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.

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