am going to hold off. I will certainly get some new cycling kit as I need it, new trainers as my are worn and some new sunglasses, because although mine are great, I look a complete twat in them! They are too big and too flat for my face, so stick out far too much. But I really like the Specialized glasses so will get another pair of those, just a different design. The adaptalite lenses are fantastic and mean they can be worn are day and all year. However, I am holding back as next year I am planning on building a tt bike. Come feb/march I will start to test ride some tt bikes to decide what to have. I am probably going all out, so looking at the P3s, transitions, Boardman elite if I can summon up the courage to turn up in that, or another high end one, and then will build it up with SRAM red, and probably get a disc wheel and aero helmet. My 404 front is great and I will probably stick to that, though if my speed improves an 808 front may need to be brought…

In terms of races for 2010, I am looking at lanzarote and switzerland as possible IMs, though I need to sit down at some point and decide. We shall see. However, my 5 year plan is to reach Kona, ambitious but I have 4 years left in my age group, so aim high! Remeber, anything is possible…

That’s enough from me now, my blog will become more sporadic, but plan to keep it updated as I recover from my knee and go for more Ironmans. Plus it gives me something to do when work is slow….


I am an Ironman!

Right well let’s get the first thing out of the way… I am an Ironman! After all the training, set backs, sacrifices, and everything else, I have done it. I can now stop correcting everyone who has nicknamed me Ironman! But it was not easy, and in hindsight, I should have expected it (more later).

Having gone down on Thursday to register, I had a nice swim on Friday morning, and then drove the course again with Ollie, went home and slept for most of the afternoon, which turned out to be a mistake as I couldn’t sleep that night! The saturday was a nice short 15 min swim, and then I had a short brick planned to check everything over for the last time. But due to a poorly placed massage, meeting up with people, mud and having to get to the Reebok at last minute notice, this all went out the window, and I racked my bags and bike. The athlete briefing actually made me more nervous than I was before it, though I didn’t hear anything useful. Then it was off home, check I had everything, go to the shops to get a couple of soreens for my emergency bags and then bed at 7. It took me a while to sleep but once I did, I slept solidly until midnight, then the usual up every half hour until it was time to get up (quarter past 3), including 2.30, 2.45, 3.00, 3.05, 3.08, 3.10, 3.11 at which point I just got up. I had a good few bowls of coco pops and a bottle of gatorade, and then it was time to get to the car park for the coach.

Having arrived late, queuing for the coach I quickly checked my bike over and pumped my tyres up and then was rushed down to the start. I put my wetsuit on and got in the water, which was actually really nice! Once everyone was in the water the commentator got everyone doing ‘oggy, oggy, oggy’ and then everyone started cheering/screaming which was the most surreal thing I’ve ever experienced. Having 1400 people in a reservoir at 6 in the morning cheering sent shivers down my spine. Next thing I know every one is thrashing about, and it was time to go.

The swim was actually really nice, and I really enjoyed it. Having done nothing more than 2500m in a pool since my crash and fracturing my collar bone, and nothing more than 1500m at once, I wasn’t expecting much and came out at 1:26, a good 15/20 mins down on what I was planning on before the crash, but just to finish with an intact shoulder was good enough for me. I walked up to transition, got my wetsuit off, put my arm warmers and helmet on, and then applied copious amounts of DZ Nuts to help the 180k in a tri suit. I had a quick loo stop, then grabbed my bike, and jogged cyclo cross style with it on my shoulder to the bike start. I had a bottle of water in my T1 bag, which I used to clean my feet once on the road, before I put my feet into my shoes and it saved me sharing my shoes with a ton of mud!

Once out on the bike, I started to settle down, and then the main climb came, which I raced up, feeling really, really good on the climb, but it was probably a mistake. The first lap was pretty much OK, I started to eat fairly soon, and made sure I was drinking enough, though I was still a bit cautious on the decents, which reminded me far too much like the roads I broke my collar bone on, and in all honesty I made the classic rookie error of going off too hard, and getting carried away with the crowds. My legs started to feel a bit sluggish, mainly from not having been on a bike in a few days, but I concentrated on keeping my HR down and finished the first lap in 2 hours 5, on track for around 6 hours 20/30. On the 2nd lap I was still feeling good on the climb. I was going well on my 2nd lap when all of a sudden, with no warning, my right knee just gave way. It felt like a mixture of cramp and complete weakness. I tried to ride it off, but it just wouldnt go away, and within 500m I had to stop. Looking back, I should have know this would happen, it hasn’t been an easy run up to the IM, with knee problems for the first 2 months, shin splints, and then my collar bone, I should have known something like this was bound to happen. I stretched it out and got back on my bike, but it just wouldn’t stop hurting. I had pain everytime I bent it, and everytime I straightened it. I tried to continue, but the pain was just unbelievable and I started to consider stopping. I carried on for about 10k, having to stop every couple of k to stretch and relieve the pain. I dropped my saddle a fair amount to avoid straightening my knee too much and it helped, but within 5k the agony was back. It was at this point, having considered everything, that I made the decision to pull out, as I physically couldn’t use my right knee. I would get to the next aid station and find a doctor and stop. I felt like s**t, with all my friends and family waiting out on the run course to watch me, and everyone who sponsored me expecting me to finish. But with still 70k to go and then a marathon to do, there was no way it was going to happen. So unable to find another aid station, I somehow finished the lap, and was all ready to pull out and stop when I got cheered by the crowd and thought there was no way I could pull out in front of everyone, so I carried on. Unfortunately, the crowd went all the up the main climb from there, so it looked like I had the climb to do. However on the climb I felt good, at the angle and just hammering on the quads I powered up the hill, and then went past a friend watching, asking what the cut off for the bike was, 10 hour 30. I did some quick calculations, I had about 5 hours to finish the lap and then the marathon would play itself out. Having bombed it down the descent, on the other side of the climb, and then having another climb straight after, I gave myself a good talking to and told myself to man up, deal with it, and at least finish the bike. So I had a lap of powering up the climbs, single leg on the flat, then getting as tucked as possible on the descents, and somehow came off the bike in 7 and a half hours.

I know now that I have probably strained the tendon in the back of my knee and strained or possibly ruptured my ACL, though the doctors can’t be too sure until the swelling goes down as it has ballooned up to the size of a mini-football from all the fluid and I am resided to hobbling around on crutches for a couple of weeks. I’ve had a few x-rays, and there is nothing seriously wrong, so I was lucky to get away with no long-term damage. I did consider it, halfway though the 3rd lap, whether I should stop anyway to avoid completely ruining my knee, but unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you see it!) I’m too stubborn, and after recovering from my collar bone enough to race having been told there was no way I would be able to do it, and it being my first one, there was no way I was not going to finish as soon as I knew I could do the bike. I was also lucky not to find a doctor, even if I just asked to be strapped up, they would have taken one look and told me to stop.

Anyway, I went into T2, put my running shoes on and limped out on to the run. After about 500m my knee started to bend a bit and I started a sort of shuffle with a limp. At this point I knew I had about 8 hours to walk/shuffle a marathon and I could do it. The marathon itself was OK, with thousands of people supporting. It was a good morale booster to see my mates in the park, and I ran and walked round the course. I had to walk a good few miles at the start of the 2nd lap, as my knee stopped cooperating, but as soon as I was told I had 5 miles to go I just went for it. The blisters from my shuffling were huge but I just enjoyed the finale. The finish line was just incredible, with thousands of people screaming/cheering and clapping as I effectively hopped past them until I heard the words, “You are an Ironman” after 14 hours 18 mins. It was an incredible feeling, and still hasn’t sunk in that I have finally done it. My first thought, “wow, I don’t believe it”. Second thought, “Which IM shall I do next”! Having had time to think about it and reflect, would I have continued if I had done it again. Well if it wasn’t my first, I think I would have probably pulled out for the sake of my knees. But for my first Ironman, I said nothing would stop me, and I would do it all over again, regardless of my knees. My doctor hates me for it, but that’s just me. My advice to anyone in the same position, (doctors look away!), carry on until you are forced to stop by someone else as you miss the cutoff. If I hadn’t finished because I had missed the cutoff, then I would have been upset and annoyed, but I know I couldn’t have done anything else. If I had found a doctor and pulled out, I know I would have regretted it for the rest of my life.

In terms of organisation, I know there have been lots of complaints about it, but excluding the lack of a contingency plan in case of rain for the Iron village and transistion, (which is far beyond an oversight, and pretty disgraceful), I think it was pretty well run. They did the best with what they had, and the finish was amazing.

Finally, a massive thanks to all the volunteers (including my boss!) who came down to help and to the thousands of supporters, including all my friends, family, colleagues and tri friends who came to watch and cheer us all on. I saw some of them consistently for the entire day, from before the start to at the finish line 15 hours later, which is just amazing. And without you, I would have pulled out, so thank you! Also thank you to all the athletes there, from everyone who asked if I was alright and had everything I needed when I was trying to get my knee to work, to all those I met on the run, who provided a good chat to take my mind off the boredom. And thank you to everyone who sent me a good luck/congratulations message. They all helped, especially when trying to finish the bike.

Now it is time to enjoy some time off, catch up on life, and then plan next season, hopefully with a few less setbacks! If anyone is even considering doing on, just find one and sign up, you will not regret it!