Wednesday, 28 July 2010

We've moved...

Dear all,

Just to let you know that H and I have moved our blogs. With Ironman coming to and end very soon we thought we'd go our seperate (blogging) ways...

H can now be found at www.helenturton.co.uk.

Tom is now at www.tomwilliams.squarespace.com.

Thanks for being such a great part of our journey so far, here's to the future ;)

T & H x

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Snap...



As the end of my triathlon career rapidly approaches, and along with it my life on a road bike, there are regular 'this is my last one of these' moments... I've always wanted to do a 100 mile time trial and woke up at 4am this morning ready to really go for it in my my last ever official TT and my first ever over a century...

Going into the race off the back of a few easy days I was confident of going well and had planned a ten mile Ironman paced run straight off the back of it as my final big session... a great opportunity to practice my race nutrition strategy... just three and a half miles after the start my chain snapped and with it the chance to exit my cycling time trials 'career' on a high. Frustrating isn't the word really but there you go...

For the rest of the day I joined H and turned spectator / support crew for our mate Ady, who paced a perfect one hundred miles to come in just under four hours and 25 minutes. At 4:56 pace for 112 miles it was a great sign for his assault on the Outlaw both in terms of pacing a long ride and also having the strength to finish a five hour ride stronger than it was started :)

I'm off to bed...

T

Friday, 16 July 2010

Feeling fit fit fit...

I'll keep this short as I really should be doing some work... With a touch over three weeks to go until The Outlaw Iron-distance triathlon I find myself in the shape of my life, significantly stronger, fitter and (more importantly) less tired than the same time before Ironman Switzerland 2009 where I set my PB of 9.28... BUT... and this is a BIG BUT... there are still a touch over three weeks to go... too many to taper, yet plenty of time to over-cook things and arrive in Nottingham tired and worn-out.

This Saturday just gone I raced at Ripon Olympic Triathlon and despite the distance being a little fast for my short stumpy legs I ran through to 7th overall out of 700 finishers, Sunday morning saw six hilly hours in the saddle with Ady and Adam and then later that day Adam and I popped out for a 20 mile run with 16 very conversational miles thrown in at 7.10 pace, Monday morning I was in the pool for some hard interval work, Monday evening a chilled out seven mile run with H and then on Tuesday my mate Guy and I rode 80 miles of the Outlaw bike course including two laps of the main loop riding completely draft legal (minimum 15 metres wheel to wheel) and VERY comfortably in 2:37:17 for 58.8 miles (4:59:41 pace for 112) followed by a relaxed first ten miles of the run course in 75 minutes... apart from Ripon, where it was a max race effort, the rest of the sessions have all been comfortably within me. I can honestly say I'm in the shape of my life... a good place to be... a challenging place to be this far out of an 'A' race though. Ideally The Outlaw would ideally be a week earlier, the tough sessions would be over and the taper could start... there's just a little bit more to do though...

Today has been a complete leg rest day with just a short and very easy swim (10 x 150 easy off 3:30) with Hels and Ove, and tomorrow will be similar except with an open water swim and perhaps a short spin on the bike. Sunday I'll be on the start line of my first and last 100 mile cycling time trial, a ten mile Ironman target-pace run off the back of it will give me a chance to practice race-day nutrition.

Then, it'll be time to drop the volume, up the intensity and sharpen up for one final 140.6 miles of swim, bike & run.

I'm loving every moment but cannot wait to draw a line under my triathlon career, and move on to the next exciting chapter in the wonderful thing we call life...

T

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Take two...

This week's picture was taken by H on her iPhone as our mate John Coleman pushed me off for my second assault on the same 50 mile time trial course within seven days. Last week my legs felt about as empty as they ever have in a bike race yet I managed to squeeze out a 1:58 and average just over 25mph... yesterday I was determined to give that result the kicking it truly deserved!

So... ?

Well, I kind of did... and I kind of didn't!

From the start to the finish I felt significantly better than seven days ago... my legs felt strong and pushing through each of the 50 somewhat windy miles I managed to nudge my heart rate back toward where it should be... averaging 149 and maxing out at 157 (compared to 141/150) and getting close to the low 150's average and low 160's max that saw me pb at the Circuit of the Dales back in April. Only having distance and heart rate on the display of my Garmin crossing the I had no idea what time I'd done... it felt MUCH fast than the first effort but had been really windy in places and was without a doubt a slow day...

Cruising back to the event HQ I flicked through my watch's memory reminding myself not to be disappointed if it wasn't the 1.56 I expected... 2:01:33 and a full two and a half minutes slower! Knowing that the conditions can make so much difference to bike time trials I put my disappointment to one side, replaced it with positive thoughts about feeling great, feeling fast and feeling strong and set out on a four mile run at my target Ironman pace... just under 30 easy minutes later it was time to check out the results and see how I'd really done...

A quick scan over the times of those who also race last week showed a fairly consistent 4-5 minute deficit over the previous event suggesting my ride would have been worth something between 1:56:33 and 1:57:33 on a good day... so all in all? A good day ;)

Other than that... I'm back in the pool / lake and with my nerve injury behaving itself am swimming faster with every passing session. Run wise things are fairly steady away, Ironman target pace (7:20-30 per mile) is feeling super easy with a very comfortable 18 miles done last week in 2:15 dead and an average HR of 137... I also seem to be running pretty well off the bike sessions. With three good training weeks left in my competitive triathlon life things are starting to get tough (5 hours on the bike this morning are about to be followed up with a 20 mile run) but I'm feeling strong and looking forward to Ripon Olympic Tri next weekend, the Yorkshire Cycling Federation 100 mile TT a week later and then Castle Howard Triathlon the week after that... in between I've got my normal massive brick session on the 13th of July (might reduce the run to ten miles rather than 20... I said 'might') and two more cracks at my Pool Triangle TT pb of 29:56 (I did ride a 29:58 this week so am there or there abouts).

In five weeks it will all be over... better make it all worthwhile ;)

T

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

It' been a while...

I think I may have set a new PB... the longest ever gap between blog posts. Having spent the last three years sticking almost exactly to our Sunday deadline it's now been over two weeks... apologies. It's not actually that I've been super busy but having spent the first five months of this year knocking out pretty much continuous 18 hour days of training and working I've been really really enjoying my new found chill time...

Anyway...

I do keep promising a more in-depth reflection on my Lanzarote experience but still don't really know how I feel about the whole Ironman thing. Not qualifying for Hawaii still plays on my mind pretty much every day, much more than I thought it would... perhaps a good performance at The Outlaw on August the 8th will quiet the frustrations that I'm feeling? In 2009 I wasn't prepared mentally for breaking nine and a half hours only to be cheated out of my slot and in the same way I hadn't really considered this year that I'd fail to deliver on the run when 'only' needing a 3:30 marathon to book my plane ticket.

I have, of course, considered having another crack... either at a race later this year or sometime in 2011... but I only have to remind myself of the unacceptable sacrifices that I repeatedly made this year in order to get into Kona 'shape', for those thoughts to rapidly be over turned. My time as a competitive Ironman athlete will certainly come to an end on August the 8th where a great run off a solid bike will hopefully leave me happy that throughout my short triathlon career I placed all my multi-sport eggs firmly in the Iron basket.

So... how's it looking...

Well, last year I came back from Lanzarote a little too soon and despite some good performances between then and Switzerland I never quite felt recovered. This time I've taken things a little easier and as such am a little heavier and not quite as 'match-fit' as I was but there is certainly a good level of base fitness which with a little sharpening over the next month should see me hit the start line in Nottingham ready to rock.

My chronic nerve issue which was hugely affecting my swimming seems to have calmed down significantly and yesterday I managed a set of 10 x 300m at an average of about 4:35... pb shape would be 4:20-4:25 off a little less recovery but certainly a step in the right direction.

On the bike I've hit a 30:01 at the Pool Triangle TT which is my third fastest time ever and only five seconds off PB and this weekend gone I hit 1:58:54 for a 50 mile TT which although not quite a PB (seven seconds short) was the result of perhaps the worst my legs have ever felt in a bike race so on a good day I'd expect to knock a couple of minutes off that... 1:56? We'll find out on Saturday when I have another crack at the same course ;)

Running? It's running off the bike that matters really, as I found out in Lanzarote... at last weekend's Allerthorpe sprint triathlon I didn't exactly set the world on fire with my 19:19 5km run but I'd hit the 20km bike as a full-on TT effort and for the first time in a long time (perhaps ever) no-one came past me on the run, where I moved from 7th to 6th overall... and felt great.

Overall, things are gathering momentum as The Outlaw draws closer... I should hit my first 20 hour training week this week, running off the bike will become the norm and my swim volume is returning gradually to pre-2010 levels. I've got more of an intensity based focus this time with at least one race per week scheduled for the next month and fingers crossed my weight will start with a '6' before too long ;) This weekend I've got another 50 mile TT, the 10th is Ripon Olympic Tri, the 18th is the YCF 100 mile TT (where I'll be giving it everything to get close to four hours), then on the 24th I'm doing an Olympic Triathlon at Castle Howard. In between those there's a mix of Pool Triangle time trials, LBT aquathlons and perhaps a ten mile TT plus the odd parkrun thrown in for good measure.

It's great to be back... but even greater to see the light at the end of what has been an amazingly exciting, challenging and life-changing adventure...

Laters

T x

Monday, 14 June 2010

Back in the groove...


Before I kick this week's blog entry off, I know that I haven't written my promised Lanzarote reflection... as soon as I find a couple of hours to switch everything else off and give it my undivided attention it will be done ;)

As for today... I was racing at the National Middle Distance (half-Ironman) Championships in Bala, Wales, my final competitive half-Ironman race ever! From my experiences last year, when I raced Ironman Lanzarote followed seven weeks later by Switzerland, I knew the danger of training too hard too soon and so found myself treading water this morning having not trained seriously for three weeks... four if you include race week in Lanza. I actually only entered this in the first place because I thought it was one of my triathlon club's championship races, by the time I realised it wasn't, the one that was was full (Cleveland Steelman) and so I figured it could become my first 'proper' training session to kick off six hard weeks of work before a two week taper into The Outlaw Iron distance race.

Swim - 2,000m (32:00 80th/624)

With the water noticeably warmer than previous years in Bala it was actually quite a nice swim. Following 200 hard strokes straight from the gun I focused on technique, bilateral breathing and finding a good pair of feet to hang on to. As usual I managed to avoid anything resembling 'biff' and including the the odd error in sighting and navigation plus a stop to re-adjust my goggles I completed the 2,000m in 32:00. At 80th overall swim split it was probably a couple of minutes down on where I'd like to be, but, and I really really really don't want to tempt fate here, as my third pain free (ish) swim of the week maybe, just maybe, my swim injury is easing off??? If so then with eight weeks to go I just may get to the start line of my last ever competitive triathlon in my best ever swim condition...?

Bike - 50 hilly miles (2:20:11 24th/624)

Despite my legs still feeling a little sluggish from Lanzarote, a solid ride in Wednesday's Pool Triangle 20k hilly TT gave me confidence that I'd ride well today. I'd not done this course before but with a 2:05 on the old course I'd hoped to break 2:20 (guessing it's about 15 minutes slower)... the 'new' course (since 2008) is an out and back and with a fair head wind on the 'out' I was looking good hitting the turn in 1:10. Despite a reasonable tail wind home my legs weren't playing ball though and as they tired my heart rate dropped and I really had to dig deep to come back in the same time for a 2:20.

Run - 20 hilly km (1:25:32 41st/624)

Frustratingly I seemed to pick up where I left off in Lanzarote and almost immediately dropped into survival mode, worrying more about who was behind me than those in front. Perhaps my 19:55 parkrun yesterday morning was a little hard, perhaps dropping two of my bike gels exiting T1 didn't help, maybe there's still a little Lanza in there... or perhaps I just need to work on my running off the bike. Either way the first five or six kilometres were a real struggle... as the turn got closer though I seemed to relax a little, people stopped over-taking me and gradually I found (finally) some run form. Hitting the turn-around in 44:00 I felt I could beat my previous best run in Bala (1:25) as it's mostly downhill on the way back... stopping the run clock on 1:25:32 I was most pleased with the fact that I'd actually felt like a runner for the first time in a while.

Overall - 4:20:24 & 24th out of 624

A mixed day really... super pleased to feel good in the swim and although a little slower than I would have liked, if I have seen the back of my nerve issue then it's happy days and full steam ahead in the pool! I'd have liked to have felt a touch better on the bike and gone a touch quicker but all things considered it was a good day on two wheels. As for the run, the second half has given me back a little confidence that maybe I can still run well off the bike. In my previous two National Middle Distance Champs (at the Vitruvian in 2007 & 2008) I finished overall 17th and 13th respectively so a backward step in some ways... but given the last month or so I'm pretty pleased and it's a great place from which to start six hard weeks of training before my two week taper.

Other than that it was great to hang out with some awesome people for the weekend... the triathlon community is full of them and I can't wait to be chief cheer-leader in 2011 ;) Well done to everyone who took on a super challenging course on a super challenging day... I know it didn't go to plan for all of you but you really should be proud!

See you soon,

Tom

Monday, 31 May 2010

Home time...

Five years ago this month Helen, Sam and I, having never even seen a triathlon before, stumbled upon the Lanzarote Ironman whilst looking for something to do on a surf holiday with no surf... it was an act of chance that would change all of our lives forever. Last Saturday our amazing five year journey came to and end and with 14 Ironman finishers medals between us it's been quite an adventure.


We'll probably keep this blog going until what will be my final competitive triathlon at the Outlaw Iron distance race in Nottingham on August the 8th and so I'll save the whole reflection thing for the next few weeks and months. Today it's all about the race report from the day that so nearly was...


Race Week
H and I arrived in Lanzarote, managing to just avoid yet more ash cloud disruption, on the Saturday before the race and with it being our sixth trip to the Island since the adventure began we felt at home pretty much straight away. It amazes me how people can spend an entire English winter suffering through long swim, bike and run sessions only to arrive at the race venue late and risk last minute worries and stress. With six full days in which to get stuff done prior to the race just a little bit of bike maintenance, kit buying, race bag packing, nutrition sorting, registration training meant that by Wednesday morning everything that needed to be done. We try and avoid all the pre-race hype and base ourselves in a beautiful little backwater of Lanzarote called Famara where our little one bedroom detached bungalow is provides sun for H, shade for me and peace & quiet for both of us. As usual I took a complete rest day two days out from the race and then slotted in a 30 minute run including 5 x 30 second efforts before breakfast the day before.


Racking & The Day Before
The day before race day is a strange time in Ironman, pretty much everything is done and the feeling of 'waiting' and quite strange. As an Ironman athlete you're used to there being something to do pretty much all the time and, particularly once your bike is racked there really is nothing to do except sit there... even most of your eating is already done! With us being tucked away in Famara Friday was pretty much the first time that I could get a good look at all the other athletes, and more importantly my rivals for a coveted Kona slot. The allocation had been posted at the organisers tent and 10th or best would be required for guaranteed qualification. This was pretty much as I expected and I guessed that a top 50 overall and a finish time starting with a '9' would be required if I was to book my ticket to Hawaii. Once everything was racked, my bags were hanging on their hooks (having been checked, double checked and checked again - not sure how I think my shoes might not be in my run bag seeing as I put them in there in the first place and triple checked them, perhaps one day I'll be surprised!) it was time for an nice early dinner. Not wanting to mess with my stomach a nice simple pasta dish was order of the day... Phil Graves did persuade me to join him for a black pudding starter though!


Race Morning
Arriving at transition at 5am the familiar race morning buzz was starting to build and again getting there early meant that I could remove the chance of any last minute stress and panic in the event of some unexpected 'moment'.  By 5:30 I'd pumped my tyres up, stuck nutrition on the bike, checked my bags (again!) and benefitted from the early morning lack of toilet queues. By six o'clock I was sat down with H and enjoying 20 minutes of quiet time whilst the Ironman world wandered up and down. We also bumped into my club mate Richard Howarth, it was great to see a familiar face from back in Leeds and I knew that despite his awesome swim ability (Rich swam 50 minutes and was 11th out of the water) there was a good chance we'd find oursleves in close competition for a 35-39 qualification slot seven or eight hours later. I pulled my wetsuit on at about 6:30 and as usual shed a few emotional tears as I waved goodbye to Mum, Ray and H and wandered down to the water for a quick warm-up. 


The Swim - 58:56
Despite being surrounded by 1,500 people who are about to do the same thing as you, the moments before the gun goes are up there with the most lonely in sport. At that point it's just you against the world, even if your best mate was stood right beside you you'd be unlikely to recognise them and even if you did they'd disappear into a thrashing of arms, legs and water the instant of the bang. Readers of this blog will know that I'd only managed about 10% of my normal swim volume in the 20 weeks leading up to the race and despite a couple of confidence building swims during race week I really didn't have a clue what was about to happen. As usual my Ironman Swim God was watching over me and for the sixth time in a row I completely avoided anything remotely approaching 'biff' and once round the first turn buoy found some nice feet to hang on to and settled into a great rhythm. My swim strategy had been to think about technique, tactics and pacing and not worry about fitness. With no regular feedback in open water swimming (i.e. a time check every 50 minutes) it's easy to let the negative thoughts creep in and imagine that not only are you at the back but even going in completely the wrong direction, when you've had such a bad swim build up the temptation to convince yourself this is the case and for your head to drop is strong. I felt good though, really good and exiting the water at half-way to the amazing shouts and screams of H motivating me for the first time in the race (see pic) was thinking I might surprise myself. Probably around 1,000m later my lack of swim volume was showing its face as my arms tired, and my lack of open water practice was showing as I got seriously sea-sick... all this combined with my goggles really starting to hurt as I'd not worn them continuously for this long since July 2009 meant that by about 3k I was really 'over' the whole swim thing. Not wanting to start off the day with negative feedback I'd not started my watch so that I couldn't be disappointed with my swim time. Fortunately there was a race clock at the exit and with a time of 58:56 I learned two things... a) the swim was shorter than last year and b) despite that I must have had a blinder as at six minutes ahead of my predicted time I must at least have 'split the difference'.


The Bike - 5:33:24
With what I thought would be my weakest discipline done and dusted I set off on the bike in 140th place overall, and with a top 50 the target, had some serious work to do. Despite that, and the desire to take at least ten minutes off last year's 5:41, I knew that the fastest Ironman bike split is built on the foundations of a steady first couple of hours. In my head I had split the course into three sections - The start to Famara (2:15 and easy), Famara to the top of Mirador (1:45 of steady work) and then Mirador to the finish (1:30 of hard work) and knowing it like the back of my hand felt comfortable in familiar surroundings from the start. For the first 20 miles my left leg was really struggling to keep up with my right, it just felt weak and despite my heart rate being about right (aprox 145) and my perceived pace feeling good, as I moved up the places I was a little worried. You can only play the cards you're dealt though and I just kept saying to myself that it was probably stiff from the swim and would not doubt loosen up as the race went on. I also had to stay on top of those negative feelings associated with the odd athlete flying past like I was stood still... they're either better than you or going too fast, neither of which are reasons to 'react' so early into such a long race. With the words of Ryan Hall ringing in my ears I repeated out loud (a sign of madness I know) that I 'must have faith in my ability and stick to the plan'. It was nice to see some familiar faces and as Jim Peet went by and I in turn went past Rob Quantrell the brief moments of positive encouragement between us really helped to keep the spirits high and the mind focused... although Rob's contents of 'go on Tom, kill it!' probably lifted my heart rate a little high for a while ;) Coming through Tinajo at about mile 40 I once again benefitted from the shouts of H, Mum and Ray, which seemed to give my left leg a good shot of aneasthetic. Just 20 minutes later I was beginning the second 'section' of the bike... climbing from Famara to Haria and starting to feel really great. 


You can't win the race over the next 20 miles but you can certainly loose it if you succumb to temptation and hammer the hills. By this time though I was starting to feel great and making solid progress up through Teguise. I'd caught last years female winner Bella Bayliss at around 60 miles, which at around 20 miles earlier than last year was a great boost prior to the final proper climb up to Mirador. The views from the top were, as always, amazing and as the highest point on the course disappeared into background I got myself ready for the final push home. At about 87 miles you make a right turn at Tahiche for a 5k climb to Teguise and then with all the tough stuff behind you and a tail wind home if you've paced it well then it's 'happy days' until the run. I knew mum, Ray and H would be at this roundabout and had been looking forward to seeing them for a while. As always their shouts spurred me on and seconds later I caught up with Rich Howarth... he told me he'd swum 50 minutes and he's a strong cyclist so I knew I must be going well to have made up over eight minutes. As we climbed up to Teguise I'd never felt so good 90 miles into and Ironman bike, had avoided pushing it for any of the ride and with my biggest ever bike training volume in the bank I was confident that I'd have no problem unleashing my best ever run form. Just coming into Teguise, the final proper climb was done, a guy by the side of the rode shouted that I was in 80th overall and with 60 places taken on the bike a top 50 was looking good...


Ironman's a funny thing though and no sooner had I practically awarded myself the Kona slot than my legs blew into a thousand pieces... Rich, who I'd caught so quickly just 15 minutes earlier, edged further and further away and with absolutely nothing to give all I could do was try and keep the pedals turning and limit any damage. Over the next ten miles I lost 30 places but knowing that the final ten were mostly downhill just kept pushing and pushing, if I could just get over the top then just maybe I could turn things round before the run. It's so important to stay positive at times like this, not to panic and just try to get through the low patch... Four caffeinated Power Bar gels and ten fast downhill miles later and it was time to strap on my running shoes and get stuck in to the final three and a bit hours of a five year journey...


The Run
Setting off on the run I knew it was all to play for, had you said at the beginning of this year's training that I'd be starting the run with a great chance of qualifying I'd have been over the moon. I've run so well recently and with vivid memories of cruising round the London Marathon at 6:40 per mile just four weeks earlier I knew I had it in me to smash my Ironman marathon pb of 3:24. The run course was different this year and consisted of an out and back, 1 x 18.7km and 2 x 11.9km - I'd measured an early mile of the run course during race week so that I could get some early feedback and clocking just under 7:20 for the first time through I was definitely pushing it but also feeling strong and certainly capable of holding the effort level. This year has been all about putting it out there, I could of course have played it a little safer but I did that in Switzerland last year and missed by three minutes, and I fully expected Kona to require well under ten hours... 3:15 would give me 9:56 so set off like I meant business. Getting to the first turn at around 9km I was still feeling good, a few people had gone past but a few had come back and even then I was still super confident that I'd survived the blip on the bike and was back in control. 

About half-way back to PDC my entire race changed in seconds, coming into an aid station I necked a cup of Coke and almost instantly suffered the worst stomach cramps I've ever had. Having never really struggled to take energy on during Ironman events I wasn't too concerned... 'just run through it' I thought, confident that within a few hundred metres I'd be back in the game. It just got worse and worse though and by the time I got to the next aid station I found myself doubled over and struggling to even stand up straight. In what seemed like a matter of minutes I'd gone from running sub 7:30 per mile and looking forward to flying through the final 25km to struggling just to keep running and wondering how or even if I was going to survive the rest of the marathon. 

Setting off on the first of the two 11.9km sections I knew that Kona was disappearing from right in front of me. Just moments ago I'd felt I had one foot on the plane, yet here I was completely helpless as athlete after athlete slowly went by and with every '35-39' written on their race number my five year dream faded a little more and a little more. At this point I really started to struggle mentally, as I thought about all the work I'd put in... the early mornings, the freezing cold bike rides and the hours of painful physio... then my thoughts moved on to what I'd be doing for the rest of the year now Hawaii was not going to happen. Tears started to roll down my face and with well over ten miles left to run I was about as low as I've been in a race. Eventually though my mind turned to an email I'd had from friend and top British Ironman athlete Mark Stenning, 'keep your emotions in check' he'd written, now it probably wasn't intended for a moment like this but it was just what I needed... with 10km left in my final ever official Ironman event (at least I knew that now) I wasn't about to go out with a wimper and pulling myself together I tried to work each gap between aid stations... the reward to myself being that when I got to each one I could come to a complete stop and dive into the sponges, drinks, gels and support.

As the finish got closer and closer I challenged myself to run my measured mile as fast as I possibly could, at the aid station before it I took an extra 30 seconds, dusted myself down and set off for the finish (the end of the mile was only about 400 yards from the line). What felt like six minute mile pace and took the same effort as five minute mile pace actually saw me cover the 1,609 metres in eight minutes flat. I'd not given up and with 100 yards to go allowed myself a big smile, I may have missed the plane to Kona but from the start of training to the end of the race I'd absolutely truly given it everything I possible could. Something that five years ago I could never have dreamed of.

The Finish Line

The finish chute of my first ever Ironman triathlon, way back in Austria 2006, was probably the most amazing moment of my life. It marked the achievement of something that deep down I'd never believed possible and was the culmination what was at that time the hardest training I'd ever done by quite some way. Helen, my mum & Ray and loads of friends had come to support and seeing as without them I would never have even got to the start line let alone survived the race I'd spent what seemed like hours taking in the moment, dishing out the high-fives and generally celebrating. Yes it cost me a load of time but it was absolutely worth every second. 

This year I really wanted to do the same, and once I realised that Hawaii was pretty much over that desire became even stronger. I wasn't about to cross my final Ironman finishing line without giving out a little love... in the back of my mind though I had Switzerland '07 reminding me that in the two minutes that I messed around with my Dad and H just yards from the line six athletes from my age group had gone by... it hadn't cost me a slot but it certainly could have done. As much as I'd written off my chances in this race, the idea of going through everything that I have only to be a gentleman and let someone past me and straight 'onto the plane' didn't bare thinking about. Turning to look back as I hit the blue carpet there was no-one remotely in sight... the smile in picture two and the expression in picture three sum up my race pretty well I think ;)

The End
So, what started in Lanzarote in May 2005 and took me on the most amazing five year journey, finished in Lanzarote in May 2010. I'll never actually get to race in Kona and I'm finding that a little harder to deal with than I thought, but I'll save the reflection for a future post. Thanks so much for all your help and support along the way... but most of all I'd really like to thank my beautiful wife. With H I would never have been brave enough to dream the dreams nor had the support with which to live them.

See you next week,

T x

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Close... but no cigar...

Well.... apologies for not posting at least a little something last Sunday. We didn't land back in the UK until very late on Monday night / Tuesday morning and since then I've been just about the busiest I've ever been with three days in a row of no more than four hours sleep and so much to do from the moment I wake up till the moment I fall into bed about 20 hours later. It's mostly been exciting stuff, Martin and I have just delivered a great presentation on Marathon Talk to the European Sponsorship Association at the BOA, so we're largely talking good busy... I am having to keep my eyes open with match sticks though and am focusing on getting through the next 36 hours before a lovely long weekend chilling out with my amazing wife :)

Thanks so much for all your belief and positive comments over the build up to Lanzarote, during the race, and then over the days since I crossed the line. At points I've been moved to tears by the sheer weight of support... I must have received messages from 150+ people and it's been truly life changing, and I don't say that lightly! The thing is, I'm doing nothing that millions of other people don't do every single day, it's just that I talk about it... it seems silly to me then that I should receive so much benefit when others are facing up to the same challenges with little or no recognition or support. I've got my thinking cap on and am dreaming up ways to spread all that positive energy around a bit... you'll have to leave that with me for a while though ;)

I'll leave my final, Ironman race report to the weekend but I'll briefly answer the two most common questions now...

1) Is it REALLY your final official Ironman?

Definitely - 100%! I'm entered in The Outlaw on the 8th of August and will be looking to bow out of triathlon in style. Nottingham rather than Kona will be the final destination of this wonderful journey.

2) How do you feel about it?

Actually, a lot worse than I thought I would. Don't get me wrong, I'm managing to keep things in perspective and feel truly privileged to have had the opportunity to complete six Ironman events... and am really proud to be able to look back and honestly say I couldn't have given even one more heart beat of effort to the five year journey. It really is only a game and there are FAR more important things in life. The fact that I'm unlikely to ever reach the start line of the most iconic triathlon in the World leaves me feeling really sad though, and the added disappointment that a 3.31 run would have done the job is so disappointing.

Anyway, there you go... tune in next week for the gory details of my Lanzarote roller-coaster,

T

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Race week...

Managed to steal a couple of minutes to post a quick blog entry... will try and post something later this week but may not get the chance so this could be the final entry till the race.

Don't forget you can follow us via twitter.com/tomstraining every single day (don't need to be a Twitter user).

We had a remarkably trouble free journey over here and have settled straight into the chilled out Lanzarote lifestyle. I rode the northern end of the bike course on Sunday, went for a nice 10k run with H yesterday and swam a lap of the swim course this morning. I do still feel tired, particularly in the legs but with every single day things are getting better and I'm actually starting to feel a little confident!

This evening Mart and I will be recording Marathon Talk over Skype and we have a great interview with American running sensation Ryan Hall so don't forget to tune in on Wednesday. Tomorrow it's race prep day with a lap of the swim at the same time as race start, breakfast, a quick ride of the first and last few miles of the bike and then a few miles of the run course in the heat of the day. Then at 3pm it's massage time and feet up. Thursday will be a complete rest day and be spent mostly at La Santa for registration and the race briefing and then Friday see's back racking and an early night... not! Saturday... well, we'll see about that ;)

As for my race plans... I need to stay positive in the swim, with no idea of how fast you're swimming or what position you;re in it's easy to let the negative feelings creep in. It will be what it will be and I'll need to stay positive and swim smart... high cadence to reduce the power needed per stroke, plenty of hanging on peoples feet and a focus on technique technique technique. From then on I'll be putting everything absolutely on the line, if you're following me on the internet please don't get excited until you see a finish time, I will be on the limit all the way and holding nothing back... the potential for mid-race detonation is very real.

I felt that throughout the training for and racing at Ironman Switzerland I was playing the numbers game and doing just enough to get my sub 9.30 and qualify... 9.28 did happen but qualifying didn't (missed by three mins) and despite a massive PB it was probably the worst I've felt about a performance in a long time! As you know, this year has never been about just getting to the start line or doing 'enough'... it's been about giving absolutely everything for one final time, laying all my cards on the table and seeing where they fall. I can honestly say that I couldn't have given even one more heartbeat to my training for Ironman Lanzarote, I've been right to the edge and amazed myself not to have fallen over it, I really have taken myself to the brink, furtther than I ever thought possible and I have no interest in going through those dark winter days again.. this then is it. Whatever happens on Saturday I will invest every available drop of effort into the 140.6 miles and whatever my time is, whether I qualify or not and even if I don't finish I'll know that I really truly gave it everything...

Speak soon,

T

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Everything... nearly...


First of all, apologies for the delay in getting this week's blog post published, our home internet went down just before the weekend and BT only got round to fixing it late last night...

Well, with tonight's Pool Triangle 20k time trial the final challenging session left before I toe the line in Lanzarote, what could be my final ever Ironman training block is pretty much over. For the last 14 and a bit weeks my goal has been to get to this stage feeling like I've given it absolutely everything possible and therefore maximise my chances of taking this journey to it's intended final journey... Kona. People often say that 'you always feel like you could have done a bit more', well I certainly don't! The last four months have been by far the most challenging of my life, with low's like I've never known and many many times when not only have I felt like throwing in the towel but I have actually chucked it all in. Time and time again I've managed to talk myself round, get back in the saddle, and push on for just 'one more time'. Suddenly, I find myself just ten days from the greatest challenge of my life and yes, I absolutely, positively could not have given even one more heart beat.

This Sunday I had scheduled my final big session, every year I do what I like to call my 'mega-brick' - a close to Iron distance ride followed by a close to Ironman pace 20 mile run - and despite the odd (supportive) suggestion to save it for the race, it had been written in stone ever since the same session got the better of me prior to last year's Lanzarote race. Sometimes you need to do something just for yourself, despite the fact that it might not be the best thing to do... I realise that it was only two weeks after the London Marathon and more importantly less than two weeks (just) before Lanzarote... but my goal this year has never been about simply getting to the start line and if I was going to feel like I'd truly given it everything then this session had to at least been attempted.

The bike is 'only' 83 miles but as six laps of a super hilly loop (see below) with a total ascent of around 1,600 feet per lap i.e. close to 10,000 feet total and several climbs per lap that require a near max effort just to reach the top I'd suggest that it's at least a tough a route as Lanzarote itself. Last year I'd started off well but blown to pieces after four of the six laps, finishing in with a ride time of five hours and 12 minutes... this year was a different story though with laps of 47, 48, 48, 50, 50, and 50 minutes bringing me home in under five hours and full of confidence.

Starting out on the run (half mile out and back up the nice and flat Castley Lane) I was intent to match the previous five hours but within just a few hundred metres I knew I was in trouble. I managed to fall into 7.10-7.20 per mile pretty comfortably and my legs felt great... my body was saying otherwise though and a combination of a really bad stitch, severe muscle pain in my neck and an overwhelming desire to lie down and go to sleep (what the?) suddenly took me back to Germany 08 and the suffering that was 42.2 miserable kilometres. By mile five it was clear that I was in trouble and, despite opinions to the contrary, I'm actually quite sensible and knew then that a) it would only get worse and b) if I tried to push on not only could it do some serious damage but my whole five year journey might end there and then. So, I turned down the engines and jogged it in to mile ten where I drew a line under my training for Lanzarote 2010.

On reflection? I'm really pleased with myself for attempting the session, no-one ever achieved anything through a lack of belief and commitment. I truly believe that once you have chosen a path you have to believe in that choice with 100% conviction, at the same time however there may come a point where that choice needs to be revised in order to protect the main objective. Had this been four or more weeks from my A race I may well have pushed on but with just 13 days between then and Lanzarote in which to drag myself into 'all-time' condition it was clear to me that I had to stop. Besides, I know that my running is better than it has ever been with 6:40 per mile in London feeling super comfortable just two weeks ago. Sometimes it just isn't there and you just have to be thankful that it wasn't during the main event, I will however take some great lessons through to the race...

1) I'll reduce the amount of energy I get from bars and increase the number of gels as the stitch problem may well have been related.
2) I'll hit the caffeine from about four hours into the bike and then continue through the run.
3) I'll work hard on upper back and neck mobility over the next ten days as that stiffness proved a serious limiter once I tried to stand up straight and run tall.
4) I'll concentrate on good quality sleep and rest (obvious really) from now on as tiredness clearly played a part in my struggles on the run.
5) To ride sub five hours on that course in full winter gear (it was freezing) shows that I'm in the best bike form of my life so have faith and be brave - I know I can run.

So, that's about it... tonight's my final hit-out with a crack at the Pool Triangle and then we're off to Lanzarote on Saturday (Icelandic volcano permitting).

I'll be updating from Lanza every day via my twitter feed (twitter.com/tomstraining) and my Facebook account (come and say hi here) and although you should be able to follow the race via Ironman.com I would suggest that H's Facebook and Twitter updates from my iphone will provide the best race-day info.

Next week, I'll blog from Lanza, although it might be a little late and then tune in on Sunday the 23rd for what may or may not be the last ever entry to what has been a wonderful adventure...

In ten days we'll know,

T

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

I've seen the light...


In fact, not only have seen the light… I can almost touch it!

This morning I enjoyed a really great five hour ride, in the Dales, with my good mate and cycling sensation Guy Willard. We were both after a pretty easy time so the conversation flowed all the way round and the warm Yorkshire sun did it’s best to keep us company and the dark clouds at bay. As we dropped down into Burnsall (home of the finest flapjacks in the world via the subject of today’s photo – credit to Guy) the conversation turned to this blog and thoughts around how it’s documented what has been a pretty special journey. If there’s one thing that I feel we perhaps haven’t captured as vividly as I would have liked it’s the many low points which have been surprisingly frequent on the road to achieving our athletic dreams… a road which has so often taken us outside of anything remotely resembling a comfort zone.

Whenever I’ve been in the midst of these dark times the last thing on my mind has been to tell the world… partly because I don’t want people to think I’m looking for some kind of sympathy or attention, but largely because, at the time, I don’t particularly feel like writing about it. Quite often I’ve sat there deep in thought, wondering why I seem so determined to take myself to the edge of sanity again and again... the idea of capturing the moment through a quick video diary has flashed through my mind… then quickly passed out the other ear, only to re-surface at a later date when all is once again well in the world and the moment has been lost forever.

Why do I feel that it’s so important to get my somewhat depressing message across? The thing is, as with lots of difficult and challenging times in life, we so often sweep the tough stuff under the carpet in order to paint a rosy picture of how amazing everything is. Now, I’m all for a little positivity from time to time but it’s a fact of life that pretty much anyone who has ever achieved something special has equally been through periods of doubt and despair. In fact, I’d go as far as suggesting that there would be a strong relationship between achievement and ‘challenge’… delve deep enough into the history of your most inspirational heroes and I’ll bet you anything that they’ve experienced lows that you or I could only dream of.  The problem if we don’t talk about these times in our lives is that when we find ourselves in the depths of despair we feel like it’s only us, it’s something we’re doing wrong and that the best course of action would probably be to give up on our ‘unrealistic’ dreams… after all,  Kelly Holmes, Steve Redgrave or Paula Radcliffe never had a bad day … right?

So, I have two challenges for you, assuming you’ve set yourself the target of achieving something amazing (note: anything – it’s your dream not mine – but if you do one thing in life, do something amazing)… when the going gets tough and you feel like throwing in the towel tell as many people as you think will listen, let them know that it’s completely normal, you’re not doing anything wrong and that with the right support and positive re-enforcement you WILL get there. Secondly, if someone confides in you with their own trials and tribulations then believe in them, support them and take inspiration from another person putting themselves on the line and challenging their dreams.

Life… if it was easy they’d all be doing it ;)

T

p.s. Thirteen of the sixteen weeks down and I’m still bang on target with 208 hours deposited in the cycling bank. With three weeks to go I’ve got through the two weeks either side of the marathon, which I knew would be hardest, and only have the small matter of my traditional ‘mega-brick’ (five hour hilly ride followed by a 20 mile run) next Sunday (9th May) before we're off for some fun in the sun. The last three weeks have been by far the most challenging of my life and contained the appropriate number of ‘lows’ but with just one blog left before landing in Lanza… I just may have seen the light ;)

Monday, 26 April 2010

Two down... one to go...

I’m writing this whilst we cruise along the M1 northbound at 10.30pm on Sunday night on our way home from the London Marathon. With 80 miles to go we popped into the services for a celebratory Burger King to swap drivers and with 27 days to go until the most important race of my life I’ll need to reign in my taste for junk food for the next four weeks.

Twelve weeks ago, with my motivation at an all time low and my energy levels following suit, I spent some time seriously contemplating an early retirement from my Ironman journey. My self-imposed conditions for giving it one last shot on the 22nd of May were that I would set myself a training schedule which I believed would put me in a position to qualify for Hawaii in Lanzarote next month. My only motivation with regards taking to the Canarian start line is to qualify for Kona and as such there can be no half measures, either in training or racing. I’ve not considered the demands of the 16 week schedule on my body, and whether or not I would be able to survive… I simply set myself what I believe is required, and anything less would simply remove any chance I have of achieving my ultimate (and only) goal. With 12 of the 16 weeks down I can definitely say it is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, by quite some way, and with four weeks to go I’m still not convinced I’ll make it to the start line. Nevertheless, so far so good and with my two main training goals / fitness markers achieved I believe that with 27 days to go I’m still in the game.

With swimming reduced to a bare minimum due to whatever the mystery injury is that I’m suffering from (long story) it’s up the my bike and run to do the talking. So, that meant two serious training / racing goals in the build up to Lanza… The Circuit of the Dales 50 mile super hilly TT (in it’s 50+ year history only two people have been under two hours on the full course, and Chris Boardman wasn’t one of them!) and The Virgin London Marathon.

The former saw me pb by around ten minutes with 2:21 and proved that my 16 weekly bike hours is doing the trick on two wheels, confirming my thoughts that having started 2010 in the worst bike form of my life I’d found the complete opposite by early April. The latter would be my chance to do the same for my running and suggest that my target 3.10 run split in Lanza really is possible…

So…

It had been a far from ideal build-up to today’s race, overtime on the podcast along with a return to teaching at the University found me needing solid 20+ hour days (literally) to fit in my 16 hours bike hours. Arriving in London I was pretty much the most fatigued / tired / knackered I’ve ever been, my legs felt about as close to lead as I could imagine and thoughts of running a ‘comfortable’ marathon, let alone in under three hours, seemed somewhat of a pipe dream. Still, if I’m going to run 3.10 in Lanzarote then I need to be in sub-2.50 marathon shape, so today’s target of 2.55-2.59 would need to be comfortable… Despite my default confidence, having seemingly emptied my legs over the first part of this week I was somewhat concerned that they wouldn’t have the strength required to hold 6.45 per mile round the streets of London for nearly three hours. Because of this I tried to stuff in a little extra food and drink over the last few days in the hope that they would last the distance… which was nearly my undoing, as despite my legs feeling great from start to finish and feeling like I had an extra gear right through miles 1-26 I found myself needing two rather long wee stops and an even longer ‘number two’ stop, as well as a ten mile fight with the ‘gingerbread men’ (check out Tony’s Trials on Marathon Talk if you don’t know what that means) in the second half of the race. (Sorry R & K but those jelly babies would almost certainly have pushed me over the edge!).

Anyway, here are my 5k splits (corrected to remove toilet breaks)…

20:29, 20:46, 20:53 (+30 sec stop), 21:02, 20:37 (+30 sec stop), 20:37, 20:35 (+60 sec stop), 20:40 & then 20:29 pace for the final 2.2k.

All achieved with the feeling that if required I could have dropped any one of them under 20 minutes if I’d wanted to. A finish time of 2:56:39 (including toilet stops) is bang on 6.45 per mile and at the effort level that it took I’m pretty confident that with 27 days to go I am most definitely still in the game ;)

There’s many a slip from cup to lip though and with four weeks until Lanza there are plenty of hard training sessions and key workouts left to bank before I attempt a short and steep taper into the defining moment of my Iron journey. In six days time I’ll be on the start line of the Yorkshire Cycling Federation 25 mile time-trial champs, the second fastest marathon of my 14 or so 26 mile efforts, just six days prior, will not be accepted as a legitimate reason for a sub-par performance.

With my swimming looking like it will cost me at least five minutes over my Kona rivals and a sub ten hour performance likely to be required, over perhaps the hardest Ironman course in the world, nothing less than ‘everything’ will do the job. I’m sure that a few of you reading this will be thinking that I’m pushing it too hard and doing too much… my answer to that is I’m doing what is required to achieve my goal, nothing more and nothing less. Yes, I may not make the start line, but that isn’t my goal.

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift”
                                    - Pre

See you next week,

Tom

26.2… This chapter ends here…

So, with Paris marathon still in my legs and very little running in the two week gap my body had to recover, my expectations were swaying in the breeze of uncertainty.

I’m surprised to report that I was only two minutes slower than Paris and my legs certainly aren’t as trashed as they were then. So I have a 3:29 (from Paris) and a 3:31 (today) in the space of two weeks, that’s not bad going is it J

I thought a lot (well that’s a lie, about two weeks actually) about how I was going to approach today. Was I going to just run round with friends and enjoy the ride or was I going to try for a pb? I waited until Saturday to decide and not surprisingly I decided to give it a go BUT (the plan) if it ever got too much for my poor legs then was to back it off. And that’s what I did. I went for sub 3:20 (my pb) and felt great but at mile 16 I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sustain the pace without imploding into a tiny million bazillion pieces …and going through hell wasn’t on my day’s itinerary. I slowed down and instead enjoyed the amazing atmosphere, weather and general pain that comes with 26.2miles… my last 26.2miles for quite a while.

Here endeth a rather HUGE chapter of my life in the athletic world. Last year saw the end of Ironman and crossing the line today in front of the Queen’s house (with a huge smile on my face) draws a line under double run days and 5am starts. I’d love to write something really poignant about how that feels but to be honest it hasn’t quite sunk in yet. With sore legs and a tired body I still feel like an athlete, will that change the week after next? Who knows? How do you make the transition from athlete to normal person? I’m hoping the stork will come and visit us after Tom’s done Lanza and the new chapter in our life will begin. Until then I need to have a rest. I will, of course, keep running, just not as emphatically as I have done. parkrun will play a large part in keeping me sane… thank you parkrun for existing!

Well done to all of you who ran today (especially Tom, read his blog) I can’t wait to watch him in Lanza, it’s going to be a special day! My permanent source of love and inspiration, you’re AMAZING.

To Kay for her incredible marathon journey and HUGE pb, you’re inspirational girl x

To Chris Jones who gives his all, it’s there for you Chris, well done x

To Michael Jameson, I hope you enjoyed it out there Mike x

To Paul Gaile, a pb and super speedy, amazing x

To Dave McGuire, you always love the day Dave, and always have a smile, love your enthusiasm, great time x

To Tony & Ruth (of marathontalk.com’s Tony’ Trials) officially the fastest baby to run a marathon! x

To the rest of the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research team, well done x

To Nicky who has already run 6 marathons this year!!!

And to Mel's Dad who ran 3:21 and had suffered bad cramp!! Brilliant time x

And to all I’ve forgotten (apologies) but well done x

And then of course, thanks to all who came to support and to all who sent their love and support. Seeing your little faces willing me on was such a boost. Thanks for the jelly baby offer Kirstie, it was great seeing you and Mr Hami (twice).

If you haven’t done London Marathon yet it’s a must. Honestly, it’s one of the most amazing marathon experiences, ever.

I’m not sure if I’ll keep my part of the blog going yet. It could be a very boring read, but thanks to you all for every word, every piece of advice and every inspiration for the past five years.

Definitely time to sign off before I cry Gwyneth Paltrow style.

H x



Sunday, 18 April 2010

Team Williams....


Joint blog this week, we're having a time issue (or lack of it...)

I can sum my epic week of life in the running world up in one sentence...

'This week I have been a non running, cake eating, marathon recovering, almost normal person.'

The nice thing about recovering from a marathon is that for the first week your legs and body ache enough to be incapable of anything other than rest (unless you're Russel Gardham and you PB at parkrun by quite some way!!!) I've actually enjoyed not double day running. I've been able to lie in, eat what I've wanted and had more time than I know what to do with when I've not been running, showering from running, eating after running or sleeping because of running. All very unusual.

However...

A whole week of that has left me feeling, lazy, unhealthy and in need of some fruit! You long term blog readers will know I have no moderation button. I'm training or I'm definitely not training. I'm eating well or I'm eating anything with no nutritional value whatsoever etc. This week has been no different. I've opted out of the training world and into the cake eating world. As of tomorrow training will resume and cake eating will stop...on or off...simples!

Oh and yes... the memory of those painful few miles last Sunday have already been wiped from my memory bank which means that I have decided I will run London, sod it! Just don't expect me to win ;)

So that's enough about me, what's Tom done this week.

16 x 16 appears to have caught him between the devil and the deep blue sea. It's keeping him from going under (mentally) but at the same time it's proving to be very difficult (time wise). Any time spent away from home prevents those hours from being ticked off. Getting stuck in Bournemouth due to this volcanic ash episode has not helped at all. And so today, instead of racing Skipton triathlon he got up and rode from 6am until 3pm. Yup, that's right, 9 Yorkshire hours in the saddle. Tom's incredibly fit at the moment and very strong but hitting that 16 x 16 is a true test and one I'm not sure I could have stuck to. Come Lanzarote he is going to be so strong both physically and mentally, these long days in the saddle will pay him back I'm sure.

As for the swimming... I'm pleased to say that in our #winterswim finale (a 10km relay) Tom did the distance, something we weren't sure would happen. Team Williams which comprised of Tom and ...myself had 5km each to do. If you were a betting man you wouldn't have even looked at us. I haven't swum for over 4mths and Tom...well, you know his swimming story.
Alternating 25 x 200's was how we decided we would break it down. 2hrs and 49mins later and we were the proud owners of sore arms but at least Tom had 5km under his belt. His arms certainly not pain free and no better than normal but he got through it. His epic Iron journey continues...watch this space.

Well done to all of those who were racing today, it was great to come along to Skipton and give you all a shout. Some great races had by you all on what is for many the first tri of the season. Have some cake (if only to stop me eating it!)

It's 9pm which means its bedtime. I'm double running tomorrow...yipeeeee!!!!! And Tom...he'll be on his bike!
Laters.

H & T x

P.s Bradford's parkrun (see above pic) is now up and running and it's a beautiful course so if you're in the area on a Saturday morning go and play :)

Monday, 12 April 2010

Taking a gamble...


So, here you all were reading my preparations for the London Marathon and out of nowhere (and in secret) I travelled to Paris on my own on Friday and today I ran the Paris Marathon! That's me & Russ at the end.

Why?

Well, two weeks ago I tapered for and ran Wilmslow Half Marathon in preparation for London. I was expecting to run really well especially after my result in Silverstone at the end of a super hard week and no taper. Wilmslow didn't quite go to plan (easy mileage week and a taper) and yet I wasn't really sure why...

... until a day later and it all clicked into place. It was the 'wrong time of the month'. And then Tom reminded me London would fall exactly one month later.

So... I had two options... Take a chance and run London OR look for a marathon that fell two weeks earlier.

The thing is I'm unfortunate to have had many of my 'A' races ruined by the joys of my monthly cycle. Increased lethargy, really heavy legs and an inability to push myself have left me feeling disappointed at many of my races.

So knowing my performance at London was almost certainly going to be hampered it was time to look at my options. I could of course run London, feel crap, waste the endless hours and miles of effort for a result I could practically predict before I even start... OR take my chances.

I made a phone call to a very good friend with amazing connections in the business world of sport (8 days before Paris which was full & closed) and before I knew it he had me a place (thanks James) and I had eight days to taper for it (gamble number 2).

I finished my 70 mile week on Sunday, and then had Monday, Wednesday and Friday as rest days, ticking over on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to keep my legs and mind at ease.

I went off at 3:20 pace feeling great (getting to half way on target). The bad man came at about mile 19, he stole my ability to run, and I was thankful to cross the line in 3:29.

I had to do it and it was a gamble, a gamble I'm really pleased I did. I took a chance, I didn't pb but I'm proud of myself for trying anyway.

My mate Russ who I've been long running with in Leeds (he always training for Paris, me always training for London!!) ran really well getting a huge pb and running 3:18, great work Russ :-) thanks for your company, hope your return journey wasn't a nightmare.

So that's why I ran Paris.

Unfortunately because it was so last minute and Tom was also racing, he couldn't come. One thing I do know is he's an amazing influence on me. Without him and his outlook on life I would never have had the confidence to travel to Paris on my own and run this marathon. So a million heartfelt thank you's go to my ever supportive amazing (and speedy - read his blog) husband xxx

And a huge thanks to Brian (Tom's pa) for sorting my accommodation out (I stayed with his good friends Mike & Robin) who were lovely.

My legs are marathon smashed and it's too soon to decide whether I'll run London (for pure fun, not for time) or not. I'm writing this on the flight on my way home and am more than ready for bed.

Hope you've all had an amazing weekend :)

H x

Ma femme est une legende...


This week it's (nearly) all about my amazing wife, who jetted off to France under the proverbial cover of darkness on Friday morning for a covert mission to take on the mighty Paris marathon. Her blog entry is likely to be infinitely more interesting than mine so I'll let her fill you in on the details, but just thought I'd start this short blog entry by saying how amazingly proud of her I was as she blagged a last minute entry and set off to take on the wonderful challenge of racing 26.2 miles. 


This week has been a real roller-coaster on my journey to Lanzarote on May the 22nd. I started on the wrong foot with FAR too much chocolate on Sunday and Monday, leaving me feeling sick as a dog and almost devoid of any motivation and about as far from the athlete that I so desire to be. It's amazing how poor food choices can really affect my mood, but they do, and frustratingly I have a great habit of adding to the problem by comfort eating and simply adding to the issue. Fortunately I also seem quite good at chucking in a couple of hard sessions and jump starting myself back into gear... this week then I had a 130 mile ride scheduled for Tuesday, a hard 22 mile run for Thursday and the Circuit of the Dales hilly (very - much more vertical ascent than Ironman Austria in less than half the distance). The 130 was always planned as an easy ride and I've never struggled with distance, but Thursday and today were key sessions in the build up to Lanzarote... both of which I've done for the last three or four years and so would therefore provide some great feedback...


To keep this short I'll just drop in the stats...


22 Mile hilly run including the Leeds Half Marathon Route...


2007 - 2:32:59
2008 - 2:33:10
2009 - 2:38:55
2010 - 2:30:25


Circuit of the Dales hilly 50


2006 - 2:38:22
2007 - 2:30:31 (short course)
2008 - 2:32:55
2009 - DNS
2010 - 2:21:03


So, with four good training weeks (and they will be good, believe me) and a two week taper... the swingometer is tilting slightly toward Hawaii ;)


T


p.s. the first rule about swimming is that we don't talk about swimming!