Sunday, 29 June 2008

The 49th week....

Note: Apparently our hotel in Frankfurt has high-speed Internet access and we're really hoping to write a daily blog from this Tuesday through to next Monday and the awards ceremony so check in during the week for updates.

On the 15th of July 2007 I wrote my first ever post on this blog and here we are nearly twelve months later on the verge of completing our 50 week journey! I can't believe how quickly the time has gone, what was once a seemingly never ending list of the most challenging training sessions and race goals of my life is now safely banked and ready to be 'cashed-in' next weekend. The title of this blog (50 Weeks to Kona) refers to the fact that from its inception we had 50 weeks before hitting the start line at Ironman Germany and our next opportunity to qualify for the World Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Forty-nine weeks later with 98% of the journey complete things really couldn't have gone any better and for the third year running I find myself in the fortunate position of moving in to race week confident that I'm as well prepared as any of the 2000+ athletes. My only slight doubt has been an inability to re-create my pool form in open water, having received a brand spanking Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit from the guys at Total Fitness Nottingham on Friday however, and flying round a couple of laps of Otley reservoir this morning, I'm confident of hitting my sub-60 target for next weekend's swim and setting myself up for a great race. With all my training sessions done now's probably a good time to quickly review how each discipline has gone and take a look at my race day goals....

Swim (target - 60 minutes for swim and T1)
Over the last 31 weeks I've covered around 15,000 lengths (375km) of Virgin Active Pool averaging 80 more lengths per week than last year. Although I decided against the mile pb attempt this week, preferring to go easy on my arms, I'm still over a minute ahead of my mile time against this time last year and 20 seconds ahead of my 400 time. I've completed around six or seven straight 5k swims (none last year) and this week went through Ironman distance in 1:02:02 on my way to a comfortable 1:21 for the 200 lengths. Chuck in a wetsuit, a significant draft off a few hundred athletes and a little more effort and something around 57-58 minutes sounds reasonable.

Bike (target - Five hours for bike and T2)
I've actually averaged less miles per week than last year but with 400 more miles in the bank (3,700 v 3,300) due to the longer training period (32 weeks v 24 weeks) I'm confident of a great endurance base. On top of this I've done a couple more centuries this year and have looked for the most challenging long rides available, two of which stand out... the Etape Du Dales was 112 of the most physically challenging riding I've ever done, being dragged round by ex pro mountain-biker Rob Thackray for six hours and 39 minutes of near maximal effort I not only beat my target for the session by over 20 minutes but gave my legs a far bigger test than the German 112 will provide... secondly, our 106 mile / 20 mile brick session where I rode through 100 miles in under 4:30 and completed the 106 in 4:45 (including stops) at an average heart rate of 136. At an average speed of 22.3 miles per hour it was almost bang on five hour pace for 112 and made going sub-five on the bike on the 6th of July a realistic prospect.

Run (target - 3:25 for run and any deficit from the other two disciplines)
Although my speed over the shorter distances hasn't improved on last year, with over 1000 running miles in the bank (compared to 630 for IMCH), a half marathon pb in January 1:20:01 and a very comfortable 2:49 at the London marathon my endurance over the longer distances has never been better. Triathlon is all about running off the bike though... going back to the Etape Du Dales, getting off the bike with the most battered legs I've ever had I managed ten very hilly miles in 77 minutes which at a little faster than target Ironman pace felt good... secondly, coming off the 106 miles of our mega-brick, on a very hot day, I covered 20.32 badly paced miles in 2:40 which at 7:53 per mile was close enough to the required 7:49s to suggest that had I not gone off way too quick (note to self for race day) I might have finished a little stronger... and finally my 1:28 for the half marathon at this month's UK70.3 is all the evidence I need to convince me that 3.25 or under is possible for the mdot marathon. Averaging 6:49 per mile over one of the most challenging 13.1 miles in triathlon felt comfortable and with 60 seconds a mile to play with in seven days time I'm looking forward to hitting the run.

So that's it... all that's left is to look after the various logistics of race-week and commit to a race strategy designed to bring me home in the top thirteen 30-34 male athletes in the European Ironman championships... whether I achieve that goal or not is almost irrelevant however, I've given my absolute best to complete the journey and regardless of the destination it's been worth every single heartbeat... but with over 5,000 miles on the clock I don't intend to back off over the final 140.6 ;)

The subject of today's photo is our good friend Jessica KJ and on Saturday evening she topped up my already overflowing levels of motivation! During the day she'd taken her First Dan Black Belt Taekwondo grading and at the moment this picture was taken had just found out that not only had she passed but she'd been awarded 'honours' as the outstanding student (amongst a talented group of peers). I could write about this experience all day as it was truly one of the most inspirational events I have ever witnessed but what really stood out for me was the rose... Successful black belt students are given a rose by their instructor, which they are then required to present to the person who has supported them the most and has been there through the highs and lows of their three and a half year journey. This recognition that in order to achieve 'personal excellence' requires the support and faith of others reminded me just how important my friends and family have been throughout my own journey and how not only could I not have travelled this path without them, I wouldn't have wanted to.

See you in a couple of days,

T x

Dedication's what you need....

This is it, this is actually it. Tomorrow we board our Team Southern's S-Max and start a new Ironman adventure on the road to Germany.... how scary and exciting is that?! 49 weeks ago we started this blog and here I am sitting hours away from beginning a journey that has taken me a very long way.

The picture for today's post is from a very special event that we were privilleged enough to go to. Yesterday our very good friends daughter Jessica Kendal-Jones was awarded her black belt in Taekwon-Do. It's been a long road of hard work and dedication for Jessica for the last three months. And at the tender age of 11 she has shown the dedication it takes to be successful having spent months of training to succeed in all she believes in. It was a highly emotional and incredibly motivational evening as we watched Jessica swell with tears of pride. This black belt (with Honours) was not only for her, it was for her whole family who are behind her with the love and support that reaching these goals needs. As I start to focus purely on the race on Sunday I'll think of Jessica who was tested for over two gruelling hours on her own, no parents or spectators allowed. My road on Sunday will be a long lonely one too, but all the people I love and who have supported me are with me either in thought or in person, and that's going to make a huge difference when I'm out there, through the good hours and the bad. Like Jessica I've put the hours, days and weeks of dedication in and crossing the finish line on Sunday will be my black belt. If I'm lucky to match her then my Honours will be Hawaii. If I give it my all, if I give it my best then I can't have given any more and so on the day the result is kind of irrelevant, as long as I apply the dedication from the last 31 weeks then that's all I can ask and hope for. Hawaii or no Hawaii, you've got to have a goal and I'd like to see how near I can get to it before I give it up. I could be a million miles away but that's fine, as long as I know and I guess there's only one way to find out.

It's been a hard 31 weeks some good, some bad but they've all made a difference. On Sunday I'll know if they've made the right difference. I've done all of the hard work, nothing I can do now will change my fitness so all that's left to do is get the conditioning right for this next week. Lots of early nights, lots of water and good healthy fuel and most of all PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) one of the first things the students at Premier Taekwon-Do are taught.

I can't wait to get to Germany now and get into the Ironman groove, feel the buzz of race nerves and see that M-Dot waiting on the finish line for me to cross under it. A whole 49 weeks of posting my hopes, dreams, down falls, girliness, scattiness etc etc but as Morrisey once said...'The time is now..." and I'm ready for it. Fatigue is slowly drifting away and being replaced by replenished muscles and a replenished focussed mind. I could ruin it all by worrying about what's going to happen, but at the end of the day worrying won't get me anywhere, it will be what it will be.

I really want to say thank you to loads of people but I don't want this to turn into some dodgy Oscar type speech where I burst into tears, thank my mum & dad for having me and go on and on forever while the audience sighs with embarrasment and 'we've heard it all befores'. You all know who you are, every last one of you... those who read these posts...who give us words of encouragement and advice... who inquire and care (or just think we're plain nuts (Paul Larkins)... from the gym to Nigeria (where my Brother is working) you're all part of my journey and I'll take a little part of that with me on those roads in Frankfurt, I know you're with me and I thank you for being there.

So all that's left to say is... LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE... wuhoo bring that bad boy on!!!!

Oh and Tom... YOU'RE AMAZING, and I'm right behind you (maybe not in the swim though ;)

One last thing...

"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful." SCHWEITZER

I can't lose.

H. x

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Time out...

I felt a bit lost this weekend. Usually Saturday starts early, has a long training session in it, I eat, shower, and then see what time is left to catch up with friends and family. Having raced hard at UK 70.3 last weekend, this week has been about optimising recovery to get me fresh & ready for Germany, which is now actually a stones throw away.

Tom was giving talks at Leeds Met for most of Saturday and so I moved into Maison Lack for the day. I love spending time with my little baby Godson Charlie and of course it's great to catch up with Ben & Lies but I don't think they expected me to be moving in for the day! Taper time is a funny thing. When I'm fatigued and ready for a rest tapering seems like an oasis in the middle of the desert, but when I get there I'm often not thirsty. However, if I'm to be as sharp as a tack for Germany I have to accept that now is the time to kick back and enjoy the well earned rest. And that's exactly what I did on Saturday. I'm starting to feel the benefit of rest in my body, but like I say my mind isn't all that keen, torn between wanting to feel fresh but not wanting to feel lazy is a hard task.

I had a great day with the Lacks, they fed and entertained me all day (well Charlie did much of the entertaining with his pet lip, huge burps and of course these great ear muffs which Ben & Lies have bought so he doesn't go deaf when they all go to watch Ben race (cars... loud ones) and I also got to steal him for an hour when I went to pick up Tom and all three of us went for a coffee (Charlie's not quite into coffee yet, he's a very cheap date.) It reminded me of what normal people do at weekends. And now I know I'm not normal, because I enjoyed it but I did feel lost. I think I'm so used to training that it gives my day structure and a bit of focus.

Today was more like it, we had a race (of sorts) it was a teeny tiny sprint race (750m swim / 20km bike / 5km run ) and so we got up early for breakfast and packed the car at 6.45am this morning and that was more like it. Although it felt like such a short race we'd finished almost before we began. It was good to be out there though putting all three disciplines into action (What H neglects to say is she was second lady... well done for the result but 'naughty step' for pushing it - T x). Today was also an Ironman day for our very good friend Ian Osborne who was racing in 33 degree heat in Ironman France, a very tough IM as the bike course is a hilly monster. Well done Ozzer, showing the way all of the time. You can wallow in post race celebration while we get antsy for the next two weeks and then it's our turn. Time to take the IM mantel from you and take it round the streets and roads of Frankfurt.

So to a week of more focused training, sharp but very short and then we're off, wuhoo!!! Oh it's all soooo close.

See you next Sunday, the night before we leave for another adventure.

P.s Sam, you're a LEGEND and still my hero...great tattoo petal (hard earned that was!)

H. x


I'm going to be pretty brief today as with only 14 days to go it's time to 'lock-down' into race mode and ensure that every angle is covered with regards 7am on July the 6th... and as it's now 8.30pm and we're up at five, time is short...

H and I raced this morning at Allerthorpe sprint triathlon near York. I've spoken previously about the challenge faced in order to recover in the three weeks between UK 70.3 and Ironman Germany. Today's race on it's own would never effect my race in Frankfurt, but what it could do would be to slow down the recovery process from last weeks efforts. Because of this my race plan was to hammer the swim but then back right off on the bike and run sections. This way it would be a great training session to recreate a race situation i.e. open water swim start, transitions under pressure, riding off the swim and running off the bike... but would allow my tired legs to have a fairly easy day to add to yesterday's complete rest. The swim was a bit of a boxing match and with the results not out yet I'm not sure where I came but it seemed ok... although... H and I started in different waves and with our watches showing a 10 second difference coming out of T1 she may have taken me down in the swim for the first time ever... it'll be a nervous nights sleep ;) Once I was out on to the bike things calmed down and I quite enjoyed being out in the sun, at an average heart rate of 138 though it wasn't long before people started flying by. As competitive as I am though I was more than happy to kick back with thoughts on Germany. Into T2 and yet more people were flying by but with a self-imposed heart rate cap of 150 I crossed the finish line in about 1:07 for the 750 swim, 20k bike and 5k run... job done.

I've really enjoyed an easy week this week and without a single challenging session am starting to feel fresh... however, I'm also looking forward to getting stuck into a little intensity over the next seven days with a mile TT in the pool, the club 20k bike timetrial, and a 30 minute hard run all scheduled I should be heading off to Europe a week tomorrow feeling like an athlete.

Talking of athletes... a massive well done to Ian for earning yet more 'Iron Bling' in the sweltering heat of southern France, at today's Ironman Nice... and also to Sam for making himself the subject of today's photo ;)

Sleep well,


Monday, 16 June 2008


Wow what a week. When I wrote last weeks post I was sitting in a cafe late at night in Vancouver having just raced in the World Champs. It's now silly o' clock and we've just returned from UK 70.3 (1.9km swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) held in Exmoor near Devon. Last weekend was all about me and my race so today although I raced today too the day truly belongs to Tom who raced so well he won his age-group!! I'm sure his race report will be a statiticians dream so I just want to say how amazing I think he's done and how selfless he is come race prep and day, and I truly couldn't do all of this without him. I was as proud as proud could be when he got up to take his trophy and cheque staking that 1st place in his age group in what I'm sure will be the first of many. There's talent in you boy and you work harder than anyone I know so there's still more in there. Watch out everyone there's a new boy on the block and he's got fire in his belly and he wants to take you all down!!!! x

So from Canada to Exmoor in three days, now that's what I call a whirlwind turn around. Throw in a week of hard training and a hard race while we were overseas and combine it with a transatlantic fight and then finish it with one of (if not THE) hardest Half Ironman races in the world and the result is two happy but very fatigued people. Today obviously wasn't an 'A' race but it was important. Our last hard training session and the perfect opportunity to practice race nutrition etc. What I hadn't expected was the weather to be cruel to us (AGAIN.)

I had gone into the race hoping to break 6hrs, which is a fairly big expectation. I'm pleased to say that I broke it comfortably in 5.46, roughly breaking up into a 31min swim, 3.26 bike and 1.42 run. It was a 6am start and the lake was cold (there's a surprise.) I swam okay, could have done with sat nav again after someone in front made a very odd U turn & I nearly ended up going with them. Thankfully I spotted that he was about to start swimming against the flow of people & unlike a Salmon I had no intention of swimming upstream so I got back on track and ploughed my way to the exit. The bike was very technical, quite hilly and had some harsh descents in them (as you know they aren't my forte!) and it was FREEZING cold. Vancouver was cold but it was only 24miles that I had to endure. Today my ride was 56miles and I knew I'd be out there for approx 3.5hrs. I seriously considered pulling out because I was convinced I wasn't far from being hypothermic. The descents made it even worse and it didn't help that it rained and hailed so hard my skin was bright red. My teeth were chattering and my legs were shaking, I couldn't wait for the hilly sections so I could generate some heat. Finally reaching T2 in one piece and not completely blue I got out onto the run with stumps for feet yet again. The run is a testing one, a half marathon that Yorkshire would be proud of as it's hills are long and mean and it's a three & a half lap course so you get the luxury of repeating it all every lap. Hills to drain your legs and down hills to mash your quads, the perfect combination to separate the men from the boys. I actually enjoy running off the bike as it's my only chance of reclaiming some of the places that I've lost in my weakest discipline - the bike and I loved the course. We had amazing support from our mates and they were at all of the crucial places which was brilliant. As usual Sammy (our very good friend) & I played cat and mouse. I got out the swim before him, he passed me later on the bike and I caught & passed him on the run. But one day boy I'm gonna actually learn how to bloody well ride that bike and you won't get past me, I just have to hope you don't find a cure for cramping on the run!!

17th girl overall, 4th in my age group (missed 3rd by 1min) and 156th out of approx 900. I'm happy with that and now my last hard session for Germany is over it's time to recover and get sharp for July 6th and I'm even happier with that!

Huge admiration for Sammy today who dug deeper than even he thought he could to not only break 6hrs (5.59) but also to be 228th getting him his much wanted finishers cap (only given to the top 250 finishers.) Brilliant Sam, just brilliant, you were fantastic out there and gave your all when you thought your all had gone. x

Great to see our mate Paul Larkins and his lovely wife Elaine, although Paul I can't tell you how secretly pleased I am that I managed to beat you on the run (something I never ever thought would be possible!!)

Daz you're a star, killing yourself on the course and never ceasing to amaze me at just how hard you push yourself.

And to our on course love givers, Manda & beautiful Maddi, Ozzer & Pauly P and Fiona & Simon from LBT... you make a huge difference being out there, it's appreciated more than you'll know, see you in Germany.

The Ironman journey is about to kick off, it's real, it's happening and Ozzer is setting the standard with Ironman France a week today, he's gonna be awesome, show us how it's done Ozzer, bring home the bling!

Night night.

H. x

A race of two halfs...

It's now 12.30am on Sunday night / Monday morning and having been up at 3am, raced the toughest 70.3 (half-Ironman) there is and driven 300 miles home it's been a long day...

As soon as we decided that H would accept her Olympic Distance World Championships slot in Vancouver we knew that today's race would be compromised. A hard training week on the other side of the 'pond' followed by a west-east transatlantic flight on Tuesday and a 300 mile drive at the end of a long day at work on Friday meant we'd arrive on the start line this morning in a somewhat fatigued state. Today was only ever a 'B' race in our schedule though and with Germany only three weeks away it would act as a great final tough training session before crossing the t's and dotting the i's over the next 21 days.

With the race scheduled to start at 6am it was an early start... alarm at 3am, dressed and ready to go before breakfast at 3.30am then pack the car and leave the b & b at 3.45am to be in transition for 4.30 and treading water by ten to six. Walking down to the lake I'd lost the feeling in my frozen feet before even getting in the water and by the time I'd 'warmed' up with a few bursts of front crawl my hands and head weren't far behind. Without warning the gun went and the beautifully serene location of Wimbleball Lake instantly transformed into a 1000 person human washing machine. Although I've been swimming better than ever in the pool I've struggled to re-create this form in open water and chatting to H before the race I'd said that I'd happily swap a good bike and run in today's race for a solid swim. I know my second two disciplines are on track for Germany but with a swim target of 57 minutes for the Ironman distance I was after 28-29 for this morning's 1900m. Although I started near the front I soon found myself stuck behind a mass of bodies and not finding clear water till about 500 metres I hadn't got off to the best start. By the first turn bouy (750m) I felt I'd found some rythm though and pushing hard toward the exit I was hopeful of a good start to the race but a quick glance at the race clock showed 31.02 and as usual I'd be playing catch-up for the rest of the day...

T1 at Wimbleball is as challenging as the rest of the race with a 200m run up a seriously steep grass bank straight from the water and all the way to the transition bags. I'd been getting pretty bad cramp in my calf muscles during the swim and by the time I hit the changing tent my quads were joining in the fun.. fortunately there was a marshal on hand, who I can only assume works for an F1 pit crew during the week, and they had my wetsuit off and socks & helmet on in record time... T2 done in 3:44 and I'd hit my first target of the day (by 16 seconds)...

For about five minutes on the bike I thought I wasn't going to be that cold and was looking foward to hammering the famously tough course. Once this short 'honeymoon period' was over though reality set firmly in and I gradually started to realise that 'winter Iron suffering' is more than happy to show its face in the middle of June... last week's exploits in Vancouver were about to be repeated! By halfway round the first lap I was the coldest I've ever been on a bicycle, although my hands and feet have been worse in the winter months I've always been wrapped up well so the rest of my body's been ok... but flying downhill at 7am this morning in a soaking wet lycra tri-suit I lost feeling in my arms and legs and was struggling not only to get any power through the pedals but even to control the bike. Finishing the first of two laps in 1.29.30, and feeling lower than I ever have in a race, my target of 2.55 for the whole ride wasn't looking good. I'm not the best in cold conditions and as the miles ticked gradually by my spirits were dropping and my normal positive attitude was losing the will to live... This probably lasted until around 15 miles from the end of the 56 mile ride when one of the spectators shouted that I was in 46th place. I'd hoped for a top 50 finish overall and suddenly I realised that perhaps I wasn't having the shocker I thought... it was time to HTFU, get to the run and see if I could at least generate some heat!

A decent T2 (1:31) and I was out on the run at a total race time of 3:33 and knew that if I could match my pre-race run goal of 1:35 I'd still go 5:08. Things cleary hadn't been as bad as I thought... time to work. The three-lap run at Wimbleball is super hilly and partly off-road, as a consequence you can typically you can expect to go somewhere around 10-20 minutes slower than your 'stand alone' half marathon pb... coming through the first lap, which is slightly longer than the next two due to the transition exit, in 29 minutes and feeling great my spirits were back to normal for the first time in over four hours. Starting the final lap at 4:31 a sub-5 time was on the cards but, thanks to all the reminders from various friends as well as Jack, I was determined not to 'leave myself' at Wimbleball and have nothing for Germany, so competitive instincts in check i held a nice solid pace to the finish line... and a final time of 5:01:42, 22nd place overall (out of about 900 starters), 1st 30-34 male, a wicked trophy (see H's pic) and £100 to spend at TriUK... a great end to a seriously challenging (both mentally and physically) race.

So, here we are.... 21 days to go and with 29 weeks of crazy hard training in the bank it's time to kick back, recover and bring some freshness to my fatigued frame. Today's result on tired legs has given me so much confidence, I really feel that I can get close to 9:20 and that elusive Kona slot on July the 6th. The London marathon gave me a glimpse of what I'm capable of if I start a race on fresh legs (a rare occurance recently) and with no more fitness gains to be had before race day the hard work is done.

Since starting this blog neither of us has missed our Sunday post... but as it's now 1:42 in the morning, we've both got to be up for work at 7 and sleep is a priority so I think I'll wrap things up right here.

Thanks to all our amazing friends who today, as always, were the best supporters ever and well done to Sam, Daz and everyone else who conquered a very tough race. Today's picture is me giving something back ;)


T :)

Monday, 9 June 2008


So, here we are... it's close to midnight on our final day in Canada and our North American adventure has more than lived up to it's promise. Last week's blog entry was written through bleary jet-lagged eyes... since then I've done nearly 60 miles of running in 20 hours of training and watched not only H but a load of great friends give it everything for Great Britain, and I'm yet again ready to crash in to bed at the end of an amazing week.

I've talked many times before about the positive effect achieved by surrounding yourself with amazing people who have the ability to inspire through their achievements and the last few days have demonstrated this to the extreme. Arriving on Thursday to a wet and windswept Vancouver, and finding ourselves in quite the opposite environment from our training paradise of Cordova Bay, confirmed we'd made the right decision to stay out of town for the first half of our trip. With racing getting under way on friday morning though it wasn't too long before I was surrounded by motivation! I've never known anyone able to push themselves as hard as our mate Daz and with GBR on his chest for the first time he didn't disappoint, crossing the line 9th in his age group (35-39 sprint distance) and emotional as ever. As H has already said, the water in Vancouver was a balmy 11.8 degrees and with air temps the lowest in June since records began I was kitted out in all the warm clothing I could find, all wrapped up in a water-proof jacket and hiding under a brolly... an for the first time ever I was really happy to be holding the coats ;) 

Arriving at the swim start for H's race on Saturday morning (6am) things didn't look too bad but by the time she hit the water the weather had taken a serious turn for the worse with good size waves rolling in and bitter winds chilling me to the bone (through my Himalayan levels of protective clothing). Twenty one minutes later and she was out of the water and flying round Stanley Park in nothing more than a thin lycra tri-suit and bike shoes designed for the scorching hot lava fields of Hawaii! The pictures really don't do the conditions justice, but the large number of runners who still had the bike helmets on due to their hands being rendered useless by the cold certainly did... and by the time H was on to the run the race organisers had taken the decision to cancel the swim section for all remaining races, which would then be run as 3k/40k/10k duathlons

I always have been and always will be extremely proud of H, just for being H... but travelling to another continent and cheering her round one of the toughest events I've seen (picture a swim, bike, run version of Tough Guy) whilst representing our country against top age-groupers from around the word really was something else. If I can get somewhere close to matching her levels of passion, determination and focus then four weeks from today my blog entry will be pretty special. 

Today then was a chance for both of us to kick back a little (I did a nice 22 mile run after yesterday's race) and watch the world's elite triathletes battle it out for the senior and under-23 world titles. Alistair was first up for GB in the men's under 23 event and having struggled to get his shoes on in T2 lost around 15 places and in the process had us worried for a bit... 2k into the run however and normal service was resumed with 'Yorkshire' yet again storming to gold. By this stage the GB age-group team was lining the course and cheered on by constant shouts of encouragement Helen Tucker won our second gold of the day taking victory in the senior women's race by just four seconds having broken clear on the bike and spending the entire run shoulder to shoulder with a girl from the states. With those two following on from Kirsty McWilliams' gold in the junior girls and Al's brother Johnathan taking bronze in the junior boys event the future of British Triathlon has never looked better :) 

What about me? This week has seen some serious training in all three disciplines and with an easy week before and after next weekend's UK half-ironman and then just two weeks to Frankfurt the hard work is basically done! Yesterday's 22 mile run was really comfortable and averaging just under 7:20 per mile my running feels just about where it needs to be with four weeks to go. With a weak swim at Wetherby two weeks ago I wanted to work on my open water technique during this trip and with nearly three hours total swimming in Elk Lake over the last seven days I've made some good progress... 1900 metres in Wimbleball next Sunday will provide some great, albeit last minute, feedback. As far as the bike goes, my legs have been tired and I've hardly set the world on fire recently but I've got too many good sessions in the bank to doubt my ability to break five hours for 112 mdot miles. Overall I feel very fatigued but very fit... a good place to be with 28 days in which to reduce my training load and hit the German start line in the shape of my life.

The title of this entry sums up 2008 for H and I and as one adventure comes to an end another starts.... by the time I post again I'll have flown back across the Atlantic, had a couple of days to catch up on work, clean the bike and stock up on kit, driven over 200 miles south to Exmoor and competed in perhaps the toughest 70.3 race there is, hopefully taking down a pro or two in the process. Hopefully I'll swim 30 minutes ride 2.55 and run 1.35 to get close to (or break) five hours for all three and set myself up for a 21 day taper to Ironman.

Today's photo? My one true inspiration ;)

Right, I really must get to bed...

See you in seven,


The GBR experience...

I can't believe I'm sitting here typing this and already the race is done...over... finished and we fly home tomorrow evening.  Our training week over on Vancouver Island was a smart move, it's triathletes paradise out there with great lakes to swim in, wide smooth safe roads to cycle on and miles of trail to run on, what more could you ask for!?  Although a bit of good weather wouldn't have gone a miss!

We loved it on the Island, it was laid back and quiet and meant that we could concentrate on our last hard week of Ironman training before I had to slip into race mode where I had time constraints, briefings, racking and body marking to attend to (I'll give a full account of the experience in a bit.)

Every morning we got up and ran 2.5 miles to Elk Lake, did a quality 40min swim session then ran home for a hot bath and a home cooked breakfast courtesy of our amazing B & B host Gary. The second session of the day varied and I'm pleased to say that through the week I got a great tempo run session in, a 65 mile ride and a 22 mile run, and with all of the open water swimming it made a great week of quality.  Of course it also meant that I couldn't expect much from my old legs for the race in Vancouver.

We arrived in Vancouver and I can't tell you how pleased we were that we didn't come here to train for the whole trip.  It's concrete city, high rises a plenty and traffic to match London, riding here wouldn't have been fun, oh, and it rained here even more than it did on Vancouver Island, and it was a lot colder.

So, to the GBR experience.  Unfortunately due to the incessant rain the Parade of Nations and the Opening Ceremony had to be cancelled so the first official thing I attended was the GBR Team race briefing.  It was great to be in a huge room full of GBR Age Group athletes all wearing the GBR colours with pride.  The streets of Vancouver are full of every Nation all wearing their team tracksuits with pride, it really is a great feeling to be part of that.   The Sprint races were the first to go on Friday and our mates Daz, Brian (LBT) and Simon (LBT) raced their socks off in treacherous wet and cold weather, well done boys you paved the way.

Friday afternoon once my bike was made up and cleaned (courtesy of my in house mechanic Tom) we went down to the sea front to rack and for me to get body marked.  The hotel will be pleased to know that permanent ink isn't permanent on the skin and it may take a while to get the number 478 off the bed sheets and pillows!  4.30am on race morning we were up, breakfast done and I was ready to go.  There's a great buzz on race days, you just can't beat it. Spectators are milling around taking pictures and checking their loved ones have got everything they need. There's an exciting tension that sits in the air among the competitors and all of the Nations were gathered wondering what the swim really was going to be like!

Putting my GBR kit on changed race day for me.  I mean afterall it was just another olympic distance race and I've done my fair share of those but knowing you're out there for your country made the excitement all the more.  I also had the added bonus of having great support from my sponsors Southern's who have helped enormously financially with this trip and I knew they like Tom's mum & Ray would be glued to the internet watching it live on line sending their love and luck through cyber space (thank you so much.)

Time to dip my toe in the water and get warmed up.  Due to the horrendous weather the swim had to be shortened.  Usually you can't compete in water colder than 13 degrees, it was 11.8 and that is COLD!  Once the gun goes there's no turning back so into the choppy seas we went and I fought my way round one of the hardest swims I've had to do.  The cold was only a small issue as the wind had really picked up and just made the sea so rough, it was like trying to swim in a washing machine, but I survived and it was time to concentrate on the rest of the race.  My fingers and toes were numb as I got on my bike and I really struggled to get my heart rate up at all, I was just so cold.  I just held out for the run knowing that I could warm up on that.  So the ride wasn't great at all, I was just way too cold.  On the run I managed to feel a bit more human and relaxed and the crowds out there all screaming for GB was just amazing.  My feet were icy stumps for the first 3 or 4 km but after that I began to thaw out and really enjoyed the rest of it.  Tom was the official photographer for the day so I'll post this link to Picasa so you can see pix from the trip, he did a great job.  2.23 was my time and I'm pleased with that.  Fatigued from a hard week of training and I still managed to do okay, but I got more than just training from the race, there's a whole load of National pride in there too and it was great.

So, I appear to have gone on and on and Tom's waiting to write his post, so I shall say goodbye and thank you to all who have sent me love and luck messages and again to the Kendal Jones clan and Southerns for their great support.  I can't forget Tom who as always has been and is amazing.

See you back in England.

H. x

Monday, 2 June 2008

What a week...

Having spent all week thinking about what I should write on today's blog entry I've been unable to decide. This has been such an amazing week though that I think a brief summary of the lest seven amazing days will hit the spot...

Monday (Bank Holiday)
Following a confidence building result at the Wetherby triathlon last week H and I had a bit of a lie-in then jumped on the bikes and went for a nice and leisurely 47 mile ride taking in some famous Ripley ice-cream along the way. A lovely sunny day and a great reminder of how amazing cycling in the dales really is.

Tuesday (University closed)
Up early for a return to one of my favourite swim sessions... 10 x 300 off 5:15. This time last year I was having to work hard to keep all of them under five minutes and was going off 5:30 but starting easy on Tuesday I hit 4.48 for the first, was down to 4.29 by number five and sat comfortably around 4.30 for the remainder! At lunchtime H and I went for a fairly steady eight mile run and in the evening I took group one at Run Club out for five miles in about an hour.

Back to work and plenty of research project marking but still managed to sneak a nice lunchtime swim in (2 x 400 wu, 16 x 50, 1 x 400 cd) before hitting the Pool Triangle timetrial in the evening... for the first three events of the year I'd struggled to find last year's speed but knowing that I'd probably only get to ride this once more before Germany, and desperate for a good result, I'd had a mini taper making mon, tue and wed a little easier than previous weeks, the result... a much improved 31.05, quicker than this time last year and giving me the win by just under ten seconds :)

I took the day off work for what was to be the biggest and most challenging training session I've ever done! Every year in the lead up to Ironman I'll do a couple of what I call 'Mega Bricks', these are bike/run brick sessions with a ride of at least a hundred miles followed by a resonably long run. This year though I'd decided to really test myself and combine the session with a proper long run and make it a 106 mile ride followed by a 20 mile run! Partly this was because I just wanted to push the boundries a little and partly it was to test out race nutrition and with most Ironman nutrition problems coming in the second half of the run I needed to go long. To cut a long story short I had the ride of my life going through 100 in about 4.26 and finishing the entire session in just under 7 hours 30. If you're interested in the long version click... HERE.

Back to work again and interviews for next year's race directors for the Hyde Park Time Trial and a rest from training after Thursday's exersions. We started the HPTT 34 weeks ago and with it now averaging around 100 runners per week and engaging people from all areas of the community it's been a resounding success. This year's race directors Adam, Flick, Tasha and Caryl have done a fantastic job in getting the event off the ground and from the start of the next academic year four new level two students will be tasked with taking it to the next level... I'm sure they'll be amazing!

Saturday (part one)
With our flight to Vancouver leaving at about one o'clock from Manchester Ben (L) turned up at around 8am for the first of the two trips required to get H and I to Leeds train station with all our luggage. At this point however I realised that at 998.1 training miles for May I was less than two short of the 1000 mile target that Ben G and I had set over four weeks ago! So with H and Ben on their way in to Leeds with the bikes I quickly pulled my training bike of the garage and did a quick mile out and back in order to satisfy what I call my 'controlled obsession' ;)

Saturday (part two)
With our clocks going back by eight hours as we flew over the Atlantic Saturday seemed to go on forever and at 6.30 pm we found ourselves in Vancouver... unfortunately minus my bag with all my training gear, clothes and essentials thanks to British Airways and terminal five living up to their reputation! Anyway, a quick taxi to the Tsawassen ferry terminal followed by a 90 minute crossing (where we managed to temporarily loose our other bag, which contained all of H's stuff) and a lift from a great guy called Charlie (who we met on the ferry) taking us first into downtown Victoria to retrieve H's bag (another long story) and finally we arrived at our lovely B & B in Cordova Bay on Vancouver Island.

After one of the most 'solid as a log' nights sleep I've ever had H and I followed a typical Canadian breakfast of 'eggy' bread, blueberries and maple syrup with a quick trip in to Victoria to pick up a few missing essentials and have a look around. Then back to Cordova Bay before H and I ran to a beautiful place called Elk Lake, chatted round a seven mile lap and jogging home for a total of eleven easy miles. 

...and here I am, sat up in bed with my eye lids propped open with matchsticks writing my second ever transatlantic blog entry! Bottom line? It's been an amazing week, my cycling is back on track and seemingly in good enough shape to crack the five hour barrier in Germany, running and swimming are going really well, with less than five weeks to go I'm starting to feel like a good enough athlete to break 9.30 for an Ironman and H and I are in the middle of a fantastic adventure!

I'll call it a day there I think, I'm way to tired to work out how to blue-tooth a picture from my phone to H's lap top and she's way to asleep to tell me... so you'll have to do without a photo from me this week. I will try and do some midweek updates from Vancouver if I get the chance though ;)


T x

Here I am...

In the blink of an eye... a few thousand lengths of the pool... a handsome amount of cycling and plenty of running mileage under my belt we're here in Vancouver (well Victoria actually) and I can't believe how quickly it's come round. For you guys reading this it will be Monday but for us it's Sunday evening and we both feel a bit wrecked from the journey, the missing bag, the endless hours spent on transport, top that off with sleep deprivation and you'll understand why things all seem a bit surreal!

I can't wait for the race on Sunday, I'll be giving it my all in my GBR kit which has the Southern's logo proudly printed on it all and having the kind support of Andy KJ, his lovely family and his wonderful office furniture company has made our trip out here a little easier, so a huge thank you AKJ, it's really appreciated.

I've had to be a bit ruthless with this race. Of course qualifying and having the opportunity to race in the GBR kit is fantastic and I can't wait to get over to Vancouver (on Thursday) and be part of the team. Unfortunately it's fallen in the worst place in my training schedule for Ironman Germany which is of course my 'A' race. This means that I'm going to have to go into the race on Saturday a little fatigued and with no taper. In fact the week leading up to flying out here has been one of the toughest weeks I've had and I'm still feeling the effects of that and we still have some big sessions to do while we're here but I'll still give it my all for Queen and country come the day.

Last week was massive with some great quality both mentally and physically, culminating in my biggest training session to date. A 107 mile ride with a 20 mile run off it. It was arranged by Tom and our mate Ben G (training for IM Switzerland) and they'd planned the route for the ride and the run, quite simple really... ride 7 times round a 15 mile loop, get off the bike and run 1 mile out and 1 mile back...ten times. Now that's a session not just for the body but for the mind and on completing it (and believe me when I say there were moments when I really didn't think I could do it) I was exhausted, bent over double and unable to speak, but hugely elated. A few LBT'ers came to play too, Martin, Ady and Richard L all did their thing out there and it helped push me on when things were getting tough. My shoulders were killing from being on the tri-bars for 5 and a half hours and then I had terrible stomach cramps on the run for the first 7 miles and couldn't face anything except water which meant that I was a bit low on energy. Seeing Tom finish an hour before me was mentally tough too as I still had 8 miles to go when everyone else had finished and that I found hard but I did it and it was a fantastic session.

So here I am in a beautiful part of Canada, our room overlooks the sea which we could walk to in less than a minute it's so close. We're up at 6am to run to a lake about 2 miles from here which we'll swim in and then run back. Then after breakfast we're off for a 3-4hr easy ride , home for lunch the we'll do our Tuesday tempo run in the evening round Elk Lake. It looks like a fantastic place to train and we're looking forward to getting stuck into it. Wednesday we've got a 100 mile ride planned and Thursday am a 22 mile run before we go back to Vancouver via Ferry and I'll embroil myself in the task at hand.

I must hand the laptop over to a very heavily sleeping and jet-lagged Tom so I shall sign off. Thank you to everyone for your cards, support and love, I've brought them all out here and they'll be with me while I kill myself round Stanley Park at 7.35am on Saturday morning, (plus the eight hour time difference for you lot.)

Southern's...I'm taking you out into the International arena, COME ON!!!

H. x