Thursday, 1 January 2015

2014 - Triathlon in the back seat

2014 - Triathlon in the back seat

Rewind back 16 months and after completing my second 70.3 in 2013 (well Vitruvian so slightly shorter than a 70.3 - but the shorter distance is made up for in ascents) in a respectable time of 5:14 everything was on track to proceed to my main target - Ironman Wales in 2014.  After spending several months in late Summer '13 talking my training partner into also signing up for IM Wales, one day he casually texted me to say he'd signed and paid up - however I had to break the slightly uncomfortable news that we were expecting a baby so I would be deferring a year to 2015.  Whilst my wife was keen for me to do it, I couldn't do it on minimal training around a new born baby as a) for me its about giving it my best shot rather than ticking a box b) i might die trying!!!  So after some bad planning re timings my wife and i welcomed a 2nd May baby into the world - perfect timings for the wife with a summer holiday (sorry…summer maternity leave) - but for the triathlon season the timings couldn't be worse.

Through spring and early summer I began committing to work on my bike (32 miles a day) a few days a week- and thoroughly enjoyed it so built some good base miles.  I also attended a taster session at the Lee Valley velodrome which was amazing - i'll be going back for L2 and fully recommend it to anyone to try.  But then from June / July I was working away in York for 6 weeks - which meant that my weekends were taken with family time. So in summary this Summers been and gone with little to write home about apart from some decent runs in August with x2 top 12 places.  After that however training was quiet juggling working away a lot and helping with the 3 children, followed by a hamstring strain in Nov/Dec and 2 weeks of manful over christmas/NY - meaning that this years gone out with a whimper.  At a personal level it has been a great year for work, spending some quality time with the children and obviously welcoming a new beautiful addition to our family, but you are probably a triathlete reading this and don't really care about that side :)

So anyway as I move into 2015 it will be a busy, if not pretty daunting 7 months ahead - starting with a new expanded role at work starting from Monday also with a fair bit of business travel, then Ironman Bolton in july (plan was I'm Wales however we are away so can't do this so plumped for Bolton instead) and obviously a 7 month old and all that entails.  Thankfully my wife is 100% supportive of my triathlons (I go slightly crazy when I don't train!) which makes things easier.

My immediate goals are:

  1. Re-join a swimming Club - I left my local club in Jan 2014 after the coaching team informed me that they had to favour the clubs competitive Masters swimmers over others (so slower swimmers were being put in the faster lanes) despite the fact that I pay the same and train the same - if not harder.  Awkward!  May have to swallow my pride and return.
  2. Invest in some decent lights and start my bike commuting again.
  3. Get my hamstring 100% before starting to ramp my running miles up.
  4. Sign up for marathon / half IM asap - probably the swashbuckler
  5. Attend L2 session at lee Valley velodrome

So not the best blog i'm afraid but anyway thats off my chest, so onwards and upwards from here.

Wishing you all a happy new year and hope you achieve all your dreams in 2015.


Monday, 17 June 2013

The step up to middle distance

Last year I made a decision to take a step up to middle distance in ’13 as a new challenge to invigorate my training – and then decide whether to go back to OLY in ’14 or go long.  So in ’13 I have only signed up for 2 events – UK70.3 and Vitruvian.

Its fair to say I didn’t have a particularly great autumn – as I rarely seem to do – but in April I cycled from London to Paris for charity so this gave my cycling the much needed impetus for my training I needed.  I felt really strong on my return – and even after 3 weeks off with Scarlett fever -didn’t feel like I’d lost much of my new found cycling fitness.  The only disappointment was that after 10 years I finally had a new ride – a Felt F75 – however after a couple of short rides felt it was so different to my current bike it was too soon to risk it on the technical course in Wimbleball so went with my old one.

UK70.3, wimbleball, exmoor

I entered this as my first middle distance because a) its in the UK b) its renowned as the toughest half in the world so wanted to challenge myself.  The bike course with nearly 5,000ft of ascents was the biggest challenge – fortunately a couple of weeks before I rode the course with some guys who had raced it before and I would thoroughly advise doing this as it helped me enormously. 

I arrived at wimbleball early on Saturday for registration and the race briefing.  My first impressions were how professional the whole Ironman set up is – it is quite simply a slick, well oiled professional machine.  People may whinge at their prices to enter – but ultimately they are a commercial operation and they could have sold out this event twice over so if anything they are under priced?  

The whole Ironman ‘clean’ transition was new to me - It was strange making calls on what to wear for the following day and packing it into coloured bags to hang away the day before – so I erred on the side of caution and packed several options.  The race briefing was thorough and very detailed – which it needed to be as 1,100 out of 1,700 competitors were new to this distance.  Meanwhile outside the heavens were opening – an ominous sign.  The key message from the briefing was get your clothing right given the conditions.  Anyway will all transition bags packs and stored and my bike racked I headed off back to my hotel to rest up. 

Race Day 

Probably the most relaxed I’ve been pre race given everything was already sorted for transition in the bags – all I had to do was pump my tyres up, check them for stones etc; add the drinks bottles and get into my wetsuit.  Then we put all our warm kit into a white bag, handed it over and headed down to the lake.  The weather was overcast but still and no rain – not bad for the race.  My target was sub-6. 

Swim – 1.2Mi – 73rd in AG 

All the talk pre race was of the temperature, and on race day it was 13oC/14oC.  To be honest I have only done 1 open water swim this year but the temp felt fine.  It was the biggest field I have ever raced in with 1,100 in my wave (1) at 0700 followed by another 600 in wave 2 at 7:15.  However given the wide start it didn’t feel as crowded as some OLY races that I have done.  After a quick rendition of God Save the queen the horn went and we were off.  I settled into a rhythm quite quickly, and whilst my sighting was a little suspect felt like I was going well.  The first turn was quite tasty as it pretty much comes back on yourself so everyone was crowding together.  I carried on to buoy 2 and finally turned into the final straight.  However every time I looked up it didn’t seem to be getting any closer – the 3rd leg seemed to take ages.  My target was sub 38 so when I stood up and saw 36:11 on my Garmin I was pretty pleased.   

T1 – 7:58 

On exit I started running up the long steepish drag into T1, but was surprised to see most people walking?  I ran up and into the tent, grabbed my blue bag and ran into the main tent.  I emptied everything onto the floor.  I cramped slightly in my legs and a helper came and was an amazing help – reminding me to breath, asking what I did/didn’t need and packed it away.  I decided to go with my lightweight cycling gillet and some newly purchased arm warmers I bought the day before (that I had worn under my wetsuit) – rather than my heavy rain cycling jacket.  I also wore calf guards for the first time ever – mainly for the run.  I put my shoes on – rather than having them on my bike as normal – and ran out detouring via the portaloos – collecting my bike and off I went. 

Bike – 56Mi – 3:29:27 – 85th in AG 

I started out and knew the first couple of miles were subtly ascending so span my legs out at 90-95RPM.  Soon we were out onto the first loop and the pace picked up substantially – I was overtaking quite a few people but likewise some TT’rs were hammering past me.  What was noticeable was the amount of people dropping out with punctures – given the nature of the country lanes I guess it’s inevitable.  I also passed 1 guy who had come off his bike and they were calling in an ambulance.  Probably around half way round the course you get to the first of 3 steep climbs – and my strategy was to climb all 3 sitting down to save my ;legs  for the 2nd lap and run.  I survived those pretty well and at the top of the 3rd one was a big crowd of supporters with cow bells – they gave me a massive lift.  Soon I was out onto the 2nd lap and the drizzle on lap 1 had turned into heavy rain.  On the steep descent (no overtaking zone) I was near the bottom and saw a marshall rather close waving at me, I braked hard, locked up and almost came off veering into the other side of the road and missing a cone by inches.  A guy in front had obviously fallen off and was nursing his collarbone - again I heard an ambulance being called.  In light of the conditions I definitely eased off slightly from here – the roads had become really greasy.  The 3 climbs came and went fine and my legs were feeling fine, soon I was descending into T2.   I was hoping for around 3:15, I was nearer 3:30 but given the conditions I wasn’t too disappointed. 

T2 – 4:42 

I ran into T2, racked my bag, had another quick detour via the portaloos and into the marquee to collect my run bag.  A tip in the race briefing was to have a fresh 2nd pair of dry socks for the run and I was glad I’d listened.  Fresh socks on soaking wet feet were heavenly!  As were the 5 jelly babies I shoved in my mouth lol  Soon I was off onto the run course munching a banana – my watch was showing 4:20 so was comfortable I could go sub-6.  As a 1:21 half mara runner and someone whose running in triathlons tends to be similar to running ‘fresh’ I expected to be no worse than 1:40 – in hindsight this was probably where my pre-race research had a gap given only 4 people in my AG broke 1:30… 

Run – 13.1Mi – 1:54:20 – 82nd in AG 

‘A relatively flat run course with 1 steep ascent mostly on tarmac’ was how someone described it to me.  I started off running well – c.7 min km’s – although the course was less tarmac and more cross country deep mud and tracks.   Soon we ran up ‘the’ ascent up the side of the hill, then a few mins later ran up another steep ascent and then a third – not really flattish.  The first lap seemed to drag out as I didn’t know where the turns were.  Towards the end of my first lap my pace had dropped to 8< min kms, and I was having serious stomach issues.  Early into lap 2 I dived into a portaloo on the course and according to Garmin (sorry if too much info lol) I  lost 6 mins in there.  However I felt it was time worth spending as it sorted my stomach out and my pace upped itself again.  However into the second half of the lap my pace dipped again, I was just willing myself onto the 3rd lap hoping the adrenaline would push me round that final lap.  I was determined however not to stop running at any point and didn’t.  I kept thinking of seeing my kids later - who hadn’t been able to come and watch - for fathers day and reciting ‘Hog Roast Roll’ that would be awaiting my finish.  Finally I was into the third lap and as I crossed the dam saw a mate Stu going the other way and we exchanged words of encouragement, I decided to try and catch him.  Whilst I didn’t catch up it kept me going and soon I was running into the finishing chute.  As the commentator called out my name I raised my arms up for the classic finish pose and some guy came crashing through my arms to break 6 hours (obvs in wave 2) lol  I didn’t have the emotion of when I finished the London triathlon – my first Olympic – I was just thoroughly exhausted and needed a drink.  Anyway job done in 6:13. 

Post-Race Reflections

Total 6:13:12
82nd in AG / 230 finishers
354th overall / 1,666 finishers 

I am delighted to have completed a half ironman and in particular that one.  Whilst I am disappointed not to break 6 everyone has spoken about how tough the conditions were yesterday and you can’t ignore that.  Compared to most triathlons my run and bike were in line – but I am normally in the top 10% of runners so I was well down on that.

I am clear what I need to do to have a strong Vitruvian

1.      Build more bricks into my training – to help my legs work better post a long bike ride

2.      Get used to my Felt which is considerably lighter and also using my aerobars which I didn’t really do at wimbleball given its technical nature

3.      Get some cycling TT’s under my belt – including a 50Mi if possible

4.      Look at my nutrition – which worked well in terms of energy but with 4 gels and a powerbar maybe it was too much resulting in my stomach issues on the run. 

5.      Recce the course thoroughly – although having done the Dambuster triathlon I know this area fairly well

So going forwards I will be training for Vitruvian, mainly hoping to get in some bike TT’s and running races, and I may also race the Vachery OLY triathlon in July too. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this (slightly) long blog :)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Laps a plenty in Brizzle

On Saturday I travelled down to register for the Bristol Olympic distance tri on Sunday. It was refreshing to take the time at registration to study the course, although I still couldn't make sense of it with numerous loops near to transition. I took on board the important bits - x2 swim laps, x4 bike laps & x2 running laps.

That evening I went with my racemate to Jamie's in Bristol looking forward to a bellyful of Linguinne Bolognaise. What I got was a portion somewhere between a starter and a main. After polishing it off & contemplated looking like a pig I opted the latter was preferable to lacking carbs - so ordered a starter of the same. The people at the table next to us burst out laughing!

I was off at 7am the next morning so after a 4.15 alarm, got myself sorted, ate a couple of porridge pots & set off for Bristol. I drove past 3 groups of hammered students on their way home - 1 girl who was struggling to stand with her mates trying to carry her lol. I arrived at 6 (when transition opened) & breezed into transition with no competitors around or many officials. I like to get there 90 mins early so by my standards that was cutting it fine. Then an official pointed out my bag was leaking - a 1L bottle of OJ had leaked in my bag soaking everything - great start! Anyway it was a long thin transition so Ingot my bearings, ran through the ins/outs & got ready including attaching the brick (well first generation c.1970's timing chip). My Polar watch had also packed in so I was racing without one, I thought I'd go with it but wasn't convinced.

My timing objectives prior were - Swim 27 / Bike 1:07 / Run 37 & Total time sub 2:20.

Swim - 1.5Km

The day before I counted 7 dead turns on a 2 lap course so wasn't expecting a fast swim. There would be no warmup, it was a case of the pre-race briefing, move to pontoon, wait for everyone, enter the water & start. I noticed it was quite a small wave of c. 60. Soon the horn went & we were off. Immediately I noticed how surprisingly choppy it was & realised it was the waves from the swimmers reflecting back off the wall immediately to our left & hitting us. It was like swimming in a washing machine. Soon I had clear water with a group following the wall to my left, a group to my right heading off course & me and a few others in the middle. I hit my rhythm quite quickly & wasn't long until turn 1 - I thought I was quite well placed but on turning around didn't seem many behind me. After turn 2 it was back to the middle to 2 buoys together - half the group headed to the right & round the first buoy, the other half headed through the middle & round the second buoy. At turn 4 into lap 2 I took a massive breaststroke kick to my jaw - ouch!! Overall I felt it was my best OW race swim of the season & as I came out felt good. it was a long run along the quayside into T1, I ignored the opportunity to stop & bag up my wetsuit as it would have cost valuable time.

As I hit T1 I saw there was still lots of bikes racked so must have done ok. Transition went like clockwork & gained 2 places in the long run out barefoot rather than slding about in shoes like the others. Another issue I have had previously in T1 is fiddling with putting gels into my tight trisuit rear pockets but started with them in place before the swim & saved time.

Bike - 40km

The bike was fast, flat & closed so was psyched up for a fast time. Last year in London I did a 1:04 & feel sharper this year. However when I set off my legs felt empty - I wondered if it was the after effects of the 3 peaks challenge the week before? Quickly though I overtook 2 people & 2 people went past me & pulled away. Whilst the course was flat(ish) there was a stiff breeze - I was curing not having a bike fit as I could feel the wind hitting my semi-upright chest. I was riding at an avg of 21mph, dropping to 19mph into the wind. The dead turn was interesting psychologically as you turned to fac the people chasing you. So the course was an out & back corse 4 times. Personally I felt It was a pretty uninspiring course, but wasn't helped as being in wave 1 I spent most of the ride on my own with no one to chase. I tried to straighten out the course through the bends but with one eye on my avg speed knew would be close to a 1:15 time. As I pulled through the final bend I got my feet out my shoes & hit the dismount well. T2 again went like clockwork - well unil the run out where 2 idiots stood chatting in my path despite several shouts from the marshals. Me hitting the second persons kit box as I ran past wasn't entirely accidental...

Run - 10km

Racing without a watch was something new to me & despite lots of people on twitter saying they all do it, it didn't work for me. I like chasing - be it people or a time. I felt like I was missing a part of me & was outside my comfort zone. I knew there was a big gap on the run to the next person but my legs felt like something had clicked & hit my pace quickly.

The course was a 2 lap out and back under the Clifton suspension bridge. Most of the run was along a muddy track & aft seeing a few people skirt around the puddles decided to go through them all. The run went well - aside from a lack of marshalling / directions on the turnaround after lap 1, I chased and overtook quite a w runners - though wasn't sure which were in my wave on the second lap. As I came around t the finish chute the announcer called out my name...wrongly then corrected herself! As soon as I finished I grabbed a spectator to ask the time & it was 9.26 so assumed I was c.2:25. Below my target of 2:20 but with a bike split of c.1:15 that was understandable.


On reflection the race went to plan - with the exception of the bike. Of course that overshadowed my day & went home pretty miserable. However later I saw I had come 9th / 51 in my AG & 46th / 291 overall - that improved my mood slightly. 2 days later and the official results have just come out:

Swim 26:49. BIG PB!!!
T1. 2:24
Bike. 1:15:41
T2. 1:51
Run. 38:33
Total. 2:25:18

Whilst the bike was some way off my target, I think my target time was unrealisic having seen the course.  That's my last planned triathlon of this season, and tbh I'm keen to start planning next year which has always been my focus. I will continue to target OLY distance, but have also entered UK 70.3 at Wimbleball as part of my preparation. Basically if I achieve what I set out to do next season I will continue with this distance in '14 or if not target ticking the IM box. For the remainder of the season I plan to do a couple of OW races, big cow sprint and a sportive. Thanks for taking the time to read, I hope it was of some use. :)

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Rutland Ripple meet TriRich - Dambuster Race Report

Well onwards and upwards onto my first of two confirmed Olympic distance races this season - post the Big Cow sprint, race training hasn't gone brilliantly after the wife injured her back so has been unable to be left alone with the kids as she cant lift Poppy up.  But what I have lost in quantity I have made up for in quality with some great bricks and speed sessions.  The plus is that I felt very fresh going into this race.  Pre-race the talk was all about conditions with the Windsor tri being changed to a duathlon (albeit due to increased river flow) and the Great East swim being postponed to Sunday.  The rumours were that it WOULD be a swim but reduced to 1km - I was happy either way so long as we had a swim.  I've never done the course before but after living for 4 years in nearby Spalding was aware of the terrain.   An added appeal was that in the description it said "is a good testing course and well suited to strong bikers" - so with a focus on improving my bike leg though it would be a good tester.  We made a weekend of it staying nearby and I was up at 4am with the wife and kids in tow for support...

Objective - Kept it simple, to be sub 2:30 (revised to 2:21 with reduced swim).  This was a best-estimated-rough-guesstimate based on minimal insight!

 The Swim (1km)

At the pre-race briefing we were informed that due to a water temperature of 12oC the swim would be a 1km swim and a running beach start.  When everyone started gathering just before 7am (in wave 1; 17-34) I took the opportunity to jump in and have a good warm up swim.  Tbh I was shocked at the water temperature - my nost stang abit but it wasnt long until I warmed up and it felt fine.  I got out and eased back to the starter ready to start 2/3 people from the front.  Soon the horn went and everyone surged forward, the people in front dived so I followed.  However the people behind carried on running past / across / on top of me.  It was carnage - but must have been entertaining to watcg - like a herd of wilderbeast forging forward.  Soon I started finding my rhythm but was suffering from leaking goggles and swimmers who couldnt sight so were heading off into the middle of the lake!  Soon we hit buoy 1 and turned sharp left, but again quite a few carried on towards the shore.  I got into a pattern of emptying my goggles, re-sighting and heading towards the next buoy.  I wasn't swimming well and was breathing every 2 strokes.  Soon we turned round buoys 2 and 3 and headed back to the exit. As I climbed out I felt that it was my worst OW swim of the year - but as I was running up to T1 the tannoy said the current time was 17 mins (my clocked time turned out to be 16:09) and I was pleasantly surprised - as a 27 min 1,500m swimmer last year I was expecting c.18 mins so couldnt have been as bad as I thought?  The temperature was fine too and 1,500 wouldn't have been a problem.  Anyway into T1, I ignored the rain jacket I'd left out as it felt quite mild and had a pretty smooth transition...

 The Bike (42km)
I jumped onto my bike and started peddling, however my shoes were stuck tight shut with the velcro - by the time I had managed to get my feet in I'd counted 12 cyclists who had passed me. Nevertheless I soon found a rhythm of 90 cadence.   There was a strong wind to contend with  - mainly across you but no sign of the forecast rain fortunately.  To begin with the hills were relatively gentle ascents and descents.  What I enjoyed was that there were lots of cyclists around me - different to the Big Cow where I was off on my own.  I LOVE chasing people down and the scope to do that was high with a line of cyclists as far as I could see.  After a while the hills turned steeper and bigger; I found I was overtaking quite a few people on the ascent but then on the descent they were absolutely screaming past me - I just didn't have the confidence to let fly especially with the wind.  I maxed out at 30.7mph - some coming past me must have been in the 40's.  Then the next hill would begin and I'd catch and pass them all again, then on the descent they'd casually fly past me again.  Repeat.  It was like cat n mouse game!  Alot of them were quite heavily built - so presumed they were cyclists and vowed to tear past them on the run (which I did) - but was also aware that a) I was wasting energy as my lost speed downhill meant I was carrying less momentum into the next ascent so was having to work harder on the next hill and b) I was working my legs harder so would this impact my run?  It was the most technical bike course I have raced on, and did love the challenge.  Also the scenery around Rutland is amazing so have to say its the most spectacular bike course I've ridden too.  Part of the ride was the infamous Rutland Ripple and was as challenging as expected.  Into T2, everything went well until I pulled my first trainer on and got searing cramp in my right thigh.  I took a second to shake it off but when I started running I was relieved to say it dispersed...may be self inflicted though having forgotten my gels for the bike. 
The Run (10km...well 9.7km so I've since been told)
I was pretty fired up to catch the people on the bike who had come past - so set off quite fast.  There were alot of people ahead so I was just chasing people 1 by 1.  When I hit the dam (2 laps over the dam) there was a strong crosswind, but I was just focussing on taking the next person...and the next...and the next.  I was going past loads of people and conscious of the cramo potential grabbed water at every stations which I don't normally do as I also had a niggling feeling in my left leg that I was about to cramp - but fortunately it never kicked in.  I had one eye on my watch and as I hit the supporters on the way back knew my time was ok - seeing the wife and my sons face near the end gave me extra kick and finished very strongly.  Race done.

On getting my printout I saw my results were:

Having looked at this - my initial reaction was that I had the fastest 'bad' swim ever.  Its hard to judge transition times as the results only give an overall placing - but looking at other times my T1 was quite strong as normal, T2 less so - but that can be accounted for by the brief cramp.  My bike split....well less said the better - but same old story.  And finally my run - my 10km PB is 37:40 - so thought I'd hit a new PB until someone pointed out they think it was only 9.7km - but still a very strong run.
The Dambuster (and by definition the Vetruvian) is blessed with outstanding setting and scenery. I would thoroughly recommend this race to anyone.  The thing with triathlon is that its really difficult to judge your performance.  I beat my target time but having not raced the course, that was a best guess target.  Fields vary so placing is also of little use so the only way is to race the same course year on year (albeit conditions very).  Overall I'm pretty happy with the race and what exites me is the opportunity to smash my bike leg and start putting in some strong overall times. 

Over the next month I am walking the 3 peaks challenge and then 10 days later have the Bristol OLY triathlon - my last confirmed race of the year.  By all accounts it is a fast flat course so hope to nail a sub-2:15 OLY for the first time.  I may bring an early curtain to the triathlon season after that and try and book a few cycling Sportives and TT's.  I know what now what needs to be done so need to build an action plan for 2013...

Finally well done to the blind competitor who raced yesterday, certainly an inspiration to us all. 

Cheers for reading it and love to have any feedback....


Monday, 28 May 2012

National Sprint Champs & New Eyes

In the past 3 months alots changed - the biggest was having my eyes lasered at short notice.  I went for a consultation and they said if I had it done it would mean no exercise for a week, no swimming for 2 weeks and no open water swimming for 4 weeks - so with 2 weeks until the open water started I decided to rush it through.  Great result on eyes - now naturally 2 lines better than 20/20 vision and the first 2 weeks of the OW season were c.11oC anyway so didnt miss much.  I did have a light training month in April though as a result.
In terms of races I've done since my Feb blog:
1.  F3 Olympic Duathlon (5km/40km/10km; February)

     My first duathlon, the race went well - got abit engrossed racing someone & nearly miscounted the 12 bike laps tho, but biggest learning was to push the first run harder.
Rank 16/48 (Overall)
Time  2:13:24     (Splits  20:05 / 00:55 / 1:11:31  /  00:43  /  40:08)
2.  Hart Sprint Triathlon (400m pool/20km/5km; May)

     My annual season opener, the weather was shocking with heavy rain but managed to knock nearly 3 minutes off last years time - tho last year they miscounted my swim so nearer -2 mins but still good.
Rank  36/370 (Overall)
Time:  1:09:33     (Splits  6:54  /  1:17  /  38:11  /  0:59  /  22:09)

3.  British Sprint Triathlon Championship / Worlds QF (750m swim/20k cycle/5k run; May)

And so onwards to the National Sprint Champs and Worlds qualifier at Emberton Park, Northants.  My aim for this was simple - put a marker in the ground against the best sprint distance triathletes in my AG (or so I'm told).  In terms of time I was looking for a sub 1:10 and to try and get within 115% of the AG winner.  After a 4am alarm, and heading NORTH on the M6 I finally arrived at 6.30.  Transition was unusually laid out alphabetically, but what surprised me more was the calls to clear transition at 7.10 when I was still getting sorted.  I've never know this before so flung everything onto my bike, grabbed my wetsuit and rapidly exited transition.  Luckily everything was fine later in the race.  Note to self tho - READ THE BRIEFING EMAIL.  I assume this would have been in there?  So anyway warmup involved a few short runs in my wetsuit?  Plus had to blag some freebie Powerbar gels that I was going to buy.

Swim (750m)

I was one of the first in and had a good warmup swim - the lake was a nice 15/16oC.  The start was a line along the bank - having watched the previous wave I went near the right to get the shortest line to buoy 1.  At 8am the alarm went and off we went - I quickly found a rhythm tho it was quite crowded with lots of people swimming all over each other.  However a pack had formed ahead and were breaking away - I was trying to catch them but getting nowhere near.  I did find the yellow swim caps of my wave were making the buoys hard to spot - might explain a few erratic swimmers zig zagging along. Nothing much to say about the swim - I lost focus and was paying more attention to my overall position than my stroke causing frustration.  I seemed way back in the field and as I climed out looked back to see less than I would have hoped behind me.  T1 went fine, I checked my watch at 14:30 so down abit on where I wanted.  On exit I tried to mount my bike slightly early but the Marshalls made themselves heard. 

Bike 20km

As I set off on the bike it was slightly disconcerting to see only about 2 people ahead of me as I hit the road. I tried to settle at a cadence of 90rpm and was going ok, but I'm naturally a chaser and having no one really ahead to go after was quite demoralising.  Soon others were starting to pass me...I counted 4 in the first 5km.  Then I hit a few hills and kept screwing up my gearing - I'd hit a climb, drop the front cog down, increase the back and end up spinning whilst losing momentum.  The hills kept on coming, just enough to disrupt momentum and soon I'd lost touch of the guys in front.  About halfway in the wave behind started coming past, at one point I was doing 23mph & this guy came past me like I was sitting still?  Alot of GB jerseys too, tho a couple of groups were blatently drafting whilst checking over their shoulder for marshalls.  If you're that good, I dont get it - but hey ho each to their own.  I managed to gulp down a gel for the run.  Anyway in summary the bike was disappointing - I averaged 19mph.  As I hit T2 the marshall shouted to me - I flapped, stopped and unclipped a shoe but he said carry on so clipped back in and carried on.  Otherwise T2 was fine...apart from my time which was now c.55 mins - I had been looking for c.50 to hit sub 1:10.

Run 5km

I set off and felt good on the run, so started to push it.  It was a nice run around the lake and mostly on the concrete. I was catching lots of people but they were all different waves - I just wanted to catch some F's in my AG and did towards the end.  I finally finished in a time of 1:14:29 and 53rd in my AG.


I was expecting a flat bike course, so had I known the profile of the course I would have probably revised my target of 1:10 as being overly ambitious.  Initially I was disappointed as it hadn't felt like a race as I was out on my own alot - but on reflection maybe the time wasnt too bad for me, I was just up against a much stronger than avg field?  I kept trying to remind myself that this was the stake in the ground - but my disappointment was that the stake seemed alot further away than I would have liked.  I know for sure challenging for an AG spot isnt realistic on the training plan I'm currently on - but I know I can be far more competitive than I was.  Anyway on a cheery note, I loved the race, the weather was AMAZING and there was great banter as norm.  I LOVE triathlon -  no sport can match it for so many reasons. 


1.  The overall experience of racing a national champs / worlds qualifier.  It was a real eye opener.
2.  Transitions went smoothly
3.  It was a good gauge of where I am at - and what to work on


1.  READ THE BRIEFING PACK - and if possible drive the bike course
2.  Need to throw the bike in the car more and do some hillwork
3.  Need to increase my swim volume to be competitive early on

Results:  53/70 (AG)

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Wokingham Half & Training Update

First let it be said that I'm not a fan of half marathons, I much prefer the shorter, intense 10km racing or XC.  However I have always felt like its unfinished business as my PB is only 1:32-way off my 10km pace (and PB was at Windsor thats not a notoriously fast course).  I raced Fleet several years ago and after hitting 10mi at 1:08 I cramped massively and crawled in around 1:32 with a dented ego.  At the time I wasn't training beyond c.50mins and wasn't in great shape but psychologically that collapse weighed on my mind.

2012 was the year to nail those demons and I certainly felt I could sneak under 1:30 and set is as one of five goals for the year - so applied for Wokingham with the fallback of Fleet in March if I missed the time.  Ideally I wanted to nail it at Wokingham so I can switch my focus to my cycling.

Anyway race day - I'd agreed to run with a 1:25 runner from my club and agreed to meet him by the 1:25 marker at the start.  Having heard it was a slow, narrow start I felt starting above my expected finish time would help with a fast start.  However my mate was no where to be seen and soon enough we started.  There was lots of runners ahead who obviousy weren't in the right start position so I spent the first mile weaving through people to try and catch him - rather frustrating.  Eventually I caught him at c.1 mile but he was was working hard.  He'd done a 20 miler last weekend so told me to push on which I did.  I felt if I pushed on and started struggling, he'd catch me up and help me through to the end.  Wokingham is a flat course except for 2 bridges over the motorways so I pushed hard up these and recovered on the downs. 

My only target for the race to achieve 1:30 was to hit 10  miles at 1:07ish to give me a chance, so I worked out on route I'd need to hit 5mi at c.33:30. I hadn't really been keeping an eye on my watch, so when I reached 5mi and saw 30:39 I was abit shocked.  Had I gone off too hard?  Could I sustain it?  Would I cramp like Fleet?  It kind of had a negative effect on me?  Then at 5.5mi something happened that changed my race, 2 guys caught me up and were saying 'looks like we're on for a 1:21.  At that point my target changed and I realised my expectations were way down.  I changed my target to 1:25.  I clung on to their tails until c.8.5mi when I was dropped and hit 10mi at 1:01:56.  I pushed on to the end - from 13mi to the end maybe 5 people overtook me but I crossed the line in 1:21:58 by my watch.  The support had been great the whole way round from the spectators and marshalls.  Happy days.

Sadly on the day we saw several ambulances at c. 12 mile marker - we assumed that a car had hit a runner.  However later it transpired that someone had collapsed with chest pains at the 3 mile marker and required CPR. I hope that they were ok.  On the flipside alot of my Sandhurst Jogger mates had strong races and PB's as did several mates off Twitter.  Well done all :)

So now my focus switches to the bike with the F3 Duathlon at Dorney on 25th March and the 56mi Sportive at New Forest on April 15th.  I've been quite pleased with my cycling training recently however it has nearly all been on turbo so I need to start getting out more - hopefully as weather improves I will be able to.  I've also restarted swim training with Bracknell Masters so all in all things are coming together. 

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

2011 and Onwards & Upwards in 2012

Hey guys, it's been a while since my last blog so I thought I'd blog a quick update on last season and my targets for the forthcoming one - as much for my use as anyone else who is interested.  But first I'd not really sat back and reviewed my 2011 season until recently, and it threw up a few surprises...

2011 Summary

In 2011 I managed to race in 4 triathlons - with a 3 week family holiday to Florida in early August this effectively shortened my season.  In terms of results, they were:

1.  Hart Triathlon - Sprint   1:12:19, Overal rank = 21%  (Hart PB by 2'25)

2.  Blenheim Triathlon, Sprint   1:24:27, AG Rank = 15% (Blenheim PB by 40 seconds)

3.  Windsor Triathlon, Olympic  2:33:54, AG Rank=33%

4.  London Triathlon, Olympic  2:20:04, AG Rank=8%  (PB - OLY & London by 13 seconds)

Digging further and breaking out the disciplines heres a graph showing my avg ranking by discipline.  Tbh it doesn't show anything I didn't know (although the transitions are abit overstated - in 2 races where cramp struck during transition a couple of minutes cost me a fair few places.  However at London my T2 was 30/538!) but its useful to set a bench for '12 season.

2011 Highlights
  • London OLY - 2:20 PB, top 8% of AG, 1:04 bike split & 35th for run split
  • Completing the Hampton-Kingston 2.25mi swim in 1:05:28-first competitive stand-alone OW swim
  • Transitions - improved significantly
2011 Lowlights
  • Bike - continue to perform below other disciplines - sadly self inflicted due to lack of 'saddle time' in training
  • Nutrition - Suffered cramp in both Blenheim & Windsor tri's in T2 - despite never suffering it in training?
  • Early finish to season
2012 - The Year of the Bike

On January 3rd myself and my wife welcomed a new addition to the Drayton household with the birth of our baby daughter.  Obviously planned for the 'off season' (lol) I will need to flex my training around the lifestye of having another baby around?   The midwifes have all said she has very large feet so I've already lined her up to be the swimmer in the family relay team ha ha

Anyway my focus for 2012 is that I NEED to get my bike working for me better.  My running is clearly my strength and whilst my swimming can also be improved, given the significance of the bike leg to the overall result its time to fix things.  It's simple - I simply don't put enough training hours in the saddle. Yes I can make the usual excuses - namely around the time cycling requires when training vs other disciplines with a young family, however if I want to see a big improvement to my ranking there are no shortcuts - I need to quit the moaning and get in the saddle.   Whilst I'm not currently in a position to be able to upgrade my bike, I'm aware in the scheme of things I can make big inroads despite of this.  My focus for this is:
-Turbo interval sessions - having recently downloaded my first sufferfest video these are ideal for speedwork!
-Joining my local cycling club to build some miles in my legs
-Sportives - I have signed up for a 56miler in April and will line up a couple of others
-TT#ing - To develop my speed I will aim to race at least 2 TT's a month through the summer
-Practice for contingencies e.g. punctures.  I have been lucky so far (touch wood...I'm jinxing myself here!) but if it ever did happen I'd be up the proverbial creek!
-Finally invest in bike fit analysis to ensure I am at the most efficient on the bike

So thats going to be my focus for the year, however in terms of my overriding objectives for the year these are:
1. To break 90 mins for a half marathon
2.  To complete at least 6 triathlons - aiming for top 15% in AG in all
3.  To break 1:05 for 25mi TT
4.  To get to race weight of sub 10.5 stone by April
A month into 2012 I am wondering if these are stretching enough (already achieved #4) but I'll monitor and review these as the year proceeds - and add if necessary.

Anyway for anyone who has stayed the distance and read it all, thanks and I'll keep you updated throughout the season.  Hope all your training is going well.


2012 Race Calendar - Confirmed Key Events to date

19th Feb  Wokingham Half Marathon

14th April  New Forest Sportive -  56mi

7th May  Hart Sprint Triathlon

27th May  Big Cow Sprint Triathlon

16th June  Dambuster OLY Triathlon

15th July  Bristol OLY Triathlon