2013 The story so far…

June 19, 2013 at 17:26



Climbing in the Outlaw Half

So, my excuse is I’ve been training 13 days out of every 14 for the last 40 weeks, working hard and being a good husband and dad…and that’s why I haven’t updated my blog for ages.

In fact, I just had to check and the last time I updated was before my Lanzarote Camp in February!! So I thought I would give a synopsis on the year so far which has been going very well, which will pave the way for some articles about my plans and for Ironman UK which is shockingly only 6 weeks away.

So first up was my Lanzarote Training camp.  I’d never done anything like this before and in a week did over 30 hours of training, 350km of hard Lanzarote biking, over 5000m of climbing on the bike, around 14km of swimming and 16km of running – and made some friends that will last a lifetime thanks to Russell Cox and the Sands Beach Resort in Costa Teguise.

For someone who holds down a job with long hours and also is a dedicated husband and dad, having a week to indulge your favourite hobby and train like a pro was the best time.  And at Sands Beach you can train with the Pros – within a few minutes of arriving, I’d already seen four Ironman UK champions!!

My camp gave me a massive training base that set me up for the spring to come  – I would recommend this to any Age Grouper regardless of level or ability as a way to improve your strength and technique.


Lanzarote – the best cycling country

In to race season, I completed the Sandy 10 mile run in March 20 mins faster than my 2012 time, then at the end of April, smashed my Bedford Sprint Triathlon PB that had stood since 2006.  Then at the Bedford Middle in mid-May I suffered a bit of a disappointment when my new race nutrition strategy back fired. I was sick in the swim, couldn’t digest anything on the bike, ran out of energy after about 90 mins and got slower and slower.  I started the run, was sick again after 5 miles and then sensibly pulled out at about 7 miles.
Although a DNF is never good, I took some important lessons from this race – first not to use energy drink and go with water instead, and general some lessons around nutritional preparation the day before and on the morning of a race.

So I arrived at the Outlaw Half on the first weekend of June feeling I had something to prove. I was the bike in a relay team with my coach Russell Cox who was running and his fiancée Gill who would swim.  Being in a relay was great, as you don’t have the prep or the nerves of doing all three disciplines, but you have the big race atmosphere of competing as part of a 1300 athlete event.

A good aero position is key to speed!!

Gill was aiming for a sub 40 swim, so as she left the water under 38 minutes, I new the pressure was on for me to have a good ride too. I was aiming to keep the ride at 85-88% of threshold and see what happened.  I set off like a train round the lap of the lake, using my freshness to overtake riders that were still recovering from the swim. But as I left the lakeside road, there was a big bump and my Garmin mount snapped and my Edge 800 bounced of my bike and onto the ground.  I stopped to pick it up, but disaster!! There was no way of mounting it on my bike, so the only option was to put it in my back pocket, and the next 54 miles would have to be on feel alone with no speed or power to pace against.

So I then had to concentrate on keeping my effort high, staying Aero and trying to keep up with those riders around me.  I got to the time check (which I later found out was at 38 miles) and I pulled my Garmin out my pocket not knowing what to expect.  I was shocked to see I was on 98% threshold after 2 hours and had an average speed of 19mph.  Part of me was over the moon, but part of me thought “Uh oh…that’s way too hard.”  5-10 miles from home I started to get twinges of cramp in my quads and glutes which slowed be down a bit, but I came back into T2 having completed 90km in 3 hours and 10 minutes, around 18 mph

I was more than pleased with this, although probably couldn’t have run off that bike, then handed the timing chip over to Russ who, on very little training, knocked out a 1:34:59 half marathon to bring the team in 5:25:59, 290th out of 1300 entries, 21st in the team relay category.

But all I’d proved was I could put that sort of effort in fresh with no swim or run to do – could I string that sort of effort together in a Triathlon?

Last Sunday, two weeks after the Outlaw Half success, I would find out, as I toed the line at 6:20am in the Cotswold Water Park near Cirencester at the start of the Cotswold 113 Middle Distance Triathlon.

As I lined up for the swim and overheard a guy say “I’m aiming for a sub-40 today” so I thought “I’ll stick on your feet then” which was a bit inspired.  I stayed on his feet and that kept me in the pack throughout the swim – normally I’m slightly off the back swimming on my own.  No goggle or gagging issues and just a 40 min continuous swim, on people’s feet all the way.  Felt a bit light headed as I got out of the lake but saw 39:42 on my watch and was really pleased.

I then got on my bike and this is where it got interesting. I had my Garmin on a new handlebar mount so it wouldn’t fall off this time and was aiming for around 88% of threshold.  After the first couple of miles, however hard I pushed I couldn’t get above 75%.  At first I put this down to cold and maybe pushing it too far in the swim, but my legs didn’t feel fatigued, the numbers just weren’t coming up on the Garmin.

Cotswold 113

650 athletes were aiming for this!

This continued throughout the ride and my average speed was going down and down.  I was also getting spikes of real speed, with it going from 6mph to 9mph to 18-20mph (where I thought I was).  On the second lap I started to get really suspicious as I was going 18-20mph, but my average speed had gone down to 15mph.
It wasn’t till I got to the second feed station which I knew was 51 miles that I found my Garmin thought I had only done 41 miles.  For some reason my Garmin was losing speed and distance data, though I didn’t know at that stage why that should affect my power.  It also showed that I was through 51miles at 2h50m, so was going to be finished at around 3h5min, which while was a really good time, it also meant my % threshold was probably nearer the 96% it was at the Outlaw Half, rather than the 76% recorded.

My watch time was 3:06:44 which was a massive PB.
I’ll admit I was pleased as I got into T2 with PB’s in swim and bike, but also very apprehensive how that would affect my run.  For the first couple of miles it seemed ok, but in mile 3 I started to have to walk long stretches as fatigue really set in.  This was compounded as I got to the first feed station at about mile 3 and they’d temporarily run out of water.  They had coke, High5, sweets and cake etc but I really needed water.  This meant I struggled through the rest of lap 1 until I got water at a feed station near the start of lap 2.  I ran/walked through laps 2 and 3, picking up substantially toward the end of lap 3 as I got mentally stronger as the end approached.

In isolation it was a disappointing half marathon (through understandable reasons) but still a Middle Distance PB by almost 10 mins.  Really happy with my swim (which was 2m05s 100′s – faster than my CSS in the pool) and in retrospect pleased with a fast bike split, but on the bike it was very frustrating at the time.

So moving forward with just 6 weeks left till IMUK, I think I’ve isolated my Garmin issues, which were to do with my Speed/Cadence sensor and auto pause switched on, but I need to focus on a steady bike effort (with or without technology) that allows me to run well off the bike.  My swimming is strong as is my biking if I can keep a steady 75% effort – my running has been solid in training, I just need to bring that to race day.

Now comes the next 4 week block of training which will include a full 3.8k swim, 3 loops round the IMUK circuit in Bolton, and a week off work for a big block before I start taper.

I’ve put in nearly 4000km on the bike, 600km running and 150km swimming to this point, so if I’ve got the foundation for this last push – it’s now about the last endurance build and getting to the start line healthy!!

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