The krazy life of triathlon


The Last Few Weeks

So over the last few weeks, I have been mainly recovering from my Ironman, and rediscovering what it’s like to have a social life again! I have also been getting my elbow and wrist back to normal. First involved me off to see a physio, who laughed at my movement and said “there really isn’t anything I can do for you until your Doctor has confirmed the fractures have fully healed and I can really get in there. It’s already basically fixed!” So off I went to the Doctors, and the conversation went along the lines of:

“Hi Tim, how is it?”
“Well…I did my Ironman a couple of weeks ago”
“Right….reckon I actually need to x-ray your arm then?”
“Nah it’s fine”
“Ok, well good luck”

Over the last few weeks, I have started to get back into some training, partly to build the muscle back up in my arm, partly because I started going a bit mad doing nothing, and partly because I was going skint using the tube the whole time! I am now into a good swing, and after a week of cycling everywhere, am knackered! Certainly got some work to do, to get back on it. But, not content with finishing my season on a write-off, I have a few more races lined up.

First up, I am racing the National Club Relays this weekend, which should be a lot of fun! Racing the mixed category, with a team of Chairman Howard, Nina, Me and Kat, a friend from work who I did the London-Brighton Night Ride with. It should be a lot of fun, and will definitely be nice to be back in the scene with so many people to catch up with. I am probably going to race the Maidenhead Half Marathon again, after a nice little blast last year, if I feel I can PB there, and then finally I am racing London Triathlon after managing to bag a spot courrtesy of Timex Sports and Toby Radcliffe (cheers guys!). It will be interesting to see how I get on, and hopefully I can hammer around and get close to my Liverpool 5150 performance. Finally, after all of that I am off to Cyprus for 9 days with friends from work for my first ever ‘normal’ friends holiday! No bikes allowed (though I will probably sneak my running shoes in my bag!). I am really looking forward to a proper break to recover, mainly mentally. It will also be fun rocking up to the airport with just a rucksack as carry-on and no bike or big suitcase in tow!

In the last month, I have also had a fair amount of time of work, not through injury, but to enjoy the spectacle that was the London 2012 Olympics! I spent more time at the Olympic Park than I did at home! They have really done a fantastic job of the place and I managed to get to see:

  • two handball sessions (seriously high paced game!)
  • track cycling – just simply phenonminal
  • swimming – the noise was incredible, I saw the mens IM relay heats, and by the sounds of the cheers when Liam Tancock touch first on his first length of his leg (which was the first), anyone would have thought we had won gold medal!
  • athletics – awesome stadium, 80,000 people cheering for Team GB was pretty special
  • women’s road race – soggy! But it was absolutely packed for most of the course
  • men’s and women’s triathlons – again, 10 deep all around the course, we got there 4 hours before the start and still didn’t get to the front, but I think my ear’s are still ringing from watching the Brownlees both win a medal!
  • water polo – this looked brutal! We were right at the front, which made it feel a bit empty until the roars erupted behind us!
  • women’s mountain biking – what a brilliant venue! I certainly can’t wait to try it out!

The support for Team GB throughout was just incredible, for any and every sport. My highlight has got to be the Velodrome though. The highest recorded noise level of any venue, and with one of the smaller crowds, it makes it even more special. I got to see both Vicky Pendelton’s Kieren gold and the Men’s Team Pursuit gold medal. Here’s the video I shot of the Team Pursuit Final, I hope the sound comes across, I counldn’t hear for a good few hours afterwards!

If you want to have a look at the pictures I shot (on my phone, think some look pretty good!), they can be found on my facebook page:

Finally, my blogging on here will be a little quiet for the next couple of weeks, as I’ve been selected to take part in the Inov-8 8 Weeks To Natural competition. Basically there are a group of runners, who will get running coaching to help us run more ‘naturally’. For me this means becoming more efficient = quicker. So if you fancy winning yourself some free Inov-8 swag, (and helping me!), go to the facebook app and vote for me! Every like and comment also counts as a vote, and they are having weekly draws, so keep at it! You will also be able to follow the progress of me, and the other runners, if this is something that interests you as we pass along any tips and what we are being taught. So check it out here!

Ironman UK – Game On

So a few days after the last post, I was back in the doctors for yet more x-rays (I’ve had more than my fair dosage recently!) and to get the results of my MRI. I had my elbow x-rayed, which came back looking nice and calcified and well on its way to healing. The MRI results, however, put a big dent in my hopes for getting fit. Upon reading my report, my Doctor called in another specialist to come and take a look. I had done a number on my wrist, that’s for sure! The full report is below, but the short version is I fractured two bones (my triquetral and hamate), bruised two other bones (trapezium, which is what was originally a suspected scaphoid with my symptoms, and my capitate). The main problem was that the MRI had picked up a tear in my TFCC, which (correct my if I’m wrong) is a group of ligaments and cartilage that holds the radius and ulnar arm bones together and allows the forearm rotation, and essentially holds the wrist to the arm. Combined with my radial head (elbow) fracture, this is what is known as an Essex-Lopresti fracture, which essentially meant I was in the splint til it had healed. The fact that it was non-displaced and the radius and ulnar were still in the right place and the different fractured wrist bones was the confusing part, which is why the other specialist was drafted in. They were trying to work out how I actually landed (I had no cuts or grazes anywhere on my arm…)  as apparently a non-displaced fracture of this type is very uncommon. The plus side of the non-displacement meant I was not going to need surgery on it to put it back into place, the downside of it was I was in a splint until it had healed; any further tearing and I was risking having the two bones pop apart, which would be surgery and in a cast for 3 months – not good!

For once, I was actually good with my recovery, and stayed in the splint religiously to allow it to heal. Running was still off the cards as any jolt risked tearing the TFCC further and swimming obviously was a definite no-no with half my range of movement in my elbow still missing.

3 weeks on and the injuries are finally starting to heal, after a couple of weeks of not much improvement. The last week, things have rapidly fallen into place (which, I would like to think coincides with return to some sort of normal training, but unlikely). My legs were slowly coming back on the turbo, I was back running and still running pretty well thanks to avoiding the kitkats and excessive meals whilst injured and I even ventured into the pool once most of the movement in my elbow returned.

The first swim back was an interesting one! Tubigriped-up to the max, I tentatively pushed off with my arms in front and attempted some single arm swimming. So far, so good. I then picked up the kickboard and even that was fine until it came to turning around (one arm holds the board, one arm grabs the edge to turn, either way, my fractured wrist was going to have to do something!). After 15 minutes of single arm and kick, and no pain, I decided it was time to try using both arms…and it was ok! I had absolutely no strength, which is a really weird feeling, but it didn’t really hurt! So happy!

The only concern I had was that in the evening, when for some completely stupid reason, I decided to see if I could lift myself up out of my chair with my arms (really, don’t ask) to see how my wrist was. I had forgotten I had a fractured elbow. With new-found mobility thanks to my swimming, I was fine until my arm was straight enough that the fracture was rubbing against my humerus….OW! Felt like I had refractured it again, what a complete tit! Thankfully the pain was short-lived and went, and what muscles I had left rallied around to prevent me doing it again and restricting my movement to pre-swim levels.

The other concerning issue was when I was brushing my teeth. At this point I was trying to live life as normally as possible (a check-up a week earlier showed everything was still in place, the TFCC had almost healed and I was allowed to start getting movement back) so I was brushing my teeth with my busted hand. When looking in the mirror I saw my ulnar protruding so prominently I nearly carted myself off to A&E there and then, worried I had knocked it out of alignment. Calming myself down, with no pain during arm bending and wrist rotation, I could at least wait a few days til my next check up. It wasn’t until I showed a friend at work, and they noticed how much smaller my arm was compared to the other one. It had never occurred to me but my muscle atrophy was shocking. If you bend your arm, you have a nice lump of muscle running down the upper arm to the lower arm – mine is completely flat and non-existent, even now after getting back in the pool and normal use! The reason my ulnar was so prominent was because I now had arms skinnier than Bradley Wiggins!

My final check-up was Tuesday, and the x-rays showed my wrist was still stable and the fractures looked good. With my elbow giving me more grief than my wrist, I requested another x-ray on it, which showed that it had not completely healed. The fracture had fused, but the fracture line was still visible in the x-ray, meaning it still had a little bit to go, probably at the top, which is why I don’t have full extension yet. However, he referred me to physio so I could ‘start and get everything moving again’. That was good enough to me, I had told him I was back swimming, cycling and running again, and he didn’t raise his eyebrows too much. It didn’t hurt, so he was happy with that, and didn’t tell me I shouldn’t! I neglected to mention the fact I was planning on doing my IM on Sunday, but that was permission good enough for me! Game On!

Yesterday morning saw me start to switch my body clock to IM time, and an early start saw me back in the pool 10 hours after leaving. My swim on Monday lasted 45 mins until my elbow died, but it felt OK yesterday morning. My replacement helmet also arrived this week, so I ventured out on the roads at six yesterday. It felt very alien, and very weird after 5 weeks exclusively in the TT position, but being back out on my bike made me so happy! I just have a few days now to get stregth back in my arm, and have been spending lots of time in the pool to try and build the muscle back, as well as trying to use it normally, including typing and playing xbox and guitar (definitely a medical recommendation that…) This morning was my final day of proper training, and saw me getting up at 5 for a run, cycling to the pool, having a good pool session where my arm is really starting to feel strong again, and cycling home. The grief my arm gives me seems to switch between my elbow and wrist. I think the elbow fracture has just about finally healed, and full extension has almost returned and the muscle is helping to protect it, I just hope it holds for the swim. My wrist is still very weak, so will be strapping my wrist up rugby-style, as well as wearing a double tubigrip. Day-by-day it is getting back to normal, I just hope my legs remember how to work now!

My MRI Report:

      Sequences  obtained:
      Coronal  STIR,  T1,  T2*,  sagittal  STIR,  T1,  axial  STIR,
      Scan  findings:
      Marrow  signal  is  intensely  increased  within  the triquetral  on  STIR,  with  associated  intense  signal increase  within  the  trapezium  and  to  a  lesser  extent within  the  ulnar  border  of  the  distal  capitate  (images 07-10  of  series  eight).
      There  is  preservation  of  radio/ulna  carpal  joint  space  and  alignment.
      The  TFCC  is  of  altered  signal,  with  evidence  of  a partial  tear  of  its  distal  attachment  to  the  capsule. The  scapholunate  ligament,  lunotriquetral  ligament and radioscaphocapitate  ligaments  are  intact.
      The  flexor  extensor  tendons  appear  normal.
      The  median  and  ulnar  nerves  appear  of  normal  signal and  calibre.
      There  is  marked  ulnar  sided  synovitis  seen.
      1.)  Undisplaced  fracture  of  the  triquetral,  and  the dorsal  aspect  of  the  hamate,  with  no  significant  displaced  fragments.
      2.)  Associated  dorsal  synovitis,  that  may  mask  a  small  avulsion  fragment.
      3.)  Bone  contusion  of  the  trapezium,  and  ulnar  margin  of  the  capitate.
      4.)  Compromise  to  the  capsular  attachment  of  the  TFCC with  ulnar  gutter  synovitis.
      For  clarification  of  the  morphology  of  the  fracture  of the  dorsal  triquetral  and  hamate  further,  a  CT  may  be useful.

2 Weeks On

So 2 weeks on from my crash, and I am slowly remembering how to live life one-handed again, although I am typing this out OAP-style, using one finger on my broken hand (though don’t tell my doctor!). It’s rather amusing looking through my old blog posts detailing my last break, and seeing how my recovery compares, and it seems that physically at least, the bone healing is following a roughly similar timescale, albeit slowed down a bit, which is hardly surprising as I don’t have the opportunity to sit in the sun all day, and sleep for 14 hours a day! Mentally, the bad moods hit me a lot sooner due to a variety of reasons. When I broke my collar bone, the aim of the season was to finish an Ironman; I had the opportunity to focus everything in my life on getting healed up as quickly as possibly, and concentrating on it 24 hours a day; I was surrounded by my friends in a place that I loved (and had significantly better air quality!) and I had an excellent doctor who understood me and wanted to help me achieve my goals.

Compare this to my current situation, where I have this annoying work thing taking up my day(!), seem to spend most of my spare time on tubes and trains living a London life, and I had a doctor who, to be frank, couldn’t seemed to have care anymore had I been a health and safety notice on his wall, and was more interested with getting me through as quickly as possible. I’ll be the first to admit I am one of the most difficult patients an orthopeadic surgeon will come across, as I try aqnd push my recovery as much as I can, but this one wasn’t interested in the slightest.

It took me a week to get an appointment at a fracture clinic (compared to a day with Manchester…) and I turned up, he looked at my hand, said yes it’s broken, go and get a cast fitted and come back in 5 weeks. No x-rays to confirm the wrist fractures, no advice on management, and certainly no help to get myself fit again quickly. Given my Ironman was 5 weeks away, this is far from ideal and I tried to push for a closer time, but both him and the receptionist said I wasn’t allowed, and it could only be 5 weeks or later. Great. I also heavily pushed to stay in my splint, as though although it wasn’t the most comfortable and giving me the best support, I could at least wash, manage my own recovery as pain allowed, and most importantly still train. He didn’t seem to be too bothered, as long as I didn’t ever take it off in the 5 weeks, so at least I could still train.

A few days later, I got fed up with this, and decided it was time to get a 2nd opinion, and time to make the most of having private medical insurance through work. After sweet-talking the receptionist at my local GP so I could register, see the nurse and then see a GP to get a referral all in the same morning, I found myself at London Bridge Hospital at lunchtime to see a specialist, who was great and understands type of patient I am! I had X-rays done, which showed the elbow healing nicely, but the wrist x-ray was inconclusive so a few days later I was being squeezed into an MRI scanner to get a more definitive answer. Certainly making the most of my insurance, and the £3 a month I pay to remove my excess is paying off in spades, but I have to say that MRI scanners are not designed for people who can’t straighten their arm! I had to lie down, with my arm straight and wrist clamped into a cage, not ideally comfortable! So meant it stopped me having a kip during my scan, but at least I know my arm can just about straighten! On the plus side, between me, my specialist and the physio I saw to get my fancy, custom splint fitted, I think we know which of my wrist bones are actually damaged, none of which the fracture clinic doctor suggested!

My swanky custom thermoplastic splint

Having had a look through my MRI results, I think I have found the culprit bones, though I can’t really tell what is a break, and what is just detail from the cross-section! I am off to see the specialist again tomorrow, so I can found out what the damage is, and hopefully I should get a better timeframe for my recovery, as opposed to just ‘come back in 5 weeks and we’ll see how it is’.

Some cool images from my MRI – spot the fractures!

My elbow recovery has gone well and is starting to slow down, so it must be nearing completion. There is still a bit of pain when I force the movement in the bone, so I reckon another week until the bone has finished fusing. I have about 75% of my movement back in my elbow, with more and more of it now comfortable and pain-free and can be achieved unaided. There is still a little bit of swelling left preventing me from full extension, but I am confident I should be able to get full movement back in a couple of weeks with the help of my sports therapist once I get the all-clear from the doctor to do so. I am trying to get back to normality and use it as much as possible, as long as it is pain-free, and can now do little things like put my toothbrush underneath the tap! Still can’t reach the back of my mouth with that arm… But arm is getting happier at least and thankfully my shoulder has fully recovered and moves properly, it must have taken one hell of a hit when I crashed as I couldn’t raise my arm above my head for a week, was getting worried something else was broken! The whole arm can’t be that bad any more, I have left the house having forgotten to put my sling on, on more than one occasion!

My wrist seems to be improving rapidly after a couple of weeks of not much improvement, and having said about my one-fingered typing at the start, I am now typing happily away almost normally now with hardly any pain. The latest thinking is that I have fractured my hamate (physio and doctor’s thoughts) and my trapezium (my thoughts, undetected pain in that region, which was originally a suspect scaphoid fracture, but that has been cleared). How I have managed to fracture these two bones, and avoid the scaphoid (again!), I have no idea! They seem to be healing well though, and I am finally getting some strength back in my wrist. I did some serious ligament damage, which is going to take some time to heal, but movement is slowly beginning to return and strength is coming back. I can even hold my phone in my hand now with no splint or tubigrip!

So whilst my recovery is progressing, training isn’t going to well! Being unable to run or swim, my life is confined to the turbo, which I hate on the best of days. Unfortunately I can’t just sit up on it like I could on my road bike as it puts me very forward and there is a fair old. Holding myself up with one arm gets rather tiring rather quickly! If I take my splint off, I can sit in the TT position, but with a broken elbow I can only take putting weight through it for so long before it begins to hurt. Mentally I am also fed up, so bailing out is happening far too often. I am hoping to get the go ahead to start running this week, and I just need to build up on the turbo. With 4 weeks til IMUK, there are going to be some rapid increases in training load, and I am going to have to train full-on up until the week if the race. At least I have managed to keep the diet pretty much under control, so haven’t put on too much weight so my return to running shouldn’t be too painful.

I am still hopeful of making it to the start line. If I can do that, then I know I’ll finish.

The Aftermath of IronmanUK – Challenge Henley

The past 6 weeks since IMUK have been a rather busy affair! The week after I spent recovering and beginning to pack up my life in a suitcase once more (having only moved a month earlier!) for the move down south. I then started my new job, being put up in a hotel for the week, before carting all my stuff off to my dads. I have since moved house again(!) and am hopefully settled in London and in the same house for more than a few weeks.

Work has been a bit of a shock to the system, although not a complete shock thankfully, with memories of my placement year still reasonably fresh. But having lived the life of a student and then full athlete having to work full time (imagine that!) was certainly a significant change! I soon settled in, and while I never fully got used to spending 2 and a half hours a day cramped on a train, which is now down to an hour after my most recent move, I began to feel my active self rear its head. I don’t like sitting still, I am a total fidget, and sitting behind a desk all day really does not sit well with me, so I started running at lunch. After a few seriously horrible sessions, thanks to doing nothing for a few weeks after cramming together 2 IMs, I decided I needed a carrot to motivate me. With the Maidenhead Half Marathon filling up the local paper for the last few weeks, and it being on my doorstep, I decided to enter, and had 2 weeks to recover some sort of shape.

This was Friday morning, and about an hour later I got a text of Chris Weeks asking if I was doing Challenge Henley. It had been in the back of my mind ever since IMUK, ever since Chris said he was doing it as we both had unfinished business after that race. Although I had a solid day, I didn’t have that top end speed, and know I can run quicker than that. And frankly, finishing my season in July is tough, as I did it after Switzerland and it was another 10 months until I raced again. So anyway, I text back saying ‘Nah probably not, gonna see how I feel after the weekend, but not looking likely’. I then see a tweet saying entries are about to close (even though that later got extended) and next thing I know, I’m stood in a sandwich shop in central London entering the race on my phone! So Chris, I blame you for the pain I will be in at the weekend, and also for making me double up at IMUK… ha!

So Challenge Henley will be my 3rd Iron-distance race in 10 weeks – and I am scared! Even at IMUK, I could feel the fatigue wasn’t too bad, and with a 3 week gap, I wasn’t going to lose much fitness. With a 7 week gap, especially after such after 2 IMs, I have finally had a chance to let the fatigue and exhaustion, and I am tired. And not the ‘I need a lie-in’ tired. I feel physically spent, and am carrying around constantly knackered legs. The main reason for this is my recovery post-IMUK – or lack of. If I had planned Henley a bit further out I could have planned a bit better, but I have let things slip. Mentally I am out of the game in terms of discipline and have lost focus on my training, which has been impacted by work, commuting, moving house and burst water pipes. My diet has also fallen completely by the way side. Having Ben & Jerrys on special offer the week after IMUK really did me no good, and adjusting to the long hours with free access to unlimited bad foods, and a week on hotel buffets has seen my gut ever-expanding, and I am certainly carrying around more than a few extra kilos than I would like. I am certainly looking forward to having some proper time off, recovery properly and enjoying a bit of a social life and a chance to recharge the batteries, especially the mental ones.

Having said all of that, I am fired up for Henley, even though it has yet to sink in that I will be toeing the start line once more in a few days time. I am not expecting to break any records, or post a decent time, but I am looking for a good end-of-season blow out, and I want to leave absolutely everything on the line.

There have been flashes of good form in training though. My cycling doesn’t seem to have slowed down, and I certainly feel the best I have in the pool for a long time, well before Roth. I am just hopeful that the body will come through, and the endurance is still there.

Despite a niggling calf issue, I know my running form is good, as evidenced by Maidenhead Half Marathon. I entered the race with low expectations, and not having run with my Garmin since IMUK, had no idea of the speeds I was running. The race plan was set off hard and then settle into an easy rhythm, and try to come home under 1:40 and as close to 1:30 as possible. I slightly exceeded that, by hammering it and crossing the line with a massive PB of 1:25, placing myself 45th out of some 2000 runners. I put myself close to the front, and set off hard. Despite a slight organisational error, where you run a short loop back to the start and half the runners were still waiting to start by the time we came back round, forcing us off course for a bit, we reeled off the first km in about 3:35, and then the next kilometre passed by in 3:50. At this point I was still in contact with the front group, but knew if I kept this up I wouldn’t last 10k so slowed down. However, I only settled down to around 4:10 pace, which felt REALLY comfortable, and just held this until I ramped it up again with 5k, with a final k flat out. Doing 2 IMs close together, gives you one hell of a base! I just hope it is there come Sunday! This has at least given me a target of breaking 1:20 next season for a half, which I should be able to do, fresh, trained and at race weight!

These final few days before Henley will be spent trying to get the body moving again and making sure all those neuro-muscular pathways are still active, as well as trying to sort out my calf issue, before coming up with some sort of race plan. At least Sunday will be ‘fun’, I appear to know about half the field racing! So make sure you give me a shout when you see me struggling!

Becoming An Athlete Once More

Wow it’s been a long time since my last post, apologies for that! Life, travelling, injury and illness all managed to get in the way. As such, this could prove to be a rather long post, as well as having lots of non-training parts so I will try and structure it so you can pick and chose as you please.

From Russia With Flu

As mentioned in the previous post, I had thought my foot had healed, however a run soon after the other post soon proved me wrong. I managed a good half an hour, but anything over that was pushing it. However, I had a nice few days off to make sure it was healed when I headed off to Russia to see my girlfriend. However, a couple of nights before I was due to go, I wasn’t feeling too good, and then waking up in the middle of the night, all the colds/night sweats/chest infections I have had over the last couple of months hit me and I had the full works. My head felt like it was about to explode, all my muscles felt like I had done 4 IMs back to back flat out, and my throat felt like it had been replaced by a few sets of razor blades. I attempted to sleep until the morning, when I called into work sick and slept for another few hours. At this point, I had to drive down to my Dads to go to the airport in the morning. Let me tell you 250 miles with flu, dosed up on drugs is not good fun! However, as I hardly ever take any painkillers etc, the paracetemol had a good effect on me and I felt much better, flying the next day might be possible! After the drugs had worn off, I looked like death according to my step-mum, so an early night was in order for the 4 o’clock start to get my 6 o’clock flight! Waking up, I didn’t feel too bad, getting out of bed I felt terrible! More paracetmol, a drive to the airport, then some neurofen and onto the plane I got. By the time I reached zurich for my change I was feeling ok, and then it was just a couple of hours to Russia. Getting off the plane in St Petersburg, I hoped to God that the drugs had reduced my fever as I was met by a very stern looking woman with a thermal camera. Having decided that I wasn’t going to spread the plague across Russia I was unchallenged and breathed a huge sigh of relief as I stood at Passport Control desperately trying not to cough!

St Petersburg is a very interesting country, and we got a taxi from the airport and took the ‘scenic’ route back. Within 2 minutes of being in the taxi, we nearly got hit at a junction and as far as I can work out, Russians obey traffic lights to the degree that they refuse to go through if its even on orange, and then after that it’s a free-for-all! Health and safety hadn’t reached them yet, which made for a refreshing break throughout the trip. Having arrived at Meri’s appartment, I met her hostess and stood there smiling and nodding as she gabbered at me in Russian. I knew I should have brought that phrase book in the airport! A night out was non-negotiable and I was treated to the Russian cure for illnesses: vodka. And they don’t do single shots either. However, other than one episode the next morning where I was just curled up in bed with no energy having not eaten properly for 3 days, I seemed fine. An ice cream with lots of toppings and sugar soon sorted this, and then I was left to enjoy the trip.

This is the square James Bond drove the tank through!

It is a very beautiful city, with lots of churches, palaces and buildings that they have plied a lot of money in to make look good, which really pays off. As well as the amazing builings and squares, there was the obligitory Russian quirks: pet bears:

and a stuffed animal museum:

It was a fantastic trip, despite being too short, and next time I’m out we’re off to Moscow for a few days as well as more time in St P to see how much of the language I can learn.

Preston 10 Mile Road Race

On my return, with 6 days until the race, I decided that it would be a good idea to actually see how my legs were. 20 minutes later I discovered that although I felt recovered, my lungs and my legs were still suffering the effects of my illness. So it was more rest, until the day before when I went out to make sure I wouldn’t be stale for the race. I did a few minute pick-ups and felt ok.

The race itself wasn’t too bad. The idea of having a massive triple-chocolate cookie half an hour before the start was certainly a bad idea, as this just sat in my stomach complaining the entire race, but other than that I felt pretty good. I set off hard, clocking the first couple of miles at 7 minute/mile pace, expecting to settle into a nice rythym and the HR to drop down from the 185 bpm it was sat at. 4 miles later, this wasn’t happening but I decided to go for it anyway. With only 4 runs in the 3 weeks leading up to the race, my form was never going to be good, but I should have been fairly recovered, and know I can hold 180 for an hour or so, so pushed it. After a few miles the pace dropped to 7:30 min/mile but it stayed around there for the rest of the race. At about mile 7 I caught up with a woman who I had been yoyoying with for half the race and ran with her, holding good pace. Although it had dropped by a couple of seconds, sub 1:15 looked good as long as I had a good last mile. So at the mile 9 marker I just opened the legs and went for it. For the first time in the race I felt good and like a runner with a fluid technique, it’s just a pity my HR had to be at 190 for it to happen! I clocked off the last mile in 6 minutes and came home in 1:14:27 according to the official results, which put me in the top half of the field.

All in all, given the circumstances I was happy with this. My foot was fine with only a slight discomfort for the last third of the race, which didn’t get any worse as I went on. I certainly need some new shoes soon though, my blisters were bad at the end! With actual training, and finding a good rythym I reckon I could hold this pace for an entire marathon, though with the HR where it was, not for an IM marathon. For switzerland as long as I don’t fracture my collar bone 9 weeks before(!) I reckon 3:30 should be achievable.

Getting ‘Badged’

In between coming back from Russia and the Preston 10 mile road race, I had a nice visit to Manchester. Half of the reason of visiting was to watch Michael McIntyre at the MEN Arena, and I have not laughed that hard in a long time (well since I saw Lee Evans there last year!). Absolutely brilliant show, and certainly recommend the DVD if you haven’t seen in.

The other reason was to go and get my Ironman tattoo. This is something I had planned from about month 2 of training for IMUK, and I booked it during Fresher’s Week in September and the nearest appointment was November! (She’s a good tattoo artist!) So an hour of pain later, here is the finished product:

My Mum hates it, so it must be good! I absolutely love it, and it will serve a reminder to me that no matter what you are told, anything is possible as long as you believe it is. It also reminds me that if I really want something, I don’t have a pain barrier! And let’s face it, it’s good for showing off in the pool/in shorts (which I wear all year round)/at races. It will fade as it heals, and the scabs have no nearly all come off and it looks awesome! The only downside to the tattoo is that it has put me out of the pool for a few weeks while it heals…

The Training Plan

So as I put the final touches to my new, revised training plan, it’s intersting to see how it has changed from what I had in mind a couple of months ago! It is quite a simple plan, all below AT for now. In essence I have a yoga session every week, 2 weights sessions a week (time-dependant) to help avoid injury. The rest of my training is then based around what I want to achieve for that block. With swimming not being a big part of an Ironman, and with my running seemingly OK with little training, I am going to spend a lot of pre-season on my bike. Given that it is the biggest chunk of the race, and that the fresher I come off the bike, the better I will run, I believe it is one of the biggest limiters for all but the best cyclists in an Ironman. So for the few weeks I will do lots of time on the bike, around 6 sessions a week, with the usual long bike at the weekend. I will most probably move my long run (which at this stage is only an hour and a half) from the weekend to Wednesday, which will allow me to have 2 long rides a week, at the weekend. For the beginning it is all about getting back into the rountine of regular training. I will have a couple of runs a week, possibly only my long run and running off both long bikes and a couple of swims a week, when I can get back in the pool.

I have a swim course on the 5th December, which among others, has video analysis of my stroke. This should prove interesting, and I am reluctant to spend lots of time in the pool until this as it is far easier to iron out bad habits after time off than in the middle of a season. Once I have had this, I will spend a couple of weeks working on my running and working on drills in the pool up until Christmas week. Christmas week provides unknown pool opening times (along with the usual questions of when does the post come, when are the bins collected, what day is it, what time is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and when do the sales start!) and also Welsh mountains. So I will do a heavy week, with lots of time in the cycling making the most of being at home for the week. I am then down south visiting my Dad and girlfriend while she is home for Christmas so will shift training back to swimming and running until I start work again in the New Year. I will then have a few weeks of lots of cycling, but tapering down towards the end of January for my training camp in January in Lanzarote and regular visits to/from my girlfriend until she goes back in February.

I want to absolutely run myself into the ground in Lanzarote and hope to make big gains in fitness over this week with all my time solely for training. We also have use of a 50m pool I think every morning, so depending on the training schedule provided, I am going to aim for an Epic Camp style training week, with swim, bike and run every day.

After the training camp, I will have a week and a half of recovery and then Ironman specific training starts and I get to experience the joys of juggling a job/life/training that almost every age grouper has to do. I miss being a student! I will follow a similar format to last year, though will shedule the week slightly differently. It will be a week of a long bike with run afterwards, a long run, 3-4 swims and filled in with yoga, weights and short runs and bikes. I will be out visiting Russia again in April so will have a big build and then use that week as a R&R week before beginning a final build.

I aim to make the most of living by the sea when it warms up with regular sea swims to get used to the wetsuit and will spend a lot of work on technique. Cycling will be all about volume, and running frequency for good form. So far the only other race next year I have planned it Weymouth Middle Distance, though I’m sure there will be a few more dotted about! Anyhoo, it is looking to be a good season hopefully, building upon everything I learnt last year and I am certainly looking forward to it, which is encouraging after the massive lack of motivation I have had at points over the last few weeks.

I did warn you it was going to be a long post! Next time won’t be as long and there won’t be as long a wait, promise!

Train safe,