Sunday, 27 July 2008


I wasn't really sure what to write about for this weeks post. Mostly because I'm right at the end of what took over my life for 50 weeks and also at the beginning of training for The Vitruvian. Not wanting to get all philosophical but it occurs to me that life like triathlon has it's own transitions and they all play an incredibly important part in how you deal with the section that is to follow.

Transitions in triathlon are there because they sever you from one section and connect you to a new section and how you deal with that transition is reflected in what you do in the time it takes you to get from 'A' to 'B' and how long it takes you to do it. Some people like to take their time, using the space to allow them to focus more clearly on the task ahead. Some people rush them, blindly throwing themselves into that next section. And then there are those who have a slick, speedy approach using the part they left behind to transfer them with ease onto the new section.

What does this all mean? What on earth am I babbling on about (maybe it's a touch of sunstroke, the sun has shone relentlessly in Leeds for two whole days you know!)

A girl in the gym asked me whether I suffered from post race blues and if I was feeling them post Germany. They're a very common thing to have when you spend such a lot of weeks training for your one goal, then when it's over you can be left feeling a little lost and unsure what to do next. I'm pleased to say that I haven't had any post race blues at all. I'm pleased because it means I got it right. It means I finished the task in hand and the second I crossed the line it was all over. Of course I had time to reflect (and still do) and I think about where I can improve, what went right, what went wrong etc but ultimately once it was done it was time to move on.. well when I eventually got out of the medical tent anyway!!!

So the best transitions in triathlon are what work for you. Personally I like the slick, speedy approach if possible (there's definitely room for improvement there though) and that's why I think transitions are applicable to life. I feel like I'm in a period of transition right now and I'm really enjoying it. Tom & I made lots of plans and 'to do' lists on our 19hr car journey home from Germany and because we're slowly ticking off the things we marked as important I feel like this transition is a great one. I'm enjoying training for something new and can't wait to see what the rest of the year will bring. We just have to make sure we're always moving forward. I can feel the winds of change knocking on our door and the possibilities and opportunities out there are endless. Time for us to see if we can grasp the ones we want and squeeze every ounce of fun, love, laughter, swimming, cycling, running, breathing etc in to the minutes that are tick tocking by. I'm looking forward and liking what I see...

The future's bright, the future's in front of you. Just keep moving forward.

Helen. x

Time... how do you spend yours?

Sitting here on the 09:10 train from London to Leeds I thought I'd note down a few of my thoughts on the most valuable commodity in the entire world.... time.

Around a month or so ago I was on the phone to my Dad and he asked me what I'd like for my birthday... something for triathlon maybe? an electronic gadget? anything really... after a short period of thought I came up with the best present idea I've ever had.... a day! So, on Friday morning Dad jumped on a plane from Geneva, at lunchtime I caught a train from Leeds and by the afternoon we were spending some quality time together over a decaf cappuccino on a sunny day in London.

Those of you who know me will know that I don't place a great deal of value on material goods... don't get me wrong, I'm as excited as the next person about my new iphone 3G and am constantly working out ways of affording a new set of Zipp carbon fibre race wheels but am also aware that none of these things truly matter and certainly won't make me any happier as a person.

Although Dad and I have been apart for long periods during my 34 years (often residing in different countries) the time we have managed to spend together has always been of the highest quality and we're extremely comfortable in each others company, happy to spend hour upon hour righting all the world's wrongs and generally kicking back. This weekend my unusual request of simply 'a day with my Dad' led one of our main talking points to be the concept of 'time' and how both we and people in general chose to spend theirs, I'll try and summarise our thoughts...

The first and most important thing to note is that time must surely be the most valuable commodity known to man? Every day we are each given 24 hours to spend how we please, no matter who you are from Bill Gates to a tramp on the street it's the same for everyone... 24 individual hours to spend once only. Having worked in the health and fitness industry for many years I've lost track of the number of times I've heard 'I just don't have the time' as an excuse for not eating well or moving more. So lets set the record straight once and for all... every single one of us has the same amount of time, 24 hours in a day or if you prefer 168 hours in a week, what actually differs is HOW WE CHOSE TO SPEND THEM. What makes these precious seconds so valuable however is that we each have a finite number available per lifetime and once each is spent they can never be recovered. Material possessions however can always be replaced and many a dollar has been frittered away only to be replenished through varying combinations of work and good fortune. You'd think therefore that with each sweep of the hour hand being so valuable we'd spend our time wisely with priority given to those things which we hold dear...


How many of us spend more time with our work colleagues than our family? How about more time watching trash telly than preparing healthy nutritious food? more time on Facebook than exercising? more time commuting than unwinding?... what about wasted time? how many hours a day do we spend unnecessarily on pointless meetings? hopping through the endless Sky TV channels again and again? replying to emails with no point or purpose?... and how about compromising quality? an hour spent 'together' having dinner but sat staring at a big box in the corner of the room? a day spent together without a kiss, cuddle or smile? or even a week spent together unable to get along because you're so stressed about work?

It's all about priorities really... surely the ideal would be to spend the most time with the highest quality on the most important areas of our life, less on the less important and probably none at all on the things that really don't matter? I doubt many of us (myself included) have reached this perfect balance and even people who may be seen as having led a successful life seem to have struggled. A little while ago I watched a documentary about Bobby Robson and when asked if he had any regrets he said he wished he'd spent more time with his family... I wonder if he'd have been prepared to compromise his levels of success within football? What's more important... family or work? It's not a trick question, however people's actions often betray their words...

How often do we hear 'as long as I've got my health that's all that matters' only to find someone working 60 hours a week and exercising for 30 minutes? Their words suggest that health is their highest priority yet they are prepared to spend 120 times more on their career than keeping fit. Work is clearly their priority therefore, however with such a miserly spend on exercise it's likely to be cut short or compromised due to poor health further down the line anyway... I think that's called a 'lose/lose situation'?

What I'm slowly getting round to saying is that although time is clearly the most valuable of our possessions we seem to spend more of it on things which really aren't that important and most of what we do spend on those things close to us is often compromised with regards quality...

Thanks to a fantastic weekend with my Dad then (he actually overspent on my present and gave me 40 hours instead of just 24) I'll be spending a significant amount of my valuable time over the next few weeks considering just how I allocate each of my 168 weekly hours, as H has already alluded to... there is change afoot ;)

See you in seven,

T ;)

Sunday, 20 July 2008

a big step forward...

Doesn't time just fly... in a blink here we are two weeks on from Germany and already working toward new and improved goals ;) Sorry that my race report is yet to surface but having driven the 1750km back from Klagenfurt in one go, arriving back in Leeds at 6am on Wednesday morning and with Helen's brother Jonny visiting from Friday (great to see you and Kirsten mate) my feet have hardly touched the floor.

I thought I'd use today's entry to clear a couple of things up as although the support we've received from everyone has been amazing the feeling from quite a few people regarding my race seems to be that I failed to achieve my goal, must have done something wrong with regards training or taper and generally had a bit of a shocker... whilst at the same time maintaining a good old 'stiff upper lip'. Comments like 'oh well, at least you finished' and 'you could do with eating a bit more' along with various suggestions as to how I could have prepared/trained better have been common place as people assume I've had the triathlon equivalent of missing an open goal to win the world cup final.

Therefore, although a full and detailed reflection of the whole 50 week journey is on its way, I'd like to state two things having allowed myself a good 14 days to think things over...

1. I really am over the moon with my performance both training for Germany and during the race itself and consider the whole thing to be a significant step toward achieving my ultimate goal of reaching the Ford Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

2. I honestly believe that I gave my absolute all to the entire process, wouldn't change anything about what I did from the start of training to crossing the finish line and am confident that on 'another day' I may well have exceeded my time goal of 9 hours and 25 minutes.

I think the problem is that, in general, success or failure is judged in a very short term results based way. For example if a team plays great all season but misses out on winning the cup by a couple of bad decisions from the ref or unlucky twists of fate there's an immediate enquiry as to what they've done wrong and who must be to blame... which normally results in the manager getting the boot. However, if a team flukes their way to glory via an injury time, offside, giant bobble of a goal than the 'cracks' are instantly papered over and all concerned are treated as heroes. As my uncle Roger says, the worst thing that ever happened to England was beating the Germans 5-1... it took years of consistent under performing before we finally saw through him as a manager... short term results are seldom a predictor of long term success, you only have to look at Alex Ferguson (sorry Andy).

So here I am... its been a brilliant season so far, massive pb's over both half and full marathon distance, winning my age group in one of the the toughest half-ironman races in the world (which qualified me for the 70.3 equivalent of Kona), several solid performances in other triathlons, duathlons and time trials and a sub ten hour Ironman... no doubt if I had a manager he'd be receiving his p45 shortly ;) ... So far this has been the best season of my life and with some lofty goals set for the National Long Distance Triathlon Championships on September the 6th I'm looking to round it off in style.

Getting back to the bottom line though, I missed my time goal of 9.25 by over 30 minutes and went three minutes slower than last year on a (supposedly) faster course... doesn't sound like much return for 50 weeks of suffering? However....

I had a truly breakthrough performance in the one discipline where I doubted my Hawaii credentials... the swim. I know it was a little short so the official time of 54.03 isn't quite as great as it seems but at 113th out of 1908 male athletes I exited the water in the top 5.9% which compared to 14% in Switzerland '07 and 16.5% in Austria '06 represents significant progress and isn't bad for my 'weakest' discipline.

At half-way on the bike I was a few minutes under five hour pace and although I wasn't able to hang on for the whole 180k it was far from scary. Finishing in 5.09 on pretty much the opposite of a 'magic' day I'm confident that the Yorkshire Dales will provide enough of a challenge over the next ten months to raise my game to the desired level.

As for the run... it's important to note that I blew up before the final 26.2 miles rather than during, and with athletes of similar 'stand alone' run ability to me posting Ironman marathon splits significantly under three and a half hours at both Austria and Germany this year, I'm confident that if I can get off the bike in more respectable condition something close to 3.15/3.20 is possible.

My two triathlon heroes are Mark Allen and Chris McCormack, who took seven and six attempts respectively to achieve their own personal goal of winning the greatest endurance race on earth and yet are regarded as two of the greatest Ironman athletes (THE in the case of Allen) of all time.

The 50 weeks to Kona have been a valuable learning process, I've had a taste of what it will take to qualify for the Big Island and am a huge step closer to achieving that goal. I'll leave you with a quote which Helen wrote on a card she gave me the night before my first Ironman of this life changing journey...

"Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true"
- Leon I Suenes

Stay positive and believe,


p.s. In a fit of motivation and thanks to some amazing inspiration from our mate Gabriel in Austria we've both entered Ironman Switzerland 2009 to follow on seven weeks after Ironman Lanzarote in May... hold tight ;)

Race report, reflection & the future...

Ironman has certainly got a way of getting under your skin. Go and watch one and oops... just like Jo & AKJ (see above pic) the very next day before you know what's happening you're in the registration tent with a pen in your hand and a fistful of pennies and BINGO, you're life for the next year is about to change forever...bloody marvellous. I never thought I'd see the day when Master Kendal-Jones signed up to be an Ironman. His sister Jo, we knew wouldn't be able to resist. I can't wait, really truly can't wait to be part of their Iron journey. So AKJ & Jo you're going to love and hate us over the next year but most of all the journey will be one you'll never forget. Live it...

So, the race... the reason for 50 weeks of solid training (and blogging) how am I, how do I feel and what's next...?

Arriving in Germany on the Tuesday before the race allowed us both a little bit of Ironman free space before everything went nuts with registering, riding the course, eating bowl upon bowl of pasta and generally milling around other athletes. It was nice, we could almost pretend we were there on holiday... well almost. Sharing a small hotel room with two wetsuits, two bikes and enough tools and equipment to keep the Tour de France on the road for a month kept our mind on nothing else but the task in hand.

As we blogged daily through Iron week I'll cut to the chase and go straight to race day.

It's quite difficult to explain about race day in Ironman. There's always a buzz in transistion before races at most races but there's a totally different air and buzz in Ironman. It's heavy with the usual anxiety and tension of 'what if's' mixed with confidence and the desperate need to use the loo 'properly' before the gun goes. The air is heavy and the buzz is different because I'm sure it's full of the hopes, dreams and journeys of approximately 2000 people's varied Ironman training paths. And that's why it's hard to explain the feeling in transistion when you're there with 2000 other people but you feel like you're on your own. I pumped up my tires, checked the bike over and stocked it with energy drink and fuel for the ride, placed my swim to bike bag where it was accessible, walked the route from entering T1 so I could find my bike easily and checked and re-checked everything was in working order. I did it all completely unaware of a single other person in there. I was focussed and I was ready... oh, and I was scared!

Walking away from the bike knowing the next time you see it you're actually in the thick of it, the meat of the race about to begin is a nerve racking feeling. I found Tom and with our wetsuits in hand we went to a quiet patch of the transistion area where Tom's Mum, Ray and Aunty Les with AKJ and Sam were all waiting on the other side of the metal fencing. Kisses and wishes of good luck through the mesh like animals in the zoo we walked (tearfully) hand in hand down to the start. It's a huge incredibly overwhelming feeling. I wanted Tom to have the race of his life, he wanted the same for me, it was all said in a tearful look and a squeeze of the hand, words completely unneccessary.

The swim.

And there I was toe in the water. How many times I'd written in the blog that before I knew it I would be standing on the start line in Germany with my toe in the water, and in a matter of moments the day was going to happen with or without me. I started my watch a minute before the gun went as I wanted to be ready to just get out there and swim like my life depended on it without worrying if I'd started my watch or not. 3, 2, 1 the gun goes and boy oh boy was I in the thick of it. I've never been so brutally savaged in a swim before. I felt like I was fighting not swimming. I got kicked and punched in the face repeatedly, my goggles kept getting knocked. I couldn't find a single spot of clear water. Black arms and red hats flailing all over the place. I swear people were just panicking left right and centre. Some brute of a bloke even decided to grab my shoulder and push me under water as hard as he could. I was gob smacked and annoyed and after swallowing half of the water I stopped, treaded water and like a meercat looked for anywhere that wasn't covered in fighting seals. I had to just get on with it. I know Ady said he had a very similar experience. Luckily Tom had completely clear water for his whole swim. I think I have radar that glued me to huge packs, sending me straight into the middle of them for much of the swim. I decided to stay wide and swim well away from the buoys and the people just to keep as clear as possible where possible. I was amazed to get out of the water and see such a great time. I know I'm swimming well but I hadn't expected 57mins (although I think the swim was a little short) but I would still have come in under the hour which was a huge boost for me as I ran up the carpet and out into T1.

The bike.

The weather was perfect for us, a little bit of cloud cover and very warm and dry and as I bombed out of T1 preparing myself for the 112mile onslaught to begin I was just ever thankful that I'd gotten out of the swim, firstly alive and secondly in such good time. The bike's a strange beast for me. It seems to be governed mostly by how confident I'm feeling on the day. Technical courses tend to be more stressful for me and with only a few tight corners on the course (and a great piece of last minute advice from Jo Carritt) I felt okay about it. I'd decided to try and keep my nutrition to more liquid than solid to see if that would help my stomach digest it easier. The first lap I can't really remember much of to be honest, except for the cobbles which they name 'The Hell'. I'm sure they put them there for comedy value for the spectators. My Profile Drinks bottle (which is a bottle designed to sit in between your tri bars) was practically full both times round (you'd think I'd have learnt my lesson after the first lap.) PowerBar energy drink was thrown absolutely every where as I rode over the cobbles, my legs and face covered in it. If Jeremy Beadle had popped out I wouldn't have been surprised! I saw our clan of spectators, Yve, Ray, Les and AKJ with the Religion (an England flag with 'Leeds the religion' written on it) and it's such a pick up when you hear voices and shouts of those who you know, and you know they're really there for you. Passing Pauly P, Ozzer and the speedy Eekster made me smile because EK had the race programme out and was shouting stats at me as I passed on the first lap. 5th girl in my age group, I was doing well. I did fade though and I didn't really feel completely on it. I was looking forward to getting off the bike. In hindsight I think I didn't quite take on board enough fuel. 5hrs 41 mins on the bike.

The run.

Flying into T2 a helper was there holding my bike to run bag for me and I ran into the tent emptied it out, got my trainers on, dashed into the loo for what felt like the longest wee in the whole world then onto the carpet and with only 26.2 miles to go I was going to be an Ironman. I passed Yve, Les and Ray on one side and then Paul, Ozzer & Ek on the other, Sam was lying on the floor with his camera taking arty pictures and I felt elated knowing I'd survived the swim and the bike and now here was something I knew... the run was my world. What I hadn't bargained for about 800 metres down the road were the incredible stitches that I had. I couldn't breathe properly and I was really worried that I was going to have to walk the whole marathon, a truly daunting thought. I stopped (something that really surprised me even when I did it.) I stretched thinking that over 5 and a half hours crunched over on a bike was bound to be the cause. I ran a little and stopped again. I ran (shuffled) the first 5km not enjoying it in the slightest and then all of a sudden I came into my own, my stitches subsided and I felt great. I was able to take on a bit of banana and water at every feed station and I grabbed cubes of ice to crunch on the way and sponges to soak my head and clean my face. Now I was ticking along nicely. Like a little metronome I just tick, tick, ticked the rest of lap 1, lap 2 and the beginning of lap 3 and then the bad man came and gave me my stitches back and stole my running mojo, replacing it with lead weights for my legs and the devil sitting on my shoulder. One foot in front of the other, don't stop, no matter how hard it is, the pain will end, the finish line will come, just keep moving forward... like a mantra for the last lap and a half. I'd wanted to run just under 4hrs but my time slipped in that last 10km a result no doubt of it not quite being my day and not enough energy taken in. 4.09 for the run. These are all things I'll take forward to the next one. As I crossed the bridge taking me closer to the end for that last lap I prayed that Tom had had a fantastic race and I couldn't wait to see him in the athlete's garden at the end. Running onto the carpet as you start the finishers shoot is just the best feeling in the world. I had done it, I'd finished and my bottom lip was going (mainly exhaustion but also pride) I'd broken 11hrs - 10hrs 53mins and everyone who'd come to support us had fought their way into the finishing chute to see. The finishing medal was hung around my neck no sooner than my toe was in the water. I'd blinked and the day was done and the results of what kind of Ironman shape I was in for Germany 2008 were there in black and white. 10hrs 53mins. A time I'm extremely proud of.

The end.

Three hours in the medical tent, a drip, five cups of liquid and a whole load of vomiting and you still couldn't stop me from being happy with how I'd done. I knew I was as far from Hawaii as I was the moon but I did myself proud because the day was a battle and a battle that I won. On the right day and with more knowledge (having now done 2 Ironman races) I know I can improve on that time, but that's for another day. July 6th 2008 shows how good I was on that day. What I learnt from that day shows how much and where I can improve. I'm more than happy with that.

I've always said that as long as I do my best then I'll be happy. If my best takes me to Hawaii one day then that's fantastic and that's a great goal for me to aim for. If I never make it but I always give my all then I'm still a winner. Germany took me to places in myself that I'd never been to before and I'm really proud of how I raced. I wasn't even close to qualifying for Hawaii, the standard in my age group was very, very high but you have to be in it to win it and I put myself in there, now I know exactly where I am and where I'd have to be if I wanted to make it. At the moment I'm not good enough but there's still room for improvement, so who knows?!

Lanzarote on May 23rd 2009 followed by Switzerland on July 12th 2009 should sort the men from the boys and then I think it's time to think about a family and new adventures.

Congratulations to Ady, Ironman Pauly P (who did his first Ironman in Austria) you were both fantastic, to Jevon, our good friend who we met through the triathlon community, you trained like a star and you raced like one a huge well done for your amazing pb and time of 10.42 in Austria. And to Ben G who raced in Switzerland in what sounds like hideous conditions.

You're all brilliant.

To quote Buzz Lightyear..."To infinity and beyond..."

H. x

Saturday, 12 July 2008

and..... rest... ish....

First of all this is a joint post from both of us as the only internet we've found in Klagenfurt is in the McDonalds and the less time we have to spend in here the better ;)

Having not logged on for nearly a week it's been great to read all the positive comments which have been posted on here. We've been overwhelmed that so many people not only read what we write but are also motivated by it... it's also been a fantastic help to us allowing us to develop as triathletes and also as people. Obviously we didn't manage to qualify for Hawaii this year, however with Lanzarote only ten months away and Canada also in the pipeline for 2009 our exciting journey will continue ;)

We're both still super happy with how we raced on Sunday and have taken many positives from the 140.6 miles round Frankfurt. Once we get back to England (we drive back from Austria on Tuesday) we'll both post detailed race reports and reflections etc. but for the moment it's nice to kick back and cheer on our friends in this weekends Ironman Austria. 

Oddly enough, having both been the most exhausted ever after Ironman Germany we've managed an easy 5k run for the last four mornings have swum in the beautiful lake Worthersee every day and even got out for a lap of the bike course on Friday (in a leisurely 6.5 hours including several swim/lunch/ice cream stops) and are both feeling pretty good! 

Today's picture is of H and I at the top of the famous Rupertiberg climb of Ironman Austria taken yesterday in the blazing sun. It was great to take it nice and easy and stop at the top to admire the view... Jonny and Kelsey's brilliant graffiti from 2007 certainly made us smile ;)

Right, with four minutes left it's time to dash. See you back in blighty next week,

T & H

Monday, 7 July 2008

Kona -the truth is out there...

Kona waits for no man, you're either in or you're out and we've trained hard, really hard in a bid to see how close we can get to the enigma that is The Hawaii Ironman Championships. We both knew while we out there on the run that Hawaii was almost certainly slipping from our grip as we dug into the murky depths of ourselves to keep going. What I'm really proud of (in both of us) is that never once did it cross either of our minds to break when the going got tough and in Ironman there are people dropping like flies all around you, stopping, stretching, sitting, puking, walking, pulling out. Not once did we ever think about that even though we hurt like we'd never hurt before and we knew (seperately) that getting to Hawaii would have to wait... yesterday just wasn't our time.

Today we're both exhausted both mentally and physically. All around Frankfurt there are people wandering around with broken bodies but huge smiles. The sense of achievement when you dig deep, when the demons are telling you it's okay to stop and all you want is for the pain to be over, it's huge, I can't possibly explain in words how that feels when you NEVER give in, that's achievement. And that's why not making it to Hawaii is not in anyway a disappointment. Of course it was our goal and our dream but that still hasn't gone. Yesterday we both stepped up to the plate ready to take it on the chin and on July 6th 2008 we weren't good enough. We are good enough to get there one day though and it's this belief that will see us through.

We went to the awards ceremony this morning to see those people who made their dreams reality, the buzz and tension in the room when people's names are called out to see if they want to take their slot is electric, especially when someone either turns it down or just hasn't turned up (you have to be there in person to accept a Kona slot) because then if the slot isn't accepted it rolls down to the next person. The whoops, cheers and whistles when someone takes their slot gives me goose bumps, you know they worked hard for that and they deserve it 100% yesterday was their day and one day we'll have ours, just watch this space...

H & T. x

P.s I'd just like to say that the messages we've had both on the blog, facebook and by text have just been brilliant, you've all been a huge part of our journey, thank you.

Night night from two very tired Ironmen...

A very special day...

Just thought we'd write a brief blog tonight as it's past midnight and we're both exhausted. I finished in 9.59 and H broke 11 hours with 10:53 and a PB by over an hour!

I was flying to about half-way on the bike before exploding spectacularly and suffering for the last four and a half hours and the fact that H had to spend three hours in the medical tent see today's pic) straight after the race pretty much sums up how hard today was. I ended up nowhere near a Hawaii slot and although H came 11th in her age group (a fantastic result), with only three slots available it's really unlikely she'll make it either.

We are both super pleased with our performances today though, neither of us quite hit our targets however we gave more than we ever have and crossed the finish line with absolutely nothing left. We've said all along that although our goal was Hawaii as long as we could hold our heads up afterwards, knowing that we did all we could then the result was neither here nor there.

We're off to bed now but will get race reports up in the next few days.

Most importantly though we'd both like to say thanks for all the messages of support that we've received this week. It's been amazing and I'm sure that without it we would have found the day so much more difficult.

Thanks, thanks thanks,

Tom & Helen x

p.s. looks like the quest for Kona continues... Next stop Ironman Lanzarote - May 23rd 2009 ;)

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Some last minute confidence....

Note: If you are reading this on Sunday the 6th of July we are probably giving it everything at Ironman Germany. You can follow our progress on, my race number is 2712 and H's is 703.

Not long now! Just thought I'd use my final blog entry before the race to build my confidence a little by reminding myself of a few of the key sessions which I have banked over the last few months...

1. Fourteen miles at 14kph on a knackered old treadmill in a tiny room staring at a plain green wall - Dad and I were in Vancouver for a week's skiing in January and having made a great start to the year I wasn't about to let my training falter. Although I managed to swim ever day, as over five feet of snow fell during our stay there was no chance whatsoever of getting out on a bike or run so the treadmill was my only other option. I actually logged nearly 70 miles running that week with the session described above being by far the toughest.

2. Half-iron training day with Jevon and H - Our mate Jevon came up one Wednesday a few months back for a good solid day in all three disciplines. We started with a 5k swim (200 lengths) straight through before a quick breakfast lead us on to a steady 50 mile bike followed quickly by a 1.49 lap of the very hilly Leeds half marathon route. This only left us about 30 minutes to refuel before finishing the day off with a flat out but very hilly 20k bike time trial... an iron day if ever there was one.

3. Forty mile steady/hard ride on race bike followed by 18 mile run including Kirkstal Hills in both directions. A month or so before UK70.3 H and I were keen to combine a big brick session with some race specific hill work. Kirkstall hills is a legendary run which starts at Kirkstall lights and finishes about four miles later at the Sheesh Mahal curry house... the start and finish are only a mile apart however the 17 steep terraced hills in between add a little 'spice' to the session. I'd done it twice in a single session before but never as part of a long run and certainly never as the second half of a big brick.

4. The Etape Du Dales + 10 mile hilly run - Simply the hardest I've ever worked on a bike... by quite some way. With the aim of covering the hilliest 112 miles that the Yorkshire Dales has to offer in under seven hours I teamed up with ex-pro mountainbiker Rob Thackray and a few of his mates (good luck next week in Switzerland boys) . Fortunately (or unfortauntely depending on your outlook) Rob and the lads were a fair bit stronger than me which resulted in 6 hours and 39 minutes of near maximal effort in an attempt just to stay on their wheels! Coming to the end of the bike my legs were blown to pieces and I was doubting I'd be able to stand let alone run but 10 hilly miles followed in 77 minutes. (One of two massive breakthrough sessions for me this year)

5. 106 mile / 20 mile mega brick with Ben G - This was my other major breakthrough session of this year's training. Still somewhat sceptical about my bike fitness I set out for seven laps between the Boroughbridge and Dishforth roundabouts on the A168 (I think I got those names right?) with the hope of breaking five hours for the 106 miles and running to target marathon pace (7.49 per mile) for the 20 mile run. Ben set a crazy pace for the first 20 minutes but once the tempo is set that's it and working hard all the way we went through 100 comfortably under 4.30 and finished in 4.46. Twenty miles later I'd hit my target average mile split for the run but going off way too fast (7.20s) had blown with about 8 miles to go. A very important lesson was learnt that day and will be with me on the first lap of tomorrow's run!

6. 5k straight swim in 1.21 going through 3.8k in 1.02.02 - Although nothing spectacular this session was only a week ago and reminded me that even though I've not had the best swims so far this season I'm ahead of lasgt year and breaking an hour tomorrow is more than realistic. We set out for a steady 5k and drafting off each other alternated the lead every 250m. To go through Ironman distance in the pool with no wetsuits at an effort level lower than Ironman pace in 62 minutes felt great and although I'm not expecting miracles I'm confident of being there or there about.

7. Swim with H - 20 x 150 off 2.30 averaging around 2.15 (i think - not got my training diary to hand) - Deciding to do this session I didn't think it sounded to difficult but when Ian Wilson (ex Olympic swimmer over 1500m) said 'rather you than me' on the way down to the pool I began to worry. By the time is was hanging on for grim death with over half the session to go I was having to really dig deep. This session was by far the hardest I've ever worked in a swimming pool and will give me some serious mental strength of the going gets tough in the lake tomorrow.

8. All my super extra freezing cold long bike rides in the Dales - too frequent to single any one of these out but in terms of mental suffering nothing comes close to seven hours in the freezing sleet and snow in the middle of nowhere. Tomorrow may hurt my body more but my mind has been to darker places in the last six months than the Frankfurt Ironman course with its beautiful sun, crazy supporters and endless aid stations could ever muster!

9. UK70.3 - Having wanted to do this race ever since we saw Daz fly round last year I wasn't sure when I'd get the opportunity but with H racing for Great Britain in Vancouver our normal pre-Ironman half (Bala) was out so the week we returned from Canada we headed down to Devon for one of the toughest half Ironman events in the world. I'd hoped to get around 5.05 but struggling badly in the cold (I only managed to drink about 100ml of fluid on the bike as my hands couldn't squeeze the bottle) I would have been happy to get under 5.10. Crossing the line in 5.01 without having to really push the run and winning my age-group at the same time provided all the confidence I could ever ask for about my ability to string all three disciplines together.

and finally...

10. The London Marathon - Although I've run well in all my half ironman races I' yet to get hold of an Ironman marathon running 3.50 in 2006 and 3.40 in 2007. Because of this I've worked extra hard on my running all year (see session 1) and felt really comfortable and strong running 2.49 for 26.2 miles this April. At an average pace of 6.29 per mile I'm confident of being able to hold 7.40 per mile tomorrow... although see session 5 for pacing strategy.

So there we are, I've trained harder than ever before and now I have to race harder than ever before. With such a long training block (32 weeks) I've been concious not to peak too soon and as such have been careful to hold a little something back the whole time. It's all been about tomorrow though and with it comes the final challenge... to give absolutely everything.

Before I go though... today's picture see's H and I earlier today standing by the finish line. Sometime tomorrow afternoon we will both cross under that archway and earn our Ironman medals. Whatever happens during the day, tomorrow evening we will both be celebrating the culmination of a wonderful journey which has seen us learn so much about not only ourselves but our wonderful friends and family. Whether we smash our pbs, crawl over the line one minute inside the cut-off or DNF we will have given it everything.

See you then ;)


p.s. Wetsuits will be allowed :)

This is it...

Its Saturday night, the night before Ironman Germany and the picture above is what I'm heading for... the finish line.  It's not yet finished but it's a remarkable sight sitting proudly and loudly in the old town square of Frankfurt.  We got here before any of this was erected and the town square is a beautiful one but I'm sure come tomorrow afternoon the only thing on my mind will be this finish chute and this will be one of the best sights of the whole day.  To know whatever the time is, whether I do well or I have a mare as long as I get to the finish line then I'm an Ironman again and no one can take that away.  I've done the hard work, the hours, the blood, the sweat and a fair few tears and now I just have to get it to translate to race day.  I have no control over anyone elses race or things like the heat or mechanical problems with my bike, I'm going to leave that in the lap of the gods and hope that they're looking down on me and all that's left for me to do is to get on with it and as my brother would say, "crack on kid."

Time to shower, get my stuff prepared for the early 3.30am alarm call for a 4am breakfast, then down to the Ironman shuttle bus at 4.30am to take us to the start and then it's a matter of moments before my toe is in the water and there really will be no turning back.

Thanks to everyone, some we know and some we don't but all of you have been kind enough to send your love, support and best wishes and I can guarantee that we'll be taking them all with us on tomorrows journey, it's a long day so we'll need them all!!  We've got lots of friends and family out here too to give us love on the course, it's going to be a challenging day for them worrying about the two of us! And now to Tom who is without doubt my true inspiration and without whom none of this would be possible nor would it have been the amazing journey that it has been and you've been here through it all, the highs and the lows.  I wish you the race of your life, I'm right beside you in heart and will be following your speedy path all day, I can't wait to see you in the Athletes Garden at the end to celebrate whatever the results are.  We're a great team and we're in it together.  x

Next time we post the truth will be out there.

Night night.

H. x

Friday, 4 July 2008

27 hours...

Fifty weeks ago H and I started this blog with the lofty title of '50 weeks to Kona?' and before we've had chance to blink we're about to answer that question... in less than 30 hours time my alarm will wake me for the final time. It's been quite some journey and although there have been plenty of tough points (mostly due to sub-zero conditions for endless hours in the Yorkshire Dales) it really could not have gone any better. Although this is a great thing, and I wouldn't have it any other way, it does present it's own special kind of pressure... the type associated with not having any excuses!

As people get more and more nervous you can hear the constant hum of the various reasons which are provided up front in order to justify falling short of particular goals... unfortunately for me these are one of the few conversations I'm unable to contribute to. You can already make out the mental battles which will be fought on Sunday with various justifications being given for not pushing it right to the limit and digging just that bit deeper than before... also unfortunately for me I've been rabitting on for the last 50 weeks about how this Sunday would be THE day where I pushed for every single heartbeat and made every stroke, pedal and stride stand up and be counted...

and here we are...

less than a day and a half till 'kick off' and every single base is covered... I've swam, biked and run further and faster than ever before and I fully intend to live up to my promise of crossing the finish line with truly nothing left happy that whatever the result on Sunday afternoon I will have truly given everything to this wonderful journey.

I'll leave you with a quote which I posted in one of my first ever blog entries and has stuck with me all the way...

There will come a point in the race, when you alone will need to decide.
You will need to make a choice.
Do you really want it?
You will need to decide.

At that point you will begin to suffer.
It's a small piece of your life, but one you'll remember.
Make it count.
Rolf Arands

See you tomorrow,


Two more sleeps...

Another fairly chilled out day in Ironman world, but with only two more sleeps to go I'm positively itching to get on the start line and 'just do it'... Nike couldn't have phrased it better!

Before breakfast myself, Tom and Ady had a nice gentle run on the course (see pic) we're standing on one of the bridges that we'll all cross four times on the run, so now I'm well acquainted with the bike course and the run course the only thing left hanging in the balance is the 'to wetsuit or not to wetsuit' quandry that the organisers appear to be having. After saying that the decision would be made for our race briefing this afternoon, they have now changed to tomorrow morning when we go to rack the bikes! Oh the drama of it all.

The bikes are more or less sorted, just got to make sure they go into transistion with the tyres a bit deflated incase the heat makes them explode ( a very common thing in hot conditions.) And then once we've done that the only thing left to do is to get really, really, really nervous. Tonight is the last full night of sleep as tomorrow night I'm sure won't quite be a blissful heavy slumber and we also have to get up at 3.30am for breakfast so really there's only one and a half sleeps left!!!

I'm excited and incredibly anxious and I'm sure tomorrow I'll be like a cat on a hot tin roof. It's the waiting that does you in, I just want it here. I've eaten enough pasta to sink a ship and so my body is ready (oblivious) but it's on stand-by, the green light is gonna be a shock to the system but I'm getting fidgety, all good signs I'm sure.

So I'm off to have that last full night of sleep, to dream about wetsuits, bikes and trainers and all of the chocolate I can consume when I'm done!

Night night. x

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Twenty four degrees....

With just over 48 hours until the flag drops the tension is really mounting here in Frankfurt... largely due to the water temperature of Langener Waldsee where we will be swimming on Sunday morning. Anything below 24 degrees centigrade and wetsuits will be alowed, 24 and above and they won't... this morning it was 24.1!! As you can see from today's picture we swam without wetuits as well as with just to get a feel for swimming open water in those conditions.

If it was purely down to swim ability then it wouldn't really bother me and I'd be more than happy to go for it 'sans suit', however.... there is a type of suit which is a kind of half-way house between a wetsuit and a normal triathlon suit, see HERE. These are allowed in temperatures above 24 degrees and will significantly reduce swim time, however at over 200 euros each (we'd need two) and considering the fact that wetsuits may still be an option on Sunday we're going to wait until the official announcement tomorrow afternoon before splashing the cash.

If wetties were allowed then we'd probably never use the pointzero3 suits but if they were banned then they'd be likely to sell out in seconds as everyone rushes to 'buy' some time... all we can do is try to be as on the ball as possible tomorrow and be one step ahead of the game if the call is made. One thing I don't want is to be stood on the start line in my Speedo's!!

I'm hoping that this evening's rain and lower temps will have cooled the lake down the 0.2 degrees needed for me to use my (also brand new) Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit... all will be revealed tomorrow...

Other than that I'm feeling more and more rested every day, ready to go for it and the weather forecast for Sunday is looking good (24 degrees, dry, light wind). Tomorrow morning we're doing a 30 minute run before breakfast with our mate Ady and then will sort the bikes out during the day before heading to the race briefing at 4.30pm.

Mum, Ray and my Auntie Les arrived today and it was great to catch up with them over a relaxing dinner. AKJ, Sam, Amanda, Maddie and Paul arrive tomorrow so with the usual suspects out on the course we certainly won't be lacking support ;)

that's about it for now, see you tomorrow,


It's starting to happen...

No going back now, the athlete wrist band is fixed in place. I've registered, I've got the necessary items... chip for my ankle, swim bag, swim to bike & bike to run bags and the jitters... race day is near I can feel it in my tummy, the butterflies are slowly turning into heffalumps!!

Brief post today, going for an early run before breakfast tomorrow morning to remind my legs what exercise still is. Today we went to the swim course and had a bit of a mince around in the very warm waters of Langener Waldse. Rumours flying around that they could make the swim non-wetsuit due to the water temp being 24.1 degrees. If the temp is 24 or above they have to make it a non-wetsuit swim. Suits me fine, it's the same for everyone and I'm really not bothered about that happening which is a great position to be in, we swam with and without the wetsuits today and both were great. It has rained a lot today though so I have a feeling that will have cooled the water enough to keep it just under the temp limit. Tomorrow it will be decided so I shall keep you posted.

Apart from the swim and registering there was little else left for us to do which has been great. Tomorrow (Friday) the bike needs to be checked again and have drinks bottles attached, numbers stuck on, etc and then we go off to the race briefing to get the low down on race day. Three more sleeps... eeek ever closer.

Night night.

H. x

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

IMDE Race Week - Wednesday (Day Two of Seven)

It's been another scorching hot day here in Frankfurt with temperatures well in to the thirties. Yesterday we arrived in Dunkirk at 11am and managed to reach our hotel (the Miramar) by 6pm via a nice leisurely lunch in a town called Leuven in Belgium. We much prefer driving to European races as we can pack as much stuff as we want and don't have to depend on useless airlines not to lose our bikes... in fact with our mate Ady flying out tomorrow from terminal five with BA we even brought his bike just to be safe.

As soon as we'd unloaded the car we nipped out for a very easy 30 minute run to check out the finish area and part of the run course. From what we saw the run looks pretty flat although will no doubt be hot and looks to have quite a few tricky twists and turns. At 10k per loop it's a little long to run but we'll probably try to ride it on Friday morning.

Today we had a nice lie-in followed by an ok breakfast here in the hotel. It was then down to the finish area for 11am to take part in the official tour of the bike course. On Sunday there's a 12k section out of T1 before two 84k loops bring you into T2 and the start of the run. As expected the German organisation was amazing and with about 30 other riders we had a full police escort right through the middle of Frankfurt and out into the countryside, through red lights, taking up both lanes of dual-carriageways and generally getting the full Tour de France treatment. They even scheduled in a short rest stop just over half-way and gave each rider a two litre bottle of mineral water to top up their supplies. So how was it? Pretty much as I expected although with names like 'the Beast' and 'Heartbreak Hill' I'd imagined the climbs to be climbs but even the worst were no more than drags... nothing to compare to the Austrian or Swiss mdot courses neither of which are particularly hilly. We took it super easy and my heart rate only averaged 95 for the whole session but with the benefit of being in a large group still managed to average over 15mph. I was pretty tired by the end but with plenty of good food today and three super easy rest days to go I'm sure I'll be fresh come Saturday and a sub five hour bike split is certainly on the cards.

Tomorrow we've got another nice lie-in scheduled before heading down to the expo (only about 400 yards from our hotel) to register. We'll then look to head over to the lake for a quick swim before lunch and spend the afternoon kicking back.

It's still meant to cool down for the weekend and the current forecast for race day is 25 degrees and dry with a reasonable breeze.

See you tomorrow,


Calm before the storm...

I say the calm before the storm because it's all not quite real yet, but I know that the second tomorrow dawns its new day things are going to change. At the moment it feels a little like a holiday (albeit a very restrained one!)

The pic above is from today's recce of the bike course. One loop around the scenic roads and villages of Frankfurt. It's a great course. A lot of people had said it was a fast course and not technical but one man's technical compared to ickle old my technical could be chalk and cheese. Thankfully I think both of those statements are true. The roads are long and sweeping so apart from a section of cobbles and a couple of tight bends I feel okay about it. The climbs are all given names like 'The Beast' and 'Heartbreak Hill' but to be honest they're not what I would call climbs (I have the good old Yorkshire Dales to thank for that.)

We rode the whole thing very very easy and in true organised German style. We had a Police escort and a pack of Police outriders for the whole 3 and a half hours, stopping traffic, keeping the roads clear and danger free and allowing us to see the course safely which would have been impossible had we tried to do it on our own. On race day the roads will be closed. It was a great feeling, riding in a pack of about 25 to 30 people and all of us soon to be Ironmen, all with a different story to tell and different paths to get here, all enjoying the sun (another 32 degree scorcher) and seeing the sights.

Tomorrow becomes the real start of it all. Family & friends are arriving and other competitors start trickling in with their perfectly honed bodies ready for the race that awaits... we register and everything we do from now onwards starts to really make the difference for Sunday, what we eat, what we drink and how we deal with race anxiety as the minutes tick ever closer. Tonight I'm going to pretend I'm still on holiday, read my book and sleep well.

Tomorrow's another day - like the beginning of a long awaited Christmas holiday I'm starting to feel excited. Keep the lid on it for a few more days though, button down the hatches and let it all happen at 7am (6am English time) on Sunday morning.

Right gonna sign off before I start making myself nervous!

Night night.

H. x

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

IMDE Race Week - Day One of Seven

I'm going to make this brief as it's been a long day particularly as I've spent the last hour trying to upload my first video diary of this trip to my Facebook account. If you're on Facebook then add me as a friend and once I accept you'll be able to check out our daily videos... if not then once I work out how to upload them to YouTube in less than a million hours I'll get them posted on here.

We decided to start our seven day race week diary today so that the seventh day would include the Hawaii awards ceremony on Monday, where fingers crossed one of us will bag the big one ;)

Today? As I said, this needs to be brief so I'll include most of today in tomorrow's effort but the bottom line.... HOT!

It's great to be here, out hotel is in the perfect location, the weather's amazing and I can't wait to have a ride round the course tomorrow.



Iron week.... let the journey unfold...

Well here we are on Tuesday 1st July 08 in hot and sunny Frankfurt.  We broke the back of the journey to Dover by stopping for an hour in Oxford to meet the new member of the James clan - tiny, weeny baby Morris (very cute and wrinkly.)  Then from Dover this morning to Dunkirk on the ferry and then a five hour drive to our Ironman destination.  

The picture is from lunch time today when we stopped for lunch in Leuven (Belgium) and found a perfect pavement cafe in blistering 32 degree heat to have a quick bite to eat.  This pix is for Lies (my cousin's better half) who studied in Leuven and told us where was best to go when we got there.  

We did a quick 40min run once we reached the hotel to stretch our legs and get acquainted with our new surroundings and then showered and had a bite to eat.  Time for bed already, oh where has the day gone, it's going to be race day & I'll be standing with my toes in the water before I know it, so if someone could please make time behave itself and not hare off into the distance that would be marvellous ;)

Our hotel by the way is in THE perfect location, just a mere stumble from the finish line, perfect!!!

Time to sleep, night night.

H. x