Sunday, 30 December 2007

Try, try and try again...

If anything I'm persistent and that's probably why training for 'going long' suits me to the ground. Last week I said I was going to attempt the 'moderation' thing over the Christmas period. I did really well up until Christmas Day where I tipped myself right over the edge and as far away from moderation as possible, consuming the most indulgent home made chocolate cake and custard for dessert having already eaten the entire contents of Ben & Lies' lovely festive fare and my weight in chocolate throughout the day. So... I still can't do moderation, a bit like I can't roll my R's, but hey, it's not for the want of trying. I'm not going to see this as a negative, I'm going to see it as a work in progress. And like my training the things I'm not great at I will work on and on and on at until I'm better at them. This year I managed to not stuff my face with chocolate until Christmas day, maybe next year I'll manage to make it to Boxing Day or even New Year, small steps, small steps. If I use this persistence and attitude for my training then improvement will be slow but it will happen, and anyway, who needs miracles!

This week was an easy, easy week after 28 days of hard work and getting back into the rhythm of training. I was looking forward to spending time with family and friends and just kicking back and resting. Tom and I had a couple of days in sunny South Shields ( a few family traumas - it is Christmas after all) and a lot of quality time spent with my ma, brother and lovely niece Kelsey. I love it, time with the most important people in the world, you just can't beat it. We were home for Christmas Day which we spent with my cousin Ben and his very pregnant girlfriend Lies and I was honoured to have been asked to be the baby's Godmother when their bundle of joy arrives. Just wait little one, we'll have you out in a baby buggy running round the streets of Leeds before you know it!!!

It has become our tradition to run the Chevin Chase in Otley on Boxing Day, a run that rips the muscles out of your quads and the air from your lungs. I was apprehensive about how I was going to run. Having spent over two months with 'that' injury which was still niggling, I really wasn't sure how it would behave on the day. The race is mostly off road, very hilly and has hard descents, definitely a testing course for my ankle. You can imagine my surprise when I came in only 20secs short of last year and was 10th girl. Most importantly though, the foot didn't hurt and great to see my running fitness hasn't gone completely down the pan.

We went on to Tom's mums from there and we ate like Kings and slept like logs, getting in a couple of light training sessions in between snoozes and meals, lovely. Back home today and on the way home we went to Loughborough pool to get a quick 4km swim session in. I wasn't really in the mood, we'd been driving for 3hrs and the prospect of a cold swim session wasn't greatly endearing. However, I'm really glad we did it as I swam well and managed to pb for 400m's getting near the 6min mark for the first time with 6.01. I'm getting pay back for relentless hrs and metres doing drills and analysing my stroke underwater and also hanging onto the feet of Tom in our 10 x 300m swim sets where we alternate drafting. I just need to use this technique on the bike and I'll be on a winner!!

Training in anger starts again tomorrow and I'm looking forward to getting a lot of bike volume in over the next week now that the frost has gone and temperatures are not sub zero anymore. As for the moderation thing, unfortunately I still haven't quite got the knack of it, so it's back to the all or nothing syndrome, which means that training is all and chocolate is nothing. My personality loves it and I can't change it try as I might.

"You're not obligated to win. You're obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day."

Marian Wright Edelman

Happy New Year to one and all.

H. x

Chevin Chase race report...

This year, for the the third time in a row, H and I spent Boxing Day morning running in the 7 mile (ish) cross country race that is the Chevin Chase. It's becoming somewhat of a tradition that we join our friends Pete and Ady to burn off our Christmas Day excess before tucking in to the Pete's mum's unrivalled Boxing Day hospitality :)

Two years ago I ran 46:36 before pb'ing in the Brass Monkey Half Marathon in January '06 (80 minutes), last year I was a second quicker round the Chevin but a week of post-crimbo flu put paid to my 2007 half-marathon pb ambitions and I only managed a short 83 in York. This year I'm determined to go sub-80 minutes at the Brass Monkey on January the 20th and having pb'd in the Dublin marathon and then again for the Great North Run (for the course) earlier this year was looking to round 2007 off with a third pb in a row...

I really wasn't sure how I'd perform on the day having got close to 80 hours training in the previous four weeks but Monday was a rest day and Tuesday an easy bike. The Chevin Chase is a super hilly run and although I'd been doing Kirkstall Hills on Saturday mornings I'd been quite a way off my pb for them and not that confident in my speed. Having gone off too hard in my last two cross-country races I decided to start cautiously and broke the race down in my head to 15 minutes steady, 15 minutes hard and 15 minutes of everything... by which point I hoped I'd be in view of the finish ;)

As the gun went the usual crazy start followed, with every man and his dog setting off at top speed and little regard for pacing strategies. I tucked in behind some LBT club mates and concentrated on settling in to the first couple of miles. At 15 minutes people had stopped overtaking me and it was time to up the pace, working my way through the field and feeling strong on the hills I was confident of a good finish. At around 30 minutes I got to the top of the steepest and most energy sapping climb of the day and with a little left in the tank knew it was time to hurt... running back down in to Guiseley I was feeling great and expecting a massive pb but the final section of this race always seems longer than I remember and as the seconds ticked by I realised it would be close. Before the race I would have been happy with anything in the 46's but having felt so good I was a little disappointed with 45:59 but, a pb is a pb and if I can match it over 13.1 I'll be under 80 minutes for the first time in January.

On the good side I paced it well and was only overtaken by one person from about ten minutes in, finishing in 34th place out of 814 (top 4.2%). I was also pleased to feel strong on the hills (the single leg squats must be paying off). I definitely need to work on my speed however as opposed to last year when I felt I had the speed but lacked the strength.

Overall, that's the first target of my 2008 Ironman campaign achieved whilst providing some great feedback as to how I need to focus my training, in order to move closer to my major running goal of sub-2:55 in the London Marathon. A performance which I believe will put me within touching distance of 3:25 for the Ironman Germany marathon.

Finally, I'd like to mention two other great performances on Boxing Day... H for being tenth lady and taking down some good male runners in the process, without aggravating her ankle injury :)... and one of our Sports Science students Alistair Brownlee for winning the race in 38 minutes and 20 seconds (around 5:30 per mile) which anyone who has run this race will tell you is nothing short of phenomenal!

Really finally... if you're looking for a little more inspiration check out the subject of today's photo ;)

Time to get back training, see you next year...

T ;)

Tom's training diary... week 5 of 32...

A good recovery week at approximately 33% of normal volume and including two complete rest days. Still managed to train all three disciplines and include two quality run sessions. It can be really hard to drop the training volume just when you're getting into the groove but I expect to feel the benefits over the next few weeks of hard training.

Tried to swim on Friday in Suffolk but the pool was full to the brim of super-slow breaststrokers with no concept of lane etiquette. Gave up after a couple of stop-start 400s. Did manage to slot in a quick 4k on the way back to Leeds by stopping off at Loughborough University Pool however. Felt OK but pretty sluggish... I don't do rest very well ;)

Nothing much top report except for a really enjoyable two hour ride to Ilkley and back with H on Christmas day

Two good sessions - a pb at the Chevin Chase (see this weeks blog entry) and a tough ten miles on tired legs on Saturday in Suffolk. My running seems to be going pretty well although I definitely need to inject some speed if I'm going to go sub-80 at the Brass Monkey.

A really mixed bag - Sleep has been great and I far exceeded the 56 hour goal, it's also been an extremely relaxing and stress-free week. On the flip side I've eaten chocolate for England which has caused me to feel pretty sick and tomorrow morning's 'weigh-in' could be pretty interesting as I've not stood on the scales since boxing day (72.1kg)... fingers crossed ;)

Workout of the week
Simple but to the point and so important - Saturday morning's 10 mile marathon pace run. With much of my normal focus and drive left up North for the Christmas period it would have been easy to eat sweets and watch telly all day. At times like this however it's all the more important to just get out there and do something and if you're looking for a time efficient workout then a tough 70 minute run is hard to beat. In a week where training time is at a premium quality is vital and sessions like this can't be beaten.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Tom's training diary... week 4 of 32...

A great final week of my initial four week block. Over this training period the goal was to get back in the rhythm of training twice a day with plenty of volume in all three disciplines. Key to surviving this stage was also to minimise the number of sessions of significant intensity. With 76 hours achieved, feeling strong with no illness or injury it’s definitely a case of so far so good. I do feel pretty fatigued now but this coming week is scheduled for some serious recovery time and volume will probably drop to five or so hours with two runs, two bikes, a swim and two complete rest days.

Biggest week yet with 16k. Felt good all week particularly in the drafting 300s with H where my last two were sub-4.30. I’m still confident about the potential benefits of the power-on stroke. Tumble turns are getting there… slowly ;)

Smallest week so far, largely due to the poor weather keeping me on the turbo and time constraints on Sunday limiting me to three hours. Feeling good though, ahead of this time last year with no serious bike focus until weeks 9-12.

Biggest week so far, legs felt extremely fatigued by the Saturday hill session. Still feel I’m ahead of last year and will focus on the run over the next four weeks with the Brass Monkey on January the 20th being my first serious goal of the season.

Made good strides with my weight this week, dropping from 73.1kg to 71.6 (around a 3kg drop over the four weeks). Still a way to go to reach my sub-66 target by March 15th but I’m certainly on target. Being light is extremely beneficial for endurance performance but power and health must not be compromised… this is an extremely fine line and difficult to manage effectively. Once the final 20 weeks starts it’s not ideal to be in an energy deficit, particularly with the related increase in training volume & intensity. Sleep was ok at 53 hours although 3 short of target. Food was good although the nutritional challenge comes this week!!

Workout of the week
The Tuesday tempo treadmill was pretty good and I’m starting to feel relaxed running at 16kph (6 min miles). As a performance measure I’ll be taking HR over the last five minutes, this week I averaged 170 and maxed at 171. Each week I’ll add a minute of 17 at the end with the hope to get to ten minutes at 17 with a sub 170 HR. If you’d like to repeat this session it’s 10-20 min warm-up followed by 10 minutes at 1kph slower than marathon pace, 10 minutes at marathon pace, 10 minutes at half marathon pace and ten minutes at 10k pace. Each week add a minute of 5k pace on the end (and remove a minute of the slowest pace) so that after ten weeks the session finishes with ten minutes at 5k pace. This is a great tempo session which should really improve your running economy at pace with fatiguing your legs to seriously.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Lifestyle part deux...

Well, I didn’t quite manage the 56 hours but with the help of a 90 minute power-nap yesterday afternoon I got to 53 for the week. Sleep is prime recovery time from all those hard sessions and you see all kinds of strategies advocated by different coaches, magazines and books. Paula Radcliffe is reputed to get something like 12 hours sleep in every 24 and an article I read the other day recommended an extra hour for every hour spent training… for the working athlete however this would be an impossible task. I’ve never really thought seriously about my sleep but as the quest for Kona continues and the training intensifies, survival becomes one of the biggest challenges. I figure that if I could average eight hours a night I’d be ahead of most of my rivals so for the last four weeks have been keeping a record and aiming for 56 hours a week. I’ve only managed this one-week out of the four but just keeping a record has helped me to become more conscious of my sleep levels and my natural competitiveness gets me cramming in the odd hours here and there. In week three, where I hit 56.5, I definitely felt the benefit.

So far I’ve listed the three key areas of lifestyle that I believe are vital for an ‘age-group’ athlete to maximise their athletic performance… minimal alcohol consumption, a healthy diet consisting of natural foods free from artificial additives and consistent achievement of adequate sleep.
Several other lifestyle factors are key to successful performance and with many of my thoughts coming from the writings of Gordo Byrne I’ll provide you with this quote from his latest post and direct you to his blog for further reading...

“To achieve our true athletic potential, we need to be operating from a position of harmony and stability. We also need to be willing to change.”

How’s my lifestyle? Well, although I’d consider myself a fair way along the journey I’m still learning every single day and am far from ‘optimal’. I’ve conquered the booze and am pretty much there with the diet (although my refined sugar intake, albeit largely organic, is probably a little high). Sleep is a work in progress as is personal planning, time management and financial stability. With great support from friends and family this area is 100% and obviously H contributes significantly to my athletic dreams.
The photograph that I've used this week is of Mark Moxon and I (I'm on the right) just as we got in to the water prior to the start of Ironman Switzerland 2007 and is a reminder to me as to what this is all about ;)

The biggest challenge for me however will come when my Ironman journey comes to an end.

Have a fantastic Christmas,

p.s. my training diary is done for week 4 but i can't upload it from this computer... it will follow tomorrow.

Festive Restraints...

Just reading Tom’s post on lifestyle and it’s many challenges brings us to how an athlete deals with Christmas. Should caution be thrown to the wind and as many mince pies and glasses of wine be consumed? Or should every mouthful be watched and training strictly adhered to? I wonder what Paula Radcliffe does? It’s something I’ve found difficult to get right to be honest. More because I don’t have a ‘moderation’ setting in my personality as I’m almost certainly an ‘all or nothing’ person. However, this year is going to be different. I’m writing this from my mums in South Shields and I haven’t dived into the Christmas chocolates (like I normally would) but we did all go out for a lovely meal together and I had a dessert. The challenge for me is having a little bit but not having it all. Training this week has been consisitent and I’m pleased with how it’s progressing (except for the annoying ankle thing which I’m hoping Santa is going to take away with him when he comes tomorrow night.) I had a fantastic swim session with Tom on Thursday where we did 10 x 300’s alternatively drafting. I worked really hard and feel like my swimming is progressing, even the tumble turns are coming along. So Christmas for me this week is going to have a little training and a little bit of what I fancy and I’m going to conquer the moderation thing… I think.
Todays picture is great for my winter motivation when the summer goal seems so far away.

I’m going to sign off and enjoy a week of Christmas food and Christmas training, I hope you all have a great one too…

H. xxx

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Christmas is only round the corner...

How does it happen? I mean I know it does happen, every year in fact. But why am I so surprised at how near Christmas is? Especially when the shops have been advertising the fact since Easter!!! Finding the time to train has been a lot easier now that I have the luxury of running my own business but I still have to work and I still train roughly at the same time every day yet I don't appear to have any more time? Maybe that's what I should be asking Santa for... 'Dear Father Christmas, my time management skills leave a lot to be desired and I always find I never have quite enough of it. Please could you leave me a large handful to distribute evenly throughout the year so that I can train hard, sleep well and still see the outside world? Yours in anticipation H. x'
We haven't even got any festive fare going on in the house yet. I think we need to sort that asap or we're going to feel like we've trained right through Christmas without even noticing it. Bah humbug.

I've had a very up and down week this week with my training. After a hard core weekend of cycling last week with little sleep -I blame that on Ricky Hatton- we went to our Run Club Christmas Dinner where I mingled with a few people who either had the lurgy that's going around or were just getting over it. Consequently when I got up at 5am on Monday to do my 5km swim set I felt like I had swallowed a razor blade. I rested on Tuesday and made sure I got a good nights sleep. On Wednesday I woke up ready & raring to go. I did the pyramid run session that I was due to do on Tuesday and ran well and in the evening enjoyed a 2hr turbo session with Tom. I haven't been enjoying my running since coming back from injury as my running fitness has deserted me, leaving a heavy footed elephant in it's place. So trying to get my legs to turn over that little bit quicker was horrible and great at the same time. Consequently when I went to do my longer run session on Thursday my tendonitis reared it's ugly head and I've had to take another step back, just being super cautious with it. It's still weak and clearly hasn't liked having a speed session and a longer run on consecutive days, so there'll be none of that for at least another month. Running lightly every other day for the time being. It's feeling much better & taking immediate action has prevented it from breaking down completely. I have my beady eye on it.

After getting a good 10hrs in on the bike outside last week I was looking forward to more of the same this week. Unfortunately it's been FREEZING cold here in Leeds and very, very icy so I've spent 9hrs in total on the turbo building my mental strength looking at the back of the garage door! Got to, just got to get some motivational posters for that garage door! Still it's all good for my legs and hopefully will transfer to the road when I get out there. The mental side of it is just as important too. Ironman is certainly as much about mental strength as it is physical.

So, it's been a week of highs and lows. Bloody tendonitis and 9hrs on the turbo, fingers crossed next week looks a little differently!

Before I sign off I just wanted to report on the progress of our mate Mark Redwood who was involved in a terrible cycling accident a few weeks ago, badly damaging his hip. Tom & I went to see him on Monday and if ever I've needed to look up to someone with a fantastic amount of mental strength and a humbling attitude to the future then Mark wins hands down. He's undergone 9hrs of reconstructive surgery and spent three weeks in hospital lying flat. Mark's home now and has applied the same attitude he had to training hard to his recovery strategy. He's whizzing around on crutches and has dealt with the accident as a whole, remarkably well. I struggled to want to go out riding when I heard about his accident. I'm a novice compared to Mark, he's an awesome cyclist. But speaking to him on Monday he reassured me and has no qualms (in fact he can't wait) to get back out there and ride again. His crash was a bad case of wrong place, wrong time and had he and his mate Pete been in a car they still would have had an accident. Seeing his eagerness to get back out there and continue to race (he had entered IM Austria) has shown me that mental strength is where it's at and having a good attitude makes a world of difference. Unfortunately my attitude can well and truly stink. I can be so very childish and stubborn that I hold myself back with the occasional tantrum (Tom knows all about these, oh and my mum!) but if I could bottle Mark's strength and lack of fear then I'd be onto a winner. Maybe when it comes to New Years Resolution time I should try and stipulate a change of attitude when things don't go my way and the toys are thrown way, way out of the pram?! Actually I don't think miracles can happen, but hey, there's no harm in trying.

So kiddy winkles I'm looking forward to a good week out there in the world of triathlon, who knows what this week will bring but I'd like to get outside on my bike again this week, and continue with the great swim sets that Tom & I have been doing. The running, well it's going to have to get there when it gets there, there's no pushing that tendon of mine until it's ready. When January arrives I too will start to log my weeks training...

Happy Christmas shopping and partying.


P.s A HUGE Happy Birthday to Tom's mum (and nearly my mum, 12mths to go until I'm a fully fledged member of the family) we hope you have a lovely day and we can't wait to see you and Ray at Christmas (we can talk weddings and merangue dresses til we're blue in the face!) xxx

Lifestyle lessons...

Those of you who read my training diary will have seen some of my thoughts on lifestyle. This is an area that many athletes neglect in the belief that an extra few miles of running or lengths of the pool will pay dividends over spending the time cooking a healthy meal or catching up on lost sleep. This is particularly challenging for athletes such as H and I who are also required to hold down full-time employment. Your typical full-time professional athlete won't train that much more than an amateur but what they will spend more time doing is recovering from the demanding training required for high levels of endurance performance.

Although H has suffered from an annoying ankle injury over the last few months it is the first for a couple of years and she is generally free of injury and illness. Not including self inflicted damage such as trying to remove my own toe nails in our recent XC adventures I haven't missed a day of training through injury or illness since our Ironman journey began nearly three years ago... I also schedule in very few rest days, preferring to take active rest through swimming or cross training and maybe lowering the intensity. People are always asking how I manage to maintain such high volume with limited rest without breaking down... the answer is simple....


Please note that I'm in no way saying everyone should live like this and I'm sure there are plenty of far better athletes than me out there who are still partying hard but this is what works for me...

Those of you who knew me in my twenties will remember my lifestyle as a little more like the subject of today's picture than your typical Ironman athlete! Since my 30th birthday however (27th June 2004) I've adopted a somewhat healthier regime ;) Getting drunk is out! I gave up completely on that day and was absolutely t-total for exactly one year, since then I've not allowed myself more than one single drink on any one day. The benefits in terms of better and more sleep, less junk food consumed, less money wasted and less stress due to acting like a plonker have all contributed significantly to not only my athletic life but also my work, social and home life. This has had by far the greatest positive impact on my life as a whole and I really would recommend it to everyone... just try it for 12 months.

Secondly, you are what you eat! And I do mean you are what you eat! Throughout Uni and the majority of my time in Australia I consumed a seriously junk diet, never even considering what I stuffed in my greedy face!! KFC, McDonalds, Burger King and Pizza Hut were par for the course... as was an expanding waste line, increasing cholesterol level and falling fitness. Particularly since the start of our Iron journey I've really paid attention to my diet... organic is in and artificial is out. There are endless fad diets out there and the world seems confused... low-fat this, carb-free that, don't eat after this time, don't eat those foods together, the list is endless. But again it is simple... EAT NATURAL and you can't go wrong. Where possible cook your own foods from the raw ingredients and if you can't then always (and I mean always) look at the ingredients of what you are eating, make sure you know what every single thing is and if you don't then stick it in Google and find out. I refer again to THIS great article from the New York Times. Go organic where possible and take time to enjoy learning about food, where it comes from, how to cook it and more importantly how to ENJOY it. H and I have started to get fruit, veg and other odds and sods delivered every Monday from a great company called Abel & Cole, if you're in Yorkshire then give them a go, if not I'm sure there's something similar near you. I've seen both sides of the nutritional fence and I can assure you from personal experience that this one is far superior ;)

Thirdly... sleep is king!! Which is why I'll be finishing this next week as it's already past nine o'clock and I've got 56 hours to find in the next seven nights.

To be continued...

Night ;)

Tom's training diary... week 3 of 32...

The aim of these first four weeks is to get back in to the habit, and get my body used to the demands of, training around 20 hours a week. After three weeks it's going pretty well with week three as follows...

With last Sunday being so hard and also such a long day what with getting up to watch the fight at 4 and then staying up way past my bedtime for the Virgin Active Road Runners Christmas Party I decided to ditch my Monday morning swim in favour of a much needed lie-in. As I've talked about in today's blog entry sleep is so so important in training and having been nearly 9 hours short of my weekly target last week it was time to make amends. At 17:20 my overall hours were slightly down but still good with plenty of work in all my key areas.

Having adopted a new swim technique since last Sunday's TTC swim camp and also taking a swim rest on Monday I fancied a crack at my 400pb (5:51). I am now swimming what is called 'power-on' swimming which demands a much higher cadence than traditional front-quadrant / catch-up style (I'll no doubt go in to the details as to why in a future blog entry) and so was pleased with 5:57 seeing as I've only been back in the pool for a couple of weeks and had completely revamped my swim tech only two days before. Volume was down at 9k but as usual my swim just gradually improves..

Another good week with some decent volume. Although I'm not quite getting the miles I'd like in this is largely due to the Baltic weather keeping me on the turbo. I did get out on Friday with BenG which demonstrated quite well how hard I'll need to work to go sub-5 hours for the 112 miles in Germany. Ben and I were pretty close in terms of bike performance this year with me beating him by 5 seconds in one 10 mile TT and him beating me by 10 in the other! This week it was all I could do to suck on to his wheel... partly me not quite on the ball and partly Ben riding very strongly. As usual I imagine my speed will drag it's heels and turn up just in time around May/June.

I've put the least intensity into this area of my training so as to minimise the chances of injury through the sudden increase in volume. Nothing has been hard yet and week 4 will be no different. Weeks 5-8 I'll chuck in some harder work with the aim of hitting my first real target of this training block (sub 80 minutes at the Brass Monkey - end of week 8). I must remember not to focus too much on this however as my 'A' race is not till 5 months later.

After last week's dismal effort on the sleep front I decided to prioritise it this week and came in at a rather impressive 56.5 hours! I can really feel the difference from last week and am determined to average 8 hours a night again in week 4. I've also committed to at least one proper stretch session a week so H and I spent about 90 minutes at Virgin this afternoon going through pretty much every PNF move we know. I particularly suffer from tight hip flexors which although fortunately don't seem to lead to injuries I think they pull my legs down a bit low when swimming and stop me getting my hips forward when running. A couple of weeks effort on them will hopefully help in both those areas.

Workout of the week
Another bike session this week... with the weather being so bad it can be hard (and often dangerous) to get out on your bike, this is where the turbo comes in. Our Tacx Flow's have revolutionised our training but the more people we talk to the more it seems that they struggle to spend time on this great training tool. This Wednesday H and I did a two hour session... most people would cringe at the thought of spending so long on a turbo but structured properly the time can really fly. A 'ramp' is where you gradually increase your effort in a series of steps and in this session we broke the two hours down in to ten individual ramps of gradually decreasing duration... ramp one was 5x6 minute steps (30 mins), ramp two was 5x5 minutes (25 mins) then 5x4 minutes, 5x3, 5x2 and 5x1 minute before finishing off with 4x1, 3x1, 2x1 and 1x1 minutes. The longest section without change was therefore only six minutes and each ramp started at an rpe of about 4/10 and finished at about 8/10 effort. The time flew by and before we knew it we had banked a couple of quality training hours.

I made good progress at the beginning of the week but steadied a bit toward the end. Now tipping the scales at 73.1 kilos a total loss of 1.7 kgs in the three weeks and just over 7 from my race weight target.

Sunday, 9 December 2007


Last night saw one of the most hyped boxing matches in British history with Ricky Hatton taking on Floyd Mayweather. Neither had ever lost so someone's perfect record had to go and unfortunately it was Ricky's. Today has seen various healdines and discussions about the fight, particularly from Ricky himself who apologised to fans for 'letting them down'. What people, including the great man himself, fail to understand is that the result isn't actually what measures success or failure... the same way the whether or not H or I qualify for Hawaii will not be our measure of success or failure.

Success is putting yourself on the line, giving it your absolute 100% and being able to look back with pride that you dared to dream. Failure is sitting on the sidelines and thinking what might have been had you been brave enough to try. Many people win and many people lose but very few know what it is like to put absolutely everything you have in to what others see as impossible... those that do however are safe in the knowledge that they cannot fail. They are the true champions... I am lucky enough to count several of my friends in this category (you know who you are) and most of all my true inspiration H.

"Happy are those who dream dreams
and are ready to pay the price
to make them come true..."

Leon J Suenes

Thanks for everything,


Find yourself...

This weekend was a tough one but I survived and in the process I found a bit of myself that I wondered if I was ever in possession of... bike legs! On Saturday after marshalling at the weekly Hyde Park Time Trial Tom & I braved the elements and put our new Winter biking gear to the test. It failed... miserably!!! But then it was raining...hard. The snow snowed...cold. The sleet And the wind blew...forcefully. We had planned a four hour ride to Burnsall in the Dales but at Bolton Abbey I decided my fingers were too numb (oh and actually compared to how they got after that they were actually warm!) I was too soaked and I couldn't feel my feet. On Saturday Tom just kept telling me it was an 'Iron Day' and yes people, on Saturday we were 'Iron Tough'. However, we shan't be repeating that lesson and if the conditions are EVER that similar again I shall be pedalling away in the lovely shelter of our garage. What I did discover though as we turned around into a driving head wind with the sharpest needles of sleet and hail (free dermabrasion girls, I actually have no skin left on my face!!) was that when I need to ride for my life (and Tom's as his hands have terrible circulation) that I can do it & it's not that bad. I go on all the time about how poor my cycling is. Compared to Tom or Lance Armstrong my cycling stinks but I know I've improved and it's just possible that I've finally stopped switching off and twiddling the pedals and actually started pushing on the damn things (if only someone had told me that from the start.) The ride home was hard. The Assos incredibly expensive 'hand warming system' that Tom & I had invested in were as much use as a chocolate fireguard and each hand weighed about as much as a baby elephant they were so soaked. I could hear Tom screaming in frustration as his hands slowly started burning with the wet and cold and I knew that I couldn't switch off for a second. We had to get home and get home quick. I had to keep working my little socks off so that Tom didn't get any colder. My work rate on a bike is higher than his so he doesn't generate the same body heat as he doesn't have to work as hard as I do (that's what you get for being speedy, that's what I say!) We got home and the joy of being in the warm house was thwarted by the fact that the contrast of temperature made Tom's hands a million times more painful. I braved a shower while Tom wandered the house like a demented animal screaming and begging for the pain to stop. Oh yes it was that bad! I was nearly sick in the shower as I couldn't bear the heat on my frozen feet so I got out and put on lots of warm clothes and ran down to help Tom get out of his wet gear. It was a lesson for both of us. Firstly, we're not invincible! But secondly I can ride, my legs work and I can get some power out of the little buggers.

Today (Sunday) I was dreading. The weather forecast was saying dry (ish) and it was due to be colder than Saturday. Tom was off to have his legs ripped off by riding with an incredibly talented cyclist called Carl Saint. So I was riding on my Jack Jones. The three pictures above are from todays ride. As you can see by my self portrait (apart from the fact that I'm much better behind the camera and not in front of it) is that I'm happy and the weather is looking good. Yesterday taught me so much, it was almost a break through day. Today I felt like I rode like a cyclist. I don't mean that my fitness and leg strength has improved so much that I'm 'up there' all I mean is that today I didn't feel like a learner. I rode consistently, I kept power through the pedals even on the hills and I worked hard for the whole ride. Today I loved my ride and that's a HUGE thing for me to say because I don't enjoy cycling as much as I do swimming or running because I find it so difficult. The three pictures show where I rode to today. A picture postcard little village called Burnsall which is just as beautiful in Winter as it is in Summer. The hills in the background are the ones I cam down to get here and so I have to go back up them to get home. The pic of me is me stuffing my face with an energy bar before I tackle that 20% climb and the third one is where I came from and was going back to. It always amazes me at the distance you can travel on a bike.

So, today I reaped the rewards of yesterday and hopefully I can move my cycling on to another level. I would put my training diary on for the week but I'm off to our Run Club Christmas Do and have just realised that I only have 45mins to get ready...Yeah right! Anyway my week has been similar to Toms. My swims and bikes are the same, a few variations on the runs but overall very similar.

I'm off to shower...

H. xxx

Tom's training diary - week 2 of 32...

The aim of weeks 1-4 is simply to get back in the habit of training twice a day with decent volume in all three disciplines and as few hard sessions as possible.

I've decided to break down my training diary report in to the following sections...

21 hours, all quality and with structure and purpose. Fitted it round work well and am feeling the benefits already. I reckon I'm about 6-8 weeks ahead of this time last year... it's important not to blow yourself in training though so please remind me to pace myself... I need to peak in 30 weeks not three!!

Good week with a total of 16.5k making my weekly volume the same as Michael Phelps' daily volume... that's 660 lengths by the way! Worked well on the tumble turns and had some excellent video feedback from Jack Maitland at the TTC workshop on Sunday afternoon. No times or benchmark swims just yet, will work on new technique points in week three and probably do something timed in week 4.

Also a good week, getting out both weekend days. Saturday was one of the most painful training experiences I've had as H and I got soaked by ice-cold sleet from start to finish... my finger tips are still painful over 24 hours later! Sunday was painful in a different way (see below under workout of the week). A good turbo session on Wednesday meant I was in the saddle for just under ten hours this week :) Nice to be back on the bike :)

Nothing hard as yet although took the Wednesday tempo treadmill up a notch. It was significantly easier than last week though which is great. Ran 12 on Thursday with H and TB, again felt pretty good holding 8:15 miles at an rpe of about 5/10. As with the bike I'm just slowly upping the mileage.

Been better with water intake this week and although I'm not hitting my target of 2 litres per day plus training requirements I'm on the way. My weight continues to drop with my 5-day average standing at 73.4 this week compared to 74.2 last (target 66 by March). Been eating well with no sweets, chocolates or junk food and no artificial additives, preservatives or flavourings where possible. On the downside I only managed 47.25 hours sleep (6.8 per day) compared to my target of 56... staying up for the Amir Khan fight then getting up for the Ricky Hatton fight didn't help!

Workout of the week
I've long believed that in order to improve effectively at anything you do you must surround yourself with people who are where you want to be and for Ironman Germany I'm trying to do that for my swim, bike and run training. This morning then I went out for a very hilly four hour ride with my friend Carl Saint who is a far far better cyclist than me with pb's of 19:11 for ten miles and 1:43 for 50... that's an average of 31 and 29 mph respectively!! I pretty much spent the entire ride glued to Carl's back wheel with my lungs exploding but there's no way I could train so hard or learn so much without someone like that to aspire to. Too often people shy away from associating with others who they see as 'better' than them... unfortunately that means they are seldom exposed to the inspiration and example of what is possible with a little hard work.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Here we go...

Firstly apologies for the terrible quality of the above pic. Now that training has started time is no longer in abundance. After an hours run this morning (6am-7am) followed by a two hour turbo (7am-9am) (above pic) this morning we had to dash off to this months X County race that Tom was running in. I had wanted to run in it too but with the nasty weather conditions I thought that slippy ground was not going to aid a tendonitis injury in rehab!

So, here we are into the first week of training and I'm already loving it. As you can see from the above picture I'm re-acquainting myself with the garage and the turbo. I'm so out of condition but it's good to be able to start everything again and build it slowly and from the bottom up. My tendonitis is nearly gone. I'm hoping that tomorrow will be my last session with Liz the physio, then I'll really know it's on the mend. I'm aware though that I will always have a weak tendon now so I'm going to have to be cautious and listen to every twinge and take action instantly if it feels remotely irritated.

My arms felt like they'd been ripped out of their sockets after my first weights session with Tom and Andy KJ this week. Not one of my favourite sessions but I've been told to keep my upper body strong. Keeping everything working together will help me keep my ankle strong so I'll do almost anything to prevent another two month injury!

We're about to go into our second week and I think I'll have shrugged off the sluggish unfit feeling that has been hanging around me for the past two months. It's going to take a while to get back up to speed and I feel like a little snail when I'm on the road, either on a bike or out on a run but in a few weeks time when I've shed a few kilos and my fitness is starting to come back I'll soon be back on form.

I'm looking forward to getting out on my bike with Helen McVicker from Leeds Bradford Tri Club. Helen's a great triathlete and a very strong rider and I'm hoping that I'll pick up a few tips and get stronger, faster and generally become a more competent rider (that is if I can hang on to her wheel!)

I'm impressed it's 19.10 on Sunday evening and with dinner to be made and a few more emails to do I can see myself being comfortably tucked up in bed for 9pm fully rested and raring to go when the alarm goes off at 5am.

Bring it on...

H. x (p.s if you're interested below is how my first week has looked.)
(p.p.s tumble turns are a swine to master!)

Monday am: Swim - 4km mixed technique & speed session

Monday pm: 30min turbo/30min run (easy)

Tuesday am: Swim - 100m/200m/300m/400m/500m - 500m/400m/300m/200m/100m
Weights session with Tom & Andy KJ

Tuesday pm: Hour run (easy - still rehabing foot)

Wednesday am: 60 mile ride

Thursday am: Swim - 10 x 300m (alternating drafting) off 10secs rest

Thursday pm: 10 mile run (easy)

Friday am: Swim - 3.5km mixed technique/speed & tumble turn session

Saturday am: 60 mile ride with Tom

Sunday am: 1hr easy run followed by
2hr turbo which consisted of:
15min warm up - 10 x 8mins with 2min recov - 5min cool down

No time to post....

This week's post is in the form of my training diary... which I've added as a seperate post. From now on each week I'll post a collection of my thoughts in one post and my training diary in another. You will be able to see my complete training diary by using the 'navigate to' section on the right hand side... obviously there is only one week's worth at the moment but I'll keep it going right up until Germany... and with a little luck... Kona ;)

It took me so long to work out how to fit it all on one page that that's all I've had time for this week.

Hope you find the training diary interesting, I'd really welcome any constructive comments, which I will reply to in the same way (when you make a comment you can tick a box which will let you know when other comments a posted in reply).

Speak soon,


Tom's training diary - week 1 of 32...

As if posting on the blog wasn't making Sunday evening's late enough I've decided to post my training diary from now until Germany...

This week's been pretty good and as the first of a 12 week base prior to the main 20 week block it's all about getting back in the rhythm of getting up at 5am four days a week, training twice most days and getting some serious hours in over the weekend. The swim sessions have been OK but by the end of each session my arms were struggling to keep up! Although I had planned to hit 15k, 45 minutes spent working on tumble turns with Ian Wilson (5th in the Olympics over 1500 freestyle) was worth the 2.5 sacrifice. I've not done anything hard on the bike with the mon turbo at an rpe of 3/10, wed about 6/10 and the Sunday morning intervals at about 7/10. The 60 mile ride with H was great but with my road bike still not up and running my Stealth got dirtier than it would have liked! It's been great to get back in to running after a couple of weeks off, Monday was easy (4 miles in 30 minutes), the Tuesday treadmill was supposed to be easy but my lay-off made me pay and my heart maxed out at over 183bpm!! Note: this was after 10 minutes at 15kph which is slower than my half marathon pb pace where I averaged under 160!!! Give me a month and I'll be back on track.

On the lifestyle front I managed 51.5 hours of sleep which is only 4.5 down on my target so nearly there, it's tough when the clock is set to go off at 5am! Weight wise I've dropped from 75 to 74.2 kilos so still a long way to go but again positive movement ;)

All in all a good week, great to be back training,


Sunday, 25 November 2007

Time to set some goals....

Since I wrecked my feet two weeks ago I've not lifted a finger with regards training... not even run club! As of today that makes 13 days of consecutive laziness... the longest I've been for at least five years. A couple of days ago I managed shoes for the first time and with everything looking like it's pretty well fixed it's time to get back on the horse....

So.... here we go... at 5am tomorrow morning my alarm will sound the first day of 32 weeks of total dedication toward achieving my maximum athletic potential over 140.6 miles on July the 6th 2008. In 2006 I completed my first Ironman in 10 hours 34 minutes, this year I completed Ironman Switzerland in 9 hours and 56 minutes... in 2008 I will attempt to complete Ironman Germany in under 9 hours 30 minutes with the hope of qualifying for the world championships in Hawaii three months later. In order to achieve this I will need to raise the bar in every aspect of my training and lifestyle...

In 2007 I started training in January, for 2008 I start tomorrow... for 2007 I raced at 69 kilos, for '08 it will be 66... for 2007 I swam 12k per week, for '08 it'll be 15-20... for 2007 I biked 150 miles per week, for '08 it'll be closer to 200... for 2007 I ran 25-30 miles per week, for 2008 it will be 35-50...

The bottom line however is results, however hard or easy you train it is irrelevant if performance increases don't follow, for 2008 therefore I have set myself the following targets to keep me focused on the road to Kona...

  • January 20th - Brass Monkey Half Marathon - sub1:20 (pb -1:20:53)
  • February 3rd - Dewsbury 10k - sub37 - (pb - 37:30)
  • March 15th - Ballbuster Duathlon - sub2:55 - (pb - 2:58)
  • April 13th - London Marathon - sub2:55 - (pb - 2:58)
  • June 15th - UK 70.3 - sub5:05 - (first time on course)
  • July 6th - IRONMAN GERMANY - SUB9:30 !!!!!!
Along the way there are a few other goals which I'll dip in and out of...

  • 400m pool swim - 5:30 (by June - current pb 5:51)
  • Mile pool swim - sub24:00 (by June - current pb 24:44)
  • Club 20k bike TT - sub30 (starts in May - pb30:44)
  • (I'll also chuck in some more bike goals once I've entered a few events)

And finally, a few lifestyle goals...

  • Drop weight to sub67 kilos by March 15th (currently 75)
  • Average 56 hours sleep a week (toughest goal of all)
  • Drink 2 litres of water per day (plus extra required for training)
  • One stretch session per week

You'll notice that my performance goals are highly run focused through Jan-April. Last year I really focused on the bike and saw some massive improvements both in my bike splits and how well I ran off them. My running didn't seem to move however and even though I did pb over 10k and the marathon during 2008 I'll need to see some significant improvements if I'm going to take my Ironman run from 3:40 to 3:25... as both the Austria (3:53) and Switzerland (3:40) marathon courses were flat and fast the run course at Germany won't be doing me any favours. In comparison to the bike course where although I'm aiming to go sub 5 hours (22.5mph) it's a much faster course than I've done before.

Having trained for endurance events for around five years I'm hoping that I'll be able to withstand the increase in training volume. I should regularly hit 20 hours per week and toward the summer there are likely to be days where I need to fit in three sessions. It's all about surviving the training with the key being consistency over the whole period... 'to train as hard as you can CONSISTENTLY train'.

You will have noticed that today's photo is a video... to me the 'Ironwar', which was the Hawaii Ironman in 1989 that saw Dave Scott and Mark Allen go shoulder to shoulder pretty much the entire way, represents the absolute pinacle of endurance performance. This is part 5 of 6 from that year's Hawaii coverage.. the rest is all on YouTube... I'd recommend watching it all.

From next week I'll be including my training diary for those who are in to the stats and will go a little more in to the structure of the 32 weeks. The basic target of this week is to get back in the habit of two sessions a day, go along to a masters swim session at the new international pool and get out on my bike Saturday and Sunday... and get the weight moving downwardsc;)

That's about it for now, as usual I've set myself up for an uphill challenge to meet my sleep target for the week and will be 2 hours down on day one... oh well, no one's perfect ;)

train hard,


We're on the road to Kona...

Finally, here it is… and like a child at Christmas I’m excited to embark on my road to Hawaii - it all starts tomorrow. I’ve got a lot to do and I’ve got 32 weeks in which to do it. On Sunday 6th July 2008 I want to be in the shape of my life and I’m sure that the past two months of rest and recovery will stand me in good stead.

I didn’t for-see my injury lasting so long and I certainly didn’t think I would have had as much time off as I have but it’s allowed me not only to recover and rest from an incredibly hard but rewarding 2007 but also to start my own photography business (check out my website and also to sort the house out. Both Tom and I are very similar when it comes to having our minds clear and decorating the house (in true Williams style i.e. all at once and full steam ahead -his mum and Ray can vouch for that) will allow us to become focused and free.

It’s a selfish, sometimes lonely but incredible journey and I’m done with growing my bottom to match the size of the house, so it’s time to put away the chocolate and treat my body like an expensive car, drive it hard and feed it the best.

Tom & I are training for the same Ironman so we’re going to be in sync with each other and we’ll be peaking for the same races and resting at the same times which is good. I know that this year when Tom was tapering for IM Switzerland that although I didn’t struggle to go out and do my sessions I had to stay focussed so as not to slack off. Even harder when Tom & Martin both finished and were eating chocolate and cake and I had a couple of weeks left before I could do the same. Our focus’ for IM Germany however are incredibly different. I need to get some serious work in on my bike this Winter and Tom plans to work on his running. The plan is to have a 12 week base and then go into a 20 week heavier programme. I know that because of my tendonitis that my running is going to need a lot of work. It’s going to be a slow process but I’m kind of looking forward to starting from scratch. I can run for an hour (albeit like a snail now that my running fitness has disappeared) and will go out for 75mins at the end of the week. I also ran two days consecutively for the first time this week, 30mins on Friday and 40mins on Saturday, all good ☺
As long as I do my hot water stretches before hand I’m fine. I’m still living at the physio’s and am there religiously every week, I can’t wait for the day when there is no longer a need to be staring and prodding at my right ankle anymore! I had an ultrasound scan on Friday which thankfully showed very little other than a thickening of the tendon, no need for a cortisone injection which is great news, it MUST be on the mend!!!

I can’t wait for that feeling when you know you’re fit and you’re in good shape. I’m back to the weight I was before I started to train for Austria this year but I’ll hopefully be back down to my race weight by about March, it has to be a slow process or I won’t keep my strength so it’s time to bring back the dreaded scales to keep a check on my weight loss to make sure I’m not losing it too quickly or in fact that I lose too much. Tom & I have indulged in the excessive side of our personality while we’ve been resting but now it’s time to rein it in.

So people, here we go, we’re on the road to Kona and tomorrow is going to kick off with a swim in the am and a light session in the evening, back to training here I come. I hope you enjoy my journey as much as me …………….

"The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person's determination."
Tommy Lasorda

H. x

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Oh what a mess...

In a bid to de-clutter our lives for our impending journey towards next years Ironman we're spending every possible hour working on the house. So, this weeks blog is a joint one as we throw ourselves and Tom's mum and Ray into a race against the clock to re-decorate our whole house... more of this in a mo.

Firstly, our fragility in life was brought home this week after a friend of ours - Mark Redwood was out cycling with his mate Pete when both were hit by a car and are consequently laid up in hospital with serious injuries. Only two weeks ago Mark was running Dublin marathon with Tom and Tony B and now after someone's impatience and utter thoughtlessness running will be the farthest thing from Mark's mind as he swaps his Austria Ironman triathlon training program for the things that are going to get him on the road to recovery as soon as possible. Both Tom and I are hoping to get to see him next week. I think we can all get a bit blinkered (I'm particularly guilty of it) when we have a set goal and nothing will get in our way as we strive towards it. Ironman training steals your life but it doesn't replace it with a bad alternative it just sends you down a very narrow and focused tunnel and I know that my measley two month non running patch have sometimes made me feel like my whole world has imploded. What's a splodge of tendonitis between friends though when there are things out there like Mark's accident that make you reassess and change your goals, and we hope that Mark is doing that. We just kept repeating the fact that we were just so relieved that both he and his mate were alive, that's the most important thing. So Mark and Pete, if you have access to t'internet and you're reading this, heal strong and we hope to visit you soon.

For this week training has been sporadic for me and non-existent for Tom after he ripped his feet apart in last weeks Cross Country race. We're desperately trying to get everything sorted in our lives so that when we get on that narrow Ironman road our minds and space are clean and clutter free. Tom's mum and Ray are our light at the end of a very long DIY tunnel. They're fantastic and full of enthusiasm even at midnight when Tom reckons we 'can get another coat of paint on before bed!' so we thank them from the bottom of our hearts for their continuous help. We've set ourselves the difficult task of decorating every room in our house in 5 days. We've got 2 days left and are doing well but this blog is going to stay short and sweet so that we can get back on it. It's 22.15pm, the picture at the top is basically the floor in our bedroom and we can't get into the room to sleep until another room is painted and sorted so we shall sign off for now and prepare for our last week of un-scheduled training.

sleep well,

T & H x

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Patience is a virtue...

This week has proven that patience truly is a virtue!!! Not only has the most important person in my life asked me to be the most important person in his life by marrying him... but it looks like I could be on the road to running again...Yipppeeeeee!!!! The above pic was taken on Monday, the 5th November and our 4th yr Anniversary. This is us pre-proposal enjoying the fireworks at Roundhay Park. Tom still has hearing here... about a minute after he asked me I squealed loudly non stop the whole way home I was so overjoyed and excited. I can't wait to be his wife... forever.

Anyone that knows me or that has spoken to me recently will have heard only two things... "No, he hasn't asked me to marry me yet' and 'No, I'm STILL not running'. And here I am sitting writing this with a marriage to sort for next December and four runs under my belt this week with no pain. If you can count 10 mins on Monday & 15mins on Tues that is, as it hardly seemed worth putting my running stuff on for such a short time! On Thurs and Sat I did a whole 30mins and the foot survived, but I still need to run slowly and build very very gradually which I'm fine with as I'm not prepared to irritate it unnecessarily after all of this time out.

I'm also patiently waiting for December to arrive so I can get my teeth into some decent training. I'm well and truly over the whole rest and recovery now. I realise I have to take it easy with my foot but that aside December can't come soon enough. The good thing about the timing of my injury and my rest period has meant that I can concentrate on getting my freelance photography business sorted and we - with Tom's mum and step-dad Ray - are about to begin the process of getting our house de-cluttered and re-decorated...lovely. I can start my training process for the quest to reach Hawaii with a clear heart, mind and house and that is my idea of heaven.

My training this week like last is just a basic and simple turn over of the body. I'm still adhering to the 1hr a day 5 days a week thing and it's slowly starting to kill me. I've done two brilliant technique based pool sessions after last weeks workshop gave me lots to work on and think about. The video analysis we had has been perfect for tweaking my stroke and I'm going to work hard on making the changes. My mini runs I've coupled with turbo sessions, nothing crazy though. Today I was a spectator AGAIN for the start of the Winter Cross Country League. We had a fantastic turn out for our club - Leeds Bradford Tri - and so I watched everyone kill themselves on an off road 4.8 mile (approx) run in the woods in Idle, especially Tom who managed to rip his feet to shreds and looked in absolute agony when I saw him on his second lap :( Next month I'll be able to join in the fun, I'm actually very very excited about feeling complete again.

So, what a week... a proposal of marriage on Bonfire Night - the eve of our 4yr anniversary- and a return to some form of running. What more could a girl want! I'm ready (more ready than you'll ever know) for the training to all start again, there's fire in my belly and I'm planning to eat the Winter months up with hours and hours in the saddle, km's and km's in the pool and miles and miles of running, bring it all on, Hawaii's only a blink away and I'm chasing that road to Kona from December 1st (November the 26th actually - Ed.) 2007.

Watch the roads I'll be out there...

H. x

My feet hurt.....

When you're just standing still minding your own business and a lump of dog poo clonks you on the head you know it's just one of those days! Annoyingly today was my second 'just one of those days' in succession :( More of this in a minute...

Fortunately this weekend has come at the end of one of the best weeks of my life so I guess I need to take the rough with the smooth. I'll start with the good stuff...

This Monday was mine and H's 4th anniversary and I decided to seize the moment. Having just been to the Roudhay Park bonfire night fireworks display it seemed like the perfect time to ask her to be my wife... 30 seconds of shocked silence followed by another 60 of high decibel screaming wasn't quite the response I expected... but once everything calmed down she said YES! It's a funny feeling knowing that you're going to spend the rest of your life with someone, if we both live to 100 then I've just made a promise which will last nearly 70 years... that's 25,550 sleeps for those of you who think like that! I've never quite known if I would love someone enough to share the rest of my life with them... until I met H. The last four years have been amazing... the thought of repeating them 17 times over was more than I could resist. We haven't set a date yet but it's looking like a bonfire and fireworks theme sometime next December... watch this space...

Back to the poo...

Following such a great week I was really looking forward to the perfect weekend... Saturday hanging out with our great friends Ben and Lies... shopping for triathlon gear (and UGG boots for H) then on to dinner before watching our mate Jeff in a play at the Bolton Octagon. Then a little lie-in on Sunday before tearing it round a 5 mile cross-country race and spending the rest of the afternoon asleep in front of the telly... what could go wrong??? To cut a long story short (ish)...

I woke up on Saturday with a bad case of Delhi Belly which for the first time in a long time saw me off my food and turning down breakfast. The HPTT went well with 87 competitors but I was slowly going downhill... by lunchtime I was swinging from hot to cold and back within moments and still couldn't face eating! The play was great as was the company but frustratingly all I could think about was curling up in a ball and feeling sorry for myself... by the time we crawled in to bed at about 11.30 I was on my last legs and had pretty much given up any chance of running today. Fortunately (or so I thought) waking up this morning I felt great and as we drove over to Idle I was confident of a good run. Within 500 metres of the steep downhill start I knew I was in trouble, having not worn my trail shoes for nearly a year (schoolboy error) something wasn't right and with every step I could feel increasing pressure on each of my big toe-nails, after about 800 metres it flattened out and I thought I'd be ok but as soon as there was any kind of incline I could feel the skin being 'sanded' from the back of my ankle. I've never DNF'd (did not finish) a race but have to say that had I not been representing my club it would have been a serious consideration. The pain (see today's picture, taken at the start of Ironman Austria 2006) was unbelievable, up there with the most I've felt in a sporting event, and as the miles went on my stride got shorter and I went backwards down the field. Seeing H for the final time (she was on photographic duty due to her injury but hopes to be back for the next round in December) I thought about chucking her my shoes and going barefoot but with only a few hundred metres to go pushed on to cross the line in 41st place out of about 200. Taking my shoes off as quickly as possible I found that both of my toe nails had gone completely black and there was no longer any skin on the back of my right ankle and to make things worse I don't think I scored any points for the team as I finished outside the top 7 LBTers (I think I was 12th)... It was at this point that someone banged their shoes together in order to clean the soles only for a golf-ball sized lump of dog poo to fly off and land on my head!

So you could say it's been a mixed week and with both my toes feeling like they're going to explode I'm not sure that I'll even manage my 5 x 1 hours this week. Still, Mum and Ray are coming up on Thursday (till next Wednesday) and the four of us are going to completely redecorate the whole house, do the garden and fix my car all of which is part of the plan to minimise 'turbulence' in the non-athletic areas of our life in order to focus 100% on the 32 weeks (12 week base, 20 week specific) of Ironman training that are nearly upon us.

Sorry I've not got round to posting our swim videos but it's been 'one of those weeks'... I'm on the case ;) We have uploaded the photo's from today's race to our gallery though... you'll find them HERE.

Take care,


Sunday, 4 November 2007

Time to focus...

Summer never came. Autumn's slowly having it's nose pushed into Winter and November has arrived, and it's all music to my ears for a couple of reasons. As you know I've been blighted by tendonitis which made me pull out of the Dublin marathon well before the day. Instead while everyone else was carbo loading and enjoying the long awaited and needed rest that taper allows I spent six whole days eating the same amounts (if not more) and physically doing much less. Six days of pure rest and unpure eating. I had originally expected my November to be a recovery month after the Dublin marathon and it was this month that I had originally ear marked for chocolate and biscuit eating. Unfortunately my motivation mentally and physically have been on the wane since I realised that my injury was here to stay and I actually ate my way through October and then into the many patiseries that line the Guiness fuelled streets of Dublin. Dublin was fantastic, all of our mates that ran were brilliant and it was a day of huge smiles, pb's and far too much food. By the end of the trip I was desperate for November to arrive so I could get off the chocolate roundabout and reign in my sweet tooth.

So, after such an indulgent month in October I was looking forward to starting November with renewed focus. Four days in and I feel better already. Today we had a swim workshop with underwater swim analysis and I picked up some great pointers to help improve my technique, all perfect for the Winter months before the more specific sets kick in. No more crap food and back to one treat a week which works really well for my incredibly greedy personality and training sessions that are light (1hr a day only.) These are sessions that allow me to turn my body over and get me into the right mind set so come December when it's full steam ahead I'll be raring to go.

November also sees the start of my new venture into the world of self employment. I resigned from my job as ITV's staff photographer in October and on November 1st started my new life as a freelance photographer. I couldn't have picked a better time to do it. By the time I get to December I should be in the flow and used to life without a boss (actually I mastered this one by 9.30am on my first day.) My new focus is just what I needed in training and in my working life. I am definitely the kind of person that needs a reason to be doing something. I can't just train for training's sake, there has to be a goal and a strong sense of purpose for me to do it whole heartedly. That's why when I believe in something I put my all into it. Leaving work has certainly been the right move for me. I didn't leave because I was unhappy or because I want to make more money (although I won't refuse it if I do!) but I left because there's more out there in the photography world for me and I can't wait to explore it.

My injury hasn't gone yet but I do feel like in the last couple of days I have turned a corner and my ankle isn't as tight as it has been. It hasn't healed yet but I'm feeling more positive about getting back into some ten minute runs that are hopefully not going to irritate it and by December 1st I'm hoping to be fully fixed and raring to go.

So with my renewed focus and vigour in November I can feel the hunger to start training seeping back into my bones which are no longer tired but just waiting for me to give them the nod. Here comes the start of another hopefully special season :)

H. x

Signing off in style...

Well that's finally it! A long hard season of racing is over and I can sit back and reflect on pb's at Olympic, middle and Iron distance triathlon and as of six days ago a nice shiny new marathon best :)

Most of you will be familiar with my 'statto' like analysis of race results and having done my homework I was pretty confident that contrary to popular belief Dublin marathon would be a fast course. Although there were plenty of hills on the profile, it seemed like the ups would be short steep and the downhills long and gradual and combined with nothing uphill from 20 miles onwards I was confident of a strong finish. Walking to the start Tony and I bumped (by chance) in to Mark Redwood from Total Fitness Nottingham who we'd arranged to run with (but never got round to actually sorting out somewhere to meet). Mark is an all-round top bloke, owner of one of the best triathlon shops on England (TFN - where H bought her bike from) and super fast Ironman. I first met Mark two years ago in his shop when we were first getting in to multisport, he'd just done 9.26 in Austria but missed out on Hawaii by a few minutes! At the time he was training for Ironman Lake Placid where he ended up qualifying for the world champs and completing the journey that I so desperately hope to emulate. Anyway, back to the race...

We'd also planned to run with our good mate Paul but hadn't been so fortunate as to bump in to him so it was down to the three of us to make up today's picture at mile one (from L-R... Tony, me, Mark). Standing on the start line the start reality dawned on me... there I was having not really trained quite as hard as I should about to run 26.2 miles with two athletes who were clearly capable of inflicting serious pain on me... Tony had just pb'd for 5k (16.48) and half marathon (1.19.02) and Mark has a half marathon pb of 1.15... oh well, 'don't let them dangle' and all that!

Settling in to 6.45 miles over the first 10k (41.39) everything was feeling good. Our regular long runs had paid off and in particular we were definitely not pushing it as hard as our 22, so confidence was high that T and Mark would break three hours for the first time and I'd survive the experience! A quick loo stop interrupted mine and Mark's splits around the 6 mile point but by 9 or 10 we were back with Tony and running strong... coincidentally we also bumped in to Chris Booker from my tri club (LBT) who ended up running with us until he frustratingly had to pull out at mile 20 with lower back pain. Our target for the first half was 1.29.30 and clocking 1.29.34 I knew my split second pacing was setting us up for a great race.

At about 16 miles Tony & Mark needed another (for Mark) loo stop and feeling good I opted to keep the pace and push on. The effort levels were just creeping up and I knew the next four miles would be crucial, especially with the downhill finish. H, Paul and Izzy were supporting at about 18.5 miles and provided a much needed push just when it was most needed, at this point T was about 20 seconds behind but we'd be running together again by 19.5. Cresting the hill at 20 we were still holding 6.40's and feeling strong and as long as I tucked in to Tony's slipstream in to the headwinds everything was nicely on track.

Up to this point I hadn't even considered running a pb but increasingly it seemed like we'd dip under 3 by a comfortable margin. Turning left toward the finish at about mile 25 we both knew all our Thursday night miles and Tuesday night speed sessions had been worth it... unfortunately a serious headwind had decided to sort the men from the boys and with Tony pushing on and me struggling mentally, a gap opened up between us over the final mile (he did run it in 5.57 though!) with him finishing in 2.56.45 and me in a new pb of 2.58.01. Within a minute Mark crossed the line and Paul who had just got taken by Tony with 200 yards to go, finished in a brilliant pb of 2.57!! All round a fantastic day with all four of us breaking three hours and setting new pb's on a fantastic course and brilliantly organised race.

So there it is, a great season of fantastic highs and very few lows... the only real low point has been H's 'never ending' dodgy ankle, it must have been so so hard spectating in Dublin whilst all the time knowing that she would have surely pb'd on such a fantastic day for running a marathon! As usual though she was the most phenomenal supporter... there truly is no way I could achieve even half of what I do without her belief, faith and patience... THANK YOU BABY x

Apart from all that I'd like to finish by saying a massive well done to Ozzer and Eek for competing in the Noosa Triathlon today... you can follow their travels and make yourself green with envy by checking out their blog...

Also an even massiver GO FOR IT! to our friends Lisa and Marlon who are running the New York City Marathon!! (as we speak they are at 35k according the athlete tracker).

And a super-sized WELL DONE to all the Virgin Road Runners who conquered Dublin on Monday... particularly Khara for slaying the demons of the 'Dam and Kay for showing us all what Adidas mean by 'Impossible is Nothing'... you are all AMAZING!

Today H and I did a swim clinic with the guys at and hopefully we'll be able to post the video analysis on here next week!! The next three weeks will be quiet on the training front but busy on the 'sorting our lives out in order to train at a million miles an hour for 32 weeks' front... see next week for details ;)

Thanks for the inspiration,