Repetition (part 2)

Fritton Lake today; Olympic distance triathlon.  I wanted to test a few things out for Zurich, in competition conditions.  But not the competition bike; that isn’t going to be used in anger until Zurich!

Things didn’t go entirely as planned.

Swim – I switched to bilateral breathing in the pool at the start of the year, encouraged by a coach; it is second nature now; but it didn’t work in the lake swim today.  I pulled up after a couple of minutes; I couldn’t get my breath; got in a panic; the start was much nearer than the finish; I was close to going home.  I tried to restart a couple of times with one-sided breathing; I still couldn’t regulate my breathing.  I watched the other green swim hats disappear in the distance; decided to give it one more go; breathing just to the right.  It was ok; in fact it was better than ok; I powered ahead; felt great; caught a few green hats by the end.  It will have to be one-sided breathing for Zurich; the zigzagging that results isn’t pretty to watch; but it will get me through.  I did try a few bilateral breaths once I got going again; I felt a hint of motion sickness that I had never felt breathing more frequently.  A good decision, for now.

First transition – I had decided to go with a technical t-shirt plus tri-shorts this time.  I left the t-shirt in transition to put on after the swim.  I discovered after the event that I had worn it back-to-front (in my defence the logos looked pretty much the same front and back…but you know the feeling that the neck is higher at the back; and the label was definitely at the front!).  I will find a tri-top to wear under my wetsuit for Zurich; problem solved.

Bike leg – no disasters.  I find over this distance I have a tendency to get carried away with the race and put less effort into nutrition on the bike leg than I should; but I managed pretty well this time; I used up everything I took with me on the bike.  One more discovery: the salt capsules I take (Saltstick caps) look indestructible; but they need to be kept in a container or they disintegrate on the move (I had a tic-tac box last year but couldn’t find it for today).

Second transition – after the event a friend noted that I had gone for the ‘old-school’ option of tying my laces and not one of the ‘technical’ alternatives.  My thinking, as you will see further on, is that I won’t improve my time much at this distance; so, my instinct is to stick with ordinary laces as I am not too worried about transition times in Zurich (can you take a deck chair as an aid during transition?!).

Run course – this was an off-road run course; tricky enough when tired; but, when the organisers only provided one drink station, and that ran out during the race (three lap course), that is taking the level of difficulty too far.

Today’s time: 2 hrs 43.  I have posted bang on 2.40 three times before.  Clearly, I have a speed limiter.  But, when I posted 5 hrs 31 in my first half-ironman, last year, I thought, maybe I can replicate a similar performance whatever the distance.  We will see how well that translates into a full distance event.

I’ve just read on WordPress that the Rapperswil Ironman event (also in Switzerland) was cancelled because of a landslip.  Hopefully the wet weather will let up and not affect Zurich.

Joe Friel recommends a couple of ‘big days’ before an Ironman event.  The idea is to extend the training day to include all three disciplines, something closer to the full distance, but with breaks in-between.  An extension of what I tried today.  I like the idea.  It will have to be next weekend or the one after.  Running out of time.   

Repetition (part 1)

Two weekends ago. Back to Derbyshire. A four hour route. This time taking in Strines Moor, Holme Moss and Snake Pass. Still on my everyday road bike; but I now feel like I can tackle the Zurich hills which have nothing as severe in store.

It’s all about confidence for me; and that comes from repetition. I have some modest Ironman targets (better to have a few just in case!): (1) finish (2) finish inside 16 hrs (3) finish inside 14 hrs. The long hills session gave me a feel for what my limits might be in terms of hill climbing on the bike; but, all I have planned now, ahead of Zurich, is one more go at the two hour route over Snake Pass, with my competition bike this time (my gravatar for now).

This time last year I was preparing for my first half-distance event; the Vitruvian, Rutland Water. Ahead of that I ducked a standard distance competition I had enjoyed in the past for fear of wrecking my preparation (and confidence); and an element of fear of the competition itself. This year; training has stepped up a level. I have entered the same standard distance event this weekend; Fritton Lake, near Great Yarmouth. The distance no longer concerns me. And the worries about competition; I have turned them into a positive: airing the kit ahead of Zurich; practicing transitions in competition mode; all good practice. If I beat my best time of 2:40, great, but that isn’t a must.

I mentioned my family in my first blog. My son Lewis, age 16, has nearly finished his GCSEs. Lewis has a place at a sports academy starting September. A residential academy. So a big deal for all of us. The big plan for Lewis is to become a professional in the world of horses. We have recently invested all of our savings in a Dutch-bred dressage horse, Diego. Diego is coming on well. He is young (5) so Lewis and Diego have a head-start over me in my Ironman aspirations!.  Yes, Lewis will have to wash his own clothes as well as look after his horse!

I have some bits of kit for my competition bike that I haven’t made up my mind about. The drink bottle that sits on the aero bars for example. I haven’t fitted it or tried it out yet. I won’t be trying it in Zurich for the first time so it may not get packed yet. Not as critical but I have switched from a one-piece tri-suit to separate shorts and a top. The tri-suit is a great idea. But you notice that male competitors unzip the top at some point; I find that the pull of the top doesn’t help maintain an upright running posture when fatigue sets in; and a bare chest isn’t always a great look.

Part 2 to follow as I have finished today’s event!


I’ve put off writing long enough; time to get something new down on the page.

Last Sunday.  My first marathon.

Someone told me it would be a “nice one for a first event”; didn’t mention that it was an off-road course (deer park / potholed gravel tracks / sandy tracks nearer the beach).

Two loops.  The first felt easy; 1:41.  Things slowed from there.  First veteran finisher;  3:38. I’ve broken the duck; confident that I can break 3:30 on the road; maybe 3:20.

The weather hadn’t been good but the sun caught us all out on the day (still slightly sunburned nearly a week on) . A bit more thought to hydration / salts called for; and some sunscreen.  The nutrition worked out well though (gels and banana on course).

Rewind to a couple of weekends before that.  Last long training run before the event.  A confidence booster.  20 mile A to B route planned .  I had just stopped to walk at 19 miles when the family drove by; happily took the offer of a lift to the end!  The post-analysis: 19 miles in 2:15; roughly 3:00 marathon time; but I don’t think I could sustain that pace over the last few miles.

I’m not especially scientific about training, or picking events; but it is good to have a plan and also to take lessons from each experience; lots to take away from this one.

Time to fit in one standard distance race in June; but, more importantly, looking for the weather to improve to get out on some long bike rides.  Also thinking about the profile of the bike course in Zurich; finding hills is a problem when you live in Norfolk.

Still a lot of planning to get to Zurich by car with the family but we are good at that sort of exercise; both Helen and I with a military background.

Ironman for beginners

The plan for my blog, at least for now, is to

1 write my way to my first Ironman (Zurich, 28 July 2013)

2 exchange the bad stuff I have in my head about Ironman training for good stuff

3 become a better writer and

4 line up a lunch meeting with Chrissie Wellington.

I should expand a bit.  We in my family obsess about a variety of things; currently on the list: my Ironman training; our pets; our horses; Friends (the US sitcom); Rock of Ages (the movie).   I will talk about any of the above all day long; so for my blog I hope to write about and swap advice on these and many more subjects; but mostly Ironman.