Saturday, 11 July 2009

Photos & Video

Video from Austria

And here are the 'official' photos taken during the event:

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Ironman Austria 2009 - Race Report

Having written this now it is more of a race story than a race report!!

Race week
Race week started on Monday morning as we loaded up the car and headed to Folkestone to catch the Eurotunnel. We had an overnight stay in Stuttgart booked and apart from a few roadworks, the odd crash holding up traffic and torrential rain in Luxembourg the drive was fairly uneventful, day 1 included England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany so quite a little European tour! The drive on day 2 was shorter, Stuttgart to Klagenfurt via Munich and Salzburg involved some spectacular scenery through the Alps, we arrived in Klagenfurt at about 2pm. The rest of the week went as planned, some light training including swims in the lake to check out the canal entrance and a couple of rides up the main climb of the bike course included. Here’s the canal entrance, nice and narrow quite shallow:

Race day
I wasn’t too nervous on the actual morning, I know that I have trained as best as I could and was looking forward to getting on with it. The start was between 3 piers at the Standbad and they had said that ‘faster’ swimmers (sub 70 minutes) should start on the right, slower ones on the left. My plan was to start towards the back end of the right side, therefore hopefully avoiding too many slow swimmers and maybe picking up some feet that could pull me around in close to 70 minutes.

The pre-start was cool with music blasting and helicopters circling, before long the cannon fired and we were off. Mass starts with approx 2,500 people are never going to be much fun and this certainly felt pretty congested, plenty of arms and legs clashing with heads which continued to the first turn buoy at 1,400m.

As I was on the right side I had a nice clean line around that buoy and glanced at my watch to see 27.xx, not fast but nothing to worry about. Luckily on the Friday I had swum round to the entrance to the canal that we would swim the final 800m up so was confident with my navigation into that which definitely helped as the majority of the field seemed to be swimming too far to the right, that meant that I wasn’t really getting much of a draft but was enjoying a little bit of room in the water . That was rudely interrupted when I swam into the full force of a breastroke kick from someone swimming on his back. He hit me right on the right eye and sent my goggles flying, I hadn’t even seen him ahead so it gave me quite a shock. Not much to do other than keep swimming so I put the goggles back on and carried on, had to stop again in a couple of minutes to clear out some water as well and definitely had a sore face! (after the race there was a slight war wound, sadly it didn’t swell up too badly as I think a black eye would have made me seem really tough!!)
I went straight into the canal and although this was narrow, the first 400m were great with loads of supporters on the banks and I seemed to be amongst swimmers who were moving at the same speed. This picture doesn't have me in it (much more crowded in the water by the time I got there! but shows how many supporters there were on the banks of the canal):

The last 400m was not as nice but with the end in sight it was bearable. I was pleased to see the exit ramp, swim split was 1.11.45, about what I though I would do and I didn’t feel too tired. I looked fairly happy on my way out of the water:

T1 took quite a while as I was careful to top up the sun cream before heading out to the bike, time 6.22.

We drove the bike course a few days before and it looked amazing so I was happy to be heading out. The course has a reputation for being fast but it is certainly not flat, here is the ride profile that they had up in the information tent:

The first section around the side of the lake was flat and quite fast, the first major climb was amazing, hundreds of people lining the road really gave you a lift and my legs were feeling pretty good. The goal for the ride was to keep my heart rate in the 130-135 range. Despite practicing my nutrition plan time and again my stomach started to feel a bit ropey after about 90 minutes, and that was to continue until well into the run. It was nothing unbearable but a bit uncomfortable and something I could have done without, maybe I should have gone with the nutrition plan I saw of a guy in transition who had 2 croissants taped to his bike!
Erika, Glenn and Ty were planning to see me about 60km into the ride and I went past them with about 1 hour 50 done and it gave me a nice lift in advance of the major climb (Rupertiberg).

The climb has a DJ at the top playing a mixture of cheesy music and German house tunes shouting out WELCOME TO RUPERTIBERG I-RON-MAN AND I-RON-LAYDEE!!! There were plenty of supporters on the hill again and having got to the top I knew that it would be a fast run for home, the last 27km of the first lap only took 40 minutes and I was feeling ok despite the ongoing stomach issues, I was still putting my nutrition in and it wasn’t getting any worse. The first lap took 2:49:34. The turn around point was amazing, my support crew seemed to be the loudest bunch out there which gave me a real lift and I wish the crowds and music at the turnaround point could have followed me the whole way around!

The second lap was a fair bit slower, the heat was starting to build up and the thought of my first ever marathon to come was never far away so I was taking some breaks on the downhill sections and also found the final climb up Rupertiberg very tough going with 150km in the legs. They even seemed to have put more uphills in the final 27km section as I’m sure that on the first lap it almost felt as it if was downhill the whole way! The second lap took a touch over 3 hours for a total bike split of 5.51.25, that was about on target time and I hoped that as I had kept my heart rate in check that I would be able to run a decent marathon but I was starting to worry about how hot it was getting.

As I jumped off the bike I felt quite tired but nothing that I haven’t felt during my training and I got through T2 with minimal fuss, another sun cream application and a toilet stop again slowed me down a little so total time was 7.59.

Out onto the run and the first km I was focusing on getting my heart rate to the target of 140, I went past the 1km marker in 5.30 and had my heart rate under control at that point but that was about as good as it got on the run! Mentally I had broken the run down to the 8 out and back sections so was focusing on getting to the first turn at Krumpendorf that was about 6.5km away but I felt terrible, my guts were hurting still and it was seriously hot. I think I got to the turn in about 38 minutes but I was slowing dramatically and I couldn’t keep the heart rate where I had planned. The run back to transition was worse, I was feeling really crappy and finding the prospect of another 35km very tough to deal with! Back past the lunatic support crew in the transition area was brilliant and really gave me a lift, 2 out of 8 sections complete.

The run from transition area into the centre of town and back was a bit shorter and had more shade and I found myself getting into a bit more of a rhythm, albeit a slow one! I was walking the aid stations to make sure that I got my nutrition in but was being quite good at getting running again. Ty ran along side the course for a few minutes and it was nice to have a bit of a chat, helped me to realise that I wasn’t doing too badly.

Before too long I was at the turnaround point in the town square. Just before that they put up a bell and will donate €1 to charity to every athlete that rings it, sadly they had set it for 6’5 Germans and I didn’t trust my calves with a Jordan-esque leap so I’ll just have to donate some money myself! Ty had told me that Glenn was at the town square so it was good to see him, told me I was looking good, I think I gave him a quick summary of how I was feeling but won’t repeat that here! I was pleased to be turning back towards transition again though, 3 of out 8 bits done. At this point, any major concerns about my finishing time had pretty much gone, I was only looking at about 2.20 for the first half marathon, the same again would only just see me under 12 hours and there was no way that I could see that happening. I saw Ty on the way back in again and was moving along ok, walking every aid station but at least making progress, it was tough to be running past the signs that said 38km knowing that you still had 21km to go until you were at that point! I talked to him about my time and to be honest, really wasn’t too worried about the finishing time, I just wanted to get that medal, although more importantly, get on to my final lap! I joked with him that I could do with a bit of rain (the skies were still clear and sunny above us) and as we got back nearer transition, I could see a bit of a storm cloud brewing. Even if I didn’t get rain, it would be nice for a little bit of shade from the burning sun.

As I went through the half way point of the marathon (first half in 2.22.16) I jealously looked at the turn off to the finishing shoot, next time round I could go down there! It was good to be on the last lap, that meant that generally the people still on the course were moving slower than those that were finishing in 9 hours and something so I started going past a few people for a bit of a mental boost.

The rain started falling on the way back out to Krumpendorf which was nice, and I had managed to keep up a steady if slow pace and didn’t feel like I was getting too much worse. My stomach was not giving me as much trouble and although nothing at the aid stations was particularly appealing, I kept throwing down coke, gels and water.

As I got to the turn point my hope was starting to come back that I could salvage something from the marathon, although as I turned at about the 26km point and started back towards transition I could really feel the fatigue in my legs. My calves felt on the brink of cramping up and it was a real mental challenge to keep running when every part of you is telling you to stop and walk. I’m not really about quitting though so just kept going, trying to get to each km marker, not even looking at how long it was taking, but as the km’s done got higher and the km to go dropped it helped the mental state. Going through the transition area for the penultimate time I don’t think I could have asked for any more support from friends and family, they were going absolutely metal, it was brilliant seeing how much they clearly wanted me to make it and were giving every piece of encouragement that they could. My dad’s comment stuck in my head ‘you’ve broken the back of it’ I knew what he meant but those last 10km still seemed like an awfully big challenge.

In the run up to the event I’ve read plenty of advice about an Ironman, one comment stuck in my head about the Ironman marathon was that it is 20 miles of hope and 6 miles of reality, well here I was about to hit reality!

Having maintained a good rhythm for the middle section I was starting to try and calculate what sort of time I may come in at, I needed a toilet stop though so at the next aids station I had to take a minute out to deal with that. Once on my way again I worked out the times, I estimated that with the walking at the aid stations I was taking about 7 minutes per km, that would have got me home in about 12.05 or so (mental arithmetic wasn’t brilliant at this point) so it was then that I had a bit of a talk to myself, by this stage I knew I was going to get there but I didn’t like the sound of 12.05, so I had a decision to make, try and push to go sub 12 with the risk of blowing up and coming in on 12.30 or sticking with my current pace. I decided that 12.05 or 12.30 didn’t make too much difference so I though I would have a crack, you never know what may happen in life and I may never find myself in that situation again so I thought to hell with it, I’ll give it a go. I decided that I would try and stick with my pace and walking the aid stations to the final turn point in the town and then I would try and pick up the pace for the final 4.5km and run through the aid stations.

This hurt like hell, my legs were in agony and I felt on the brink of cramping with every step. I managed to bring my heart rate back up to 140ish and as each km went by I could see me getting those 5 minutes back, you could see other people in the same position as me, some were going for the sub 12, others resigned to missing it and walking so I was making up plenty of places. I was grabbing water through the aid station but kept running, heart rate was up in the 150s now and the 38 and 39km signs went by. I thought I missed the 40km marker, and so thought I was well back on top of the clock but a couple of minutes later there is was so not as much time in the bank as I had hoped. I kept pushing, I saw my Dad and sister just after that, by that point I knew that I had nearly done it, I had about 15 minutes to cover the last 2.2km and as I went past them I felt ok (relative to the situation!).

Then it started to get a bit shaky, my fingers started to tingle and my vision started to get a bit blurred. I’d had this before at my first half Ironman and that had forced me to a walk but this time at least I knew what was going on so slowed down and just tried to keep moving. The 41km mark came and went and I was still worried about completely shutting down so was seriously focused. Finally I got to the point where you turn for the finish shoot and it was only then, with about 200m to go that I was confident I would get to the line without keeling over. As I turned into the finish area I saw Glenn and Ty in the stands going crazy and for a brief moment the pain disappeared. I was totally elated and going a bit mental down the finishing shoot punching the air as I could see 11.58.xx on the clock. It was a magical moment, and before I knew it after 11 hours, 58 minutes and 25 seconds I could stop…an Ironman! I’d managed to negative split the marathon doing the second half in 2.18.37.

Post Race
I walked down from the finish line and had a medal put round my neck. Although elated, I felt pretty awful so kept moving towards the finishers tent. There were people everywhere and it was hot but I made my way to the drinks area and picked up some coke and water. Felt terrible so just found a seat and sat down. I’m not sure how long I sat there for but I found a foil blanket and wrapped that round me to try and stop the crazy heat fluctuations that I was feeling. Eventually I decided that it was too hot in the tent so walked outside to try and find the support crew. It was good to see them all and I was really grateful for the support, I would definitely credit them with the 1 min and 35 seconds that I snuck under the 12 hour mark by.

Seeing them was great but I still felt awful so spent a few minutes just walking around trying to bring myself back to life. The family went off to get some dinner, and I sat down by the side of the road with Erika, Glenn and Ty. After a few minutes, they all decided that maybe a trip to the medical tent was for the best as I was feeling really faint and was struggling to put any food or drink in. I had finished over an hour ago so reluctantly hobbled over. It appears as though I passed the medical examination though as I could stand up so they turned me away. After sitting down for a bit more I went and changed into some clean dry clothes and started to feel a little bit more human.
I had wanted to stay around at the finish until the cut-off but was so tired that I decided that was probably a bad idea, so went and collected by bike and bags and loaded up the car for the drive home.
After thoughts
Now that the pain in my legs and back is starting to ease I’m really proud of what I have achieved, 12 hours is not the fastest time going but I definitely struggled in the heat on that first lap and also with the mental challenge of being 9 hours into a race and still having to run further than you have ever run before.
I don’t have any urgent desire to do another one, I’ve come a very long way as a triathlete in the last 2.5 years and I don’t think there are any shortcuts to faster times, you need to have years of running and cycling in there, something I don’t yet have. Whatever happens, I’ll always have that medal. Doing an Ironman is certainly not the most important thing in life but has been a lesson in what can be achieved if you set your mind to it.
I’m not sure what is next for me, I will definitely be having a bit of a rest from the training and will then probably do some shorter races to keep fit.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Taper Update

I have come to the conclusion that tapering is much easier than 'proper' training. It was nice not to ruin my legs this weekend, the 3 hour ride with 60 min run on Saturday felt easy and I ran really well at the end. I did the same loop that I have been doing following my long bike rides which involves a 1.2km run to the park, then 3 x 3km loop and the run back home again, so approx 11.4km in all and the plan this week was to pick up the pace for the last 15 minutes. This wasn't too difficult and I actually got home in 54.30 which is a pretty good pace for me. I also covered almost 90km on the bike which considering the wind and the shocking road conditions is pretty good.

I had a nice moment on the ride when I went past another couple of bikes and they decided to hitch a free ride on my wheel. I was happy to pull them along for a bit, I was just cruising with a HR of 130 and after 10 minutes or so sat up to have a chat to see where they were off to, they were both somewhat red in the face and obviously working pretty hard to keep up which was a nice ego boost as I was really taking it easy.

Sunday was an open water swim. Haven't had much chance to swim in the wetsuit so wanted to do a decent swim to make sure it was ok. I did 5 laps of the 550m loop at Leybourne, although I cut the last corner of the loop a bit each time as the weeds were a bit close to the surface around the edges of the lake and I didn't want to get tangled up in them. Had a bit of a fright on my last lap as I managed to swim into another person!! There were only about 5 people in the lake at the time so the chances were fairly small (it's a pretty big lake!) and it certainly made me jump!

I started sorting out my stuff a bit yesterday, on the ride on Saturday I decided that my bike was starting to creek a bit so I have booked it in for a service this week. Bike chains stretch over time so I will replace that and the rear cassette as well as having them look at a couple of other things so it should be in top condition for the race. I'll pick it up on Saturday morning and then take it out for a ride before packing it for Austria to make sure everything is ok.

Everything else feels relatively organised, I have a bit to do on the weekend as I need some sun cream etc for my transition bags and also need to do the rounds to pick up any stuff that people want transported in the car rather than trying to take on the plane. I'm also going to take a bit of food down with me as I found in Barcelona that it was a pain having to rely on local shops for snacks and also very expensive.

We are booked on an 11.20 eurotunnel train on Monday morning although they say that if you are there within 2 hours of that time they will put you on the next available train so there is a chance we may get across the Channel a bit earlier. The plan is then to try and do the bigger driving day on Monday, heading down through Lille, Luxembourg with an overnight stop in Stuttgart. That should then leave a relatively easy day of driving on Tuesday to get down past Munich, Salzburg and then through Austria to Klagenfurt.

I'm not really nervous about it yet, although I'm sure that will come. I just want to get this week out of the way and get over there.

Monday, 15 June 2009

If you are sitting comfortably...

Haven't updated this for a while for a number of reasons so this could be a long post, good luck getting to the end...

June has been a pretty big training month to date, although as I am writing this I have now finished my last 'big' session and am officially at the start of my taper. I've been targeting this date for a while, a lot of things can happen on race day and it could go well or badly, but I know that I have trained as well as I was able to so whatever happens I'm pretty pleased to have got to this stage, and also pretty tired!

Next week does not see too much of a reduction in training but I will really start to see the effects next weekend where I will do one key bike-run session on Saturday and then probably just an open water swim on Sunday, nothing like the 13 hours I have put in this weekend.

The last couple of weeks have seen my longest rides, with the last 2 Saturday's being 7 hour epics. I rode the same route both times at it is the closest I can get to the profile of the Austria route, the main thing being a longish climb (Wrotham hill for the locals) about 30km from home.

7 hours on a bike takes a bit of doing, and your mind does tend to wander...I've always chuckled to myself as I have ridden past this sign in the past but this time I thought I would take a picture, who would have thought that riding a bike in Kent could be so dangerous, all kinds of wild animals to look out for...

Last week I also stopped when I got to the turnaround point, I made it to the coast (Hythe) so took a picture of the sea on a gloomy day just to prove I got there.
I had a nice tail wind on the way home on the first trip so got back within 7 hours. I then went out for my 1 hour run and somehow actually felt great. I had been very careful with my nutrition on the bike ride and I think that paid off, got back home after 8 hours feeling fairly confident about my fitness.

On the Sunday the weather as a bit grim so I ditched the planned 90 minute bike ride in advance of my long run as I didn't want to take the risk of coming off with only a few weeks to go. It seems that running is a lot easier if you have not ridden your bike first, I took it easy on the way out and actually made it home faster which is unusual with the uphill run home for the last few km.

So last weekend was fairly successful. The weather last week was not great so I had a couple of sessions on the wind trainer in the kitchen, lots of sweat produced and I seemed to be holding a decent level of power during the rides so I was pleased with that.

Tuesday nigh was the penultimate swimming squad and it was a really tough session. In the middle of our main set we had to do 400m hard, I had planned to do a time trial on Friday to see what sort of time I was at for 400m so this gave me a chance to set a benchmark. I certainly wasn't fresh going into it but managed 6.42. That is much better than a year ago when I suspect that I would have been around the 8 minute mark. I've been consistent with my swimming so am pleased to see some improvement.

I also did my final long swim in the 20m pool, managed 4.4km (that's 220 lengths!), can't wait for that nice big lake in Austria!

I still did the swim time trial on Friday in the 20m pool (Tuesday is a 25m pool), this time I was a bit fresher and managed 6.23.

So that brings me to this weekend. I had the same sessions planned (7 hour bike - 1 hour run on Sat and 90 min ride - 3 hour run on Sunday). I decided to actually do 7 hour of riding time this week as I generally just leave my watch running when I am at traffic lights etc. I got a bit further than the week before and when I got home I had covered 202km, the hours run was not quite as easy as the week before but I still didn't feel too bad considering. I was very tired and a bit sore last night though so wasn't quite sure how today was going to go.

Today was forecast to be warm so after an early morning airport trip to pick up my Dad, I had decided to leave my training until the middle of the day to give me some warm weather training. Ride was fine and the run out was ok. I started to struggle a bit on the way home but although I was slowing down I was still moving in the right direction and given that I had Saturday's 8 hour session in my legs wasn't too worried. I had to stop with about 40 minutes to go to reload my drinks as I was getting though quite a lot but again I was being careful to take in some nutrition at regular intervals which my body seems to appreciate.

I was pretty pleased to get home knowing that the big sessions are now all in the bank. The next time I have to run for more that 3 hours, it will be fully catered and they should give me a medal at the end! To say that I am now tired would be an major understatement though, I've managed a shower since I got home and that is about it, have been laying down since!

I'm not going to ride the bike into work any more now before Austria, the fear of some idiot knocking me off is too great only 3 weeks out and that should also help me to recover well and make sure that I am nice and fresh for the sessions that I do so I can get the most out of them.

So that's about it, I feel like a major milestone has been achieved and looking back at all the training I have done, I know I am well prepared for the physical challenge of the Ironman. I entered the event the day after the race last year, since that point, I've clocked up the following:

Swim - 204.3km (127.7 miles)
Bike - 9,947.2km (6,217.0 miles)
Run - 2,155.2km (1,347.0 miles) no wonder my legs are sore.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Evidence of the cheating...

Just to prove that I wasn't over-reacting when I was talking about the cheating going on at the Barcelona half check out this video clip of the race, for any non-triathletes reading this, the rules of the race are that there has to be 7 metres between the rear wheel of the bike in front and your front wheel. It appears that these people must have mis-read the rules and thought it said 7mm!!

The first part of the video also shows that the water was pretty choppy, I actually thought this looked worse on video than I remember it being, I think I was too worried about trying to find the marker buoys!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

May training

So I set myself the challenge this month of posting the biggest month ever in each discipline. It helped having 5 weekends that slotted into May and I managed to achieve the bike distance fairly comfortably, just about got there with the swimming and running too. It would have been more but I did take a full 3 days off after Barcelona to try and recover properly. Totals were as follows:

Swim - 28.7km (17.9 miles) - 10 hours 43 mins
Bike - 1,480.5km (925.3 miles) - 54 hours 15 mins
Run - 271.3km (169.6 miles) - 24 hours 39 mins

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Barcelona Race Report

I arrived in Calella on Friday night at about 8pm, in time for some dinner, a quick stroll though town and then put the bike back together.

Calella was nice enough, it was a strange mix of elderly types and triathletes, the Euro rate at the moment made it seem pretty expensive but I was happy with the location of the hotel, being only 5 minutes from transition.

The bike went back together with out any major mishaps, the retaining screws that keep the back wheel away from the frame had moved during flight so when I first put the wheel on it was all wonky which worried me a it but after a little bit of faffing, that went back on ok.

Saturday was a fairly busy day, I went out for a 20 min easy run (stomach did not feel great) and then a 30 min spin on the bike over the first part of the course. Roads were super smooth but I came across more rolling hills than I had expected. I then had some breakfast and went to register, all well organised. Popped back to the hotel to grab my wetsuit and then went for a quick dip to make sure it still fitted ok! No trouble there, water was a nice temperature and fairly clear, some decent sized waves though, not too choppy, more large rolling waves.

After the swim I went back to the hotel to relax for a bit, watched the F1 qualifying and sorted out my bags, then off to the race briefing before taking the bike into transition. The last act for the day was to pick Erika up from the airport. her flight was on time so I was back in bed by just after 11pm.

Race Day Being only 5 minutes from transition and having bike and bags already racked, I did not need to get up too early. Alarm went off at 5am and I grabbed some breakfast at the hotel which they had put on early for the triathletes. Pumped up bike tyres and did final check of bags and a walk though of transition and was feeling ready. There weren't many portaloos so I decided to walk back to the hotel to use the facilities which was nice to be able to do rather than have to que up!

I then headed back to the beach, wetsuit on and a quick dip before lining up in the start pens. Looking out at the swim course I knew that navigating was going to be tough, there are a number of markers that are always in the water for boating etc and the race buoys were pretty small and with the waves similar to the day before I was apprehensive.

I was in the second wave (out of 4) so it was soon time for us to start. I moved to the right of the pack to get some clearer water so swam an outside line around the first marker which was 250m straight out. This was the only bit of certain navigation I had for the next 30 minutes!! I could not see any other markers but was able to use the sun to make sure that I was heading in generally the right direction, I finally saw the final turning buoy and was probably 100m further out to sea that I should have been but was at least still on the course. I made the turn and the next and was then trying to relax into the swimming on the section back along the coast, although I was finding this difficult to do whilst constantly worrying about whether I was heading in the right direction. At this point my timing chip also decided to fall off, luckily I felt it come undone and grabbed it just before it sank, tucked it in the arm of my wetsuit and carried on.

Finally saw the final turning buoy and then with the crowds on the beach it was easy to find the finishing area. My goal was for about a 33 minute swim, however I definitely swam further than 1.9km so was not too worried about a time of 37.15. Run up and over the timing mat with my arm on the floor to make sure that my time got recorded and then grabbed my bag and went into T1.

This is the first time I have done 'Ironman style' transitions where you have to grab your bag of stuff and go through a changing tent rather than having it all next to your bike, and although they felt slow, nothing went wrong. I put the timing chip back on my ankle and went out to get my bike, T1 3.58.

The first couple of km of the bike are a bit twisty and narrow until you get up onto the main road, there are also some speed humps on the first part which gave me my next problem of the day. The bit of mesh that stops your drink from coming out of the handlebar mounted water bottle launched itself out of the bottle on the first speed hump, as did most of the contents of the bottle, lesson learned for next time, make sure that thing is wedged in better! This was a bit of a pain for the rest of the race as if I put more than half a bottle of liquid into it as soon as I hit any sort of bump it would cover me and the bike in sticky sports drink, not nice!

Once onto the main road the ride was great, road surface was super smooth and I felt good. My aim was to keep my HR to about 145 and never let it go above 153 on any hills. With a tailwind for the first section I soon got in under control and was flying along, I love that bike with the race wheels on and a smooth road! The first 25 km flew by and we were soon on to the inland section which was a very slight climb up for about a 10km stretch. This cannot really be described as a hill and with a favourable wind I got up there with no trouble, only slight drama was running over a water bottle that the guy in front of me dropped at an aid station but luckily I stayed upright.

Saw the leaders coming back down the hill, looked like the guy n front was making his move as he was hammering himself!! I got to the turning point at 35km in about an hour which included the uphill section, although at this point I was expecting the final 35km back to Calella to be into the wind so I was keeping my expectations in check. Back down the 'hill' with a few twisty parts and a couple of steep speed humps and onto the coast road again, this time into a slight headwind for the 10km to the turning point in El Masnou. This was where the Tour De France style packs started to form. I've never seen anything like it in the two years I have been doing triathlon, it was shameful stuff, packs of 100 or so riders making no effort to abide by the rules. As the packs came past me I would sit up and let them go, the problem was that into the wind, once I got back to my HR target I caught them back up. I decided to put in a bit of an effort to get past them and abused them all as I went by!

I got to the turn around at 56km feeling good, this part id pretty much dead flat so I was in a nice rhythm. A couple of packs came back past me on this section, more abuse from me, particularly to the Brit in the Thames Turbo kit that I had seen in the middle of the pack both times, at least I knew that he would understand my ranting, I wish I knew the Spanish for 'Cheat!'!!

There were marshalls on the course trying to break up the groups but they had no real affect. I tried not to let it worry me, although when you see 250 people overtake you who are all blatantly cheating it is a little but frustrating! The last 20km or so were into a bit of a headwind but nothing too bad and my legs felt fine over the little rollers back into Calella. Jumped off the bike for a 2.33.44 bike split, average HR 146 and felt great.

T2 was uneventful, 3.30.
Crossed the run start line and immediately used the loo! The course does a mini loop to the south (about 3km in total) before coming back past transition and then heading up the coast to the north east. I saw Erika as I came back through past transition and wasn't feeling great, my stomach wasn't too happy but I was holding my chosen HR. As I left T2, I had 1.41 to break 5 hours, I knew that this was going to be beyond me but had hoped to be able to run 1.45ish. The first distance marker I saw was at 10km and I was well off the pace. I had hoped to be able to pick it up in the 2nd half but this was not happening and I was fighting just to hold the same HR. I was slowing through the aid stations to make sure that I was taking on plenty of nutrition but it was pretty hot out there. The run back was tough, I could feel my pace dropping but tried to keep plugging away. Finally got back to Calella and turned off for the run through town, this was good with lots of supports and noise, and also some nice shaded streets. The final km is up hill and it just gets steeper and steeper, initially I thought that this was a nasty way to finish the course, but the crowds were huge and it was like the Tour de France with the crowd parting as you ran though them, epic stuff.
The guy in front of me started to walk and the crown exploded with noise to try and get him going again, it was pretty cool! I just about managed to keep running and was pleased to hit the flat running track for the last couple of hundred meters to the finish to come in on 5.17.17, a run split of 1.58.51.
Somehow Erika had managed to miss me coming up the hill and with family not able to get into the centre of the athletics track where the finishers were it took me 20 minutes or so to find her which was a shame. I was really disappointed with the run time but still pleased with a pb and proud to have completed the race. As always I try and analyse the race and learn from it for next time, there were a few things that I think contributed to the below par run
1. Bad stomach in the week leading up to the race - not much I can do about this
2. I need to make sure I keep track of fluid intake on the bike. I was drinking plenty but cannot say how much so this could have been a factor for the poor run.
3. All of my training has been based upon the Ironman, I have not ridden an HIM paced ride with a run off it so maybe I was expecting too much. My last HIM I definitely went too hard on the bike but I don't think I did this time, my HR was well controlled and I felt fine coming off the bike (much different to last time!!)
4. The heat was a real factor - this was one of the reasons for going away to do the warm up race, I plan to do my long runs for the next few weeks during the hottest part of the day rather than early morning to try and help me get used to this. All in all, I enjoyed the experience, definitely didn't go exactly to plan but I still have 6 weeks before the A race.
It turns out that the disqualified more than 250 competitors for the drafting on the bike which I think is a good effort by the race organiser. Here are a couple of pictures:

Friday, 22 May 2009

All packed for Barcelona

I'm flying out to Barcelona today and whilst the bike box turned up without any trouble, my other preparation this week has not really been ideal. My stomach has decided that it is not very happy so I've had to miss a few sessions this week which was not what I wanted but there you go.

I did do a 10 Mile bike timetrial this week. This is the first one I have ever done so wasn't really sure what to expect. Weather was fine and there were over 40 competitors each going off at 1 minute intervals. I was number 38 so had a bit of a wait until I got underway. There were some serious bikers out there doing this, lots of disk wheels and pointy helmets so I knew that they were going to be fast!

The course is pretty tough, the first 4 miles or so are uphill so I set off with the intention of pretty much giving it 100% to the top of the hill and then just try and hold on and pedal hard on the way back down, the course comes back past where you started, down a bit more of a hill before a sharp left turn and then a flatish last mile to the finish.

I certainly gave it 100% up the hill, this was a new form of pain!! When I had some testing done when I was out in Australia, I'm fairly sure that they calculated my max HR on the bike at 184, turns out that it is higher than that as I hit 187 on the last climb to the top of the hill!

It was good fun coming back down, I was in my top gear and pushing hard, I managed to keep the HR high for most of the down hill although there was one part where I couldn't pedal fast enough, speedo had me maxing out at 72 km/h. I then took the sharp left turn pretty conservatively and tried to smash the last couple of minutes on the flat. I was pleased with my time of 24.35, average speed of about 39 km/h (24.7mph).

I was the 19th fastest time of the evening, out of 42 finishers, fastest time for the day was 21.15.

Yesterday evening was spent trying to pack all my stuff for the weekend, there is so much that you need to take it is crazy! I think I am pretty much done now though, we're heading to the airport at about 11am to give me plenty of time to sort out getting the bike box checked in. Erika flies out tomorrow night after her sports massage exams.

My stomach troubles are still with me so I'm hoping that clears up before Sunday otherwise the race will not be much fun!

I have my race planned out with heart rate zones that I will aim to stick to during each section, hopefully that should result in me being able to run strong. I'm confident of a new pb and would like to get close to the 5 hour mark, I think it is unlikely that I will go under that but we'll have to see how it goes, lots of things can happen on race day. The weather forecast looks pretty good, 23 degrees and sunny on Sunday. Will report back after the race.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Recovery / Taper Week

This week is an easier week following 3 big ones. Also gives me a nice chance to make sure the batteries are well charged ahead of the Half Ironman in Barcelona on the weekend.

The weekend just gone went pretty well training wise, the weather was not all that nice, the first 3 hours of the ride on Saturday gave me wet roads and the odd heavy shower but luckily later in the day things dried up a bit, it was very windy though. I misjudged the direction of the wind a bit though, thought I had a strong tail wind on the way out so rode for a little more than half the time expecting to be blown home much faster. That didn't really happen so I ended up with a 6 hour 13 minute ride and 174km. Headed out for my hours run with no major problems, felt ok but was pleased to get home and sit down!

Sunday started with my usual 90 min ride to be followed by a 2 hour 50 min run. As I set off for the ride is was dry but within 10 minutes it was starting to rain, after about an hour it was torrential and not much fun! I was back to within about 5km of home only to find the road blocked by the police due to a burst gas main, luckily the policeman took pity on me and let me through, there was very little chance of me causing any sort of spark, I looked like I had been swimming!

Started the run in the rain but it cleared up after 30 minutes or so, meaning that I was then a bit overdressed so the rest of the run was a bit warm! Having learned from previous runs, I gave myself 3 minutes longer to run home than on the way out (its uphill) and made it back with 30 seconds to spare, about 30.5km (19 miles) covered.

I was pretty much done in after that. I've started to realise that I can be a little bit miserable when I get back from the weekend training sessions as I am so tired (to be honest I think I am tired most of the time), and I doubt that I am too much fun to live with, so will be making a bit more of an effort from now on.

I'm looking forward to a weekend away in Barcelona. I fly out on Friday afternoon with Erika joining me on Saturday night as she is sitting her exams for the sports massage course that she has been taking. Race is on Sunday and I've been doing my homework on the course. It all looks pretty good, the bike and run both stick to the coast for most of the route so it should be fairly flat, will be interesting to see what sort of wind there will be as that could play a pretty big part in the speed of the bike course.

My bike box arrived this morning which is good, at least I have something to take the bike over in now! The only bit of preparation fro this race that has been lacking is some open water swimming. I haven't had the chance to do any yet but will have an easy swim on Saturday morning in Barcelona. We used to swim regularly in the wetsuits in Melbourne so I have had plenty of time in mine so am not expecting any major problems.

After the race we are spending a couple of days in Barcelona which should be good, it's one of the cities that I've always wanted to go to, I had hoped to get to a football match but they had to move is from the Sunday night to Saturday night due to the Champions league final on the following Wednesday so it doesn't work for me. I'll hopefully try and do a stadium tour while we are there though.

The aim for the race is to get as close to 5 hours as possible, pb is currently 5.25.39.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Four to go...

I've just been sorting my stuff out ahead of tomorrows long ride (6 hours) and realised that I only have 4 big training weekends left to get through. Whilst I do enjoy the training, there is no denying that the program I have taken on is pretty challenging ad I'll be pleased to get to he point where I start to taper (although this will still involve plenty of exercise).

Next weekend is a recovery week with the half ironman on the weekend and then after that I have 3 more big weekends before the volume will start to drop. The weather forecast is not great for tomorrow but could be worse, looks like I am going to be in for a few showers.

The time trial that I was due to do this week was called off due to the weather, there was too much fog at the top of Wrotham hill, and whilst they were probably being overly cautious, I can understand why as the riders would have been up to 60 or 70 kn/h coming back down the hill so you want the cars to be able to see you clearly rather than emerging out of the fog. I may be able to get to it next week but I'll see how I go.

Starting to feel more organised for Barcelona now, although I am still waiting for my new bike box to arrive. That should be sent out on Monday, but I think I have almost everything else sorted, flights accommodation and car hire are all in place, I'm looking forward to getting out there and racing, as well as spending a couple of days in Barcelona with Erika afterwards.

Off to eat a huge dinner in preparation for tomorrow's 7 hour effort!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Solid running

I was please to get through my long run on Sunday without too much trouble. I took the 90 min ride beforehand very easy and made sure that I was well hydrated before I started.

Felt a million times better than last week but still kept the pace fairly gentle on the way out, as much as I would have liked to get home in the same time that I ran out for, the uphill run home always gets the better of me and I tend to lose about 2-3 minutes over the last half an hour when it all gets tough. That meant that my run was 2hours 43 minutes and I covered approximately 29.5km.

That was pretty much the end of my biggest week so far, although Erika was on her sports massage course this weekend and my Mum was doing dinner for us so I also rode the 35km over to her house in the afternoon, I thought this would be hell for my legs but they weren't actually too bad. Rewarded myself with plenty of food!!

This week is another big week before a recovery/taper week next week in the run up to Barcelona.

I'm planning to do a 10 mile cycling time trial on Wednesday evening, work and weather permitting. This will be something of a change to my usual slow and steady training but will make a nice change and gives me an excuse to put the race wheels on my bike and check that everything is in order for Barcelona. This is an organised event run by a local cycling club each week, the course is a challenging one with the first 4 miles being uphill but then it comes back down the same hill so should be pretty fast (assuming that my legs haven't exploded on the way up). I'm actually really looking forward to it but hope that the weather plays along as the forecast is not great at the moment and I'm not going to do it in the wet.

The 'May Challenge' is coming along well, I'm nicely on track to beat all of my previous totals, I still need to do the following in the rest of the month:

Swim - 15.6km, Bike 551km, Run 124.8km

Other than that things seem pretty organised, I have ordered a bike box for transporting it to the races, that should be delivered either late this week or next week, flights and accommodation in Spain are all sorted.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

First 100 mile ride (nearly!!)

Long ride session today went well, I went out for 5.5 hours, and although it was pretty cold for the first few hours, I had a good ride and almost hit the 100 mile mark (actually did 159.7km = 99.8 miles). I then did a 1 hour run off the bike which was fine, no real issues, I think my body was pleased to be doing something other than riding the bike!!

I've ridden further tan 160km on a number of occasions in the past but never on my own and this is certainly much harder than riding long distances with a group. My pace is ok, averaged almost 29km/h with my heart rate well under control.

Only a couple of minor issues that I had to deal with, another water bottle full of sports drink was ejected onto the roads of Kent and squashed, this is a bit annoying but not much I can do about it as for these long rides I have to take out large bottles in the behind the saddle cages, in the actual race if this happens there will be an aid station within 20km so I can just get more, is a bit of a pain that I keep wasting bottles though!

I also had a bad spell after about 4 hours, when it felt like someone had turned the power supply to my legs off, managed to come out the other side and actually felt quite strong at the end.

I haven't managed to put a good long run in the day after my long ride for quite a while so am hopping that tomorrow goes ok, am doing my usual 90 min easy ride and then have a 2 hour 40 min run planned. Going to take 1.5l of sports drink out this time as well as some gels so hopefully I can keep my body fuelled better than last week.

Out for a curry tonight, not sure that is the best pre-training nutrition but I'll make sure I eat lots of rice!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Welling Half Ironman - Take 2

I had a day's holiday from work today to do the 2nd of my 3 planned half ironman race simulations. I was hoping to do exactly the same as last time although this option was taken away when I looked at the swimming pool opening times and was somewhat annoyed to see that you are only allowed to swim in the mornings if you are over 60! Not particularly helpful for me.

Found another local pool that was not quite so ageist but being a bit further away decided that I would swim, drive home and then do the bike and a full 21.1km run rather than split in 2 like last time.

Swimming pool was actually much better that they one I have used before, they had 3 lanes roped off and each was nice and wide, I started as the pool opened so there were only 2 other people in the lane and it was easy to overtake so I had an uninterrupted swim, completed the 1.9km in 36.03 without too much bother. I'm quite happy with my swimming at the moment, I swam 36 minutes in Geelong last year and I know that I am faster in the open water with a wetsuit on so doing that sort of time in the pool is a good sign. We also did a split 1500m at the squad session on Tuesday (500, 400, 300, 200, 100 with various different efforts during each set and approx 30 seconds rest in between each block) I did this in 25.30 (excluding the rests), given that my best 1,500m race time is about 29 minutes, I've clearly made some progress.

Anyway, back to today, despite the drive home from the pool, I was out on the bike within 20 minutes of finishing the swim, same course as last time although a bit more traffic to contend with and this time the wind was more of a problem for the second half of the ride. My nutrition plans had to be changed half way round when having just finished one of my bottles of sports drink, the other one was ejected from the seat mounted bottle holder courtesy of a huge pothole. I did stop to see if I could recover it only to see it obliterated by a couple of trucks and a few cars!! SO with no liquid left I didn't really want to eat much more as I need to be able to wash it down with something otherwise stomach troubles are never far away. Apart from that the ride was ok, time was not great but with plenty of traffic etc I'm not too worried, total time was 3.08.57.

I was pretty thirsty when I got home so chucked some water in and took a gel, put the running stuff on, this time with a camelback full of 1.5l of sports rink and 4 gels in my pockets and set out for the run. Run was ok, I kept my HR on track for the first 45 minutes or so but then probably let it go a bit higher than I should of and as a result faded a bit towards the end, although the run home was uphill and into the wind so probably not quite as bad as the time would suggest, Half marathon (ish) completed in 1.56.56 so an overall time of about 5.40 is similar to last time.

Didn't feel too bad afterwards, obviously tired but recovered pretty well after some food and a shower. I'm still not 100% happy with my nutrition, so will keep making changes until it feel right.

Back into my normal training for the rest of the week with a long swim tomorrow and then an easier day on Friday before another big weekend. I expect I will get close to the 100 mile mark on my ride on Saturday which is always a nice milestone.

Have been enjoying watching the cricket for the rest of today and have the champions league semi-final tonight to watch so my legs are getting a good rest!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

2 months to go

Today marks the 2 months to go point and my training is really starting to get challenging. This weekend was really tough but I managed to survive and feel like I learnt a few things which is good.

Saturday's ride was good, I made an early start, getting out the door by 6am so it was nice and quiet on the roads. I decided to take a route that meant a lot of the ride was on the A21 towards Hastings, a dual carriageway at some points but I was keen to try and get some uninterrupted riding with less junctions and better road surfaces which worked quite well, I got home n just over 5 hours with 145km covered, a quick change at home and I then headed out for my one hour run. I started this at a nice easy pace and managed to plod along ok, legs didn't feel too bad, pace was certainly not high but I had never intended it to be.

Sunday's plan was a 90 min easy ride followed by a 2.5 hour run, the ride was fine, a bit windy on the way home but no major problems, quick change and out for my run, I took a camelback filled with water and 3 gels for the run which would normally be plenty. My plan was to take 1 gel after 1 hour, the next after 1hour40 and the last one just after the 2 hour mark. These plans changed pretty rapidly when after only about 15 minutes, I was feeling awful. My legs felt like they had nothing in them and as such I could not get my HR up to where I would have liked it to be so with over 2 hours of running still to go, I decided to revert to a damage limitation type of strategy. I therefore took one of my gels after 20 minutes and that helped for a little while but I was then into the cycle of being slightly lifted after each gel and then feeling this slowly wear off over the next 20-30 minutes and then feeling terrible again! As I only had 3 gels I had to just try and battle through the terrible parts and try and keep going. I am fully expecting to feel like this on the actual day so in a way it was probably pretty good practice, although in hindsight I think I need to start taking out a sports drink rather than simply water, at least during the race there will be an aid station every 2km or so where I can properly re-fuel if I need to.

As you can probably imagine, the next 2 hours of the run were not a whole heap of fun and I was pretty happy to get home in one piece. Hopefully some lessons learned for next time though, and was also encouraging that I still managed to cover 27km even though I felt like death for most of it, had the run gone really well I would have expected to cover something like 29km so it was not the end of the world.

I have booked this Wednesday off work and am planning to do my 2nd Half Ironman simulation. The weather forecast looks ok so I am expecting this to go ahead. I'm going to follow the same format as last time, which means braving the public swimming pool again which will no doubt drive me mental!! I'm going to try a few tweaks to my nutrition strategy as I felt a bit bloated on the bike this Saturday.

This session will be done at my planned Ironman pace which I think I have worked out in my head, and only 2 and a half weeks out from Barcelona will also give me a bit more practice stringing all three sports together. The only other thing I need to sort out before then is getting some open water swimming in, I had hoped to do this yesterday but ran out of time and was feeling pretty beaten up after the weekend so I will try and work out a time to get down to the lake to get used to my wetsuit again.

Friday, 1 May 2009

The May Challenge

So with April now out of the way, the training is going to move to a new level. Due to the 2.5 week holiday, Aprils training totals were relatively low:

Swim - 14.9km (9.3 miles) - 5 hours 34 mins
Bike - 459km (286.9 miles) - 17 hours 3 mins
Run - 137.2km (85.8 miles) - 11 hours 47 mins

Total - 34 hours 25 minutes

I've had a good week so far, after having a nice rest on holiday, my legs were complaining a bit with the 55km that I ran over the first 3 days of this week but although there is always an element of having tired legs with this sort of training, I'm not feeling too bad.

May was always going to be my biggest training month of the year, as I get to the last couple of weeks of June I will start to reduce the volume to prepare for the race so I decided to set myself a challenge in May. I want to have my biggest month in each sport, based upon the training log that I have which goes back to the start of 2008, the most I have done in each sport is as follows:

Swim - 26.3km (Sept 08)
Bike - 1170.3km (Jan 09)
Run - 265.7km (Oct 08)

When I started working towards this race I spent 3 week blocks concentrating on one particular sport which is why the biggest weeks for each one were some months ago.

My intention is to do this through consistent training rather than mega sessions, although obviously the big weekends that I have planned over the next few weeks will help. I am also taking a day off work next week to do another half ironman simulation so that will help with the numbers.

Have a 5 hour ride followed by a 1 hour run planned for Saturday and then Sunday will be my long run (2.5 hours) with an easy 90 minutes on the bike beforehand. Being a public holiday on Monday I am hoping to get my first open water swim of the season in as I'm reliably informed that the lake is now about 14 degrees so should be just about bearable!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Well rested but starting to get nervous

Arrived back from my holiday yesterday and had a great time, we spent just over 2 weeks in South Africa and managed to get to Durban, Johannesburg, a game reserve, the Garden Route and Cape Town. Throw in a wedding (which was the main reason for the trip) and you have a fairly busy two weeks. I won't add all the photos that I took (digital camera's only result in me taking hundreds of of pictures of sunsets) but here are a selected few:
A friendly lion cub:

are you sure they only eat grass??

Sunset at Camps Bay, table Mountain in the background

Managed to take in an IPL game in Cape Town, another spectacular sunset after a stormy day

Finally, I'm not sure that his elephant was too pleased with us watching him and his family!!

Training was pretty much nil while I was away, I managed a few short runs but nothing else, my legs at least feel well rested now!!

Got home yesterday to the realisation that Barcelona is now only 4 weeks away so with Austria only 6 weeks after that the two weeks of no training has made me a bit nervous, but also determined to get back into it. I also ate well whilst on holiday, so have a few kg's that I would prefer not to be carrying around races with me so need to try and deal with that over the coming 2 months as well.

Didn't train yesterday after a long flight but went out for an easy 2 hour run this morning that was ok, am going to do a couple of hours on the bike this evening as well as it is light beyond 8pm now which is good. I'm back to work from Monday but will be putting of plenty of hours into the training.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

A nasty cold and a busy week at work

Training this week has been rubbish! My legs recovered well from the Half Ironman on the weekend, felt much better than they have done after recent races so that was promising, however the rest of me felt terrible, the cold that was creeping up over the weekend turned quite nasty and I have felt generally terrible for the last few days.

I could have done with a day in bed but work was really busy and fairly stressful so just had to try and get through it.

Tuesday evening it was all getting on top of me so I decided that I would go to my swim squad anyway as it would be good to stop thinking about work and feeling crap for an hour. The lane they put me in last week was pretty easy so I thought I would stay in that lane and just take it nice and steady.....

Started the warm up and they asked me to move up a lane (to a faster one) in order to even the numbers out a bit, so my plans went a bit out of the window. I ended up having a great swim session though, I really enjoyed the session which had us doing 600m with paddles at 1500m pace. The coach then used that time (10.30ish for 600m) to come up with a planned pace of 3.25 for 3x200m (with 30 seconds rest). A few months ago I would not have had a chance of swimming at that pace but I ended up leading the lane off and making the splits pretty comfortably, pacing well to come in at about 3.20 each time. So all in all I'm happy with my swimming at the moment.

Apart from that and riding into work and back one day I have not done any training, just haven't felt up to it so thought rest was the best policy.

We're off to South Africa this evening for just over two weeks which should be great, my training will be hit and miss, I'll do whatever I can when I can but I'm not going to set myself a formal plan, will just try and run a bit and swim whenever I get the opportunity.

Once I get back I will only have 10 weeks left to Austria so my training will really start to pick up. I'm going to try and add another medium length ride one morning during the week to help my legs get stronger, together with running into work once per week to help keep the run volume up. Will just need to get myself up out of bed earlier in order to fit in the ride before work!

Anyway, I need to go and finish off my packing, off to the airport in a couple of hours.

Monday, 6 April 2009

The Welling Half Ironman

This weekend was a big one with a half Ironman simulation planned for Sunday to test out my Ironman pacing and nutrition.

Saturday was an easier day. I'd lined up a couple of guys from work to go out for a ride so we did about 86km in about 3 hours. It was good to have some company on a ride, the average pace was similar to my solo rides but it was a bit more up and down with some higher intensity riding at times which made for a nice change.

Sunday morning arrived and the cold that seems to have been creeping up on me was still there, it was all just in my nose and throat though so I decided to go ahead with the day.

Erika dropped me at the pool and I was hoping that it would be nice and quiet, no such luck there though. Jumped in an immediately realised it wasn't going to be a whole heap of fun, they only rope off one lane in the pool and put up a sign saying 'fast lane' but clearly the people swimming in it just ignore that or have a very different view of what 'fast' is. Every single person was doing breastroke and going very slowly, so much so that I was probably swimming 5 lengths to every 2 that they would do so I got caught up most lengths. I don't have a problem with people swimming slowly but I'm not sure why they feel the need to be in the one roped off lane, they would even get to the end of a length with me behind them turn around and push off without letting me go which was a bit rude, I would then have to try and swim past them, normally getting a few good kicks for my troubles. I tired to not let it annoy me and apart from that the swim was fine, the pool was quite warm but I completed the 1.9km in just under 37.30.

I got changed and then had to run the 3km home, I had decided that I would take this off of the final run so that I still ran half marathon distance, just split into two sections. Got home and changed, put on the kit that I will be wearing for the actual race, grabbed my food and drink and got out the door.

The ride was ok, I had set myself hear rate targets and just tried to stay within those, obviously had a few junctions traffic lights etc to contend with and there was a nasty head wind for the first half of my ride. I was a bit worried that I was not going as quickly as I would have wanted to but I got back in 3.05 which is ok. The nutrition went ok, actually felt quite full probably could have done with a bit more pain water to help digest all of the calories that I was regularly throwing down my neck! The course I did was 89km and the amount of climbing was similar to the Austria course so a useful session.

I then chucked on my ipod and a fuel belt with some drinks in and headed out for the run. Whilst not the most exciting, I had planned 3 laps of just over 6km so that if I completely blew up I wouldn't have too far to walk home. This went ok, I was starting to slow down a little on the second and third lap but nothing too dramatic. I had a combination of the sports drink that they will be handing out in Austria as well as some flat (ish) coke to try and get me through the run. People are often surprised by the fact that they hand out coke but it is pretty useful stuff when used in the right circumstances. It gives you a good boost of carbohydrate and they are pretty much 100% from sugar so is almost an instant pick up. I've used it before when out on the bike but was pleased that I seemed to cope with it ok when running, again could have done with a bit more plain water to wash it all down but I will have that available in Austria. The 2nd run was 18.75km and it took me 1.41, so overall I completed the half Ironman distance in just a bit over 5.35 (not including transitions).

Considering when I the Half in Geelong in Feb 08 my time was 5.25 I am pretty pleased with this given that I was attempting to go at what I expect my Ironman pace to be.

Obviously after 5.5 hours of training I was pretty tired yesterday afternoon and my cold has definitely got worse, feeling pretty crappy today so having a recovery day form training, rode into work but only because I didn't want to sit on a train feeling ill! I usually swim on a Monday but I will give that a miss for today.

So apart from feeling ill it was a good weekend, I have another 2 of these days planned in my build up, will treak a few things from a nutritional perspective and hope that the training over the next 12 weeks helps to make me faster at similar intensity levels.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Another month gone...

So March is now out of the way and with only just over 3 months to go, the focus now is on consistent training. The two races over the last two weekends were a good challenge but from here on in every weekend is fairly key to building up towards my goal race.

We're off to South Africa for 2 weeks next Thursday so the training is naturally going to reduce over that time but I intend to run as often as I am able to and also do some core strength work and hopefully get the odd swim in as well.

My training totals for March were as follows:

Swim - 15.8km (9.9miles) - 6 hours
Bike - 1,036km (648 miles) - 40 hours 13 mins
Run - 191.7km (119.8 miles) - 17 hours 29 mins

I need to start trying to get in 3 swims per week as I have currently only been doing 2, however I started with a new squad last night so will be swimming every week with them which should help, I much prefer it when someone else is telling you what to do in the pool.

I have been doing better at running more regularly, although I have had to give my legs a bit of a rest after each race I have done recently as the higher intensity efforts leave me a bit sore afterwards.

The fundraising is still ticking along nicely, I'm up to £1,305 now and haven't yet asked anyone at work to donate which should hopefully add a bit, I'd still like to make my £3,000 target that I set for myself.

This weekend is a big one, I'm riding with a couple of friends on Saturday which will make a nice change from all the solo work, we'll probably do about 2.5-3 hours, then on Sunday I am going to attempt my first half Ironman simulation, although I have had to amend that a little. The idea with this is to cover the half ironman distance but at my planned Ironman pace. This gives me a really good training day and also means that I can try out my nutrition plan etc for race day.

The only problems that I have is that Erika is on her course so I have no car, either way the lake where I do my open water swimming is still a bit too cold for me (9 degrees at the moment apparently but rising!) so I will have to do the swim in the pool and then run home in order to jump on my bike. I've decided that I will just take the distance of the run from the pool home off the final run so that I still cover the distance although for me it will be a swim-run-bike-run!

Will be interesting to see how that goes, I also need to plan a bike route that will not involve too much traffic or junctions etc.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Reading Half Marathon

Today was my last race before the Half Ironman in Barcelona. We had originally planned this race as one of Erika's goals but I had also entered and went in hoping to beat my pb from late last year, although knowing that would be a tough ask as I had a great day last time for a 1.32.11.

My plan was to see if I could hold pace for a 90 minute half marathon, quite a daunting task and I knew tat it was going to hurt!

This race was huge with around 16,000 taking part, luckily I started up near the front so was only held up in crowds for the first few km. Having looked back at my time from last year I realised that I had gone relatively 'easy' for the first 10k and then came home pretty quick for the last 10k, so this time I thought I would take it out a bit harder and just try and hold on.

They had pace runners out on the course and I started close to the 1.30 runner but he was a bit more aggressive through the crowds in the first few minutes so I didn't especially try to stick with him, just try and get into my own pace, I had set a target of a 175 HR for the first 10k and then just as much as I had left for the second half.

That was going reasonably well, there was a nice big hill at around the 3km mark that pushed me a bit behind 90 min pace but I stole a bit of time back on the downhill sections and got to 10km in 42.30 which is only 50 seconds slower than my 10km pb from a few weeks ago (although this was on a course with more hills), didn't feel too bad but from mile 6 to about mile 9 I did start to struggle, legs were starting to complain and it was a battle to make sure that I kept the heart rate high.

I wasn't exactly sure what sort of time I was on for but was fairly certain that I was just outside of 90 minute pace. There were some nice parts of the course, the best bit had to be a huge band playing a selection of drums at full volume under an underpass, great motivation, wish they could have followed me the rest of the way round!

As I got closer to the end I caught a couple of glimpses of the pace runner not too far ahead but for all the effort I could not haul him back in, didn't have too much left at the end but was please to cross the line in 1.31.00.

Erika also did really well and I was pleased to see her running into the stadium after all the trouble she has recently had with her knee.

I have a feeling my legs are going to be pretty sore tomorrow, just have a swim lined up to try and loosen them up, will probably get the train to work rather than bike in.

I start with a swim squad on Tuesday night which I am looking forward to, will be nice to do some different stuff in the pool and hopefully get some more technique tips. I'm also going to be trying to cram in some bike time over the next 10 days as we go to South Africa for 2 weeks just before Easter so I will have no bike. Then once we get back from there I have 4 weeks to Barcelona and then another 6 weeks to Austria, coming around quickly to put my feet up now.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

The Half Way Point

Last Sunday marked the end of week 15 of my 30 week training plan so it seemed like a good time to take stock of the first half of my training, and think about the things that have gone well to date and things that I need to focus on more in the final 15 weeks.


Run Endurance - I was happy with where I managed to build my long run up to. I was running 32km in 2.45, which is 3.36 marathon pace and always one day after having done a long ride.

Swim consistency - I've been pretty good at getting down the pool reasonably regularly given that it is not my favourite past time. I also think I have made some good technique improvements and becoming more efficient.

Determination - I've done some pretty challenging workouts and have been pleased that I have never quit, 4 hours on a wind trainer has to be the worst, but good preparation for what I know is going to be a pretty tough day.

Time in the Zone - A key part of my training is spending time swimming / biking and running in my endurance training zone. I've certainly done pretty well at putting the hours in, the first 15 weeks of the programme have yielded the following:

Swim - 56.6km
Bike - 3,340.5km
Run - 645.4km

Total training time 205 hours 48 mins (approx 13.5 hours per week)

Things to work on:

Core strength - I am still much too hit and miss with this and need to try and do it consistently.

Weight - I've actually put on a couple of kg's since the end of last season, nothing that I am too worried about but I would like to be lighter, less weight will definitely make an Ironman easier. I do have the worlds largest appetite and when in heavy training often feel like I need to eat constantly. I could probably make a few better choices and would like to get back down to race weight over the coming months.

Pacing / Nutrition - I have my nutrition plans in my head, just need to test them out when operating at my Ironman race pace to check that they work for me.

A few random thoughts really but it is useful to write them down as I will only have myself to blame if I do not address the things above over the next 15 weeks!!

Although 15 weeks is still a long time, when I look at my key long ride and long run sessions, because of holidays, races, tapering and such like, I think I have less then 10 long rides to go until the big day.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Ballbuster Race Report

Did the Ballbuster again this morning, conditions were somewhat better than last time. It was a cold start this morning but by the time the race got underway the sun was well on its way up and the frost was clearing so I was looking forward to a less dangerous ride this time.

My plan was to try and run the first 13km loop a bit harder than last time, not flat out but aiming to keep my heart rate around the 165 mark (85%). This went to plan, no great dramas and the first run up the 2.5km climb was not too bad, came in just over 3 minutes quicker than last time, HR averaged 167.

Onto the bike, using the Cervelo with race wheels on so was nice to give it a blast on the flattish sections, the bike really feels fast when you get it going, road was covered with pot-holes from a cold winter but I found a line nearer to the middle of the road that wasn't too bad so kept the pace up. The downhill sections of the laps are pretty technical so difficult to keep a high heart rate as you have to get on the brakes a bit and with some loose gravel on the corners it was still a little slippy but nothing like last time. I rode the bike laps pretty consistently, about a minute per lap faster than last time but HR was also higher than before.

Out onto the final 13km run and yet again the first 5-10 minutes were a case of waiting for my feet to come back to life after being frozen on the bike, this wasn't too bad though and my aim was to settle in to the first 15 minutes and then hold about 170 HR and try and make up some places. My legs were pretty tired and the downhill parts were very tough, your legs just want to slow down but I was trying to keep the pace going, didn't feel as though I was running particularly well though.

Made it to the bottom of the final climb in just over 3 hours and the final 2.5km is seriously tough, by that point you are used to the time it takes to get up the hill on the bike so the run up it seems to take forever. Whilst I wasn't exactly flying up the hill, I still picked off a few more places for a final lap of bang on 1 hour and an average HR of 169.

Total time was 3.21.32 so nearly 6 minutes better than last time which I am happy about.

My emotions are slightly mixed though as in a way 6 minutes faster in much better conditions doesn't feel like much improvement for the level of training I have put in over the last 4 months. On the other hand I am only starting to bring in some speed work into my training whereas in November I had only just come to the end of the season where I was racing shorter distances so that may also have something to do with it. Whilst this race is still 3.5 hours long, I can still hold a pretty high intensity for the duration, but my training is more focussed on the intensity that I will hold for 11-12 hours which is quite different.

Half a half marathon next weekend and I am expecting a similar story, this is an even higher intensity race so I think I may struggle to beat my pb from last time but I'll give it a good crack.

Had a big support crew at the race today which was great, I cold hear them shouting at me from the top of the hill which was nice, I think they are all trying to get some practice n before Austria, should be a well oiled supporting machine by that point!

Race results are on the website, I came 74th out of 231 finishers (was 114th out of 335 last time).