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,