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August 2013 Review

I spent the first third of August in Japan with the Scouts. The weather where we were staying ranged from 38 to 41 degrees, dropping to a positively chilly 34-36 overnight. Suffice to say I didn’t get much training in, barring a quick jog round Tokyo on our first day, 12 hrs going up and down Mt Fuji, and a quick dip in the lagoon at the Jamboree site.

Once back from Japan I was straight into racing with doing the Sprint distance at the return of the Salford Triathlon. I placed relatively well in a weak field (all the fast boys were in the Standard distance race which was won by Man Tri’s Alex Lawton), and it was a nice return after a month of not doing very much. I enjoyed the multi-lap bike course, although the twisty turney run course just seemed to go on forever. I also had the chance to take a bunch of photos which can be found here.

The following week saw me pull the trigger on something which will shape much of the coming year. I entered the 10th edition of Ironman UK (Bolton). Whilst not quite as focused or detailed as a John Newsom 3 year plan, or Tom William’s 5 year plan, my long term triathlon goal is to ride the Solarer Berg whilst “racing” Challenge Roth in Germany.

Step one was complete a marathon, step two was complete a Half iron-distance race, step three was complete a UK based iron-distance race, and then step four is Roth. I’ve completed 4 marathons to date, with Milton Keynes booked in for 2014. IMUK was my second choice for a UK iron-distance race. Really, I wanted to do Outlaw in Nottingham, but in 2014 it is the same weekend as Cub Camp, and as I missed 2013’s camp to go to Japan, that was out. So I’ve settled for doing the Outlaw Half as a training race ahead of IMUK in Bolton. I settled on Bolton as my UK race as it is so very local to me, and no other race really grabbed my attention. There’s also the lure of it being an M-Dot race, which ticks that box.

So, I’ve done the hard part and actually got a place for Bolton (it sold out in record time), now for step two, completing an iron-distance race. My race of choice was The Vitruvian, probably the most highly rated UK Half on the calendar. And it didn’t disappoint. The swim was a very pleasant two lapper in Rutland Water, the bike course was a rolling two lapper, essentially around the perimeter of Rutland Water, and the run was a two lapper (sensing a trend?) out and back along the Rutland Dam. My swim time was OK, especially since I hadn’t been in a pool for nearly 8 weeks in the lead up to the race. The bike leg was tough, as I’m rubbish on the bike, but I was pleased to do it in 3hrs (I had thought I might be closer to 3.5hrs), although slightly gutted to have been only 50 secs away from going sub 3. And I did a 1:49 for the half marathon to finish it off. Happy Days! My overall time was 5hrs 27mins, making it my longest race to date of any discipline – my slowest marathon being “only” 4hrs. I was very happy to have beat my goal of 5:30hrs, and I felt comfortable throughout the race, with only the last 5K of the run feeling tired – and that was possibly because I did my usual trick of going like a bat out of hell out of T2!

Posted in Triathlon.

June/July 2013 Review

June saw the events coming think and fast. first up was the British Sprint Champs at Nottingham. A fun and fast sprint tri around a rowing lake. The swim was my first in my new wetsuit, which felt great. Being British Champs, and a qualifier for Worlds (being held in London on the 2012 Olympic Course) it was a stacked field, and after a strongish swim, I got absolutely smoked on the bike. I finished with a good (for me) run, managing to chase down a few people – including my first experience of actually “racing” someone in a tri – we were shoulder to shoulder (competing for almost last place and almost last place but one) from 2K to 4.5K when he surged to try and drop me. At which point I kicked for home and took him down. Oh for small victories :-)

A week later and it was another sprint tri. This time the BRAT sprint tri in Tamworth. A nice swim, a nice bike, but a horrible run course. I was happy with my time, and as this had a more “average” field, I was much happier with my overall placing :-)

Next up was a mid week race in Tintwistle, just across the valley from me – the second closest race to my front door, the start being around a mile away. I didn’t go as well as I would have like, but still managed to ratchet down my course PB by another couple of secs.

July saw 3 races in 5 days. First up was the Offerton 10K on the Wednesday. It is a tough course, involving three laps of Woodbank and Vernon parks, and therefore, three climbs up “the hill”. I never felt too comfortable in the race, and ended up finishing a minute down on my 2011 time.

Next was the British Standard Distance Champs in Liverpool on the Saturday. I ended up finishing 4 minutes slower than last time on this course in 2011. However, it wasn’t all bad. That included a 7 minute stop (I know, way too long, especially as I was using gas!) to fix puncture number one. Fortunately the second puncture happened literally just before I turned off the course to head into T2 – which led to me having a “moment” when going around said turn on a now rapidly deflating rear tire! My swim was 30secs quicker, my moving time on the bike was a minute quicker, and my run was 3 minutes quicker (over what was possibly a slightly short course). Over all I had a great day, and managed to take some great photos – which can be found here.

The third race was another 10K (I mentioned that it was 3 x 10Ks in 5 days didn’t I?), the “I love MCR 10K” around Man City’s Eastlands stadium, and the more scenic parts of east Manchester. I was thoroughly knackered by this point, and the hot weather contributed to a slightly poor time.

This was all followed up the following week with a 5K Sale Sizzler on the Thursday, and the Gravy 6 on the Sunday. The Sizzler was a nice hit out, but nothing spectacular. My PB or 20:37 was set at this Sizzler in 2012, so a 21:47, whilst solid and not surprising all things considered, was a touch disappointing. The Gravy 6 starts at the end of my road. Or at least, it used to. This year they moved the start to a field just off the Longdendale Trail. I understand the reasoning for the move, but I have to say I don’t like it, not least because the field is horrible to run round. Feeling the fatigue of a hard fortnight’s racing, I did little more than jog round the course.

My final athletic efforts of July all occurrred in Japan, whilst on a trip to the 16th Nippon Jamboree with some Explorer Scouts from Marple, Stockport and Bramhall. All that will be detailed in a later post – accompanied by photos, and videos – if I ever get the time. Suffice to say, if you ever get the opportunity to “climb” Mt Fuji, do it!

Posted in Triathlon.

May 2013 Review

Once the pain subsided from the Manchester Marathon, I was determined to bounce back and start smashing it.

Swimming – I made a reappearance at the Man Tri sessions. One of the early ones involved having no lane rope in the pool for the whole session, to give a better approximation of open water. This included a 500m time trial where you were free to move around the pool, between “lanes” trying to draft off the better swimmers. As it was only my second session back in the pool in nearly 8 weeks, I was chuffed to average 1:28s per 100.

Bike – 1st of May I got back on the bike, starting with small 10 miles routes around the hills of Glossop. I even started commuting to work on my early shifts. My first event of the month was a Stockport Clarion Club 10. I was well chuffed with my time, coming in at 28:13, only 33 seconds down on my PB from last year, off such minimal “training”.

Running – A mere 6 days after the Manchester marathon, I lined up for parkrun at Woodbank Park. Not expecting anything special, with the Marathon still very much in my legs (and after having cycled the 10 miles to the park), I just decided to smash it, and see what I got. 22:21 is what I got, just 11 seconds off my PB. A nice positive to start the month on.

Wilmslow Sprint Tri was my first traithlon of the year. Dubbed the Man Tri Sprint Champs in 2012 due to the high number of club members taking part, this year saw a similar turn out. I smashed the swim, with a new PB of 5:37, but it was a slow bike day, and my run was average. In the end I finished 90secs slower than last year, which was about par with most people finishing 60-120 secs slower.

Edinburgh Marathon – The original plan for Edinburgh was to take it easy and “enjoy” the day, after having set a new PB at Manchester only a month earlier. Stuffing up Manchester meant that I had no real option but to go for it at Edinburgh. We had a great day for it, sun shinning and not too hot. However, it did get quite windy on the costal section past Musselburgh, and ultimately that wind, over the last 3 miles, cost me a new PB. That said, I was very pleased to have bounced back from Manchester, and to have run such a strong race after having been so “broken” when I crossed the line in Stretford.

Posted in Triathlon.

April 2013 Review



For some reason I totally lost my training mojo. I failed to get back in the pool (save the odd few hundred metres swim down after a run), I failed to get back on the bike, and I missed a whole bunch of run training in the final build up to the Manchester Marathon.

My first event was an Open 25 mile TT. Riding this was a mistake on so many levels. The original plan was for it to be an interesting diversion from the Marathon the following week. Nice idea, if I’d been on a bike since January. My legs certainly felt the lack of bike action for a good few days afterwards. The second problem was a stupid school boy error. I got up late, and had a light breakfast, and then never got round to eating lunch. This meant that I bonked at around mile 14. Something which was compounded by me not taking any food with me on the bike, just water. Through in going out too hard for the first 5 miles, and I completely stuffed up the day. The 6 mile ride from the finish back to my car at the HQ was very very grim. At least I didn’t finish last, 96th out of 97 finishers! We’ll not even go there with the time.

And onto the big one, the Greater Manchester Marathon. After the shambles that was the previous year’s event, the race organisers had gone all out this year to reduce the chances of any problems. They changed the route to get rid of the early off road section, and the steps up from the underpass at the end. And they got in the Army and Air Force (Cadets) to manage the baggage. The only real failing of their organisation was that it started within spitting distance of The Swamp.

Greater Manchester Marathon 2013

Greater Manchester Marathon 2013

I went into the race unsure of what my target should be. I’d had relatively decent training in Feb and Mar, but Jan and Apr had been rubbish. In the end I decided that #gohardorgohome was the order of the day, and I set off at 3:35 pace. This was certainly an achievable time, based on my recent 10K and Half performances, but I think that the lack of mid length runs, the poor taper in Apr and the 25m TT the week before put it out of reach. I could have gone out at 3:40 pace, and would probably have come away with a small PB, but the thought of 4 months training for just a few seconds gain didn’t sit right with me.

I could feel the 25 in my legs even after just the first 5K, and that’s the point at which I should have backed off a little. Being stubborn, I didn’t, and went through half-way in 1:47, which was right on target for 3:35. The wheels came off at 17/18 miles and I detonated! The last 8 miles were very painful, but I was please to bring it home sub 4hrs, in 3:50. This was only my third marathon, and was another useful learning experience. I’m also doing Edinburgh at the end of May. The original plan was to smack Manchester and get a new PB, and then take it easy and “enjoy” the day at Edinburgh, given that it has been scorching hot the last few years. Now, however, I’m reviewing the plan, and will probably go out for a new PB (weather dependant).

Without a doubt, the highlight of the Marathon was these guys at the half-way point in Altrincham. Appropriately located just of the crest of a small hill :-)

Training Stats:
Swim 0m 0hrs
Bike 36.4mi 2:22:18hrs
Run 49.7mi 7:13:51hrs

Posted in General.

March 2013 Review

My swimming was hampered by a couple of factors. First there was the water temperature at Moss Side pool where I usually swim. A broken pump meant that the pool temp kept climbing, and climbing, until it was something daft like 32 degrees. Far too hot to train in, and the Club even cancelled a few sessions because of it. I have a tendency to overheat during exercise anyway, so there was no way I was going to voluntarily train in a bath! That disruption then led to me struggling to get back into the rythm that I had had during Jan and Feb, and I finished March with just 3 sessions in the bag.

Bike was again nonexistant. I entered an Open 10 mile Time Trial on the 30th March, hoping that it would spur me on to train, but as the awful whether continued, I never managed to get out on the bike, and I ended up blowing off the TT due to the weather on the day.

However, my Running went pretty well. I hit most of my sessions, and got all my long runs in. My 4 runing targets for the year are sub 20min for 5K, new PB for 10K, sub 1:40 for a Half, and sub 3:40 for a Marathon. First up was an assault on my 10K PB, at the race I set it at last year, the Trafford 10K. Unfortunately the weather got in the way. It was a perfect day, except for one thing, the wind. The air temp was cool, the sun was out, but the wind was up. Being a big guy, I’m pretty much like a sail running into the wind, and it was really noticable. I ended up running 43:31 which is by no means awful, and only 27 seconds slower than my PB, but I was really gutted with the run as I had had high hopes of knocking off a goodly chunk.

Next up was the Wilmslow Half marathon. I’ve raced it twice before, and had disappointing results both times. In 2010, it was my first Half, and I went out too hard, finishing in 1:56, when my target was 1:45. In 2011 I was just coming back from a hamstring strain, and was forced to take it easy due to a lack of run fitness. My time of 1:47 was pretty solid, but was still over 5 minutes slower than my then PB. After missing out on an early season shot at going sub 1:40 at Helsby, due to it being cancelled, I was very annoyed to arrive at the start area to find yet more horrendous winds. I’d initially thought that 1:37:59 was a realistic target, but I resigned myself to just targeting a new PB. The wind assisted first half flew by, as I knew it would, with the head winds being saved for the return section. As the race went on I reassesed my target and realisted that sub 1:40 was still on the cards, even if 1:38 wasn’t, and really dug deep over the last 2 miles to bring it home in 1:39:18, a full 90secs quicker than at Helsby last  year.

I finished March off with a second assault on my 10K PB, this time at the Salford 10K. I’d been warned by a friend who’d done it the previous year that the course wasn’t very inspiring, but it did have a reputation for being fast. However, coming only 6 days after Wilmslow, I faded badly after 4K. I decided to turn it into a training run, and backed off on the second lap. A 22min first lap meant a PB was out of the window, so there was no point pushing myself too hard on the second lap, and risking injury.

I also cried off my first Triathlon of the season, the Pwhelli Sprint Tri. I had a blast doing it last year, even with it’s silly rules about no tumble turns, and no running (in transistion), and it would have been a good early season benchmark. However, the weather was just too awful to contemplate it. The air temp was around 3 degrees, into minus figures with wind chill on the bike, and I figured that it just wasn’t worth the journey, risking getting ill, for what would have probably been a grim day at the office.

Training Stats:
Swim 10,800m 3:01:00 hrs
Bike 0.0mi 0:00hrs
Run 142.8mi 21:13:59hrs

Posted in General.

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