Friday, October 22, 2010

Commitments made. And alcohol !!

Over the last 2 weeks we have committed our lives to events next year. Both very exciting.

Family wise, we have set our wedding date, 9th June 2011. This is going to take a lot of organising, I would like to say on both of us but I can imagine that Kelly will make sure I am toeing the line, so her organising will involve organising me, yes, carnage !!
We are both looking forward to it and with our bridesmaid in waiting Teya growing day by day we will all get to play a large part in the special day.

I have also paid up for the inaugural IM Wales in September 2011. The race is a qualifier for Kona 2012 so lots to do and maybe a bit of luck again and you never know. In last weeks blog I put my thoughts on the way I thought the entry might go, still nothing concrete in terms of competition to really go on as there is only about 400 entries in total, a few names I recognise but early days.

So in order for the year to run smootly I have to make sure priorities are right, the wedding and the preparations come first, managing the various elements to come together for one day will be challenging but we can work together for that for the most part.
The race is important but I can fit training around everything else and its 3 months later in the year so no conflict.

The training is still going well (apart from last week - read below) and to some extent, around 4 months earlier than normal when I would kick start my structured training of any substantial volume or quality.

Mmmm BEER !!

However, over the last fortnight, training has taken on the footie familiar saying of a game of 2 halves. 2 weeks ago at the start of this period I had a few beers on Sunday and decided that Monday would be rest day. So Monday I had another couple of beers on my rest day and this just kicked off the inevitable downward spiral, setting the tone for the rest of the next 6 days.

I didn't want to get up Tuesday to swim as I felt rubbish, so I would train later that day, as I was travelling to Northampton on my weekly round trip I couldn't do 2 sessions, so I bumped one to the next day, and so it went, sessions moving, rejigging the structure, by the time the end of the week came, alcohol, which had been the catalyst to a bad start was then taken over by a hectic week at work and by the end of Friday I had loaded the weekend to 3 sessions on both days !!

As most experienced triathletes know, this is counterproductive, if you miss a session, let it go, so even though I had the best of intentions to keep up my hours I saw sense, I extended my long ride on Sunday and quit being stupid for the rest of the weekend and overloading myself. I also decided to test the following 7 days with an alcohol free week to see the difference.

NO BEER !! Booo

This last week I noticed something else. Obviously no alcohol, but I was waking up feeling like I had had 5 pints. Its just become very obvious how little water I am drinking during the day. I am fueling for the sessions I am doing each day but with the fuzzy head in the morning it can't be anything else other than dehydration. I need to start drinking more in the day as I am probably losing quality out of my sessions by being under hydrated most of the time.

Volume in the last 2 weeks has been standard, 5hrs swimming, 13 hours cycling, 5 hours running. Not bad for the time of year. Its not everything I should be doing, the swimming is needing the extra time in the pool and the running has just started to ramp up a little so its coming together. I am not worried, as I said, its very early in the year and a long way to go, I want to come out of winter firing on all 3 sports and I am heading there.

A few bits of exciting news.

Winterswim is back, for anyone that doesn't know what that is, get over to Toms Williams site to find out.

But, I am still slow in the pool !

Changing your stroke takes some commitment, mine is being tested at the moment, I have my 400m time for #winterswim sorted for Week 1 before the end of the month but I need to put in another effort, I did the 400m effort after a main 2600m set as I didn't want to interupt the session but I will be making a real go at another 400m before the end of the month.
Its a great way to keep the motivation for swimming going over the winter, hence winterswim, I think Tom has his work cut out this year as its popularity has snowballed but the uncommitted (like I was last year) will fall by the wayside to maybe ease the pain a little.

Secondly, Lawrence is moving into the electronic age and we are using Training Peaks from this week. I already use Garmin Connect and can upload all of my training to it and provide him feedback but I have heard a lot of good things about the TP options so I hope its a step in the right direction. I love gadgets and if I had a power meter I would already have started to use this as a training tool but its never too late as they say.

On to next week and the run in to Xmas, yes, Xmas is in the shops already, its not even Hallowe'en and Kelly has a bedroom full of toys for Teya, in fact I think she has finished her Xmas shopping already !

Anyway, more consistent training, less alcohol, more water, new gadgets and an improved winterswim, can't wait.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kona delivers again - Looking forward to 2011.

This week brought the end to the current Ironman season, culminating in the race of champions, all of the qualified professional and AG athletes in the greatest racing spectacle in our multi discipline sport.


Congratulations to Chris McCormack and Mirinda Carfrae for their wins.

For anyone that follows triathlon I don't need to elaborate, its triathlon, its the pinnacle, enough said. And what a race this year produced.

For those that want to remind themselves, this is the link to the entire 18 hours of coverage, I have no idea how long the link will be valid but it works as of today. Highlights include -

3h55m into the video is the point where the last swimmer is informed she can't carry on as she has missed the swim cutoff - gutting.

9h11m is the finish for Chris MACCA McCormack, great to see him triumphant again after winning in 2007 and then his mechanical in 2008.

9h57m is the point where the lovely Mirinda Carfrae takes her first world title, awesome result

In light of Chrissie Wellingtons (current world champ) withdrawal on the morning of the race Mirinda will always be questioned by the press regarding the question, 'would she or wouldn't she have won if Chrissie had raced ?' who knows, thats not the point, she won an awesome race, on the given day, put in a great run again and deserves every accolade a true champion should, well done the Aussies, made for a great night of viewing.

Can't believe its over for another year but the race was epic and watching it and knowing every inch of the course just makes the desire to return burn more.

Well done to some of the Brits that I follow too, links to their reports may interest others to see what athletes go through in this, one of the toughest races in the IM calendar. Steven Lord, Jo Carritt, Russ Cox, Iain Hindes.

Nick's 2011

Now to my own masterplan on how to get to this amazing dance floor in the next 2 years.

Its a dilemma that has until this week prevented me from entering any race for 2011. I am working on the assumption that I will do enough to be on the cusp of qualifying at the race I pick, I am not a 'top' age grouper, that title is taken by the group of athletes that have the enviable position of calling themselves 'full time' age groupers. Yes, its an oxymoron but its a common sight in IM racing. I know a couple of guys that have this privileged existence, they might not think like that, as its a job to them, but to people like me its a great job and one I would love to have.

To the choices then, we now have 2 IM races to choose from !! Not something you may have heard 2 or 3 years ago in the UK but true. The 2 in question for me are.

IMUK - 31st July 2011 - 50 slots for Kona 2011 (up from 30 slots in previous years)
IM Wales - 11th September 2011 - 50 slots for Kona 2012

With the wedding coming up in June, we are saving all of our money for this, I want to race IM with the intention of qualifying, the best way to try to qualify for Kona without costing a fortune is race one year (2011) and qualify the following year (2012)
This type of qualification was until 3 weeks ago only possible if you travelled to North America or Mexico. Then came the news of IM Wales on 11th September 2011.

All my prayers answered on my own doorstep. Or are they ??

Alongside this announcement, the astounding (read - controversially timed) news that IMUK upped their allocation from 30 slots to 50. I qualified in 2009 when there was 30 slots overall and we had 3 slots in the M35-39, with this news there could potentially be 7 in my new AG. This would however, qualify me for the same year, racing the 'worlds' 11 weeks later. More cost.

Scenario 1

IM Wales fits our plans for 2011, if I qualify we have 12 months to save and we get to visit a truely remarkable group of islands again with a better understanding of what to get out of it as a holiday as well as the race of a lifetime once more.

Problem is, the race is going to attract athletes who wouldn't have set foot in Wales had the race been staged pre Sept.
It will attract many top AG'ers from Europe that would have gone to the US for a late race to qualify, no need now, stay in Europe, cheaper, no jet lag.
It will attract more of the professional AG'ers that will want to qualify early for 2012.
Finally, I believe it will be used as a back up race for a large number of top Euro athletes who may miss out on qualifying in say, Austria, Germany, Switzerland.

On the plus side, the date will eliminate anyone who has qualified already and wants to race well in Kona 2011 as the 2 races are too close to each other to recover.
Also, most people who want to race IM in 2011 will have already entered a race by now in Europe or the US as they fill up so fast the decision had to be made early, mostly 12 months in advance.

Scenario 2

It has got to be the best year for a qualifying chance at IMUK. The race is right on my doorstep, no travel costs, roll out of bed on race morning and be there in 30 mins, its a tough course, no drafting, no let up, just how I like it and I think the best chance to qualify is in 2011.

With the new race in Wales taking a lot of the top age group athletes looking for a late qualifier, IMUK may well be overlooked, IMUK has over the last few years been tagged with a slightly negative vibe by certain groups in the UK and has already forced many into the arms of the Outlaw and the new Challenge Henley race. Personally, I loved the experience of IMUK and this year they made in roads into the moans levelled at them in 2009 and won over plenty more support. I think in 2011 the race will be even better.

With the extra slots the attraction for someone who can afford to go to Kona 11 weeks later is a massive draw. The catch 22 is, even if you can't afford it, you would be mad to turn it down. Ask anyone that's tried to qualify and just missed out, what they wouldn't do to get there, its about picking the right race primarily, then getting there fit, making the decision to say 'yes' is for after the race, it won't dawn on you til the awards/rolldown about the decision that needs to be made. By then you have already talked yourself into it and taken out another credit card !

The downside for this scenario is the calendar of races that need to be entered and paid for to follow this path.

31st July 2011 - IMUK (£350) - qualify - pay out £350 for Kona
8th Oct 2011 - Kona

Thats a lot of money in 2011. £750 in race entry before the £3k for Kona. And if you need the fall back option of IMW, thats another £350.

They have worked this so that if you want to book a slot for this year at IMUK, its pretty impossible to do IMW successfully to qualify for 2012. If you do IMW you miss the opportunity to go to Kona again via IMUK.


The decision

The two major factors for my decision are the wedding, the cost of this pretty much prevents a family trip to Kona in 2011. Secondly, how I think I will do against increased competition in Wales.

I also have a few good friends that I know will be racing at each race, that has also swayed my decision a little, smackdown to follow, you know who you are !

The answer, you have to beat the best to qualify, no matter where you are, decisions are made for you to a certain degree by current circumstances and finances and you go with the flow, I have thought about all the options and I only really have one unless someone leaves me a LOT of money in the next 6 months.

Ironman Wales it is. I just hope some people will have the same thought process as me and go to IMUK as an option to race well and ignore IMW. We shall see.

The Garmin DIY disaster.

Be warned, having a training device that can be maintained by you is a bonus, gone are the days of having to send your Polar away for 2 weeks to be serviced, now you can change your own batteries in the HR belt of a Suunto or a Garmin of which I use both.
There is a danger though and this image is the result.
Please pay attention, when replacing the battery use a coin to get the retaining plastic cap off the belt, I used a screwdriver, flat head but not wide enough, as it slipped a few times it created 2 little spikes each side of the groove, didn't seem too much of a big deal at the time, 10 miles later after my run, the picture is the result !!

Training this week

Going well, 12 hours this week spread evenly over the bike and run. My swimming is still coming on but only 2 swims this week means I won't have improved, just maintained a feel for the water, if I am serious about this improvement I need to be looking at 4 swims a week, something I will be discussing with Lawrence.

Sunday brought a wonderful ride in the sunshine, you won't hear that for long, its getting colder by the day.

After 2 hours I got a puncture, no big deal, pull over, take off tyre, most of the time after feeling around the inside of the tyre you never work out what caused it, this time was different, I almost impaled myself, it was so big I had to take a picture, much to the amusment of the cyclist who passed asking if I was OK.

The hedge trimming has started, looks like I will be packing 3 tubes for each ride for the next few weeks.

Anyway, sorry about the ramble and the lateness of the blog, I promise not to be so tardy again.

Oh yes, Fegan ! you are going down dude !

Sunday, October 03, 2010

A week of ups and downs.

Its been a fun week, I have been riding the rollercoaster of ups and downs so to speak - nothing life threatening but it's been interesting.

I am however still here, its all good. I certainly need to improve my amount of sleep so the downs don't get blown out of proportion, even though I am tired after getting back into swimming more I have only myself to blame, plenty of AG athletes do more hours but they get better sleep, time to change the 'start' and 'stop' clock on my sleep pattern.

So, Saturday last week I had a coached swim session in the endless pool at TriCentral in Trafford Park. I know I am not the most efficient and certainly not the quickest swimmer but it's now official, I am also not the prettiest either (stroke, not bone structure).

Watching your stroke back is akin to watching the cringworthy contestants on X-Factor, you know its awful but you can't help watching just in case it gets better, this was indeed an eye opener, when I swim on my own it's tough when someone with a worse stroke than yours is swimming 1-2 secs per length faster, you wonder how, try the video approach, it all becomes clear, so the down, realising the enormity of my next 6 months, but ....... the 'up', knowing now how to visualise the way to correct it.

Into the week, I took part in the Roade Sprint Triathlon in Northampton, its a late season blast and its also where I work part of the week. Firstly, I am not a sprint triathlete, I can say that after I get my backside handed to me by younger and faster athletes but its true, I prefer the longer distance, so this was supposed to be fun.

My employer, iPSL, use this local series of races to encourage staff who are maybe non triathletes/single-sport athletes in work to either do the relay or take the plunge for the whole thing. However, one of my bosses takes it quite seriously and we have a little bit of competition between us. He completed IMUK this year in a very respectable time and this was our chance to race together head to head. It turned out to be a very close affair. The result, I beat him by 24 secs and managed to not get chicked by Yvette Grice, my second 'up' of the week.

Now the 'down', I managed a respectable 59.44 but was royally spanked by a fair margin, I was hammered by 6 mins by the winner over a sprint distance, even though its end of season and I have been training 4 weeks, that still smarts.

Next was more an international down for me, we all woke this week to the headlines,

'Contador tests positive for clenbuterol'

Oh come on, not again, for the love of ....

I didn't think I would have a massive opinion one way or another but it damages a sport I love, regardless of how he ingested the said drug, most people will see the headlines and just switch off with their mind made up. It makes it all the more apparent that this news has already made peoples minds up when the majority of athletes I follow on twitter setting up for Kona next week spent most of the week deriding professional cyclists, who in their eyes should just put in harder work, they have a point, I just hope no-one in triathlon tests positive as the shadow over cycling is one I never want to see over my sport.

On the 'up' side, I became a world record breaker this week, woohoo, with a couple of hundred other people when we went all SQUIDGY with Soreen at the Manchester Velodrome, I put my stint in around midnight on Friday for 2 hours and loved being part of something that raised money for good causes and meant I got a good workout. Well done to all the cyclists and organisers, I feel more challenges of that type coming up.

And to the last, we got the great news that this week we were eventually getting our french doors fitted, superb, we have saved and waited for months to have these put in, really should have been for the summer and Teya but better late than never. As the guys arrived to start I picked up the morning post and put it on the side and made them a drink, then retreated upstairs to start work for the day.

By lunchtime they had finished, as you can see they did a great job and its already got plenty of use by Teya now she knows its a door to freedom.

As they leave, I make myself a cup of tea, stand back to admire the doors and open the post from this morning,


WTF !!! The trip to Northampton for the triathlon had delivered more than just a win over my boss, a bitter sweet ending to the week rounded off with a speeding fine on the M6 in a 50mph contraflow. And yes, it was me, bugger.


10.5 hours this week, I was cut short a little by the horrendous weather on Sunday, spending hours on the turbo wasn't my idea of fun but I managed 90 mins. I feel tired but my legs don't have any pain, they are a little heavy but I need to make sure I am resting better and recovering with more sleep.

I was happier with my swims more than anything else, I learnt 2 main things to correct on Saturday in the endless pool and have applied both of them to the sessions. Its slowly getting easier but I am still drinking mroe than I should do.

Things will take time but I know that, I am very excited about the winter season coming up and under no illusion that it will be as bad weather as last year and the main focus is to HTFU and just get out there.

Coming up this weekend is the culmination of the long distance IM season with the World Championships on Saturday in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, 12 months ago we were there and its an awesome place to be. I will hopefully be watching from 5.30pm Sat on Universal Sports who should stream the whole thing live.

And just for those that need a reminder, I have watched this video more times than I can remember in the last 12 months - the aim, to go back.

IM Hawaii

Go full screen and loud !!