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Belated 2014 Round Up – Jul-Dec

Part two.

July had the main focus of the year, the Bolton Ironman. The short version is job done, goal achieved, but target massively missed. I’ll put together a separate post about the race.

The rest of July was spent recovering from the Ironman, and getting back into training. The disappointing IM time oddly saw me really motivated to get back into training. The goal for Bolton was only ever to use it as a test event for “the big one”, Challenge Roth in Germany in 2015, but I was still gutted (and I guess a little embarrassed) with the finish time, especially how completely I fell apart on the run.

August saw me back at The Vitruvian. The race was very hit and miss. The swim was the highlight, 3 minutes quicker than 2013. I was quite pleased with this, building on my good swim at Bolton. I had been back in the water consistently since I dragged my ass out of bed in May, swimming 3 times a week, and only missing sessions I had to, rather than because I couldn’t be arsed, or because I overslept.

I was making good time on the bike, and was on course to beat my 2013 time when my front mech broke, and wouldn’t change into the big ring, at the end of the first lap. This was somewhat of a problem because a lot of the course is fairly fast, but sections such as the Rutland Ripple definitely need you to go down to the small ring. I spent a couple of minutes faffing trying to fix it, but in the end decided the easiest way would be to only change down when I needed to, and then get off my bike and manually put it into the big ring at the top of any such hills. Although my bike split was officially 4 minutes slower than 2013, my Garmin’s moving time was a few seconds quicker.

The run repeated the pattern of being largely pants. Quicker than at the Outlaw, but 10 minutes slower than last year.

Into September and and just the one race, the Stockport Big Event 10K. I was starting to get my running mojo back by now, and ran 47 minutes. Not great by any stretch (my PB is 43) but a nice return to something approaching form.

September also saw me take a more periodised approach to training. I know that a good routine is the key to me being consistent with training. To that end I was always looking to come up with the “perfect” routine that would work for me year round, but I never found it.

I decided to change my training routine into blocks, and focus on different aspects. I therefore targeted ASA Masters Nationals at Ponds Forge in October and adjusted my training accordingly. This meant ramping up the number of sessions I was doing from 3 per week to 5/6 per week. Including double days on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

This focus on swimming, combined with the longest period of consistent swim training I had ever done resulted in my swim times coming tumbling down. Nationals was a success, with me smashing my old PBs, the highlights being going sub 1:10 for 100 free, 5:17 for 400 free, and 21:23 for 1500 free.

My overall impression of 2014 is that it was fairly disappointing. A lot of it of my own making. But looking back there were a number of highlights, I dropped my bike times across the board, and certainly the swim improvements that I made at the end of the year took me into 2015 on a high.

Posted in roadtoroth, Triathlon.

Belated 2014 Round Up – Jan-Jun

So this is part one of a rather belated 2014 round up.

TLDR: Largely disappointing

My first race of the year set the tone for the year. The Helsby Half was on again this year, after a last minute snow/ice cancellation in 2013. I went out ok for the first few miles, but was really struggling after 7 miles. I slowed right down, and had decided to turn it into a training run rather than a hard effort. However, something clicked at the 10 mile point, and I engaged my inner Bevan Docherty, putting the power down over the last 5K to finish in 1:45, which isn’t a bad effort (although way off my PB of 1:39).

Training wise, February is where it all started to go down hill. I had a general lack of mojo, alongside a few niggles that I allowed to impact my training. Despite swimming being the discipline I like the most, I allowed apathy and a sore shoulder to stop me getting in the pool from the end of January through to the middle of May.

Cycling was restricted to some spin classes, and running was very hit and miss.

It’s therefore no surprise that I detonated in the Wilmslow Half in March, again after 7 miles, although this time I had no finish to bring it home, and finished in a very disappointing time.

Things started to get better in April with the first of two open 25 mile time trials. Although I hadn’t been getting in the volume I would have liked, I had still been getting in more bike training than previously. I was therefore very happy to knock two minutes off my 25 time with a 1:13. Still very poor by tester standards, and it left me very much bringing up the rear, but it was a nice improvement.

I also race the Pwllheli Sprint Triathlon for the second time. I had a mixed bag, the swim was slower than 2012 with a 6:19 for 400m, but that was off no training for the best part of 3 months, so wasn’t too bad. The bike was 1 minute quicker than 2012, which was quite a nice improvement given the distance and the head winds on the fast part of the circuit back into town. The run was disappointing, 25 minutes for the 5K, but was a reflection of the state of my running.

May was the first target race of the season, the Milton Keynes Marathon. If you’ve picked up on the theme of disappointing runs, you probably already know how this went. I practised a version of the run walk strategy that I was planning to use for the Bolton Ironman, run a mile, walk 45 seconds. It went quite well up to 16 miles, and was on for my target of circa 4hrs, however my lack of long runs really hit home, and the last 8 miles were a bit of a death march, finishing in 4:22.

By the way, despite marketing it’s self as a flat course, the MK marathon is far from flat! The first half is all on closed roads, with some gentle inclines, nothing too bad. However, the second half is run on the Red Ways around Milton Keynes. These are very nice cycle/foot paths that are a great way to get around, and quite nice to run on. However, each time they cross a road, there is an underpass, and the Red Route dips down to the underpass, and then back up to road level. These dips are really tough on the legs as they aren’t long enough to get any respite from the downhill, and the up hills, whilst short, are really sharp.

The MK marathon was a turning point, and I started to get my act together training wise. The looming Outlaw Half made me get back in the pool, and I also got the wetsuit out and into Salford Quays for a bit of open water practise.

Although it’s not necessarily the best way to train, I love racing, so I tend to schedule in as many races as I can. June was jam packed, with Triathlons and running races.

First up was the Outlaw Half, exactly half the distance of the Bolton Ironman, although on a largely flat course. Just a couple of weeks of swimming was enough to get my swim speed back up to a reasonable level, and I went 2 minutes quicker than at The Vitruvian last August.

The bike was also much improved over The Vit last year, going 2 minutes quicker, albeit on a flatter, but significantly longer, course.

However, the run was a disaster, going around 15 minutes slower than at The Vit. The weather was extremely hot, and with hind sight, I didn’t do anything about that, and just slowly cooked on a course with very little shade. I should have used some of the water at the aid stations to cool myself down, but I’ve never been one for chucking water over myself during races as I find it usually ends up in places you don’t want it, causing problems you don’t need. However, lesson learnt for next time, go with the lesser of two evils. I also started way too quick, doing 26 mins for the first 5K, when I should have been closer to 28 mins.

Two weeks later it was the Windsor Triathlon. This was my third ever triathlon back in 2011 (after Tatton Olympic and Wilmslow Sprint). I’ve been itiching to come back and see how I go, with a few years of training and experience under my belt, but the date has always clashed with something else.

The swim was interesting because of quite a strong current in the river. I did the final 600m back down stream in around 4:30 due to the current assist! Due to some cock ups in the earlier waves, the swim turn round was moved to the last but one buoy. So, 6 minutes faster than in 2011, but a little short.

The bike was three minutes quicker than in 2011, but there were some horrendous head winds to contend with, so I’m confident I could go a lot quicker. The final part of the bike is a descent out of Windsor Great Park, back into town. In 2011 I was spinning out going down there, in 2014 I was having to work really hard into the wind to maintain even 20 mph!

The run continued the theme of just being shit. 3 minutes slower than in 2011!!! No excuses, just not enough work.

I finished up the month with the Round the Reser race. It’s a nice little 5 mile trail race around Valehouse Reservoir in Tintwistle. It starts just across the valley from my house (about a 10 minute warm up jog away) so it would be rude not to partake. Once again my run was pants, 3 minutes slower than 2013, and further reinforcement (as if I needed it) of how shit my training had been.


Posted in bolton2014, roadtoroth, Triathlon.

Week 2 – And so it begins … err …

So here we are, 18 weeks out from the Milton Keynes marathon. Err……..

Bolton is my A race of the year, but I am far too easily bored to have that as my only goal for the season. Even having a Half (Outlaw) to smash part way through my 30 week training plan isn’t enough to keep the interest there, so I have decided to keep myself focused with some running goals.

Now, this plan maybe closer to the Village Idiot style of training, than it is to the scientific approach, but what the hell, you don’t know till you try it.

My running goals are two fold, first up is to get a new PB at Wilmslow Half in March, and then to back that up with a sub 3:40 marathon PB at Milton Keynes on May Bank Holiday.

To achieve this, I’ve mashed-up the Don Fink 30 week Competitive plan with Shade’s Intermediate 18 week marathon plan. Basically what it means is that in the early weeks of the Don Fink plan I’ll be doing a greater volume of run training. It all just about comes together so that the bike volume is really ramping up as the run volume from the marathon plan disappears.

The unknowns are, how will I react to the volume of training, how will my running cope with the bike training, and what shape will I be in to continue training after the marathon. Although I am targeting Wilmslow and Milton Keynes, I will only be backing off the bike volume in race week, and even then, not all the way, as Bolton is the ultimate goal, and I need all the bike training I can get. Interesting times.

This week’s training started slow as Man Tri sessions were still cancelled for Christmas (bah humbug!), but ramped up as the week went on. Wednesday was the logistically the most challenging day. As soon as I noticed that the good folks at #parkrun had loosened up the rules for New Year’s Day, I decided that it would be a double #parkrunday. Most of the local, and not so local, parkruns that were running, decided to push their start time back to 10am or 10:30am. There were only a handful that were starting at 9am. This meant that realistically the two parkruns I chose needed to be within 25mins drive of each other. To further complicate matters, now that I have my 100 Club Tee, I didn’t just want to tick off another two parkruns, I wanted, if possible to do two runs that I hadn’t done before. That proved trickier than I imagined, as, when I went through the list, Sod’s Law meant that I’d already run all the few parkruns starting at 9am, with all the ones I hadn’t run starting at 10/10:30. Until I noticed that Dewsbury had bucked the trend, and was actually going to be the first UK parkrun of the New Year, by starting at 8:30am. From Dewsbury it was a short hop over to Temple Newsam, where I managed at parkrun negative split. Some of the Leeds based parkrunners weren’t just content with running two parkrun. No, they not only ran Leeds (Woodhouse Moor) and Temple Newsam, but they ran the 5/6 miles between them as well!

As the Fink plan starts slowly, and I had loaded extra training in on Wednesday and Thursday (make hay and all that), I had a rest day on Sunday. I was twitchy about not training, and was eager to get out there – which I’m taking as a good sign that my motivation is where it should be.

Posted in bolton2014, roadtoroth, Triathlon.

Week 1 – And so it begins…

So here we are, 30 weeks out from IronMan UK (Bolton).

My training plan is loosely based around Don Fink’s iconic 30 week “Competitive” plan, although Competitive is a relative term.

An Ironman, in case you didn’t know, is a 2.4mile swim, followed by 112mile bike leg, and finished off with a 26.2 mile (hopefully, Bolton does have form in this regard ….) marathon. To be counted as an Ironman, you have to do all this in under 17 hours. I’ve wanted to do an “Ironman” for a while, but I have deliberately waited until I was in shape to “race” it, rather than merely finish or complete it in 16hrs 59 minutes.

At this stage on current fitness levels, I’m aiming for a sub 14hr finish. By no means spectacular, but given my weakness on the bike, and the fact that Bolton is a tough bike course, I’m being deliberately conservative. My goal times at this stage are 1:10 for the swim, 7:30hrs for the bike, and 5hrs for the run, giving me 20mins for the two transitions to put me under 14hrs.

I intend to revisit these targets as my training progresses, and certainly, I’d like to bring my swim time down to around the hour mark. My marathon PB of 3:41 would suggest that a run time of 4:10-4:20 is possible, but that is also dependant on getting off the bike in good shape, which for me is the big unknown.

The broad weekly plan is to hit up three Man Tri swim sessions per week, plus Wednesday night track and Friday night spin. The intention is to also do the Tuesday night Big Turbo, but that will be work dependant.

Week one of training has gone relatively well, although it has been slightly hampered by the lack of Man Tri sessions. Something about it being Christmas week!?!

The final complication for the my 30 week plan, is my decision to to shoehorn an 18 week marathon training plan into it! More on that next week :-)

Posted in bolton2014, roadtoroth, Triathlon.

September to December 2013 Review

Move along, nothing to see here.

September to December was quite quiet for me. I struggled with motivation for training – all the big goals of the season were gone, and my 30 week plan for the IMUK didn’t start until the end of December.

I did a couple of little local races, the Marple Trail 10K (ish), and the Big Event 10K, but neither produced times worth mentioning. Knowing I would need some Autumn motivation, I had entered the Birmingham Half earlier in the year. The organisational cock ups of previous years seem to have been eliminated (although there are a couple of improvements they could make to the start) and it was a nice little hit out. I was disappointed to have been so far (4 minutes) off my PB, but a 1:43 is not to be sniffed at, especially since it is not a flat course, and the last 3 miles are pretty much all up hill.

My final events of the year came in December. First up was the Stockport 10. I was very disappointed with my result. This was the first time I’d done this race and not lowered my PB. Maybe it was an omen, as there was no MealWorm in the goodie bag either!!! I was two minutes slower than in 2012, and the whole race felt slow and laboured.

Next up was a quick jaunt over the Snake to Ponds Forge for the South Yorkshire Masters gala. This was my first “proper” gala as a competitor since I was 15. I entered all the Free events, 400m, 200m, 100m and 50m, mainly looking to get times on the board having never done a stand alone 400m or 200m before. I knocked out a 5:38 for the 400m, which I was very pleased with. I’d done 5:37 at the Wilmslow Tri in May, but I had been drafting the guy in front of me for 350m of that, so to go only 1 sec slower was great. I had no frame of reference for the 200m race, and did a 2:40 which was nice. The 100m and 50m races were a touch disappointing, but I was tired from the 400 and 200. I “won” two Age Group silver medals for my 400 and 200 races, just don’t ask how many people were in my Age Group <cough>just the two</cough>.

Finally, I did the Ribble Valley 10K, mainly because I’d not done it before as in previous years I had always been working. Again, like the Stockport 10, it was slow and laboured. A reinforcement of the wake up call I’d got from the Stockport 10. I really need to smack it when my IM training starts in earnest.

The only other thing I did of note this year was join the parkrun 100 club. My weekly attendance at parkrun has been rather spotty over the last two years due to ever changing work rotas, but I finally made it.

Posted in Triathlon.

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