Friday, 30 December 2011

A year in review

With the end of 2011 nearly here perhaps it is time I should reflect on all that I have achieved, and what I've failed at.

Going into 2011 there was only one thing on my mind. Ironman. Granted that is a big thing to have on your mind. The thing is even though it was at the forefront of most of my decisions I wasn't paying it the respect it deserved. I mean it is only twice the distance of a half right? And that is only a little over double an Olympic? How hard can it be right? Well I got my wake up call in February ( In a rather training light week when I got a cold I went out for a 50+km. A ride from hell where I realised I couldn't blag IM training like I'd done my half. So I set about creating a plan of epic proportions that would see me do one hell of a lot of training over the following weeks and months.

In February came one of my first races, the MK half marathon ( Now in my 'oh MK is flat and I'm fitter now' mindset I'd decided this would be PB territory and a good chance to break the 1:40 barrier. Oh that run went horribly wrong. I learnt a lot about pacing though. You learn from your mistakes as the saying goes. I got carried away in the moment at the start, and held that stupid notion for 10K, and like a true idiot, almost broke my 10K PB, with over half the race left. It was a painful lesson I can still remember vividly, walking up the ramps from the underpasses, the tears in my eyes as I walked up the bridge. If you have a pacing plan stick to it, don't let macho bull**** throw you from it at the start of a race.

The start of April brought the start of the tri season, and I was entered into my first event of the year at Ringwood, the first time the event was being run. All my training was paying off as I managed a 2:25 finish, for an odd distance event, but one that is probably comparable (just short) of an Olympic. I swam well, I biked OK and I ran reasonably well. Training ploughed on and as Easter arrived I took a trip up to Bridgtown Cycles for a bike fit, of course as anyone that has been knows, you often find the bike doesn't fit.

Having spent nearly 5 hours having every last detail checked, including the placement of washers under the cleat of my right foot to account for a minor leg length discrepancy I left with what Dad later termed 'a clown bike'. Yes the bike was too small, so with the largest stem available and the saddle really high, using loaned handlebars Mike had bought me a little time. A couple of weeks in fact, as the next week a new bike was on order. Ready for me to pick up when I returned a couple of weeks later. In the meantime I had a bike I could ride faster.

On the clown bike I did the Randonee, effectively an Audax around the Isle of Wight. Wow that was a tough day at the office. There was one hell of a wind blowing (25 mph) and it made the hill (on my hilliest and longest ride ever) really tough. I did it though, and was pleased as anything to have got around in one piece. The next weekend I was heading back up to fetch the new bike.

What a beauty she is, Maddy madone, my Trek 3.1. Mike had done an excellent job putting her together for me, and after a few tweaks she was ready to rock. What a dream it was riding carbon after aluminium, and the wheels they built are still running perfectly true even after the 2000 odd miles I've done since getting her in May.

Late may brought the BCTTT tri camp out at Les Stables in France. What a great time that was. Some great coaching from Daz, Sibs, and Mark. Plus morale boosting hill sets on the bike with Mark. Can't wait to get back there in 2012 now.

Then it was back into the peak build weeks of June. Wow, the miles really racked up there. 17-18 hours of training, on top of a full time job. Not easy, and clocking up 7/186/40 & 7.5/300/37km of swim/bike/run in the 2 biggest weeks. Tough times, but it was to prove worth it. Early July and I had Bedford Olympic, my last little tester race before Ironman ( It went pretty well, improved over the year before with gains on the bike and the run, suffered more on the swim, but that might have been because I wasn't able to draft as I was a leader in the wave.

The rest of July was my taper, and I had intended to do speedwork, until I gassed myself in the lab and had some respiratory difficulties I needed to sort out if I was going to make the start line. I do not recommend inhaling chlorine. It most certainly isn't performance enhancing. Then of course that brings me to Ironman. I'm not going to say much about it here, I wrote a rather long story on it already ( It was tough, I went into it with a goal that was respectful, but not respectful enough. I have to say It is the hardest thing I have ever done. It breaks you physically, then you stop feeling the physical pain as the mental pain kicks in. Still I loved it, and want to get back out there again, guess that makes me a little crazy.

August was a month of rest, every time I tried to train I just felt so lethargic. So I just went with it and did stuff for fun. Competing in the club relays at the end of the month. That was a wild and fun weekend. The BCTTT know how to have fun at a race. I put in a respectable performance too, so more than happy about that.

Coming into September and I was starting to get back into the groove, training was coming back and I was getting strong in the pool. It all went wrong though when I slipped on some mud and rolled my ankle. A proper sprain of my left ankle and the metatarsal ligaments. D'Oh. The day after I entered, and 10 days before, I entered Ringwood triathlon (The Return). A week of rest and taking care of it and the plan was to do pull for the swim (600m of pull hurts), ride the bike to death (weather was grim) then abandon the run (I carried on in the end and ran pretty well). Having spent a week in Italy unable to train, but rehabilitating my ankle I then returned for a week of biking and swimming before my last tri of 2011, Bedford Sprint. The ankle was alright riding, I could walk fine, just swimming that hurt. So I was employing the same strategy as Ringwood.

Swim wasn't good, bike was great, and my run was actually excellent. Almost breaking 1:15 for it, with a 2m53 saved on the bike and 27s in the run ( A great finish to a season that could so easily have gone the other way.

October can be characterised by cycling and swimming (pull) I threw a few runs into the mix, but mostly I rode on the turbo. At some I went a little more crazy and decided 2012 was the time to do something for charity. Why I don't know, maybe it was dehydration from the turbo sessions. I went slightly loopy though and decided riding a bike for 24 hours would be a good thing to do. I have a feeling I will never be able to forget what an idiot I have been. This is going to hurt, and hurt good. Please check out to see more about it and the good causes I'm trying to support.

The end of October brought the Minstead stinger, I was back running and this was a challenging 9 mile run through the hillier bit of the New Forest. I seemed to do alright, posting a respectable sub 1:10 and finishing in a pretty decent place. My new love of trail running was founded. Come November and I was back doing all 3 sports; swimming, cycling (mostly turbo) and running trails and road. I think as a result of all the turbo sessions something changed and I put in a supper speedy 10K in training. It was also suggested to me I give parkrun a go, I'm not sure who gave me the final nudge, but I have a feeling it is down to a woman, these things normally are. Of course having given me the final nudge it was suggested I didn't beat 19:49. My first run was good, almost beating it and so nearly going sub 20 for my first ever 5K. I tried again a week later and managed to slash 25 seconds off it with a 19:38. So in good form I ended November looking forward to my annual half marathon in December.

Just to make things awkward I got in in the week leading up to the half. Not the best prep, but a good taper. The race was tough, and far from fun, I suffered a few issues at 4 miles, and ran to the point the world was spinning in the last couple of miles. All to finish a way off the 1:30 I'd been trying to pace to. ( Still, I managed to run a 1:33, taking another 7 minutes off my PB. At this rate I should be on for a 1:26 next year :-D The rest of December has been a bit of a bust really. Got some decent off road running in though. A long run with Gary that nearly destroyed me, and a couple of below performance parkruns. Well, it means 2012 has a better chance of a good start.

I seem to have rambled on for long enough now. So the all important stats for the year:
Total Duration: 437 hours, 43 minutes
Swimming: 104h 11m, 246.45km
Cycling: 175h 27m, 4421km
Turbo: 33h 59m
Running: 123h 15m, 1347km

Total Calories burnt: 388,167 (that's about the same as the energy in 50 litres of petrol, or 1492 mars bars!)

With that I'll close 2011 and stake my claims on 2012. In 2012 I will:
Run a sub 19 5K
Run a sub 40 10K
Ride a bike for 24 hours
Finish a middle distance in under 5 hours
Finish an Iron distance in under 12 hours

Most importantly, I'll have fun doing it!


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