Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pregnant ? Yep, 3 month scan.

Apologies to those that have RSS feeds to this and expect triathlon chat all the time. This ones off topic.

This is the 3 month scan, everything healthy, fingers crossed, and yes, there is only one for those hoping for our lives to be even more turned upside down than they already will be.

No idea on sex or names but just checking all is OK. Mum is doing fine and not moaning too much yet but I am sure thats to come. ;-)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

IMOO Countdown - 1 days to go ...

OK, last post before the race, checked in the bike and one of the bags but we got there at 3.01pm and they locked us out of the bike to run check in, funny really, it did say 10am - 3pm for check in but there were loads of people still milling around so I didn't rush, anyway they told us to come back in the morning, I think I might rebel and just not bother lol !

Transition area is a BIG one ......

This is from one end

and then this is the other end from the bridge over the middle

So we drove the monster today and to be honest, its tough but there are no real tough hills, there are just loads of them and they will be leg sapping after a while, Kelly decided to do the David Bailey bit while I drove.

There are 2 main areas of climbing, on the way out and on the way back ;-) ahh, whatever, its the same for everyone. I have nailed it down, get back before 371 guys in my age group and I will be fine.

Then we went for a quick stroll round, this place is seriously lovely, Wisconsin is one of the nicest places I have been to in the States and Madison has loads going on, today was the College football game with the 'Badgers', (yep, thats the Badgers !) hosting the game, at least 60,000 at a college game, the town was buzzing after they won 51-14. And there is a SoCo concert across the road for free tonight, then a small event tomorrow to wake the whole town.

And this is the state capitol.

Anyway, tomorrow is creeping up, just to say thanks for the support and I hope tomorrow brings me what I am aiming for. If I am finished by about 5pm local time you never know.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

IMOO Countdown - 2 days to go ...

Well the rain didn't last long, today it started a bit rubbish and by 11am the sun was burning down.

Got out for a run around 7am for 30 mins, legs feel OK, just trying to stay loose.

After breakfast we did the official stuff. Registration was a bit of a chore but still well organised, then we hit the shops lol, its like Ironman porn !! cups, dog leads, badges to hang on your towbar, there is nothing these guys haven't thought of.

After picking up a load of gear, we turned round to see the queue to pay and then decided it was all tat and left it haha.

In between going back every 2 hours to fill the meter on the car I did get a swim out to the 800 m mark and back again to do some sighting, talked to a number of guys out on the swim, one of them set off so fast I thought my stroke has turned to shit overnight but it turns out after the chat he was due out in around 51 mins and I didn't feel quite so bad. We talked a bit about the bike and how tough it was, I have no illusions but I will still drive it tomorrow.

Kelly was getting a bit tired at this point so we headed off for food, State street at the top of town where the University grounds are is cool, and I found a shop that sells caps, visors etc and will also embroider my own, will get that done for tomorrow.

Then she dragged me back to the shops to re purchase everything we left, it was all still there ;-(

I dropped her off for bed, at 7pm, yep, she is that bad with jetlag and headed off to the race briefing, now back, finished building bike and ready to test it tomorrow.

Thoughts, well everyone I speak to has a view on the course and how tough it is, swim should be straight forward but the bike is either a bitch, son of a bitch or 'man, its the worse course I ever rode', I did ask why he was back but he mumbled something about not finishing the bike ... The run, well everyone who qualifies gets a 3.30 or better so I don't really have an option.

On an lighter note, the pirate story is reaching many corners of this quaint town, well I can't have strangers shouting 'come on skull man' I need pirate shouts, get it right or not at all lol !

Update tomorrow.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

IMOO Countdown - 3 days to go ...

Stateside, woohoo, safe and in one piece.

Just got to the hotel, currently 18:36 and Kelly has just gone to bed, well it is half past midnight at home and we have been up since 6am. This staying on UK time won't be as hard as I thought but having to go to the race briefing at 19:30 could be pushing the boat out tomorrow ;-)

Flight was painless, got searched a few times but what do you expect with Dhekelia in your passport as your birthplace as you check in for an American flight, it was mentioned at least twice, I think the Americans think Cyprus is in the Middle East, still it was all very pleasant and the 8 hours went by quickly enough, and the bonus ....kit arrived OK,
Car is great and fits everything. Hotel, very convenient and as usual the locals are very nice and extremely helpful + free t'internet which is always nice.

Only one real talking point, and believe it or not its not the cold or sore throat (they still linger but getting better I think).

Nope, its the weather, its like doing Roth all over again, its pissing down, this was on the way here ...

I have no problem with the weather as the race in July will serve as a good benchmark for any race to come, however the water here will be affected alot more than the Roth canal and they are expecting a weather warning for the weekend, that'll sort out the wheat from the chaff hehe.

So thoughts, drinking plenty, need to find a decent place to eat tomorrow for main meals as I can't handle barbecue meatballs in the hotel even if they are free. Build bike in the morning, if I get to bed in the next hour I should be up by 4am, build bike, then out for a run for 30 mins or so to flex the legs a bit and then find somewhere for breakfast, Denny's will have to wait til after the weekend.
Probably then do my planned 45 mins to check out bike and the drive the course after lunch.

Madison looks quiet, even for an IM town, I am sure if it wasn't raining and we were closer to the centre of town it would be buzzing but we will find that out tomorrow.

Off to bed, update tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

IMOO Countdown - 4 days to go ...

So sitting here at about 7pm, just finished up work and ready to start packing lol !!

Dropped bike off at Phils earlier and its all built and working as it should ready for me to dismantle and pack.

Got legs waxed as well, I am sure anyone from work reading that now will have a different view on me totally, never mind.

I have checked the weather for the area and its like this at the moment ...

Saturday - Partly sunny with a 20 percent chance of rain showers. Highs in the lower 70s.
Sunday - Partly sunny with a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms. Highs in the lower 70s.

Nothing will ever compete with Roth so I am not overly concerned but only taking one set of wheels means if its windy, its gonna be a bit hairy ;-)

Also my plan while I am over there is to stay on UK time, basically going to bed at 8pm local time and getting up at 3am. As I don't have time to adjust to the jetlag I am not going to bother, just stay on UK time and on race day when I have to get up at 3am to eat it won't be any different, once the race is over we can adjust for the trip to Chicago for a few days.

I just want to say thanks for all the good wishes from everyone on text, email and on the forums, I know there are a lot of other races going on this wekend, I have mates at Helvellyn, IM UK and Vitruvian, so all race well, good luck and have a good drink afterwards, I know I will. I really appreciate the support too, I think there may be a few people in Mongolia who don't know I am racing so if anyone sees them I don't think the me, me, me thread has reached far enough to cover the globe lol !!

I have put on a couple of other links on the right hand side,

The runners world one will have a few people updating from the IM site so if you can't track me, just link to that.
The live tracker will be on the Ironman Live site, commonly known as 'ironman dead', I have linked it straight to Wisconsin in case you want to follow the site. My number is 848.

I should be starting around 1pm UK time and hope to be finished by around 11pm UK time, or thereabouts.

Right, gonna go and pack, will update tomorrow when we get there, sad I know but I am looking forward to the hire car, its a Jeep Jubilee ;-) boys and toys eh ?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

IMOO Countdown - 5 days to go ...

Days are getting less and less, throat is getting worse, which before I get shite for going on about it, could be a good thing, had a massage earlier tonight and this will undoubtedly push the toxins out of the body and start to shift fluids around, possibly speeding up the cold and sore throat, hopefully by the weekend it will be gone, positive thoughts, no point in dwelling on it, but if I don't complain about something I wouldn't be me !

Louise, my massage lady kindly supplied me with some Echinacea tincture as she didn't think the tablets would work quick enough, worth a try.

So currently I am overdosing on Echinacea, Vitamin C and drinking 10 litres of water a day lol !! I have a headache from thinking about it. And a full bladder.

Hour turbo this morning, which always blows away the cobwebs, a short run tomorrow and that will be it before I fly out, feel a bit sluggish but that is normal in the week before, it wil be up to me to wake myself up on the Friday and Saturday before the race just to get it right for Sunday.

Have just got back from picking the disc wheel up from Slummo, cheers again mate, we had a good chat about his and Jans race in Almere, sounds like a tough day at the office, imagine having to swim 4km and getting out after doing 4.7km (reported by a number of people as about the average) and looking at your watch, it would be like WTF !!! Where did I lose 25 mins !! Needless to say it doesn't set you up for the day ahead. I have seen what the water in Lake Monona can be like so I will just take it as the day unfolds.

Also got to thinking earlier, this is the first IM race I have done since 2003 on my own, I mean literally no-one there that I know, I know Kelly is there and she is a star but she doesn't want to hear tri shite all day, I have no-one to bounce off and it felt a little lonely earlier, this year was great at Roth, even if you didn't want to contribute at breakfast it was lovely having friends there to listen to and laugh with, and last year at Lanza, we were there for a week before with some really good guys, top holiday, never mind, I will just have to find some random and force a pirate top on them whether they like it or not ;-)

I think though having the support on the forum at home and friends who know (that I haven't bored to tears already) about what I am doing, they'll be watching and this is enough to spur me on, plus at 30k I will just imagine Jeff chasing me down again and kick for home, cold or no cold, I have nothing to lose. Plus, with a number of close friends aiming at qualifying next year I don't want to be the one not there.

Monday, September 01, 2008

IMOO Countdown - 6 days to go ...

Shorter swim today, about 2km and then a steamroom to try to sweat this cold out. Amazing really that we are as unorganised going to the US for 10 days as ewe are going to Slovenia for 3.

The race pack arrived by online link today, I am race number 848. Had a quick look through the list of M35-39 to see how many there were, about 381 and I need top 10. Not too bad when you look at the professions of some,

Bionic Man - I could be in trouble there
Blimp Pilot - well he can't have much time for training surely
Goat herder - gonna be a good runner
Jigsaw puzzler
Fluffer - well thats a 4th discipline
And finally the body double for the Rock

Good sense of humour, but lets hope they can't cycle eh ?

Picked up the 808 wheels from Jeff which look great and are very light, even lighter than my 404's which are a few years older so thats always a good thing. they also run well as the hubs are so smooth. Still thinking of taking 2 sets of wheels to give me the option but now I have to find a double wheel bag !! Why do I leae it all to the last minute, I suppose if you don'thave it you can't take it which means the options are limited.

Was mentioned as well at work today that my normal miserablitis on a Monday isn't present, must be cos I am going on holiday, either that or I am saving it ;-)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

IMOO Countdown - 7 days to go ...

Well its Sunday the week before the race and lots of things to do this week.

1. Pick up bike box
2. Pick up disc
3. Pick up 808's
4. Book car hire
5. Ignore sore throat

Taper madness is a common ailment in IM triathletes and I am no different, after doing so many you would think I would feel differently but I suppose one day the ailments you get in the week before will still be there when you wake up on race day, not this time please.

Did my last longish bike, quick 2 hours, felt like cheating really, even stopped off on the way home with Phil for a brew at a butty van, very un-athlete-like but I just need to cut down on fat so stopping off for a brew isn't going to do any harm.

Thought for today, its just as well I have 18kg allowance for my hand luggage, I will need to top up in WHSmith on the other side to get enough water to stay hydrated for the 8 hour flight. Its not like they are going to give me free reign to a drinking tap on the plane, will they ?

Just got a text from Phil, swim at 7.30, I need to buy that man plenty of drinks when I get back, he is the only reason I am swimming at the moment, good swim partner to have.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Aug 28th - Aug 30th - Trip to Slovenia

So smack in the middle of taper we were invited to one of Kellys good friends to attend their wedding in Slovenia, it gave me the chance to chill and have a couple of runs in nice surroundings, I would have managed a swim as well if I hadn't removed my goggles from the hand luggage whilst protesting to Kelly that it wasn't my wetsuit that was making her dress smell of rubber !

When we got there we found it was that nice I might as well have left in the goggles as you didn't need a wet suit.

We landed in Klagenfurt, home of IM Austria, after a quick hop across the border to Slovenia, I went out for a run round the lake, just the right size, 3.7miles around, did a couple of laps before we went to meet the others for a pre wedding drink.

Our hotel was superb, right on the side of the lake and under a lovely church

The wedding day was idyllic, weather fantastic, lots of lovely people, mininal drinking for me anyway, the couple had a great day, I have put a picture of them but as its not my wedding I can't really be pasting loads of their pictures over the net, maybe they have a deal with Hello and I could be costing them millions ;-)

To be honest nly being there for the short 3 days we decided to try to make the most of the last day which was travelling home so we drove early to Austria to have a lunch around the Maria Worth area of Klagenfurt which is on the lake they use for the event, shown below

Then Kel decided to get fancy with the camera and take us back to occupied Austria !

So short 3 day, 2 night trip, beautiful area, well worth visiting on bikes and using it for a base camp for a longer holiday but maybe next year.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Quelle Challenge Roth 2008

Well seeing as I have a blog and I look at others I thought I better start using it, bit late I know as most of the build up to the race should be logged here but I store info in so many places I am sometimes not able to keep up with myself !!

Anyway, below is a LONG race report for the Roth race.


I have just finished reading Candy’s Arizona report for some inspiration but was crying so much that I couldn’t see so I had to stop, this one is more like Smiffy’s epic Norseman than one of Candy’s comedy’s but hey I have never been any different, so apologies once again in advance.

I’d been having nightmares about the hotel booking for months; firstly I had found an empty hotel in the centre of Roth, suspicious …. This was in October the year before the race when all others in a 10 mile radius of Roth were gone, seemed strange but grateful nonetheless. The email address I had for them was actually for another hotel in nearby Nurnberg still suspicious ….. There was nothing on the web to say this place existed, no pictures, no info, oh and they were Italian Germans which made conversations very difficult depending who you got on the phone each time I rang. Which I had to do a number of times to double check something or other. But I was desperate for a hotel so I had to go with it.

Eventually after lots of emails, babelfish translations, which only work in one direction, trying to untranslate the responses was a nightmare and finally a money transfer of just short of 1000 Euros I hoped that when we got there, we actually had a room to sleep in and this wasn’t a superb scam.

On arrival we found a large B&B - come Italian restaurant - with 7 rooms – excellent, we had managed to book the whole hotel just for our group…. Oh, hang on, we booked 8 rooms and paid deposits for 8 rooms – in fact the invoice I have says 8 rooms aswell !!
After a deflating conversation (our host decided he didn’t talk good English went things weren’t going well !) about the missing room and obviously realising there are NO rooms available in Roth at this late stage I decided that I sleeping on it was the best policy and see what happens in the morning! That night I shared a room with one of the single guys in a double room and wondered how I was going to break this to Kelly who arrived in 2 days.
In the morning the only offer available was a place 15 miles away in their sister hotel, thankfully one of the couples offered to move as they had a car! Thanks Mark and Sian.

Right, now I can concentrate on the race !

Pre race,

Pre taper training had been a bit rubbish as I had had to have 5 weeks reduced training volume after getting ill in Thailand in April. I still had a good base, so I stuck with it and decided that if I wasn’t 100% I could pull out of Roth at anytime. I would still go and support but it meant the pressure for my ‘A’ race in Wisconsin was reduced.

My main reason for doing Roth was time, plain and simple, for me that means going as far under 10 hours as I could, there was no point in wasting 2 weeks recovering after Roth if I didn’t believe I could do it.
As it turned out training was back on track and during June I raced a couple of ½ IM’s coming 17th and 3rd overall so racing was showing me the training was working. The main concern was the running, my cycling was strong and I had done more swimming this year than ever before. Still only about 1 or 2 sessions a week but more consistently and mainly due to having a swimming ‘buddy’, which is a great incentive at 7am and you know they are going to be there. The running was where I lost most of the time in the build up and I never really got more than a 15 mile run in all year in the end. Never mind. Fingers crossed I’ll be OK.
I decided around 3 weeks out I was definitely doing Roth so settled down for a good taper and mentally preparing to fight for my time.

Race week arrived and the journey to Roth was largely uneventful, Lufthansa really are superb but what is it about Manchester airport that makes them believe they should lump a £10 ‘handling charge’ to the bike carriage charge already imposed by the airline, robbing b*stards !!! And the airport at Frankfurt, which we transferred through, although a cool airport has so many gates that everytime we got through one and decided to buy some water you then find out you had to go through another checkpoint which means you cant carry any liquids again, RUBBISH !!

Anyway, arrived on time.

Friday morning with the room issue sorted we got down to checking out the expo, which is HUGE !!

and like being in a candy shop, purchases included a pair of compression socks,
compressed gas and some of the Sponsor race fuel. Registration was swift and painless. Then back to build the bikes.

Something that always happens to me in race week which through experience you find out how to deal with is that you start to get all sorts of aches and pains, I have a knee issue anyway so that starts to ache, my ankle was killing me, I had a sore throat for the whole week from the Monday before the race to the Saturday, which magically disappeared during racking, its all mind games and also down to the fact that you are tapering and the body is settling down. I think if this had been my first IM I would have been a right state worrying about it all, for those that have this yet to come, chill out, eat sensibly and cut out the hypochondriac symptoms, no one likes to hear a moaner, as everyone kept telling me !!! ;-)

Friday we arranged to drive round the course courtesy of Mike and Emma after a 30-45 mins cycle ride to check bikes. However, due to getting lost, not having a map and already being over an hour away from the hotel before we knew it, we proceeded to take 3 hours for our short, leg freshener ride, stupid, stupid, stupid !!!!!

So when we eventually got back, I got changed and put as many compression clothes on as possible to try to recover and set off for the course drive, the weather had been OK for most of the week, confirmed by my now comedy tan lines from the 3 hour epic ! but driving the course it started to rain and it was showing how bad it could get on race day if this continued as it was very exposed on large stretches. The highlight of the drive as a fast descender was to pinpoint the 3 switchbacks that could cause a few issues in the wet on race day, noted we headed back.

The Saturday saw pouring rain again, plenty of time to sort out the 3 transition bags as due to the rain we didn’t bother racking til about 3pm. We rode to T1 which was about 12km and then got a lift back by Mike and Emma again. The split transitions only have one knock on effect really, you had to hand in your run gear on the Saturday but everything else can be done on Sunday morning, so if you got this wrong you then couldn’t sort it out til you got to it on the race day. I must have double checked this 5 times and was sure I had left something out.
Then as we headed back the heavens opened even more and it binned it down all evening, a few prayers were said for the sun the next day.

Race Day.

After a good nights sleep, all of the aches had gone and I felt like a coiled spring, got up at 3.20 as breakfast was at 3.30am, everyone else was there, people just being slightly more quiet than normal. I had my usual food of ham and jam baguette, banana, bottle of energy drink and 2 strong coffees. I think we must all be heathens too as no-one was listening last night to our prayers, we just sat there listening to the constant rain outside, this was going to be a very, very wet day, just kept thinking, deal with it and don’t moan, it won’t make it go away.

We arrived at transition which is a sprawling mess really, body marking in one field, racks in another, people everywhere sorting their bikes out, I just went into selfish mode and did my tyres, bottles, uncovered bike, set up transition area and then went off to get marked and put on wetsuit, one thing I loved was that there were toilets everywhere, great, no queues.

My wave was number 4 which went off at 7.05, Sian, Jill and Emma went in Wave 1 at 6.20 alongside the pros giving them a brief head start, this was followed by Wave 2 at 6.55 then loads more waves at 5 min interval. Shook hands with Mark, Steve and Jeff. Me and Jeff made our way into the water, exchanged pleasantries then swam to the start line about 80 metres down the massive canal, we split up as I like to just concentrate on me from that point and I couldn’t stand having someone around me that I knew if I started to get into a boxing match, mainly as Jeff could probably hit me harder than I could hit him lol !


The gun went off and immediately you could tell this was going to be a very easy start with none of the usual madness, there was only 400 of us and most split up reasonably well, I set off up the right hand side and then started to try to get across left which was the middle as I wanted to find a draft, however the plonker on my left decided to swim at exactly the same pace and push me towards the bank, so I nudged him, he sighted and then corrected himself, then proceeded to do the same again as soon as he took another 5 strokes, this went on for 500m before I had had enough and just cut him up and headed for the centre of the canal.
Then without warning I swam straight into someone, we had caught up the wave in front, gaining 5 mins in about 800metres, as I looked up there was now a multicoloured array of swim hats with a lot of yellow caps in amongst our green caps, I thought to myself these people really don’t need us to be climbing over them so I started adjusting my stroke to get round people, having to add extra distance instead of trying to ruin another persons race, I know from my connection to the pirates that as a group we have a few nervous swimmers and just tried to imagine the abject panic that someone climbing over them would have on their day and it wouldn’t be fair so I think I probably lost a minute or so over the total distance but felt good in myself, jesus what a martyr eh !!

The first turnaround at 1500m came soon enough and the 2000m back stretch was uneventful as I just kept trying to find someone slightly faster than me and latch on for a draft, I even tried to get on the legs of the first guy from the wave behind who came flying past me but that’s just plain silly, he was gone in seconds !
I did find this stretch a little choppy but the usual mind games that I am going backwards didn’t happen this time as I just wanted around the hour and if it was under great, over I would deal with at the end, as it turns out I had no idea what my time was cos there were no clocks at the exit.

Got to the last turnaround to return the last 390m which I found a pain in the ass, bodies everywhere, choppy water, fighting the stroke and trying to focus on the transition to come and what I was going to wear, I got out in 1.00 dead.


Bliddy hell, what a faff, for a transition as small as this I should be in and out in less than 2 mins. I had been toying with the idea of wearing compression socks in the week before for the bike and run, copying Bella ya’see. However, these things are meant to be tight and putting them on was like trying to pull a polo mint over your head!!!! trying to get them on over wet feet and legs wasn’t filling me with confidence over the time I might gain back but it was cold and wet and I was going to be making sure I was warm so why not a bit more time.
Grab bag, run in, can’t find a ‘helfer’ anywhere, tip my bag out, gilet on, pull arm warmers on, they were pre-rolled into doughnut shapes so they go on quicker on wet arms, 3 gels in back pocket, take off chip, put on socks, comedy rolling around on the floor trying to get the feckers on without getting cramp, put chip back on, put on shoes and stuff wetsuit in bag with goggles and hat, run to bike, put on helmet, glasses and go. All in 4.53. Still not happy as it felt like 7.


It was absolutely heaving it down, my glasses were fogged up and I was now dancing with 5 or 6 guys trying to get into a rhythm before I settled into the first few rain soaked bends. I rolled the arm warmers up and started drinking. The course is a 2 lap affair that you cycle about 6km to start and then when you finish the 2nd lap you cycle about 10km extra to get to T2.

My feed strategy was simple, start with the race fuel, 2 bottles of it and some water in my aero bottle, each station pick up one energy and one water. This worked mostly, must learn not to grab a bottle and then hold it in my teeth while trying to get another one, the tops fall off !! I daren’t even look back at the carnage that could have caused.
Pace wise, I would stick to the well practised breaking the bike into 3 loops of 60km and keep to my heart rate zones for each one only using the hills to elevate it but not over 170.

I started to pass people regularly and getting into my stride set off for the first hill about 10km out, this was a sharp rise and fast descent followed by another one, then it was the fast stretch to the main climb at Greding.
I can’t remember exactly when it started but it was fairly soon and from the then on fairly constant, I normally have about 2 or 3 wee’s on the bike, I wasn’t sure if I was getting the nutrition wrong or it was the weather but I must have had pee’d enough to fill a roman baths !! about 10 or 11 goes during the bike, and we aren’t talking dribbles, we are talking 10 pints of beer and open the cork niagra-falls styley, needless to say my bikes shoes were minging after the race and had to be kept outside!!
I saw some of the TT’ers early on (Jorgan and Jimbo) and said hi. Then at about 45km I saw Jeff up ahead, he had had 2 mins on me out of the swim and was obviously going well as it had taken me a while to catch him, little did I know he was having a wee just as I caught him and as I overtook him he felt that this was bad sportsmanship to attack while he was otherwise occupied, so he chased me down the fast descents for the next 3km before settling down to his own pace, we had a few words of encouragement, swore about the weather, I told him he smelled of wee and I slowly pulled away. Next was Sian who I passed at a feed station looking very smiley and shouting support at me.
The rain was still coming down very heavily and every so often you would see the remnants of a crash being cleaned up, people walking with bikes, ambulances pulled over treating people, it wasn’t really the day to be doing anything stupid.
I was trying to keep the average speed up on the flats and descents to over 25mph as I knew the hills were taking the extra few mph off my aim of 22mph average, this was keeping my focus as the rain was just becoming annoying now and the comedy weeing was ruining my new socks, it was like being at home in North Wales on a Sunday ride in April only there were more people around and the road surfaces were better. At least I was warm, or was that just the wee.
The first lap passed without any issues, saw Kelly and the supporters

at Eckersmuhlen on the first lap and had an idea of pace as I got to 90km in 2.32.
The second lap much the same only the wind picked up, I wee’d some more and the guys I was dancing with were starting to thin out a little and it would only be 1 or 2 of the same names, I started to pass a few that had shot off earlier in the first lap too, its all about pacing !!
I passed Jill at 75 miles and said hello but the response was more due to the weather I think than my parentage lol !!! only joking but she wasn’t a happy chappy, and who could blame her, we had come all this way to be treated to a ride we could have done on our doorstep.
Did have one moment when I threw a bottle at a marshall to get rid off and as I let it go realised that we weren’t allowed to do that and this would result in a yellow card, damn, 2 more and you are out, never did find out if I was carded but it did add a little stress til I got off the bike.
The 2nd lap round I paid a little more attention to the Solarerberg which is the TdeF type climb with lots of people cheering you on very close to you and screaming all sorts of encouragement and generally making you feel very happy, very well supported and lots of cold and wet people prepared to take time out to be there, much appreciated !

The final 10k to T2 became a bit of a group ride much to my annoyance, lots of people started to tire and just sat in a group for the last 5 or 6 miles, a bit shite as if we had been followed by a race marshall they would have had no hesitation in carding the whole group but you just couldn’t get away from it towards the end, it was a fast finish and it was conserve energy now. Finished the bike in 5.05


Lot quicker than T1, hand off bike, run to bag, it wasn’t there, ar$e ! its not where its supposed to be, 15 seconds seems like a lifetime, found it in the wrong pile but I was almost ready to launch a Ben Elton style rant by the time I found it, pick it up, run in to tent, superb, a helfer empties my bag for me, rip off the compression socks which when I started were white, now they were black and smelled like a gents urinal in a pub, then after letting her put my socks away for me ;-) I managed to cover her in talc from my dry socks by flicking them without thinking, oops, comedy coughing fit from her, hat and glasses on, shoes on, go. Time 2.51


My aim was to forget the last 5 weeks of limited running as it’s just a damn excuse, I know I can run and my aim was 3.30 which meant start out at 5km/min and hold on. I normally don’t take anyone else into account in an IM, I do my own thing but I also use targets to play mental games, so I remembered CRAB’s 3.31 in Nice and RichM’s request for me not to return unless I beat 9.50, game on !

Wow, it had stopped raining as I came out of the tent.

My Garmin showed me I was on target heart rate of 155, use the 3 gels I had in my pocket at 4, 8 and 12 miles, take on the drinks including water, iso and coke at the feed stations and if I felt like I didn’t want something don’t take it, simple. The first 4km was undulating and after running down the steep hill at 1km there is a bit of a drag back up to the main canal, I had to stop for about 30 secs as my back was screaming due to being in the aero position for too long. Good stretch, felt a little better, set off and the aim was to hit the km markers on the correct 5 min intervals or just before. Previously at Germany 2006 I had run the first 21km before walking any feed stations and 26km at IM Lanzarote last year so I decided the aim was to run at least 30km without any walking and see what happened from there.
The much needed support was at 4km from Kelly and the Chester/Irish ‘sherpas’. First 10km came in 48 mins and knew I had a couple of minutes to play with. The run course meant you got to see everyone during the 2 out and back legs, it was good to have people coming the other way down the canal, a few shouts, Paul Hawkins looked fresh, Leanda Cave (name dropping) was also running well and my mate Mark was at least 10 mins ahead of me at the first turn. The bottom turnaround was a bit of a complex one way street thing, not one but 2 different out and back points. Once we got back onto the canal path returning to the halfway mark I expected to see a few of my friends coming the other way, saw Jill, happier on the run, Mark T, and a few other Brits. But no Jeff and no Emma, that meant Jeff had to be in the turnaround maze behind me and Emma was either having a really good day and in the same maze or a really bad day, I had seen her on the 2nd lap of the bike climbing Greding and she looked fine, I later found out it was a bad day she was having and was taken off the course after a few Km into the run with breathing difficulties, I missed my only other pirate mate all the way round the run expecting to see her too. Given the chance and speaking to her afterwards I know she would have battled to the end.

The run back in to the halfway point got me the next 10km in 50 mins with the heart rate not really moving too much and still holding those 2 mins in reserve, it was great to see the support from Kelly and the others at halfway again, plenty of noise and shouts of encouragement are never lost on me, love it !!
I needed a pee stop, I still haven’t perfected the art of weeing on the run and now wasn’t the time for showboating at oncoming pro’s, I was also wasting energy keeping at least a litre of pee warmed up so at 22km I had to stop, bliss !! wasted a good 90 secs or so but felt so much better, at least I wouldn’t need to stop again.
The next turnaround point is at 30km which I got to after another 51 mins, this was through a harder section of uphill tracks under a forest canopy, so much for thinking the course was flat but at least it was off road and soft ish under foot. Having not done the race before it was hard to visualise the terrain and course until the day and it does seem to go on for ever but at least you could see this turnaround coming.

Andy, one of the supporters, had run over from the 4km point to cheer us on and it was good to see a familiar face, however the next familiar face wasn’t quite so expected, I checked my watch at the turn so that I could see how far Jeff was behind me, I didn’t need to, I could see him straight away, around 45 secs from the turn, which mean under 90 secs behind me.
We train together, we egg each other on, we play the odd mind game but this one was unexpected, we had all talked before the race about expectations and its not unfair to Jeff to say that at this point I thought I might have 5 minutes or so on him, I still didn’t know my time as I couldn’t work it out but all I could think was I was going hard so he was having a stormer.

Apparently my face was a picture, what I didn’t know is he had gone all out to get to this point and was beginning to slow down but all I could think was I need to work harder, not much I could do if he was running faster than me but I would try.
So the only thing to do, kick for home, I was 8 miles out and I was already starting to slow down but the mind games started, we had both watched the IMNZ video the week before and there is a point in the race where on the last half of the run the 2nd woman catches the 1st woman but the lead girl responds to stay with her and eventually pushes on to win holding her off, that’s what I was going to do, if Jeff caught me, I was going to re kick and sit with him til the end and then get him at the end lol, amazing what you think about.
This is really where it started to hurt, and I mean pain in my quads that I had only really felt ‘after’ an IM on ‘silly walk Monday’ it was starting to give me doubts as to whether I could keep this up, all I could think was never look round, it shows weakness, failure, but I was also picturing Jeff 60 secs and closing, I pushed my heart rate up to around 160 to increase the pace. Each time I heard footsteps getting closer I thought it was him, the lactate in my quads was only being countered by trying to concentrate on nutrition and pace, I just kept taking Coke and Iso and forced another gel down me, that should last to the end. This was also the point my Garmin decided to stop working due to the tree canopy, GREAT ! 19.97 miles, so from now it was on heart rate and getting to 5km markers in time, distance was irrelevant on the watch.
It was also at about 34km that I started to try to work out what runs I did at home that reflected where I was on the course, 8km to go, that’s 0.6 x 8, so that’s 4.8 miles, ok, I can do that in my sleep, that’s the ‘so and so’ run I do on a Wednesday night, I wonder where Jeff is now, he must be hurting too, I started to try to work out my time, change the watch screen, right its ‘this’ o’clock, we started at 7.05am and I have been going for …. God I still couldn’t concentrate, all I could work out was I was still on for sub 10 if I didn’t stop.

Then at about 36km it was a weird change but the quad pain was the only thing that was keeping me going, oh, and not being caught by Jeff of course, it became quite sadistic really, it was like, ‘I can actually hurt myself like I have never before’ this is so gonna hurt but only for another 30 mins, COME ON, 30 mins that’s all.
The 39km mark was like an adrenalin shot, the pain was now numbing the tops of my legs, I had run through it and on the other side was just a feeling in my legs that told me when the feet hit the floor, under 2 miles to go and I knew at least most of it was downhill.
I was trying to stride out but I knew I wasn’t getting faster, just holding pace, I also knew I was pushing as the heart rate was now 165, the brain was ignoring the pain but I think the body has a natural defence mechanism that unless in mortal danger it protects itself, and Jeff catching me up didn’t signify mortal danger ! I still refused to look round. Just keep going, if he’s there he will have to kick harder, bring it on.

The final sting in the tail, the hill at 41km that you run down at the start, wow, what a killer but who cares with less than 4 mins to go, I could hear the final chute now, the mad euro trash, the clapping and the commentator, I still didn’t know what my time was as the watch was still stuck on 19.97 miles and I had lost count of where the last marker was, heart rate was 165 and rising and I could see the start of the chute.

This was the first time I looked round in 8 miles, partly as I wanted to see if Jeff was there and partly to check that my finisher photo wasn’t going to involve another sprint finish like last year, no-one in sight, the entry to the U shaped finish area was familiar from pictures, I scanned the crowds to find Kelly and the others, I found them at the top end, I am never sure how she manages to push in to the front of a 5 person deep crowd in the finish gantry – experienced Sherpa I guess – that means I am nearly there, the clock said 10.28, shite, heart stopped, where had I dropped 45 mins ? hang on, pro’s had a 45 min head start, I still had no idea on my time. I was sure it was 9.4x. Arms up in the air for the finisher photo, cross the line !!
Believe me, the second you cross the line the pain sensors all kick back to life but I really didn’t care, I was still trying to work out my time and turned to wait for Jeff as I was sure he was just behind me. I waited a minute or so and was then ushered out of the finish area.

I didn’t know until I had the certificate printed that I had done 9.42.25. The feeling was superb, I was lying on the massage bed when Jeff rolled in 5 minutes later, he had run a 3.29 to my 3.28, just as well I had kicked. I also know that I owe him at least 3 mins of that time as he pushed me harder than anyone has before.

Just a thanks to all the support, both forum based, friends at home and at the course, was very much appreciated. To have family and friends with you supporting lifts you at the most painful of moments and when you get back and read the support thread not only does it mirror thoughts in your head on the day about who is watching it also makes you feel REALLY good that people take time out of their day many miles away to watch a screen and get excited about it, wouldn’t trade that kind of support for anything, thanks.

I would love to do this race again but as there are so many to do I don’t when I will get the opportunity but I would definitely recommend it as a well organised, well supported and one to do at some point in IM/Challenge career.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bala Middle Distance 2008

Last time I did this race was 2006, 21st then and because of the course change I have decided that the aim this time was to place higher as times are irrelevant.

Well, the course was tougher but just as enjoyable, well marshalled and a good challenge, as anyone who has raced here the run is a bitch and it never really gets any easier.

Swim 32.57 (inc T1) New wetsuit (2XU V1) was superb, felt comfy all the way round and only started to have issues at the end when I was fighting the water, should learn to relax into the final 400m

Bike 2.23.07 Found this tough but went all out as this is my strongest discipline at the moment, HR was just below 170 for the hills but still pushed for the rest of the flats and downhills

Run 1.35.21 (inc T2) This has been the hardest for me over the last 5 weeks as I have been ill after pushing too hard in a training 1/2 IM in April. The comparison shows in placings for the different disciplines, 7th fastest bike and 52nd fastest swim ;-(

Overall 13th MS 4.31.25