Wilmslow Sprint Triathlon

Aside

Bit of a delay in reporting back from the Wilmslow Tri, but you’ll see why.

 

When the date first appeared, I just entered it and didn’t think much about the date. It was only a few weeks ago that it dawned on me that it was the last day of the season. Didn’t matter to me at that stage, City had blown it so I’ll just wander down after the tri. When it started to appear that we could still have a chance, I dropped Xtramile Events who run it a quick email and asked if I could start at the earliest part of my timed wave, as I wanted to get to the football. Guess they appreciated my honesty as I was put on a 9.00 start which was fine. The only problem was they’d put me down as a 12 minute 400 metre swimmer, whereas I’m more of an 8 minute swimmer, but it was very much appreciated so I just went with it.

 

Woke up early on Sunday, and it was throwing it down, not quite what I wanted but cant be helped. I’d packed the day before so just set off and parked up at the leisure centre and walked through to register. Get soaked doing that, and soaked again going back to the car to get my bike to put in transition. Tyres felt a little low so I asked the one stand who had braved the elements to turn up to check them out and put some air into them. I was allocated an end spot in transition, which was good. Got all my bits sorted, and under cover and went to get changed for the swim.

 

The format was the same as previous times. Report 15 minutes before your swim, register took, race briefing then allocate your lanes. There are usually 5 swimmers in 5 lanes going at 10 second intervals, and if you need to overtake, you just tap the swimmer in front on their foot, and wait until the end of that length. I thought that I might be having to swim around quite a few with the timings, but hoped that they might have put a couple of quicker ones in with me. There were also some who’d missed their wave so they were added to our wave as we also had a few no shows, guess the weather put a few off!!

 

We ended up with 4 in our lane, with me getting off first which suited me fine. Once we got off, I was quickly into my rhythm, but it soon became apparent for at least one, that swimming was not their strongest leg. I ended tapping my first toe after 3 lengths and so it went on. Wouldn’t criticise anyone as it was my choice to get an early start, but there were a couple of times when I came behind and I almost had to stop as we were going so slowly. Lesson one learnt, if you start early you just have to live with slower swimmers. In fact, I ended up passing a couple of times before the end as I just couldn’t tread water that slowly to keep up without touching the bottom. I finished the swim in 9.44, which is a good 90 seconds slower than I would expect, so not a great start.

 

Run over the grass/mud and into transition. My stuff was set out but because of the monsoon conditions, I’d covered it up which didn’t really aid a smooth transition. I also could get my gloves on so it was all a little messy. And when I saw my transition time, it was actually very messy, 4.13!! Not sure what I was doing but I don’t remember sitting down, making myself a brew and having some breakfast. Lesson two, practice transition.

 

Off on the bike, and this year, remembered to put my Garmin onto the bike from my wrist. Only this time, I hadn’t changed the display to show my bike timings so wasn’t much point. Also, when I got out onto the road, realised that I had not put my number belt on. Decided just to crack on. I had my number on my arms and legs, and I’d put it on for the run so I’ll take the chance. Lesson three, concentrate more in transition and don’t rush stuff.

 

Bike felt good, even in the wet. Took it a little easier round the corners and under the trees where it could be slippy, but overall, I felt confident on it. Got past the pot hole that gave me two punctures last year which made me feel better, and even overtook a few people. Rain was on and off, and was a bit breezy but just tried to get my head down and go on how I felt as my Garmin wasn’t any help.

 

Soon enough was back at the leisure centre, hopping off the bike trying not to slip and wading through the mud into transition. Bike time was 56.01 which given the conditions, I wasn’t too unhappy with. Dumped the bike, helmet and gloves, changed shoes, put my number belt on and on my way. T2 done in 1.55 which was better, but still not great.

 

Off over the field and onto the back alley way that takes you onto the road. This was seriously muddy here, and also quite deep. Kept my balance ok and onto the first footbridge taking me over the dual carriageway. I find the two footbridges here evil as the steps are just a little longer than my normal step so it really throws my early rhythm out. Ended up walking up and trotting down, just didn’t want to slip on the metal steps as they were very slippy.

 

Have to say, I really wasn’t looking forward to the run. I’d not done much run training as all because of the pains in my foot so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel. I was quite pleasantly surprised as got into a nice steady rhythm and started to pick one or two people off. Hardly flying past them but as a new target came into view, it gave me something to aim at. There’s a couple of short, sharp hills on the course, and the nice stewards tell you to dig deep but once they’re done, its not a bad run.

 

Soon got round, and as at the start, have to get over one of those footbridges. Really takes my legs out but stumbled up and over it, and back into the alleyway full of mud. Then its just a quick run through the trees and the finishline. Nice touch at the end with plates of sweets, bananas and Jaffa cakes. Unfortunately, there was a photographer at the finishline so apologies for the pictures that follow!! Did get warned that I should have my tritop fully zipped up as it can be considered nudity and a disqualification, but I managed to get away with that.

 

At the end, a quick visit to the tent to get my times, then had to gather my stuff to get home and showered to get off to the Etihad to watch City win the league again, though this time was a lot easier.

 

Thoroughly enjoyed the event, beat last years time by over 4 minutes so I should be happy with that but I really wanted to be south of 1.40, my total time was 1.44.34. I can easily take time off T1 and the swim so when I’m back in September, that’s the aim.untitled%20(103%20of%20380)-X3 untitled%20(796%20of%20921)-X3

Training Update

Been a busy few weeks with one thing and another.

 

I’ve got my first Triathlon of the season on Sunday, The Wilmslow Tri. Its a sprint so 400 metre swim, 24 km bike and a 6 km run. I did it last year in May and managed a DNF with 2 flats in the same one in October so want to do better. I’ve got my own target I want to get to and where I can loose some time, so quite hopeful I can put up a time that starts 1 hour 30 something.

 

The biggest problem with it is that its on the last day of the football season. I’d already noticed this, so I asked the organisers if they could put me at the start of the waves for my timed swim. I told them the truth as to why and I guess they appreciated that as I have a 9 o’clock start in a wave that to be perfectly honest, is a lot slower than I would do but from my point of view, its very much appreciated.

 

Training wise, everything seems to be coming together. I had a bit of a panic a couple of weeks ago as I started to get a pain on my left foot. It felt like the start of plantar fasciitis which I had a few years ago, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. As soon as it came on, I stopped my running training, started icing the foot and wore a compression sock. I also went for a running gait analysis as I bought some new trainers the other week and thought that could be the problem. Sure enough, these new ones were not giving me the support I needed so that would have been the cause. One new pair of supported trainers later, and hopefully all should be ok. I’ve only been for a few shortish runs in the new trainers, but they feel fine. I’ll have a gentle run tomorrow as prep for Wilmslow but once that is out of the way, I need to start building up the distance again.

 

Swimming is coming along. Distance isn’t a problem, I just need to improve on my speed. Having said that, its my first Iron Man and my main aim is just to finish. Times are really not a huge worry at the minute as I wont be troubling the pointy end of the field.

 

The main thing I need to get sorted for my swimming is to get some open water practice. I’ve not had chance yet, and to be perfectly honest, looking at the temperatures its not something I really fancy but I know I have to so I’ll be getting that sorted soon.

 

Cycling is actually showing a good improvement. I’ve been putting in a fair bit of time on the Wattbike and have been improving my times and distances on that. Having said that, there isn’t any substitute for proper road riding, so what I’ve decided to do is drop my Wednesday morning gym session and use that as my long ride. The last 2 weeks, its worked really well. Last week I did an 80 km ride, and yesterday I managed 100km, which in terms of distance, were both the longest I’ve ever done. The 100 km was done in 3 hours 50 minutes so whilst it isn’t particularly quick, its north of my targeted average of 15 mph or 24 kmh which means I should finish the Iron Man bike south of 8 hours which for me would be a result.

 

My legs were a little bit wobbly coming off the bike but they soon freed themselves up and I’ve had no soreness or stiffness which I’m well happy about. It also gave me the confidence to just get out on the bike as I’d never done that kind of distance before. I also tried out different gels/nutrition and I’m favouring the Torq products. I did get a little bit of cramp towards the end of the ride, so maybe I need to look at that and either use a salt stick or use a different drink that replaces the electrolytes that I’m sweating out.

 

So all in all, I’m reasonably happy with my training, although like everyone, I think I probably could do more. Once Wilmslow is out of the way, I’ll step things up again.

12 Weeks to go

Twelve weeks to go? Where’s all that time gone? Suddenly started to dawn on me that maybe I’m not quite as ready for it as I think I am.I’ve had a training plan, but a couple of injuries, a few days away and just life in general has meant I haven’t stuck to it religiously.

The past week has been a lot better. I’ve done my sessions at the gym, done a couple of 10k runs and a couple of turbo sessions. Tonight, before writing this, I’ve just done 40k on the Wattbike so I’m feeling ok but I just need to sort my bike sessions out. It hasn’t helped in that I ordered a new bike at the start of February and it still isn’t here, apparently they’re waiting on parts from Shimano but need that here now so I can practice on it. The weather hasn’t been great either so I’ve done most of my sessions indoors.

I did actually get out on my road bike on Saturday morning. Planned it well as the weather was meant to be ok so up at just after 6 and out without waking anyone up just before 7. Only problem was I’d misjudged the temperature somewhat, so whilst my body was ok, I could hardly feel my fingers so I only lasted an hour. Getting soft in my old age!! It was good to get out and get a feel for the bike on the road again, just disappointed I didn’t last longer.

I’ve been looking at a couple of other training plans that are aimed at a 12 week prep. They look reasonable so I’m going to juggle my gym sessions about and try and do that. I’m going to need my wife to buy in to what I’m doing, she’s quite non plussed about the whole thing at the minute but hopefully will talk her round. Might cost me another handbag but it’ll be worth it in the end.

Charity

If I’m going to put myself through IMUK, I may as well do it for a good cause and let somebody benefit from it.

 

To be honest, there are so many charities and good causes about that it becomes almost too hard to choose one. This is the problem I had so in the end I’ve chosen two.

 

The first is The Christie. I doubt this one needs much introduction, but just in case, here’s a link;

 

http://www.christie.nhs.uk/the-christie-charity.aspx

 

They obviously have a large amount of fundraisers, but they also need a large amount of funds, so hopefully my little bit will help.

 

The other is a children’s charity called Wipe Your Tears. Again, here’s a link;

 

Home

 

As it happens, the charity is based in Bolton so it is good to be able to help a charity that is so local to IMUK. The reason I have chosen this particular charity is the Chairman contacted me towards the end of last year about a watch he had been donated and was trying to find a home for it. We had a couple of chats on the phone but in the end, I couldn’t help him so I thought if I cant help with the watch, I’ll help with IMUK and raise some funds for them.

 

Both appeals have a Just Giving page, links below

 

http://www.justgiving.com/Cheshirebackmarkers-christie

 

http://www.justgiving.com/Cheshirebackmarkers

 

Please feel free to donate to two very worthwhile causes.

 

 

 

Injured

If you read my last blog on the Wilmslow Half, and saw the title of this, then I’m guessing you’d be guessing the injury is a knee or ankle, maybe a calf. Oh no, its my neck!!

 

I’m sure it was a little bit stiff over the weekend, but when I woke up on Monday, it was really uncomfortable. Every time I looked to my left or upwards, I had to move my whole body, looked like Davros!! Ended up trying to get in the doctors on Monday afternoon. When I phoned in the hope of an appointment, I assumed there wouldn’t be any as I hadn’t pre-booked my illness two weeks before, but I had a cunning plan. I asked for an appointment, and sure enough, nothing today cam the reply. I was asked what was wrong and I explained I had a sore neck, and then played my trump card by telling them it also gave me some headaches, which was true to a degree. Anyway, a slot magically appeared at ten to five so I was in.

 

To be fair to my GP, they’re not as bad as a number I hear about and they do actually listen and spend some time with you so I should be grateful for that. When I got there, he got me to do some movements whilst he poked and prodded around my neck and shoulder and diagnosed me as having Posterior Facet Joint Dysfunction.

 

The facet joints are found at every spinal level (except at the top level) and provide about 20% of the twisting stability in the neck and low back. At each given spinal level the angle of the facets varies from more parallel to more perpendicular, relative to a plane running through the body from front to back. Each facet joint is positioned at each level to provide the needed limits to motion, especially to rotation and to prevent forward slipping (spondylolisthesis) of that vertebra over the one below. In his view, one of my facet joints had become inflamed, which gave me the pain.

 

He prescribed me some tablets that would reduce the inflammation, but I have to take a rest from any training for at least a week, maybe two. Never thought I would say this, but that was a real gutter, to be told I cant train. Now I’ve got the HM out of the way, I really wanted to get on and concentrate on the bike and now I cant. He mentioned physio but I may leave it for the time being and see how I get on with some rest.

 

Might even have time to do another update to this now I’ve got some time off!!

Wilmslow Half Marathon

It’s the fifth year that I’ve done the Wilmslow Half. It was my first event I ever did, so I try to get to it each year. This year was a little different in that rather than using it as a race, I was using it as part of my training for IMUK. I still had a target I wanted to get to, but the main point was another 13 miles running that I could add to my training log.

Leading up to it, I’d done my usual training, but I just couldn’t seem to get any pace. My last few half marathons have been under 2 hours, and I wanted to keep that record. Ideally, I wanted to get to a time that started 1.40 something but looking at my training times, that might be a little hopeful.

I have the same routine each year. My two youngest go to school opposite the start so I tend to park outside the school as it’s easier to get away. Traffic is usually quite bad getting in so I’m usually parked up for 9 in the car reading the papers and eating bananas. I’ll wander down to the start about 9.45, queue for the toilet, have a mooch then walk up to the start line. There’s times along the start so you’re meant to start from where you think you’ll finish to help the flow. It ain’t difficult but there is still people who insist starting at the front then become mobile obstacles for the first half mile or so because they are so slow.

Once we’d started and turned off Kings Road, it appeared the traffic control must have failed somehow as there were a line of cars down the main road. Not dangerous in that they were all parked up but it just meant the width of the road was reduced and created more bunching for longer.

As I’ve said, this is the fifth year I’ve done this so I know the course very well and knew what was coming up. I got into my rhythm and just plodded on. After a couple of miles there is quite a large dip in the road so it’s reasonably easy to go running down it then back up as it’s early on in the race. The problem is you come back this way and have to do it again at about 12 miles, then it’s not so pleasant!!

The weather seemed to be holding up ok. It wasn’t cold like the previous year, when it was more Arctic than cold and it wasn’t hot like the year before that, when people were dropping with dehydration. I decided not to wear any long sleeve base layers or running tights as I didn’t want to overheat and that seemed to be the right decision, until we got just past the dip onto a long, open, straight road. There was no cover, and the wind just cuts across it and it decided that it was going to hale. Those hale stones hurt, but it was quite funny listening to some of the yelps as it came down.

Once that stopped, I just got into my rhythm of doing 8 to 8 1/2 minute miles. Everything felt comfy and this was my plan to keep under 2 hours but more importantly, to try and dip under 1.50. I had a bit of a wobble at about 5 miles but got through it ok. Can’t explain why as I felt fine but just managed to run through it. I had a gel at about 7 miles and that gave me a boost, just in time for the railway bridge, which is a small, sharp climb. All done then on through Mobberley. Lots of support which is always good, especially when your name is on the race number so spectators can call out your name as you plod past, gives you a nice boost.

Looking at my times, the sub 1.50 was on so I tried to keep it going. Got onto the back road past Mobberley Golf Club where it had haled before and the wheels came off abit. My pace dropped and it became a real struggle, especially doing that dip that I’ve mentioned, the uphill was a proper shuffle.

Soon got round the last bend and could see the finish. Not sure how or why everyone can speed up at this point, obviously bad pacing as they have too much left in reserve!! I just kept my pace going and got over the line in 1.52.08. Happy to do a Wilmslow PB by over 5 minutes but a little but gutted that I missed the sub 1.50. Those last 2 miles cost me as they were both 9 minutes plus as opposed to the 8-8 1/2 minute miles I had been doing.

After collecting my t shirt and goofy bag, carried on to the car and continued my own Wilmslow tradition. There’s always an ice cream van parked up so I had the biggest 99 I could get while I walked back to the car.

Looking back, more than happy with my time and it gives me something to go at next year. And now it’s out of the way, I can concentrate on my cycling for IMUK.

Bad Week

Guess we all get these, but I’ve not had one for so long just didn’t see it coming.

 

Not the best start from a healthy eating point of view, as my wife had booked me a table at Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant, The Fat Duck in Bray as a Christmas present. Absolutely my kind of thing, but absolutely not hers so as I wolfed down my Red Cabbage Gazpacho, Snail Porridge and Umbles to name a few, she sat there and watched. To be fair, she made up for it the next day at his pub, The Hinds Head as that was more her thing but a good solid couple of days on good food and wine took me out of the training zone. Couple that with a fall down the stairs at the cottage where we stayed, probably not the best few days I’ll have training for IMUK. In my defence, the stairs were very narrow and steep but once I slipped, that was it. Left most of my skin off the left cheek of my arse on the stairs, and as I hit the fall at the bottom and catapulted into the kitchen, I managed to hurt my elbow and neck.

 

Still, got home on the Saturday and the following day went round the Bike and Tri show at Manchester. Really enjoyed it and for £6 entrance, thought it was fine. Walking a little strange as I had some chaffing issues having no skin on my arse but got round it.

 

On the Monday, I thought I’d better get a good run in as the Wilmslow Half Marathon is looming so off I went. All was fine if a little slow and I did 14 miles with no great problems. I know there is no proven medical research to show that compression socks or calf guards work, but all I will say is I forgot my calf guards on the run, and the following day my legs were quite sore so hopefully I wont be making that mistake again.

 

Wednesday is normally a big training day for me, but today I was off to watch City in Barcelona. If you’d have told me a few years ago that I’d be doing that in a competitive match, I’d have had you locked up but here we were, on the way to the Nou Camp. I was just on a day trip, so it was up at 4 in the morning to get on the flight, a day in Barcelona then straight home. Thoroughly enjoyed the day, but again, there was a lot of good food and wine so that put me back again. I know nobody force-feeds it me, but I enjoy my food and wine, and I’m hardly a professional athlete so I just enjoyed myself. Eventually got home at 3.30 on Thursday morning so double tired, but it could have been a lot worse. Some of the flights had to divert to Newcastle because of the fog that was about and by the time they got coached back, it was about 11.00 so I was one of the lucky ones!!

 

Thursday didn’t really happen so off to the gym on Friday. Again, this is one of my big days, but I just couldn’t get into it. Did a 50 minute pyramid interval on the bike followed by a 6km run but it was a struggle. Managed a 1500m swim in the afternoon but my mind just wasn’t into it, probably my body saying “enough for one week, you cant burn the candle at both ends.”

 

Saturday just chilled and woke up Sunday so much better. Didn’t want to risk too much as Wilmslow HM is next weekend so just went out for a 10k run, with calf guards on!! That felt good so back in the gym on Monday for some core work. Again, felt miles better so I thought I was back on it only for my knee to swell up. Not sure why it has but was gutted that I may have to pull out of Wilmslow. When I woke up this morning, first thing I did was move my knee, and I didn’t get a pain. I’ve given it more rest today and feels ok, going to try the gym in the morning and see how it goes. If its all ok, will have a swim after it as need to catch up on that.

 

Fingers crossed for the morning. 🙂