Ironman 70.3 rapperswil-jona

The bike was tough and climbs long, with some  lasting over a 7km and at places a 13% gradient.

 

Apologies for the delay in posting up this race report but work has been pretty hectic although that has not resulted in any reduction in the training. So back to race…

Switzerland…Always sounds beautiful but I had a shocker getting there. It was an very early flight out of the UK, so had to leave the house at about 3am – so everything packed and had airport parking at the terminal.

However, arrived in plenty of time but on route from the car park to the check-in desk, a few hundred meters I had dropped my wallet. PANICK stations. Its 5am surely no one would have picked it up and kept hold of it especially with only about £10 in there. But sure enough in the minutes of realising and going back to the car pack the wallet was gone and no one had handed one in. As you know the headache is the loss of all your cards.

I needed the wallet to pay for the bike check-in and of course no one was awake at that time to bail me out and I needed to cancel all my cards. That was the start of the day. Next one of the guys I was with was overweight for bike check-in so we had to try to sort his case and time was ticking.

Enough of the drama, we eventually made it to the hotel but could not check-in for a few hours so decided to put our bikes back together. One we checked in we would go for a ride to shake out the legs. Only 20mins out and there was a thunderstorm – it was so heavy we had hide under a garage from the lightening. Was someone trying to tell us something?

Next morning one of the guy’s bike was not right and an issue with the headset would mean no race start unless he could get it fixed. So needed to try and get the race mechanics to fix it. They could not so he was in search of another mechanic and that would mean wandering about in the 30oC sun for a few hours. Then just to add more insult later in the day for bike checking we had didn’t have all the bags we needed so had to do another 40mins round trip on the bikes to collect 2 empty bags from our hotel so we could rack the bikes. What crap race prep, lots of dehydration and stress all what you don’t need pre race day.

By the end of the day we had checked in and the bike was fixed, so we would all be racing the next morning. That left some panic re-hydration and not much time to sit with the feet up.

 

RACE MORNING

Race day was going to be hot peaking at >30+ oC, and as an old guy I would be going later in the day, but in our group we had age ranges from 21> up so we still needed to be at the race early. Race morning bike check and warm up all went great so a big relief.

The swim was wave starts and you self selected within your wave for time (I selected sub 30mins). My swim was just OK but again not fantastic at 31Mins. Not sure what’s going on with my open water swim in these early season races as not reflecting the improved pools times. But will keep at it and make the weekly outdoor session a regular thing from now until Kalmar.

Transition is longish but pretty straight forwards but I am typically sluggish on transitions and this one was no different where I was about 1min down from top age-groupers. Once onto the bike it was head down for what was going to be a tough race with climbs and the heat and also lots of early age groupers out on the course to get around.

 

CLIMBS & CRAMPS

The bike was tough and the climbs where long with some for sure lasting over a 7km stretch and at places 13% gradient. However, I paced it well and as planned just slightly under a NP of 240w with the aim of a strong low 1.20s half marathon run on the cards. My bike as a 2.33 and the T2 was also fine as usual.

bike

Off the bike felt pretty good then 1-2km at race pace (4min/km) in I got cramping in quads and hamstrings. This is very rare for me as pre-race prep and nutrition is normally on-point; so I can only put this down to all the time spent in the heat in the days leading up to race day. Unfortunately, the situation did not improve as the run progressed so it was a case of managing it by continuing with nutrition and keeping pace just under where the cramps would kick in.

 

Run

To be honest the run was brutal and ended up running the whole run with severe cramps. I knew if I stopped I would not be able to start again so just kept on at circa 4.25/4.30 pace. The only exceptions was at what is know as the ‘stairway to heaven’ a series of steps in the centre of town you have to climb twice during the run.

stairway

There are maybe 50/60 steps and when you have cramp that’s some painful shit. After the steps you have a slight downhill and that allowed me to force the legs to get going again and just grin and bare the pain.

70.3 SWISS

 

My run was a 1hr 32min, which was about 10mins short of where I should have been and would have given me around top 5 in the age group. But you have what you have on the day and I was proud of myself for pushing through when I could have so easily walked. I learned some good lessons from the race:

 

  1. Make the day before the race a true rest day
  2. Stay our of the heat
  3. Make sure you hydrate and fuel pre-race
  4. Always have another plan or 2 ready in case your day becomes a hard one.
  5. Never give up. You can be surprised what you can put up with if mentally your willing to go all in and visit some mental suffering.

 

My 4.44 was almost 20mins slower than a 70.3 just a few weeks before but I was still pretty happy with the result as I had given my all. The only downside was what had I done to myself regarding recovery time. In the end these 70.3s are only sharpeners for my Ironman races, and there is the choice of how hard to push and how quick you can get back to solid IM sessions.

 

bite the lip

This was a good few weeks ago now and I am fully back into IM training in the UK heat wave. At the time of writing I have 5-6 weeks before IM Kalmar one of the A races for the year. Although I hate that term as when you toe the line of any race you should be giving your all – I see A/B/C race categorisation more about what sore of form your in at that point in the season than the importance of the race.

I can recommend IM 70.3 Switzerland to anyone it’s a real honest race and tough – you earn you post race goodies for sure and no one get over those climbs easy.

For me it’s back into the final few weeks of long bikes, brick sessions and some final dieting for Kalmar. I am really looking forward to the race and enter it in best shape since getting into this sport.

Whatever, your plans for the season I wish you the best!

 

Outlaw Half 2018 – 1st triathlon of the year!

It was a great race for early season and reflective of the hard work and new coaching over the past few months.

 

Since my bike crash last year there have been ups and downs in the recovery process and lots of appointments to get a diagnosis and some treatment. But am on the mend despite some challenges remaining when I do tough swim sessions – but we push on.

Other news is that from December 2017 I took on a new coach (Mark Livesey, Xhale #bricksession podcast) to help me prep for my ‘A Race’ for 2018, which is Ironman Kalmar in August. Mark is a sub-9hr Kalmar Ironman so no one better to talk from experience in prep for this event.

Since the start of the coaching it’s been on a new level of difficulty and to begin with didn’t think I could stick with the intensity of some of the session. As a scientist sometimes you need to switch of the analytical brain and just run with the process. 

The last 5-6 months have been intense and I have had some of the best sessions ever in my triathlon training. The biggest challenges have been on the bike and sticking with it has been tough but the results speak for themselves in what you can push though in sessions. 

So as per usual the outlaw half is the pre-season warn up for me as other years and it was a case of lets see how far we have come and hoping for no mechanicals as I had in 2017. 

RACE DAY

A real early start was on the cards for Sunday morning as I managed to scrape into the elite wave so it was a 6.10am start. So I planned my time based on the other years to get to the event and to give about 45 mins warp-up. So up and rise at 4am for a pre-race breakfast then to make race for 5.10-5.15. However, we got stuck in queue of cars for over 10mins at the turn in to the national water sports centre so it was rush about time as there is a walk from parking to the event and bike racking. 

Just about managed to get bike set up and wetsuit on and it was time to rush over to the water with little time pre-race start and no warm-up. 

Figure 1. Not the best swim

Figure 1. Not the best swim

Swim was not great in-fact 3 mins slower (32min 42secs) than my 2017 time, despite some great pool work over the last few weeks. Maybe the lack of warm-up, not sure; but was pretty unhappy about the swim. Once out of the water and into transition the woes continued with my visor shooting of the helmet before I could exit transition loosing me a bit more time. All-in-all I think the swim plus T1 lost me a potential 5-6mins of what where my  pre-race goal times. 

I had to just stick this to the back of my mind, relax and just concentrate on the controllable (aka the bike and run). 

BIKE

I know the course quite well and was ready for a solid bike with new found strength from all the new bike session and was aiming at 240-250w over the course. I had no idea what this would give me time wise but that was the effort I was going to put in to leave me with some legs for a strong run. 

Figure 2. Pulling back time from the swim with a solid bike

Figure 2. Pulling back time from the swim with a solid bike

I took a few more risks in the race nutrition this year with less hydration during the bike but still a good intake of carbs. As anyone who knows the finish to the outlaw half is hideous with gravel, speed bumps and pothole track making for a bike accident waiting to happen. Luckily no casualty for me but it does impact your overall time. However, looking at the power file post race I managed to keep effort up over this section. 

The only downside of the bike was drafting. I had a guy hanging off the back of me and one other rider the whole way around the course. We where in TT position and I would look back and he was sitting up drafting the shit out of us. This is so frustrating as there was nothing you can do to really stop this – you can say “get the F*~k off me,” but if they keep at it and marshals won’t intervene then that’s the way it goes.

Figure 3. Data showing well paced bike power

Figure 3. Data showing well paced bike power

Despite this frustration I had a strong bike at 2hrs 26mins 45seconds and despite hitting 250w np (240w average) – I felt pretty strong and ready for the run. 

THE RUN

Quick T2 and out onto the run. I had 4 gels with me, and fluids are of easy access on the course. The aim was a Gel every 20Mins and fluids when I can.  The goal for the day was circa 3.55min/km and I would try to stick to that best I could. I was pretty much on track and felt good but by second lap a lot of AGs where now on the course and this slowed down passing as the pathways around the course other than the lap around the lake are pretty tight. 

Figure 4. Onto the run and holding onto a good pace

Figure 4. Onto the run and holding onto a good pace

One thing I noticed was my trisuit…I have always used a race number holder that I can Velcro onto the back of my trisuit for many years to reduce the drag you get from then if not flat against your body (i.e. resulting in lost time). I had placed the rough Velcro on the race number and soft on my suit and it should have been vice versa (brain fart).

Figure 5. An expensive mistake when you put the rough velcro on the wrong way around ;-)

Figure 5. An expensive mistake when you put the rough velcro on the wrong way around 😉

I looked down at end of 1st lap as my number had started to slip to the side of me and notice 2 big rips in the front of my suit. With running the Velcro had shredded my race suit and any second the old meat and 2 veg could have been waving to the crowd if the rips got any higher. You just got to laugh – I pushed the race number down a bit to proven that and importantly to hide any accidents ha.

Figure 6. Nice effort on the run

Figure 6. Nice effort on the run

 

Needless to say I survived the run with a 1hr 23min 21sec half marathon. 

SUMMARY

It was a great race for early season and reflective of the hard work and new coaching over the past few months. My overall time was 4hr 28min 49secs, which was a new PB on the course and given the poor swim I am getting closer to breaking the 4hr 20min mark, which is need to guarantee the AG win and get into the top 10. 

Figure 7. That finish line feeling (no mechanicals ye me)

Figure 7. That finish line feeling (no mechanicals ye me)

 

The swim for sure hurt my race and lost me the AG win by less than 2 mins but I was happy with the performance and a top 20 finish. 

Next stop in 3 weeks is IM 70.3 Switzerland so will be aiming to sort the swim out on route for the main race of the year in August. 

I hope you guys are having a great start to the season and remember consistency build results. 

Ironman Florida 2017: Take 2

It has been sometime since my last write up but it’s been a really tough few months…

 

End of September I was involved in a bike accident where some idiot decided it was ok to reverse around a blind bend at the bottom of a hill with no signs or warnings he was doing so. I was out for a 4-hour ride and was the one who was his victim…

The result of the crash was double compression fracture of my spine (something I didn’t fund out until 3 weeks after the crash) as well as all the usual niceness of whiplash and bruising. I guess it was on the cards given the arseholes on the road and never been involved in a ‘real’ accident;  but when you’re building for an Ironman, accidents are a true disaster. In addition to that as a stress I have just moved to the other end of the UK and unfortunately for the family I was as much use as a chocolate fireguard in helping move.

 

Figure 1. Enjoying the removal of neck brace before finding out I have a compression fracture of T4/T5

Figure 1. Enjoying the removal of neck brace before finding out I have a compression fracture of T4/T5

 

Needless to say I have been and continue to have lots of issues with my back and neck, which has not fully healed so next stop, will be a MRI. In the interim I have been trying to get back into some training (approved by the orthopaedic consultant) after almost no training for 3-4 weeks post-crash. As I write this part of the blog I am 4 weeks out from Florida and have been trying to regain some lost form and have put in a few good rides and painful runs and swims (I have issues taking a deep breath due to injuries).

I have 4 weeks and ideally squeeze in 2 big days over the next pre-taper 2 weeks. Tomorrow and the following weekend will be big days and got to say am nervous as anything over 90mins (and any swim) has been leading to sleepless nights due to back and neck pains. However, as we all know once you have signed up for an Ironman the lure is difficult for reasons of costs (flights, entry already all paid for) and in my case I wanted to make the season worth it as had not beat my IM best despite spending a big winter and early summer getting in very good shape pre-taper for my main race at IM Frankfurt. I know I’m not the only one who feels the pressure to validate a season of hard training but maybe not the best idea.

Sometimes I feel the whole thing is madness as if the event was low cost and in UK I would have dropped out, as health is more important. I would never advise my athletes to do what I am doing in continuing to train when I should be 100% focused on recovery and getting my injuries resolved. So with making that decisions let’s turn back to Ironman Florida.

 

FLORIDA – Turn that frown upside down

In 2014 on a road bike, on the early stages of my Ironman journey and on the heels of a major storm I completed IM Florida. Back then there was no swim (a first I think is 14 years of the events history) due to the very bad weather. The race from recall was OK as it was pretty flat and not too hot, and despite a few punctures I enjoyed the ride and the marathon.

Flat and fast is what I love and given this time I will be a stronger biker (my race pace was my FTP back in 2014) I hope to at least crank out a better bike than my 5hr 53min bike from 2014…

 

RACE READY? SORT OF…

In the run up to IM Florida I had my issues as above. However, in the 4 weeks prior to IM I managed to get in some good sessions although only 1 bike lasting 4hr 30mins I was ready to at a minimum get around the course.

In the run up to the race felt pretty calm and had a great shortened taper thanks to Dr Garry at SportsTest and made it through without any sign of a cold which has always been an issue. I was checked in and all prepped for race morning no problem. Come race morning I was up at 4.50am food in and then off to drop transition bags and make sure bike was in one piece and fully loaded and race ready.

Figure 2: Up and adam ready for the day ahead!

Figure 2: Up and adam ready for the day ahead!

 

Check in was fine and made it down into the swim start and slotted into the sub 1-hr group. Swim was always going to be a bit choppy and it’s a strange old swim as the level of the water remains shallow for a good 100-150m from entry so you have a few meters where you can dolphin and the rest your wading out. The 1st lab was fine and I was a little cautious on my effort as swimming had been causing the most issues in my back (t4/t5) where the fractures had happened from the crash. Although I had done bike to run brick work during training I had done no swim bike and was just hoping all would be OK. After getting in for lap 2 the orange markers had significantly shifted.

Figure 3: The start of the day and end of lap one.

Figure 3: The start of the day and end of lap one.

I don’t know if they had become untethered but a lot of people had began to swim out very wide away from the direct line to 1st turning buoy (was red). I asked a few others who where also lost wondering what was going on but no one knew so I decided just to head for the red buoy and if the wrong line the refs in the water would tell me. It was the right choice but the dicking abut burnt some time but as long as I got out and the back was in one piece it would be a thumbs up.

Swim [1hr 05mins].

 

TRANSITIONS

I don’t often talk about transitions but Florida is 100% on the ball – yes it’s a long transition from beach to change to bike and you cannot have your shoes on the bike but the staff are all over ready to make sure your get to your bike. In my situation I was very near the transition exit making finding the bike easy and when you get to the change tent the volunteers are waiting for you with your bike change bag. No mean feat with 3000 athletes. Similar, getting of the bike you had over your bike as you cross the line and the volunteers rack and also hand you your run bag making for a super smooth transition. Other IM events could learn a lot from Florida.

 

BIKE – TIME TO GET REAL. 

Following the weather it was forecast to peak at about 3 hours into the bike at 80of but very little wind so real feel of 90oF. For me I was not concerned but I knew if would be a factor on the run, so hydration pre and post swim as well as on the bike would be key. Got to say I felt good on the bike on the lead out and perhaps a bit to over eager with exceeding my race watts by 10-15watts. That would be fine in a cool European event but given the heat in Florida I wanted to ease off to make sure I was leaving some in the tank for the run. I also had done only one long bike in 12 weeks leading up to the race so what was in the legs I didn’t know.

Figure 3: Time to hold the aero and get head in the game.

Figure 4: Time to hold the aero and get head in the game.

After the 1st hour I had settled in and from where I was after the 1st hour I didn’t see any drafting, which is what Florida has had a reputation for. I don’t know if this was due to increased marshalling or some change in the way age groups are now approaching races but it was useful and allowed me just to think about my own performance without to much surging etc.

Out on the course my mind was on 2 things .1 holding aero position and 2. Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. I try to get in at least 1000mls an hour although I know I will sweat more than this. I have been up to 1200mls/hr previously but just not had enough time to get in the sessions to adapt. However, as long as I can hold my aero position I can get away with lower watts for a better return in speed (note: my CDA for Florida was 0.223 m^2).

Over the last 30Mins I was beginning to feel the ride become a bit more of an effort than the ease the rest of the race so held back another 5watts, hoping it would leave me with some legs for the run.

Bike time [4hrs 53mins]

 

INTO THE FIRE…

Dam, Dam hot…That’s the summary for the Florida run. I jumped of the bike out of transition and have to say felt ok and tried to settle into a 4.40-4.45mi/kg pace of running and until about 14/15k (See Figure x.x) I was bang just under a 4.35average (to get me under a 3.15 marathon and circa 9hr 20Min IM based on the days swim/bike– p.s. that would have given me second or 3rd in age group and kona slot) then the heat (or maybe just the lack of training) started to kick in….

Figure 5: Feeling good on the run well at least to 14km ha

Figure 5: Feeling good on the run well at least to 14km ha

 

The rest of the run was ok high and lows but manageable but could not hold the speed and hard to keep body temp down despite lots of ice at aid stations and remaining hydrated. I had not done anywhere near enough the acclimatisation work I had done for Frankfurt and I could feel that on the day. Frankfurt’s peak heat was higher than Florida but I felt easier at Frankfurt heat wise so something I can cope with but need to do the right preparation.

Figure 6: Hot hot hot...even from the start.

Figure 6: Hot hot hot…even from the start.

So the run became a case of grinding it out but with no real walks of shame only walking the aid stations after about 15k I was pretty happy to make it through, given the last few months of not even knowing if I would make the start line.

So come the end of the run there was the lovely finish shoot and unlike in 2014 I finished in the sunlight and was great to see the family and my Mam who had come over for her 70th birthday. Despite nipping under the 4Hr mark for the run I was well away from the 3hr 27min run I did in 2014, which if I could have put together on the day would have given me my goal of a Kona slot. But these things are here to tease but a sign for me that I have it in me.

Figure 7: Not long after this one the shit hit the fan.

Figure 7: Not long after this one the shit hit the fan.

Post analysis I improved from 2014 but a poor run and lack of training let me down on the day and although I didn’t aim for Kona on this race but a finish holding together my run from 2014 would have got me to the island. There have been improvements since 2014 results but the only number that really matter are 1-4 i.e. the finishing slots guaranteed to get you to Kona and that’s got to be the goal again for 2018.

  • 16th Age group (Up from 52 in 2014)
  • 96th Overall (Up from 275 in 2014)

Overall IM Florida 2017 [10hr 6min]

Figure 8: On the way to ice-cream and beer

Figure 8: On the way to ice-cream and beer

 

SUMMARY – A Year to forget or remember!

I have had a great year of training but a crap year for results. I am sure everyone has them but you always are looking for validation of your efforts but you have to look to your long-term goals, evaluate and fix what maybe broken in your strategy. You will always get those looking to the failure in a result or you not achieving x but every season and indeed every race brings new insight. The application of that insight to you micro, macro cycles in training, your diet and recovery are all key.

The pro’s for this year for me is I have finally understood how to acclimatise for the heat that’s to Frankfurt. 3 weeks having a mix of steam/sauna and hot baths post training do the job. I am never going to be an optimal athlete in the heat as I carry too much muscle and simple thermodynamics come into play here. However, managing and still performing to ‘my’ best ability in hot conditions is key to a good performance if not the fastest race.

I also believe a shortened taper works best for me. I felt so much better going into Florida than any other IM, so despite the lack of long bikes I think I had a good race.

Negatives of the year have been my 1st real bike crash and I am writing this second part of my blog a week post IM Florida and another night of poor sleep due to continued back pain. I am in for my MRI and hopefully the issue is just muscular and I just need time post the fractures. I will keep up with the physio and osteopath sessions and the latter are a massive help.

Although the race times for various reasons of health have not been fantastic I have learned this season and become stronger on my bike. It’s the start of the off-season and I’ve had a week of very little post Florida so I guess its time to get back on it. It’s been a busy work year from the day job and setting up some other projects but some very exciting stuff in the pipeline for 2018.

“Wishing you guys a very happy xmas and all the best for your winter training!”

 

 

IRONMAN FRANKFURT: COLD’s, MED TENT & 32oC OF JOY!

Roll on July 9th

That was the thought process in the months leading up to Ironman Frankfurt. I felt ready and was shooting out some great training sessions as well as some long training hours, effort and coin on route to what I though would be a big PB.

Pre-race blues!

One thing that seems to be common across those involved in long course triathlon is the dreaded taper illness. In 2016 I was victim and ended up ill pre-Austria making me jump into Ironman Barcelona to validate my years efforts, which I did with a PB. However, I was hoping I would be able to avoid such issues this year but for those following me on twitter (@marktallonphd) a week out I ended up with a bacterial chest and throat infection – so out came the anti-biotics. It was a case of fingers crossed that I would be ready for race day!

T-Minus 48Hours

What a week…So a week out I picked up the illness and pretty much did nothing training wise other than try to recover for race day. Then day of flying out I was told my grandmother died – so some icing for the shit cake I was dealing with. There was also a load of work stuff to deal with for both wife, and myself but maybe go into that in another blog.

As you guys know you invest not only significant time but also cash into preparing for an Ironman. Physio, bike kit, nutrition, coaching, flights, hotel, entrance fees all add up to £1000’s of cash. So many of us go against what we know is right i.e. to pull out. I would never advise an athlete to race when ill other than head cold but once on the chest and green chunks there are some real health dangers to racing like that – so I must be a bit of a nob as still raced.

48hours out and I decided I would race and I needed to get my head into the right space. Before I get into the story of the race the goal was sub hr swim, 4hr 45min bike and a 3.10run – all on the cards based off my training leading up.

Bike Check

For those who don’t know the swim start and T1 are across the city from T2 for Ironman Frankfurt. So the day before the race you need to grab your bike to get checked in by taking your bike onto a bus with the other 3116 registered athletes. The bus journey was about 40mins and as you can see by the pick the queues are pretty big and at over 30oC you’re sweating your nuts off for about 30mins before getting on-board. I have to say the operation is slick and there are lots of busses so don’t stress about getting to racking in the 1st bus to go.

Figure 1. Bike queue for getting the ride to T1

Figure 1. Bike queue for getting the ride to T1 – All around the block…

What I would say is for those of you who are staying near the city and my not get an opportunity to try out the swim is to bring some swim kit so after racking your bike you can get on the swim course. Again getting back into Frankfurt is hassle free as lots of busses on for the return journey.

 

RACE DAY

One of my previous issues during Ironman was getting my ass out of bed in the Morning in enough time to make sure I was not rushing to race start and could get a warm-up in. This time set my clock early so we where out of the door 4.35am to get the bus (yes you can bring family) to Swim start (T1 opens at 5am). I got there in good time to check over the bike and load food and drink for the day and managed to get into the water for a good 10min warm-up. The lake is stunning, very flat and easy to see the markers, so I stuck my self into the sub hour group.

Swim [1hr 46seconds]

Prior to the start of the swim I felt pretty good. I was still coughing but didn’t feel to bad and had completed the antibiotics the day before the race and had a good sleep. Got into the swim which is a wave start and there seemed to be lots of space. In hindsight I wish I had been a bit more aggressive but was not sure how I would feel. In the end was an OK swim and felt pretty comfortable post swim.

The transition was a long run up to the bikes and changing area. I had already scoped it out pre race so I knew what was to come. I had no issues during transition and out on the bike in ok time (T1 = 6min 46seconds).

 

Bike [4hr 57min 18seconds]

The bike was short this year by a supposed 3km (My Garmin says 6k). Like all Ironman the bike is a make or brake for the rest of the event and I was looking forwards to it after some great rides in training. After the 1st 10k my power was down about 20watts from target effort and this was the concern – what impact of the illness. However, I had decided whatever happens I would finish the race and work as hard as was comfortable. Despite not being able to hold a higher power I enjoyed the bike. There was very few out on the course and that would mean I only saw one instance of drafting – so a real honest course – just how Ironman should be.

Figure 2. Out on the bike and into the fryer.

Figure 2. Out on the bike and into the fryer.

A few tips for those of you that might be interested in doing Frankfurt. There are a few places with cobbles and these are real boneshakers. I used 28c wheels for the race and 90psi to try to absorb some of the shakes but lost my chain over one of the sections. So key for the cobbles is to keep spinning the legs as your go over them as any slack in the chain when not pedalling can make the chain more likely to jump off.

Figure 3. Frankfurt cobbles, shake rattle and roll.

Figure 3. Frankfurt cobbles, shake rattle and roll.

Over the second half of the course I dropped another 6 watts but on the plus side did get in all my nutrition / fluid on the day, which was a concern as antibiotics can ruin gut function. This was key as mid bike the temp was already heating up to a toasty 32oC. I had done 10 days pre race heat acclimatisation work and got to say it worked a treat as even with a TT helmet on I did not feel fried.

Coming off the bike I was ready to get a quick transition and had feet out of the shoes ready to hand my bike to waiting staff. Once off the bike I ran to my bag (which I had market with black permanent marker to ensure it stood out from the other bags). On arriving at my race number the bag was gone from the hook (Yep fucked off is an understatement). I called a member of staff over to help out but they where as useful as a chocolate fireguard – after some running around I found it about 5 meters away under another rack. Clearly someone must have picked up the wrong bag realised it and dumped it (Thanks). Panic over but maybe 1-2mins lost resulting in a 4min transition when you could do this in 2mins.

Figure 5. Out of T2 ready to attack the sweltering run.

Figure 4. Out of T2 ready to attack the sweltering run.

Run [3hr 57min 21seconds]

Out onto the run a felt OK (As good as you can feel post bike leg) and tried to set off at pre planned 4.20/4.25 min.km pace. After 5km this felt tough and the cough was back in full effect so I slowed it down trying to hold around 4.45min/km. Despite averaging this up until 24/25km into the run the cough was constant and the next thing I was laid on the floor then being carried of to the med tent. After about 15mins in the med tent I was allowed to go (I had blacked out due to low blood pressure from the coughing).

Figure 6. Never quit no matter what!

Figure 5. Post med tent back to work – Never quit no matter what!

By the time I got running I had lost about 20mins (Stuck the run splits at the end of the blog for those interested). However, after dropping out at Austria in 2016 I promised I would never quit another Ironman, so on I went and pushed as much as I could holding around 5min/km pace over the rest of the course. I guess without the stop I would have been around the 3.30marathon time, which would have been all things considered and OK race and a PB.

Figure 7. The finishing shoot plays feels so good!

Figure 6. The finishing shoot feels so good!

Reflections!

Despite the failure in making my goal race effort, I learnt a massive amount about myself over this race.

  • 1st – I now know what I need to do to acclimatise for a hot race, which has been an issue for me in the past.
  • 2nd – Even when I am not in best form and have a disaster out on the course I can still push close to a sub 10hr Ironman.
  • 3rd – The experiences of hard races over the past few years and the failures have strengthen my mind so when the wheels come of I can find the motivation to carry on.

So despite not getting the race nor the outcome of the race I wanted I felt proud of the effort I had put in. After a few days reflection I have signed up to a race I did back in 2014 – ‘Ironman Florida’.

Figure 8. Amazing how quick you can forget the pain when you grab the gold.

Figure 7. Amazing how quick you can forget the pain when you grab the gold. Remember why we do this sport – for the love of it!

Writing this Race Blog is a bit delayed and it’s now 2 weeks post Frankfurt and still not 100% over the cough. So far I have only done a few easy sessions to keep the legs spinning. However, I have really needed the break with so much going on in personal life and being training solid for the last 7months have taken their toll.

I have loved the break both physically and mentally but I am ready to get back to it from 1st week of August and will use the next week as a run in pre training proper. So another 12 weeks of graft are ahead for me and I feel mentally recharged and ready to attack. Best of luck to all of you for the rest of the season and remember avoid the doubters as there are no limits other than those inside your mind! #believe

Best in training, Mark

splits

Outlaw Triathlon – A lesson in quick fixes!

Here we are for the 1st tri of the season and a 70.3 is always a great way to open the account for 2017…

The Outlaw is a bit of an institution in the UK and has a super loyal following due to its fantastic team of organisers and atmosphere on the day. However, May in Nottingham (UK) can get a bit Chilly and this year was one of those, not to mention the rain over the preceding days. So, coming into the race I expected a cold morning with wet roads and a muddy run. However, despite the cold swim the weather warmed up nicely so it was a day for a good race. I had taken a relatively easy week prior to the race so felt I was in good shape for a strong race.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Early mornings pack and ready for the OUTLAW

 

The Swim [29mins 9seconds]

One of the mistakes last year was too much of sleep in so was late for the start of the swim (well late as in didn’t get chance to get acclimatised to the cold pre race start). The day of the race I was up and at the race for 4.45am (15 mins pre-transition opening), this gave me time to get the bike into transition, wetsuit on and a good 5-7 mins in the water before the gun started.

The Outlaw swim is played out in 4 waves. Prior to my wave (M30-34, M40-44) the 1st wave included Relay, MU24, M25-29, M35-39, and M55-59 participants. This means you have a lot of bodies to pass after 950m of the swim. So you need to get out hard and then avoid the bodies. I felt pretty good on the swim and it was the first time to try out the new Maverick X wetsuit. The suit felt great (amazing actually) and despite getting a little chilly I was only just outside my 28min target.

Figure 2. Maverick X Wetsuit felt like a second skin.

Figure 2. Maverick X Wetsuit felt like a second skin.

 

The Bike [2hr 31min]

Only the day before the race I made the decision with my coach (Dr Garry from SportsTest) to take some risks on the bike and looked towards 235-240watt average over the half ironman distance bike leg. I was having a great race and felt very comfortable pushing the watts out but just after an hour into the race my front mech decided it was time to f*ck up and twist in on me (See red square on bike power profile below). I am still not 100% sure what happened but the result was a twisted and damaged front mech and slightly twisted set of chain links. Its took a week to get the bike fixed with a new chain and front mech.

Figure 3. Power profile from Outlaw bike

Figure 3. Power profile from Outlaw bike.

 

I tried to pedal for a bit whilst looking down to see what had happened but once I realised this was not a quick fix I pulled over. After a bit of self-talk not to throw in the towel I managed to get the mech in a position to allow me to keep into the big chain ring and some movement across 4 gears of the rear cassette. This would get me to the finish if the bike would stay in one piece, which it did.

Despite the loss of 7 minutes I was 6 minutes quicker than 2016 bike leg. Without the mechanical I would have been have ridden 2hr 24Min. I had thought pre-race a 2hr 20min to 2hr 25min was on the cards and it was frustrating not to be able to achieve that, but I had to take home the positives and the main breakdowns over the ride was:

  • 54mins (204-243)
  • 40mins (244-283)
  • 10mins (284-323)
  • 7mins (>324)
Figure 4. Out on the bike.

Figure 4. Out on the bike feeling strong.

 

The final power value was 233w and I cannot post any heart rate data because I also made the decision not to race with a heart rate monitor. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, I have been training at a much greater volume this year which I know can impact my heart rate, secondly I have been trying to move more towards training on feel as the constant looking at Heart Rate can be a stress in itself.

Figure 5. Shortly after the mechanical back on the road playing catch up.

Figure 5. Shortly after the mechanical back on the road playing catch up.

 

The Run [1hr 26mins]

In 2016 the run was a strength for me with a 1hr 24min half marathon off the bike (including a toilet break), so I was hoping for something similar. I was not sure how the harder bike effort would impact (never mind being about 2kg heavier) my goals but as a ‘B race’ had nothing to loose. Initially, the run felt good and over 13km I was averaging about 4min/km. I then faded to about 4.10-4.15min/km coming out with a 4.08min/km average (respectable but could be better). I have to admit I died over the last 2km, which was either the higher intensity from the bike or still some fatigue in the legs from recent training or a mix of both.

However, I guess the best test of any race effort is if you could do it again what would you change? Well I would not change much other than the mechanical and also some of the decisions made in the transitions.

Figure 6. Into the run and feeling good.

Figure 6. Into the run and feeling good.

 

Transitions

I have to be honest I have never really paid a massive amount of attention over transitions because my focus is Ironman and at my level make little impact unless you really mess up. However, I made some major mistakes on the day especially for a half ironman. I made the decision to place on shoe covers and gloves as in 2016 my feet and fingers where freezing. I never practiced this in training in relation to how much time this would burn, not only getting them on but also off. This was a mistake and one not to be repeated if I ever make another stab at a 70.3.

The effect of my faffing about was about 2 minutes added to my 2016 transition time. In the future unless it’s going to be very cold I will not be putting on such items in the transition zone but may perhaps bring some gloves onto the course and putting on while out on the bike if needed.

 

Conclusions

The mechanical and poor transition lost me 9 mins and a potential time of 4hr 26mins, which would have gained me a podium place rather than 6th in my age group and top 20 overall rather than 33rd. The Outlaw continues to go from strength to strength and the total finishers where 1221 athletes from the 1500+ registered this year.

Figure 8. You are and Outlaw [Just not the fastest one ;-)]

Figure 7. You are and Outlaw [Just not the fastest one ;-)]

Despite the poor overall time from what I expected it gave me some great data on where my performance is after a tough winter of training to further boost the bike. Next up is the ‘A race’ for the season ‘Ironman Frankfurt’ in July and I have a real good couple of weeks of brutal training and some additional dietary control to implement. Fingers crossed no more mechanicals and I am really looking forwards to a fun race.

Until next time all the best in training!

Mark

 

 

 

Barcelona Marathon 2017 – 1st race of the Season

It was looking like it was going to be a cool day, which in my book is a good day.

 

I had ran the Barcelona marathon a few times before, with the last being in 2014 so knew it can always be a challenging event due to the heat. However, it’s the luck of the draw on how hot the event could be. It was looking like it was going to be a cool day, which in my book is a good day.

Pre-Race

We stayed about 1.5km away from the race start (Hotel Universal Barcelona), which is a great position as it means race morning you get a sleep in – if you can sleep. It also means if you have a bad race not to far to hobble into bed!

I set the alarm for a 6.30am race morning wake up to get in some carbs and giving me to get ready, walk up to race start and warm-up. I also always get my kit fully ready the night before (see Fig.1) as this allows me to not have to worry about anything on the morning other than getting food in and getting to start line fully warmed up.

kit out

Figure 1. Everything I need for race day.

I had a few issues over the months pre-race such as a calf strain, which kept me out for a week and another chest infection (antibiotics again). However, come race day I was injury and sickness free. My only concern was the lack of distance runs (30-33km) at race pace but given I am training for triathlon and there is only so much running you can do without destroying your bike and swim session.

Pre-race warm up done… I felt great and ready to attack the course (See Fig.2). I made no new changes to the pre-race diet and looked to take on 60-70g/Hr carbs, a gram Sodium and 100-150mg caffeine (I take also 3-4mg/kg 45-60mins pre-race). Simple but works for me.

pre-reace wam up

Figure 2. Ready to attack post warm up.

The Race

After getting a little panic on because I could not initially find the race entrance to the section containing the sub-3 runners, I eventually managed to get into position.

I had done a few fitness (form) tests a 2 weeks out and after a chat with the coach Garry (SportsTest.co.uk) the target range was 2.45 – 2.52. I decided pre-race to take the risk and go out hard over the 1st 20k and try to hold on. This was always going to be a do or die effort but its early season and not much to loose.

The course profile is in general undulating but as Figure 2 shows the first half has some gnarly little climbs with a few lasting 1-1.5km. But given much of the rest of the course (other than last 2km) are a lot flatter and the early morning (its 8.30am race start) temp is cooler I wanted to work a little harder early on.

TP analysis

Figure 3. Training Peaks view of HR pace and cadence over the marathon.

 

I managed to position myself at the race start about 12 deep away from the 2hr 45min pace runner. There was a lot of bunching over the 1ST km resulting in a fare few acceleration and decelerations to keep the pace maker in site. If I was to run again I would have made it into the start pen maybe 10mins (rather than 5) pre-start so I could get a lot closer to the front of the race – would have made the race start a lot less stressful.

My heart rate (post race analysis) was no doubt to high and for most of the 1st half of the race it was above 160bpm. I should not of let it get above 158bpm (my max for marathon) but I was laying it all out to try to get a 2.45. By the half marathon point I was at 1hr 23mins, so pretty good and felt quite strong feeling like I would be able to lift it a little or at least maintain in the second half. However, 1.45-55mins in I started to feel the pace and come 30k (I hit 30k in 2hrs ‘2.48 marathon pace’) in I knew I would have to start to ease off if I wanted to make it to the end with a respectable if not a PB. So I pulled back on the pace to get hr down to 157bpm, but was unsure how much damage had been done or what shape I would be in come the end. Whatever was to happen I had to keep on top of the nutrition (fluids, gels, sodium) and keep the cadence going.

during race

Figure 4. Hitting 30k into the race.

I tried to maintain my pace the best I could and like us all there comes a point in the marathon where the mental games kick in. Thoughts like ‘I could just walk now,’ ‘I am not going to break 2.45 why not take it easy,’ – All of these you just have to try to push to the back of your mind and convince yourself its good training, its early season, it’s a c-race but I want to finish strong.

By the time the up-hill drag of the last 2k came I was already hanging on but not 100% dying. The clock was ticking but I was reduced to a little over 5.05min/km pace and was happy to see the finish line in sight.

Finish

Figure 5. The finish line – Just a few 100m!

I crossed the line and finished in 2hr 55min 47s. Not my best marathon but for early season and focus on Ironman and knowing the risk of a too hard effort at the start of the race I was ok with the time. Out of the 16,346 runners I placed 317th, with an average pace of 4.10min/km (6.40is min/mile). That gets me in the top 2% of all runners.

medal and number

Figure 6. The spoils of war another medal and used race number.

 

POST-Race

I believe post race nutrition and recovery are very important and its something many almost forget about post-race other than having a shower, a slice of pizza and a beer. That’s great, but for me I want to be back to Ironman training ASAP. That means correct nutrition (quality protein and carbs post race, hydration 1.5lts/kg of bodyweight loss), ice bath, Stretching and compression tights. Of course on top of that a beer and pizza 😉

The next morning after a great nights sleep and a 20min recovery spin on the hotel stationary bike we (wife and I) went to a great place called “Brunch & Cake” near the seafront in Barcelona. They do some fantastic meals and I picked up some protein porridge + treats for breakfast (See Figure 7).

post race Brunch & Cake

Figure 6. Brunch & Cake…yum yum!

I would recommend this place to anyone if they are in Barcelona and looking for a great healthy lunch or early breakfast. Another recovery meal in the bag and the path to recovery has started.

Here is to a great 2017!

Ironman Barcelona 2016

Sub 10 at last…

Time for the last race of the season…Went out 2 days early and the start of the holiday was not great. I booked the event and accommodation via Nirvana and we stayed at Hotel President as it was simply close to the event and one of the few hotels left when I booked. What a shit hole, what a mistake…

After a very long journey and a delayed pick up from the airport, the hotel manager tried to stick us into 2 single beds in a hotel room that had not been cleaned (lets not even talk about the toilet). We refused to stay in the room and said we had booked a double room and not a room with 2 singles. The night manager was a total dick and clearly had an issue about Brits. We called Nirvana to sort this out and they did, but this was now 2 hours after we arrived at the hotel and over 3 hours since we landed in Barcelona. Although Nirvana did their best I would advise avoiding the place like the plague if you’re ever looking to do this event. There were other issues and although Nirvana apologised over the service we received from the hotel we didn’t get offered any discount or some sort of redress for the issues – despite the fact we had booked other events such as Austria through Nirvana that costs $1000s. So back to the race…

Pre-race reccy…I managed to get a short bike in of circa 30k before the main event and the roads seemed ok but pretty windy as much of the course runs right up the cost following the coastline. The run course was a mix of roads and gravel tracks from what I could see and it was going to be a sea swim, but I never got the chance to get out into the sea pre-race but it looked pretty rough.

SWIM: The swim was a rolling start and was very cramped down at the beach with only one way in and out but there seemed to be lots of family down at the start. This made it very tight place to wait for the gun but everyone was in good spirits and most people seemed to be putting themselves in the right area for their predicted swim time.

swim-bw-barca

We where told at the swim start that there was over 100 Pros (a record) racing Barcelona this year, which was more than at Kona. The water was pretty choppy and I found sighting pretty tough, so something to clearly work on for next year. I had not done a sea swim since Lanzarote so getting use to the chop took a while to settle in. On exiting the water I felt OK despite a pretty slow swim if 65mins. Now it was time to see how all my hard training on the bike was going to pay off.transition-t1-barca

BIKE: After Austria I realised a few things, first I needed to push on the bike and get use to holding a high power output for a prolonged time period. So for the preceding 6-7 weeks I had found a stretch of road back home that was similar to the profile of Barcelona. I looked to work up the long ride to 150k at 230w as well as adjusting my bike position from Austria to be slightly more aggressive at the front end. By reducing my frontal area the effect on my speed per watt was improved significantly, I just needed to make sure I could hold the position over the course of the Ironman.

barca1

Figure 1. Heart rate and speed over the Barcelona course.

The goal was 210w normalised power and Hr <135. The training paid off and with an average of 133bpm I came of the bike with a 4hr 52min ride (See Figure 1). A new record for me and felt that I could have shaved some additional time if I had worked a little harder. The course was pretty windy but there was at least 2 big draft packs out on the course and despite employing the refs to break them up after at least attempts at 300w efforts to get past to only be reeled back in clearly nothing was going to change. This really made me angry, some of those in the pack where sitting up trying to allow the pack to break apart many others where clearly drafters hanging of any wheel they could.

bike-on-course-barca

 

I was lucky as the pack I was trapped behind only lasted a few minutes before reaching my special needs bike station. I was there for a few minutes to change bottles and by the time I got back into the race the pack was either up the road or had been broken up by the race marshals. From what I had heard drafting was a big issue at Barcelona but other than these 2 packs I really did not see too much. I think perhaps the choppy swim might have impacted the drafting for those looking at sub 5 hour bike. I don’t know for sure but it made for a nice second lap with not many to fight past on the way back into town. There is clearly work to be done here in making sure the marshals do their job. There where at least 3 other guys I saw telling marshals to hand out penalties but to no avail. I did see some guys in the penalty tents but only a few.

fullsizerender-copy-barca

There is another option here and that is for all race marshals to wear a helmet cam / gopro’s and to place cameras around the course to both protect athletes that don’t draft or end up penalised because of being stuck behind a pack that the marshals refuse to break-up. Interestingly, Ironman has banned all cameras including gopro’s unless special permission has been given. I understand the banning of phones and hand-held camera’s is a safety issue but why not cameras attached to bike frames or helmets? Surly this would help police the issue?

I really don’t understand the point of drafting and deciding to do Ironman. If you want to draft legally then either do cycling and sportives or do olympic distance triathlon. To draft on purpose in an Ironman is disrespecting both the sport and you competitors…but enough of the rant.

RUN: Got out on the run and about 4 km in began to suffer and made it about 9km into the race before my first walk. It was hot (Race day peaked at 26oC) and I new it would be so brought a camelbak with me to pre-empt as had not had time to come out early and acclimatise as I know I need to do on hot courses from past experience.

barca2

Figure 2. Heart rate and pace in the Barcelona run course

run-bw-2-barca

Got to say the Camelbak didn’t work so I binned it after about 13k, which by that point was run walking every aid station trying to keep hydrated and temp down. I could see my average time dropping but was not going to quit this time and given if I had kept running in Austria could have still come out with a 9.40 I was determined not to waste the chance of getting under 10Hours at Barcelona.

feeling-it-on-the-run-barca

It was real graft but managed to sneak under 10hours with a 3hr 50 marathon for a final time of 9hr 54mins – a new PB all done of less than 10hrs a week training. Given other commentators had also shown the overall times had been 10-20 mins slower this year [http://www.coachcox.co.uk/2016/10/03/ironman-barcelona-2016-results-kona-qualification-analysis/] it made me believe if I kick it up a notch in 2017 I might be in with a chance of a coveted Kona slot.

Barca-finish

Ironman Austria 2016

Going so well…

Made it out to Austria 10 days pre-race and stayed at the race hotel (The Seapark). Had not had the best run into the event as could not get rid of a recurring chest infection in the month running up to the event and also had some type of viral infection in the back of my throat. Despite that after a few days in Austria and being into the taper the chest infection was on the mend but the wife still had a cough so was just hoping it would go away and stay away.

Training hard on minimal hours (10 hours a week)

I had worked hard prior to getting to Austria and felt I was in my best shape I had been in. I was down to 70kg (7-8% bf) on the nose and likely just under come race day (I tend to be strict on the diet race week and this shifts any extra lard). What I should say is that my average training is 10 hours a week. The reason for 10 hours is simply work and family commitments. My feeling is that you can still make some fantastic race performances, but you need to be consistent. So what maybe possible in say 18months of 15-20 hours training a week you can achieve doing 10 Hours but maybe over 3 years.

I never waste a workout and every session has a purpose and specific training zones. I get my physiological capacity done by an experienced professional (www.sportstest.co.uk) and this helps make sure I train based on science and not guess work. Although I know most of the local triathlon team members 99% of my training is done alone to ensure I get maximum benefit from each and every session. However, with that said if you have more time, quality training and you can recover from the increased training load (I am in 40s now so this is a consideration – train smart not just harder) then progression in Ironman can for sure can be faster.

OK Back to Ironman Austria…

The Seapark hotel was perfect in its position and the swim exit was directly at the side and to the rear of the hotel. If any one visits here its almost like a mini duck pond and that’s where you exit on race day then run over the road to bikes in T1. During the stay one evening we were at our table for tea and the Women’s World Ironman champion Mirinda Carfrae (www.mirindacarfrae.com) was at a table opposite. Knowing from past experience with working with athletes I know that they can spend a lot of time alone pre-event so we invited her to join us and she did. She was a real lady and she was lucky I managed not to quiz her for the hour about her nutrition too much as I am sure she gets sick of talking shop. It was a highlight of the holiday for sure and it was no surprise she went on to destroy the competition at Austria.

SWIM: The swim course finishes along the canal that runs behind the hotel but the start is only about 5-10 mins walk away. It’s a beautiful lake and I have to say we had a fantastic holiday, great for kids and families and more important for this blog training and pre for the big day.

I had swum portions of the swim course in the week leading up to the race following advice that the entrance to the canal was difficult to see in the morning sun. So felt come race day I would know what markers to look for. In the end come race briefing we where told that not only would it be a wetsuit legal (some concerns over this in the preceding days due to very high water temps) but also that this year there would be additional markers to help sight the entrance to the canal. Thanks – so glad I wasted time learning to site the canal ha.swim

Race morning came and it was the most prepared I have ever been and the least nervous. I had a good idea of the course having biked 70k of it, I had also completed parts of the run and swam much of the swim course. The swim is a rolling start which is a must have now for all Ironman races as the number totalling 3000 athletes just make the events plain dangerous otherwise. The whole issue of race numbers and drafting is a whole other issue that Ironman have to address. My own view is we need less than 2000 per race but I guess cash speaks over the needs of the participant for a fare and comfortable race.

The swim was ok. I felt at ease and didn’t work that hard. I came out of the water in 63 mins, which was a little disappointing as I though I would break 60mins given my pool times. I just thought get through the transition and out on the bike to pick up some time. There are a number of cheeky climbs on the course including the “Rupertiberg” (65km in) and the “Faaker See” (35km in) and if you don’t pace well over these you will feel them on the second lap.

austria1

Figure 1. Bike course profile and heart rate.

BIKE: So the goal was to stick at around 210w for much of the race with 240-250w on the climbs (See figure 1). There where a few chain gangs out on the course for sure, which as always pisses me off but nothing you can do about them and you have to just think about your own race. I only had to stop once on the course for some special needs, which lost me 2 mins (post race analysis). On the plus side I overcome the shy bladder issues – this might have been helped by the down pour half way into the second lap which included some hailstone. Nice…I had never heard of this but it was not to bad but everyone had to slow down as some of the bends on the course can be super slippy as the roads are like an F1 track.

bike-1

What I will say is the course is by no means flat its undulating throughout but because of the downhill’s and the road surface is like a race track and you make up lost time on the hills due to the roads and descents. I managed a 5Hr 12min bike (5Hr 10min moving time) at 78% of HRmax and 210w. This was my best bike time to date and felt pretty good. Key to making this a fast ride is keeping in a very aero position and this has never been an issue for me, so I am luck in that regard as I know a lot of people suffer to hold an aero position. Reminding yourself throughout to keep tucked and making movements to get your drinks etc as quick as possible helps with this.bike-2

RUN: About 2k in had a quick toilet stop and then was on my way but felt very sluggish and had in my head pre-race that I could make a 9.15 for the Ironman, if I could keep to the bike plan but was already down 15Mins (5 lost on swim and 10 on the bike). So realistically I was probably looking at a 9.30, but I had ‘Ironman brain’ at the time and was just thinking I am not going to make the time I wanted. Note: Ironman brain – long day, tired, low blood glucose a bit dehydrated turns relatively intelligent people into total dumbasses.

run

So despite being on for what would have been a record Ironman time for me I was focusing on how tired I felt and how I wont make the time I set out. This negativity is not normally me in a race and I tend to plough on forwards, but this day could not shake it. About 30 mins into the run I spotted my wife and daughter and said I didn’t feel great and was thinking of quitting (you can see these stops on Figure 2).

austria2

Figure 2. Run course profile and pace and heart rate

I never quit races and this was a real shock to my daughter (10Yrs old) who started to cry and was worried about me. So I said I would carry on (you can see my stop at 28-29.30mins), so I set of and although it felt like the slowest run ever I was actually on for a 3hr 30Mins marathon (Ironman Brain = idiot). I made it to 62 mins of the run and again spoke to the wife for another 4 mins and she convinced me to keep going and slipped me a Mars bar to eat to cheer me up (yep I love chocolate). I got just over 19km in and dropped out (see figure). At that point this was purely mental had convinced myself I was totally fatigued and had not reached my goal times.

In looking back this was a stupid decision and I will one-day return to complete Austria. I beat myself up over stopping all night and like any fool I booked myself up for Ironman Barcelona (Oct 2016) the same night. The next day I did not feel great and seeing the finishers with their t-shirts didn’t help. But we finished out the last few days of the holiday, had a great last few days.

I still had a throat infection when I arrived back in the UK so when to the doctors and they did a few blood tests and a throat swab. The results showed I had some immune suppression but also and viral infection and Uvulitis (ye I didn’t know what this was either but the reason I felt like I was choking when I swallowed). Two courses of penicillin and some other lovely drugs and virus was all gone.

So in final review I loved Austria despite the fact I pussied out and didn’t finish at all costs (the Ironman way) and after getting home and seeing the doctor perhaps this was the right thing. However, in my head I felt this was a mental defeat rather than physical but who knows – you tend to push on through no matter what in this sport but I promised myself I would not quite at Ironman Barcelona come October no matter what.

Outlaw Half Ironman 2016

The Outlaw has become a bit of an event in the UK at the full distance (Ironman). So after hearing the good stories thought I would throw my hat in for this middle distance tri to see how my swim, bike, run was improving after taking much of 2015 off.

Again I went into the competition with only a few days of easing back as this was simply to be viewed as a hard training session rather than a real competition. The course is pretty much flat with only what I would call a bump at about mile 20-21 on the bike course. The swim is a single lap and the run is a mix of tarmac and off road running but nothing to sponge so you can make the run fairly fast.

SWIM: I had an OK swim at 30mins and although race morning was pretty cold the forecast was it would heat up later on in the day. I wish I had got to the race start a little earlier to make sure bike was fully racked and sorted and to then get in a little paddle – but that did not happen. Also made rookie mistake of not brining any warm clothes for race morning as the forecast was supposed to be sunny – it turned out cold but will learn from this.

BIKE: I was motivated to get out on the course as had a new TT bike and felt in good shape. Pre race plan was to limit the effort to 220 watts and to see where my legs where after that as this was 1st Tri after last years work. This would be a great tester of any improvements and jumping up from averaging 175w in 2014 to 220 watts and with a bodyweight now at 71kg (3-4kg less) made me feel like I should do OK. (Figure 1 see post race analysis average watts 218 – close to plan).

bike-1

The bike turned out to be as it looked on the online maps, pretty flat and not to technical. Despite a shabby swim I was soon cutting through the racers on the course. By the end I came off the bike in 2hr 37mins but probably lost over 5 mins having to stop for a ‘comfort break’, also a few mins over last few km’s of the bike its full of crap roads and speed bumps resulting in a bounce out of my front bottle and Garmin, so had to stop and pick them up and re-attach. I was through T2 in under a min and it was time to test out the run legs.

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Figure 1. Heart rate and power over the Outlaw half course.

bike-2

RUN: Got onto the run and legs felt good but needed another ‘comfort break’ – a issue I need to sort for future races (Going on the bike ;-)…). So despite the lost minute I broke into the 1hr 24min range averaging 6.30min/mile at 88% HRmax.

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Figure 2. Pace and heart rate over the Outlaw run course (Hr average 156/ 6.30m/mile).

run

This gave me 4th in my age group just short of the podium and 30th overall (4hr 37mins). So all-in-all pretty happy but a few mistakes to fix, a taper and an easy 5-10 mins can be shaved of this one, which would have had me win my age group and break top 15…So looking forwards to 2017.

http://dload.osb.s3.amazonaws.com/results/outlawhalf16results.xls

North Lincs Half Marathon 2016

Kicking of the new year!

I have been running the North Lincolnshire half marathon for the past 3-4 years (albeit slowly ha) and the tape2tape.co.uk team have been putting on a great event on a great course. The locals also do their part including the kids from scouts and brownies at the feed stations. So I know the roads pretty well after running it previously. Its nice a flat, normally great weather and this year was to form part of the building for Ironman Austria (A-Race) and the Outlaw half (B-Race) later in the year.

The aim was to do a minimal taper and just take a few easy days before the race and on race day do an extended run. So that means a 3-4Mile run to the start and a 2Mile run post race as a cool down to make an 18-mile session. I stayed at a hotel just around the corner from the race so had no long journey to do on the morning of the race. The 5 km warm-up prior to the start of the race went well and was 100% ready to go before the start of the race. I had chosen to run at 6min/mile pace and if I blew then so be it, and would then just make the rest of the race jog as long as I got the miles in. So no pressure…

north-lincs-half-me-drafting-2016

The day was dry but a little windy so decided where possible to tuck in behind anyone who is tall or larger packs where possible. The usual madness ensured with a massive amount of people running off at what must have been 5.30min/mile pace, by 5km in most of these jokers where already going backwards.

nlincs

Figure 1. Heart rate and pace over the North Lincs course.

The take home was I had a great race managed to stick to pace of just over 6min/mile (Hr 164 – 93% of max) and rolled over the line at 1hr 18min 53sec. This was a new PB and gave me 29th overall and a first time podium in the old man’s age group (3rd V40). The day was a confidence builder to tell me training was paying of so next stop Outlaw middle distance triathlon, Nottingham.

http://www.stuweb.co.uk/race/1ff/

towards-finish-north