Right, first things first. 5 hours 15, 3rd in my age group, first ever half!
Overall, I’m really pleased with my result. The bike was 10k short, but word on the street from those with GPS is that the run was around 23k, so it evens out pretty well, especially with the massive run from the lake to T1.
In the swim, I put myself close to the front, but to one side and it worked out well. Once the horn went, I got sucked in the fights of the pack, and then things settled down. Annoyingly, I found myself without a pack to sit in, so ended up doing the first lap and the V swimming next to another guy, who seemed to just swim until he hit something/someone, and then point himself in the right direction and start swimming off on a tangent again! At the beginning of the swim, I felt stiff and tired, and I was swimming straight, but once I was settled in, I found a good rhythm, and my swimming felt a lot better. Dare I say it, I even felt like I was swimming well! Once onto the final lap, I turned the corner just as another wave was setting off, so ended up getting caught up in that. Thankfully once that had settled down, I found a nice pack to sit in. On the straight to the exit, I annoyingly found myself on the wrong side of the pack, so spent the next few hundred metres, trying to weave in and out so I could get to the exit! Once exiting, I looked at my watch and saw a good 32.30, so was pleased with that! Swimming is finally getting there, though I do need more OW practise.
The long run upto transition, gave me plenty of time to get my wetsuit down to my waist, and even allowed to take my watch off so I could get my wetsuit off my arm! All the way up to T1 I was umming and erring about what to wear on the bike, and in the end opted for just arm warmers. Should probably have gone for the jersey as I did get a bit cold. Anyway, onto the bike, and into the rain. On the bike, once we were over the hill out of transition, I was flying with the wind behind me and downhill. The legs felt great, and I had a guy over take me but kept him in sight, and ended up having to slow down to stay out of the draft. I thought about over taking him, but decided at least for the first lap, that it would be a good idea to keep me at a sustainable pace. As soon as we hit the hill, I managed to fly past him, and the rest of the tt bike with the compact on. Annoyingly, about 30k into the bike, my calves which had been cramping constantly in the swim, decided that my right hamstring was tight as well and I got the same pain behind my knee as my Ironman last year, when my tendon/hamstring decided to tear. However, it didn’t come on as bad, and as long as I didn’t push it too hard, I was find. Bad news, my bike split wasn’t going to be as good. Good news, I was forced to ride within my limits (especially helpful without a HR monitor). By the end of the ride, I felt great still, and reckon I could have easily held that pace again. Bodes well for the IM, and my 6 hours split aim. The only problem I had was my stomach, I wasn’t drinking enough, but managing to eat, I was just massively bloated! Looking at my splits, my swim and run were pretty much the same in terms of ranking, but my bike was massively down. So whilst my endurance is in pretty good shape, I need to do lots of speed work, I only got overtaken by 4 P4s! Really wish I could afford a tri bike…
Once off the bike, I had an average transition again, then had a quick toilet stop by some bushes, which involved taking fuel belt off, taking tri suit down, then doing it all back up again! May stick to the 2 piece for my IM. Anyway, quickly started running again, and I felt great! Then, the hills hit. They hurt! Going up those hills, and then back down, really knackered my legs, and my calves are ruined today! I kept up my drinking and gels, and just felt better and better, and this is where I made up for a lot of the time I lost on the bike, and what I’m most pleased with given the small amount of running I’ve done lately. I was also getting quicker and quicker each lap, and despite another toilet stop on lap 3, it was my quickest by 5 minutes. At the halfway point of the lap, I reckoned if I lopped 3/4 minutes off the 2 previous ones, I would be on for breaking 5hr15, so upped the pace again. Then the final hill was a massive drag up, but I pushed on, despite the slow pace. At the top, I turned around, and just opened up going full gas for the finish, coming in at 5hr15 and 5 seconds! Not annoyed, given main aim was to go sub 6, and its all for the big picture! Puts me in good stead for sub 12, and maybe sub 11. The swim I could easily have doubled, the bike I reckon I would have faded towards the end, but mostly been ok, and the run I felt fine and really comfortable on, ignoring my final wind up.
So all in all, a good race, and one I’m really pleased with! As I expected, my endurance is pretty good, and the 70 hours I’ve put in over the last 4 weeks have really paid off. I just need to do lots of speed work, and more of what I am doing to get used to racing for that long. Loving the half distance though, long enough to feel like a decent distance, but not too long to ruin me for a long time. Rest day today to recover, then it is back into training and I soon start my final build. 25 hour weeks here we come!
So tomorrow is my first ever half Ironman race! Despite having already done one Ironman, my crash last year and the ensuing fractured collar bone ensured that the planned IM build Half was off the cards.
This year, I arrive to the start line in much better shape. I have been putting in some 20 hour weeks recently, which is really starting to show through. Mid-week rides of 90k with 2000m of climbing are just part of the day, and are done after a swim in the morning and a full day at work. Compare this to just a few weeks ago when the equivalent sent me to sleep for the rest of the day just after I got back from Russia, and there is a nice noticeable change! I just hope I haven’t pushed too hard, and arrive at the start fatigued. Though the easy rides in the last couple of days have shown the legs are coming through, so all should be well…
So the plan for tomorrow. By writing it down I will hopefully be able to stick to it, and have it in my head! I am doing almost everything the same as my IM, so it will be a good chance to see how everything fits together. I have already ditched the calf guards after my run this evening showed that they really do not suit my new running style, and just cause foot and shin problems. No idea why, but I feel better without them, so I won’t be wearing them. Also will save me a good few minutes in T2!
After arriving early and getting my transition set up, I can get half way into my wetsuit early to make sure I get it on up high enough, and then spend the next hour going to the toilet constantly and catching up with friends. Toilet breaks could be interesting, given that I have to practically undress to wee with my trisuit on… could be some IM-style relieving going on! I am also having to go old school for the race tomorrow, and race without Heart Rate, since my chest belt has decided to die on me, and nowhere has any 2025 batteries in stock!
At the swim, I’m going to try and get in early to have a warm up, make sure my shoulders are OK (still unsure if my wetsuit fits me properly!) and try and get close to the front but to one side. The lack of speed work, and big break mean my swimming isn’t quite where it was before the big break, so I’m not going to be swimming too quickly, but I would like to go under 35 mins. If I can place myself close to the front, once the big melee has settled down, I should be able to find a pair of feet to sit on for the swim.
T1 will be interesting, at in includes a 1k run from the lake to transition, which is going to be a mudbath! If there are no wetsuit strippers, I am going to run along and get my wetsuit down to my waist (which takes a while anyway..) and once I’ve done this, I will get it off, so I can run better. Then its just a case of putting the arm warmers on, or jersey if its really cold, and carry the bike to the mount line, ‘cross style!
The bike should be relatively easy, given my recent training. I just want to take it easy, and ride within myself. I’ve got some jelly babies, 4 gels, a couple of bars and 2 bottles to fuel me. I’ll aim to have a gel and a good handful of Jelly Babies every every, as well as a bottle, then move to bars when I feel like it. Theres also an extra gel for emergencies, and I can grab water at the food stop. Given its not too long a race, I can push the 2nd half of the bike as the legs allow, but hopefully it should be under the 3 hour mark, which would be pleasing. T2 will then just be a case of rack bike, helmet off, socks and shoes on, fuel belt on, grab visor and go.
As ever, it will take 20/30 min for my running legs to properly come back to me, but once they do, I should be able to find a good rhythm to settle into, and just have an easy first 10k, which is comfortable. Once I go past the halfway mark, I can up the pace, and push as much as the legs are up to. For nutrition, I’ve got 3 gels, and 4 fuel belt bottles, so aim for a gel and bottle every half an hour, then I have a spare caffeine gel is I start to lag. Hopefully I should come in under 2 hours, and if the legs are good, then training runs certainly say I should be able to, which I would be very happy with.
So all in all, I should be under the 6 hour mark. If I do, then sub-12 is definitely on the cards for Switzerland, which is my primary goal for it. Also I want to enjoy it! Its my first half, and should be good fun! It is also likely to be the last fun I have before IM switzerland, as once I have recovered, I go into a big IM build and really crank the hours up to get some good endurance down.
Good luck to all racing!
So…. only a week late! But never mind
So last Friday, I traped off to the middle of the Peak District with around 30 others from Man Tri to get a good weekend of training in. When we arrived, it was a 30 min run to loosen the legs up from the long journey and I felt pretty good! In the evening we all went to the only pub in the village and enjoyed some decent home cooked food – which for me and a couple of others also involved eating our body weight in the most amazing chocolate cake known to man! Despite the grossly huge number of calories I’m sure were in there, we would need it for the day to come.
Saturday morning was an early start before the big ride of the weekend. We all set off in one big group, and then as soon as we hit the first main climb, I worked my way up to the front group just as the hammer was dropped and we blasted up to the top. The legs were feeling ok, considering I had only been on a bike for 20 mins a couple of days before since the Fred Whitton. After the next big climb when we split the group for the 2nd time, maps were passed around and then it was hammer time again! Going up an A road, a group of about 8 of us took an early turning and ended up getting lost – a sign of things to come! We picked up Anne who had dropped her chain on a climb and towed her to the first town, when we dropped her off after some amazing descents and then headed off.
The roads were pretty good and my legs started to come through, doing some big turns on the front and just enjoying group riding again. I have to say I am being spoilt for choice with my riding lately, with the Lakes the week before and the Peaks this weekend! It was an interesting ride as well, with a few ‘Closed Road’ signs which we decided to go through anyway. In the end, we got to practise a bit of cyclocross, carrying our bikes through building sites, dug up roads and tutting builders, but it was good fun especially as we ended up attacking each other pretty much every hill, especially me and Harsh.
After a few hours, a couple of guys decided they had had enough of our hill antics and took a shortcut home. We pressed on, and ended up in a farm, wondering where the hell we were! The roads were pretty small and we had to have a few map checks with some walkers to get us on the right track, but we decided to go off the route and find some decent roads as it was too slow going. On the final climb home, Harsh did his usual thing of starting an attack and waiting for me to jump and hammer it up to the top while he sat up and either enjoyed a tow or watched me suffer! We blew the group apart again, and it took a while to regroup, but I managed to keep my nutrition under control, which I was pleased with. We ended up doing about 6 hours (4hr 20 ride time) and 110k, and although I was tired, I didn’t blow at all thankfully. My saddle sore, which I picked up at the Fred Whitton (hence why no time on the bike on the week) however was not amused with 6 hours on the bike and was extremely sore!
When we got back, I went for a short run again. However, where we were, you either went left and down a massive hill, or right and up a massive hill… I opted for right and had a look for some trails. Finding one trail, I followed it for about 50m, until it went seemingly directly upwards! Deciding to stick to the roads I bashed out half an hour, though I don’t recommend an entire malt loaf in between a brick session! My stomach was not happy.
As soon as I got back, I had to quickly grab my swim kit, as it was off for a group swim. Having been told that it was a very warm pool, despite it being outside, I left my wetsuit back at the accommodation. We got to the pool to see a notice of “Apologies but the pool heater is broken so it may be a little cold!” – annoying as I was hoping to get some wetsuit practise in before my half IM! Anyway, it was freezing! We soon warmed up and set off with some IM style main sets, would have been interesting to see my butterfly! It was also quite amusing seeing people sporadically jumping out of the pool with cramp, knowing that it would hit us all soon. Amazingly however, it never came for me! I got one little twinge in my quad in a butterfly set but that was it. I was also pleased with seeing that my swimming was not as bad as I thought, both having it looked at by our resident professional triathlete Jacqui, and where I was swimming in the squad.
After a much better sleep (despite ending up sticking to the plastic mattress) it was another early start for Sunday to fit everything in before everyone left at lunch. After spending a good 10 mins trying to find someway I could sit on my bike and with copious amounts of chamois cream applied, we set off for a few hours on the bike, though this was a much more leisurely pace until we hit Winnats Pass. Thankfully my legs weren’t too bad from the day before and I was first up to the top, which was reassuring. After a cafe stop and having an incredible bacon and sausage sandwich, things heated up on the way back and the pace shot up. However, after about 10 mins, my front derailleur decided to twist round and jam itself into my crank. Thankfully there was no major damage, and I managed to fix it roadside. One guy stopped and we headed off back home, but I got us lost (again) so it was back to the map to try and plot a route home. Having decided that my phone would give us the best route home, we followed it, only to discover the road was closed for a half marathon! We picked up a group of girls and headed home with them, another ‘scenic routes’ which gave us a good 3 hours on the bike again. A few of us set out for a run after, and I stayed out to do my first hour long brick run outside of training ever I think! Legs were pretty dead to begin with, but I got a bit stronger towards the end, though the hills really didn’t help!
In total, I clocked up a good 12 hours of training, which was great! An awesome weekend, with some great people, and it was so nice to be back to squad training again, just helps you push that little bit harder. One thing I did notice, was yet again my diet went to pot. I was consuming too much junk food and it has shown this week in an extended recovery time. I need to work on getting enough calories in when I do big bouts of training, but keep some of the goodness in there.
This week has seen me struggling to recover from 2 hard weeks (and a weekend of junk food!). My running has taken a hit, and through various reasons (including an exploding oven!) I didn’t get any long runs in during the week. On Wednesday, Mike and I went out for a long bike to scout Le Terrier, and my legs just didn’t want to play ball, especially on the climbs. To be fair we did clock up 87k of riding and 2000m of climbing (which is half the Fred Whitton! Not bad given I had done an interval swim in the morning and a full days work!) but I didn’t have the top end power. An easy day on Thursday and Friday has given my legs time to recover, and today I had my first 2 hour run in an absolute age! With the incredible weather, it was a hot one, and I lasted about 90 mins of feeling good until I started to die from lack of fuel and dehydration, but I still clocked up 23.5k, so can’t complain! I will get a long bike in tomorrow, with a brick run, then another long bike on Tuesday before my taper begins for the Beaver in 7 days!!
Finally, I appear to have been sucked deeper and deeper into the ultra-endurance world, and am currently planning some other crazy events. Will keep you posted
So with this year having the focus on actually doing an Ironman properly, I have made a few changes to the training plan as I have gone along. The first of these was to drop Lymm Triathlon from the schedule, which was mainly due to the fact that I had missed 2 weeks of training and needed to log miles in my legs to prepare for the Fred, and smashing myself on a sprint the week before probably wouldn’t have had the best effect!
With the Fred out of the way, I have moved into concentrating on my running this week, running every day (except yesterday) and gradually increasing the length of each session. With the switch to the Newtons, I was told to expect lots of calf and foot pain as I adapted to running ‘properly’ but I haven’t had a single twinge at all! Personally I put this down to doing all my athletics at school barefoot on a grass track and wearing flimsy flip flops throughout the year, when it really probably isn’t sensible to! Looking at the tread pattern on the bottom of them, I’m pleased to see that there is hardly any wear on the heels, and most of it is on the midfoot lugs, which means that my technique is getting to where it should be, though I need a lot more miles before it really begins to flow.
With the Beaver Half distance coming up in two weeks, the focus is getting myself back into decent long distance shape. The Fred Whitton, and all the training for it has really helped pick up my bike shape, though I need more endurance work of this to last the full IM and still have good legs after. So I have entered Le Terrier and planning lots of big rides to get used to riding long.
My running is going well, and I just need to get myself into decent half marathon shape for the Beaver, so it will be a big week next week, which a couple of 2 hour runs. Finally swimming is going well, and I am feeling good in the water. I need a bit of speed work to pick it back up after the break, and then to just get used to the distance, by increasing the distances to 4k, and a couple of 4k swims!
So it is 10 weeks to go until the big day this weekend!!! I am geting ready, by heading off to the Peaks for a training weekend later today, which will consist of 3 runs, 2 long bikes, a swim and a core session. Then I have a two week period to get myself ready for my (first ever!) middle distance race, then the usual 5 week build, 3 week taper. Just need to put a training plan together to work out how to fit 25+ hours in a week!
Hope training is going well,
So despite being exhausted and much rather couped up in bed with a bowl of coco pops and some csi on, I thought I best get this out before I forget everything!
So I have completed the Fred Whitton! And boy was it one hard ride! I don’t think it was the hardest ride I’ve ever done. The IM bike reccee I did in Lanza came pretty close, though in terms of complete blowing up and fatigue, that has to be awarded to the Tour Of The Peaks race last year, with terrible conditions and a standard chainset. Having the compact made a huge difference, I paced better, I spun more easily and most importantly, I didn’t walk!
So I finished in 7 hours 47, though total ride time was about 7 hours 10. This gives me a ‘first class’ ride, for breaking 8 hours, which given that a couple of weeks ago it took me about 9 and a half, with a night’s sleep and lots of food and rest at half way! I set off with 2 aims (later three when I realised I was going to be slightly quicker than 9 hours!) of not walking, and not blowing up.
Mike and me set off at about half 7 and almost immediately caught a small pack so sat with them and did a bit of pacing up to Hawkshead Hill. As soon as we hit it, the compact came into its own, and instead of brute forcing my way up, like I used to do, I was actually able to spin up it, and felt pretty good! Turning around, we had dropped all but one of the pack already. On the descent, a small peleton formed, and I got a nice tow all the way upto Kirkstone Pass, keeping my HR nice and low, and saving myself for later. When we hit the climb, I settled into a rythym and pushed up to the top. As Kirkstone has the best (and possibly only decent) descent on the course, I put in a burst 50m from the top to drop all the riders around me, and have a clear run down to the bottom, which I flew down.
At the bottom I was soon overtaken my a couple of guys flying along. I jumped and tucked into their wheel, to see how it went. At the beginning it was fine, but as we got on, I soon realised my HR was starting to creep up, but I decided it was too good an opportunity to miss, and did my bit pacing them up the climb to the A66. As soon as we hit the A road, the big guy took to the front and flew off. A burst later, and I was sitting on his wheel, flying along at 50kph and loving it! As we hit the ascent on the road, we began to sweep up riders who stuck to our wheels, and annoyingly were perfectly happy to sit there and let us do the work. As soon as the other guy moved out to let me take over, I was hit by the wind, and lack of draft, but I felt I needed to repay my debt and powered along, forcing the HR up, which I was going to pay for later. The benefit of this was that I effectively got a free tow to Honister once we got off the main road, so I think it was a price worth paying. As we hit Honister, we immediately had a 25% gradient to fight with. I got up it, and for the first time since recceing it all those times, managed to get up it! Although with a big burn in the legs, which was made worse when I looked down at my cassette at the top and saw I still had another gear!
The descent is best described as ‘bumpy’! How they manage to resurface a road so badly that it seems they used an egg shape roller to smooth it out is beyond me! Anyway, I managed not to get thrown off my bike, and almost immediately and hit the feed station in 3 hours. A quick thought, and I realised, I only had to hold 20kph to come in under 8 hours! Granted there were some obstacles in the way, but it should be doable! I stuffed some food in me and set off again, to be immediately hit by Newlands, one of the toughest climbs, and although not quite as steep as some of the others, it just goes on for EVER! Over the top and another dodgy descent, and then you move onto Winlatter. At this point, the extended pushes previously, and lack of eating for smashing it out upto Honister, began to catch up with me, and I could feel my legs starting to go. Once at the top, I had no choice but to back off and force some food down me. 4 hours in, and my stomach was not happy, partly due to dehydration, and probably too many gels. In the whole ride, I only had a cliff bar, and half an SiS bar. Usually I would have 4 or 5!
Between 110k and 140k, I found myself in a bad place, small chainring, praying for descents, and begging for no hills! But gradually my legs began to come through, and when I got to the 2nd feed stop, I had some proper food, and bit of a rest and stretch and some water. Having made up a bottle of ZipVit at the first feed stop, I found that I REALLY do not like it, and as a result hadn’t really drunk much. After all the gels, and energy drink, some water was a welcome relief.
With 40k to go, I had plenty of time for an 8 hour ride, with only the small problem of Hard Knott and Wrynose in the way! The little teasers before Hard Knott, really sapped the legs and in the 5k up to it, I just sat up, had some water and hoped my legs would come through. With a couple of k today, I took my caffeine gel that I had had for years, and it was horrible! But I forced it down, and soon felt the effects. Given that I don’t drink tea or coffee, by the time I hit the bottom of Hard Knott, I was buzzing! Despite this I didn’t think I would make it up to the top, but just carried on to see how far I got. The initial bit was tough, but with 5 less teeth on the front than last time I did it, it felt remarkably good. After the initial section of the climb is a little respite, where I took on water, a gel and tried to recover before the 33% section. Going up it, I zoned up, weaved in and out of all the walkers, and only nearly flipped my bike once when I lifted the front wheel up! Once I got round the worse corner, it eased of too a balmy 20%. My legs were burning, and I’m sure my chest was about to explode, but with so little to the top, I pushed through and arrived at the top, a heaving, wheezing exhausted mess.
A rest at the top, with more food and water, and then it is down the most dangerous descent I know, on the brakes all the way down, hoping you don’t find yourself falling down a massive cliff as you overshoot a switchback. Once at the bottom, there is a tiny bit of recovery before Wrynose, which compared to Hard Knott felt quite easy! Once at the top, it was 10k to go, and I just went for it, and managed to hold a good speed up and then down to Coniston, coming in under 8 hours and with not walking! I even managed to run afterwards, and despite the complete lack of energy, didn’t feel too bad! Although I blew, it wasn’t on the mega scale of some previous rides so was happy with that.
This week I need to get some running in before the Beaver Middle Distance in 3 weeks, as I haven’t done over 45 mins in the Newtons yet! I also need to recover from the massive saddle sore I have annoyingly picked up today, for my training weekend next weekend with Man Tri. Looking forward to another mega weekend of cycling and a few big runs.
Now, time for CSI, Coco Pops and bed!