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Age Group Duathlon

Training, racing and the random ramblings of a Duathlete

The British return to Columbia (Penticton, BC, Canada )

The ITU World Multisport Championships 2017 https://penticton2017.com are drawing to a close and although I’m already back in the UK I can’t wait to visit the amazing people of Penticton, British Columbia, Canada.

As Captain of the GB Sprint Duathlon Team I have so many wonderful memories of the Teams success, group rides, social events and friendships built-in such a remarkable location in the World that I can’t wait to share them with you all.

So where best to start than the journey out to Vancouver. No in actual fact it begins weeks before the trip began. When I was chosen as Team Captain I knew the role would entail organising a venue or two for post race drinks for the Team and families and supporters before the Medal ceremonies. So I had already formed a friendship with a member of the local Penticton community and all round top dollar guy, Mr Gary Haupt, you’ll hear more about him throughout this blog. 21244545_1724600457845721_864012188_n

So I arrive at Gatwick on Tuesday 15th August ready for a 10 hour 10 min flight to Vancouver, an 8 hour layover and a further 55 minute flight to Penticton. It was always going to be a long day travelling as I cannot sleep on an airplane usually. I eventually arrive at very tiny Penticton Airport minus my luggage but at least I had my bike box, several other athletes arriving earlier in the day had their bikes left at Vancouver such was the small aircraft for the Penticton airport that the cargo space was limited and the planes could only carry a limited amount of cases for the 30 people on board. At the Airport on disembarking I bumped into Daniella McGuigan and the following day met up with Simon Ward and Lucy Williams. As we were all travelling separately we ended forming our own little group for lunches and dinner.

En route we flew over Iceland, Greenland and Northern Canada before turning South to Vancouver. Some of the views were breathtaking as the picture shows along with totem poles inside the airport Terminal.

The following morning I headed out for breakfast while the luggage was delivered to my room, then headed down to see Derek as pre-arranged at Bad Tattoo Brewery (Recommended by Gary Haupt) which was to be the venue for our Team Celebration post race and before the Medal Ceremony which I knew we would be a success. I had arranged to do a few group rides of the bike course with the Team and headed back to the room to assemble the bike, just one small issue in that part of the seat post clamp was missing, although I still to this day don’t know how it became separated and my main focus was to get this fixed as I didn’t want to let the team down, I always prefer to ride the route first before leading a group so that I know the fast descents, sharp corners and loose gravel before taking others along, as Team Skipper you have a duty of care, or at least I do. If your going to do a job, do it properly, don’t do it half cocked and ill prepared. ( I always remember a training Sargeant quoting the 6 P’s. Proper Preparation and Planning prevents to Piss Poor Performance.) Unfortunately I missed the first ride but jumped in the improvised Team car with Vade and followed the Team round at the back to ensure they were all fine. I had dropped the Propel off at Freedom Bikes on Main Street to see if they could replace the parts, thankfully they removed one from a sale model and slotted in place just before 2:50pm ready for me to lead the 3pm ride. Thanks to Bret Wilkes for the mobile selfie round the course.

The course was very technical, some steep climbs and lung busting hills in the heat a turn around point where you could claw a few places back if you braked late but were willing to lead the group off the front, up a small climb and some very fast descending towards the end of Lap 1 and into transition. You need to race hard and smart on courses like this. It was after all the World Championships so you need to be on top of your game and focused to get a good result. For me top 20 would have been okay but secretly I wanted to get as close to the Top 10 as possible.

The following day we met for Team Manager’s Briefings and Team Photos before we gathered for the Parade of Nations. (Daniella, Simon, Myself and Lucy, Followed by Team Managers Marc and Mike with myself in the middle.) The Weather was pretty good for the whole trip with temperatures around 30c most days, the smoke from wildfires lingered in some parts but thankfully nothing covering Penticton.

Bikes racked and kit hanging up ready for the morning and Race Day soon approached and with a 6:30am race start the Jet Lag effect meant I had little sleep anyway so I was up bright and early, dressed, fed and focused even managing to listen to some tunes and focus on the task ahead. No usual butterflies, but because I hadn’t had to rush around early morning and get to the race venue I was looking forward to putting the hours, weeks and months of training all into this one race.

We gathered into our start pens where I looked across at the rest of the guys (the Women had a separate start) and I walked across to Nick Sasha and told him I wanted to see him on that podium. It had very little influence on Nick’s performance but I knew the Athlete that he is and knew he could be top. He knew too. The 40-44 age group is very tough to qualify in and this was summed up by the fact that we eventually took Gold, Silver and Bronze for GB with Nick on the top step.

The race unfolded

So the start line looms, we move forward and ….. we’re off. Into a 5km run, a quick sharp left then right turn around the block and then off along lakeshore Drive to the turn around point near Salty’s Restaurant. A two lap run means you can check back at the turnaround and see where everyone else is positioned.  It set a steady pace not wanting to go too hard and save the legs for the bike hills, I hit the second turn around point and then the straight run through the grandstand finish to transition.

Number belt turned around (Not wanting to get a penalty ), helmet on, shoes off and the long run out of transition to the mount line and we’re away. Feet into the Mavic bike shoes (thanks to Stophe at Contour Cycles ) first time, up to the roundabout, right hander, left hander, left hander again, a small climb then right up the steep hill. Time to dig deep, keep turning those legs over and reach the top, there’s time to recover at the top. The climb levelled out briefly before another small gain then the right turn down to the turnaround point and back on yourself. This gives you a second chance to see who is just in front or behind on the bike.

Next comes a long slow climb before a right hander, this is where I choose to sip my drink at the back of the group allowing me to recover then power along the back section through the vineyards, the two fast corners and then the fast downhill into the turn for Lap 2. 44mph downhill seemed like a crazy speed but there was more to offer, tucked in sitting back of the front bars there was a little wobble as the road surface was a little uneven with cracks. I decided that was fast enough, there was no way I was crashing out here.

At the beginning of the right hand climb on Lap 2 I could feel my calves tighten but never the less pushed the power through the pedals. It hurt but if it didn’t I was pushing myself hard enough.  At the long uphill drag there was a group of athletes around 8 or 9 strong working togther so I decided to get my head down, work up to the back of the group and latch on to save some energy. We turned right down towards the turnaround and I pushed through a little harder alongside the middle of the group. I could see the cone approaching as the others began to slow, I braked late committed to a tighter turn and forced them a little wider, I turned left up the inside and began to power away. I knew if I took a turn on the front and pushed the pace, they would have to come through allowing me a chance to drink at the back of the group before once again making a final push through the vineyard section, the fast bends and the descent into T2.

As we came off the main round, there was a marshall directing us through the junction and down the fast straight. At this point the group including Americans and Canadians were around 60 yards infront. As we took the turn I noticed a male walking along the side of the road with a mobile phone to his ear. When you’re on the bike racing you’re really focused on your surroundings, every tiny detail matters, every second you dissect information and react.

I looked up in front and the group moved to the right hand side of the road to open up the left hand bend on the imposing corner.

I saw a right hand go up in the air and then a rider leaning to the left just fall sideways, down he went, hard, very hard, he hit the deck and slid sideways on to the gravel side of the road. This was the far end of the bike course, I knew there were no marshalls for another 1km from my sightings on the first lap. I immediately stopped to see how he was.

When I got off the bike instinct kicked in. I could see his name was Oliver on his USA Trisuit. I didn’t know him or where he was from, nor his family, nor who was with him. He wasn’t a competitor, nor an athlete at this point. He was a human being who needed help. It didn’t matter what position I was in, nor the result of the race. His feet were still clipped into his shoes. his legs straddled the bike, he was laying on his back, his head turned to the left, his eyes were open but glazed and thick blood was pouring from a wound under his helmet at the back of his head. At first I thought he had gone and by that I mean fatally injured. I thought he may had broken his neck when he hit the tarmac.

My first reaction was to reach for my phone in my back pocket, but then this wasn’t a Sunday Club ride, this was the World Championships. Several riders came flying past, unaware of how seriously injured he was. As I supported his head and neck I began to feel for a pulse, realising that as the blood continued to pump his heart must be working. To my relief I found his carotid pulse and at this point another cyclist stopped and I sent him back to the Marshall to call for help and also to get the guys attention who was walking along the road on the mobile phone.

At this point ‘Oliver’ began to regain consciousness and I was then joined by another GB Athlete David Robinson who had his trainers stuck down his TriSuit. (This was not the time to ask why). Most situations call for you to put the person in the recovery position, but has he was now conscious and breathing I was more concerned with any damage to his neck and head and top of his spine, he was with us and any further movement could have been detrimental. Several athletes then slowed down to offer help, but there was no point to them affecting their own races and the last thing I wanted was another crash  close by. After around 4 or 5 minutes an ITU Official (Duncan Hough) on the course motorbike arrived and was able to radio for the on course medic. At this point the USA athlete began to try to sit up and resist help and become agitated, which is common with any serious head injury. We managed to move the bike out-of-the-way and as we held his helmet and neck he sat up. Seeing the damage to his jersey I then thought his shoulder and collarbone were probably broken too.

He had been completely out cold and didn’t know what had happened, he was very confused and becoming more and more agitated as we waited for medics. My right hamstring was beginning to cramp up from my position on the floor. within 2 to 3 minutes the on course Medic arrived on the back of a Harley Davidson trike, there was a Keystone Cops moment where the trike flying down the road, braked on to the grass verge and I looked up at Duncan and I’m sure we both thought the bike was going to veer off into the side fence. Thankfully he stopped in time but the medic struggled to swing his legs over the seat and I thought he would fall over.

Clearly we needed an ambulance and this was called for. As I looked down to the floor we could clearly see the pool of thick blood that had congealed on the tarmac, my left hand and my right knee were covered. I decided to leave him with the Medic and in the care of ITU and David and I got back on the bikes. I had to stretch the cramp out of my right leg and it took a minute or so and I looked at across and David and knew we had a race to finish. I dropped down a gear, upped the cadence and powered on as if nothing had happened.

Would I do the same again…. Yes absolutely !! It’s human nature to help one another and we have to evaluate the situation in front of us, If we can help and we have skill sets that will benefit. I’d like to think that someone would do the same for me if it was required.

I eventually hit T2 and ran through with the bike shoes on, the fast downhill and roundabout before the dismount line meant taking the feet out was too risky as you’d probably clip the curb or shred your feet on the tarmac. I racked the bike, helmet off, run shoes on and away on the final 2.5km.  I actually felt rather good but this was probably due to the 8 minute or so recovery on my legs. As I ran out off T2 I heard someone say ” He must have crashed” probably referring to the mass of blood on my right leg. I hit the straight on Lakeshore Drive and took the sports drink and then poured a cup of water onto my hands to wash off the blood from my fingers. I continued up the road to the turn around point, round the cone and then just a 1km straight to the finish line and the grandstand and blue carpet.

As I approached the line and the clock I didn’t really register the time or position but was still thinking about Mr Oliver and how he was, whether they had got him to Hospital, had he suffered a fractured skull, would his injuries have any long-suffering effects.  So much so that I didn’t even raise my arms aloft and celebrate the World Champs. In fact I think I put my hands to my head in a sigh of relief, knowing that in draft racing it could happen to anyone of us. All it takes is a moments lapse of concentration from you or another athlete, a touch of wheels, a dropped drinks bottle, even a rattle snake in the road and yes there were some seen.

I was presented with my medal round my neck and handed a Red and White ‘Canada 150’ towel which became redder and redder as I wiped away down my right leg. I soon switched back to Captain mode and wanted to make sure everyone crossed the finish line and welcome them home. Some of us have been on emotional journeys to get to the World Championships, For some it had been a journey over a few years, some had family to watch them, others had family at home, one had recently lost her father and carried a picture round with her and I wanted to ensure someone was there for her at the finish.

With all the Team home and tears and handshakes complete, I eventually collected the bike, saddled up and rode back to the team hotel for some much-needed recovery by the pool.

At the Poolside I began to reflect back on my race and wondered how my supporters would feel. All the time spent training, time away from family the support they had shown me, the faith that Contour Cycles, RaceCrate and Royal Mail Sports Foundation have shown me, proudly wearing their logos on my GB suit and I forgot to get that all important finish line photo.

After a brief Powernap I changed ready for the Post race party down at Bad Tattoo Brewery and the pending Medal Ceremony. In all the GB Team picked up 6 Gold, 9 Silver and 5 Bronze in the Sprint race. At the Opening ceremony on Friday night I bumped into an Aussie athlete who was carrying a blow up Skippy the Kangaroo around. Tony Williams and his partner Zoe were staying with Gary Haupt at his AirB&B, so I had invited them along with Gary to the party. Gary couldn’t make it but had earlier in the week told me there was a Wedding taking place whilst the Champs were on. Tony then asked me if I was going to the Wedding on Monday which I said yes too, and the proceeded to tell me it was his. I wasn’t sure if it was the Beer talking or just an Aussie joke.

Needless to say Saturday night was a blast celebrating with the Team and the Juniors and U23’s who also took to the podium. Sunday was kind of skipped and Monday was the Standard Distance race followed by the Solar Eclipse and the Wedding. You couldn’t write this in a book, it was such a surreal experience and memories of this trip will last a lifetime.

Once Monday came many of the Sprint Team began to depart for their Holidays travelling to Banff, Whistler or the drive back to Vancouver. I volunteered in Transition for the Standard Race, watched or rather felt the 10 degree drop in temperature as the Moon passed the Sun around 10.20am for the Eclipse. I then headed back to change for the Wedding which was held in Gary’s back garden. It was a brilliant close-knit affair, with a singer from across the road, an amazing array of home cooked food from Gary and Sharon and the happy couple Tony and Zoe, also there was  Tony’s friend Chris a fellow Aussie who was also compete in the Cross Tri, together with his son Alec who was to become the Junior World Champion. It was a perfect day in a perfect location with perfect weather and company, oh and a few tinnies.

On Tuesday I had to head out early on the bike as I was stepping in for Marc and Mike who were racing the Cross Tri on Wednesday, so I had to attend the Manager’s Briefing. I wanted to hit the KVR Trail around Lake Skaha but couldn’t find a MTB in my size so decided to try on the Propel, carefully very carefully, If I encountered a Bear on the trail there was no way I was going to outrun it on the race bike.

It was such a beautiful ride along the trail as the pictures in the slide show will tell you. Watching the Cross Tri on Wednesday gave me an idea for next season too, with Cross Duathlon and Cross Tri becoming ever more popular maybe this is something else I could consider. Of course It would mean another bike, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. The afternoon was spent Kayaking around the top end of Lake Okanagan ( which incidentally is 84 miles long – Yes 84 miles) , Lake Okanagan while two of the ladies took to paddle boards, I know my centre of gravity is a little off so wanted to power the arms and give them a work out.

Thursday was my final day in Penticton and I was invited to the lovely Sharon and Gary’s house for Waffles for Breakfast with Tony and Zoe before they headed off on their Married adventure. The hospitality they have shown has been nothing short of outstanding. We have shared beers at The Cannery, enjoyed each others company at Bad Tattoo for Dinner one evening and been invited into their home.

Even walking down the street people have wished me well and ‘Hope you enjoy your visit here’ everywhere I go. The People of Penticton are so warm and friendly and I very much hope to return one day with the family and explore more that this region and the people have to offer. I know that I have made great friends here and also now in Australia and I know we will keep in touch. Especially now that they all have Dave’s contact details. (Don’t worry I’ll explain about ‘Dave’ later…….if you really ask…. and really want to know ).

The journey out of Penticton on a twin-engine propeller plane was always going to be special so I made sure I got a window seat to record the take off and also coming into Vancouver. I was amazed at their sheer volume of timber rafts on the Vancouver River from the logging exploits further upstream, this can only be appreciated from the air so take a look at the slide show and video at the bottom.

Team GB you have been awesome once again and I look forward to seeing you all at qualifiers and major champs in future.  Canada there is so much more to explore but like your people and your food, you have been awesome.

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USA Athlete Francis Oliver left Hospital a few days later with 5 stitches to the back of his head and a broken collarbone. I wish him well and a good recovery.

Oh and by the way I’m still 24th in the World and there’s always next year !

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The Road to Penticton

 

With only 5 weeks to go the training is being ramped up and the early mornings and late summer evenings are providing great opportunities to hit the bike. Sunday morning long rides means a 5:30am start so I can be home for breakfast with the family but I am feeling tired. Normally my race season would finish with the European Championships in May and so these added few months into August means I have to try to stay fresh and focused and injury free.

As most of you will know representing your Country and Team GB is a proud moment in any sports persons career. It takes hard work persistence, dedication and support and in some cases deep pockets. Triathlon is often seen as a sport for those well off but that isn’t the case and Triathlon England have done a great job through some local clubs of running  their Go Tri  events series to give people of all ages the opportunity to have their first foray into Triathlon.

I have been fortunate to form some great partnerships and this year I am hoping to be supported by the Royal Mail Sports Foundation (applications were 4 months late in opening ),  Contour  Cycles of Stevenage who will be tweaking my Giant Propel in a few weeks ensuring everything is in tip-top condition before flying to Canada, oh and have supplied my ultimate race shoes. ( Thanks Stoph ) 😉

I am also excited to announce I am an Athlete Ambassador for RaceCrate an exciting new concept of a subscription service offering energy, protein and recovery products, clothing accessories and vouchers.

The RaceCrate team are all fully qualified fitness professionals with a passion for all things endurance! They noticed a huge gap in the market to release a monthly subscription crate that allows athletes to sample market leading product, receive free clothing and accessories and also discounts from the UK’s renowned endurance events. They are working very closely with the industries biggest names to bring you a box full of value at a fraction of the price. We aim to blow you away each and every month.

I have received my first two boxes and they are outstanding value for money as you can see from the images below.

Not only are they jammed packed and well presented, but as you can see there is a wide variety of products from across the market for you to sample and enjoy. I am also looking forward to seeing the sports clothing range due for release soon. In the meantime I am looking forward to wearing my GB Kit with pride in Canada.

2017 race kit

The total cost of the World Champs is around £2000 with the race entry face alone £230 so I’ve set up a fundraising page and although it’s not really had any success there is still 10 days left if you wish to donate. Duathlon World Champs fundraising

Whilst the World Champs is only a few weeks away and most of us are thinking about race plans, nutrition and the weather forecast there is a more concerning matter to hand. Recent temperatures in British Columbia have hit up to 37c in some areas and whilst I’m looking to enjoy the breathtaking scenery and local hospitality, there have been a large number of Wildfires in recent weeks and days, my thoughts go out to the inhabitants, residents BC Fire Service and Forestry personnel and hope that everyone stays safe.

Penticton Western News

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Copenhagen,Calella, Calais and Canada Part Deux

With 2016 beginning to draw to a close, by October I began to look at the 2017 race calendar, qualifying races and major Champs and begin planning Annual Leave at work, hotel bookings, travel, race fees  and slowly mounting up the costs.  I had decided to take on Powerman Mallorca in February as a good build up to European Championships 2017 and a chance to get in some cycling up to Lluc and the tough climbs in the Ballearics. I also wanted to race Stockton Sprint Duathlon in April as this was a favourite course of mine and had some unfinished business here after retiring with a mechanical in a previous World Champs Qualifying race.

The change to Sprint racing making it Draft legal meant that I need to upgrade the Merida to something with more power, more aerodynamic and more aggressive and thanks to my coach Barron Mendlessohn and Stophe at Contour Cycles I opted for a Giant Propel Pro Advanced 2 with Di2. So order placed for March 2017 and time to get into some Winter training. The Team at Contour have been outstanding in supporting me in my races over the past year and both the Trinity and Propel have been set up and serviced by the guys here.

If anyone is looking for a new machine speak to Stophe and the guys here first. Yes Stevenage isn’t exactly on my doorstep but the service and expertise is fantastic and the guys are all riders themselves.

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Like everything else in our sport it’s self funding and the new bike meant selling an arm and a leg or working as much overtime as possible and selling some shares.

November and the build up to Christmas in Royal Mail can be pretty demanding sometimes working 4:50am to 7pm, okay it’s not compulsory but the overtime is there so you’ll take it while you can. Trying to squeeze training sessions in and family time are tough at the best of times but you seem to get stuck into a routine. You don’t notice the stress on your body or your mind and eventually when Christmas Eve approaches all you want to do is sleep.
I won’t be doing the same this year  !!!

January bought around a new training base for me. While the Basildon Sporting Village offered Olympic Performance facilities, the time travelling to and from the Village was as much as the training sessions themselves. This coincided with Fit4Less or Energie Basildon opening just on the edge of town and with 2 Wattbike Pros it made sense to switch training venues and maximise the training time available and at £15.99 a month was and still is an absolute bargain.

2017 had the makings of being a great year, I began to increase the training and build a solid base ready for Powerman Mallorca. But towards the middle of January my home life took an unwelcome change.

Without going into the situation in too much detail Wendy and I split up, no one else was involved it was just one of things were work for both of us was demanding, training and family life weren’t mixing and I was asked to go. I spent a few weeks on the sofa, lined up a flat which fell through causing more issues and eventually had another lined up after I came back from racing in Mallorca.

The race itself went well, although on the final run I had a little wobble as it sank in that when I returned to the UK I was moving out.


When I returned It was a tough few months, mentally I felt crushed and tried to focus on training to take mind off things but I found it hard to cope. Some nights I’d sit in the flat alone while Wendy and the kids were at home. We both agreed it was what we needed and she helped me move in and the kids even chose the decor as they wanted something like Centre Parcs for when they came and stayed over.

Ironically I had done enough in Mallorca to qualify for the European Long Distance Championships in Germany.

Stockton soon approached and I picked up the new bike from Stophe at Contour Cycles 

Stockton soon came round in April and with Wendy, Cameron, Emelia my Mum, Sister and family all in support I felt I was going to do well, the sun was shining it was a prefect Spring day for racing and i was up for it. I knew what I had to do on the first run to put some time and distance between myself and others in my Age Group and hit the bike equally hard. The Propel is a fast bike to ride and having the power to accelerate out of corners and off of roundabouts is a massive bonus in sprint racing now that drafting is legal.

I have to say wearing the new bike shoes, the Mavic Tri Heliums was a delight as it never feels like you have anything on your feet, they are so airy, light and stiff soled they make a great difference on your feet especially on longer rides too, big  thanks to Contour Cycles.

Mavic shoes

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As usual in qualifying races it’s a case of waiting for the official results to be accumulated and emails to be sent out and a nervous few days waiting. I raced well, had great support and there wasn’t much else I could do.

I spent the next few weeks trying to sort out my home life when the news came through I had a place in the Team for the World Champs in Canada in August on top of the European Long Distance Team I was relieved.  Some might think I couldn’t be happier but far from the truth all I wanted was to be back in the family home. It took at lot of self-reflection, some honest talking and sacrifices and looking back now it’s so easy to get caught up in work, training, work, training, work and so on although you don’t realise it at the time. I couldn’t do any of the things I have done without the full support of Wendy, Cameron and Emelia and I wanted it to continue.

Several weeks later and just two weeks from the European Long Distance Champs I had to make some easy and tough decisions. The easy one was to move back home despite the money spent on furniture, rent and bills the time apart has probably bought us closer together. I had to withdraw from Sankt Wendel as financially it just wasn’t possible at that time but somethings were more important than another race.

Then came the decision about Canada and the World Champs. The flights, accommodation and race fee were going to cost around £2k but could I justify the cost. I had pout in the time the training the qualifying and the new bike were all part of the build up and planning. Would I get the chance to race another World Champs ? I guess only time will tell but if the opportunity is here and now I’ve gt to take it so I am going to embrace the chance flights and hotel is booked and the training continues.

Now the Football season has finished and Sundays mornings are free of Cameron’s matches I have had the opportunity to get some mileage in on the Propel with some rides to Richmond Park then Windsor to the Cinnamon Cafe and back with fellow Outcast Cyclists pictured below and a Sportive in France involving a 4am alarm call, a return ferry from Dover to Calais some heat hills and wind with Neil Dobson and fellow East Essex Tri Club members.

The build up to Canada is going to be tough having not really having a rest all year but August is going to be awesome. Plus there’s some exciting news to come in my next blog. 

Watch this space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copenhagen,Calella, Calais and Canada Part 1

Copenhagen

So back in May 2016 I headed to Copenhagen for the European Long Distance Duathlon Champs with Wendy in support and the rest of the GB Age Group Team. I was nervous of the expectation to perform and although training had been going well, I had only picked up my new Giant Trinity Advanced a couple of weeks before the event, thanks to Stophe and the team at Contour Cycles Stevenage and this was my first full race at the 10 km, 60km, 10km format.

We had a great weekend making new friends with many of the team especially the South London Harriers boys of Steve, Mark and Jamie.

 

The weather was fantastic and Copenhagen was such a beautiful and clean vibrant city to visit and race. The race itself went what I can describe as okay. I ran a PB for the first 10km, hit the bike okay but looking back could and should have pushed harder and suffered on the last 5km of the second run due to the heat. Although I finished in the top 20 in my Age Group (not too bad for my first European Championships), I know there was room for improvement and I think as athletes we are very critical of our own performances and always looking for ways to improve.

Calella

Two weeks later I headed off to Calella, just outside Barcelona for Ironman 70.3. Yes as a true Duathlete I ducked the swim and had chosen to join a Relay Team but took on the Bike and Run legs. As always the sun was beating down and after watching Stuart Hayes off on the start line in the Pro race went and took up position to watch my Swim relay partner head off then waited nervously in transition for her to come in. The Swim cut off time was 1 hour 5 minutes and she just made it in over the hour mark. I was afraid I wouldn’t even get on the bike but as i was the second but last rider in transition i headed out hard and fast on the Trinity and within 20 minutes i was already overtaking other riders. The mountain climb was tough on the TT but the down hill sweeping bends and flat village sections really gave me a chance to put the power down and hit some good speed.

Eventually hitting T2 and out on the run was a pleasure to see the run course lined along the town section and not normally one for Coca-Cola and Red Bull I found my self knocking back a few plastic cups of warm coke at the turn around point to give me a little boost. I finally headed towards the Red Carpet where I could see my relay partner and not wanting to change my now sprinting stride grabbed her hand and pulled her towards to the finish line as we crossed together. Two thoughts then crossed my mind, was my partner still standing as I’m not sure she’d ever run so fast in her life and secondly why didn’t I do the swim. In truth i never really had the time to put in the training but It’s something i really must channel some energy too, once the Duathlons have finished.

 

Barca 70.3
A little nervous the day before Barcelona 70.3

Father’s day was a real treat for all the family as we were lucky enough to win Hospitality to the Women’s Tour at Kettering and a chance to grab some photos with some famous faces and of course Yellow Jersey’s for the kids.

So what next? Well after a summer of training and family holidays, summer football tournaments and BBQ’s I joined a group of friends from The Bell Inn, Horndon on the Hill for London to Paris for the British Heart Foundation over 3 days.

Although it wasn’t a race I decided to ride and push my limits on the 3 day sections, with some fantastic scenery, tough hills and strong winds and rain I’d have to say this was one of the toughest things I have done, throughout the weekend we had fantastic support from Ian our Team Manager, Support Driver and Baguette maker extrodinaire. His timely trips to the supermarkets and loading us up with ham and cheese filled full length baguettes, drinks and crisps at the official feed stops were the envy of all other riders.

Everyone was expecting me to be the first to finish on Day 3 and I must admit I didn’t fancy the chances myself with 90 or so miles to go but and for the first 26 miles I was out in front on my own as we left for Paris. After being joined and riding 40 miles together by another rider I eventually started to weaken and let him go up the road. I eventually punctured 3 miles from the finish and once I had repaired and saddled back up I came in 6th to a well deserved beer in front of the Palace of Versailles.

Ian is the Dude in the shades outside The Bell 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bridging the Gap

After my last post back in April 2016, I decided I should spend more time actually focusing on my training instead of writing about it and the focus shifted to my Great Britain Age Group events and proudly representing my Country.

So this is just a short catch up on what has happened in the past twelve months or so and where I have been, where I am now and were I’m heading in the next few months.

The Racing Season

It’s been a few weeks now since my last blog back in January, whilst I have sat down a few times to put pen to paper, I’ve struggled to really get anything of interest down. It’s been the usual long slog of work, training, more work, more training, cold dark wet mornings and cold dark windy wet evenings and hours sweating over a Wattbike in the warmth of Basildon Sporting Village, in what essentially equates to a greenhouse when on the bike for 2 hours.

They say Summer bodies are made in Winter and although I’m not one for posing in front of the mirror and throwing weights around the gym complete with grunting and peck flexing, it’s true that a good structured Winter training programme can help to improve your strength and fitness and give you that extra boost ready for the Spring.

February gave me a chance to give something back to the Sport and I popped along to The London Bike / Triathlon Show to help the Team at The Triathlon Trust to inspire children to become active in the Space to Earth Challenge. You can read more here about British Astronaut Tim Peake and his exercise routines in Space and see if you can run swim bike or even space hop your way to the International Space Station.  http://www.spacetoearthchallenge.org.uk/

Tri Trust

February was going to see me hit my first half marathon of the year followed by Brentwood in March, but with such a heavy workload and training period mixed with the cold weather and various cold and flu viruses around I suffered and decided it was better to pull out with Tonsilitis and not worth slogging round the course in a poor time and have no real training benefit to my body and rested up.

It also allowed myself an opportunity to spend some time with my family visiting us from Teesside and in particular my Brother Michael, so we had a couple of days out and headed over to Hadleigh Downs for a gentle stroll, nothing like the Benfleet 15. We then followed this up with a trip to one of my favourite locations. You can’t beat a walk along the seaside breathing in that salty sea air and there’s no-where better to do this than the longest Pleasure Pier in the World, in Southend On Sea.

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Working 6 days a week and training pretty much every day soon becomes part of the norm, tending to eat the same types of food but the training sessions differ in content. Pushing your body physically to make it stronger fitter and quicker can take it’s toll and it’s important to have a good physio regime in place to prevent any injuries.

I have been lucky this year so far in that Louise Johnson from The Body Matters http://www.thebodymatters.co.uk/services/ has supported me in my training and by covering the costs of my Physio and Sports Massage treatments. The treatments by Keiran Mote are perfect for ensuring I am back into full fitness after races and long training sessions. If anyone is considering searching for treatments from Hypnotherapy, acupuncture, Reflexology or even Yoga, drop Louise a line and see how the team can help. They also look after the Marathon Runner’s from Little Haven’s Hospice and you will see them again at the Southend Half Marathon.

March brought the Brentwood Half Marathon and another mad dash the day before race day down to see another one of my sponsors Run Active, Leigh On Sea http://www.runactive.co.uk/ to pick up some much-needed cushioned run socks. Thanks to Cathy Salmon once again for saving my bacon.  I picked up a couple of pairs of Balega ankle socks and managed to run 1:36 Half Marathon the following morning on what turned out to be a rather than warmer day than forecast. I was late getting to the start line so ended up weaving through a few hundred people after the gun which may have cost a few minutes, but not a bad day at the office.

Brentwood half

The following weekend brought the Easter holiday and the traditional Good Friday Crown to Crown 5k trail run hosted by my former running club Pitsea. This is a great day for the families of those associated with my beloved East Essex Tri Club.  The day usually start with adult members riding from Rayleigh and putting in 20-30 miles before arriving at race HQ and running the 5km, followed by an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids and Hot Cross Buns tea and coffee etc for the adults and a great opportunity for a good old chin wag for wives and girlfriends about our adventures or endless spending on Ironman Fees and new bikes.

This year was an added bonus for me as I opted not to blast round as per the norm but jog round with Cameron and Emelia. We all started together, but was proud to see Cameron go off in front on his own and finish in a time of 36 minutes and I finished a stop start run with Emelia in 40 mins 30 seconds, which for their first C2C was fantastic. It’s great to see them to get involved and I’m hoping they will continue this through the summer. As you can see from our race numbers they were both keen to get there early for the start.

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The second best thing about the Easter Weekend ( the first being spending time with the family away from work and training)  had nothing to do with Chocolate, Lamb or Hot Cross Buns but a visit to Contour Cycles in Stevenage. http://www.contourcycles.co.uk where I picked up my new stead, the Giant Trinity Advanced. More about this later.

The first weekend of April brings along the first of this years key events, Windsor Duathlon was the British Age Group Championships and the Standard distance was also a World Championship Qualifier. This was always going to be a tough race with the format of the Sprint and Standard distances being 3 minutes apart meant congestion on the bike section was always a strong possibility.  We stayed over in Sunningdale the night before to ensure we weren’t far away from the event and arriving in plenty of time we were only 10 cars away from the front of the car park gates.

Time to unleash the new beast 

Unfortunately for us it took 30 minutes to move to the front and the car parking and walk to transition and transition itself were like a bog. The conditions under foot were so bad, wellies were needed in transition, the race start was delayed for 30 minutes due to the parking issues and athletes had the dilemma of putting shoes on the bike and running with wet soaking muddy feet out of T1 or running in bike shoes and having cleats full of mud.

There was of course the usual pre race photo opportunity, nobody likes their photo post race.

Gill Fullen photo bomb
Bombed by the great Gill Fullen

This was the first proper ride on the new Giant Trinity Advanced, I had a second hand pair of Mavic wheels delivered on Friday and fitted Saturday morning by the guys at Cycles UK Basildon, whilst I was at work. I picked her up at lunchtime and she look good !!!!

Race Bike
The new Giant Trinity Advanced, new saddle to be added before Copenhagen.

The first 10km run went through wet muddy off road tracks and road and the mud from our shoes eventually came off, which by the time we hit the bike, which we carried on our shoulders out of transition, became hardened lumps of mud of the road. By the time we caught the Sprinters in front the bike course hit some narrow sections and the mix of speed in my case a maximum of 39.1 mph and some of the novice riders and wet slippery roads was only going to have one outcome. Sadly for at least one rider that meant a trip to A & E and 3 broken ribs, fractured collar bone and a few cuts and bruises not to mention the damage to his bike.

Unfortunately I went off a little too hard with the uphill start and the lingering around. I had a good 10km first run, hit the bike hard but seemed to Bonk on the end of the last bike lap, didn’t take enough gels on board for my rather large frame and suffered as a result. Coming out of T2 was horrendous, running through the mud and bog was worse than a cross-country run and despite the elastic laces pulled tight on my right shoe my leg came out of the mud minus its shoe. It was energy sapping and I made the mistake of not taking enough fuel on board and my quads and calves were beginning to cramp up. The final 5km was a struggle and after trying to stretch through the pain and some encouragement from my Coach Barron, Wife Wendy  and Matt Tithecott ( a fellow GB Age Grouper on the course), I crossed the finish line battered.

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My first feeling was of disappointment at myself for bonking, then realising the bad time on the final run, but then when I looked around at the finish area I could see there were some familiar tired faces around. The conditions and the course had been tough on everyone. There had also been some great results for the top athletes but more worryingly some athletes had to stop to allow The Queen home to Windsor Castle from The Chapel, this affected the races results in some areas as some athletes could clearly see their competitors 800m metres behind them thinking they had won the age groups but when the timings were adjusted the results were reversed.

Clearly there is a lot of food for thought for British Triathlon and the race management team to consider for future races. Needless to say I had plenty of cleaning to do over the next few days.

 

It’s been a great few weeks behind the scenes as Basildon Borough Council have granted me a Sports Development Grant and my employer Royal Mail has also awarded me a Sports Foundation Grant both to help support my training and racing and help to fund the purchase of some new kit. So with that in mind I need to make a few changes to my suit before Copenhagen.

GB Suit

So since Windsor two weeks ago I’ve been straight back into training, I needed a three-hour bike session last Sunday so following some of the blogs of a friend of mine from East Essex Tri Club I set off for the world-renowned Tovelland in East Essex. Many of you may not of heard of this wonderful place but it does exist out to the East past Battlesbridge , Hullbridge and towards Wallasea Island among the flat lands where Ian Tovell resides. Ian has been on a tremendous life changing journey from fatty to fit just like me, although his is a bigger achievement.

I had to leave early to be home in time for Cameron’s football match as I love to watch my boy play. The big benefit to BST (British Summer Time) is the early morning sunrises and as I hit the rolling country lanes towards Wallasea I was greeted with a beautiful scene at the RSPB Wildlife reserve.

Wallasea Panorama

I took 5 minutes to admire the views, grab a drink and energy bar then hit the roads back home before heading for a loop of Hanningfield Reservoir and home clocking a mere 82km before showering and heading off to watch my boy and then headed off to help the Tri Club run our annual Aquathlon at Basildon Sporting Village.

Cameron put in yet another stellar performance helping his team to a fabulous 3-0 win against a top team in their league. Balancing work , training and football is a tricky job, but I’m managing it, I just love watching my boy on the pitch and the rest of his team. So I’m now off to bed, have another early ride planned for tomorrow to make Cameron’s 9:30am kick off. European Champs are now only three weeks away followed by Barcelona 70.3 two weeks later. It’s going to be a busy few weeks  but here’s hoping this week begins the same as last week.

cam football

Hard work always pays off and the rewards can be fantastic. Always believe in yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye !

So here we are another year gone by with many great memorable moments to treasure and share and look back with fond memories. It’s now 23rd January and training is building towards Copenhagen and Barcelona in May.

The Wife had a bit of a prang in the car just before Christmas, fortunately for her she was uninjureded and the children were already dropped at school, but the car has been written off so the Bike fund may well be a little lighter in the coming weeks.

The long hard December slog at work is now over, don’t get me wrong the overtime helps to pay a big chunk of my race fees, physio sessions, accomodation and flights for the coming season or in this case now towards the new car , but the 4:50am starts and 7pm /8pm finishes mean very little time for quality training sessions or even family time.

Christmas Eve at 5pm finally came round and for a few days at least I could hang up my coat, put away the boots and enjoy some quality time at home with the family. Out came the usual Christmas treats, mince pies, chocolates, nuts and all the trimmings. I knew Christmas Day was going to be good, the kids as always would be awake before my usual alarm call and I knew by 8 o’clock they would already be opening their presents and engrosed in whatever they were doing and with permission granted by The Boss (Wendy), I jogged down to Basildon Parkrun, flew round and jogged back home ready to get the dinner on,although this year Wendy had taken control of the cooking duties.

parkrun

Christmas never fails to produce family movie time and some of us enjoyed the sing-a-long with Julie Andrews and The Von Trapp family in the Sound of Music. Sadly On Boxing Day evening we said ‘Goodbye, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehn, Goodnight’ to Wendy’s Grandma who had been ill for a few weeks by then. Not only was it sad to loose a member of the family but at 92 and of German heritage we loose yet another of that generation whom would tell tales of life and survival during World War II, but I know those stories and memories will be shared again and again by other family members every Christmas. RIP Anna xxx

grandma

Training took a little bit of a back seat as Basildon Sporting Village was undergoing a refurbishment and wasn’t due to re-open until 2nd January, but the thought of four new Wattbike Pro’s had me itching to get back into some warmer indoor bike training. However when I did get back there I was dissapointed to see that none of the new bikes had TT armrests fitted so 2-3 hour session for Ironman training are going to be uncomfortable.

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The Holiday period and January itself is a strange time of year. It’s been some 8 weeks or more since the last big race and with Copenhagen Euro’s and Barcelona 70.3 some 5 months away, the post race depression and January Blues seem to have merged into one. The cold dark mornings and the long dark nights make outdoor solo runs lonely and often miserable, but then this just replicates what happens when you hit the wall in a Marathon or in the latter stages of an Ironman race. Im pretty sure we all go through the same feelings form time to time, that emptiness after a big race, that feeling of being lost after all the hype has died down and when all we really want in Winter is some warm weather training to lift our spirits.

Of course the cold winter days and frost do provide for some opportunistic photo shoots aroud the local parks and open spaces. Say Cheese everyone !!!

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Unfortunately I cannot afford the Winter away days nor would it be fair to my family but I do have a secret weapon to ensure I put in the efforts and training sessions and kept on the right track and that is my coach.

Coaching is not only instrumental in improving my fitness and physical strength but he is also able to push me and ensure I hit the sessions he sets and gives me feedback so that I know when to hit harder or ease off the training to prevent injury. We both use Training Peaks where I can see the session and content set for me over the course of the day, week and month and my Coach is able to see the instant data from sessions I have input and his feedback on how I am progressing. Together with Garmin and Wattbike apps, the approcah to everyday training is much more intense than where I was a year or so ago but it’s also too easy to get lost in charts and graphs but a basic understanding is needed to understand what you are trying to acheive.

It’s also means that should I skip a session my coach can see this and adjust my training programme if needed ensuring that I don’t miss vital fitness or endurance work over a period of time.

New Year’s Day, the day most of us think about our New Year Resolutions but don’t come into affect until the 3rd, maybe 4th of maybe the start of the next week. I thought I would start the year well, so I headed off down to Southend Parkrun 5km for only my 2nd visit but here I have a large group of Friends known as ‘The (Southend) Flyers’. A massive bunch of runners of all abilities who are more like a large family than a group of friends. If anyone is running Brighton Marathon or Brugge 15km this year or even coming down to Essex for a Parkrun or two, come to Southend and look out for the Orange Army and meet the fabulous Flyers Southend.

I rocked up with some friends and thinking it was only a 2 lap course flew out of the blocks at an easy 6:19 for the 1st mile and then 6:37 for the 2nd , then relaising I’d gone a little too quick struggled to hold the speed for the final lap and extra sting in the tail meant I finished in 20 mins 6 secs narrowly missing my 19.56 PB !!!

After a traditional post Parkrun coffee at the Local Harvester and a catch up with old friends, I was looking forward to getting back to work after the weekend and some quality training. It was also great to get a boost to start the New Year with the backing of some of my supporters Louise at The Body Matters, Leigh On Sea, who provide my Physio sessions,  David and Cathy from Run Active and who kindly provde my run shoes and Bianca at Fit Your Bike, who is also a Bike led Physiotherapist but also provides my Retul Bike fitting service ensuring my set up is as ergonomic as possible and allows me to run fresh off the bike without any cramping or discomfort.

It always good for people to support local business and for them to support local athletes and I’m looking forward to training in my GB top over the coming months and with their support. Big thank you guys !!

Last weekend saw the weather forecasts change to Snow and Ice, so the planned Group bike rides were cancelled and on Saturday I was pretty sure Cameron’s Sunday Football game would be cancelled and I was offered a place on Sunday at the Benfleet 15, a tough 15 mile mixed terrain race across fields, footpath, bridlepaths and the downs of Hadleigh around the famous castle and the Olympic Mountain Bike course. If your looking for a day out check out the facilities here Hadleigh Park, Essex

It was great to see so many club faces in attendance and another reminder of why East Essex Triathlon Club is the best in the region, if not the Country, but then I would say that wouldn’t I. As some of the photos show there was plenty of Mud this year. I knocked off another 5 mins off my course PB from 2013, running and a little hill climbing of 2:06 !

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We were all looking full of smiles at the start, feeling bored at mile 7 with Ray, the Final mile climb through the slippery paths with Pete Garrod in pic 3 and the final image shows the brutal final climb to the top of the hill and the finishing straight.

I’m now off to prep the road bike for tomorrow’s 3 hour ride before Cameron’s game and looking forward to Great Bentley Half Marathon in 2 weeks time. So here is looking forward to the Year ahead. I don’t know about you but I’m going to enjoy every moment and give it my all.

2016 ! Go smash it !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Kick in the Balls, Christmas & København

Since my last blog I have been training and focusing on the end of this Season’s goals and in particular looking forward to (if you can call it that) or rather anticipating the pain of the Winter BallBuster at Box Hill, a gruelling 8 mile run, 27 mile ride and final 8 mile run all up and over the climb of Box Hill in Surrey. This type of race doesn’t give medals to finishers but a rather warm and needy Fleece Hoody to proudly wear after the race and to the gym.

A couple of weeks before the BallBuster I was flying round at work delivering letters in the pouring rain and wind and unusually for me in my big trusty black work boots, not Mizuno Running shoes, when I slipped on some moss on wooden decking and over stretched my right leg, causing a small injury to my Satorius muscle. As a result of that I could train on the bike but running felt uncomfortable.

I was a little concerned that further running may aggravate the injury and although Powerman Denmark and Barcelona 70.3 are in May, I didn’t want to miss a bulk of productive Winter training nor miss a few weeks off work, so after consulting my coach we both agreed it was a wise decision not to take on the Ballbuster, so as apposed to ‘Busting my Balls’, it felt like a ‘Kick in the Nuts’.

October was a great month for celebrating birthday’s and Anniversaries but also a great opportunity to enjoy some Sunday morning football watching Cameron play for his Forest Glade Pumas U’9 team.

They are a great bunch of lads and I missed most of their games last season due to training. I know come January that my training will increase but I will endeavor to get to the matches as much as I can.

As most of you know I’m a Postman most of the time and the Christmas season is now upon us, in fact we’ve been busy at work for the past 4 weeks and working some 70 hours a week !!! Tiring Yes ! But it helps to build the race fund for next year. Although the 4:50am starts and 7pm finishes are okay, the annoying fact that I wake up at 4am on a Sunday means I could go for an early morning run but some days you just need that lay in or ‘Extended Recovery’ as I call it.

November of course brought Black Friday. I saved thousands of pounds this year by not shopping in the sales at all. Although it was Black Friday it was swiftly taken over by Red White and Blue Weekend as I received the great news that I will be in GB Team for the European Long Distance Duathlon Champs in Copenhagen in May 2016.

ETU European Long Distance Duathlon Champs 2016

To say I’m excited is an understatement, I have made a massive leap from where I was after Emelia was born and the past year has seen some remarkable changes in my mental and physical approach to training and goals. As always I thank my family for their unwavering support but there are also a few people who don’t get a mention who have helped and advised me in the last two years who offer their advice and coaching on Monday Tuesday and Thursday evenings voluntarily at our East Essex Tri Club training sessions, so ladies Zena Shean, Jenny Harley, Janice Brown thank you for all that you do for all the club members. We know you enjoy inflicting pain on us. XXX

May next year is no doubt going to be a very big month, Copenhagen will be my ‘A’ race for the year, no doubt about that and Barcelona 70.3 will take a back seat, if I’m race fit I will give it a bash if I recover from Copenhagen. There is the Brentwood Half Marathon on 20th March and British Age Group Duathlon Champs at Windsor on 3rd March will be a good indicator of where I am early in the season.

There is a long long road ahead to Copenhagen and once the silly Christmas workload is over I am looking forward to knuckling down and being in tip top condition and ensuring I do myself and my Country proud. This does also provide what all atheltes enjoy and that is a neccisity to buy some new kit.

As always I would like to thank Bianca at Fit Your Bike and look forward to using her expertise soon to set me up for Copenhagen. Also thanks to the Team at Run Active  Run Active.co.uk for keeping me supplied with race and training shoes, look forward to seeing you again instore soon. Finally thanks to Kieran and Louise at http://www.thebodymatters.co.uk and Kieran in particular for making a grown man wince in pain but generally keeping me in condition.

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With the  Winter months come the inevitable coughs and colds cross country races, cold dark wet winter training runs and general doom and gloom of Winter until the spring sunshine start to lift our spirits and warmer weather, but do you know what it’s actually a good time of year to put down some mileage in the shoes and hit the Wattbike and enjoy the focus of what lies further down the road and the opportunities ahead. At least i have a pair of winter training shoes ready !!

 

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I’m looking forward to the remaining 5 weeks of this year, a curry night with the lads from the club, family time at home oh and the possibility of Christmas Day Parkrun at Basildon Basildon Parkrun and maybe the Boxing Day Crown to Crown 5k Pitsea RC Boxing Day Crown to Crown 5k but this will be a social affair over the festive break so I won’t be racing.

Like you all I will be hoping for a White Christmas, maybe just a little splash of Red and Blue thrown in too, of course the odd chilled glass of Erdinger Alkoholfrei would be consumed too.

Cheers everyone ! Here is to 2016.

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London to Barcelona and the Ironman Family

It’s been a few weeks since my last blog and there has been a great deal to catch up on so where shall we start.

Training has been intense through the end of August and into September with the main focus on London Duathlon on 20th September at Richmond Park. We arrived at Richmond Park just as the sun was rising, setting the scene for what was to be a beautiful days racing in a stunning location, as we walked through he early morning mist we encountered our first group of Red Deer and the sound of roaring Stags.

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As we arrived early I went straight to transition to rack my bike and pick a prime spot at the end of the racking, headed off to grab a coffee and a pre race talk with my coach.  I was feeling pretty relaxed, fresh and confident as training had been very good, after a chat over coffee and a quick warm up I headed to the start pen.

The first 10K went well once the long uphill drag was out of the way, although I had to pull off course for a call of nature and ended up face to face with a stag in the bracken.  Quickly back on track and to the home straight and shouts of encouragement from Barron and Wendy and then T1 and out on the bike.

I hit the bike hard and decided to hit the first hill hard too which was a mistake as it took me a while to recover at the top, where I should have been putting the power down and steaming away from the other riders. Flying round the back and home straight past transition to be greeted by Barron hanging over the barriers shouting to pick up the tempo which I did on the remaining three laps.  This time I learned form lap 1 to take it easy on the hill and power away at the top and felt good going past some TT bikes on the way and eventually clocking 38.1 mph at my fastest point.

Then in to T2 and out on the last run I began to cramp up in my calves due to putting too much into the bike early on.  I managed to grind out a below par 5K eventually hanging on to finish 92nd overall.  Personally I felt I could have done better but looking back now amongst some top athletes and age groupers warming up for Adelaide it was a good days work bearing in mind that I finished in the top 10% so now back into training and a 72 hour working week.

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IronMan Barcelona

Having made the decision to go long (140.6) in 2017, Barcelona was a great chance for me to go behind the scenes and also support some friends that were racing.  On Saturday morning I took a stroll around the expo and up to transition to see what lay ahead for me on race day.

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I bumped into Jonny Brownlee and Harry Wiltshire, an embarrassing wave and “morning boys” came out and a quick exchange of pleasantries and we went on our way. The boys obviously thinking, “Who the hell is he?”.

My hotel sauna and Jacuzzi was out of order so decided to chill out at a beach side Chiringito in the afternoon, I ordered some taps and a drink and a familiar face came walking along the beach, book in hand, saw me at my table, waved and came over. Jonny Brownlee pulled up a chair and joined me for what must have been the best part of an hour talking about everything and anything. It was just like two normal blokes chatting at the bar but without the beer.  The picture of boxes of hundred mini Soreen loaves in Alistair’s garage is an image I will remember every time I bite a slice.

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Jonny was not racing just supporting Harry who was trying to qualify for Kona next year.  Harry was the first pro out of the swim but had to retire on the bike when he hit a rock.  The guys had also hired a car and were traveling south on Tuesday  to do some training at their villa.

The weather was not great for racing, Thunderstorms and heavy seas on Friday night with large swells meant crashing waves on the beach and a high surf. This eased a little on Saturday and by the evening had calmed a little and I took a stroll down to the all important finishing line.

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I had an early night as I needed to be at the swim start at 6am to prepare athletes for racing.

Sunday morning soon came round following a 5am breakfast, I headed down to the swim start to be greeted by a fantastic sunrise as the athlete’s did their final bike checks.  Before I knew it 8.45 had come round and the elite men and women were ready for the off followed closely by the age groupers.  There was a bit of pushing and shoving at the start but I was firm in pushing athletes jumping their pens back to where they came from. Being inside the ropes (as it were) gave me a great opportunity to see Josh Bowers, Brad Benfield, Jon Brown  and Darren Emmett and give them a high five before they crossed the timing mat before they started the swim leg.

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Once the swimmers were away I headed down the finish area to hang some 2600 street wear bags in numerical order when the sheer size of the task hit home. IronMan merchandising was everywhere, wives, parents, grandparents and supporters wearing Iron Mate, Iron Dad or Iron Son t-shirts, baseball caps and visors were everywhere.  The atmosphere was building along the course with many nationalities cheering everyone on, not only their athlete.  I felt compelled to buy something myself it is almost like you are hypnotised by the big red M dot logo drawing you into the tills, this supreme power telling you every one has been through the process and you are just the next one in a long line.

Once my job was done I joined a couple of East Essex and Benfleet supporters at the roundabout on the bike course close to the turnaround point which can only be described as Mexican Corner, for around 45 minutes before I headed back to transition, where I was the only English Speaking person from 1pm until 11pm and bike check out.

It was a tough long day and great to see so many athletes passing through into T2 and out on to the Marathon course. Once again seeing Josh, Darren, Brad and Jon once again probably gave them a bit of a boost. Language aside it was great to be of assistance to many athletes from Spain, Germany, France a large contingent from Ireland an Mexico and a handful of Chinese who were staying at my hotel.

By 11pm my calves were aching and I wanted to see some of the last finishers crossing the line so headed down to the red carpet where the atmosphere was still electric as everyone was cheering on the last finishers and the music was sill pumping and those famous words ‘ You are an Ironman’ bellowed out of the sound system as each person crossed the line. It’s at this point where your mind starts thinking about registration on Monday morning. The supporters are like Cousins, the runners are Brothers and Sisters and you can’t help but get caught up in the emotion of crossing the finish line and what it means to them and how you wish to be a part of that family too.

So will I be on the start line of Ironman Barcelona next year? Maybe 2017, but next year I will become a member of the family. Almost like an adoption or marriage contract I’ve agreed to be a Half-Brother, I’ve entered Barcelona 70.3 over a slightly different course.

IM Barcelona 70.3

Going long isn’t an option……..It’s just a case of when !

In this case seven months and fourteen days to go.

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Of course any visit to Barcelona should include the Camp Nou but as I have visited before during the 2013 Marathon I decided to bring Cameron a souvenir home as it’s his birthday in a few weeks. Not sure about Ironman but you definitely need a Cast Iron Wallet !!

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On a final note, good luck to all those GB Age Group friends heading out to Adelaide for the Duathlon World Champs. Go smash them Aussies !!!

I am back in training and looking forward to the Ballbuster Duathlon on 7th November and then no racing until 2016 British Triathlon Age Group Duathlon Champs at Windsor on 3rd April. 2016 is shaping up to be an incredible year and I’m looking forward to some winter training.

A few positives on not being in Adelaide is that I can enjoy my Daughter’s birthday on 16th October, our Wedding Anniversary on 19th and my Birthday on 20th. I might just ditch the Erdinger Alkoholfrei in favour of a glass of Prosecco or two.

Cheers Everyone !

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