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...


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...


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,