Sunday, 18 November 2012

Trends

With the end of the year fast approaching, I felt compelled to take a slightly closer look at my training throughout 2012 and the findings were interesting. At least for numbers geeks like me. 2012 is now 46 weeks in and I decided to split my mileage weeks as follows:

0-9.99 miles - 17 times (37%)
10 - 19.99 - 15 times (33%)
20 -29.99 - 9 times (19%)
30 - 39.99 - 4 times (9%)
40 - 49.99 - 1 time (2%)

Also out of the 17 very low mileage weeks, 5 of them I ran a big fat zero miles and another 7 weeks I only ran once. So that’s a quarter of the time I am doing very little running, I'm reluctant to even call it training. Out of the 5 zeros there was a week off post Ultra and a week off post Ironman, which I am probably entitled to and with all the best will in the world wasn't in much of a state to run. But that still leaves a lot of weeks with not a lot of productive running being done.

At the other end of the scale, what I think should be my bare minimum weekly mileage is 20 miles and I have done this 14 times a little under a 3rd of the time. When you bear in mind that includes 2 Marathons, an Ultra and an iron distance triathlon that is only 10 weeks where I have trained 20 miles or more. Also 2 of these weeks have occurred in the last fortnight, so at least that is a positive current trend.

I missed my first Southend parkrun this weekend, but there are other things in life. I did manage to get out for a short run on Saturday anyway and then did another 10 mile plus run today. So I am doing ok in my bid to get some miles in the legs and some consistency to my training, hopefully this continues into 2013 and the serious business of racing. All being well I should hit 100 miles for November and then train well in December and hit 800 miles running for the year.

I will blog again near to the end of 2012 and will have a more in-depth look at those running numbers, perhaps looking back to 2011 as well to see where that went right, compared to 2012's very wrong. Happy running love Stato.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Almost 50 Not Out!

I haven't written since my post Berlin Marathon run down, and lots of racing and not alot of training has happened since. I've just checked my training blog and out of my 10 runs so far in October I have done 5 races and 5 training runs. One encouraging thing to come out of this is that my average pace for this month is 7:41 min miles something I haven't come close to achieving throughout 2012, but rather than indicating that my form is about to turn I think it shows I probably need to train alot more!

I decided to skip the Great Southrun this morning which would have made it 6-4 to races. I have had alot on at work lately and have also been racing alot so thought Lauren deserved a bit of my time somewhere other than a car, and I'm really pleased with our choice. We did the Great South in 2010 and it was a great race all very efficent and well organised but even then it does take up most of your day for what is a 10 mile race. I did admit to Lauren that if I was in PB shape that the race would definately have got the green light, and even though my 10 mile PB of 1:12:05 is one of my weaker PB's I was still light years away from being able to challenge that this weekend.

The training runs I have completed have been a couple of failed attempts at run commutes home and a few tempo runs which felt good. Whilst the races have consisted of a Parkrun in Middlesbrough, the first 3 Southend Parkruns and the Leigh-on-sea 10K. I was in fantasy land when I hoped for sub 20 at Middlesbrough and came in over 21 minutes. This revised my expectations for the Southend Parkrun, I managed to do 20:45 but I'm happy now having run this three times that it's at least a 100metres short. My other times at Southend were very similar but my placing changed depending on who attended, with the highlight being 8th place at the 2nd event. I am now right up there in the points competition with my consistent attendance paying dividends. Trying to win that is now a big goal of mine, one I fear I may just fall short of.

The most pleasing result of the October series was the 10K at Leigh-on-Sea, it was pretty hilly with 2 or 3 good climbs before halfway and I managed to really turn the pace up in the final 2Km's to finish just outside 48minutes. Which is slow, relative to even my current race results, let alone my PB's, but I was really pleased with my run on a tough course in difficult conditions and I definately felt I had more to give in those final few Km's.

My goals for the remainder of 2012 will be to run well at the Parkruns I attend either in Southend or Middlesbrough, whilst also performinig well at Billericay 10K next Sunday and hopefully beat my Leigh-On-Sea time. As well as this and perhaps more importantly for 2013 is to get some decent training done and lay a foundation for finally running fast again in 2013, I hope to run nearly 200 miles in the final 2 months to bring my total mileage for the year to 800 miles and beat the 794 miles I ran in 2011.

O and the reason for my blog title? I have now run 49 races (if you include the 15 Parkrun time-trials) in the past 3 and a half years since my first run out on the 2nd May 2009 and will hit the big 50 this Saturday at the Southend Parkrun :-)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Berlin 2012 Race Report

As you can see from my previous blogs my training for the Berlin Marathon resembled very few textbooks on the market but I was pleased with the almost textbook execution of my race.

The pre race food was far from desirable and included takeaway pizza, doritos, skittles, Babybel and Pringles but was saved by the soup, bread and Spag Bol that I had on Saturday evening. Lauren and I had some navigational issues from looking for our parking at Gatwick, to finding our way on the tube and by foot once in Berlin but we eventually found ourselves back at the hotel with full bellies and ready for an early night ahead of the race.

Lauren and I had done a bit of course recon the day before, and decided walking to the start was 2 extra miles my legs really didn't need and so we took the train and followed the masses up to the start. We were there before 8am a good 75 minutes before the off and already the crowds were massing. I took the opportunity to use the Portaloos twice before the real crowds arrived and then it was time for me and Lauren to part, me to the start line and Lauren heading for around the 6km mark.

I waited in the early morning chill with my fellow runners waiting expectantly for the off. My intention was to run at my own pace around 5:30 min km's but then I saw the 3:30 pacing runners and inched towards them, quickly turning back knowing the ridiculousness of trying to go with that pace. I then headed to the guys holding the 3:45 ballons and although I thought there was a chance I could go with them I wanted to run my own race so found a spot and was ready to go with the original game plan.

Today was all about buring the ego, with a longest run of 11 miles and having run a diabolical marathon at Edinburgh I knew I wasn't in ideal shape. I wanted to run a controlled race and not wreck myself early on.

The first wave of runners went off at 9am, I was in the second group and we set off 10 minutes after with a third wave starting after us. I took it steady during the crowded start running alongeside the park, unfortunately after just over a km I needed to pee and so took the opportunity to water the plants, something that a lot of guys and even the occassional girl also chose to do. Now comfortable I drifted back into the crowds as we ran along the wide roads using both sides of the road. The first couple of Km were dead straight bar the beautiful roundabout at the start and I felt good.

The first drama of the day came when a guy was tripped or clipped another runner and went down hard! I think his forearms and elbows took the brunt of it, but that definately wouldn't of been the start to my race I'd have wanted. He initially looked up for someone to blame but picking out the perpetrator amongst the throngs was impossible so he dusted himself off and got going again.

I had got a text from Lauren saying she was at the 7km mark and on the right hand side so I knew where to look for her. I often use up lots of energy looking for friends and family who come to support me, so it was great to have an idea of where Lauren would be. After 7km Lauren had mapped out her day and decided she would try to see me again at half way and then one final time at 37Km. Unfortunately 7Km came and went and there was no sign of Lauren, so at 7.5km I text lauren and said through 7km and she text back gutted that she had missed me. I was disappointed but I still had a long mornings work ahead of me so put it to the back of my mind and started to look forward to getting a wave from Lauren at halfway.

My race was going well and I had ticked through 5K in 28:30 and 10K in about 57 minutes so I felt sub 4 hours was on. The crowds were incredible all around the course and the course was so flat and the weather was pretty perfect for running. The biggest thing that was causing stress were the volume of runners, the drama continued as an older German Blonde woman and an Asian guy talking German had a good bit of verbal before she gave him a strong arm, cue some more verbal back from the bloke. I didn't understand the language but I think a 30 something guy has got to have a look at himself when picking a fight with a 50 something woman. Regardless they both carried on and hopefully both made it to the end without killing each other.

Thankfully I wasn't chasing a time today otherwise the wall to wall runners could have really started to frustrate me, but I was keen just to roll with it and run my own race. Which was going to plan as I went through 15km in 1 hour 25 minutes and then 20km in 1hour 53minutes. The first four chunks of the race had been run at a good even pace and my body was feeling good. Lauren and I finally got our first wave and smile at half way as I went through in 1hour 59 minutes and I felt fantastic, looking forward to my next pick me up at 37Km.

It was becoming apparant that my Garmin was way out compared to the Km markers at halfway I was out by over a 3rd of a km so by the end I was going to be nearly 3/4's of a Km out and so I grugingly decided this was going to be a 43km race on my Garmin. I'm sure the course was accurate but the average pace on which I would usually rely was now way out which was tough. I was still trying to doing my own 5k splits at the relevant K markers and was pleased to click through 25km right on target. I was waiting for the 26km point from which there would be 16km or 10 miles to the finish. I was feeling good and even started to dream of cranking it up in the last 5km and bringing it home strong. The problem with the Marathon is it is just so long! Within 2Km of those thoughts entering my head they were banished and thoughts of hanging on took their place. The pace had drifted through 30Km nothing too drastic but it was a downward trend, that once started can't really be reversed.

I struggled on, the crowds lining the route really keeping me moving forwards. My previous easy, free flowing running now replaced with more of a trudge, the feet not coming up so high, less spring in my step. The pace of just under 5:40 km now settling stubborningly nearer to 6:00 min km as I went through 35 km in 3hrs 20mins just 40 minutes to haul myself throught 7.2km and that is around 5:30 min km's and I knew then sub 4 hours was out the window, not far out the window but far enough that I wasn't going to be able grab it. Lauren text to say she was at 39km which was tough and I began to walk for parts with about 4km to the finish. I got my first "Go Simon" as I shuffled along, obviously looking in need of a pick up. It had the desired affect and I managed to pull a smile and a wave out for my new fan. The cheers of Simon became more frequent as my walking breaks increased and so insistent were the shouts I thought I'd better put on a spurt for my adoring fans but once out of view I shut down again. Thankfully Lauren caught me at one of my stronger moments and that was a great lift.

I got to 41km and I wanted to make it to the end running and was lucky to see Lauren one more time down the finishing straight before I went through the Brandenburg Gate and had the finish line in sight. I crossed the line with my Garmin telling me it was 4hrs 7 minutes and something. I was relieved it was done, and pleased with my 4 hours of graft. Unfortunately there was a hold up, so we were basically held for 5minutes, our tired and aching muscles grumbling with each passing second. We soon got moving though and I collected my medal and headed for the family reunion to meet Lauren.

Was lovely to see Lauren and after a good long hug. We finally got moving and brought some fizzy and some German sausage and went and got my medal engraved before heading for the underground and the hotel.

In conclusion I was very happy with my Berlin Marathon. It was probably the most even paced Marathon I have run even with the final 5Km blow up. I really felt I couldn't have given anymore and showed a lot more pace discipline than I have before. Berlin had originally been planned as a push for a big PB and following a regimented training plan, but once the plan was not followed I had to rein in my expectations. I have booked myself in for the 2013 Brighton Marathon and this will be my last crack at applying myself to proper Marathon training for sometime. Both the training and the racing of Marathons doesn't really suit my personality but I would love to really push it and see what I am capable of if I can apply myself to a plan. Will keep you posted, I think the 18 week plan starts from the 3rd December, but first races 2-6 of my 6 in 6 weeks bumper race programme.

Speak soon. X

Monday, 17 September 2012

Targets for Berlin and 6 in 6

So the time for talk is nearly over with Berlin now less than two weeks away. My prep over the last 10 weeks has been varied.

0 Miles - 2 Weeks
10 Miles or Less - 1 Week
10 - 20 Miles - 4 Weeks
20 - 30 Miles - 2 Weeks
30 Miles + - 1 Week

Longest 5 Runs

- 11.69 Miles
- 8.08 Miles
- 7.12 Miles
- 6.22 Miles
- 6.22 Miles

So as you can see not many long runs and I am yet to complete half distance. In terms of weekly mileage they aren't great but there is something to work with. Particuarly as my non running weeks were all in a block about 5 weeks ago. When I ran my PB at Chester last year the furtherest I had run was a Half Marathon so it's not impossible I could run well at Berlin, but I think the likihood is I won't do fantastically.

At the minute my C target my absoulte minimum is to beat the shambles that was Edniburgh (4hrs 40mins), my B target is 4hrs 20mins and if I'm doing really well my A target at the minute is sub 4hours. The trouble is I think I will set off at around 8:30 mile pace which is 3hours 45 min pace so may blow up in spectacular fashion, as is my way.

On the basis that Berlin doesn't break me to pieces I have another 5 races planned for the 5 weeks post Berlin as follows:

6/10/12 - Albert Park parkrun (5Km)
13/10/12 - Southend parkrun (5Km)
21/10/12 - Leigh-on-Sea (10Km)
28/10/12 - BUPA Great South Run (10Mile)
04/11/12 - Billericay (10Km)

It looks like a crazy schedule and it probably is, but they are pretty short and sharp and I won't do a whole lot of training in between. I think I will race myself fit and so I hope to PB at the Great South Run with my PB being a little on the soft side and to do well in the other races. If I perform well in this little series then I think it will set me up well for all that 2013 has to offer. So there we are, two weeks out and undercooked for Berlin but with plenty of races to help me get over it if I underperform.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Post Outlaw Training & The Rest of 2012

Well my blogging has gone the way of my cycling post Outlaw and been reduced to nil. I have enjoyed big chunks of time off since the Triathlon including a 3 week period which included the Olympics. The wall to wall coverage took priority over my own training, but since it ended I have run consistently and my motivation has definitely returned.

I haven't cycled at all and only swam once with Luke to try and help get him ready for his Triathlon, which he did brilliantly in and was a great mornings entertainment. I will definitely look at doing an Olympic Triathlon sometime in 2013. Luke enjoyed it so much he has signed up for his second, but unfortunately it's the same day as Berlin so I won't be able to chase round Eton Dorney supporting him. The 30th September is also the Bristol HM a race I have done 3 times previously and would love to do again but the clash means I will have to miss it. Luckily Pete will be flying the flag and I think he'll have a great race there.

Pete and Luke both seem to be training well for their respective events, unfortunately the same can't be said of my Marathon training for Berlin. I have got out running regularly but this has in the main been 4-5 milers with the only exception being an 11 mile run that I did with Joe whilst he was back from Oz, it was great to run with company and I felt my body held up fairly well. Guests for the Bank Holiday weekend and then some niggles from a game of football plus a good dose of laziness have all contributed to a lack of long runs.

I have not run well all 2012, my year has been saved with the achievement of my first Ultra and the Ironman. Neither was fast, but the target for both was always completion, both events need revisiting at a later date where I hope to have results that I can be more proud of.

In 2012 I have just managed to dip under 20minutes for 5K, I have run one of my worst ever Half Marathon's just squeezing under 2 hours and run my worst Marathon by some margin. I hope to right some of these performances with the Marathon, 2 x 10K's and a 10 Miler booked and I will squeeze in a 5K Parkrun before the end of the year but even if these go well 2012 will still have been a poor PB running year.

The reasons for this are many and varied, and I'm still trying to get the root of it. The answers or theories I have come up with thus far are:

- I have run fewer miles than previous years in training.
- I have lost the peak fitness that my running combined with LEJOG managed to achieve.
- I have also run pretty fatigued in a lot of races particularly from the Ultra through to the Southend HM.
- I have run my training runs slower than previous years.

I hope to tackle all of these short comings in the final 3rd of 2012 and headed into 2013.

By the end of 2012 if I meet my targets the annual mileage will beat 2011 and could even beat my peak of 2010 but that would be pushing it. 2013 I will really look to push it on.

The problem of the LEJOG peak can't really be replicated and I won't cycle again until next summer but then the training will ramp up for LEJOG in 7 days in 2014 and so I hope to see this benefit my running.

The fatigue from races has been noticeable but I enjoy racing and so I did ask for it. I'd love to say I'll cut back on the races, but I have promised Lauren that for the last 2 years and failed to deliver, and with my new drivers licence I have even more reason to go race. So even if the race frequency stays high, I hope that post Brighton Marathon and the Thunder 24hr run the longer races will be put on the back burner for a while. I don't get huge enjoyment from either the training or the races and so I don't think they will be missed.

Which brings me to the final weakness that needs to be addressed the slow pace of my training runs. I'm not quite sure how it happened but from an average pace in previous years of around 7:45 per mile to something like 8:15 this year. It's partly down to my lower level of fitness but maybe it's down to a change in emphasis. I previously ran low mileage but pretty much all sessions were of a good intensity, I then shifted to wanting to run higher mileage and maybe I eased off the pace for this reason. The problem was I never achieved the high mileage and so just ended up running slow and low miles. I have made a real effort to ramp up the pace this week and I've enjoyed the results. Now we just need to combine high miles, with good pace and avoid injury and come 2013 we will be quids in!

So there you have it my 2 months post Outlaw, lots of rest, a return to training and a look forward to what I can achieve if I could only get my butt into gear.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Outlaw - 5/5 - Reflection

It is now 10 days post Outlaw and my retelling of the day have not slowed, nor have my random fits of smiling into space ceased. To many people the way I spent 1st July 2012 was a crazy waste of time. Why put yourself throughout that voluntarily?

To those people I would say do it. Maybe not an Ironman, but something physical that pushes you outside of your comfort zone. Way out of your comfort zone! I may not have been the most dedicated trainer, I may not be the strongest mentally or physically, but on that day I found a way to work through problems and to just tough it out.

The Outlaw was a day of firsts for me.
- My first Triathlon
- My first Open Water Swim
- My longest ride ever
- My slowest Marathon ever

Now if I could have the time again I would have got down to Lakeside and down 10 or a dozen swims in Openwater. I would have gone for 5 or so rides of in excess of 100 miles. I would have maybe ran a little more consistently.

But when I was bobbing up and down in the water at 6am I hadn't done those things, and there isn't a thing you can do about it. This is where you are fitness wise, this is where your prep has got you. Now shut-up and do it or get out of the swim, get off the bike or take your running shoes off and put your feet up.

There were lots of times during the course of the day that I considered those things, but I fought the urge and carried on and for that I am very proud. I was talking to Lauren about it after the race and it is just one of those days along with your wedding, birth of your child etc that you just want to stay with you forever in HD crystal clear and not forget one single detail. That is one of the reasons why I have chronicled in such painful detail my experiences in the build up and during the day itself so that I can look back it and remember it.

It wasn't just a personal journey though, and the texts/Facebook messages of support, my cheer squad of Lauren, Mum, Dad, Jan, Luke and Amber, the Marshalls, supporters on the road and my fellow competitors just took it to another level. We all live in very small groups of people we hold dear, and you have the joke about people not meeting each others eyes on the tube, but at the Outlaw I felt part of something much bigger and everyone was so keen for me to do well. It really is all a bit sickly, but it really was how I felt.

So to my supporters:

Amber - Thanks for making a special trip to see me ride. You and Luke were in a car/ on a train pretty much all weekend and it was amazing that you got to see me both when I was riding strong and when I was hanging on.

Jan - For being a great Mum to Lauren when she was in bits worrying about me and for being a fantastic Mother in Law and supporting me in my stupid hobbies.

Mum & Dad - Sorry for scaring you and not being as dedicated to my training as I should of. Next time I'll be in much better shape and it will be a breeze. Thanks for giving up a weekend at the Caravan to see me slog it out for 16 hours.

Luke - Again thanks for running around the country to see the completion of my Outlaw Journey. Your enthusiasm and support were incredible. The kids of Dover are very lucky to have a PE teacher like you heading their way. You kept me on track when my head was all over the shop, you were a megastar. So excited to return the favour at your Olympic Triathlon and again when you go long.

Lauren - My beautiful wife, sorry to worry you. I can't promise I won't do it again. You support me 100% in all of my stupid running, triathlon, challenges. Running me around in the car, getting up crazy early, sorting out my kit and food and never complaining. I couldn't ask for more, you're my number one supporter and I'm your number one fan. No amount of dinners out, flowers or presents will every say enough thanks, so I won't bother :-) Love you loads.X

Sorry to my other readers for that little love in, but us guys just aren't great face to face. Thanks for those of you that have made it to the end of my five blogs, your mental toughness and stamina make you ideal candidates for an Ironman. Until next time....

The Outlaw - 4/5 - The Run

I began the run very steady, I knew I could now make the cut off and so wanted to make it as painfree an experience as possible. I jogged gently round the end of the lake and saw my supporters for the first time, they would be a huge boost over the whole of the run. After I had said thanks to everyone I headed for the marshalls handing out the wristbands. Number 1 of 4 was duely received and I set off for the first 3 mile loop round the lake.

I walked for the first time here, I had hopes before hand of running for 5 minutes walking for one or something similar. But from early on in the run I knew I would be needing to walking much more than that. As I was taking my first walk break, a guy started talking to me, saying it was nice to see someone else walking. I knew I was near the back and so he was probably on at least his second lap, so I looked down at my Garmin and said but I'm only 0.3 miles into my race and I'm walking. We then chatting for a minute or two and he explained he was running for his wife who had died 4th July last year and that he had set-up a foundation called the Karen Green foundation. I had seen loads of other athletes riding with the Foundations jerseys during the cycle today and so it was good to meet the guy who had set it up. After a few minutes he told me to go on as his walk breaks became more frequent.

The first landmark that I was keen to get to was the first feed station after about a mile and a half. The only thing that got me through the last 10 miles of my cycles was the thought of the feast awaiting me at the first run feed station, and it didn't disappoint! There were smiley marshalls handing out Oranges, Bananas, Crisps, Jaffa Cakes, Water and Coke. I took my time walking through grabbing everything I could, I almost went back for seconds!

With some renewed energy I got running again, into the wind on the other side of the lake. The wind was so strong that it blew my hat off, and with weary legs I started running after it, another runner told me not to bother and I told him in a minute I might just leave it. I did manage to grab it though before it got blown into the lake and put it back on my head, a spectator told me to put it on backwards, which I did. Although it didn't work as a fashion piece the backwards hat definately saved my head from the brunt of the sun. I didn't want my race to end prematurely due to heatstroke.

The run, shuffle, walk continued on for the rest of the lap round the lake. I then saw my team at the start of the longer loop which headed towards the city. There was a little slope with an aid station at the top, and in an effort to save my legs I walked this everytime much to the disappointment of my legion of fans wanting to see me run. But once at the top of the hill I ran with my wife down the other side and through the carpark ready to start to the loop proper. Lauren was very excited, and pleased to tell me that she could run as fast as me and I wasn't strong enough to argue.

My support team had shrunk slightly as my brother dropped his girlfriend off at the station so she could get home, but on that first lap my wife, Mum, Dad and Mother-in-law were all there cheering me on. Whilst I was slogging it out on the run they were enjoying a picnic and a good book, but my wife was too worked up with worry for my well being and so just prowled around until I returned.

My steady/slow progress amounted to something like 13.5 minute miles a speed I could never imagine doing on fresh legs it would just feel pitifully slow, but on my weary legs and low on energy it felt plenty fast enough. I slogged on through and with 8 miles on my Garmin I picked up my second wrist band, I checked that I was doing it right because I felt like I hadn't really earnt the first wristband after only running 500m or so but was assured that I was doing fine.

My garmin then decided to reset itself, all that saving of the battery during the cycle for nothing! I left the Garmin off until the 10 mile marker and then reset it again. The stats wouldn't make for pleasant reading afterwards, but it was good to have some idea how far I had left. It was around this point that my brother returned from dropping Amber off, and he would provide invaluable support to me throughout the remainder of the run.

Luke was unimpressed by my run when I want, walk when I want strategy and so tried to get me into a pattern. For much of the second half we ran for 0.35 miles and walked for 0.15 miles. It wasn't all straight forward though, my Garmin again decided to give up after another 8 miles but then came back to life. Whilst my mental state was as fragile as the Garmin. With only 8 miles left I said to my brother I didn't think I could face it, at my slow speed 8 miles was nearly two hours of effort! 14 hours in and I was complaining about another 120 minutes of work.

These feelings of giving up, or my pace slowing would always be when I was hungry, and the spikes of eating pretty much sugar all day were making Simon a moody boy. Luke was brilliant though and rolled with my moods and urged me onwards. The cheer squad were also camped out at the start of the lake and were another brilliant pick me up every hour or so.

I was heading round the lake, coming up towards the finish line and I was struggling when a guy in a black tri-suit came past and encouraged me and told me the finish was just around the next corner. I smiled and thanked him, but looked down at my 3 wristbands and said the finish might be round the corner for you but I've still got a way to go. He looked down at his 4 wristbands, said sorry and jogged off a little sheepishly.

My pace had started to pick up though, and I was starting to feel really strong. I was still taking walking breaks but when I ran I really ran. I was now picking off people in front of me on the last lap, everyone was now in the same boat. Where previously you would have people on very different laps, anyone you now saw was on their last lap and going to the finish.

It felt incredible to be running so strong, and as I passed people they all commented on how well I was running and to just keep going. It was fantastic, and the support from my fellow competitors had been great throughout the day. The impression I got is that it wasn't just us lot at the back, but that throughout the field people were encouraging and supporting each other.

My brother was still running with me and had more energy and brain function than me and so was counting people off as we passed them. He got to at least 15. Out of a field of 1050 that isn't alot. My wife had told me they fished 12 people out of the lake, and we reckoned another 30 or so had not completed the bike, and although it was sad to hear they hadn't completed their race it made me feel a little better. So having beaten perhaps 2 people out of the swim and the same 2 off the bike it was brilliant to have made some progress on the run my strongest of the 3 disciplines.

Throughout the run I was aiming to get myself in a position that I could walk at 20min/miles and still get home for the 17hour cut off. This goal shifted on that last lap and sub 16 hours looked like it may be a possibility, all be it a distant one.

I made a real effort on the last lap to thank all of the marshalls and to top it all off the marshalls handing out the wristbands let Lauren put the final band on me. The moment was spoilt a little bit as I saw the cheering crowds I lost my footing and nearly went face first into the gravel, I managed to right myself though, and then with the crowds massing around me I told them "ever so sorry but I have to go to the loo." I had been dying to go! As I emerged from the Portaloo, Lauren got her moment and proudly put my final band on, a quick kiss and a wave to the rest of my cheer squad and me and Luke were off for a final go round the lake.

Luke and I had chatted throughout the second half of the marathon, talking of the challenge that had been the Outlaw, future plans and all sorts in between. It was brilliant and took my mind off the discomfort and the tedium that is running a slow marathon after 10 hours of exercise as a warm up.

We ate and drank at the last feed station, the cut off was miles away and 16hours had just slipped by so we had time to shoot the breeze. They teased me asking me if I was doing a recovery run in the morning. I told them that wasn't going to happen, the bike was getting packed away and I wasn't doing a thing for at least the next week. I waved goodbye and thanked them for all their efforts then headed off into the darkness to complete my epic journey.

Luke left me a few hundred yards from the end and let me enjoy the run down the finishing funnel by myself. It was everything I had hoped and more, Lauren went ballistic and shouted and cheered at the top of her voice. The video of it afterwards is brilliant, her screams having marshalls jumping out of their skin and her voice has only just recovered. I was so emotional as I crossed the line, an unbelievable end to an incredible journey. There were times I doubted whether I was going to make it. The cramp in the swim, two or three times during the bike and at dark times during the run. But in just over 16 hours I had done it 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 miles of running! 10 days after that fantastic Sunday I still can't stop smiling when I think of the Outlaw.....

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Outlaw - 3/5 - The Bike

I was on my bike and away, a gentle 3 mile trip round the lake for starters to let us settle in and get ourselves ready. The sun was out, and I was smiling, legs were fresh and no apparent ill effects from the cramp in the swim. I passed a fellow competitor early on which was a good confidence booster and my speedo was reading 16mph, 18mph, 20mph. Steady on Simon! I thought to myself. But having completed one side of the lake and then turning to go down the other side I realised why the speed had been so high, it was that wind again! Coming back down the other side of the lake was hardwork and definitely gave me a taste of what was to come.

I was now coming up to a couple of tight turns to get out of the Water Sports Centre and out onto the open roads. As I slowed for them, I saw Lauren cheering wildly and that was a lovely little lift as I knew it would be a while before I saw her again.

The first quarter of the bike couldn't have gone much better, the weather was good and there was a small group of 5 or 6 riders who I would see from time to time. Each of us leap frogging the other. There was a pirate, a guy in black, a guy in red with a very expensive looking bike and another pirate called Martin who I would continue to see through out the ride, as well as a couple of other riders.

I had read about drafting before the race and so whenever I passed someone I made an effort to get clear. Alternatively there was a period where I would get passed but they would then slow up and not clear the draft zone so instead of slowing myself down and creating the gap I then decided to take them over again. I was very close to the back through out the ride, but I didn't want to get disqualified and miss out on the chance of finishing the race.

My average speed for the first quarter was something like 16.5mph but it may have gone to 16mph. I haven't got great data because I chose to rely on the bike speedo for the ride and use the Garmin for the run as I feared it would run out of batteries. The speedo is good as you are riding along but doesn't track data at different stages.

I had made it up Oxton Bank the one big climb of the day after about 20miles, and I managed to catch a few riders here and at one point I over took the pirate as I sped past him at the steepest point of the climb at a speed of 4.5 mph :-) I was very grateful for my granny gear there.

I decided I needed the loo at the aid station at around the 33 mile point, I took my time knowing I wanted to be comfortable as I was going to be settling in for my longest ride ever. I turned on my phone in the portaloo hoping to text Lauren telling her all was going well but it was taking too long to get reception so I decided to get out of there and back on my bike.

I had lost a couple of minutes there and as I got back on my bike I could see the last couple of riders from our mini group riding off into the distance. I got back into my rhythm, trying to take it steady and get in plenty of gels, mule bars and drink early in the ride. The wind was now in my face and my average speed was falling fairly steadily but I felt good and the average speed was still above 15mph and I needed an average speed of 14mph to make the cut off.

Lauren had mentioned that the spectator coaches were going to a place called Car Colston to see us ride through, and so when I saw the sign for Car Colston I was welling up for the second time that day. Soon after the sign I saw what looked like my brother Luke on the roadside on the right, and it was! I got such a lift as he ran alongside me seing how I was getting on and wishing me well. Luke and Amber had come up on the day and missed the swim but it was great to see them now around halfway through the bike. As well as those two I saw Lauren, Jan my mother in law and my parents all going nuts cheering me on. There were no other riders around and so the cheers of "Go Simon!" spread from my little support group to what felt like every inhabitant of Car Colston and the wall of noise really did have me close to tears. I flew out of that and felt my second wind coming on.

I was tired, and as I mentioned I haven't got the data to hand but I believe that I went through half way averaging around 15mph I think it might have been 14.7mph showing on my speedo from memory. So I had time in the bank as the average speed I was working towards was always 14mph which equated to an 8 hour cycle. There was some confusion regarding the bike cut-off which added to my stress levels as the bike leg continued. On the race information it had said traffic management would cease at 4 O'clock (10 hours into the race) and that you had to be out of transition and running by half 4 (10.5 hours into the race) I felt this meant I could get off the bike at say 4:15 quick change and be out of transition by around 4:25 lovely. But at the race briefing the event organiser seemed to be saying that 4 was the bike cut off and you then had half an hour to amble about have some lunch and put your feet up before rolling out of transition before half 4. I was working to the 4 O'clock cut off and as the race continued I felt I was in a position to get it.

The last half of the bike course is around two loops and then another 10 miles or so after that to the finish. As I entered the loop for the first time I turned right as instructed and promptly got taken over by the faster lot going round for their second loop. It wasn't as demotivating as I'd expected. I knew that these guys were 25 or 30 miles ahead of me but it was good to have some company finally and throughout my first loop there was a steady stream of riders coming round to lap me. Alot of them were in some nice lines, not worrying about drafting which was something I couldn't benefit from so far down the race on my lonesome.

Whilst on the bike I saw some guys in real states, some stood by the road puking, another was carrying his fancy bike and his day was done, whilst another sat on the kerb with a scrapped up knee. I also saw two pirates by the side of the road, one was puking in a bush whilst his mate waited for him and offered him some support. It was nice to see someone sacrificing their race ambitions to help a friend.

The low point of my day came at the end of the lap. Turn right for the finish straight on for lap two. So whilst the quick boys hung a right I plodded straight on. The second lap was just a blur, it was good knowing what was coming up down the road, and the total lack of cars or fellow riders meant I had free run of the roads. I had got myself into a position where I needed to ride at something like 13.5 mph for the last two hours but even that was proving difficult with the wind and my energy levels were now very low. I only had a few energy gels left and was all out of mule bars. On my return to the Outlaw I will definitely be bringing some more substantial, proper food for the ride to go alongside the gels and energy bars.

I saw my family at Car Colston again just after the 100 mile mark and it was a great pick me up. They were the only ones left and I later found out the coach had waited for them. I really must thank their driver. I felt tired at that point, and my wife and mum later told me that I was very pale and didn't look well at all, and I think they were probably right. My brother and I talked about the cut off dilemma and Luke was convinced that it was half 4 and so I had plenty of time but I still wasn't sure. I had got to the point where it almost didn't matter. I had done my first open water swim, I had swam the furthest I ever had and I had now gone past 102 miles which was my longest ever cycle. Even if they told me I had missed the bike cut off I could have gone home proud of my achievements. But I still wanted to do it and so tried to pick myself up for one final effort.

I had 1 hour to do the final 13 miles but I hit a headwind shortly after that, so that by the time I saw my family with 10 miles to go I probably had more like 40 minutes in which to complete it in time for 4 O'clock. I pushed on and managed to catch a female cyclist, so I at least knew I wasn't last on the bike which was a huge lift. I spoke to a guy out for a cycle and he was there just offering some support to the few of us at the back of the race which was lovely.

As the race neared it's end we had some poor road surfaces to navigate as we went through a private estate complete with some speed bumps, that took my speed down and also had me worrying about punctures which would have been a race ender. But I made it through safe and I was making my way back into the Watersports centre. I was ecstatic and was met by cheers from my family. The Marshall's told me to hop off my bike and took it from me as I ran jubiliantly into transition. I glanced down at my watch 16:00 exactly a full 8 hours since I had left transition. Nobody told me to stop, nobody told me I had missed the cut-off, and I wasn't going to hang around to ask.

I was into transition, much slicker than T1 for me, running shirt, pants, shorts, socks,trainers, cap on. Didn't bother with the sun cream. Grabbed my bag to give in and was told by a Marshall to give it to the cubs, the first one wasn't interest ed in taking it and neither was his mate, so I promptly dropped on the floor. They could deal with it, I hadn't come this far to waste time, I just wanted to get going. Over the transition line and onto the run 6 hours 55 minutes to win or bust....

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Outlaw - 2/5 - The Swim

So Lauren and I were up at really dumb O'clock to give us time to shower, have some breakfast and have a last minute check of the kit. We left the room a little after 4 and managed to bump into the late night revellers in the hotel lobby, hardcore! We got the car out of the multi storey and drove down to the start for around half 4.

I had to make a few last minute adjustments to my transition bag, adding my cycle shoes, pinning on my race number to my running shirt and a few other little tweaks but I left the tent happy that everything was in place ready for my long day.

Whilst I had been in the tent Lauren had been talking to some other spectators and they all confirmed what Lauren had suspected I am nuts! It's his first tri? He's never done an open water swim? He's crazy. Well we were soon to find out how it was all going to turn out, but first we had to get on that blasted wetsuit!

Lauren and I found a quiet corner and got cracking, I was already in my Trisuit so Lauren got to work with the body glide stick making sure to get my neck, shoulders,wrists hoping to stop the wetsuit rubbing during my two hour swim. I then attempted to get the wet suit on and made a pretty good effort apart from the crotch part of the wet suit being about 4 inches too low and so Lauren told me jump as she pulled it up. It did work, but to any onlookers we must have looked like a right pair of prats.

There was now about 40 minutes to the race and so I decided to make my way through to the start area. Kissed Lauren goodbye, leaving her looking more than a little bit worried and I knew how she felt!

Around 5:40 they started calling us through and into the lake ready for the off. I was keen to get going so went in pretty pronto. I eased myself into the lake, and as promised it was a fairly warm 18 degrees and I was in a wetsuit so felt fine. As feared the minute I got in the water I needed the loo and I didn't fight it and just warmed myself up even more. I tried to paddle away from the hotspot in the hopes of avoiding detection by my fellow swimmers and I think I succeeded.

I treaded water on the right of the lake with the other slower swimmers but had inadvertantly found myself at the front and so I knew I was going to take a few hits. The hooter sounded at 6am and we were off, the hits duely came, but I got going and into some kind of a rhytm, it was nice to have people around as I knew the kind of time I was hoping to swim would mean a lonely last half.

There isn't a huge amount to say about the swim, you put your head in the water right, left, breathe, right, left, breathe look up to see where the hell you are going, can't see where the hell you are going and repeat. The field began to spread out but I felt my pace stayed fairly consistent on the way out. I was waiting for the turn around buoys and hoped the return leg would be easier knowing what lay ahead.

But before the turn around there was my first scare of the day as my right calf began to cramp after 40 minutes swimming. I tread water for a second then attempted one stroke of breast stroke and then thought better of it. As my head bobbed in the water I did start to worry this might be my day done. But in the middle of a lake there isn't a whole lot of choice get fished out or try to get yourself home. I began to swim crawl with just my arms and I finally made it to the turn around buoy where I managed to see some other heads in the water so I knew I wasn't dead last I looked at my watch at what I believed was half way and it showed 45 minutes.

I went round the end buoy and began to head back towards the crowds and the swim finish in the distance. By now my legs had begun to wake up and so I could kick a little. The pace slowed as I was now getting some rough waters, the wind had obviously been with us on the way out and we now going against it. But having reached half way in 45 minutes I knew I had just under 75 minutes to get back and so I felt confident I was going to make it out of the swim.

The steady pattern of right,left,breathe continued but I at least had some markers and landmarks on the way back. I really couldn't sense too many people on the way back in and so felt very isolated and had a second problem when I came across a really thick patch of reeds and started to panic I had swam too close to the bank but I was fine and carried on.

I became aware on the way in of distance markers I think it was 750m,500m and 250m and those let me know I was almost there. As I pushed on for the finish I caught 3 swimmers I think all of them were doing breast stroke :-) but my ego wasn't bruised, I was just pleased to have made it and in a time of 1hour 50 minutes.

I was helped out of the water and had my wetsuit undone and then jogged towards the changing tent, I decided I was going to get my own wetsuit off and so stopped short of the helpers assisting people. Wetsuit off and I was into the tent, grabbed my bag and went to the changing area.

My stomach had been casuing me grief for much of the return leg of the swim, I think I had swallowed too much lake water. This came back to haunt me as I was halfway through changing for the bike. I had to go to the loo! My body wasn't waiting, so I legged it out in just my cycle jersey and shorts, a helpful marshall told me I needed to take my bag with me but I told her I'd be back. Into the portaloo the rest I will leave to your imagination, but then to further increase my problems they were out of loo roll, I nipped out and into the next portaloo and sorted myself out before heading back to finish off my change.

I now took my time, I knew I was safe for the cut off and just needed to compose myself so I was ready for the bike. I did however not dry myself, put lube on or put on suncream so hardly an ideal transition. After 10 long minutes I emerged from transition to big cheers from my parents, it was incredible and was the first but not the last time I was nearly moved to tears. I grabbed my bike with only a little struggle getting it off the racks over the line and on I hopped ready for a possible 8 hour slog.

Part 3 the cycle should be heading your way tommorrow.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Outlaw - 1/5 - The Final Prep

So after all the build up, the training(ish), and the planning the weekend of the Outlaw was finally upon us. Lauren and I missed out on our friends surprise party, which we were gutted about, so that we could get packed on Friday night and get an early night ready for a prompt start on Saturday. What we had to pack was extensive! My race stuff looked something like this:

Swim:
- Wetsuit
- Trisuit
- Bodyglide
- Goggles
- Cap (Pick up at expo)
- Hayfever tablets

Bike:
- Bike
- Cycle Jersey
- Cycle Shorts
- Socks
- Lube
- Energy Gels
- Mule Bars
- Cycle Shoes
- Helmet
- Gloves
- Suncream
- Towel
- Pump
- Tools
- Inner Tubes
- Joe Blow
- Number belt
- Race Number (Expo)

Run:
- Shorts
- Shirt
- Trainers
- Cap
- Sweatband
- Socks
- Pants
- Fannypack
- Towel

I think that was the lot. Either way I had everything I needed. Lauren dealt with the normal stuff you take for a weekend away and so we went to sleep Friday happy all was ready for the off.

Saturday we set off a little later than hoped but not by much, a quick stop at Sainsburys for some food for the journey and we were heading to Nottingham by 9am, 156 miles to go not far off the distance I would travel the next day of 140.6 miles. The journey up was ok, plenty of traffic on the M1 but no major delays and we arrived at the Watersports centre around 12.

We parked up and got out my bike and kit to get it all prepped and down to the start, as we did so other athletes were doing the same. Way to feel inadequate! There was thousands upon thousands of pounds worth of kit on show, shiny bikes, pointy helmets, and me and Lauren were labouring with my beat up old Specialized Allez trying to get the wheel back on. Lauren had been taking a keen interest in my prep though and had seen that people taped energy gels to their bike and so we had a good laugh getting those attached. Then with kit packed and bike in one piece we headed for the registration area.

Once there it all got a bit crazy, I was intending to swim 1.5km in the Speedo big swim to get me used to my wetsuit at half 3 but time just got away from us. I left Lauren looking after the bike as I went to register, she then came to find me and sent the bike in for a last minute look over from one of the mechanics they had there for the princely sum of £15! I now had my race bags/numbers etc but I had to get to the race briefing by 1 and so ran off leaving Lauren with the kit and the bike.

Lauren made friends whilst I listened to a fairly dull briefing that went on for an hour and essentially spoke about what I had read in the race information pack. I was out of there by two and Lauren and I then moved our kit from the bag we had bought into the various kit bags ready for the changing tents. We rushed down and got the bags stowed away and then the bike into transition.

It was now half 2 as we watched the Big Speedo 3km swim start. There was some poor soul at the back who was almost drowning from the get go and I'm not sure he would have finished. Lauren and I were now heading back to the car to get my wetsuit so I could change and do the swim in under an hours time, but as the wind picked up and the rain came down I decided to call off the planned swim and just go to the hotel and check in. The plan had been to do it to get confident in the open water and have some practise but I was shattered and conditions were far from ideal so I just felt it would have knocked my confidence.

The hotel was the Jury's Inn and it was perfect just two miles from the start and nice and roomy. Back in the room I got my tri-suit and wetsuit on whilst Lauren had a quick nap and we then both relaxed watching the tennis before meeting my parents for dinner in the hotel bar at 8pm. It was a very pleasant evening with my parents enjoying a bottle of red whilst I stuck to the diet cokes then it was off to bed by around half 10 ready for our half 3 wake up call.

Come back tomorrow for part 2 of 5 in the marathon Outlaw blog series.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Week 17 of 18 - Nearly There!

Sorry readers, I almost forgot my blog for this week. It isn't full of training but I suppose that has been the trend of these blogs. Lauren and I moved into our new house this weekend with big help from my parents and Lauren's Mum and Brother and so training time was limited to nothing.

There was no bike commute this week, my not so trusty steed was in the bike shop for repair but is now back with new brake pads, chain and back ring. I am going to collect it from my parents tonight and will test it out on the way home.

I also did not do the open water swim as intended and so in true late,late style I have entered a 1500m Big Speedo Swim race/event this Saturday the day before the Outlaw. This is at the same lake where a day later I hope to do a 2.4 mile swim. So it should be ideal prep, I will try to take it easy so I'm not exhausted for the Outlaw the next day. I hope to do it in around 40minutes.

The only training I did this week was two runs one 5 miler and one 3 miler. Both showed me what poor running shape I am in at the minute. Pete pointed out the monotony of my running routes and that is something I should probably look into. Particuarly now I have moved and so there are some new routes to do. So there you have it the sum total of this weeks training 8 miles ran in a little over an hour.

This weeks training plan is as follows:

Monday - Cycle 3 miles
Tuesday - Run 4 Miles & Cycle 15 Miles
Wednesday - Run 3 Miles
Thursday - Run 5 Miles
Friday - Driving Lesson
Saturday - Swim 1500m
Sunday - Swim 2.4 Miles, Cycle 112 Miles, Run 26.2 Miles

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Week 15 and 16 of 18 - Things Can Only Get Better?

Sorry for the delayed blog, and for your patience you receive a double blog. Last week was made up of one cycle of 56 miles which is half the Ironman cycle distance and I succeeded in completing it in 3:43:32 at an average speed of just over 15mph. This wasn't as long as I'd hoped to ride but the pace was good and I felt strong at the end of the cycle. The conditions were pretty perfect with a good temperature and not much wind. It left me feeling much more confident over the cycle leg of the Ironman and meeting the cut-off which will mean I need to average something like 14mph for the 112 miles I ride.

In terms of running last week was a 10K run on Monday and a short run on Wednesday before the Southend Half Marathon on Sunday. I had set myself what would prove to be a crazy goal of 1 Hour 38 Minutes which is 7:30 min/mile pace. Only two weeks post Edinburgh where I had run the first half in 1Hr 53 minutes and had needed to walk parts of it from 11 miles onwards.

Luke and I set off at the target pace and made it through the first 2 miles on target, but I was working much harder than I could sustain and so eased back, with my pace hovering around 8min/miles for the next 2 miles. This to proved too fast and the pace was eased back to mid 8 minute miles for the next 3 miles. To get me through 7 miles in a little over 57 minutes. It was here that the wheels really came off and Luke and I just tried to hold it together and the pace hovered around the 10 minute mile mark as we got ourselves home as best we could. Finishing in just over 1 hour 58 minutes.

This was my 14th Half Marathon and I had only run slower in my first two halves that of Southend in 2hrs 17 and Bristol in 2hrs 8. It was a disappointing day but it was a reflection of the running shape I am in at the moment. Once the Outlaw is done at the start of July I will really knuckle down and follow a regimented plan for the Berlin Marathon at the end of September in the hopes of running a PB there.

Thanks to all my Family and Work Colleagues who came to support at Southend. It really helped to have someone cheering me every couple of miles along the route and kept me going when things weren't going right. Also well done to Giuseppe who ran his first Half Marathon at Southend.

This week post Southend had been fairly quiet 4 commutes in on the bike, a couple of short runs and hoping to do another 6 miles this evening. Luke and I also went for a swim Thursday night and I succeeded in doing 82 lengths (just over 2Km) in a little under an hour. I think my swim at the Outlaw should be somewhere in the 1:45-2:00 mark but as long as I make the cut off I'll be happy.

I wasn't able to do an open water swim today, but next Sunday I will get the wetsuit on and have a dip in the sea. Other targets for next weeks training are to run 5 times totalling around 30 miles and maybe swim in the pool again, but I have a very busy week ahead and I'm not sure how feasible that is. So there you have it, my blog for the fortnight, sorry no indepth analysis of my downturn in performance. I have some ideas running round in my head, but I have neither the time nor the energy to go into it now. I will blog on it soon I'm sure.Until next time,train hard.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Week 14 of 18 - Recovery and plans

So after the disappointment of Edinburgh this week has been a case of recovering physically from the Marathon which took at least 3 or 4 days and starting to get over it mentally. That has involved me booking at least another 3 races for the tail end of this year and the start of 2013. My race calendar looks like this at present:

June 2012 - Southend HM - Not expecting to beat course record of 1hr 32 mins or PB of 1hr 30. Would hope to go quicker than sub 1hr 40.

July 2012 - Outlaw Triathlon - Want to finish. No real time goals at present. Perhaps sub 15hour.

August 2012 - Canterbury HM - Want to be sharp again and will be looking to get close to my PB.

September 2012 - Berlin Mararthon. Have detailed out a training planning spanning 16 weeks. Probably will only be able to use 14 weeks of it with the Outlaw happening at the beginning. If I follow it well though I expect to comfortably beat 3hrs 30.

October 2012 - Great South Run. PB is 1hr 12 and is a little soft so expect to beat it. Perhaps running sub 1hr 10.

November 2012 - Billericaey 10K - Not booked yet. PB is good but if I have run well in the previous 3 races it could be in danger.

December 2012 - Albert Park Parkrun - Just a little something to round off 2012.

January 2013 - Folksworth 15. Not booked and haven't got it past the wife yet. My 15 mile PB is from the Benfleet 15 with lots of offroad and so will be smashed if I do this race.

February 2013 - Great Bentley HM - Not booked. A local race and one that I like alot. PB will be the target.

February 2013 - Bramley 20 - Not Booked. Prep for Brighton in April and my PB is again not that strong and so I would hope to beat it comfortably.

March 2013 - Silverstone HM - Close to Bramley so may just use as another prep run for Brighton.

April 2013 - Brighton Marathon - I expect this to be my last Marathon for some time and I would love to go fast.

So as you can see a packed schedule but one that I think has some good structure to it.

This weeks training consisted of one 2 mile recovery run on Thursday which went well and a couple of 28 mile cycles this weekend. Hope to follow these up with longer rides on Monday and Tuesday as well as a couple of runs before the Southend Half Marathon on Sunday.

Hoping to have good news to report back with next time. Until then loyal readers.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Week 13 of 18 - Abject Failure

Well that was most certainly a training week to forget! There wasn't a whole lot of training this week, with the main focus being the Edinburgh Marathon on Sunday. I did however manage to commute to and from work on the bike 4 times, only missing Fridays commute due to having a driving lesson in the evening.

My training for Edinburgh had been fitful and not really focused towards the impending challenge of a Marathon but I had, had successful races previously off far from ideal preparation and so waiting on the start line I considered running with Luke and helping him towards his sub 4 hour target rather than my sub 3 hour 45 goal. I elected to go ahead by myself and decided that a crack at my Marathon PB of 3:34:28 was the order of the day and if it started to go wrong I could ease off.

The weather was warm as Pete, Luke and I did our final preparations before the off. We had all put a little sun cream on, but I had elected to leave the cap in my bag a decision I would regret, and so my crop of fair hair was exposed to the sun for the entirety of the race. Pete went to the front of the red pen, whilst Luke and I started a little further back not wanting to get stampeded by the faster runners around us, as we had been a little ambitious in our target times when we had entered the race back in September.

We were set off on time at 9:50 and I wished Luke good luck and was on my way. The first 5 miles are predominantly downhill and account for the net downhill nature of the course. It helped exaggerate my tendency to go off too fast when fresh. My PB pace is 8:11 min/miles and I went off like a hare at 7:38. The course double backs on itself just after the first mile and so when I saw Pete well ahead of me, I knew he had also gone off fast, I reckoned about a 6:30 first mile. I always managed to see Luke behind me but couldn't get either Luke or Pete's attention.

After that first frantic mile I tried to settle myself down, and take it easy on the gentle downward slopes, managing to halt my pace somewhat with miles of 7:48, 7:54 and 7:55. The first 4 miles well within PB pace, the route flattened and my splits soon began to go backwards 8:15,8:19,8:31,8:37,8:47. So with some of the ugliest splits you'll ever see I was somehow on about PB pace going through 9 miles. It doesn't take a Maths graduate, it probably only requires a rudimentary grasp of maths to understand that the mile by mile slowing that I was exhibiting was not only going to mean me missing out a PB it also showed I was going to suffer, and boy how I suffered over those next 17 miles!

Even getting to half way was painful and my splits continued their downward trend 9:01, 9:11, 9:44, and 10:42. It is only in writing this that I realised I managed 13 consecutive miles of getting slower mile by mile that has got to be a first for me. I had managed to get myself through halfway in something like 1hr 53 minutes. Not textbook by any means but still in the ball park of a sub 4 hour marathon allowing me to do a half marathon in 2hrs 7 minutes. The only problem was that halfway through the 12th mile I had walked and I continued to do so for much of the rest of the race.

From the first time I started to walk at mile 11 I was looking over my shoulder for the white Adidas T-Shirt that Luke was wearing, I knew my legs were shredded they were completely gone and when you get to that point there is no coming back from it. To make matters worse a friendly runner saw my Two Oceans Ultra Marathon shirt when I was having a walk and chatted to me asking me if I had ran it this year. We both had and talked about the rain we had at that race being much better than the blazing hot sun we had to contend with today. I managed to jog with him for a minute, before my legs again gave out.

I have had bad races before; I have been forced to walk in races before. The first race I ever did the Southend Half Marathon in the baking hot sun it ended in a 2 hour 17 minute time, there was the British 10K where I had a bit of a nightmare, and the Bath Half Marathon where I got a stitch and underperformed. Even the pain and discomfort of the Two Oceans none of this could match the place I was in halfway through this race desperately looking for a familiar face in the runners easing past me.

Finally after 14 torturous miles and just after the drinks station I turned around and saw Luke. I was walking; he looked shattered, red faced and sweaty trying to get some liquid on board. He looked as pleased to see me as I was to see him. He thanked me for waiting for him, but I told him I was having a nightmare and hadn't waited for him. We both managed to get going again, both talking through the nightmare we had endured. Both of us were in very similar places, neither of us was injured but our legs were in pieces. We realised that walking was going to become a big part of the remainder of the race and so we tried to manage it, attempting to run half a mile before walking for a minute or so.

My split for the 14th mile was 10:28 and then for the miles that I managed to stay with Luke from mile 14 -19 the splits were as follows: 11:03, 10:24, 11:24, 11:27, and 12:42. We couldn't always stick to the half mile run and a little walk scenario, it was fine on the slight downward parts of the course, but any kind of incline and we were struggling big time. It was at around 18 miles that I felt my ITB and this gave me real discomfort in my right knee. The heavy legs, the burning Quads, the tight calves could all managed this run/walk 11min miles but the IT Band meant even that was too much. I reluctantly told Luke I was done and he should go ahead.

I had really appreciated Luke's support through that part of the race and even though it was only 5 miles, the pace we were going and the world of pain we were both in, it felt like 8 miles or more. I was now three hours into the race, alone, injured, exhausted and the only thing keeping me going was the fact this was an out and back course and I had to get back for our flight home, O and for good measure I was carrying the passports and boarding passes!

I had now resigned myself to basically walking it in, 7 miles at around 15 minutes a mile I was look at in excess of an hour and a half in the baking hot sun, with nothing to really play for. I had run 4 Marathons before so I had proved I could do the distance. I knew this was going to be my slowest of the lot by some distance and so my drive and motivation really were low.

As we headed back in to town the crowds grew larger and they were making some good noise to urge on the weary runners/walkers. But I just looked at the road, trying not to make contact with the crowds, too ashamed to meet their eye. I kept going and the splits for the next 6 miles were 13:44, 15:07, 14:36, 13:57, 14:42 and 14:05. This essentially involved me walking fast until I saw the next orange mile marker and attempting to run the 300 or so metres to it before I resumed walking. It was painful, humiliating and just so slow. Even with a meagre 3 miles to go I was like, brilliant! Another 45 minutes on my feet.

I managed to find something, from somewhere for the final 1.2 miles as I managed to run a 10:55 minute mile and the final .2 miles at 8 minute mile pace and even managed something approaching a sprint finish to dip in under 4hours 40 minutes. Dark times!

Looking for positives for me from this race is tough, near impossible but here they are:

- I finished
- I got a big piece of medal, it's enormous!
- I enjoyed Saturday with Luke and Pete.
- I am alive (Some of my fellow runners being attended to by medical staff looked in awful shape)
- We made the flight home! (Only just!)
- I will use this as motivation for my future races, after the Outlaw I will not tow the start line of a race unless I am happy that I have put in sufficient training to do myself justice.

It was a gruesome race, the heat, the lack of training, the IT band issue I thought was sorted, the Solero breakfast they all contributed to a Marathon time nearly 40 minutes slower than any I have every run and over an hour slower than my PB. But I will make it right at Berlin in 18 weeks’ time. I am in the processing of transferring a 16 week Runners world Marathon programme on to my fetch I will beat 3 hours 30. I will get serious about Marathon training. It is not a distance I enjoy or ever will enjoy but I want to train for it right and do myself justice.

Thanks to Pete and Luke for a great weekend. Although like me you didn't quite hit your targets I think you can both be really pleased with your efforts. Pete for a 3 hour 30 marathon with a 1:34, 1:56 split that is some positive split :-) I know with some good training and more favourable weather conditions you'll go 3:15 no sweat.

Thanks to Luke for his company during those tough times, sorry your first Marathon wasn't an enjoyable experience. I know you'll be back to give it another crack. But if you decide not to, it's a tick off the list. You did fantastic to get over the disappointment of missing your target and working through it to get home in 4hours 20minutes.

So there you have it people, a massive blog for a massively disappointing performance. Good for you if you made it to the end.o and thanks to Lauren for being on the end of a phone the chat and texts gave me a boost when I needed it most.X

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Week 12 of 18 - Clean Slate

Well after the running every day in May pattern got broken last week I got out of the running habit. My week looked like this:

Monday - Can't remember, no excuses for not running.
Tuesday - Physio with Brian after work.
Wednesday - Mum's Bday and watched Southend Utd at Roots Hall.
Thursday - Driving Lesson after work.
Friday - Worked till 8pm.
Saturday - Trip to London, Footy and friend's Bday Do.
Sunday - Work, Dinner out but did run 3 miles at 7:10 min/miling.

In exercise related admin work, I did manage to have a good go at washing my bike and chain which took about half an hour and I was almost tempted to add it to my fetch training log, so loath am I to do it.

I also had an hour's physio with Brian on my tight calves and IT Band but I'm not sure the problem has completely gone away although it has definitely loosened everything up. O and I also cancelled my gym membership and stopped myself bleeding £58 quid a month!

These blogs aren't so much blogs as excuses for being a lazy git so this week was pretty full on life wise but not so much exercise wise. I did also manage 3.5 commutes to work on the bike but it's still not a whole lot. So the slate is being wiped clean, tomorrow is a new day, fresh start add any other clich├ęs you fancy. But this is what WILL happen in the remaining 6 weeks up to the Outlaw:

- I will run the Edinburgh Marathon
- I will run the Southend Half Marathon
- I will swim the 2.4 miles in a pool before May is over.
- I will swim at least once in open water
- I will cycle the 112 mile cycle distance over the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend.
- I will spend an afternoon in the garage alone or with my Dad repeatedly changing the inner tubes on my tyres.

Speaking of which I will order some more inner tubes because I think I'm running pretty low.That's all the assurances I am making, I'm sure I've missed something pretty key but it will have to do.

So here is my week in numbers:
Swim - Zero
Bike - 7 commutes (42 miles)
Run - Once (3 miles)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Week 11 of 18 - The Streak Ended

Well what an end to the week that was, title taken from us at the very last. Unbelievable! That's all I can say on the matter at the moment, I'm sure me and Luke will dissect it in minute detail when the pain is a little less raw. But now for the purpose of my blog, some training. My running streak of running every day in May ended on Friday, I missed the early morning slot and with a meal out and the cinema there was no way I was going to run on my return at 23:45 and so the streak ended after 10 successful days. It wasn't a disaster and I suspected I wouldn't make the 31 straight days, but it did serve it's intended purpose of getting me running consistently again. The result has been a noticeable increase in my pace and sharpness over the short distances I have been running, on the downside I have been tight and aching with various niggles threatening to turn into injuries. The pace is encouraging, and the tight calves, IT Band and knee discomfort will all be put in Brian's capable hands on Tuesday in the hopes of getting me loose and ready to tackle 26.2 miles at Edinburgh in a fortnight. On the basis Brian sorts out my injury fears and gets me running more freely then I will do a 10 mile target race pace run next weekend and then when I blog next will be able to give you a decent estimate of my expected Edinburgh finish time or whether I think I won't make it to the finish line. So other than my DNS run on Friday I managed to run 6 times this week for a total of 21 miles. 3 x 3mile runs, 3 x 4 mile runs. As well as 3 commutes to and from the office for a total bike mileage of 36 miles. No swimming again! I need to swim next week, if for no other reason than to cancel my expensive and severely underutilised gym membership. So there you have it another week of some training, better than sitting on your butt training, but nowhere near the required level to do an Ironman in 7 weeks. But at present that is still my goal. Scary! Swim - Zero Bike - 6 Times (33 miles) Run - 6 Times (21 Miles)

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Week 10 of 18 - Confessions of a late night runner

This week saw the end of wet April and for me it started the Marathon month of May with Edinburgh on the 27th. In a show of defiance against conventional wisdom I have decided to run every day in May for at least 3 miles, and as of today the 6th I have managed to sustain this. 5 of them were for the bare minimum of 3 and the other for a mere 4 miles but we have some consistency something that has been sorely lacking in my 2012 training. I have already beaten my April total of 5 runs, one of those was a 35 mile race, but none the less the trend is a positive one. Next week I hope to get the run distance up, starting with a 10 miler on Bank Holiday Monday.

Even if I were to run just the minimum 3 miles a day plus 26.2 miles for the Marathon then I would have run my biggest ever mileage month in my 37th month of running :-) That's right the 2nd May marks the 3 year anniversary of me taking up running and although the progress has slowed of late I have still come a long way from those first trips round the bridle track.

My runs this week have come late in the evening/night with 2 post 9pm runs and 3 post 10pm runs. It is far from ideal but has just been the time I've had available. For the working man the running windows are limited, you have the early morning run (5-7am), the commute zone (8-9am)/(5-6pm), the pre dinner run (6-8pm), or the post dinner run (9-10pm).

I have shown over my 3 years running and Lauren will atest to it that I just can't get up at 5am for anything let alone a run and so the morning run is out. The run to work commute is a little on the long side and would require me to bus it home or in, so I have opted to cycle to and from the office. The pre dinner run is just too tight, work runs a little late, the post run shower etc, it all adds up to a no go. Which leads me to the conclusion that a couple of hours post dinner to let it settle is the running window for me. All very sound logic, except today Sunday I have managed to go out latest of all at nearly half 10! The only advantage of these late night runs round the block is that the freaks come out! In the week I smelt/saw at least 3 weed smoking dog walkers and tonight I was joined for 100metres by some drunks who thought it would be fun to join me for a run. All very odd, but helped pass the time.

Aside from these short, late night runs I also commuted 4 out of 5 and cycled to Ryan's for the footy today all leading to a total bike mileage of 54 miles. No swimming for me. So this weeks training looked liked this:

Swim - 0
Bike - 10 (54 miles total)
Run - 6(19 miles total)

Far from perfect but headed in the right direction.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Week 9 ofo 18 - Little or no progress

So here we are half way through the training for the Ironman (2.4m swim, 112m cycle and 26.2 run if you had forgotten) and I feel less ready than when I started. My next race is Edinburgh Marathon and I just haven't been running of late and so have no expectations of a PB, that will have to wait for Berlin in September. I have decided to ease off the booze though after South Africa and the stag, but that may have to be put on hold for the FA Cup final at the weekend. This weeks training consisted of four commutes to and from work, I had to miss Thursday as I had a driving lesson and was getting picked up from work. I also did 15 miles on the exercise bike at the gym whilst watching the first half of the Chelsea game. No swimming and just a solitary 5 mile run. On the injury front, there was no physio on the tight IT Band as Brian was away on holiday, and on the run I felt my right knee early on in the run and although it didn't hamper me it is definately a concern for Edinbrugh. Plans for this week are to run 4 times, commute to and from work every day and to swim once. If not the wife is threatening to pull the plug on Ironman if I am completely undertrained for it. This weeks training was: Swim - Zero Bike - 9 Rides (65 miles) Run - 1 Run (5 Miles)

Monday, 23 April 2012

Week 8 of 18 - A little Training, A little Injury, A Little Physio Needed

This week began with the final day of the stag, a not so leisurely climb to the top of Pen Y fan 886m high! Not a bad effort by the boys. My right knee which had hurt after the Ultra started to ache at the top and on the difficult descent back down.

Managed to fit in 3 bike commutes out of my four days at work, the other day I had to use the train as I was going to a clients. No swim again, that promise has been soundly broken now! Whilst I ran just once, exactly two weeks after my last run the 56Km Ultra. Decided to go for a 14 mile run with Luke, definately too much too soon! Managed to make it to 10 miles in 85 minutes, but my knee had been hurting since the first of three hills we went through in Hockley. Luke was working hard too, but managed to complete the planned 14 miles, whilst I had to trudge home and managed to get caught in a shower.

So some training, but am no where near where I need to be for the Edinburgh Marathon or the Outlaw Triathlon. Must knuckle down, I just hope the knee injury proves to be nothing. Hoping to report back a week full of training for you loyal readers next week.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Week 7 of 18 - Recovery of Sorts

This week I had no training planned, my body was in bits after the Ultra and I was still on holiday. The week ended with my friend Ross Stag Do and so I was expecting plenty of drinking but no training.

But on Saturday we went for a 28 mile mountain bike ride in the wet and up a crazy 20% hill, all 8 of us that made it that far had to stop at numerous points up the hill but I was the only one that didn't walk which was quite satisfying. We had some close calls but all 11 members of the stag party survived our wet, muddy, bike ride.

The Sunday was then a 3 or so mile canoe down the river, with the stag succeeding in throwing himself into the river 4 times in the first 5 minutes. I managed to stay relatively dry and win both of the races we did, with a massive help from Jakey my driver whilst I just paddled hard. Really good improvised workout.

So there you have it, I am now pretty much recovered from the Ultra, hopefully my knee will hold up when I test it out, but I am yet to run on it. Need to get into a routine and quick!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Week 6 of 18 - The Two Oceans's Ultra






This weeks training was all run focused, as Lauren and I were in South Africa to visit our friends Amy and Col and so swim and bike were out.Amy has got into her running big time since moving to the warmer climate that is Cape Town and so on our first day here Amy took me on a 10k run. It was an adventure negotiating the traffic, tree branches and Kerbs but we found our way home and it was good to get out and used to the heat and to the kind of pace I was hoping to run in the race Saturday.

Me and Ames also went for a run with her friend Natasha around Greenpoint park near to the stadium used at the World Cup on Wednesday, where we got to experience the strong Cape Town wind, me and Ames both hoped we wouldn't have to face that Saturday when I ran the Ultra and Amy did the half.

Amy showed us a lot of what Cape Town had to offer, in the week before the race, with Col working hard all week we only managed to see him in the evenings. I drank far more than I would in the lead up to the race, but come Saturday morning when we woke at 4am I was rested and relaxed from our first week in Cape Town.

There was none of the wind we had experienced on Wednesday as the four of us walked to the start at just before 5. Lauren as Head of the supporters club had made signs for me and Amy as well as buying a couple of hot pink Two Oceans T-Shirts for her and Col to wear. We said our goodbyes at half 5 and I went off to the Ultra start, Ames to the half start and the others went to grab a spot hoping to see us as we set off.

I waited patiently in zone C trying to stay relaxed as the half marathon set off at 6am. Eventually at 6:25 after the South African national anthem had been sung we too were set off.I was over the start line in 10 seconds and soon into my running on the wide road that is Main Road. I had planned to run at 6min km pace and get through 30km in 3hours. I had been told that the 30k mark not the 28k point should be seen as half way, with the hills at the back end of the race to slow you down. I set off at around 5:45 min/km and this felt comfortable.

After 3K was the first incline up Wynberg Hill, but with fresh legs it felt easy and the pace was steady. At the summit of Wynberg Hill the next 5K or so is a gentle downhill, and I really made an effort to put the brakes on, but the average pace began to move closer to 5:30 min pace. I nipped into the loo at 5K and managed to disturb a fellow runner, but he didn't lock the portaloo so he was asking for it.

I carried on now comfortable, and a runner called John said hello and asked how I was getting on. With every runners name on their race numbers both fellow runners and supporters would urge you on which was brilliant. John was in the age 60 category and from his race number you could see that he had ran nearly 20 ultras and looked and sounded very comfortable at this early stage.

John and I said goodbye, and it was after 8K or so and 45mins of running that the forecast rain decided to come. It was gentle at first, but it soon settled in and started to come down harder. The red from my race number had soon run and so my pristine white shirt was soaked through and now looked bloody.

I was listening to the Ipod trying to distract myself from the Km's that stretched out before me. An American called Michael also started to talk to me, he was a missionary who had been in South Africa for 11 years. He told me about his son who had bi-polar and that put into perspective the problems that I was likely to encounter over the course of the race and how relatively insignificant they are.
Michael was hoping for a sub 5 hour run and was meeting his family at Fish Hoek and so we said goodbye and he headed off down the road.

The rain showed no sign of abating but I was still moving freely and felt strong. I went through the half marathon point in a little inside 2hours. I got a text from Lauren saying Amy had finished her race and so I tried calling in the hope I can chat with the other 3 but the call wasn't connecting. I managed to text Lauren telling her I gone through 25K in 2hours 20mins and as I went to read her reply the phone went out. I tried in vain for the remainder of the race to get it working, but water had got into the phone and the battery was low and so I lost my lifeline to the rest of the support team. I was really gutted, but more for knowing Lauren would be worrying and I couldn't get a message to her.

There was nothing I could do about the phone, and worrying about it was just a waste of my energy and so I tried to put it to the back of mind and just drive on through. I went through 30K in a shade over 2hours 50mins nearly 10minutes ahead of schedule. From the look of my Garmin splits Chapmans Peak the first of the two significant hills began around the 32K point as KM's 33 and 34 were at 8:18 and 8:59 min/km's I did walk sections of it in an attempt to save energy and my legs had felt heavy on the lower slopes of Chappies.

Once at the summit of Chappies my legs did feel in a bad way particularly my Quads, but there was a 4 or 5 km section of downhill to enjoy and so I took it very easy in the hopes of saving myself for Constantia Nek the more significant hill on the course. We had driven both Chappies and Constantia in the days leading up to the race so I did have some idea of what lay ahead. But tackling the hills at 40kmh in the car doesn't quite prepare you for doing it on foot.

I made it to the 40K mark a couple of minutes before the 4 hour mark which was my target time. Unfortunately my body was not as fresh as I had intended at this point. I made it to the marathon point at 4hours 17 mins and from then on it would be the furthest I had ever run in one sitting.

It is somewhere just before or just after the marathon point that Constantia Nek starts and with my legs feeling shredded I soon made the decision that the bulk of Constantia Nek was going to be walked. Others around me were running but with the state of my legs and with the runners not moving much faster than me I felt it was best to conserve energy and strength in my legs for the 8K or so from the top of Constantia Nek. It was a gamble but I felt I could still reach my target of a bronze medal and sub 6 hours by doing it.

Constantia Nek went on probably a Km longer than I had been expecting and with my walking pace of a around 10 - 10:30 min Km this meant I would have lost something like 15minutes on the hill. With 200metres to the top there was a cheering zone with big crowds and big noise. It was at this point that one of the 6 hour 'trains' went past me. A guy with a flag who is capable of running much faster than that paces people around to come home for a bronze medal. I thought this was my last chance to pick up the pace and reach my target and so I started to run and went through the crowds with the rest of the train.

The group then had around 9K to go in a little over an hour for bronze. Looking at 7min km pace. I was where I needed to be and I felt it was on. There were a couple of gentle downhill Km's and the flag runner was urging on the rest of the group telling them they had made it. But I knew that another incline was coming from our drive, and now even the flat sections were a struggle for my battered legs it was this point that I stopped and let the train run on without me.

I hadn't completely given up as I felt the train was heading to the finish line for around 5hours 55mins and so I knew if I could get myself going again I could make sub 6 and come in a little after the train. My Garmin shows me going through 50Km in 5hrs 21mins so 39mins for 6km needing something like 6:30 km's to make it. It was slipping away and after a 10min Km for the 51st Kilometre that left me half an hour for 5K it sounds so achievable now but at the time I was running 7:30 maybe on the more downhill Km's and more like 8min Km on the flatter parts. It was at this point that I went into damage limitation I knew I could walk the remainder and come in well within the 7 hour cut off but I knew that the sub 6 hours had gone.

The pattern for the last 5K was to walk the uphills, run the downhills and try to shuffle the flat sections. It was painfully slow progress, and I was soaked through and the relentless rain continued but as the Km's ground down I knew I was going to make it, and that was enough.

With 800 metres left and the University and finish line in sight I was walking when a guy came up to me, and said "let's run, just slowly" and so we did, the race had been so hard mentally and physically and the support both from fellow runners and supporters so great. That guy picking my spirits up so close to the finish line, nearly had me shedding a tear. But I held it together and we both ran strong as we entered the finishing straight, the field had been churned up into a mud bath from the rain, but I kept moving forward and saw my support crew of Lauren, Col and Amy all cheering wildly. I was so happy to see them all! They had waited in the rain for something like 4 hours after Ames had finished her race. I stopped wanting to give them all a group hug but Lauren told me to get going and finish and so I did, running through the puddles and mud, not caring anymore. I got my medal and rushed through the finishing area to be reunited with the gang for that group hug.

Everyone was wet through, and we began the long walk back to Amy's and Col's for a hot shower. My body had given up and I was shuffling home. After 15minutes or so of this the guys took pity, and we headed for the train station, two quick stops and we were tackling the final couple of sets of stairs to get us home. We all collapsed into the house wet and exhausted. But very pleased with our mornings efforts.

Big thanks to all three of them, but particularly Lauren. I hated putting her through all that worry as I traipsed around the 56K course in the rain whilst she got cold and wet she really is my number 1 supporter. But I am so pleased I did it, and with each day since the race I am more motivated to do it again and do myself justice both in training and the race, and that bronze will be mine. Well done to Amy for her time of 2hrs 17mins in her first half marathon, and well done to Col for supporting us both and for wearing his fetching hot pink t-shirt. Also a big thanks to the Marshall's who kept us going with powerade and water, to the supporters on the road who braved the weather and to all those back home who text me and were thinking of me as I was going deep into the Hurt Locker.

Number junkies here are the 5K splits from my Garmin:

5K - 28:30 (Total Time) - (28:30 5k split)
10K - 56:36 - (28:06)
15K - 1:24:21 (27:45)
20K - 1:52:04 (27:43)
25K - 2:20:16 (28:12)
30K - 2:50:23 (30:07)
35K - 3:26:06 (35:43)
40K - 3:57:24 (31:18)
45K - 4:39:20 (41:56)
50K - 5:20:54 (41:34)
55K - 5:59:25 (38:31)
56K (Long)6:10:24 (10:59)

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Week 5 of 18 - Extreme Taper!

Well this will be another short blog people, because one I did close to no training, and two because I am leaving for a plane to South Africa in half an hour.

A manic week at work and pretty much nil motivation to run on my part meant no running at all this week, I worked this Saturday so I did 6 days of cycle commute and I sacked off the planned swim.

So there you have it a paultry training week by anyones standards, but particuarly someone three months from their first Ironman :-)

The coming week will have me running 34.8 miles at the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, thus an enforced long run for me. I will also do an inverse taper and try to run 3 times before the big day to get used to the heat and get my body used to running again. No cycling as I'm on holiday and without my bike. and I doubt very much if I will swim, if I do it will be more of the dip in the Ocean variety and so not worth recording.

So a summary of this weeks training is :
Runs - Zero
Swim - Zero
Cycle - 12 Times (73.44 miles)

Training Time - Approx 5 hours

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Week 4 of 18 - Less is More

Had a shocker this week, was away with work and so missed three of my cycle commutes, and only managed the solitary run of a 5K Parkrun at Albert Park. O and missed my weekly swim. So all in all not a very good training week. But the 5K run was much more positive than my recent runs as I managed to dip under 20minutes 19:59. I had started to think it might never come back.

But with my more immediate aim being the completion of a 35 mile ultra, my return to some kind of form in the 5K is not overly significant. The 20 mile race I did three weeks ago, is all I have in the way of specific training, and with the race just two weeks away it will have to be enough :-)

One positive of the poor training week is a short blog. Below is my training summary for the week.

Run - Once - 3.11 Miles (19:59 5K Parkrun)
Bike - Four Times - 24.5 Miles
Swim - None

Total Exercise Time - 2 hours 1 Min. Ouch!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Week 3 of 18 - A Baptism of Fire at the Tri Club

I joined the East Essex Tri club in Feb, but I hadn't managed to get down for a training session prior to this week. But in week 3 of the countdown I succeeded in going to the pool for a 400m time trial and also got up stupid early on a Sunday morning to go on a 40 mile Cycle with some of the club.

Both the swim and the cycle had there poor moments, I particularly enjoyed going out into the foyer of the swim centre wet, in just my baggy green shorts with a towel over my shoulder to ask the assembled people if they were the East Essex Tri club. The fully dressed people with the confused looks on their faces confirmed, they infact were members of said club. It felt too awkward to just slink off and meet them pool side so I spent the next 5mins chatting to some of the members before they went and got changed whilst I went back to the pool.

My evening didn't improve hugely, I had set myself a target time somewhere between 8 and 10 minutes and I managed to complete the 16 x 25m lengths in 9mins 30secs around 35seconds a length. For large parts of the swim I felt I was drowning, and this feeling was not helped by the guy I was sharing a lane with called Toby who succeeded in finishing in 6 and a half minutes and ending up at least 4lengths ahead of me. The evening was rounded off with me desperately trying to haul myself out of the pool and finally with no style and a big dollop of embarrassment eventually succeeding. Next month I will definitely use the end lane and the steps!

I fared little better in the cycle, getting myself to the carpark ahead of the half 7 in the morning deadline, and meeting Gemma, I also met Sue who had timed me at the swim time trial and she joined me in the third group whilst Gemma joined the second. We headed off and all was going well, some flat and downhill and fresh legs will do that for you! But after just 13 or so miles of the planned 40 miles my day worsened considerably.

We were going on some fairly well worn and mucky country lanes and I succeeded in getting a puncture. Disaster! I tried aimlessly to change it, succeeding in getting the wheel out, before Matt saw my struggles and changed it for me. I watched on helpless, I really have to learn to change a tyre. The gators were not as bullet proof as promised and are a devil to get on and off, but no excuses my tyre changing abilities are nil!

But it didn't feel right, and neither me or Matt could find anything in the tyre, so half a mile further on the tyre once again had gone flat and so I had to nick Matt's inner tube as I was all out and like a trooper he once again got me back on the road. Thankfully the second inner tube lasted for the remainder of the ride. My fresh legs however did not!

The first half of the ride, was taken fairly leisurely and then with my punctures the ride time average was around 14mph perhaps a touch over. But after the half way point, everyone seemed to put the hammer down so that by the end of the ride after I had dragged myself around the final 20 miles and up Crown Hill the average was pretty much dead on 15mph. I cruised the mile home and parked my butt on the bed exhausted! All that done by Half 10 on a Sunday morning! But having checked my fetch the 40miles I cycled today was my longest ride by some distance since LEJOG and at 15mph that is not to be sniffed at. I have no idea how I will ride that fast for 112 miles and then follow it up with a Marathon but that is what training is for! Cycle training proper, starts post Two Oceans and Ross Stag Do.

In other training news I commuted to and from work every day and I managed to fit in 4 short runs (should have been a final long run before Two Oceans) including a 4 mile run tonight after the 40 mile cycle this morning and a big Mother's Day meal out.

Training Summary for the week

Run - 4 Times - 18 Miles
Cycle - 11 Times - 102 Miles (Longest 41 Miles)
Swim - 1 Time - 400Metres (9:30 400M PB)

Training Time 9Hours 30 Mins