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).


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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…


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.


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.



Hull Marathon 2015

The start of 2015 was the Boston marathon and man did I pick the wrong year – windy and freezing but it was one for the ‘bucket list’ and my 3hour (ish) run from the 2014 Barcelona marathon got me a place. A big reason to do the marathon was not only to run the oldest marathons in the world, but also to support the fight against those who live to cause fear through terrorism and the survivors from Boston who can never be beat. Despite everyone trying to keep warm in the open tents it was a great event and I dragged out a 3hr 7min marathon with only xmas training under the belt (and maybe Santa’s belly).

The main goals for the year where to improve the bike and run so only signed up for one ‘A’ race [The Hull marathon], and one ‘B/C’ race  – the Ironman 70.3 Stafford in June (Update – no blog on this but I managed a top 20 at the event without a taper).

So to the hull marathon…

I had a great year of training with significant improvements in bike and run, so was looking forwards to Hull. In advance I had done some great training sessions in prep at an around 6.30min/mile for 17-18Miles. This gave me some confidence going into the race and helped me set a realist target pace and heart rate.  This was the first year of the Hull marathon after a non-starter (wrong length) a year or so before, so getting some reviews on the course was not possible. However, looking at the elevation and where the course was run there seemed only to be a few sections that might be difficult and need some additional pacing consideration. There was the Humber Bridge which was open to the wind and then a section of the course that had a slight gradient about mile 11.


Figure 1. Pace and heart rate over the Hull marathon



During both I tried to stick to HR (Average over whole course 159bpm/90%max hr) rather than pace (See Figure 1) so I left some effort in the legs for the return journey (a marathon is a long old day – especially if it all goes tits up).



As you pass over the Humber I got to see where I was in relation to the rest of the marathon runners and from what could tell I was in the top 15. I was pretty shocked but excited as never have been so close to the front end of a race before and I began to think, “still 7-8miles to run maybe I could break the top 10 if I held my pace.”



By the end of the race I had chipped away another 5 or so places by sticking to the race plan and crossed the line in 9th in a time of 2hr 51min. I felt great and not the usual pain in my legs. The best bit was seeing the shock on the wife’s and daughters face as I cam round the last bend with only 8 other athletes in front of me. It was a great end to 2015 and indicated that taking almost a whole year to train rather than to race was really paying off and to train smart for 2016. It was at this time I begin to think making Kona the Ironman World Chaps was a real possibility if I could build on my bike for 2016 and it all came together on the day.



Ironman Florida 2014

Ironman Florida 2014 [9hr 27mins] – Holiday time

After Lanzarote I wanted another race before the years end but also it needed to be a holiday as it had been a super busy year with work and training so booked up for Ironman Florida (White sand and sun). It was a flat bike course and I would have enough time to recover from Lanzarote and fit in another training cycle with some efforts to improve the run off the bike in hot weather. So for this one I would get out 10 days before the event to give myself enough time to get use to the heat.  I will keep this race report pretty short as the swim was cancelled.

SWIM (cancelled): So we booked a hotel (Laketown Wharf ) 2 mins from race start – not the most beautiful hotel but its position to the start of the race was perfect. The rooms where massive like a mini apartment with great shops and a Wallmart 5 mins walk away, which was perfect if you have kids. Race morning we had heard on local news of warnings of rip tides and the double-red flags out on the beach – not good. It was also pretty unexpected as the whole time we had been in Florida the weather had been stunning and the water pan flat.

Made it down to transition and it was freezing (in the low 30s from 70-80s the days prior) and very windy (25mph with 35+ gusts).  So happy I went out to Florida early to acclimatize for what I thought would be a hot day. Despite the pro’s starting the swim was cancelled before they made a few 100m out as it was just too unsafe. There was a lot of cold and shivering people who had not brought a change of clothing other than skimpy tri-suits. Then we had the announcement that the event would be a bike-run (Duathlon) with athletes released every 30s by order of race number. That for some was a 2-3Hour wait in the cold before getting onto the course.  Not great if you had come from the UK and spent big money on travel, hotels and the event, especially given there was not option for a refund as one guy I met from Luton told me (as he had tried). I was lucky as relative to the 3000ish participants I have a number closer to the front end.

BIKE (5hours 53mins): Once on the course the wind made it clear it was not going to be the super fast day I thought it would be. Out on the course I had 2 flats just to cheers the day right up, but you just have to laugh these things off and keep going. The bike course is pretty flat but and fast times I might have gained was destroyed due to the 25-25mph winds and flats. I have to say that despite what I had heard over the course being a draft-fest there was not a massive amount of drafting. This might have been a result of the timed starts so people where very well spread out over the course and the high winds meant closing that gap had taken longer.

RUN (3Hours 27mins):  I was chomping at the bit to get off the bike and had held 175w for the bike course (about 72% FTP) so was feeling pretty fresh despite the windy bike. Once out of T1 the legs felt good and I started off strong – with fresh memories of Lanzarote and the walk of shame came rushing back reminding me to stick to the pre-planned pace. The goal was to hold back and to run towards a 3.30 marathon. The temperature was cool which suits me and this really helped with my run.


Figure 1. Run pace and hr over the Ironman.

The supporters especially surrounding the 3-5 km close to the course were great and gave a boost to all the athletes. As you can see I averaged a pretty steady heart rate (see Fig 1, average Hr 146bpm). In the end it was a relatively solid race but disappointed over the swim being cancelled and some real issues with the weather and flats on the bike but as they say never give in. I crossed the line in 9hr 27mins.

Next stop 2015 and to start thinking beyond just finishing to competing and racing these events. Looking back over the last 12 months and ending 1ST full year of training I was over competing. I had done 2 full Ironman’s, 1half Ironman, a full marathon. Given I had only had completed 4-6 months of training the year before I was still in need of some uninterrupted training to ensure I could improve my biking and running fitness. So that was the goal for 2015 and made the decisions no more full Ironman’s for at least the next 12 months.


Ironman Lanzarote 2014

Ironman Lanzarote: The walk of Shame…

Summary of the course

Lanzarote one of the toughest Ironman races in the world, hot, windy, hills so why not! I have to say the place lived up to its name a truly brutal course.

I had decided xmas 2013 to get myself back in shape after almost 5 years of doing pretty much nothing as far as training goes. I had convincing myself 3 times to the gym a week whilst eating the house out was an ok way to maintain health and fitness. Sometimes we all get caught up in work and chasing material goals whilst forgetting the importance of our own personal wellbeing. Well after only 4 months training I roped in a mate to doing what was then Challenge Vichy (Ironman distance tri), which after only a few months training was as hard as you would imagine it would be. However, it gave me the appetite to get back into the endurance game, loose some lard and set some goals.

One of those was to do Ironman Lanzarote in May 2014. I always new I would be rubbish at climbing as I am just not built for the mountains (or for that matter the heat!) but the event was close to the UK and I love a challenge. It was also a good excuse to help me get back in shape so I signed up.


Figure 1. Course profile Ironman Lanzarote

I did some reading and the course is known as one of the toughest on the Ironman circuit, with gale-force winds, temps over 30c and over 2500m of climbing. On the day it did not disappoint. As you can see in figure 1 it was not flat 😉

Pre Event

I stayed away from the main part of Lanzarote and we (Wife, Daughter, Mam) hired a villa about 45 mins drive from Puerto Del Carmen, and hired a car. I never really liked the atmosphere of Ironman’s as everyone looks each up and down, checking out bodyfat percentages, bikes etc. Staying away from the main event at least until the day before is good idea as you can keep relaxed without all the pre-event triathlon talk and bragging that comes with it.

For me these Ironmans have to be a a family holiday rather than just dragging the family around. They need some recognition for the time we as Ironman spend away from them training and who picks up the slack when your out on that long run or long bike. Its only fare to give them as much of a holiday as possible.

It was not super hot over the week pre-event but it was windy when out on the bike course route. Being from the North East of the UK the wind is a daily occurrence in training and you just come to accept. I also chose to ride Lanzarote on a road bike with some clip on tri-bars to better deal with the hills and the wind.

On the day

SWIM (66 Minutes): Was another early start pre 5am and was fully packed the day before (of course a re-check and then another recheck the night before). Been a while since any ocean swims but the forecast was not to be too windy so I had high hopes that if I made it through the swim I could get round the bike course without been blown down a volcano. The swim was a simple 2-lap circuit with a short beach run between the laps. I positioned myself just behind the hour swimmers and to the left.  The swim was ok and didn’t to bashed about and fell out of the water in 66 min –  next stop was the bike.


BIKE (7Hours 6mins): Got to say was worried the bike but made the decision to play it conservative and hold the bike at 170w with 220-230w on the hardest climbs where possible. Most of the course is not super difficult if well paced but there are a few real tough sections and these are Mirador del Haria and Mirador del Rio. Haria has a real tough section before the special needs station and the top of the climb on entrance to the climb there where quite a few wheel suckers (drafters) working together that resulted in some amusement and choice language from a number of Brits out on the course.


Whilst on the climbs there where quite a few walking especially just before the last turn before the summit. Keeping the watts low at the peak of the big climbs was almost impossible and is a case of damage limitation and keeping relaxed. The worse part of the course was rough Nazaret road climbing back to Teguise. The road surface (if you can cal it that) was hideous and I was gland not to be on TT bike as it would have been a real boneshaker. I was lucky to escape without any punctures and the last 15k is pretty easy back to town and its here you can start to take stock if you have gone to hard and what’s left in the legs for the run. At this point the sun was up and despite the sun block my forearms where starting to fry.


RUN (4hours 29mins): I love to run and had already completed the Barcelona marathon a few months earlier in 3hr 4mins, but the heat has always been my foe as a heavy sweater. And given the zero shade of running the 3-lap sea front of in Lanzarote I knew I was in for a tough time. At least I knew I would finish the course becoming an ‘Ironman’ for the 1st time. Sure enough the run was tough with the temp in the mid 30s and especially when you can see the holiday-makers sucking down ice cold beers and ice creams. Despite the long walks I eventually finished and crossed over the finish line with my daughter to claim my medal, t-shirt and the bragging rights to finishing one of the toughest 1 day events to become an Ironman.