Monday, 20 September 2010

Sevenoaks Triathlon - Kent - 19th Sept

Was I ready?? - Sort of!!

Did I finish?? - You bet!!!

After the events of last Sunday I wasn’t certain if I would make the start of this race, but after a light swim and cycle mid-week and a 2m run on Saturday I felt I was ready, even though the calves were still a bit sore and so at 4:30am (again) i dragged myself out of bed, stuck my bike on the back of the car and I was off again for a 7:35 start in the Sevenoaks Leisure centre.

Once i had arrived and parked i made my way to registration, where i collected a huge goodie bag (more about that later), was marked up with my race number and fixed numbers to all the parts of my body and kit that I had to and then racked my bike in the appropriate slot.

This was a sprint Tri (actually my first ever Tri) consisting of 400m pool swim, 25k bike ride and 8k run, and although nervous as hell, I was now ready for this.

Swim - I have never been a very good swimmer and have never learnt to freestyle properly, so i opted for the Breaststroke, which, in recent months of training has improved, so at 7:35am, with 16 lengths of the pool ahead, surrounded by other swimmers (this will be fun I thought (!?!?)). I set off in my lane with 3 others, and after thrashing up and down for 9 mins, was able to drag myself out of the pool and head off to the first transition to bike. When i say 9mins, that was the clock on the wall time, officially it was 10:19, but that included the run to the transition, so 50  metres away across a stony car-park!

Transition 1 - On with the helmet, followed by socks, bike shoes and sunglasses. I healthy swig of Lucozade sport and i was off to the mount zone and away (2min 29secs - happy with that!!)

Bike leg - From the below chart you can see that it wasn't the flattest of courses, and with climbs almost straight away i decided to take the first few miles easy, to get my orientation and save something for 14-15km in, and boy was i glad i did.

The hair-raising, cheek-clenching descent from 4-5km saw me covering my brakes, and still hitting 30mph, and with a severe wobble halfway down had me wondering if my life insurance was up-to-date!! The rest of the course was less dramatic on a downwards theme, and at 14km more of a snails view of life as i slowly climbed Stone Hill (and we are talking 5mph here).

This was followed by a a very technical section of hair-pin bends and short, sharp climbs and drops, and finally a the short climb into the town and back to transition!!! Total time for the ride - 55min 16sec, which considering i was aiming for 1 hour, was very pleasing.

Transition 2 - Off with the bike shoes, and gloves, on with my running shoes, grab a banana and off into the run (1min 24sec)
Run Leg - Feeling totally drained, despite spinning my legs for the last 100m of the ride, i headed off into the the beautiful Knoal Park, for 5 miles of severe undulations, stunning scenery (including deer charging across only yards in front of me), and a final killer climb, sapping every last bit of energy, and making me realise that i need to concentrate more on doing "bricks" in training and not relying so much on my standard running training! - These 5 miles took me 42:50, compared to a PB of 31:15 (but that was flat!!!).

Tired, but elated i crashed over the finish line, to receive a massive goodie bag, filled with a great Buff (aren't they all great though???), For Goodness Shakes, Triathlon Plus magazine, Gatorade, Powerbars and more,and received my all important finishers medal!!

So my overall final time was 1hr 52min 20sec

Swim - 10:19
T1 - 02:29
Bike - 55:16
T2 - 01:24
Run - 42:50

Final position 188 from 388

My overall impression of the race - I can see why it was voted 220 Magazine Race of the year 2009, as the whole thing was slick and very well organised. The marshalls were superb, as was the goodie bag, and the course very challenging. This race and experience has prompted me to join a club (Born 2 Tri) again and get more advice and support and more structure to my training, so that next year I can do more Triathlons and hopefully stay fitter and injury free, with the hopes that i may even do an Ironman!!

Kit List
Fitness Footwear - Saucony Pro Grid Hurricane

Next up - Race for Life 10k at Chelmsford with my beloved, doing her first 10k (and panicking about whether she will be picked in the London Marathon Ballot - sorry dear!!!)

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

DNF in the city park!!

London Duathlon Ultra - 12th Sept - Richmond Park.

Was I ready?? - Yes I was!!

Did I finish?? - No I didn’t!!

The day started smoothly enough (at 4:30am) and after a 90 min drive to the competitors car-park I made my way through the misty surrounds of the park to register and collect my race numbers. Once through and with numbers affixed to the relevant parts of my bike I wandered over to the transition area to rack my bike and lay out bike shoes, helmet and Buff cycle gloves for the race. Looking around at others it was obvious I wasn’t the only nervous one there, but I had trained consistently both on the bike and running (mixed in with Triathlon swimming) and was feeling fine and ready!

The morning temperature started to rise quite quickly so it was going to be a nice dry day, probably too dry!! I then spotted that Tim Williams and Sarah Hill Sibby of CompresSport were setting up the stand and as it was Tim who had got me a place and supplies me with the fantastic R2 and Quad Compression gear, I was there like a shot!!
We were soon joined by Alex Flynn, who had come to watch, despite still recovering from the Europe 135, which he had finished the previous week and support (ended up selling the CompresSport gear eventually as well), and was soon off to the start area, ready for action.

The race consisted of running 2x10km loops of the inner road or the park, then cycling 7x11.5km loops of the outer road and back for another 10k run on the inner loop. The first loop went fine, nice pace, nothing fancy and taking water at the 3 CP on the way, and generally enjoying the surrounds of the park, with its deer wandering around however…………

At the end of the first lap we had a small excursion off road, through the edge of the transition area and back onto the road! This was not the most even of ground and my left foot found a trough in the soil and I came down heavily on that knee. I then spent the next lap nursing the throbbing knee, especially on the hills, stretching in places, before finally completing the whole 20k in 1:38. In to transition (carefully) and looking forward to taking the weight off on the bike. Quickly changing and getting onto the road and settling down I found myself up to speed quickly and felt very comfortable on the road, passing other in front and getting ready for the climb at 2km in.

This climb, albeit not a long stretch was short and sharp and finished me off!!

As I changed down gear and stood up in the pedals to gain power into the climb I felt a searing pain shoot across my left calf and had to come off the road (almost off the bike too) and stop. After walking a few yards I tried to restart, but could put no downward pressure on that side - my race was over!!

Despondently I then had to trudge the 2km back to the start area, not being able to put much weight on the left leg and glaring with envy at the other cyclist speeding past - I was gutted!! I had trained for this since the start of June and was not only out of this race but the 7Oaks Triathlon could also be off too, if I couldn't recover.

I made my way back to the CompresSport tent, was met with worried looks and sympathy, and after an hour or so, decided to limp back to the car and home!!!

I have vowed to return next year and finish what I started, watching out for pothole and hopefully I will collect that medal in due course. One positive is that the experience of the Duathlon was incredible, seeing the combination of many runners and cyclists of all types enjoying the day and racing together - it has certainly left me wanting more!!

Kit List
CompresSport - R2 & Quads
Fitness Footwear - Saucony Pro Grid Hurricane
Orca - Core Tri Pant
Buff - BOW10 T-Shirt
Polaroid - Mercury Sunglasses

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Hi-Tec and Hi-Performance.

In the last few weeks I have been trying out the new Hi-Tec V-Lite Infinity adventure shoe in shocking green and silver (Stunning looks). A shoe that was promoted by Hi-tec in their running on water video (review by myself in July) and now a permanent fixture in my trail runs too.

My initial thoughts were quite reserved, as the shoes arrived ½ size smaller than I usually take but I was surprised at the great fit and feel of the shoe, and that they still seemed loose rather than tight. They feel incredibly light and with a very good Vibram Outsole they took to the trails, fields and road with little effort and maximum grip (yet to be tested in the muddiest conditions).

But it’s the seamless mesh (that Hi-tec call SUZE), which is a single piece mesh providing protection, support and breathability, as well as reduced stitching that really worked for me! This added to the comfort and still kept the shoe light, which combined with the Hi-Tec "ion" treatment for quick drying and water resistance meant the water uptake was minimal and what was taken on board was quickly expelled.

If I was to be picky about anything it would have to be the laces, understandably thin to stop them from absorbing water, but because they are thin it is hard to do a tight enough knot to stop them from coming un-done on a long run - best answer is a lace lock, which should come as standard - other than that these Hi-Tec Trainers are spot on and will work wonders hopefully as the winter progresses.

For more about the shoe visit - a great company who are supporting me for the 10 million metre challenge, and keeping me on my feet!!!