Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Team...

There are about a million things on my 'I really must do' list, most of which have been delayed for months by swimbikerun training, then this week and next week by a veritable avalanche of marking and with Ironman Switzerland about to become priority numero uno they don't look set to happen any time soon! So, tonight I thought I'd deal with one of the most pressing, important and close to my heart.... Team Southerns.

Although triathlon is often seen as an individual sport, it's actually one of the most team orientated sports there is. Behind every single successful athlete are loads and loads of friends, family, colleagues and supporters who have made a very real contribution to that success. Throughout our amazing journey of the last four years H and I have been blessed with the phenomenal support, not to mention blind faith of so many people. Some have come and gone and some have been a constant from the first click on the 'enter here' icon to the most recent of finish line crossings in Lanzarote. I couldn't, and nor would I wish to, place these amazing pillars of strength in any kind of order, but certainly one of the most inspirational, motivational and 'without them we wouldn't be here' of these is our great friend Andy KJ and his Yorkshire based office interiors company (our amazing sponsor) 'Southerns'.

Some five years ago, before Ironman was even a twinkle in my eye, I made the mistake of mentioning the Marathon Des Sables to AKJ during a weights session... no sooner had I uttered the words 'five marathons in six days in the Moroccan desert' than the words 'enter it now and I'll pay for you... what are you waiting for?' came straight back at me!!! Not the response I was expecting to my 'talk the talk with no intention whatsoever of walking the walk' bravado... you'd have though I'd have learnt from the previous time my bluff had been called on such talk and I ended up following my Dad off a bridge 300 foot above a ravine in South Africa with nothing but a rather large rubber band to break my fall! Still, the addition of a couple of 20kg plates to the Olympic bar and the last thing on Andy's mind was paying for me to play in the sand ;)

A year or so went by and my dreams had turned to Ironman... once again the big man was there to 'nudge' me in the right direction. No sooner had I uttered the words 'I'm thinking about....' than there I was riding around freezing half to death in the coldest Yorkshire Dales winter for hours devoid of any excuse as to why I really would be better suited to a lie-in and a Sunday roast! Anyway... fast forward to May 2009 and here H and I are, several thousand training hours later with seven Ironman finishers medals between us, pb's of 9.56 and 10.53 respectively and absolutely positively knocking on the Kona door.

With insurance taken out earlier in the year we had hoped that qualifying in Lanza would allow us to pull out of Switzerland and claim back the £750 in entry fees and make a little bit extra out of the 'improved' exchange rate of the last 12 months. Unfortunately that obviously didn't happened and instead a couple of good races on July the 12th will see us parting with one thousand US dollars CASH 24 hours later by way of Kona entry! We've had so much more than financial support from Southerns over the last four years but there's always a bottom line and in this case it's simply a fact that without their help there is absolutely no way we could have afforded to get ourselves into our current position i.e. six weeks out from our 4th and 5th respective Ironman events and in shape to not only qualify for Hawaii but get there if we do.

So most of all we both just wanted to say THANKS to the KJs and all at Southerns for helping our Iron dreams come true.

Secondly, out of all of this craziness Andy and I have developed a concept called 'Team Southerns', we really aren't sure where it will take us (...although I do have a few thoughts about something to do with this). We're trying to bring together principles of achievement from the sporting and business worlds in order that each can promote and support the other. It's the first 'proper' website that I've ever put together and H did all the graphics/images for it... we're pretty pleased so far and would love you to pop over to and let us know your thoughts? The most recent article is our great Ironfriend Sam's Lanzarote race report, which you can find here, it's definitely one of the most inspirational reports I've ever read... be prepared to sign up straight after ;)

Anyway, this being Sunday of 'recovery week' and recovery being all about sleep... I'm off to bed.

Thanks for all your amazing support, we've finally got round to answering all last week's comments.

See you in seven,


Time to give it back...

So last weekend was all about us. This weekend however, was all about others. Tom & I managed to return the love as we ventured up North to Edinburgh for the weekend to support a load of our mates running the marathon, more about this in a mo.

If I'm really honest I can't tell that only a week ago we did Lanzarote Ironman 09. Now, I know for sure that doesn't mean I've miraculously recovered. But I do think it means that my body can soak up the stress of the race having coped with high volume training for the last 5mths and artificially recover well. The deep fatigue that you get from Ironman, I have no doubt, is still there. Apart from a bit of a dry cough & annoying throat thing that manifested itself after the flight home my little legs are feeling great, my brain hasn't gone into melt down and I know that after a few more light sessions I'll be looking forward to some real training as we speed our way to Switzerland, the clock is already tick tocking!!

With little or no training done this week (two very light runs and a 3km swim) I'm starting to feel lazy and watching the throng of marathon runners today made me itchy to be back on form. It's all about time though. No good jumping into high volume, intense sessions in a desperate bid to return to match fitness. No, I'm afraid it's a slowly, slowly, catchee monkee approach to Switzerland for the next few weeks. Getting back into routine as of tomorrow (Monday) probably back to two sessions a day but NOTHING challenging. A conversation that I had with Steven Lord & Jo Carritt at the awards ceremony in Lanza helped immensley. They're right when they said that between now and IMCH we can't get any fitter, it's about recovering while maintaining and getting in to peak condition and that I believe is certainly achievable and doesn't appear to warrant any great deposits of mental energy (which is what I was afraid I would be needing post Lanza.) So that's great news, tick on as was and get the body back into the routine and the fitness I had going into Lanza, ready to rock n' roll on July 12th to put myself through the whole thing again!!!!!! Bring it on, & whatever the outcome, first, last, puke, poo, this could very well be my last IM event for a long while so enjoy it I shall :)

Right, enough about that. Today (as I said earlier) we went to support at the Edinburgh Marathon. Un-seasonably (but very welcome in a purley selfish spectators way) weather saw blue cloudless sky from 7am this morning. We had a load of runners from our club Virgin Road Runners either running in the team relay or venturing out for the whole 26.2 miles.

Walking to the start line this morning I could feel the anticipation and nervous anxiety rippling through the throng of scantilly clad runners all blinking at the sky wondering if there was a chance the sun might just dissappear for a little while...a 26.2 while! The journeys and stories that unravel when you meet people as to why they going to run, what it means to them, what it means for them and why they want to do it is certainly what makes we humans special people. I love spectating as much as I love racing because when it gets hard and you're in need of love there's always someone standing in a random street somewhere who'll give you the much needed love and so it was great to be out there shouting encouragement to one and all.

I don't want to miss anyone out of well done's so I'm just going to say well bloody done to you all, you were fab and I hope you're enjoying HUGE celebrations, we loved seeing you out there today.

So, time to say goodnight, time to hit the hay & get back some much needed kip. Thanks to Jaz, Surinder & Janice who let us gatecrash in their apartment last night x

Oh and big ups to Michelle Simmons (a fellow triathlete blogger) who did Hawaii 70.3 yesterday and had a storming race, 1st out of the swim & bike in her age cat :) :) :) Loving it.

Week Seventeen in pix (can't believe how quick the days are whizzing by) is here for you to sneak a peek :)

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnndddddddddddddd sleep...zzzz

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Lanzarote race report...

Standing on the start line of the Lanzarote Ironman on Saturday morning I was comfortably the best prepared I have ever been for any race. In the 20 weeks leading up to the event I had trained nearly 400 hours compared to 325 for the previous to years, 226 of those hours had been spent on the bike and most importantly nearly 100 hours had been achieved on the Ironman course itself. It wasn't only my training volume which gave me confidence, I'd also pb'd in swim, bike and run throughout the early part of 2009, hadn't missed a day of training through injury or ilness and had averaged 30 minutes more sleep per night over the entire five months. Race week went just as well with H and I settled into the peaceful surroundings of Famara bungalows well away from all the Ironman hype in Club La Santa and 'Brits Abroad' in Puerto Del Carmen.

As the gun went at 7am there was a somewhat mad dash down to the sea as everyone jostled for position. Having placed myself to the front right of the swim start I managed to avoid much of the early aggro and quickly settled into a nice rhythm, breathing comfortably to both sides and concentrating on strong powerful strokes and a reasonably fast cadence. Now, I always seem to have a few 'moments' in my first triathlon of the season and this was no different... about 500 metres into the swim I got what I thought was seaweed tangled round the front of my face, unfortunately as I grabbed it and chucked it away and my goggles went with it I realised it was actually part of my goggle strap! A few frantic moments later I fortunately managed retrieved my somewhat important eye wear and settled back into the swim. Exiting the water at the end of lap one I felt that despite the 20 second self imposed time penalty I was having a good first leg... looking down to see 29:30 and two minutes behind target I had to remind myself of the common inaccuracy of triathlon swim courses and that it was no doubt long and therefore the same for everyone. What felt like a great second lap convinced me that I was having a good swim and I'd also managed to overtake several male and female pro's, so even though I hit T1 four minutes behind schedule (59:38) I was sure it was a little long*.

A smooth and efficient T1 of 4:30 saw me out onto the bike in around 80th position overall and confident of a great 112 miles in the saddle. Having gone off way to hard in Germany last year I was determined to pace the bike well and despite the occasional pro flying past me and making me feel somewhat slow I stuck to my guns and got my heart rate down into the 140s as soon as possible. Feeling really strong on the climb up Mirador Del Rio four hours into the ride I knew my early caution was paying off and cruising past eventual ladies winner Bella Bayliss at around five hours in things were looking good. Arriving in T2 after 5:41 in the saddle I was pretty happy with my time, but extremely happy at having paced it so well and therefore given myself the best chance of maximising what should be (but never has been in Ironman) my best of the three disciplines.

A respectable T2 of 3:30 and I was starting the run with 6:48:59 on the clock and, convinced the swim was around three minutes long, just under a minute behind schedule...

As I set off on the first of four 10.5k laps my mate Steven who was spectating shouted that I was 22nd in my age group, knowing that there were only ten slots I decided to approach the run fairly aggressively and set about running people down. Just over 49 minutes later I picked up my first coloured band (to help athletes and officials keep track of laps) and although this was around 3.16 pace, the heat was starting to kick in, the course was hillier than I had expected and I was having to work harder than I would have liked for that run speed. Partway into lap two and my legs emptied, my head started to go and I was stopping at every aid station desperate not only to cool down but also to re-fuel. At 56 minutes lap two was seven minutes slower, my heart rate was dropping and negative thoughts were taking over my mind... could I keep lap three under an hour? could I even keep running for lap four? Surely Hawaii is out of the window? It's at this point in an Ironman when you are faced with a choice, give in to the negative energy or fight it with every bit of energy you have. Fortunately for H and I we have the most amazing set of friends and family who not only support us 100% through all the highs and lows of training but also arrive en masse come Ironman race day and give us all the positive energy we need from the moment the flag drops to the moment we cross the finish line... Starting lap three about as low as I have been in a race I soon ran past mum, Ray and the KJs, then moments later Steven and his lot, then our mate Boothy from Team MK, then Ozzer and EK... all their shouts combined with seeing H, BenG, Sam, Gabriel, Jo, Steve , Al, etc etc etc giving it absolutely everything in the same race on the same course as me and it was time to take control. Things clearly weren't working and my sub ten goal clearly wasn't going to happen... two things needed to be done - change goal and then change strategy. Looking at my watch a sub-10.30 was definitely on the cards and pulling into the next aid station I hit the coke hard to see if caffeine could do the trick. Within moments my whole mood had changed and by the time I picked up my third coloured band and took off on my final 10k I was focused on breaking 10.25, 26 minutes later turning for home with 9.55 on the clock, 5.25k to go and feeling stronger by the minute I was for the first time ever in an Ironman actually racing the final section of the run. Picking people off one by one and imagining each of them to be in the final Hawaii slot my Kona dream was back at the front of my mind and convincing myself that 10.19 might do it I pushed again and again... over the final hill grabbing the 'The Religion' (our Leeds United flag of St. George - which has crossed every one of my Ironman finish lines and will be with me one day in Kona) I crossed the finish line in 10:20:00, 93rd overall and 25th in my age category.

Ironman Lanzarote is without a doubt the best Ironman event I have done, the organisation was amazing and the atmosphere second to none - these guys really know how to put on an event! What they can't do is a Hawaii roll-down and over a shambolic two hours on Sunday names the Kona slots were awarded... it wasn't clear exactly who was and wasn't there but I think it went to 12th in my cat (35-39 men) and a time of 10.03, leaving me 13 places and more importantly 17 minutes short. I KNOW I can run a 3.15 marathon on the right day though which in this case would have left me 60 seconds out (perhaps it's a good thing I didn't run well!) but what the tells me is that I AM a strong enough athlete to achieve my dream on July the 12th in Zurich.

I'll save race reflections for another day but I'm really pleased with how things went and absolutely could not have gone a minute harder on the day. There are so many positives to take from Saturday and with the correct strategy over the next six and a bit weeks I know I can take advantage of the faster bike course to break 9.30 and claim my slot.

For now... thanks to absolutely everyone, a more positive and supportive group of friends, family, fellow athletes and blog readers simply doesn't exist. I couldn't do it without you guys and nor would I want to.

The journey continues....


*A little analysis compared to last years swim times, based on the 25, 50 & 75% swims, showed this year to be an average of 5.7% slower equating my 59:38 to a somewhat closer to target 56:25 - still not sure I swam as well as I could have though.

Lanza bonanza :)

What a fantastic week. What an amazing race. What a testing course. What a beautiful place. What an Ironman I am :) :) :)

Apologies for being late with this blog entry but as our mystery man explained, the good old t'interweb is not as accessible in the hills of Famara in Lanzarote.

After a great 5mths of training we were ready, really, really ready. Our week leading up to the rcae couldn't have gone any better. We were more prepared and organised than we've ever been before and we were super chilled out in the days leading up to the 23rd. As the clock began to tick closer though my nerves really started kicking in. So much to say that I almost didn't want to do the race. I've never been as nervous as that before and can only put it down to the anticipation of it being my first triathlon since last September. And I imagine I knew I was in good nick too so had hope for a great race.

A great race I did have too. Well if you ignore the last 5km but I'll come to that. Here's how the day went.

3am - alarm call for a breakfast of porridge
4.20am - leave to get to Puerto del Carmen for 5am
5am check - bike in order, put race nutrition in right bags, pump up tyres
6am - say hi thorugh the wire fence like monkeys in the zoo to our friends and family that had come to support
6.50 am - (10mins before start) lose goggles!!! How I don't know but lose them I did
6.52am - borrow Tom's spares
6.55am - cack myself (not literally but the butterflies were elephants


Hooter goes and 1300 wetsuited athletes run into the water all vying for what seems to be the same piece of salty agua. Have I got a magnet attched to me to make everyone swim on me, over me, punch me?? A fairly brutal 3.8km I have to say, I managed to get myself boxed in on the second lap which was a bit of a bind. I'm certainly capable of a sub 1hr and had hoped for that having achieved it in both Austria & Germany. It seems the swim was a little long but not 1:04 long, I think I struggled with being beaten to a pulp and not getting as clear water as I'd hoped. Still 1:04 it was and it was rime to hit the bike.


Onto the bike after the long run up the beach and through transistion and I was away. The bike course is amazing. Really challenging, really hilly, really beautiful. I know it like the back of my hand having been here for a few training camps, this was such an advantage and made me feel more confident as I battled with the wind (actually not that bad about 18mph rising through the day) and the hills. I tried to stick to heart rate to stop me hitting the hills too hard and cruising on the descents, my aim was to be as even as possible, I think I managed quite well, never going above 154 or below 138. I was desperate to get off the thing though by the time I approached Conil and Tias which is about 8 miles from the end. I'm really happy with my 6.38 bike split :)


A quick wee stop in transistion, my trainers on & off I went to hit the run course which was something like 5.25km out and back x 4. It's not a flat run there are a few rises in it but I quite liked the variation and was running really well, very conservatively and feeling good. The energy I was taking on board (Powerbar Gels) were going down okay and I was keeping cool using sponges and pouring water over my head. Tick, tick, tick and I was going good.
Then I turned to go out and back for the last time and started to feel a little bit dicky. I got to within sight of the turn-around point at the other end and with just over 5 km to go, how hard could it be??? Really hard is the answer. Feeling faint and in desperate need of the loo I had to stop, put my head between my legs and consider my options. Not finishing was certainly not one of them but the way I felt I wasn't sure I wasn't going to hit the deck. I found some loos to my glee and emptied my stomach (not nice) and so between the loos on the course and a restaurant loo I knew I was only going to be able to walk those last 5km. Then I started being sick. Our friend Al who was out on the course and going well passed me and saved me with his little bottle of water, thanks Al :) So I strolled to the finish making it in 12:32. I had hoped for a sub 12 but 12:32 it was. I loved it, I really did (excpet the last 5km) it was a great, great day. Oh! And I managed to avoid the medical tent for the first time :)

The support out there and from home was amazing, thank you, thank you , thank you, it means so much. Tom's ma and ray were out all over the place which was fab and Ek and Ozzer were on pigeon patrol the whole day giving us all love. The Kj's were incredible and I loved passing them on the run and Steven Lord who was out watching his girlfriend Jo Carritt (who won our age group, great athlete) screaming random things at me all of whihc made me smile. Cheers guys you're all amazing.

One slot for Hawaii and it rolled down to fifth place, I was seventh. My puke and poo escapade seems cost me a slot. But not running the last 5km is what you hope happens to the girl your chasing so it's very much all part of the game. It's all about the last man standing and so I'm not one for saying 'if only' because that's the way it is. I'm over the moon with the day and am looking forward to Ironaman Switzerland to say goodbye to the Ironman life and become an Ironman wife and hopefully mother in the near future :)

Time to recover and see how to put a stop to my dicky stomach problems!!

Thanks again and good luck to all Ironman-ers with their up and coming events.

Oh, and here's weeks fifteen & sixteen in pix, the latter all being iphone pix, enjoy...

H. x

Monday, 25 May 2009

Homeward Bound...

Before you get too excited... this isn't Tom speaking.  Nor, for that matter, is it Helen.  

So, as your time is precious, I won't keep you too long.

Both your erstwhile Bloggers are currently set to fly from Lanzarote after completing their latest Ironman episode.  I'll leave them to tell you how they did and how they feel but suffice to say they are well and happy with their races.

Unfortunately, though, the technology available to them hasn't allowed them to blog their race reports which, Tom assures me, they will be writing on the plane ready to upload at the first available opportunity which could mean later today or sometime tomorrow.

Please check in with the blog over the next 24/48 hours where you'll find two deliciously worded and statistically fat race reports for you consumption.

The Mystery Man

Friday, 22 May 2009

Until tomorrow...

Just thought we'd pop in and say hi pre-race..

I (Tom) like to post my goals prior to the race and ideally close enough that my mind is completely made up and also we won't have to wait very long to find out how accurate I was. For me this weekend is all about qualifying and that will mean getting inside the top ten of my age group out of around 300+ fellow 35-39 competitors. I've thought and thought and thought over the last week and am confident that ten hours will do the trick and am aiming for the following to achieve that.... 

swim - 55 minutes
t1 - 5 minutes
bike - 5.40
t2 - 5 minutes
run - 3.20

That obviously makes 10.05 which although would be likely to do it (last year 10.15 was enough) I am hoping to sneak another five minutes out of there somewhere, probably spread across the whole thing as the standard is increasing year on year.

How do I feel? To be honest I don't feel particularly fit and and am around 3kgs heavier than for Germany but have trained 65 more hours compared to the last two years, almost all of which has come on the bike, have pb'd in swim, bike and run this year and not missed a single session through illness or injury... so must be there or there abouts - although I don't feel that fit I really do feel very confident of doing what needs to be done to achieve my goal, this time tomorrow we'll know the answer!

Don't forget you can follow us via - H is number 77 and I'm number 474. But even better checkout for photos and updates throughout the race (courtesy of our very own Hawaii Ironman, Ian O). I'll be posting on Twitter from 3am tomorrow morning when our alarm goes of to signal the start of what promises to be an amazing day.

Over to Hells Bels...

In true pre-race fashion I've spent the week uber chilled.  Today I can only describe the way I feel as wobbly.  Nervous, excited, scared and it'll last until the hooter goes tomorrow morning at 7am.  Nothing more to do except wait and it's excruciating.  

There's 24 of us in my age group 30-34 and only one slot so I'm not expecting to qualify for Hawaii at all, that's taken the pressure off me instantly :)  I do however want a great race (who doesn't actually, stupid thing to say!) But what I mean by that is like Tom says, the hours of training and the condition that we are in (albeit a little heavier than we would have liked) is all there and tomorrow it's time to see what that all counts for.

Unlike Tom I can't put the same kind of times on my splits but I'll give you a guestimate, I could be completely wrong but hey tomorrow the truth will be out there!!

Swim: 58mins
T1: 6mins
Bike: 6.30-7hrs
T2: 6mins
Run: 3.56

There you have it, there's my ideal race...all that's left to do is DO IT!!!

Thanks for all of the love, it's much needed for tomorrow :)

Good luck to Jo Ladd & Jevon who'll be half Ironman-ing it at the Beaver tomorrow, hope it goes well guys and look after that back of yours Mr Jevon.

So all that's left to say is Adios and we'll be in touch soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


H. x

Sunday, 17 May 2009

A joint effort....

 With just six days until this particular road to Kona takes a significant turn in one of two directions H and I find ourselves sitting in the reception area of Club La Santa in Lanzarote with one hour of rather slow internet at our disposal. We're not actually staying in this vastly over-priced Scandinavian Butlins but they do unfortunately have the only wifi within a short drive of our apartment in the beautifully peaceful Famara Bugalows which we booked through the brilliant ZOCO Travel.

With little time available to post we therefore thought we'd write something together, kind of.

Firstly, despite the absence of good quality internet we have found a way to get our race week comings and goings out there several times a day...

We've both started using the social networking sight called 'Twitter' and for the purposes of this week will be posting only through my account - We can do it through my phone and have been adding words and pictures three or four times a day. 

The easiest way to follow us is simply to follow the link to the web page...

The slightly more internet savvy amongst you can subscribe to our 'Tweets' via an RSS feed or even join up to Twitter yourselves and at the same time as following us you can get your message out into the world.

ON RACE DAY (23rd May) someone spectating will have my phone and be posting regular (not sure how regular during the bike section) updates in real time through the day, that will probably be the BEST WAY TO FOLLOW OUR PROGRESS. 

There should also be timing and position updates available through but how accurate or fast these will be I'm not really sure. We'll stick our race numbers (once we have them) up on Twitter later in the week - registration is Wednesday and race briefing is Thursday.

To give you a rough idea of how the next few days will pan out, we've planned something like...

7.15 swim one lap of the course
1pm run one lap of the run course (5.5k)

90 minute ride with a few Ironman paced efforts

Collect race numbers
7am swim one lap of the course
1pm run one lap of the course

Race briefing at La Santa
Easy hour on the bike
Easy 45 min run

Rack bikes
20 min swim


Celebrate (whatever the result with a well earned beer)
Write next blog :)

Get a tan
Fly home

Right, that's my bit so over to H...

Today reminded me just how windy Lanza gets!!  After a ridiculously easy flight, (no delays, no bikes lost or broken, no lost baggage - surely that's a miracle?!) we picked up our hire car and drove to our apartment which is just the most perfect place to be.  Quiet, remote and at the foot of the hills that we ride over on the day.  8hrs kip and an early start this morning to put the bikes together, hit the supermarket and then ride the Northern loop of the course which takes in the steepest climbs up to Haria and Mirador del Rio.  Boy oh boy it was a windy one today, actually when is it never wind?  We both feel so ready and well prepared, it was great to get out and actually do some exercise today. I've also got time to read, unknown for me since I entered this crazy world of trithlon, but I used to devour books and really miss them.  I'v read one already and can't wait to start the next...the joys of the taper :)

As for my photo's of the week I can only apologise, I WILL still be taking a pic each day but the cack internet round here means that I won't be able to upload them until we return on the 26th.  I haven't been able to bring my decent camera, two bikes and the whole host of tri kit has taken up every ounce of space my iphone and point and press will do though :)

Time is running out and we need to publish this before the clock ticks over.  Thanks to everyone who has been sending us good wishes, we'll be needing and using them on the 23rd.  

Follow us every day on Tom's twitter...

EEEEkk next week when we post the truth will be out there!!!

Cheers .. H & T. x

Sunday, 10 May 2009

My first interview...

With the countdown at just over 12 days to go and our next scheduled blog entries due to be written in Lanzarote the night before race week it's all become somewhat real! Things have gone just about as well as could be expected and with just one key session left in each discipline (16 mile Ironman paced run in the morning, Pool Triangle 20k bike TT on Wednesday, some kind of swim test on Friday) I'm feeling confident of a great race on the 23rd.

This weekend we've spent most of our time being motivated by watching other people pushing themselves toward their goals however I'll leave H to talk about that stuff... but well done to everyone and thanks for the inspiration ;)

Today I'm going to introduce a new type of post to our blog and hopefully something I can repeat in the future... my first interview :) I've got loads of ideas for developing our blog but unfortunately time has been at such a premium over the last six months that most of them are still floating around my head waiting to be let loose. Having been there since the beginning of Ian's Ironman journey back in 2005 his amazing performance last month in Ironman Australia where he broke ten hours for the first time and qualified for Hawaii was too good an opportunity to miss... I just had to find out how he did it...


Me - Firstly, congratulations on a great race in Australia and qualifying for the World Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii... it must feel pretty amazing?

Ian - It feels truly amazing. Not sure it has properly sunk in yet. It has certainly taken a long time to get there. Much harder than any other distance World Champs.

Me - One of my first triathlon memories is H and I cheering you round Ironman UK in 2005 (I think?) and before that I remember seeing you run your first marathon (I think) in New York... I also remember plenty of partying 'back in the day'... what got you into endurance sport in the first place and why Ironman?

Ian - I was fed up of watching others run the marathon. So decided to stop holding the coats and get out there myself. After running New York I was hooked and have loved travelling the world to race ever since. I still party once in a while just not every weekend.

Me - How did you find making the transition from running to tri? I know you've always ridden a bike but what about the swim?

Ian - A lot of triathletes in Oxford also run with the running club. A couple of mountain bike friends were in the tri club and kept asking me to come along but I never did. Then I used to bug Doctor James about Ironman all the time and just thought it was bonkers and impossible. Then on the New Year of 2004 triathlon was added to the 'to do' list and signed up for a sprint, an Olympic and a half Iron. The swim was certainly tough for me at first. I did four lengths at David Lloyd and knew I needed a lot of help. So I joined the tri club where the coaches taught me to swim. I then went to the pool three to four times a week and worked like crazy to improve. I couldn't have done it without their help. I was awful. I still think there's a great deal for me to learn on the swim front. I have also been lucky in Oz getting some great coaching in both Noosa and Coffs Harbour.

Me - As someone who swims under the hour for an Ironman you've obviously developed into an excellent open water swimmer, were the mass starts and deep water scary at first and do you have any tips for surviving what is perhaps the most intimidating section of triathlon?

Ian - I love the mass starts, always have. They were scary at first but I love them now and almost hate it when there are waves. I feel the most important to thing is to relax and not allow yourself to get too stressed. You will get hit, you might lose your goggles and you may well get kicked. You just need to roll with it, find your own water and a good pair of feet to draft. The important thing is to seed yourself correctly and try to find some space then relax into it. Don't go too hard too soon either otherwise it'll come back and bite you on the arse. I also try to swim open water as much as possible too. It's very different to pool swimming. Being a great pool swimmer is all well and good but triathletes swim outside so we need top work on that. Plus getting used to swimming in a wetsuit will help a great deal come race day.

Me - I bought (on your recommendation) a Blue Seventy Helix last year and absolutely loved it... are you still using the same wetsuit and if so what's so great about it?

Ian - Yep, still using the same wetsuit and love it. It fits a treat and is super comfortable, which is important when you have to splash around in it for an hour. It's super flexible around the shoulders and way quicker to remove than any of the other suits I have used.

Me - Moving on from the swim, would I be right in saying the bike is your strongest triathlon discipline?

Ian - I guess. It's what comes most naturally to me. Having been involved in bike sports all my life has certainly helped. Riding BMX and mountain bikes certainly helped with bike handling. For Oz I did more riding (20-25hr wks) than ever before 'cos I couldn't run very much with my plantar fascia problems. Riding with power has certainly helped to smooth things out.

Me - I was going to ask about power... correct bike pacing is so important (training and racing) yet so many people (myself included) struggle with it... how has riding with a Power meter changed your approach?

Ian - Most importantly it has taught me consistency. I ride hard when I should and easy when I should. I used to kill it flying up hills but have learned to go steady up them now, then go hard when descending to keep things even. It stops me from slowing when my mind starts to wander after a few hours in the saddle. It has also helped me to ignore HR and speed, which really don't matter and to understand my perceived effort a lot more rather than worrying about HR, which is just the way your body is reacting to the work load rather than the work you're actually doing.

Me - Any idea what sort of wattage you'd ride an Ironman at?

Ian - I aimed to ride Oz around the 180-200 mark and managed to pull it off.

Me - it was a pretty tough course I heard? did your power drop off much toward the end?

Ian - It's rolling with a few hills. Not Lanza or France tough but certainly not a flat easy one. It didn't help that it was windy and wet at times. My power dropped a couple of watts on the third lap. To be honest I felt really strong on the bike and it was my back that was hurting in the last 10k rather than my legs.

Me - I think you started the run with about 6.12 on the clock? Although you're a great runner (sub 80 half and sub 3 full marathon) the third tri discipline hasn't always gone to plan for you... what was going through your mind in the first couple of miles?

Ian - I figured that I could make the sub ten top goal with a steady run and I was in a great place mentally having had such a good swim and run. My legs have never felt this good at the end of the bike so that was a huge bonus. My crazy bike weeks were paying off. I was also very aware of the fact that anything can wrong on the run, especially when it comes to nutrition and keeping my stomach contents in, so tried not to get too overexcited. I also had the added worry of not running anywhere near enough in the previous two months. Since Geelong 70.3 at the start of Feb I'd run less than 10 hours in total. Oddly none of these negatives bothered me and I just focused on the job in hand. I was so chilled and happy to be doing the event after the plantar fascia problems, floods and talk of cancelling the swim (I would have been gutted had this happened). Nothing seemed to be too much of a problem or concern. It helped having so many new friends from Coffs Harbour Tri Club, Sam's friend Shelley and EK out there out there giving me the love. This makes such a massive difference and I went bounding out on lap one feeling pretty positive. The plan was to use the first of the three laps to find my run legs. I also knew that if I could run 1:10 laps 3:30 was on the cards. I'd been to Port about a month before and ran a sub hour lap, which was hard but I knew roughly a minute a mile slower shouldn't be too hard, which I certainly did until I hit the hills on the latter part of the lap. My left ankle decided that it didn't want to bend like normal. So when I tried to run uphill I suffered such excruciating pain I had no choice but to walk. I was gutted because my legs felt pretty strong. At the end of lap one sub 10 was still on the cards.

Me - It’s interesting that you say felt you hadn’t run ‘enough’ in the build up… has that feeling changed since finishing the race? Obviously you’d have liked to run a little more but looking back on not only a overall pb but a run pb is Lance Armstrong right when he says ‘It’s all about the bike’?

Ian - Mentally I felt I hadn't done enough running because it was way less than what I'd always done in the past. That said I knew that plenty of biking offsets my lack of running well. When I ran the London marathon and broke sub three I was running twice maybe three times a week but I'd done masses of biking a couple of months before and continued to ride while I trained for it. Because I was unable to run very often or far for IM Oz I put more hours in on the bike and hoped it would pay off. I also didn't let the lack of run training get under my skin. I just thought lets run this until the wheels fall off. It was a risk trying to run hard rather than safe but I am always one to take a chance. Sometimes it goes belly up but more often than not it's what gets PBs. I have to say it's all about the bike. Not necessarily about doing a super quick time but doing a solid time and getting off so your legs aren't completely spent. It makes a massive difference. Anyone can do a quick bike but Ironman isn't a bike race. Using power really helped me keep my race pace in check and not go too hard or slack off either.

Me - So that’s the swim, bike and run dealt with… but as we all know there’s a forth discipline in Ironman, a 10,000 calorie day requires plenty of eating, but that’s easier said than done. You seem to have got it right on the day, what was your strategy (from the day before to crossing the finish line if poss?)???

Ian - made a point of not eating too much the day before, at least no more than usual. I had a carbohydrate heavy meal with some BBQ chicken quite early around 4.30pm. This meant my main meal was in and digesting early so I could get up at 3.30 am and eat breakfast without it feeling like I was stuffing food in an already full belly. As for breakfast I had a several slices of toast with jam and coffee to help with the morning movement. When I can't cook porridge this is what I go for. Then sipped water until just before I started the swim and enjoyed my first SIS gel of the day. I'm not one to eat too much or swig a zillion energy drinks or just end up feeling sick.
On the bike I had a mixture of bars, gels and Gatorade drinks. I'd tried to get in a bar and two gels on each lap. I was alternating between water and Gatorade as necessary. Then on the run I was on SIS gels. I had six with me in a hope that I might get them all down. This was a big hope since at IM France I managed two in the first half before I was at the point of puking. I figure the cooler weather helped my stomach because I had sucked down all six after just two laps. This certainly helped with energy levels both mentally and physically. On the final lap I hit the coke. I guess knowing I had one lap to go and sub ten was more than doable I was in a good place anyway. I just kept telling myself “it's my day” and it was up to me how I spent the next hour and fifteen. I could either hurt and do it or let it slip and go into that world of true hell. Having all the nutrition in and hitting the coke helped me stay out of that bad place I've been in before in the previous three IM races. It makes a huge difference. I've never had that much energy in me on the run before and it changed everything.

Me - So, that brings us nicely to the Hawaii ceremony the following day? How did the legs feel and did they feel any better after you’d picked up your slot?

Ian - had a bad night in that I kept waking up from sore legs so didn't sleep too well even though I was totally knackered. My legs were really painful the day after but I like that feeling - a badge of having worked properly hard. I was so stoked with getting sub ten that getting a slot for Hawaii didn't really both me one way or the other. Then when I got a slot it was a different story. It was the absolute icing on the cake. I was completely overwhelmed. I could barely sign my name. It was a real ceremony with loud music, a kiss from some chick who put a lei round my neck as well as a qualifiers tee shirt and hat. It was a real hold back the tears moment. It took a while to sink in that I was going to Kona. What made it even better was the fact a few friends I'd trained with got slots too. I guess at this point I wasn't thinking too much about my legs.

Me - It’s been a five year (I think) Ironman journey to get to this stage, now you’re finally on the ‘real’ road Kona what are your plans for the next six months leading up to Hawaii?

Ian - I have taken a few weeks off and done absolutely nothing. I caught a cold on the way home from Oz and felt pretty crappy, which sidelined me anyway. I went out on a bike for the first time on my birthday and it was ace. EK and I hit the hills and there was no backing off. She's so competitive and I couldn't let her spank me, so by the end we were both toast. It felt good to be back in the saddle even if it was really strange riding a road bike after only riding a TT bike since Christmas. I'll ease back into training over the weekend and next week. I am off to Lanza in May for a week of hard biking and swimming and to watch you guys kill it and qualify. As for racing I am doing UK 70.3 and a European Xterra yet to be decided. I want to have real fun racing this summer and not get too consumed by the Kona thing. I will probably start more specific stuff for it in July though.

Me - And finally, treading water amongst the worlds greatest endurance athletes at the most prestigious triathlon start in history on October the 10th what will be going through your mind?... and what are your goals for the race?

Ian - Probably someone's foot, ha ha. I just feel lucky to have got there. I can't wait to race at the daddy of triathlon events. I'm told there's a pretty special atmosphere and aura there. I'm sure I will just have a big grin on my face and be pinching myself that it's all real. That water looks so blue and clear. My only goal is to enjoy every minute of that day whether it's splashing about in the non-wetsuit swim, cruisin' up the Queen K, seeing the Natural Energy Lab or finishing on Ali'i Drive. I will train and race hard but I have no goal other than to do myself justice and love every second.


So there you go, hope you enjoyed the read and thanks Ian.

We'll hopefully be posting regularly from Lanzarote, although that will most likely be through our Twitter accounts... I'll let you know next Sunday.

See you soon,


The joys of rest :)

I usually hate tapers. They make me feel lazy and un-athletic. Crazy isn't it considering what we put our bodies through for months at a time day after day! This taper is different. I've even looked forward to it. I guess it means that I've trained as hard as I could right up to the last minute. So last week was and the next two weeks are all about the recovery, which I feel we've really earned. I took the above picture in Hyde Park in Leeds yesterday where we marshall at Parkrun. I could have just climbed into one of those seats and covered myself with one of those blankets, snoozing away in the morning sunshine...what bliss!! However, the hardest thing about getting a taper right is the balance between not completely switching off and doing bugger all and making sure you don't do too much. Tom and I have a rough outline of which sessions and how short, long or intense they should be and I use them as the basis from which to judge my levels of fatigue. I've been uber tired this week. I think it was an accumulation of general fatigue from that last session and the many squillions prior to it and also because the end of last Sunday's mega-brick was also the end of anything remotely hard or ridiculously long and so I could switch off my brain. So this week I have really enjoyed the lack of challenge, physical or mental and it's been great. The week we're about to go into is crazy busy. We fly on Saturday which basically means we're in race mode....eeeeeeeekkkkkkkkkkkkkk!!! I have a million bazillion things to tie up with work, our race bikes need cleaning within an inch of their lives and we've got a few little tasty sessions to fit in before the week is done...I'm not sure this week will be restful. There will however be no 5am alarm call (banned) and if that was the only time to fit the session in the session gets canned and I will be in bed every night this week at silly o'clock. On Thursday we were tucked up in bed at 7.30pm. I used to go to bed later than that when I was 12! Did I have trouble sleeping, ermmmm, NO. But getting at least 8hrs kip kip this whole training block has made huge differences to my energy, recovery and general health I'm sure. I'm not giving it up just because I'm not training so hard. Sleep and rest is the new black for the Williams' this next fortnight.

Writing the blog next week will be from the volcanic ashes of Lanzarote which scares me slightly as there is so much to do here before hand. What a journey the last 5months have been. It's just been incredible and whatever the outcome, the gains I have made on the physical and mental journey far outweigh the numbers on a clock or the position in a field. And I also have to say a HUGE thankyou to everyone that still reads our ramblings every week. For those that comment, I take every bit of what you all say with me on my life journey and you really make a difference, and for those who don't comment but I know you still read, your support is always appreciated :)

My week in pictures has only one iphone shot in it this week which means I've been out and about looking for things to snap...dads and their kids appear to have caught my eye this week, enjoy...

Time to sign off, those 8hrs of kip are calling and the clock is ticking.

Just to say a MASSIVE WELL DONE to all of the runners who did the Leeds Half Marathon today. Great turn out for Virgin, supporters as well as runners. Even bigger thumbs up to Vikki who ran 9miles first before running the half so she could get her 22 miler in before the countdown to Edinburgh Marathon starts, great stuff Vikki :) you looked so strong. Kaye, Harp, Nikki, Mabe who all did theirs yesterday, huge achievements all round. Janet, Paul & Mike you all looked great. Lisa P who hasn't been able to run long through illness and injury did brilliantly today, we'll be there for you in Edinburgh :) Khara who did the first triathlon of her season and knocked a whole 10mins off, you'll be flying come Bala girl!! I take inspiration from all of you. x

H. x

Sunday, 3 May 2009

I made it...

Wuhoo!!! I did it :)

I've been worrying about today's last 'Mega Brick' since Tom, Ben G and I decided on the route and the plan of action. Worrying because I'm really good at worrying. Worrying because I didn't want this last session to tip me over the edge. Worrying because the bike course is hard core with hills and descents that make me squirm and just in general worrying that I wouldn't be able to do it.

After taking on board what our great triathlete friend Steven Lord said about such mega sessions (see his very valid comment on my post from last week) I had a re-think about how I was going to approach it. The session was originally 6 loops (13.7miles) around the Leathley, Farnley area in Yorkshire. The loop is not an easy one. It's hilly with very technical descents and basically a good old leg smasher. The plan was to finish it and run 20 miles off it. Last year we did a very similar session (only on a flat course) and it absolutely killed me. To the point where I was so dehydrated & my blood pressure was so low that I couldn't stand up. This was my main concern coming into this session because I certainly didn't want a repeat of that with only three weeks to recover. However, this year I have biked, biked, biked and it's made a huge difference to my ability to run off it. I've also made a much more conscious effort to be drinking more and eating more. The pic above is the nutrition that we both took for the session...quite some calories in there hey! So, after having a think I decided I was going to only do 5 laps on the bike and if I felt good on the run I would do 20miles but if at any point I started to feel like I did last year I would stop.

I paced the bike really well. My loops were all practically dead on 1hr exactly, give or take a few seconds, and after 5hrs of solid hard work I was looking forward to the run. We'd parked our cars on a quiet road in Pool so we could leave our bottles and gels etc by the side. The run was done in 1/2 miles. 1/2 mile out 1/2 mile back x 40. It sounds like torture but 1/2 a mile goes so quickly it was brilliant. Ben G was already out there when I got on the run and we ended up running together for 7 miles. We did go off a little too hard but that's because we were chitting and chatting, but it made the miles slip by and I really enjoyed having company, thanks Ben :) Our good friend Richard was out on his bike and he came to support us for a good few of our laps, riding alongside Tom for a few of his and then with Ben & I, what a star! Thanks Rich. So, Ben peeled off after running 14miles and I had 14 miles left to go and I just got stronger and stronger. I could take on board the gels (which I usually can't face) and I made sure I drank something every mile and what a difference to last year. Infact it couldn't have been more different. I negative split the run, running the first 10miles in 1.25 and the last 10 in 1.24 and felt great :) And I could stand up straight when I finished!

So, that's it! All of the hard training is done. Time to recover from today and focus on getting sharp and strong for May 23rd. I can't wait. Who knows what the windy world of Lanza will bring, but as long as I enjoy it and I pace it right I should have a great day :)

Huge thank you's today for Ben G (you're super strong Ben, I'm looking forward to seeing what you can do out there in Lanza :) Tom, my ever supportive husband who keeps me going and is amazing x and to Richard L for his constant support and company (even though he thinks we're all nuts) cheers Rich. x

So all that's left is Week Thirteen in pix, which this week are mostly iphone pix. Well they do say...'the best camera is the one you have on you.'

Night all.

H. x


It's been on the cards for a while now, this year I've pushed and pushed and pushed and finally about 50 miles into this morning's 82 mile super hilly (around 8000 feet) ride I completely exploded... not physically but mentally.

In what's becoming something of a tradition in the build-up to Ironman H and I along with our great friend BenG had scheduled what we call a mega-brick training session as the final piece in an 18 week jigsaw. In triathlon training a brick session is where you put two disciplines together (typically bike then run) in order to simulate the race scenario. Every now and then we do what we call 'big' bricks which are normally something like a 100 mile ride followed by a 60-90 minute run, we've done three or four of those this year. Last year, for the first time, we went even longer though and stuck a 20 mile run on the back of a century ride... the 'mega' brick was born! That was on a relatively flat bike course however and in order to replicate Lanzarote a little more I came up with a slightly hillier route this year... I say slightly, but it probably had about 7000 feet more climbing in 24 less miles!

Anyway, back to the title... for a number of weeks I've been feeling deeply deeply fatigued, not so much physically but mentally. I've been struggling to get to sleep and then struggling to wake up (both unlike me), I've been jumbling my words around unintentionally and feeling a little more stressed than normal and experiencing the odd dip in motivation. Even my once lengthy blog entries had shrunk to the odd token sentence and finally last week I didn't even post, something which I'd not managed ever before! Still, this is Ironman and I've always wanted to push the boundaries of my mental and physical capabilities so that's what I've been doing.

I guess if there can be a good time to blow it might as well be in your final key training session... any earlier and I'd end up missing something serious and any later I might not have time to recover... but it's never nice, and today was no different.

To cut a very long story short, at around 50 miles into today's bike I suddenly felt like every single ounce of motivation instantly left my body. Ben, who's riding so so strong at the moment, came by me on a hill and within minutes was out of sight... unfortunately he must have nicked my mojo on the way through and that was it... almost ;)

By the time I started lap 5 of 6 I was at complete rock bottom, my heart rate had dropped 15-20 beats and my head even further. Within a couple more miles I'd thrown in the towel and was limping back to the car intending on cutting the bike one lap (13.7 miles) short and the run completely. Fortunately it took me quite a long time to finish the lap by which time thoughts of Ben and H out there giving it everything had started to play with my conscience, thoughts of my athletic heroes like Redgrave, Radcliffe and Chrissie Wellington had started to creep in to my broken head... 'what would they do?' I questioned? I can't have been much more than about 100 yards from turning right (car) instead of left (final lap) when enough was enough and, shouting out loud, I had some serious words with myself... 'this is THE session of the whole Ironman build up, are you really going to jack it in half way through?'... 'what will happen in Lanza if the bike doesn't go to plan, would you quit then?'... 'you won't get this chance again, quitting's forever'... and that was it... 'survive the final lap, run the first mile, and see what happens'...

Lap 6 took 58 minutes (compared to 48 for each of the first three) but it got me back to the car and with 'one mile at a time' at the front of my thoughts off I set... Ben and H were already out there on our 1/2 mile out and back course which although may sound mentally tough is actually quite the opposite for a session like this as every seven or eight minutes our paths would cross and spirits would lift. On top of this our mate (and LBT chairman) Richard Leake was out there on his bike and whereas I normally like to loose myself in my thoughts the company was fantastic and kept me positive at just the right time, thanks mate ;) Within about 20 minutes I found myself settling into about 7.20 miles and with my heart rate steady at around 143bpm things were looking good, I'd put the bike to the back of my mind and focusing firmly forward was making good progress. In what seemed like no time at all I'd flown through ten miles in 74.05 and felt I could pick it up for the rest... 73 minutes later (including a 60 second toilet stop) and I'd negative splitted a 20 mile run in 2:27 at an average pace of 7.23 per mile (including over two minutes of stops to refuel). My final two miles were covered in 14:20 at an average heart rate of 147 and I certainly felt I could have knocked out another 10k to complete a marathon in 3.13.

So here we are, we've had a chilled out evening going out for dinner with Richard L and looking back on the day I feel I may have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. At one point I was about as low as I've ever been in a training session but drawing on past experiences and examples set by others I managed to turn things round and finish with a positive. With three weeks to go I'm definitely the fittest I've ever been but also absolutely the most fatigued... fingers crossed I can recover in 20 days...

Will post more soon,

It's good to be back.... almost ;)