Professional Ironman Triathlete

Friday, 12 December 2008

New website!

The blog is now continued on - the blog is on the Triblog page. Hope you enjoy the new site! (it is a little overdue!)


Thursday, 20 November 2008

Dave Harju interview

Dave is from Team Timex, and quite frankly he is a legend. Watch this interview and find out! It was recorded the day after Ironman Florida (2008) - apologies for the delay in posting it, but I've had a few technical issues (aka my IT incompetence). There's a few more interviews to follow too, but for now, a brief chat with Dave Harju

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Sydney-siders do cycling

En route to Geelong I spent a couple of days in Sydney (thanks Lyndsey!), to get over jet-lag and finish off the off-season. Saturday morning, a local Sydeny tri squad, HERT, very kindly let me join in a group ride. This was an eye-opener in several ways. First up, it was a 6am start (something I don’t normally associate with cycling!) – on a Saturday morning, I wondered what I was getting myself into. We met at Centennial Park just after sunrise, and headed out southbound. I was impressed by their motivation so early on the weekend, but even more surprised by the route out of the city. After a leafy minute or two getting through the Park, we basically turned out onto a highway which fed into the motorway rolling south towards the airport. There were some hairy moments crossing feeder lanes, fly-overs, going through tunnels and with some early morning and rather less than understanding drivers, but once it started to rain again, and the ride really got entertaining. By the time we’d done the Botany Bay route and found our way back to a Paddington cafe, we were covered in grit and mud and soaked through. Luckily it was warm enough for this to be amusing rather than a soul destroying couple of hours on the road. My colleagues assured me that we hadn’t taken the scenic route that morning – a relief for the local riding! I’m sure there is good riding near Sydney, but that morning did remind me of the troubles of city living and the pain of getting out to any decent routes.

Much happier about riding now I’ve made it back to Geelong. A couple of minutes and out of the Great Ocean road seems like a good deal to me!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Ironman Florida Race Report

What can I say? In absolute terms, I finished with a PB and came half way up the pro field – not a bad day’s work. But I was gutted at the finish line – it felt like waste of a fast race... I’d underperformed and had a few mechanical issues to add to the mix.

So this one gets chalked up to experience, or perhaps rookie inexperience given that I had problems with my front brake pads working loose and then routinely slipping onto the rims every time I hit a bump in the road (even when released). I’d not tightened them enough pre-race and meant I ended up having to ride any bumpy sections with one arm on the aerobars and one hand holding the brakes off the front rim. Dammit. In hindsight I should have stopped and tightened them, but wasn’t sure if the tool I was carrying had the right size key (and this was a good thing as I’d have tried tightening the mech from the front, when actually the right place was behing the front fork... the things you learn..!). But it was fine for the most part once I’d realised and released them, so I kept on going, just with heavy cursing through the few kms of rough roads. The ride was flat and fast. Kms 20-80 were into a fairly solid headwind – that’s my excuse for not hearing the rubbing pads, or realising why it was such hard work. My moment of realisation was on a short gentle downhill through an undulating section somewhere around the 60km mark where I was peddling and a couple of people overtook freewheeling. That was a bit of a clue! Luckily this happened just in time. I was starting to break mentally with the struggle and seeing people pass me fairly regularly. I’d been putting it down to purely eroded bike fitness, which is definitely true at least in part, but alleviation of the mechanical issues gave a bit of a boost. Things picked up in a big way after that. At the 80km point, we turned a corner and the tailwind kicked in for a while. By the 120km mark, and just pasted the dog leg, I was starting to overtake a few people again, and the packs of age groupers behind who had been gaining steadily through the first sections were starting to fall away again. Finally feeling like I could ride again, I beasted the last 80km to try to make up some of the time I’d lost.

That meant that the start of the run was not pretty. The first 5km was a slog, and it wasn’t until the 8 mile sign that I finally found a decent rythym, but by then the effort earlier seemed to have limited my running speed. A 5 hour bike split and a 3:05 marathon were both a bit off schedule, but in the big scheme of things, not too bad.

All in all, the week was awesome fun. We stayed in a condo at the Boardwalk – right next to transition. Very convenient. Vicky, Stel and I were all racing – coincidentally all coached by Steve Trew. All of us had PBs, so thanks Steve! Kev Worster, Vicky’s other half, was also with us – and this was like having a team mechanic as Kev happens to be the Cycle Doctor (Canary Wharf), so was very handy for tools, servicing, changing cassettes etc. (If only I’d got him to check my breaks and not fiddled with them myself!). Thanks Kev! I learnt a few things about Florida too - the Waffle House is evil; Walmart is like being on a set from a reality TV show; November is definitely off-season, despite some beautiful weather - we managed to be the only people in an entire restaurant on the thursday night pre-race!

But its done, and I’m actually happy after the ups and downs of this year just to have finished another race! The swim was solid and felt fairly easy (except for the ‘running’ halfway!), I got to try out a disc wheel for the first time, and had an interesting experiment with a series of close races and how to / not to train in between them. Lots of lesson s learned.

And now? I’m taking 2 weeks easy, not least as there’s some substantial flying time in there – I’m off to Australia for the winter next week, and then its back into training. I’m actually feeling really good post Florida – I was running and riding the next day, and seem to have bounced back quickly. So the two weeks ‘off season’ are actually having to be enforced! I am remarkably up for the next phase in training already which is a good sign... looking forward to putting in some hard miles over the next few months. I’ve scraped the idea of any major races in the next couple of months, definitely feeling the erosion of base fitness as my last decent training block was now back in July!

Notable mentions for the girls from Team Timex – between them racking up 4 of the top 10 spots, Tamara in 2nd, Gabriella in 4th, Marie in 6th and Amanda in 9th (I think I got tat right!). Good work Team! And for Rachel Joyce – 5th at her first pro IM finish!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Birmingham Half Marathon

To end my peak period for IMFlorida, I did my last mixed tempo run today - combining with the work schedule, this happened to be in Birmingham - the EDF Energy Birmingham Half.

Its difficult to be in a race and not intend to race it, but today was not a day for racing - that will be next weekend. To ensure I didn't blow my load in Brum, I made sure that I was pretty tired heading into it, this week having been fairly high on the intensity scale (for ironman anyhow!), including a full on training day yesterday. I also ran with the ipod to make it seem more like a training run, and (purely by accident as my number didn't turn up) raced under a pseudonym, which took the pressure off having my name next to a slow result in the listings! So Chris Gowland (yes, I'll admit to it!) put in a solid 1:21 (and 33rd out of 9000!)- which was an easy-steady-hard build run. Overall pacing wise this was quite easy thanks to the codl start, so the first few kms had to be a warm up. What did take me by surprise was the course was unulating throughout - which made it seriously fun! All in all a great training day.

Good to catch up with Martin (first timer) and Chris there to - both posting awesome times! Well done!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Kona 2008 photos...

... courtesy of Kari Davis. Thanks Kari!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Guardian article

What's rocking sport from Monday 20th September - read here for a laugh!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Kona Race Report

We’ve just got back from a very wet awards party... cut a little short due to torrential downpours. Despite this it was very entertaining – mostly Brits remained to the end enduring the rain or under temporary shelters constructed with tables!

As for race day: My body decided that the race wasn’t meant to be. Shame, but not completely unexpected. The timing of the race was always a bit of an experiment, and the 2 week lay off running into one week taper between IMUK 5 weeks ago meant that I was seriously underdone. The result was no ‘on button’, leading to a slack swim and about 30kms on the bike trying to find the next gear, and then I basically pulled the pin. I was having trouble getting anywhere near race wattage let alone holding it for 5 hours. I kept plugging away initially to see if something would come right – there were moments in the first 30km that felt good, but around 90 mins in I knew I was underperforming too badly to be able to pull it back even with a small miracle. The next four hours were a slog of a training ride... at the very least I was here to see the bike course and experience it first hand. That achieved, I’m concentrating on getting back on plan for IMFlorida in 3 weeks – the main reason I didn’t go run the marathon just for the sake of it. As its not the end of my season, I felt no compulsion to put my body through a sloppy run just to finish the race. For me, it was a choice of finishing poorly and ruining myself for the next month or pulling the pin and cracking on with training and the rest of the season. I chose the latter. This was actually my ‘b’ scenario – ‘a’ being that I was recovered and ready to race and knocked out a good day. ‘B’ was blowing early and not having to ruin myself running. The worst case was blowing on the run and finishing with both a slow time and ruined.

Despite the fact that my body wasn’t playing ball, the experience has been AWESOME!!!! I got my first pro start at Hawaii, lining up with the famous faces of IM triathlon, and got to soak up the race week atmosphere. As part of the long term plan, the trip achieved everything it needed to: got my head round the week, the logistics and how everything works; rode the course and felt the Hawi winds; enjoyed the atmosphere.

So now I’ve got to get on with prep for Florida, again the ‘bonus’ race here has messed up the schedule substantially, but its all good experience, and interesting trying out new race prep regimes.

Timex had some notable results, and great performances (and a lot of guts) all round. Its been a realy pleasure meeting a few more of the team and having the camaraderie that goes along with it.

Thanks go to Rotary, without whom this trip was probably not going to be possible for another couple of years. You guys are awesome! Thanks also to Swim for Tri, Cycle Doctor, Timex (of course!) and Steven (Lord) and his family for amazing support.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Countdown to Kona

Its mid-afternoon, the day before Kona. My beautiful orange Trek TTX is racked, the bags are in. The final prep was done first thing, a very short swim/bike/run set with some 30 sec pick ups in each section. I’ve done the most part of the carb loading, out for a small meal in about an hour or so, but now its just about winding down before getting an early night.

To everyone racing: have a great day, especially those in Timex kit!


Checkout the Timex Team here

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Article in Birmingham Post

Getting ready for the Birmingham Half-Marathon
Oct 6 2008 By Emma Brady

With just three weeks to go until the inaugural EDF Energy Birmingham Half Marathon, Post Health Correspondent and regular runner Emma Brady joined top triathlete Toby Radcliffe to find out if she is ready for race day.

With more than 8,000 people preparing to take part in the city’s first half marathon on October 26, getting the right training is vital if all is to go to plan on race day.

Having run a personal best time of 1:50:48 in the Wolverhampton Half Marathon last month I had lulled myself into a false sense of security, thinking all was going well.

But if my eyes had been opened to the challenge at hand during a training trot along part of the route, then a hardcore session of intervals with professional triathlete Toby Radcliffe shattered any remaining illusions I had over my fitness levels.

Having asked for my running history, the 30-year-old’s eyes lit up when I told him my times. “So I can push you hard then!”

After a gentle jog around Cannon Hill Park, in Edgbaston, and some strange-looking dynamic stretches, which no doubt amused the patrons of the coffee shop as we swung our arms and legs about, it was down to serious business.

On paper the main session may look easy: 5 x 1 min (5k pace)/30 sec recovery jog, 3 x 90 sec (5-10k pace)/45 sec recovery, and finally 3 x 30 sec (as fast as possible)/30 sec recovery.

But after the first set of reps I was puffing and panting like a pensioner. Toby assured me this just meant I was working to my V02 max, giving my lungs a good workout. Then again, he barely broke a sweat.

“Come on just two more sets to go,” he said cheerily. I looked on in disbelief, having really pushed myself, but dogged determination and professional pride would not let me quit.

While I do not mind being shown up by professional athletes, I will not tolerate being effortlessly overtaken by plodding pensioners or fun runners in fancy dress.

Even with this in mind, after three sets all I wanted to do was collapse in a world of pain, but I knew that was just a sign of old fashioned hard graft.

After the session, Toby said: “You’re in great shape for the half marathon so now’s the time to work on your body’s effectiveness, which you know after getting a PB in Wolverhampton.

“But that kind of session isn’t just for experienced runners, it’s all about tailoring it to your own pace, the important thing is it should feel like you’ve really worked whatever your ability. It should be a challenging session.

“It’s always good to challenge yourself, not just physically but mentally, so if you make this a hard session it will give you the psychological tools to help push through those last miles of the course on race day.”

Organisers of some of Britain’s major running events, including the Flora London Half Marathon, produced an advice sheet following serious concerns by medical teams at the lack of preparation by runners. This can be found at

Toby will fly out to Hawaii this month to compete in the Ironman World Championships for Timex Multisport Team – which involves a 112-mile bike ride, 2.5 mile swim and a full marathon of 26.2 miles.

As a sustainability consultant for Athletes for a Fit Planet and Birmingham Half Marathon’s race sustainability director, he knows how hard it can be to timetable sessions.

“For me training is a full time job which I can fit my consultancy work around, but I probably train about 25-30 hours a week across all three disciplines, so it takes a lot of dedication,” said Toby. “I know how hard it can be for people to fit even half of that around their own working lives, but anyone taking part in the half marathon, whether they are club runners or first timers, should not get complacent in their training now, even though there are less than four weeks to go.”

He added: “I think the Birmingham Half Marathon has the same ability to inspire people to exercise in the same way the London Marathon does.

“The city has great sporting facilities but that doesn’t mean people are using them, so events like this are important in turning people on to sport and exercise, especially if it makes them think about improving their nutrition and looking after their health better.”

The EDF Energy Birmingham Half Marathon starts from Alexandra Stadium, in Perry Barr, and finishes in Centenary Square, in the city centre.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Team Timex does Kona

Checkout the Timex team members racing in Kona here

Rookie First Impressions of Kona

First impressions of Kona? It is definitely living up to expectations.

Yes, every athlete here is super-competitve, ultra-fit and out to kick your ass. Yes, the wind is ferocious. Yes, the lava fields do stretch on FOREVER. Yes, the run out to the energy lab early afternoon is basically like running in a sauna. Who thought this was a good idea?

But there’s also the fact that you get to see turtles and fish swimming beneath you in the bay; can put your feet up in one of the numerous coffee places overlooking the bay and seriously chill. There’s also a couple of thousand really friendly people all hanging out here who are all into the same sports as you. And at the end of the week you get to line up with the world's best ironmen and push yourself to the limit.

I’ve only been here a couple of days, and the jet lag is starting to fade, though I am writing this at 5am local time so its clearly not gone completely! From the outset, Kona’s been super-friendly – on the flight from LA to Honolulu I got chatting to a Kona resident who promptly offered me a lift from the airport upon arrival. My heat acclimatisation still has a way to go though – I looked like I’d just had a shower in my running kit yesterday after a short easy jog mid afternoon. Its a slight change from what I left in the UK on Saturday morning. Here it has been hitting 32degC and gets fairly humid after midday.

The first few days have been relaxed. After an obligatory swim first thing, there’s breakfast to look forward to a somewhere like Splashers, one of the many cafes and restaurants offering relaxed meals and unlimited coffee at pretty much any time of day. Then its on with the taper plan – and yes, coach, I am being good and not getting sucked into doing far too much this week.

Athletes seem to have arrived in droves over the weekend – the morning swim is heaving with people, and our ride yesterday saw hundreds of expensive bikes rolling out on the road towards Hawi. With them comes more of the build up to race day. With the official expo and registrations due to open today, the countdown to the start really feels like it has begun.

Monday, 6 October 2008

EDF Energy Birmingham Half Marathon coverage

More coverage in the Birmingham Post here
More than 8,000 to run in Birmingham half-marathon
Oct 6 2008

More than 8,000 people have signed up to take part in the EDF Energy Birmingham Half Marathon.

Organisers of the city’s inaugural event, on October 26, initially predicted entries would top 5,000 but reached 8,000 by the cut-off date of September 26.

Councillor Ray Hassall, cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, said: “We are absolutely delighted that people have now signed up to take part in this event.

“It is going to be a fantastic event for Birmingham and I am delighted that so many local people have been inspired to participate in what is going to be a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase the city.

“A half marathon is a big challenge for many people so we do want to encourage every single runner to make sure that they are fully prepared for this event.

“The recent wet weather may affect some people’s training schedules but I’d like to remind runners that with the huge number of Birmingham City Council leisure facilities across the city, there are plenty of indoor training options for people to take advantage of.”

Triathlete Toby Radcliffe, of Athletes for a Fit Planet, has been appointed as EDF Energy’s sustainability expert for the race, also known as the Race Against Climate Change.

Every entrant has been invited to join the 2012 Carbon Challenge at, which was launched to encourage people to reduce their home energy carbon footprint by one tonne by 2012.

Mr Radcliffe said: “We’ve come up with some simple ideas and suggestions so that people can try and save energy and be greener whilst they are training for the EDF Energy Birmingham Half Marathon.

“For example people should be drinking more water while they are training, so we suggest using refillable bottles rather than buying bottled water. We’re also encouraging people to eat local fresh produce, which as well as being good for you means fewer food miles so less carbon will have been used to transport the food that you eat.”

Volunteers are also needed to help man water stations and marshall the course, start and finish areas for the inaugural Birmingham half marathon.

Anyone interested in helping out can contact Birmingham City Council on 0121 464 2012.

Sunday Times article

Friday, 26 September 2008

Italian training

Managed to slip out of the country last week for a cheeky high vol week in Italy on a Steve Trew camp. Great group of people as usual. My lats are still recovering from a little more swim volume than normal, thanks to Dan from Swim4tri who was also out there coaching at the camp. Pleased to be able to hit a solid week of training with fairly minimal recovery from IMUK.

Nice to be back in the UK again though, and its made me realise how close the next race is... Kona is two weeks tomorrow!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Sunday Telegraph, Stella, 21 Sep 2008. Page 71

My Day On A Plate... an extreme view!

21 Sep 2008

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

IMUK 2008 Race Report

I just about made it to the swim practice early Friday before race day but quickly decided that the rest of the day was going to be spent indoors at my awesome homestay at the north end of town, avoiding the torrential downpours and blustery winds that were battering Dorset. Saturday wasn't much better in the afternoon and by racking time everyone at the race venue was soaking again. Relative to that, the weather forecast for race day of hardly any rain and just some winds of 16-20mph with gusts up to 30 mph seemed very positive! This was the kind of weather that as kids we used to relish on hiking holidays in Dorset, wrapped up in hardy waterproofs, wellies, with a large thermos of tea to see us through. The kind of weather that made the sheep huddle close to the lea side of the hills so they didn't get blown into next week.

So, positive choice number one: in case of inclement weather, take arm warmers. How I rationalised that arm warmers would suffice for a 16 deg C windy race with threat of rain as the only addition to the same kit I’d wear for a 35 deg C race in blazing sun, I'm not sure, but somehow it worked!

The swim was uneventful. The logistics of getting 1500 athletes into a pond at 6am (and some parking on the run course – never good!) meant that the start was delayed by around half an hour, but this at least gave the morning a chance to go from pitch black to just murky grey. I managed to lose the first group (not surprising given the pace of the first couple of guys) which meant a fair amount of swimming on my own, and then hanging off some age group feet for the middle section, which was fine. I got a little frustrated seeing the gap to the next group widening, but I tried to swim on and quickly realised I wasn't making any headway so sat back in until the feet started to slow down.

Roll back a week to last Sunday. I had to warn my long-suffering flatmate's that I was grumpy. I’d been struggling with a soleus injury for several weeks and it had finally kicked off so badly after a prep race in Bedford that I’d been on a running moratorium for 7 days with little improvement. I was on the verge of pulling out, not being able to face starting another race that I couldn't finish due to injury this year! But Sunday night I had booked in some cupping, acupuncture (the don’t try anything new on race week rule goes out of the window if there’s a big chance you might not be able to race at all!) and an hour and a half of massage (on top of 2 massages earlier in the week). My legs have never had so much attention! Monday rolled round and I procrastinated on the test run, knowing that if it went badly that I’d be pulling the plug. I tooled around all day until 5pm when I finally bit the bullet and went for a broken 25 minute jog. It wasn't great, but it was manageable. Perhaps another massage and a few more days rest. I didn't make the call to withdraw.

Exiting the swim, I was relieved that the hoard of age groupers hadn't overrun me – hopefully I’d not let down Dan my swim coach too badly (Swim for Tri)!. Running to T1, Bella was alongside, and she slid on a muddy corner. I saw her tumble too late and followed suit, wiping out in the mud. Highly entertaining! The bike started uneventfully, though I my aero-helmet felt surprisingly uncomfortable. After a few kms, I realised that I had put the aero side panels on the wrong way round, so they were pointing into my neck at the sides. Ouch – that hurt, though it did make me chuckle! There'll be some strange looking photos from the first 30kms, before I had the sense to take them off.

The first lap didn't seem too bad, but a time check at the turnaround showed that I was well off my predicted pace. On lap two, I started to slow. The combination of increasingly blustery winds and taking two bottles of water at successive aid stations instead of energy drink was making me flag. There didn't seem to be anything extra in the legs and it felt like I was going nowhere fast. Mentally I started writing my race report. The first draft was titled “so this is what being undertrained feels like...” A couple of pros and then some speedy age groupers ripped it past me, and I just let them go. Having little idea of how many had been in the front pack on the swim, I was clueless as to my position on the bike. It seemed pretty lonely out there, the first lap was spent with little sign of anyone else for a lot of the time. The wind and hills had split everyone rapidly, so that even on the last lap, the age group field seemed well spread. I was riding my beautiful orange Trek (Team Timex colours), with Powertap – post race I checked the data. At IMCdA earlier in the year (where I was doing a training brick as shin splints had me off running) I rode a fairly leisurely 5:15 on an undulating bike course... 10 minutes FASTER than my IMUK split, but averaging 20 watts EASIER. That was a tough old bike at the weekend!

Morale was pretty low, but the light in the darkness came in the form some incredible support, some in the form of pompoms and a few Serpie flags dotted around the course. Luckily the rain held off in the most part, so that the support out of the bike course was much more impressive than I had expected.

As T2 approached, I started to feel better, mentally, and having finally picked up some bottles of cola, the caffeine was kicking in too. Autopilot took over for the transition and I was out on the run, full-on bright white compression socks and all. Here’s where I’d find out if my soleus was going to keep it together or not. The dearth of volunteers in T2 watching me struggle with the compression socks made me wonder where I was placed. No one else in T2 was a good sign, right? At some point a couple of kms into the run a kid shouted “you’re in 15th!”. I don’t usually hold much stock in positions being called from the crowd, as I know how uncertain this can be, but it gave me some hope – perhaps everyone found the conditions hard, and it wasn't just me having a bad day. If the legs held together, perhaps I could run down a couple of those age groupers who must have spent themselves on the bike course... So I kept on. Keep it steady. Keep it steady. By mile 5 of the first lap I was contemplating the irony of wearing white knee high socks to what turning into a cross country mud marathon.

Between the castle gates and the centre of town I saw the top three or four running back, so I figured that I was only down about 25 minutes on them. Lap one came and went in a flurry of gels and coke. I did wonder how many more I could take before my body started to reject them violently. On lap two I had a stroke of luck. A Scot by the name of Alistair on his first lap pulled up to my shoulder and we chatted briefly. He was running a solid pace and kept it consistent so we ran together for most of lap two, running a couple of people down in the meantime. I’d counted off at least 3 people by then, so I was hoping I was around 12th. Coming onto lap 3 I caught up to another pro, Kai Soderdahl, and I think that kept us both going for the final loop.

Even at the finish line, I had no idea where I’d placed. A few sweaty hugs later and I had an answer from the Ironman live booth – 6th! I think I was grinning for the rest of the day.

A shower, massage, curry, bath and a lot of tea later, we watched the final couple of hours of the race. The Serpie cheering squad continued to amaze me with their endless enthusiasm late into the evening. For spectators, knowing that the best viewing is the mass swim start and the final few finishers makes it a long day! An endurance event in itself.

And the next day it got even better. I turned down a Hawaii spot last year as an Age Grouper as it is an expensive trip an I had some masters exams to finish off. Having worked out who had and didn't have a spot in the top 5 pros, I figured roll down may reach me... and I was ready to turn it down again, as I really can’t afford the trip this year. Gutting. And then something amazing happened: Rotary offered to part support the trip actually during the roll down. So it looks like I'm off to the Big Island a little earlier than I had planned!

See you in Hawaii... Anyone got a spare bed?!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Bedford Olympic Race Report

2 weeks to IMUK. This weekend featured the usual race prep olympic distance - essentially an intensity brick session at the end of a tough week. Despite the rain and nearly going back to bed before race start, it turned out to be a worthwhile hit out.

The purpose of race prep is two-fold: a key brick session in race conditions, and to try out all the kit and transitions as if in an A race. So I was out in full orange kit, Trek, Bontager race wheels, Rudy project aero helmet, the works. A bit overkill for a training day, but that's the point! And the rain probably made it quite race specific training for IMUK too (though I hope not!).

The race turned out to be very pleasant. Despite the rain and some slippery roads, and a few badly signed roundabouts and a missed turn (!), the ride was flat and fun. The swim was simple to navigate, and included at least one of your five a day on the return leg in the form of river weed. The run was a well supported 3 looper, complete with steeple-chase water opbstacles in the underpass thanks to the wet start :) And the club champs for the Serpies made it a sociable one too. Lots of red and yellow out there on the course doing well. And to get 11th out of 400ish overall wasn't a bad result too.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Nottingham Photos

Here's some photos from the day courtesy of Ian and Sally - of me, Jenny on the bike and Andrew running. Then all four of us on the podium :) And check out in the background of one of the photos is a guy riding with a pink skirt on - he was one of a team called the 'lady boys'... think they were racing as a mixed team, but not sure on the specifics....!! And behind the podium shot the man with the flag I believe is Neil!

Club Racing at Nottingham

Following the success at the local sprint a fortnight ago – in terms of getting me to do some intensity, have some fun and finally getting me back into the racing groove – I signed up for a mixed team for the UK Triathlon Club Championships. Our club, Serpentine, had entered quite a few teams, and I got involved as part of a ‘fast mixed team’, with Jenny (tapering for Norseman next weekend), Helen and Andrew (both short course studs). The format to the Club Champs is a 500m swim, with each team member going in sequence, then a 15km bike, and a 5km run, with a band being passed between team members until the distances are complete.

Having not done the race before, I must admit to not realising how big the event was, and how seriously it was taken. All the major UK tri clubs were represented, and a few ‘pro’ teams were entered as well. Most clubs had branded tents, flags, kit etc – it all looked very slick! With several hundred teams competing in the morning (mixed and women’s teams) and the afternoon (mens), it made for a packed venue up in Nottingham.

Race morning was wet and miserable. Spirits were low, given that we’d driven up the night before and gotten lost for a while round the city looking for our accommodation, so were a bit under-slept. The format of the race meant that race morning as I usually do it was not necessary: it was only short course, and there would be plenty of time between legs to eat, get out of wetsuits, change kit and find toilets. With no previous experience of the event, I was pretty clueless as to how the handovers worked, where we passed the band and even the distances! Luckily, there are many organised individuals amongst the Serpies to fill in the blanks!
The swim start came round quick and I think I started a bit far over in the pack, even if I was right at the front. The sprinters were off like a shot, being well practiced at short course starts, so I was chasing through a rough pack from the outset. Out of the water probably around 20th, I handed over to Jenny who made good headway. Helen was third and got a little dazed at the handover – even 500m of swimming can heavily disorient you – and almost couldn’t find Andrew amongst all the bodies in neoprene waiting for handover.

Soon Andrew was done with the swim and I got to ride. We’d finished the swim leg in 15th, so there was some work to do. I lost my bike computer on the way out of transition, so had to do the 3 lap course on feel. This was completely experimental – not knowing how a 15km time trial should feel and not even having any speed data was going to make it interesting. So I concentrated on catching people ahead. I was trying not to think about my poor ears that were being squeezed by the aerohelmet I'd borrowed from Helen for the race (I was short on packingspace for the trip so hadn't brought my own beautiful - and comfortable - Rudy Project aerohelmet up from home!). For the first lap at least, it was easy to see who was ahead, before the hundreds of teams behind crowded onto the 5 km loop. The sun was out finally, and the wind was up, so most of the puddles were drying nicely. About 22minutes later, I handed over to Jenny and we were in 5th place. We made up another 2 places by the time Andrew steam rollered round the bike, and then we were onto the run. That was 5km of pain. The end of a long week of fairly high vol and intensity had left my running legs a little worse for wear, and I never found a top gear. Instead, I quickly overheated and just concentrated on getting round in one piece and damage limitation on the time we were probably losing on the team ahead – not that I saw anyone else on the entire run! Jenny hit out onto the run with tight calves following the bike, and we were a little concerned that she may have to jog some or all of the run, but she clearly warmed in quick and had no issues. Helen had a battle with the team in 4th on her leg, and the Andrew finished off the run with a sub-17min 5km on a tough course to put a big gap in on 4th. Given the highly standard of teams racing, 3rd was a fantastic result.

Good work team!

Finished off training for the day with a 2 hour run and then watched the racing in the afternoon. Unfortunately we missed the BBQ and partying that evening as we returned to London that eve, but it was a great day, and great fun to race with the Serpies – seeing some of the guys I’ve known a few years, and meet new faces.

Photos thanks to Ian and Sally Hodge - great pics of the entire day are here.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Metabolic Testing

Last weekend saw my first metabolic testing since January 2007 in Christchurch just before Epic Camp – it was long overdue! I did a bike test with Pete Byworth from – I’d highly recommend him: he knows his stuff when it comes to sports science, is a cyclist, and has done metabolic testing on something like 4000 people – age groupers and elite athletes alike. Critically, he can give you lactate threshold/anaerobic threshold (and associated power on the bike) from which you can work out where you should be training and racing. You can choose to test on a bike or on the treadmill. The results were pretty much in line with what I had expected, but provide a much more precise baseline from which I can retest in the future to see how everything’s going. The test also carried power data, so this means I can use my new powertap a lot more effectively! The other bonus is that unlike a test I had done quite a few years back, blood isn't taken for lactate readings, its all done by gas exchange (COs, O2 balance), so there's no sore fingers or earlobes etc! Hope this has been phased out from most testing!

We did the test at Swim For Tri’s HQ in Liverpool Street (also where I do Endless Pool sessions), but Pete also does testing in Canary Wharf at The Cycle Doctor (Kev’s place – Its becoming a bit of a triathlon mecca down there at Cannon Workshops in Canary Wharf with Kev’s tri/bike shop, another Swim for Tri Endless Pool and even a yoga centre. The Docklands have got it good!

Following the testing on Saturday morning, I went and joined in a local sprint tri run by tricoach and ironman addict Mike Shaw (coach and founder of down in Raynes Park – great fun, and a bit of a change to the normal. Luckily I still managed a quality long run afterwards, and topped the week off with an overdistance bike plus run on the Sunday. This week’s been more of the same, with a little consolidation on the mileage.

Here’s some photos from the testing – apologies for the low quality, but they were taken on Pete’s phone. Luckily the low quality hides the fact that I am DRIPPING with sweat! Managed to form a large lake during the course of the testing – always attractive! ;)

Friday, 11 July 2008

Getting back on the wagon

I thought I’d finally commit to the blog with some good news: I finally got a clean bill of health from the sports docs. :) For the first time since January I am finally 100% free of injury. Long may it last!

Just to summarise - as I knowI miss out some of the key pieces of info (especially if they're not good news) from the blog normally... I had hit a bit of a setback in early January when a virus wiped me out completely for a fortnight – the result of long-hauling it back from Oz to the UK for Xmas and not breaking from volume training – and then had very little recovery prior to going on Epic Camp NZ and beasting myself for 8 days. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the best part of the next 4 months were a blur of training ups and downs, cramping and muscle pain, fatigue and moodiness! Finally, a pile of normal blood tests later, it was given a name: post viral fatigue – though luckily not as severe as some cases I’ve since seen or read about. To add insult to injury – or perhaps injury to insult – I had also picked up shin splints in March as I continued to try to drill my body through excessive fatigue and general tightness (and a questionable pair of trainers too). Luckily for me the solution to both problems was pretty similar: rest, rest and more rest. So much of March and the whole of April was pretty much a write-off, and even in May, though my appetite for training was starting to return, the running was still on hold.

So, a load of rest, a few tonnes of ice, hours of massage, aquajogging and core, a handful of physio and podiatry sessions later (and did I mention orthotics?), I started to run with trepidation at the start of June – just a few kms a week to start, and gradually building (despite a small setback when i got totalled by a bus in London!). I even went to IMCdA knowing I wasn’t running the marathon – that was tough mentally! (But great to finally meet some of the team and Tristan, as well as ride the beautiful orange Trek in a race scenario). But this week I’m hitting 70kms running – a milestone for me as it is what I generally consider a weekly floor to run volume in ‘normal’ training.

I am finally back in training properly as of next week. Touch wood I’ve not jinxed the recovery process! But you can’t blame a guy for being positive! It is amazing how great such a simple thing as being able to run properly again, and enjoy training fully can make you feel. Its not to be taken for granted! With just under 7 weeks to IMUK, looks like my season will be starting a little later than anticipated, but better late than never.

Happy training!

Monday, 23 June 2008

Ironman Coeur d'Alene

What a great event. Early start, very leisurely swim (the downside to the pro start being 35mins earlier than the mass start is the lack of feet to choose from) - I chose badly andafter the first loop, there was no group in sight ahead to bridge up to, so I just sat in and took it real easy. The bike is beautiful, and fairly challenging - its undulating through the middle section of each of the two loops and there was a headwind on the flat return which slowed it down a bit too. The Trek got tested in earnest today and it passed with flying colours. What a sweet ride! Given there were a few teething problems - I'd only managed to ride it for about 4 hours since I arrived on friday with the race set up, so there's still some tinkering to do, and i managed to knock the front derailleur on mounting so I had a grizzly sound coming out of it in the big ring for the whole 180km. Oops.

And despite nearly talking myself into the run leg yesterday (and putting shoes in T2 bag and some gels etc, 'just in case'...) I managed to control myself and only ran the first 2 miles just to cool the legs down after the ride, and get the benefits from doing the race sim. Very proud of myself for showing such self-discipline! There was a BIG part of me that wanted to carry on, but that would have defeated the point and probably ruined me! Thought I rode OK given lack of race prep and no taper (though given some time off to let the bruising go down after monday's clash with the bus/road... does that count as taper?), so thumbs up for the nice intensity training ride today. Power meter (powertap) also makes for interesting viewing - having never trained with power before, I was very interested to see the live feedback. Not looked at the detail yet, but the average was 2 watts off what I'd figured I rode at (or what I 'targeted' for the ride as normal effort). Think the variability around this might be horrendous though! Something to work on at least.

Great to meet Blake, Gabriela and Emily - and Tristan in person from Team Timex. Blake (Becker) came 10th pro, Gabriela 6th woman pro, and Emily wa 7th I think in her age group. Good day! Headed back to the finish area in a little while to watch the finishers up to Midnight... amazing stuff. Saw Mark P and Albert briefly too - they are both ANIMALS! :)

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Exciting riding on Park Lane

An eventful few weeks... apologies for radio silence. Still 'easing' back into training, being careful not to overdo anything, but generally seem to be coping fine. Running still seriously capped, and orthotics on their way, and there's even a (more dedicated) core programme and a splash of aquajogging going on, so hopefully I will remain injury free from now on! So why am I not at the pool at this time in the morning? Mainly as there's a rather large chunck of my right palm missing, and quite a lot of skin from my right knee, hip and elbow now being used as new road surface on Park Lane after being wiped out by a The Big Bus Company last night. Ouch. Right hip has swollen up nicely. But I got away lightly - could have been MUCH worse - nothing broken :) Bike a bit messed up and will have to see how the swelling goes for training etc this week.

Swimming's got a bit of a lift in terms of technique - started twice monthly sessions at the endless pool with Swim for tri. Noticed the difference already - turned my Tooting 5km swim from a wallow into something resembling swimming again. My stroke seems to deteriorate quite quicly without fairly regualr attention - and video analysis and one-on-one seems to be doing the trick right now. Hoping that with some work and more coaching, I might be able to make some real gains on the swim.

But off to Idaho this week for IMCdA. Rather unfortunate timing for the race for me all in all; we'll see what the weekend brings. Agreed with Steve that this one is NOT for racing! If hip allows, I'm just just going to try to train through and fingers crossed do the swim and bike (there's NO WAY I want to just watch it - that would drive me insane!) - I really want to try out the new orange Trek TTX in race conditions too. Trip should be fun even if I'm not racing as I'll get to meet a few of my team mates from Timex - will be good to put names to faces, having missed the team camp back in the Spring.

And I've managed to omit the fact that I've been running some Timex ironman clinics at Pure Sports Med (with the support of PSM and Serpentine) - the last one of which is tonight - 6:30, Threadneedle St, Bank. Let me know if you want to come along. Ironically this one is on injury prevention for ironman athletes - you'll be glad to hear that I am not giving the talk!!! Three specialists from PSM are presenting and it should be really interesting. I'll certainly be taking notes!

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Check out a great interview with Charlesy (from Epic) on xtri Can't wait to hear the stories from Epic Italy ;)

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Cesenatico 2

Got back from Italy on tuesday... the last couple of days had been a bit rainy, so it wasn't too hard to leave. The second week was great fun, and I even got quite a bit of work done - a good test of whether the training-work balance will work out long term.

The good news is that I have a new hobby for the next few weeks- aquajogging. The bad news, then, is that I was a bit hasty in saying my shins were recovered. After the first week, they didn't bear up too well so I'm off running again and going to see the physio/podiatrist etc - whatever it takes. What this means for the season is that I won't be racing IM CdA, which is a big shame. I'll still go over tho, so I might well do a race prep brick there. Good practice. Hoping that I'll be all sorted and back on track for IMUK in September, tho it seems my race season is slipping and slipping. At least my ride and swim will get some quality time :)

All in all, the camp was a great fortnight, with some amazing people on it. Was also great to catch up with the legend that is my coach, Steve, swim coach Dan ( and even Kev was there ( Good luck to everyone else for the race season ahead - especially for the Ironman first timers!

Photos of aquajogging thanks to Julian.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Cesenatico 2008

I'm finally feeling better. Until last week wednesday I was still pretty much off training, but now that period seems a world away. I've just got off the phone from one of the specialist sports docs from Pure Sports Medicine (amazing integrated sports medicine outfit in London - who confirmed that I've probably been suffering from post-viral fatigue, following my miserable January virus which knocked me out for 2 weeks. Epic camp off the back of 6 days recovery after that probably wasn't the best way to recovery, and hence I found Feb and March hard going, and April a complete write-off training (and racing-wise). The shins are doing ok ... the rest helped that too - and the fatigue was probably the main reason that they kicked off in the first place.

But now that's all in the past, and I've just finished a week's solid 'test' training here in Italy to make sure I am back on form. Only my run feels a bit sluggish, unsurprising given 6 weeks of little or no running, but my cycling and swimming are feeling good. With another 6 days in Italy (and GLORIOUS sunshine so far) I'll see how I cope with some longer sessions :) I love this stuff! Its also with a great group of people (and some incredible athletes), and all very relaxed. Just finished my rest day (total 6kmin the pool and that was it!), now we're headed down the beach to a local pizzeria for dinner. Ciao!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

IM beer

This is what I was greeted by on my way out to the start on race day thanks to the next door neighbour, AJ. It sums up the generosity and enthusiasm of the Port residents :)

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Race day

It didn't go as planned! The swim started well, but after about 15-20 minutes my lats and shoulders started to feel really tight. So I slowed up a bit, then my shoulders started to cramp up repeatedly. Must have made for some comical swimming. I managed to finish the swim just about - and hauled myself over to the change tent. The time was now irrelevant - the swim was over and that was all that mattered. I was just glad not to have to use my arms again any time soon. I was struggling in T1 - getting things into the pockets on the back of your tri suit when your shoulders don't really want to move anywhere is quite challenging, but the volunteers were very helpful! Collected the bike, still feeling a bit dazed from the swim. Out onto the roads, my legs weren't feeling too good and through town I could barely get the bike moving. I just told myself I needed to warm into it. Then the first of the rollers out of town hit and that's when the problems became apparent. My right glute started cramping severely. I hit the top of the hill and got off to stretch it. A couple of minutes later and resorting to using a large fence post to put pressure into it (much to the entertainment of a couple of spectators) I got back on the bike returning to the 'maybe it just needs to work itself out' theory. But then it got worse. The next rise was done one-legged. As I couldn't turn over my right leg. Stop. Stretch. I'm now only about 5km out of town. Another spectator looks at me and says "just over 170kms to go!" in an encouraging way. I try to squat to stretch out my legs and ass but don't manage to get more than half way down. Back on the bike, I can't even clip in my right leg so I free wheel down to a turn off, remove my race belt and roll through the back streets towards Bob and Jan's where luckily Erin is in and I tuck into some breakfast. That was about 8am. The rest of the day was spent trying to loosen up - I couldn't lift my arms above shoulder height at 8 and my glute was a knot, but mobility eventually returned and I did a shift in the massage tent as a table cleaner for a few hours in the evening to soak up the atmosphere. Last year I had a real issue with the DNF here (pulled ligament in back during race week) and just wanted to disappear that afternoon, but that was then. Of course I was a little gutted that I wasn't finishing or achieving what I come to achieve, but there's plenty more races to be had this year and this was just a 'test race' at the end of base. I had a great day in the end and really enjoyed the week.

Remarkably, Port Mac is one of my favourite races. One of these years, it'll be good to me. Until then, its a great town with beautiful scenery, amazing local support and the friendliest bunch of people you could hope for.

Big thanks to Bob and Jan (and Ian and Erin) for putting me up (or putting up with me) over race week. Its been very relaxing! Also to Natalia - wthout whom the dirty dancing competition would have been lost ;) (the meltdown party is HILARIOUS). AJ next door for the support and adopted family at CBA.

Congrats to Charlesy for a cracking time and getting a spot at Hawaii (and thanks for the wheels - sorry I couldn't break in those tyres any more for you).

I'm taking a few days off, letting the cramping go completely. Plus the weather here has taken a turn for the worse... must be nearly time to flee the country. I'll revisit this cramping issue in a few weeks/months post a trip to the doc back in the UK... there's a bit of an involved story behind it!

See you next year, Port!

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Rolling up for the start line

Race day is tomorrow... legs seem good enough to have a crack, so its game on. The last few days have been hilarious, begging and borrowing kit from all over the place to make up something to compete on, as I only came to Oz with training kit. The kit from sponsors hasn't made it to me yet, as this race is a bit early in their schedule.

So... thanks to Charlesy for the wheels (and Mike too but unfortunately his wheels - Zipp 440s (stet) from the early 1990s - were a little risky to ride on), Jan for the hat, Natalia and Bob for the CO2 cartridges, levers etc, and a few more I am sure I've forgotten. Entertainingly, my old training bike looks very scraggy in the pro line-up (and

Its 4:30pm and I'm fed and winding down for a good night's sleep. See you tomorrow :)

Friday, 28 March 2008

Difficult choices

I've been a bit quiet on here for a few weeks - mainly because I don't like writing about the bad stuff. But I guess its time to come clean. I've been nursing an injury for a couple of weeks. Shin splints - the version where the membrane on the medial side of the lower shin bone gets inflamed and painful. It started out very innocently, and caught early I figured it would be dealt with pretty quickly. Ironically, a mate back home emailed me when it all started off with his own injuries, and I remember thinking how lucky i was to be getting it sorted early! Little did I know that it was going to become a bit of an extended episode. Tried a few things/various experts advice, most recently just having 4 days completely off training (just ice and anti-inflammatories) to let them settle. Having already missed most running sessions from the 10 days prior, and even the bike sessions becoming a little soft as my mood got worse, this didn't come as a complete surprise. I wasn't even allowed to swim! This is not exactly how I had wanted the last few weeks before the first race of the season to be, but you gotta roll with the punches, right? Feel a bit sorry for the poor house amtes who have t bear the brunt of an injured athlete not allowed to train!

So it seems that in the next week I will have to make a few decisions based on whether I'm recovered at all/enough to race (I sure as hell don't fancy a marathon with shins and then a few months of no running to pay for it!), or just to do the swim/bike or not even start. Am still hoping that it all settles down and its fine come next week. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Luckily its just one of many races, so it wouldn't be the end of the world. Will be taking advice from coach and sports doc in the next few days and see what is/isn't possible.

No sign of bike. At least that's one less thing to worry about - getting a new bike set up the week before an IM! My cervelo's in for a service instead.

Will check in over a few days!

Friday, 7 March 2008

Number 37

Port Mac is only 4 weeks away - that has come around VERY quickly. Have been pretty relaxed about the return of race season as my base continues right up to Port, and then training changes for the race season, with Port just being the end of base 'test' race. No 37 is my start number - it'll be my first race as a pro. I think nearer the time this might make me feel a bit nervous, but I'm ok at the moment... looking forward to the experience! I'm happy just continue working away at the training schedule Steve sets in the meantime. But still, I can't wait to be racing again :) Got wind that the new bike may be shipped in time - so finger's crossed that the new Trek Equinox (in full-on Team Timex colours - a brazen orange!) lands on the doorstep before the beginning of April... though time is running out!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Hot hot hot

Its 9pm and its still near 34 degrees. Luckily I've been on a couple of fairly light training days with lots of pool work (my back is now markedly browner than my front... must do more backstroke!). The weather's set to break tonight sometime - just in time for a hard brick session tomorrow. Think I'm fully recovered from Epic... had a pretty standard week last week, only dropping a little of usual intensity and lowering the run load. Last couple of days have been fairly light so feeling refreshed and ready for the next round.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Post-Epic Recovery

Since Epic, I've made it back to Geelong and starting to feel more human again. First couple of days I did nothing (partly thanks to a pile of work that needed to be done) mainly due to the fact that my quads were in tatters. Wednesday I started back in with a swim and built slowly from there. Most of the sessions have been fairly easy, nothing longer than 2 hours. Total training time this week only hit 15hours. Finished off the week by doing the run leg for a team at HIM Geelong. It was just a training run for me, so I sat around 4 min kms for the duration, steady and fairly easy... that was more than I expected to be able to do by this weekend, so that's good. Part of me hated doing the run as I wanted to be racing it, but other parts of me (my legs) were quite happy to just watch. Tara Norton (from Epic) was down doing the race and cracke dout 5th. Didn't manage to catch up with her afterwards to find out how it felt, but I think that's a pretty good way to back-up Epic! Way to go Tara! I certainly wasn't in any state to go racing.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Epic days 6, 7 and 8

Day 6
I was feeling a litte worse for wear so instead of going for the run to the pool at 6am, I slept in and got a ride to the pool for 7am. Slugged out 3km with 10 200s on 3:20 (the first was on 3:00 but there was slippage!). Shoulder turnover was sluggish and the final 1km to finish the 3km was long. Ran after the swim and my quads were feeling the days before. Then it was back to the lodge and on for the ride. The plan was to go back over the Crown Range and then past Queenstown and up to Glenorchy and back, but the weather had other ideas. We'd set out thinking believing the forecast for showers clearing, a light southerly and 21 degrees. By the bottom of the climb (I had already been dropped by the pack as i was having a bit of a personal moment where my maximum output was nothing near what was required!) the weather had started to deteriorate. By deteriorate i mean the skies had opened and the temperature dropped rapidly. While this was OK on the way up when I'm sure I was steaming slightly, on the way down hypothermia was seriously imminent.

By the bottom (which took me even longer than usual) a few people had bailed and the ride had been cut short to a direct route to the accommodation in Queenstown. Most of us changed in the van into dry clothes which meant at least hitting the road again was bearable for the first couple of kilometers. That last part of the ride was hilarious... gusting crosswinds, rain coming in so hard that it was difficult to keep your eyes open, and then obstacles like the Shotover Bridge where traffic, crosswinds and rain conspired to give a hair-raising experience. Once in, a very long shower was the reward and I didn't even consider anything extra.

Swim 3km, Ride 90km, Run 10km

Day 7

Today was supposed to be a bit easier ahead of the triathlon we're doing tomorrow for the end of camp finale. A longish group run was planned involving going up Ben Lomond... A mere 1400m climbing. Unfortunately Ron and I had a toilet stop at the turnoff and then immediately turned up the wrong track. Oops. Continuing on, I ended up going up the wrong side of the valley and doing a lot of unnecessary climbing (noted as I had to descend a long wasy when I finally started to find some real paths). By the time I made it to the Gondola, I'd been out nearly 2 hours... seeing Mark P and grabbing his Fuelbelt before he got on the gondola going down! By the time I made the top (and met Andrew who went back up to the top with me) it was rather later than expected and we made our way back down the correct way... total time about 3:45... probably 30km+ covered.

Quick swim, 3km steady, then the ride to Coronet Peak was enough to finish me off for the day (another KoM).

Swim 3km, Ride 60km, Run 30km (ish) (est 2200m climbing)

Day 8
2.5km lake swim, 25km ride with 8km climb and 4km run (400m vertical) up a ski field to finish. Johnny Newsom took it out... Coronet Peak is the perfect place to have a triathlon race! Must admit to running very little of the hill climb to the top... my legs were sore!

Very pleased to have finished the camp having done all the sessions. Lessons learnt? That substantial time out of training is not an ideal was to prepare; that everyone at Epic deserves massive respect; never be rude to Michaela - she's in charge of the food!; that volume training s great fun.

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Epic days 4 and 5

Day 4 - "Easy day"

The day started with a lake swim race at Wanaka. It turned out to be around 4.4km long, and it was a 'sombiathon' for me - I wrapped up warm with neoprene cap and boots to make sure I didn't get cold, as I wasn't anticipating going hard enough to overheat. BdC paced well to drag me round the two laps. Then it was straight into a 10km running race. We had to predict our times and then run without watches - scoring points for overall position and for closeness to your estimate. I predicted a slow time, as my quads were feeling pretty shoddy, but warmed into it and ran somewhere around 39 minutes... not too bad for the volume of the previous few days.

As it was the 'easy day', we only had to ride 60km, but i was convinced to ride 90km by Clive and Tara. It was pedestrian, and involved an ice-cream stop before we headed home, hit the pool for a second 3km swim (with 20 x 100m on 1:30) and another 10km run along the waterfront of Lake Wanaka. Quote of the day was from Tara who proved that sugar lows can hit even on the easy rides ... "Where are my sunglasses??? Oh, they're on my face"

Day 4 Totals "EASY DAY"

Swim 7.4km
Bike 90km
Run 20km

Day 5 - Back in the Saddle

Had a lazy start to the day catching a ride to the pool at 6:45. Some of the other guys had opted to run from 6am and catch the minibus as we went past them to get in an early 50 min run. This meant that they could go for 6 km in the pool. I wasn't feeling too good so I did the minimum swim of 3km and headed out for a 50min run before heading back to the lodge. We rode out at a ridiculous pace from Wanaka and by the time we made it to the bottom of the time-trial KoM (about 95 kms in) I was feeling spanked. But time trial we did, and 44 minutes later I was atop the Crown Range and heading back to Wanaka. A tack-on later we'd done 180kms and then went straight out for another 50min run. Just finished getting a massage - very much needed. I can play a tune on my ITBs they are so tight.

Things seem to be becoming a little more hazy round the group ... people are falling asleep at the side of the pool, question and answer sessions involve repeating the same simple information multiple times, and hysterical episodes are becoming more freequent....

Day 5 Totals

Swim 3km
Ride 180km (about 1400m climbing)
Run 20km

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Epic days 1,2 and 3

Go hard and blow early - Day One
Man, what a day. I knew my prep over the last 3 weeks had been far from ideal, but I guess I was hoping that some of the form I had from before the lay-off would see me through. Guess again...

The morning went without hitch. I opted for the pre-breakfast run to the pool to get the 50minute run out of the way. Scott led and kept the pace easy. The swim was a 1 km warm up then a 2 km time trial. I had little intention of smcking this and managed to sit on Brandon's feet the entire way.

The scheduled ride was out to Akaroa and back (from Christchurch) - largely flat with some hills at the end where we would have some 'king of the mountains' points up for grabs. I blew on the first 'King of the Mountains' points climb about 4 km into it and suffered up the last 3km. I clearly wanted to believe that I was in much better condition than I actually am. Thinking that it was homeward bound after that I hadn't reckoned on then repeating the climb from the ther side ... which was longer and by this point a bit of a slog. It was all I could do to stay upright at the end! After the second KoM we had a time trial which hadn't been measured but was estimated at between 25 and 40 km. 43km later, going as hard as my tired legs could take me (which wasn't very hard) we stopped and everything cramped up. By everything I mean my glutes - OUCH. We finished the ride back into Christchurch and tagged on to make it up to 180 km for an extra point.

Here's to a few days of pain and riding myself into fitness again!

Day 1 totals
Swim 3km
Run 10km
Ride 180km

Day 2
We started the day with a 6am swim. The twist was that it would finish with a 400m individual medley. This is invariably highly entertaining - several of the guys here can swim IM, but most of us can't. The butterfly is a killer if you've never done it. Luckily we were in a 25m pool so there was well needed resting taken at the end of each length. My breaststroke's pretty ropey too so I didn't fair so well. I had done 1 km with bands to earn an extra point in the warm up to make up for it though.

Post swim, Bev, Mark P, Clive and I headed out for a run pre-breakfast. A good move as I knew I wouldn't feel like it later. The ride was looking like it was going to be long. The first 150km was deadpan flat and there was a good tail wind. We could have taken it easy, but Clive dragged out the pace... we were sitting around 40kph for a lot of it, then Brandon decided to kick off between 100-150km and the group splintered. This was, I'd like to point out, effort for the sake of effort - the ride to lunch was not for points. After lunch we rolled out to do 90 km of undulating terrain with 2 KoMs. I looked at my odometer at 180km and wondered why I was time trialling out to the bottom of another climb. After the first climb, the wind became a nightmare headwind and the pace plummeted to dead slow. I was absolutely spanked by this point but the last 40km were done with Johnny and Scott. We took turns into the wind which meant that at least I didn't think about bailing. At least it wasn't raining!

Looks like Tara Norton (our only female on the camp and pro) might be in for a chance at the yellow jersey. She nailed Gordo on the second climb, and has been putting in stirling performances in the pool and KoMs. Bev's been taking all the KoMs so far, but Paul (a Brit living in Rotorua) has been giving him a run for his money.

Day 2 totals
Swim 3km (1 with bands)
Run 10km
Ride 240km

Day 3
Early run with Clive and Tara at Lake Takapu as the sun came up was a beautiful start to the day. The ride set out early and the pre-lunch 90km went by on the flats and pretty mild. I was feeling good... but this all changed after lunch where I fell to pieces heading up to the KoM, which actually more like 30km flat out to the bottom of the pass where I got dropped and crawled over the top. It was about 70 km to the next aid station after lunch, and by then I was well out of water and feeling pretty bad. The last 50km was easier, mainly thanks to Clive, Albert, Tara and a LOT of coke. By the time we hit Wanaka there was about an hour to chill and eat before heading into town to do the local aquathon. A '600m' OW swim took the quickest 20minutes to finish, so we think it was more like 1200m+, into a 4km run. It was quite a painful experience - the arms didn't want to turn over, legs were unresponsive. It was great fun. Johnny took out the overall win, probably ticking off a couple of local guys who had assumed it was in the bag. Tacked on another few kms to make up the run distance minimum after the race to get my double run points.

I'm a little sore. Tomorrow's an easier day - last year I used that to fit in a 2:30 run but I'm thinking I'll give it a miss this time! Still waiting for the conditioning to come back... I might be waiting a while.

Day 3 totals
Swim 1200m open water (or more)
Run 18km
Ride 210km

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Post-virus, pre-Epic

I've been in Melbourne for three days staying with Liz, Ian and William (thanks guys!), and I've steadily been recovering. On Monday I broke the 12 day moratorium on training (on some days I couldn't walk round the house without difficulty let alone consider training) with an easy 2km swim. It helped with the jet lag too. On Tuesday I managed a 5km easy jog and did 3km in the pool. Today I felt ten times better for it so I eased out a 40 minute run, 3kms in the pool (albeit still sluggish) and an hour on the bike (the first ride in 2 weeks). Its all just to make sure I am working again while trying to avoid a relapse. Seems like I am on track to full health again. Everythings still a bit of an effort but it seems to be an order of magnitude better than the day before so I think it'll all be ok for Epic - fingers crossed I'll be back to 100% - and VERY well rested, just minus 2 weeks of training and plus a few extra kilos. Tomorrow I get on the plane to Christchurch - have three days to carry on getting back into the swing of things and remind my body that it likes this stuff before the fun begins.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Off to Oz (again)

Flying this evening back to Melbourne... due to arrive on Monday morning. Get a couple of days in back in Geelong/Melbourne to repack and sort myself out before heading to Christchurch (NZ) on Thursday before Epic starting at the weekend.

Good news is that I'm on the road to recovery I think. Not managed to do any training yet... so I'll have at least until monday morning before seeing how things are going. But at least I'm feeling a little more normal. Can't wait to see some sunshine :)

See you in Oz

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Sick as a dog...

I've been off-training for a week now. Bad virus :( I am not happy! And its not like I have even done anything very constructive with all the extra time - my brain's been mush for days which means that all I've been capable of is dribbling at daytime tv (quite possibly a positive feedback loop). At this stage I am just hoping to be 100% in time for Epic Camp! I guess at least I'll be rested. On the up side, having a chunk of time off training couldn't have been timed any better - the weather's been pretty miserable, I'm in the UK, its 12 weeks out from IMOz. It could be a lot worse. I'm certainly going to be mentally refreshed (read: GAGGING to get back into training) even if the body doesn't feel like its had any time off at all - given the virus, my body gets full credit for having been working hard just not on swim bike run.

Plus I've learnt a valuable lesson about doing two days really hard then jumping on public transport across London for the first time in a few months... how to depress your immune system then immediately expose it to everything under the sun. Asking for trouble!

Friday, 11 January 2008

EPIC CAMP NZ 2008 : The calm before the storm

Epic Camp is a triathlon training camp with a difference. Unlike most, there are entrance criteria to ensure no one ends up “tailing off the back in misery”. It is an incredibly high volume training camp which most attendees use as pre-season volume training for Ironman racing, or in a high volume phase in the run-up to a specific IM race. With around 50 – 60 hours of training in the first week, it is not for the faint-hearted!

This will be my second time on the camp, having done Epic New Zealnad ’07 in January last year. Signing up for the second round was easier given the knowledge that I had successfully finished it already. But now, two weeks out, though I am less anxious about the general unknowns, I have the same feeling of dread that I should have done more bike volume over the last few months…

But for me that is one of the points of Epic. It gives me some fear over the winter months to ensure that I get in good enough shape to try to make the most of Epic. It is about improving my biking in the run-up to Epic and then being submerged in a unique environment where it is possible to achieve a period of massive mileage relative to the rest of the year. Last time it was about survival. This time my objective has changed little – if anything, I’ll be a little more cautious! I’m starting to think that ignorance of what the camp entailed was better than knowing what we are about to do.

The camps are run by Scott Molina (IM World Champion, coach), Gordo Byrn (Ultraman Winner and Elite IM athlete, coach) and John Newsom of IronmanTalk fame (Elite triathlete and coach). Epic’s stated purpose is to “provide elite and amateur athletes with an environment within which they can achieve personal excellence”. This is done in part by having a fantastic support crew who do nearly everything for you – cook, wash clothes, transport luggage – except the training itself. The camp includes “everything but mercy”. A points system pushes everyone to put in massive volumes each day. The camp minimums to score are a 3km swim, a 10km run and the scheduled ride each day, and bonus points are available for every 3km extra in the pool, extra 10km running, and extra 30km on the bike. Yet more points can be earned by hitting other distance thresholds and doing other activities (swimming with bands, or 1km swum as medley for example). It all adds up to a group of people doing some incredible mileage, and perhaps more unbelievably, having a great time along the way.

This year’s camp will start in Christchurch on 26th January. From there we’ll make our way over towards Wanaka via Tekapo, then across to Queenstown. The route will take in the great Southern lakes, Mackenzie Country and the Queenstown area - regarded as some of the most spectacular scenery in NZ. So at least it will be pretty! I’ll be trying to post an update on how the camp’s going every few days – if I am able to stay awake long enough!

For more information on Epic Camp, go to

Thursday, 10 January 2008

new training partner

Here's the new arrival... George. He's a Norfolk terrier and now 12 weeks old. He has a favourite spot under the turbo where he does actually manage to sleep (!) but only started going oitside a few days ago so he's not much of a run partner. Second two photos are current, the first are from 3 weeks ago.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Steve Trew training DVD clip

Available now... check out the DVD clip on the link above - a few familiar faces in there :) We had a very entertaining day out at the track!

"Triathlon - Techniques in Action
This new DVD explains the techniques and training that can improve your performance in this ultimate endurance sport. Presented by an international coach and interspersed with his unique tips, it covers drills in each of the disciplines, including transitions, and also looks at core conditioning. With all the excitement of race footage from Dorney Lakes, this film is essential viewing for triathletes of all levels. DVD Contents: Introduction, swimming, cycling, running, transitions and core conditioning.This DVD is a companion to his best-selling book Triathlon: A Training Manual also published by The Crowood Press."