Sunday, 27 September 2009

Back on the hamster wheel...kind of...

Training resumes... but not quite like the above picture.

It's that time of year again.... the pre-amble to show time in Kona.

I've been fortunate to spend a bit of time with Phil Graves (he of Ironman UK victory at the ripe age of 20). Seeing how hard he's worked to get into great shape for the big day has been a grand insight into hard, hard work. The above picture is Phil doing a half marathon in Leeds University's heat chamber. It's ideal for his race prep but if you've ever ran on a treadmill you'll know how incredibly boring they can be. Luckily for most of us those treadmills are in air conditioned gyms surrounded by banks of televisions with other people milling around to help keep our minds active and our feet moving on a belt your fingers are eager to stop by the press of one button. Not quite the same in the heat chamber where the temperature and humidity (approx 32ยบ and 65% respectively) are there to replicate the conditions in Hawaii. Surrounded by plain white walls with one glass panel so the boffins can keep an eye on Phil and his stats it's hardly luxurious! And instead of a bank of television's playing MTV are two fans which help keep Phil's core temperature (which is constantly monitored) safe by having the air that's in there blown onto him to keep him cooler. A great tool for acclimatisation but a grueling one. Although I reckon the benefits of sucking up hard sessions on the bike and on the treadmill in that small white box will benefit him mentally too, because surely the mental strength Phil's needed to train in there will pay him back ten-fold on those roads in Kona. I can't wait to see how he does, keep an eye out for him he's a talented lad.

Loads of our mates are on their way to Kona as we speak and I can't help but feel a little envious that we're not going to be there to be part of it, even as a spectator. We've decided therefore that whatever the outcome of Tom's races next year we'll go because I can't imagine how fantastic it must be to be surrounded by such uber athletes and such a positive vibe, full of the many different stories of how they made it there. Instead, we'll be glued to the computer, catching all of the glory via the magic of the web but it's not quite the same as being in Hawaii now is it!!

The Winter months in the Williams household however are really quite the opposite and often spent shedding the rather large amounts of chocolate which I should have just glued to my hips instead! So what has the week had in fold for the first week back? Well it hasn't quite gone according to plan but that's because of the spanner that work likes to throw in every now and then.

Monday I had to rest. I was so tired after a long weekend of working, then walking the GNR with my ma and finishing it all off with her surprise party and a very, very late night.

Tuesday we hit the pool at 6am and did a 3km technique session which I really enjoyed.
Tuesday pm we started the first of what will become our regular tempo treadmill session which is about an hr long including w/u and c/d then I took our running club's middle group out for a 7mile run.

Wednesday I worked all day in Leicester so I had to have an enforced rest day :(

Thursday I snuck in a 3km swim at 6am and got out for an hrs run at lunch time before I started the first of two night shoots, working from 7pm til 5am on Emmerdale.

Friday I had planned to sleep until about 11am but I woke up at 9am and made myself do a 90min turbo session before sneaking in a quick meeting about an exciting work project and then skipping off to Emmerdale to do the last night shoot. 7pm til 5am again.

Saturday I had 2hrs sleep and we ran to parkrun in Leeds, I managed a respectable 21.38, not bad on 2hrs kip and we ran home. I then promptly fell apart but not wanting to sleep through the day so I could sleep last night it was a painful experience for A) my eyes, B) my poor addled tired body and C) Tom.

So here I am ten hours kip under my belt and certainly feeling much more human for it (much to Tom's relief). We're about to hit the streets in 20mins and run 10miles in the sunshine before coming home to do little else, lovely jubbly.

So to all those folk we know heading their way out to the mecca of Ironman, we wish you all a safe journey and an even safer but speedy race, we can't wait to cheer you all on from sunny Leeds :)

For those of you who are enjoying my daily pic then I can confirm that I'll be holding an exhibition of all 365 of them in Leeds in February 2010. It's a very exciting project for me and the chance for you to buy your favourite limited edition framed image with all of the proceeds going to a fantastic charity called Naomi's Fund which is still in it's infancy and organised by a close friend. I've also just refreshed and updated my website and have added a blog to it which is where I shall be posting all of the info about the exhibition as it starts to take shape, I'd love to know what you think and if you'd be interested in coming to the exhibition and indeed owning one of those pictures?

Happy days,

H x


 Although I did manage an Ironman marathon pb at Switzerland this year (3:24) I felt a long way from my 2008 running form (2:49 at London) and by the end of this triathlon season I found myself consistently getting off the bike at the pointy end of the race and reversing rapidly through the field! Chatting with jack about my training for 2009 we decided that any improvements in Ironman running would come from increased bike volume, as such we kept run volume the same as for 2008, stuck an extra four weekly hours on the bike and beat my previous run pb (3:40) with 3:31 in Lanzarote then again in Switzerland. This coming year is about taking the next, and perhaps final, step towards my best possible Ironman performance and as I stand here my running is firmly my weakest of the three disciplines and someway short of where I'd like it to be.

So, whats the plan?

Looking back on the last year, my only running race of 2009 was January's Brass Monkey half marathon, although I pb'd with 1:19 that was eight months ago and by the time I got to my A races would no doubt have struggled to get close to that level of performance. This coming year I've therefore decided to get stuck into as many running races as possible, certainly over the winter, with the aim of getting in the best running shape ever by the London marathon (not sure how I'll approach that yet but am definitely going to run) and then holding on to that until Lanzarote four weeks later. With this in mind yesterday morning saw my first running race since the Brass Monkey back in January!

Having only got back into training on Monday and with the scales showing me over a stone heavier than when I ran London last year  I wasn't expecting a pb (18:10 some years ago) performance. I was expecting around 20 minutes of lung-busting effort though, and can assure you that I delivered that in style! Just looking at my Garmin data I see a max HR of 180 and an average of 172, numbers the like of which I haven't recorded for several years. I was so blown by the end that I forgot to press stop and as the results haven't been published yet I'm not certain of my finish time but I think I snuck under 19:50 but to be honest this season isn't about times, even at Lanza where a sub-ten will almost certainly be required. Over the next 12 months I'll be going as fast as I can and training to achieve that, whatever performance values that produces will merely be an outcome of that process, nothing more nothing less.

I'll be racing parkrun every week that we aren't racing somewhere else, next week we're doing the Harewood 10 mile trail race and in 14 days I'll be back on the Hyde Park start line and looking to take another step forward a couple of weeks lighter, stronger and faster.

On a different note, and somewhat more excitingly, Hawaii edges closer and two weeks today we'll know all the 2009 Ironman answers. The race will be shown live on and with coverage pretty much as good as Auntie's and a strong British contingent I thoroughly suggest logging on and staying up. In Chrissie Wellington we have the strong favourite to take the women's title and in a young Mr. Graves we have perhaps the most exciting Ironman talent to come out of the UK in many years. I've been fortunate enough to be part of the team helping Phil out with his Hawaii preparation and can assure you that aside from his awesome physiology he is a truly special athlete. Champions possess qualities that cannot be measured in a lab or on a track, and I can assure you that whatever the outcome on October the 10th a young lad from Yorkshire will be at the pointy end of the process ;)

Hold on tight,


Thursday, 24 September 2009

As promised...

It would be so rude of me not to post having had an amazing week last week & I did promise I would so here is a brief blog :)

Last week was hectic and busy but full of promising things on the work side and then the joy of being able to start training again on Monday gave me light at the end of a very greedy tunnel!!

Having more time on my hands while I've been resting has meant that I've managed to put an awful lot of time into my business & I've shot some really interesting projects, sold some images on and am starting to reap the rewards from my effort which I plan to maintain along with a less heavy training schedule. Training will become much more run focused giving me that extra amount of time for shoots and editing which regularily have me glued to the computer. I swear I didn't realise how inactive I can be through the day when I'm editing and if it wasn't for a training regime I could turn my bum into the size of our sofa in a few months quite easily!

The great thing about loving triathlon and exercise in general is that I've met some incredible people along the way, people who will be lifelong friends and even people in the cyber world who all have common interests and goals. This means that not only do I get to keep in touch with the triathlon world while I'm out of it, but I also get to put my photography skills to good use and have shot a bit for Triathlon Plus & Triathlon Europe, it's all good :)

I appear to have filled my rest days with cake and chocolate!! Where is the incredible willpower that I possess while I'm training!? I've really got it all the wrong way round. While I'm training hard I could afford to have the odd cake or chocolate bar every now and then but strangely I don't want to eat that sort of stuff and then when I'm resting I eat it just because I can, have no willpower (not a single drop) and avoid most fruit and veg (which actually I love). But there you have it, one day I might get the bottom of it, but I tell you my poor legs don't like having to re-start training with a heavier load!!

I finished last week off with what was definitely the highlight of it and that was a weekend at the Great North Run which finishes in my home town of South Shields. I've watched it since I was little girl, must have ran it at least 10 times and then this Sunday I walked it...with my ma and her little friend Marie (see above pic, my ma's on the left). They've been walking training since April and I have to say I've been really impressed with their dedication. Building up from no miles to 12 miles has been great for them both and it was a huge achievement to cross the line in 4hrs on Sunday, both with big beaming smiles and me with weary legs, I tell you they'd have hurt less if I'd have ran it!!! We topped it off by surprising my ma with a 60th birthday party and all her friends and family came to share her day, it was fantastic and an amazing way to celebrate her success.

So, that's me, and now I'm back into training (although I could be thwarted this week with two night shoots on Emmerdale) but I appear to have my willpower back and have given up chocolate, crisps, sweets, cake and caffeine etc for a whole month before allowing myself one treat a week to stop me going mad :) Time to trim up my sofa size backside!!

Pic a day is still coming along nicely and is here and here.

H x

Monday, 21 September 2009

Back in the game...

Far too tired for pictures today... this post is from Tom ;)

Today I think I may be setting another pb... the earliest I've ever managed to write my blog! It's Saturday morning, H and I are in Newcastle for the Great North Run (spectating) and I've managed to steal a few moments in the cafe at the Baltic Mill, hop on their wifi and here I am...

Straight to the point...

Today is day 27 of my 28 days of rest and on Monday it all starts again in my attempt to have a stellar 2010. Normally the Great North Run marks the end of my season, this year with things being a little tougher and me being a little more tired I brought my month off forward by four weeks. The term 'rest' however has many different interpretations, particularly within the world of endurance sport, and often when we hear 'I'm not training at the moment' it's followed up by 'just out for an 'easy' couple of hours'... you only have to tune in to the wonderful world of Twitter to find seemingly contradictory Tweets referring to 'rest' and 'exercise' in the same breath. Now, I'd be the last person to say what would or wouldn't be the right thing to do, and this isn't about outlining some kind of 'best' strategy for end of season recovery, rather a clear and honest description of the physical activity I've done over the last four weeks. No playing things down, no bravado, no 'didn't mention that two hour ride because it was too easy'... this is absolutely all the physical activity (above that required to function during a normal day i.e. walking up the stairs) that I've done...

Week One
1 x 60 minute Run @ 12 minute mile pace
1 x 900 metre swim at 5:30/300m pace as 3  x 300

Week Two
1 x 60 minute Run @ 12 minute mile pace

Week Three
1 x 60 minute Run @ 12 minute mile pace

Week Four
1 x 60 minute Run @ 12 minute mile pace

That's it... make of it what you will. As I said it's not about right/wrong etc. Just an accurate account of what 'I've just had a month off training' means to me in 2009. How do I feel? On the down side?... fat, lazy, unfit, generally minging and likely to seriously suffer for the next month or two of training... on the up side?... my once deflated mojo has returned stronger than ever before, I can't wait to swim, bike and run morning, noon and night, and with friends, training partners and heroes (I'm fortunate in that many people fill all three of those roles simultaneously) supplying inspiration like I've never known... it's time to get busy ;)

Having started this blog further from 'deadline' than ever before I find myself sitting here at 2am on Sunday night / Monday morning... how did that happen? Well, my moment in the Baltic was shorter than expected and our proverbial feet have failed to touch the floor since. Today I hung out at the great North while H and her mum shared some quality time together, not to mention 13.1 miles... well done ladies ;) This evening we had a brilliant surprise party for said mother in true Geordie style with booze and banter aplenty and good times had by all. Unfortunately we didn't manage to leave until midnight so it looks like we'll be starting our new training season with five hours sleep and no morning session. Still, it was worth every second of a brilliant brilliant weekend :)

Night all,


Little post...

It's nearly 2am in the morning and we've just got home from what has been a brilliant but hectic weekend. This means that bed is seriously calling. In fact I'm not sure how I'm managing to survive, my eyes are hanging out of my head.

I'm off to bed in the knowledge that the dawn of Monday morning will bring a month long ban on chocolate, sweets, crisps etc and also caffeine. Time to re-introduce a bit of discipline and healthy eating into my diet and actually, I can't wait.

I shall therefore re-post a 'proper' blog tomorrow eve when my head isn't an inch from the keyboard.

Night all.

H :)

Sunday, 13 September 2009

What's next?

With H away at the BIPP National Photographic Awards I'm sat here on my lonesome with the task of putting together a joint entry covering both of our athletic aims for the next few months and beyond. If you happen to pass our house in the early hours of the morning and it looks like we're up early... that's me sleeping with the light on!

H always knew that this year would be her last season of Ironman, and I promised myself that if I didn't make the big one in 2009 then 2010 would be my last. Well time really flies doesn't it, and here we are with another season of triathlon speeding off into the distance. What seems like only moments ago we embarked on the amazing adventure that is ultra-distance swim, bike & run and suddenly we've got nine Iron distance finishes in the bank and find ourselves thinking 'what next?'....

Training for both of us starts a week on Monday, and as for what that will be geared towards,

I'll start with H...

With her photography business pushed slightly up the pecking order of daily commitments, something needs to give in the time department and that's likely to be around 5-10 hours of weekly training... reducing her seven-day budget for exercise to around 10-15 hours. Rather than this resulting in a proportional drop in performance she's decided to focus mainly on running and have a crack at a few old single-sport pb's. If time allows her to maintain swim and bike fitness over the winter then we may see her in the odd TT, duathlon or even shorter triathlon in 2010. For the time-being though we're looking at the Brass Monkey half-marathon in January, another half in March and the the London Marathon in April to provide the main sources of inspiration for her winter training.

As for me...

It's been a funny old year for me, I've knocked out a couple of great Ironman races over the summer in times faster than anything I could have even dreamed of when we first embarked on this wonderful journey. But, I feel surprisingly unfulfilled... and on reflection I don't think that's down to the lack of a Hawaiian plane ticket, rather a sense that in focusing so hard on what (I thought) I'd needed to do to get there I forgot the actual reason why I needed to do it. It's not, for me at least, about a finishing position or qualifying slot, rather the knowledge that I really truly could not have given anything more to being the best I could be. Somewhere over the last 12 months I let that principle fall by the side and in doing 'enough to qualify' not only did I not 'really truly give everything' (don't let the training hours fool you) but I also didn't do 'enough to qualify'... just. Perhaps that slight miscalculation in what it would take to achieve my 'dream' actually allowed me to re-focus on what my dream really truly is. Anyway, that's the subject of another Sunday sometime later this year. Getting back to the point...

I've entered Ironman Lanzarote 2010 with the aim of being the best I can be, and although I'd absolutely love to grab a Kona slot it's not about that. This year it went to 10.03, I'd hate to do 10.02 only for it to go to 10.01 and leave me wondering yet again. Whatever position I finish in in Puerto Del Carmen on May 22nd it will be the absolute best position I could possibly have achieved based on my starting point a week on Monday and the time available to me from then until the race. What will that be? Who knows, but I really believe that I can take a significant step forward this winter. Funnily enough, the only other race between now and then that I really really want to do well in is the Chevin Chase, I've done it for the last few years and it's a truly brilliant event. Seven (ish) miles over just about every terrain and gradient you could imagine provides one of the best tests of fitness around. I've always wanted to go well but coming as it does at the beginning (or end, depending on how you view Boxing Day) of the year I've normally hit the start line rather short of match fitness. My good friend Dave McGuire showed me the way in 2008, taking me down by 3 minutes and 20 seconds, and this year I intend to follow him into the top 20.

Other than that.....?

We're both gonna race more than ever, we love it, it's great training and this year we really missed it. For the rest of 2009 we'll be focusing on running and have already entered the Harewood 10 mile trail race (three weeks today - it's gonna hurt!), Guy Fawkes 10 on November the 1st and the Abbey Dash on November the 22nd. We're also going to run as many parkrun events as possible and enter not one but two winter cross country leagues, one with our running club and one with our tri club. I'll be doing plenty of swim and bike training at the same time and H will be fitting those in where possible. December will mean Chevin Chase and January the Brass Monkey. February is likely to be a big training block before the BallBuster Duathlon in March (probably both of us although H may run Fleet Half marathon the day after instead) and then the Circuit of the Dales (me definitely, H possibly) & London Marathon in April. H is gonna hit London hard, I'm not sure how I'll approach it yet... I've previosuly had mixed results doing it in the build up to Ironman but as I've already said, this year is going to be different. All that leaves is May... Irontime ;)

and then...?

Who knows... loads of plans but we'd only be speculating ;)

For now...?

Apart from the fact it was taken on South Beach, Miami, today's picture sums us up pretty well at the moment. In the last 21 days I've swum for a total of 15 minutes, done around two hours of very easy jogging and not even touched my bike. Perhaps a little more activity would be better for me but I'm an all or nothing kind of guy and in eight days I really truly will be giving it my all. H is doing a little more, not a lot, and will no doubt be giving equal amounts come Monday week.

See you in seven... if the bogeyman doesn't get me tonight that is!

T (& H)

p.s. you might have noticed a list of each of our race results from 2009 appear, you can access these via the link on the right hand side of this page and as time allows I'll be adding 2008, 2007 etc etc.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Tom's Race History

Click on the event for official website and 'blog' for that week's blog entry...


August 16 Allerthorpe Olympic 2:05:47
(21:25 59:52 44:30) 10th overall
August 15 LBT Aquathlon 30:17
(14:30 15:07) 5th overall
August 9 VOTWO Swim 1:06:52
24th overall blog
July 12 Ironman Switzerland 9:28:48
(57:58 5:03:00 3:24:41) 108th/1,979
June 28 Otley CC 50 TT 1:58:47
32nd overall
June 27 LBT Aquathlon 28:06
(13:44 13:37) 1st overall blog

June 14 Cleveland Olympic 1:59:59
(21:34 1:00:39 35:58) 4th overall
May 23
Ironman Lanzarote 10:20:20
(59:39 5:41:00 3:31:24) 93rd/1,138
March 21 Ballbuster Duathlon 2:55:22

(49:51 1:12:11 53:18) 8th overall
January 18
Brass Monkey Half Marathon 1:19:35

Helen's Race History

Click on the event name for official website and 'blog' for that week's blog entry...


September 5 The Vitruvian 4:51:28
(30:41 2:35:18 1:42:05) 5th girl blog
August 16 Allerthorpe Olympic 2:20:41
(23:26 1:07:44 49:31) 5th girl blog
August 15 LBT Aquathlon 31:51
(15:42 15:32) 2nd girl
August 9 VOTWO Swim 1:15:42
July 26 LBT Aquathlon 31:23
(14:49 16:oo) 1st girl
July 12 Ironman Switzerland 11:15:10
(1:03:58 6:03:06 4:03:23) 59th girl blog
June 28 Otley CC 50 TT 2:20:06
64th blog
June 27 LBT Aquathlon 30:54
(15:05 15:05) 3rd girl blog

June 14 Cleveland Olympic 2:15:35
(22:48 1:09:38 41:13) 2nd girl blog
May 23 Ironman Lanzarote 12:32:28
(1:04:16 6:38:30 4:37:54) 27th girl blog
April 5 Circuit of the Dales TT 2:40:02
1st girl blog
March 21 Ballbuster Duathlon 3:23:33
(56:43 1:26:10 1:00:38) 5th girl blog
January 18 Brass Monkey Half Marathon 1:38:09

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Season review... Twitter style...

With our swim, bike and run season finally coming to an end when H crossed the finish line of yesterday's Vitruvian triathlon (see today's pic and H's blog) I thought I'd put together a 2009 end of season report. With nine months of racing to cover there was a serious danger this could have turned into a 'War and Peace' length epic so to stop me going on I decided to limit myself to 140 characters per calender month.

Are you sitting comfortably...

January - Started with a ten day training camp which nearly broke both of us and finished with the Brass Monkey Half marathon - T 1:19 (pb) and H 1:38

February - Training, training and more training before flying to Lanza on the 1st of March. I did manage to sneak in a shiny new 400m swim pb of 5:33.

- Our second Lanza camp, a strong bike focus saw us hit nearly 1000 miles between us in seven days. Ball Buster duathlon T 2:55 (pb) H 3:23

April - Kicked off with the Circuit of the Dales... T - DNS! H - 2:40 (MASSIVE pb) then 160 mile mega ride on the 12th and two 100/10 big bricks

May - Started with mega brick - 5 hour ride / 20 mile run and finished with Lanza - T 10:20 (59/5:41/3:31) and H (64/6:38/4:37) - close, no cigar

June - Cleveland Olympic - T 1:59 (pb) & H 2:15 (pb) then 50 mile time trial - T 1:58 (pb) H 2:20 (pb) and I snuck in my first sub 30 Pool Triangle

July - Ironman Switzerland - T 9:28 (57/5:03/3:24) (pb - missed Kona by three minutes) and H 11:15 (63/6:03/4:03) - rest, rest and more rest.

August - VOTWO Swim - T 1:06 & H 1:15 / Allerthorpe Olympic T 2:05 & H 2:20 / Club 10 T 23:53 (2nd) H 25:50 (pb & champ) / H 32:42 at Pool T (pb)

September - Feet well and truly up for me, H finished the season in style at the Vitruvian with 4:51 (30/2:35/1:42) for 4th in cat. Training starts 21st

So there you go, not that many races (no marathons, only one running race and no middle distance races, which are my favourite, for me) but plenty of pbs and more training than you can poke a stick at. The first time that either of us have attempted two Iron distance events in a single season taking our combined total to nine... good reason for me to do Lanza as our number ten and satisfy my OCD. Will there be a number eleven? Watch this space ;)

With less than two hours training in the last two weeks and even less than that scheduled for the next two I find myself firmly in the middle of my month of rest. Despite growing wider by the day (I'm down to my final two pairs of wearable trousers!) I can feel my mojo returning and can't wait to get back on it from the 21st.

I'll pen some thoughts on the above in time for next week's blog.

Finally, don't forget to cheer Alistair and Jonny Brownlee on at next weekend's world triathlon championships from the Gold Coast. They're favourites to win the senior and junior titles respectively and are in great form. I was under the impression that the BBC were covering it but can't find it in the listings, if not then check out for live video via the tinternet.

See you next week,


The season is done...

The Vitruvian... 4hrs 51mins 28secs

Pre-race I honestly had no idea what to expect of my body. I've had some great results in our time trials so I knew I was getting stronger on the bike but because they were over such a short distance I wasn't sure how my legs would fare over 51 slightly undulating miles. In fact through the latter part of training for The Vit I struggled to motivate myself to get out on the road and get some decent mileage in. I also had to be strong when Tom 'pulled the pin' on his season early because it meant that I had to motivate myself to not only do the session but to get out of bed early in the morning's and leave Tom snuggled up and sleeping, and that, I can tell you wasn't easy!

Race morning...

Racking the night before meant that race prep was easy. Up at 4am, breakfast at 4.30am, arrived at Rutland water at 5am, perfect. The moon was still out as we drove to the course and when we got there we were greeted with the most beautiful sunrise over Rutland water. Once transition was sorted I met up with Tom and his mum & step-dad Ray, (my ever presents.) Ady and Sarah had come to watch with their kids and our two lovely friends from run club Jaz & Janice had come all of the way from Leeds that morning to watch the day.

7am - The swim 1.9km - 30mins 41 secs

I'm usually a bit of a biff magnet in my open water swims. I just seem to love putting myself in the middle of the melee' so today I took Tom's advice and went as far right on the front as possible. No biff!!! Amazing to actually be able to start swimming instantly and it made a huge difference. We were the last wave to go off so we joined the throng of thrashing arms and legs from the previous waves but somehow I managed to avoid all hassle and swam like I was out there on my own. I managed to find a pair of feet that were swimming just above my pace and as we exited from the first lap and onto the second Tom shouted that I was 10th out of the water. Back out for lap 2 which went without any incident and I had managed to move up a couple of places to 8th.

T1 went remarkable well, I'm usually terrible at getting my socks on over my wet feet but I was calm and before I knew it I was out on the road just behind Jo Carritt who flew off into the distance before I could blink.

The bike - 85km - 2:35:16

Windy but a good course, nice undulations to stop the boredom setting in and great road surfaces, wonderful when I hit the road with the wind behind me. Unfortunately though, it was incredibly busy with traffic which held me & lots of others up. I worked really hard but comfortably on the bike. It took me about 45mins before I started feeling good. Cold legs from the swim, high heart rate from the adrenalin and huge head winds made it all seem a little hard early on. I really got into the swing of it once the sun came out to warm me up and I really enjoyed feeling strong. It's a two lap bike course and just before the end of the first lap I spotted Jo Carritt ahead and pushed passed her. Going back into the race area for the turn around Tom, Yve, Ray, Jaz, Janice, Ady, Sarah and the kids were all going nuts. Spectators are wonderful aren't they! Managing somehow to ride my way into 3rd place I couldn't believe it, and back out I went for the last lap. Armed with a Snickers bar (great race fuel) and a sick enjoyment for the head wind I still felt strong and kept plugging my way through the field knowing that my run was my weakness and that the girls around me were all great runners. Caught again by traffic (a horse box this time) just before the end of the bike section I had a chat with Jo Carritt who had caught me back up. And as we came into T2 together I knew my 4th position (we'd both been overtaken by a faster girl toward the end of lap two) was numbered by only a matter of seconds... she's an awesome runner.

T2 went well and Jo shouted to me to have a good one as she ran out, I followed seconds behind her but certainly not at the same pace!!

The run - 21km - 1:42:05

Oddly when I first came into triathlon the run was always my strength. I'd do okay in the swim, go backwards on the bike and then make up the time on the run. Now however, I'm able to hurt my legs on the bike and Ironman has stolen my running speed so I can plod forever but with no real pace. With Jo Carritt ahead and really no way of catching her... she was gone, gone, gone I was in 5th. The course is an out and back x 2 so you get to see who's ahead of you and by how much and then also who's behind you and by how much. I knew I'd probably manage to run the half marathon in under 8min miles (7:45's) but that some of the girls out there are like whippets. I spent the first half of the lap wondering who and how many were going to pass me. Ten minutes in and I was passed by a girl from Army tri. I had a smile to myself, here we go I thought. I'm amazed though, I held my pace, ran the whole thing incredibly evenly and managed to hold 5th place. Bloody brilliant!

Post race... flapjack, friends and smiles.

What a great way to end the season. It's so nice to finish it off on a high. I actually had a great swim, a great bike and a great run. I'd love to get my run speed up, hopefully over the Winter months that's what I'll do. The Vitruvian is a well run event and I came home with a huge smile. I think that's probably the first time where all three disciplines have come together and shown my ability. I swam no differently yesterday but avoiding all fists and feet meant I could actually swim instead of ducking and diving and so it's great to have a time that matches my expectation off the back of my training. The bike went really well and like I say I felt really strong, I was a minute slower this year than last but the wind was a lot stronger so I've certainly improved my bike strength. My run, well, no surprises with my time, that's exactly what I expected but that's not a negative, I just know where I am and what I'm capable of on the run section.

So, there you have it one perfect race with perfect timing being that it could very well be my last triathlon for a while. I can't wait to become chief Ironman coat holder and supporter for Tom next year :)

I won't go into a deluge of thank youss, you're all amazing and very special for the parts you play in my life and I'd be here forever so here's one HUGE thank you to you all for everything, I know for once the words... "it's been emotional" couldn't sum it up any better!

I've got a two week rest planned and then I'm going to get back into my running, concentrating on finding that pace in my legs, aiming for the London Marathon 2010. Swim and bike I'll maintain on minimal training and see what happens next year before I enter any races.

It's a great feeling to be able to rest without guilt and I can't wait to watch Al & Jonny Brownlee race in the final of the World Champs on Saturday and not long after that the big one in Kona, bring it on. We know so many people racing I can't wait to cheer them on from t'interweb!!

Thanks again for the love,

H. x

P.s I'm way into my 365 pic a day project... and I'm in talks with a charity to hold an exhibition with the aim of selling the images - the profit going to the charity. Exciting and in the pipeline, have you seen one you'd like? They're here or I post them here daily.