Tuesday, 19 January 2010

10th Pro at 70.3 South Africa

Well I am back in the UK, can't sleep even though ive been up for 30 hours now so thought that there couldn't be a better time to report on the goings on in Buffalo City at the weekend!

I left committing to this race very late in the day and only actually decided I was 100% on it 5 weeks beforehand. The original plan was to do Powerman Florida at the beginning of December but unfortunately not through my own fault it didnt come together. So new advisor and coach Dr Martin Yelling of http://www.active-futures.com/ suggested 70.3 South Africa and with Christmas allowing plenty of time to train with no work I figured it would be a good and exciting opportunity, or so I thought! What I hadn't accounted for was the huge amount of snow that decided to dump itself on most of the country for the best part of my build up! I can remember one day in particular very well, on my plan I was supposed to run but everywhere had iced up badly so thought I would swim instead but the pool was shut so thought no big deal will run on the treadmill but the gym shut as well! So preparation was not ideal and unfortunately no squad to swim with over Xmas either so was very nervous going into this about holding my own and pulling out something respectable.

I touched down in Buffalo City, East London on the Tuesday before the race to overcast sky's but very humid conditions, the weather here though can change at the drop of a hat and it wasnt long before the sun was out I think if I were to race here again then I would get out the weekend before just to allow enough time to fully acclimatise because on that run course on race day it hit 33 degrees!

What made the lead up to the race very easy was meeting up with first timer and Liverpudlian Richie Williams of Tri Central. It was a chance meeting, I found him on the road on my way back from the bike shop on my first day. The guy has so much enthusiasm its scary and has only been in the sport 7 months. It was a welcome distraction from my own agenda listening to his experiences and thoughts about the race. Plus he had been out there a little longer than me so knew about where to go and more importantly where not to go!

By Thursday the buzz of the race had started to filter into town and the area was starting to look more like an ironman venue. The pro briefing was straight to the point and a fairly relaxed affair, organisation was very slick as to be expected.

Race day came around in no time at all and i found myself on the start line for the beach start into the water. For reasons discussed previously the swim was going to be about damage limitation and I think I executed an ok performance here but unfortunately didn't have the miles in the pool to keep with the guys a little further up in the water where i would normally place myself but in terms of time it wasn't much to speak of.

Through transition fairly sharpish and out onto the bike. Now if you look at the course profile map it gives you the impression that its all up hill heading out to the turn and all down hill coming back. This is true but its rolling the whole way so your either going up or down. What I hadn't accounted for was the fact that the wind would be behind use on the way out and into our face coming back which really screwed things up especially because I went out far too quickly and by 45 minutes my lack of time on the road over the last few weeks was telling, the turbo is great but its by no means a full replacement for riding on the road. Towards the end of the bike I was suffering and my lower back wasn't great, not helped by the fact that I dropped my bottle at the final feed station. I had lost a lot of ground and I think was around 17th. I wasn't feeling good going into T2 but once out onto the run that started to change despite feeling like I was running in an oven. It was clear that I was running down most of the field in front of me and was actually feeling good despite the poor bike.

Onto the last lap of the run and I knew by the shouts from the crowd that I was catching two of the Storm brothers who are very popular South African athletes so this gave me the push I needed on the final lap to empty the tank and to my surprise it was enough to run into 10th position out of the pro's and 11th overall (an age grouper just nicked in front!) So of course with the position in the race I am delighted. The performance had good points but also bad points particularly the bike but under the circumstances I felt I did the best I could and can certainly improve on this, plus the year is young so plenty of time to plan my next outing!

A big well done to Richie who nailed his first effort and is off to Clearwater! A tough first effort too considering I reckon that South Africa is one of the tougher courses on the circuit.

I am off to soothe my sunburn!!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Peaks and Troughs!

Pictures of my tritastic birthday, 30 but faster than I was when I was 20!!

First race back, 2nd place at Silverstone duathlon, not too shabby.

Good to be back on the podium. 3rd place at the final round of the National Ranking Series.

The infamous Box Hill. 5th Place at the 20th Anniversary addition of the Ballbuster.

Long time no blog I know. Its certainly been a roller coaster these last few months. After my last post ive been through a bit of a rough patch and bad form and in the end was just flogging it to death for no return. I suffered with breathing difficulties at Wimbleball and was as a result put on a steroid inhaler as I seem to react really badly to the pollen and its not the first time its happened. So after another setback I struggled to regain form and in the words of Austin Powers I "lost my mojo". The problem I think was getting so up for New Orleans earlier in the year I couldn't deal mentally and physically with the disappointment after being in such good shape so ended up training for the sake of it and really should have backed off. On the plus side I had a great 30th birthday did win the Harwich triathlon wining a holiday to France and got 3rd at Northampton but wasn't right. My back was niggling me every race and got to August with no enthusiasm or form and wounded so decided to back off and just tick over and take a mental and physical break.

So this second phase of the season has been dedicated to the duathlon circuit, finding my mojo again and I have had results that prove things are moving in the right direction, but its all about next year now. I was particularly pleased with my result at Box Hill in the Ballbuster as being the 20th year anniversary the field was loaded! 9 former winners in total not to mention vaious international triathletes and duathletes, it was some burn up. I took everyones advice and took the first run real easy but made the mistake and blasted into the lead on the first lap of the bike and paid the price, but I took a gamble which might of paid off, it maybe cost me a couple of places but better to try these things and fail than not at all.

This year is not done and dusted yet so watch this space, ive something big on the horizon!

Thursday, 4 June 2009


Swim Bike Run
Long time since my last post I know! Well June is all about change for me, i'm about to enter the third decade of my life (30 shit!) which has prompted me to sit back take stock and work out where i'm heading and make a few changes.

New Orleans was a fantastic experience and one I will never forget but I came away extremely disappointed with the result and nearly cracked. I stumbled over the finish line into the arms of a medic and was whisked away to the medic tent and put on a drip for an hour. I made the simple mistake of not arriving in America in enough time to acclimatise and come race day the temperature had cranked up and we were faced with 99% humidity and I just couldn't cope. From the start of the swim I tried to go off as hard as possible and from the first breath I took I just couldn't seem to get enough oxygen on board and found it hard to breathe. Tried to play catch up on the bike going off very quickly but suffered coming back and couldn't put together a good run as a result. I ended up 21st professional out of 32.

Despite my lack of preparation with the conditions its made me realise that my task racing as a pro and working full time is probably too much of an ask and its just not a level playing field racing against guys that are full time athletes or only work part time. So as of next week I am regrettably leaving Hunters, who have been my employer for the last 7 years who I would like to thank for their support, to start a new job in Highgate working for another agent called Barnard Marcus who are going to employ me on a more flexible basis allowing me more time to train which will hopefully allow me to bridge the gap in the professional ranks and achieve what I feel i'm capable of. So i'm excited and optimistic about what will be possible now.

I have had a few more outings since New Orleans including the Tri Force Where Tri where I had a pretty average swim and was going well on the bike until my front tyre blew, turns out I was inflating them too hard! Anyway I rolled back into transition and ran a very swift 6k off the bike and still finished the race, it was more for fun than anything. My attention recently has turned to time trialing on the bike and ive had some good form finishing 2nd by 1sec at round 3 of Brickendon and winning round 5 also by 1 sec. The result though I am most chuffed with was finishing 4th in the Norland Combine on a wet and windy Sunday with a PB of 1:55:39 for 50miles, to finish 4th in a good quality time trial like this up against pure cyclists is very pleasing indeed! Last night I managed to shave 6 seconds off my course record round Colney Heath at the tri force midweek TT.

My attention at the moment is focused toward 70.3 UK in 10 days time. My new working arrangements unfortunately won't come in time for this but i'm still hopeful of putting together a good result after mechanical failure last year. After that I have quite a few tri's planned and hope to start getting some wins for the team under my belt.

Monday, 9 March 2009

New Orleans here I come!

Well after an eventful winter I am now just under 4 weeks away from my first big race of the season which will be 70.3 New Orleans. I have 2 weeks left of hard training before I start my taper and despite the worst weather this winter in the UK for years I think I have made progress under the guidance of Fiona at Tri Europe http://www.triathloneurope.com/. Having the benefit of a season already behind us of working together we have been able to really concentrate on what we know actually works for me.

My track record thus far in any Ironman branded race has not been good. Last year I raced Austria when I shouldn't have after suffering a nasty cough and chest infection, in hindsight I should have never got on the start line and at UK I still wasn't in great shape but couldn't finish due to mechanical failure. But its not been all doom and gloom as I finished the season in the prize money at the Home D Ferro in Ibiza and mixed it with some big names in Lisbon so I know i can do it, third time lucky I hope!

Ive recently linked up with a new swim squad. In recent years ive let my swimming go with it being less important in long races. But now i'm racing as a pro I really need to be as competitive as possible so I have upped my game and been swimming with some very fast youngsters. Its certainly paying off and I am swimming times I didn't think were possible whilst training for two other sports. During the second Tri Europe camp I put myself on the line and did a 400m time trial in my wetsuit and was surprised though delighted to swim 4:46 with no dive! My previous best which was with a dive was 4:58 so i'm hoping this will pay back a lot of time over 1900m.

Despite having a couple of weeks off running due to a slight niggle with my achilles I seem to be still running better than ever and am confident I have at least maintained if not improved upon the 32:42 min 10k I ran at Christmas. I was honoured to be picked to run for Hertfordshire but unfortunately had to decline due to it not fitting in my schedule.
In action during the North Road Hardriders

The North Road Hardriders was my first competitive outing for the team this year. It was a big eye opener to see how competitive it was, some of the best riders in the country turned out for what has been a very well established race and now classed as a classic. I rode 90sec quicker than last time I rode this course in 2007 which is of course progress, but a little disillusioned to finish 20th! My time would have been good enough for 9th in 2007 so that just shows you the class of field this year. Anyway I can hide behind the fact i'm training for three sports and not one!
Testing at the University of Essex

Lab testing has showed that I am able to produce more power than last year though am not quite as efficient in terms of oxygen up take and heart rate which we think is down to not being able to get many miles in on the road due to the harsh winter. Hopefully this is set to improve with the better weather, lets face it the weather can't have got any worse!

So on the whole i'm happy and optimistic about New Olreans. I realise i'm probably going to be one of the few pros with a day job and am not going to be challenging Macca and co but I do think I can be competitive and my dream of securing a slot for the world champs is possible, what will be will be!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Happy New Year!! 1st Jan 2009 a win and course record!!

Final descent to the finish!

A nice bottle of Moet which will be kept on ice until the first big win of the year is nailed!

Well its been a great start to the year. I knew after getting over the lurgy that I was in good running shape after my 10k a few days ago and my best track session to date on Tuesday. I actually think I can go a lot quicker than I did last weekend as I still reckon I was carrying a bit of a chest infection so things are looking better than they have ever been before running wise at this time of year. The next goals for my running are the county champs next weekend where my aim is to make the county team which is easier said than done with the standard of running being so high in Herts at the moment. Following that I am racing the Wokingham Half Marathon where my goal is to break 70min, even if I don't then i'm sure I will smash my PB!

I spent New Years Eve over in Teddington with Fiona Moorehead-Lane (my coach), hubby Rob and Rav and Suhela Dihegi and little one Eva. Anyway nothing too hard core just 4 or 5 beers (which is a lot for me!) and some Wii action after midnight, two hours later still playing! well I say playing I was actually being given a golf and baseball lesson, but tennis I rock!

So anyway not best race prep but hey you can't be no fun on New years eve. The race is call The Knacker Cracker have a read and you will see whyhttp://www.trionium.com/knackercracker/ The course goes up different parts of the infamous Box Hill with a mixture of mainly trails a bit of mud and a tiny bit of road. The descents are so steep if you get them wrong you won't stop rolling! and a couple of times I actually had to use my hands to stop falling over. I would hate to do this race on a wet year!

Training with my new buddies has got me in the habit of going off very quick whenever I run and hold on. This race was no different, straight to the front up the first hill and kept running until I couldn't hear my chasers breathing anymore. I took the descents very easy so as not to do anything silly and concentrated on putting time into my rivals on the climbs. The final climb was by far the worst and I was warned about this but did I listen, nope.

It was great to see so many in fancy dress from a Masai warrior to the tin man, maybe next year! Well done to Fiona who was 3rd woman after not really doing much training since Busselton, I couldn't have done that of next to no training. Rob was the smart one and spent the morning on the golf course.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Winter frustrations, a 32min 10k and a 3rd place at the Epsom 10

No it wasn't me! (an over turned car which prevented the Luton marathon relays from going ahead)

Getting festive for a mince pie ride on Xmas eve

Since my last post ive got together with a secret training group to try and kick start my running for next year. Ive been getting my ass kicked every Tuesday evening by two of the best runners in the country. But it has done me good, its only been once a week but I built up such a fantastic base through Fiona's training the track session just seems to be the icing on the cake and its great to try and hang on to guys that have run 30min and under for 10k.

My first outing was at The Epsom 10 in November and at the time I had just really started to reap the benefit of my suffering each week on the track. I knew before even starting the race that it wasn't going to be a fast course as it takes in Epsom Downs with some tough climbs so it was going to be about racing rather than chasing times. Rather stupidly I led for the first two and a half miles and was in very good company indeed but as expected got dropped but did hang on for 3rd taking home £50 and even despite the hilly course a PB of 55.23 which looking at other peoples times I reckon could be worth a 53 on the right course so this proved that the suffering is working.

Next up was the Luton Marathon relays. Felt in good form leading up to this and felt I was another level up on Epsom in terms of fitness so was quite excited about laying down a marker here. But circumstances were out of my control and an over turned car meant that the race could not go ahead, the organiser made the right decision to pull the plug and you don't mind so much when its for charity.

My frustrations continued when I was supposed to be running the Telford 10k last weekend which looked like a cracking race but flu put pay to that.

I had written off 2008 as far as competition goes but last night I was talking to my team mate who told me he was doing a 10k up in Leicester today so despite hammering myself yesterday decided to put myself on the line. I was still a little chesty and preparation was not great after a week off but managed a PB of 32:42 and 12th place in a very good field so it was a nice way to wrap things up for 2008.

If my running continues to improve from the training with my new found friends then I am very excited about 2009 even if I just manage to get my swim and bike back up to where it was last year things are looking good. I reckon with a couple more months on the track then I will be running 31min for 10k which may open a few more doors as far as Duathlons go.

The plan now is to continue improving my running and also start cranking up the swim and bike miles and I am planing to join a new swim squad in 2009. Ive learnt from the improvements in my running that the best way to get better is to surround yourself with much better athletes.

Happy new year to everyone that reads this, I hope 2009 is the one!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Winter is here!

Well the tan has faded, there is talk of light snow in the next couple of days and Ibiza seems now to be a distant memory even though it was only about 4 weeks ago.

I had planned to keep running and riding with the view to carrying on my good form into doing some end of season duathlons. However, the mind was willing but the body was not and I needed some time out so ive been eating and drinking what I want and just training when I want to. Ive been running mainly and enjoying having time to do other stuff.

My competitive urge hasn't completely left me and I am planning to do some running races between now and the end of the year. This Sunday I am running The Stevenage Half Marathon which is also incorperating the Hertfordshire County Championships. I have no real expectations but i'm sure once i get on the start line I will get into race mode again. I am carrying a few extra pounds so probably not in PB shape but reckon I can still be competitive. These days I rarely get to do running races with triathlon taking over so I am looking forward to it. Its been about 10 years since I last won a county championships (scary how time flies!) when I was a Junior so it would be nice to at least make the top 3 some day as a senior in a county event, who knows maybe this weekend!