Thursday, 17 April 2014

European Sprint Duathlon Championships 2014

Where: Horst, Limburg (Netherlands)
When: 13th April 2014
Organiser: Powerman
Course details: Pancake flat, 2 lap run - 1 lap ride - 1 lap run. All on closed roads. A lot of turns.
Distance(s): 4.8km run, 20km bike, 2.7km run
Marshalling: As good as it needed to be
Facilities: good, water station on run (not needed)
Technical: Chip timed.
Freebies: Tech T-shirt, race belt, bag

My second go at the European champs, and it was in the same place. Following last year I took on the services of Jase as coach last summer and have been working to a plan pretty solidly since July. Horst was my first A race of the year, and preparation had been a bit unsteady, I was training really well, and was teetering on the edge of doing too much. Thankfully some perspective from Faith helped me see it, and an email to Jase and things were changed and it was caught in time. An annoying track set without any timing meant I had no idea how my speed was coming on going into the race. From the knowledge gained last year we were booked into Center Parcs and I had Mum, Dad, and Jude joining me out there this year. A long drive across France and Belgium and we arrived in Holland late on  Friday afternoon. Checked in my first order of business was to stick my running kit on and knock out an easy couple of laps of the park before it got dark. Saturday and I rode into Horst with Jase and his mate and we did a lap of the bike course and back, the single lap course was much nicer, although it was pretty exposed to the winds. No bother though, the forecast has said 3mph… Back home and a quick shower, GB kit on and back into Horst for a wander, some lunch and then register and race briefing. Race briefing also involved the opening ceremony apparently, including such highlights as the South African national anthem, pledging oaths from athletes and officials, and some weird ‘street dance’ then a rather hurried race brief which I didn’t really take in. We then spent an hour or some in the ‘Aqua Mundo’ at the park before dinner. I fancied ribs, not wanting to eat too much I asked how big the standard portion was to be told you got three pieces. Hmm. OK, I’ll have the unlimited them… Turns out it was most likely 3 half racks of ribs not three pieces as a mound of ribs appeared in front of me.

After a good nights sleep race morning arrived and it was a nice leisurely start. Got up and had a late breakfast, changed my wheels and brake blocks, reoiled my chain, pumped my tyres up (and filled my bike pump with tube sealant, idiot!). Faffed, grazed, drank, had visit from The Fear’s best mate… faffed, grazed, drank, another visit… Finally 11:30 came around and I got on my bike and rode the 4 miles to the race while my kit bag and supporters drove in. First thing I noticed was it was a tad breezy, nice easy riding in the tailwind though, then it became a cross wind. Oh god, felt a bit twitchy! Having made it safely I managed to see Jase out of T2, before racking my bike. Fun in itself as the organisers just used crowd barriers. Luckily the height of my handlebars is enough I was able to rack with the front wheel through a gap and the drops holding the bike back. Saw Jase come through on his final lap and we wandered up towards the start/finish. Quick catch up and the wind was clearly an issue. Now it was a game of time killing; toilet trips, photos, warm up, chats… Final it was time to take to the start line.

Squeezed in like sardines in a can it was actually nice and warm. Discussions about gun vs chip time came up. I thought it was gun time, so on the horn I started the Garmin, and stood still… finally a jog, then across the line and we were off. Although I’d started back a bit I was in the right group as we jostled for space. Through the twists and turns and the Garmin beeped. Kilometre 1 done. 3:50. Ooops, bit ahead of target pace. Not too hard now Jibby, pace yourself. Through more twists and turns. Beep. 3:45. D’Oh, I was meant to be easing up! Through transition and onto lap 2. Saw my supporters through town and I was in a good rhythm now. Beep. 3:57. OK I’m holding this. Got a bit of a stitch. Deal with it. Push on. Pain is weakness… Beep 3:55. Last stretch and into transition.

Run past the toilets to the parking sign. Shoes off. Helmet on. Bike and run out. Felt like I was walking. Changed hand position and found a bit more speed. Made the mount line, off to the left and on the bike.

Got some speed up, across a bump, right foot in, corner, left foot, corner through town. Over kerb and sharp left, congested, more corners, sharp right, finally out of time and I put some power down. Overtake a few into the next corners, lose out through the corners, feeling nice and fast here - I’m hitting 35kph+ on the shortish straights. Starts getting a bit congested. Long drag and I get some speed on. Corner and it gets busy, take and inside line through a corner and hear a shout from behind that I slowed too much. Red mist descends and I go for the nitrate boost. With tailwind assist up the one slope on the course I crest at 50kph, now for a nice long downhill and I’m flying. Should drink but don’t want to take my hands of the bars. Passing quite a few. I get overtaken by a couple of riders. Drop back a touch and take a drink as a draft buster comes past. It sits on the pack in front and the yellow card comes out. Another corner and now I feel the crosswind. Ouch, holding 30kph hurts now. Think I hear a motorbike behind as I turn straight into the wind, make sure I’m legal and it passes. Now to deal with the headwind. In the drops I’m just trying to tap out a steady cadence. This feels surprisingly good actually. Now for the long drag. Jase warned me about this. Hell to the turn, then heaven back. Riding on the wrong side of the road and riders are scattered everywhere. I try and pick my way through. Go long/wide at the 180° and then sure enough, heaven with that tailwind. Touching 48kph the turn comes pretty quick. Just a few km left now. Brief respite through a residential street, time for a drink, then no mercy as I turn onto the road home. Back into town and a couple of turns. Start getting my shoes undone. Feet out. Theres mum, and dad, and Jude! Dismount line comes up way too quick. I brake, I’m off.

Then it nearly all went wrong. I’m not entirely sure what happened, think my bike veered in front of me and started going over, and I nearly went over it. I pulled it upright to the amazement of one spectator. Run back to my spot. Rack. Shoe on. Nope. Try again. Nope. So dizzy. Finally get them on. Off and running out. Dad and Jude made transition exit. Man that must have been slow.

The run felt horrid through the town. Heavy legs. Yuk. There is the finish, but I have to do a lap first… Find a pace and settle in. The Garmin beeps, I dared not look. In the far reaches of the course and my mind wanders. Pull yourself together man. You’re in the European champs. Death or Glory. Soon I see transition. Last bit through town. I hear cheers and I’m holding the 2 guys in front. 100m to go and I dig in for a sprint, I catch them, but I went to early, they see me and make their own break for it. Outsprinted. Over the line and I’m dead.

Pick my way out then go and sit on the floor. Dazed, confused, exhausted. I did it. I raced my all. Had a great race, can’t complain.

Run 1: 18:43
T1: 56s
T2: 57s

The Good:
Time, decent improvement over last year.

The Bad:
Bike handling through corners

The Meh:
My sprint finish.

Really pleased with this result. I’d set myself a goal, which I missed, but I did manage to better last years time by nearly 2 minutes, on a course that was longer (finish was ~200m further away) after a much windier bike in trying to achieve it. Once again I raced to the best of my ability, and there isn’t that much I could have done better.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

24 hours of turbo torment. 21 months on.

A lot of talk about knighthoods and Sufferfests recently has got me reminiscing (not sure it is the right word but hey) about turbo torment. With the website down and the report not here before, I thought I'd stick it up for a bit of fun as I reread it. So here is that terribly painful weekend in February 2012...

The Big Day

On Saturday 18th February at 12:01 (pm) I sat on my bike and started something crazy. Over the past few months I have been called many things when I described what I was attempting, the kindest of which was usually “nutter”. Turned out over the course of the weekend many people had underestimated what I was trying to do. I was one of those many people.

To say the build up was a little stressful is understating things. As well as fundraising, publicising, and sorting out things for the event I actually had to try and train a bit too! Lots of late nights were had, but the result was worth it as I’m sure you’ll see.

So as my wheel spun up on Saturday I was feeling excited. My first mistake had been in not putting a speed magnet on the turbo wheel donated by Bridgtown Cycles. Using TrainerRoad to estimate virtual power wasn’t working, I stuck one on after an hour and realised I was holding 170W. Now that might not sound like much, but I’d been reading that the average “trained” cyclist can maintain 130W for 24 hours. If I carried on at this rate things would hurt later. With my Dad, brother and Andrew joining in I was in good company, right up until I got a puncture. New wheel, new tube,
riding indoors. Seemed to puzzle everyone else, quick wheel change and I was back off while the puncture was repaired, turns out it was a pinch flat.

At the end of the 3 hours I made a quick wardrobe change before the Sufferfest marathon began. I love these workout videos, they are great for winter training and some interval work the rest of the year and David had been kind enough to give me some as well as the complete collection for the raffle. Last year Darren Roberts did 6 and became the first knight of Sufferlandria. I was going to attempt to do the 8 there now were, along with the recently released top up videos (called “Extra Shots”). I’d made a bet regarding the donations with Chris Weeks, that if £1000 was donated by the end of January I’d do one of these after each of the 8 videos. That was quite foolish as my so called friends ensured that this target was met, then Sufferfest went and released a second, longer, extra shot. The next 12+ hours of riding would be training videos.

So there I was, back on the bike, and about to become a ‘Local Hero’. My memory goes a little blank when it comes to the Sufferfests. I remember they hurt. I remember hating the extra shots towards the end. I remember smiling for photos, and be lambasted for it, “you should be hurting not smiling”, well at that point I was still enjoying myself. I have to say thanks to David Galea and family, and John & Elizabeth for popping in during the afternoon to keep me company. Doing the fests on my own would have been soul destroying. It was also great to see my brother and a girl
from St John’s using the spin bike we’d been lent. I changed and started the next block of Sufferfests, and realised that I’d forgotten to use the loo again. This isn’t a good sign, and I was told off for it,
I’d been riding for 6 hours, drank litres of fluids and it was obviously coming out of pores faster than I could replenish it.

In the evening I had a turkey sandwich made for me before mum left for the night. I managed half of it, then the other half an hour or so later. Fred turning up was a nice surprise. It was really heartening to see friends that had travelled for hours to be there. By the time midnight arrived I was really
suffering, I remember thinking, 11 hours gone, that’s just my Ironman left to do! Dad was being a real trooper and was trying to do all the Sufferfests, then using the Extra shots to refill my bottles for me. A feat that has earned him the (still unofficial) title of Squire of Sufferlandria. By this point every restart was hurting. The pain in my wrists was horrible, the joint was starting to hurt and my palms were getting raw. My legs were seriously sore and I wasn’t halfway there yet. The For Quads and Calf Guards that Compressport had donated to me were performing admirably, and I hate to think what my legs would have been like if I hadn’t been wearing them. The only glimmer of hope was that I wasn’t saddle sore yet. I had coffee, that perked me up, and Tweeted that I had my 3rd wind. 2 hours later I had come down off my high and with 2 extras and Downward spiral left my mood
had changed “Just 3 @thesufferfest left. Sore and tired now. This was a stupid idea. At least the charities are worth it.”

Finally, at just before 0300 on Sunday morning I arrived at Downward Spiral, the last of the full Sufferfests. Why I chose to make this the last I do not know. Two sets of descending intervals. To say they hurt was an understatement. Eventually it was done though, Dad had done all 8 and Andrew arrived to keep me company on the bike again. I just had the final Extra shot to do. I was destroyed though and the power profile is a complete mess, nothing like the smooth 34 minute steady effort it was meant to be. But I had nothing left in the tank by that point. Then it was all over and I celebrated with a (brief) sit down and tweet – “8 @thesufferfest, 4 extra shots, 4 long screams. Seriously hurting now, just 8.5 hours soft pedalling left.”

That tweet said it all eight and a half hours “soft-pedalling” left. Thankfully Andrew was there to keep my mood up, and then Iain arrived around 0600 to ride for a couple of hours, as the sun came up, this is where I was at my low spot. My wrists hurt, my legs were sore, and my knees were starting to hurt. I was mentally switching off. Iain was riding with his tri spoke rear though, and the whomp-whomp-whomp sound was rather hypnotic as we chatted about all things triathlon the time slid by. Then more people flooded in, the tweets picked up and the messages kept me going. Iain returned home and started tweeting like mad, getting me retweets from some of the great and good in triathlon, Phil Graves, Rachel Joyce (Andrew read a tweet out from her, which served as a refreshing pick me up), Will Clarke, Craig Alexander, Helen Jenkins followed. If anyone else is mad enough to do this then Twitter is the angel on your shoulder to counter your inner demon. The encouragement was superb.

I was getting the awful “Low Battery” message from the Garmin now, my sole timing device, and in a moment of stupidity I started a second watch but didn’t sync the times. I thought from memory I had done 19h32m. Turns out I had done 19h37m, which would later mean I suffered an extra 5 minutes of torture. As I entered the last few hours the pain was becoming intense. I was now surrounded by people on bikes or watching (Cath, Sarah, Andrew H, Andrew W, Dad) and others that had just come to watch. In the last 5 hours my knees had started to give out. I was running behind schedule as 8 minutes rest every 3 hours was waaay to optimistic. As 3 hours came I knew the end was in sight, I was now icing my knees every 15 minutes. I found another great use for Compressport too, holding ice packs in place on my quads. To be honest they weren’t too bad, the compression was doing its job. I was bruising though and it was a 3 horse game. If I pedalled in the saddle my sit bones hurt. If I got out the saddle my knees hurt. If I wasn’t in a finely balanced position in or out of the saddle my wrist complained most. I got halfway through that: “1:30 left. Knee about to explode. Hard time ahead. But at least it will have been worth it”. Now it was just the end game. Tom & Emma arriving from way up North was great to see. Then I had 10 minutes left, and I started a finger based countdown to the webcam. That last minute was great, and fuelled solely on adrenaline I dropped down and sprinted to the imaginary line.
It was all over 24 hours on a bike, £2000 donated at that point, 598km covered (Southampton to Edinburgh and a little more as the crow flies). At an average cadence of 78.7 I turned the pedal 113722 times. My heart beat 173400 times at an average of 68% of my HR max, nearly 113k times more than if I’d spent the day on the sofa. I drank, I think, 20 litres of fluids. Ate a few Yum Yums, a doughnut, a sandwich, a bacon roll and some ice cream. And burnt somewhere between 15 and 19000 calories. A few technical issues mean I don’t have a definitive average power, but from back-calculation it appears to be around 122W (only 1/6 of a horsepower). So it took me 24 hours to generate 2.95kWh, just enough energy to boil the water for 148 cups of tea!

The Aftermath

What does 24 hours on a bike do to you? Well I made the mistake of stepping of my bike at the end and standing over the top tube. I couldn’t then get my leg over the saddle, Tom had to remove my seat post for me. To say I hurt was an understatement. My knees were destroyed. My calves and quads weren’t too bad. I may overdo plugs for the people that sponsored me, but the For Quads and Calf Guards from Compressport UK were amazing, and looking back I’m not sure I could have lasted without them. They withstood 24 hours of use and still look like new. It really is the best compression wear out there, and the F-Likes I already had were priceless for recovery. I was a little saddle sore, but everyone expected that. The only problem I still have is my right hand, seem to have a nerve problem, and it has not shown that much improvement.

By the end of the day over £2000 had been raised, and then when you take into account Gift Aid the total has now passed the £2800 mark, utterly amazing. (Edit: Over £3500 was raised in the end)


Firstly I have to thank everyone that has donated money, it is your donations that have made this madcap challenge. Next I must thank Mum & Dad for helping with the organisation, funding bits and pieces required to make it happen (it is surprisingly costly doing something for charity I’ve
learnt), and being there on the days supporting me on and off the bike. Andrew Howden also needs a mention here, for spending the whole event at or near my side. The people that came and rode alongside me, and travelled for hours to support my mad efforts, I’ve tried to name most of you, but if I haven’t you are not forgotten. The companies that sponsored me and the raffle: Bridgtown Cycles, The Sufferfest, Compressport UK, Galeforce Events, Nuun, and Biddenham Parish Council. Thank you to all of you.

A Gallery of pictures can be found on Flickr just visit

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Little fish in a big pond

Where: Hyde Park, London
Course details: Lake swim, closed road/path 2 lap run
Distance(s): 1000m swim, 5km run
Marshalling: Lots of technical officials and marshals at crossing points.
Facilities: Expo, toilets, showers
Technical: Chip timing. Pontoon start
Freebies: Bottle, Frisbee, Bag, Tech Tee

Big races necessitate arriving early. So having arrived on Tuesday lunch I registered, signed the wall, got briefed, got wet as the 10% chance of rain gained a zero, had a walk of the route then met my key support crew for dinner. After a nights sleep in a room far nicer than this seasons staple diet of Travelodges it was race morning. Having wandered around Harrods the afternoon I had some posh yoghurt for breakfast. Eat like a champion, race like like a ...

A gloomy cool walk through Hyde Park and I rocked up for check in. They were inspecting wetsuits so I had to get that out, and then I had to drop my trousers do the trisuit could be inspected. Then it was into T1. To leave a lone pair of trainers. A little odd, it felt like I'd forgotten something. After a few dry runs of transition I headed off for a coffee, appeased The Fear's partner in crime and awaited the support contingent. Faith and James turned up, followed by mum and dad. Now I just had to kill an hour. After a lifetimes wait I suited up and then everything happened at warp speed. Into the holding pen, onto the pontoon, sit on the edge. Water is cool, but not cold. 2 minutes. 30 seconds. "Athletes enter the water". 3... 2... 1... Honk.

The pontoon start was odd in that there is no mêlée at first, that comes later. 50m in and I move from head up to proper stroke as I get comfortable with the water. 200m in and I start thinking of the fight for the first turn buoy. Sighting every stroke scanning for clear water. I'm round. Next turn. Getting tighter, a little tussle, I feel my legs getting pushed under on the way out. Power kick and I'm clear. Third turn and it is a brawl. Some muppet doing breaststroke. At a world champs. Long straight, into the sun. I plough on. In a nice spot, in the murk of The Serpentine it feels like I'm on my own. I overtake a blue hat. Fourth turn and I'm clearly not on my own. Fifth turn and some more argy bargy. Into the swim funnel now. Last buoys and I'm looking down for the ramp. My fingers scrape something. I'm up and running.

Feeling for my zip cord. Mind goes blank. How do you remove a wetsuit? Velcro. Zip left shoulder. Right arm. Left arm. Zip cord gets stuck in the arm. Round my waist and 100m has been and gone; I'm at my shoes. Push suit down. Step left. Right. Left. Right and I'm out. Shoes on. Cap off. Goggles off. Glasses on. Best get running Jibby. I hear Faith, but I don't hear the time she calls. Over the mat.

I spy a GBR suit and a name I recognise. That's him overtaken. He keeps beating me in qualifying so I'm buoyed by this, which helps as my legs feel empty. Turn down the hill, turn again onto the long back straight. Man this feels a long way. I get left for dust by a couple of super fast runners. Stomach hurts now. Oh no. Some words of encouragement and I make the bridge. I'm almost on lap 2. I hear a call from my supporters in the stands. Through transition. I hear Faith's call, but not the time again. Oh well, my legs are coming back and I try to find the limit of my pain threshold. Balancing stomach hurting effort, with a stroll through the park. I'm taking people now. Probably from a later wave. But making progress. Make the bridge. Turn for the carpet. I go left. Too left and off the carpeted tarmac onto carpeted sand. Back right. Make the u turn and I'm on the final straight. Carpeted sand again. Careful sprint now Jibbs, don't stack it now for God's sake man. Clock showing 10:38:xx. Cool, 38-39 minutes. I'm over. I've finished a world's!

The finish area was kind of an anti climax. Racing without a watch I had no idea of my time. I get my medal and stumble out of the finish area and go in search of people. I spot my hoodie and find Faith. She tries to track the others down, as I get cold I head into the expo marquee and chat with coach. Then get word the supports are out now. After some photos I get my phone, and find my splits on Facebook. Nice. I'm content with those.

Swim: 16m29 (37/51)
T1: 1m12 (32/51)
Run: 21m24 (43/51)
Total: 39m05 (42nd / 51)

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

European Championships. A hot day out.

I managed to pick up a last minute spot for this race, having posted a good enough time last July, and stirring up a little trouble I managed to get a roll down spot minutes before the entry cut off. I was getting to wear my GB trisuit again and racing in the Olympic distance race.

Arriving in the resort almost a week early gave me what I hoped would be plenty of time to get used to the heat. By race day I had stopped sweating profusely in the heat, so this was achieved. Plenty of morning sea swims and I was used to the non wetsuit open water. Walking around the town I saw just how evil the hill on the run would be. It was horrible walking it. A trip to the castle showed just how far 1500m is on a 1 lap course. The day before the race was a stress filled day, with registration, briefings, riding to hotel, and racking. My racking spot was horrific. The bikes were 60cm apart, on one side, so really 30cm apart, with a box to fit in the gap. Needless to say my bike didn’t fit, so my anxiety levels rose, how would I get my bike out without knocking my shoes off?

Checked into a nice noisy hotel I got some sleep. We headed over for final checks, the GB managers negotiated moving some bikes, now I had some space. Then it was time to get ready. Faith and I headed into the water for a warm up as the first wave went off. They all dived in. We looked at each other in horror, having been told explicitly we wouldn’t be diving by the team manager in our briefing. Having settled my mind in the warm up we hear on exiting that the rest of the waves wouldn’t be diving. Phew. The women’s wave was next off and I watched them all run out on to the pontoon. The call for us to wait in the holding area was given and we formed up in a line on the ramp. The women got in the water and were off. We were waved onto the pontoon and walked/jogged to the line. I gave my goggles a last dip and we were put into start boxes. We were reminded that we had to pass each buoy to the left and then instructed to get in the water with a minute to go. I cling onto the rope. As the women approached the first mark we hear “on your marks”

Swim Course - Anticlockwise from pontoon around yellow buoys and back to the beach

The horn sounds and the water boils. In a split second choice I decide to pace this rather than fight the first 100m. A pack forms to my right side, the pack to the left forms separately. I try to stay near the front, but the guys are pushing and there is no way I can hold this pace. The first mark comes and I’m 20m back. People are tapping my feet so I figure I’m heading a pack. I spot a couple of stragglers between the packs and try to bridge for some feet to follow. The second mark comes and I roll turn. The bashing I get taking such a tight line confirms the pack behind me. As I look down the diver on the seabed looking back startles me. A glance at my Garmin puts me halfway in about 12:45. The third mark comes and I don’t roll turn, a few sights and I’m on track. The guy on my feet makes a break on the inside. I follow for a bit then he veers left and I opt to go it alone. I’m passing the slower women now. Mr breakaway corrects and slots in 10m ahead as we near mark 4. How did I lose so much ground? The last 500m now and I start working my stroke. I feel a few stings and I block the thoughts of jellyfish. When I swim properly I pull to the right, so I keep sighting a lot. The shore isn’t getting any closer though. The deep blue starts to fade and the water becomes a murky brown. The jetty finally appears and it is just the final leg into the beach exit. A guy to my left gets up and starts running. I take a few more strokes and my fingers scrape the bottom. I get up and make a break for it. My knees are barely breaking the surface though. Finally I’m onto dry ground and the ramp up to the shower and into T1

Transition 1
Into T1 and I find myself wondering where my bike is for a second. Having made the right split second decision as to my row I run for ages before I reach my bike. I chuck my hat and goggles in the box. Then pause for what feels like an eternity, a rabbit in the headlights. Remembering what needs to be done I get my helmet and sunglasses on and unrack my bike and I’m off, jumping on without incident

I delay getting my feet in whilst I negotiate the first few corners and get on the log straight. I try to get some speed up, but the block paviers are sapping my efforts and making things a little dicey. I struggle on and finally I can give the ride 100%. Now for the game of leap frog that follows T1. Jostling for a good spot without drafting is tricky. I’m holding 32kmh, but it is a bone shattering ride. A mile or so in and I’m on 31 minutes of race time. Finally I reach the tarmac. My speed jumps to 38kmh. If I can avoid the poorly fixed potholes there is 5km of this. I can’t of course, but I’m doing OK. My legs are feeling heavy so I play with my gears to find the right speed/cadence/comfort combo. 5km in and the dead turn for the run back, I scrub (far too much) speed to make it round in one piece. 7.5km, the tarmac ends and we are back on the paviers so my speed tumbles. 5 bone shaking kilometres until the tarmac. I spot the red flash of Faith’s wheels and wave. Did she see me? Coming to the end of lap 1 I hear a cheer that is more “ Go Jib-bee” than “Go Gee-bee” from Faith’s entourage. Through the timing point and I’m nearly too fast and overcook the corner. As I transition to the tarmac for the second time I spot Faith and manage a cheer. The focussed poker face remains. A slow dead turn and the second run home. I have my first peanut butter Gu. Mmm, why did they have to discontinue these? The pelotons are forming now, isn’t this meant to be non-drafting? A third of the way through lap 3 and someone is dropping some serious f-bombs behind me; “get on the effing right you effing…” As he zooms by on the left his trisuit reveals him to be Fiore of Italy. He is clearly unimpressed by my following the instruction to ride on the left and overtake on the right. Ten seconds later a Brit passes me and confirms what I thought. I was in the right place and that guy was prick. As I come through the lap/finish point for the third time I’m too fast and come with 2” of clipping the foot of a barrier. Too much speed Jibby. Focus you idiot. Onto the straight and the start of lap 4 and I have my second gel. I’m looking at my speedo feeling disappointment and frustration. My speed appears to me to be dropping. Has the wind picked up? Mentally the cracks are forming. The super peloton zooms past now and I find myself scrapping with people that are melting in the heat, trying to stay out of the draft zone. Digging deep each time to make the pass and stay out of the 10m box, or at least be visibly on the offensive to the referees. The turn point comes and the relief of only having 5km left. I make a mental check of my fluid intake. Speed is feeling OK as I make the push. I spot a blue shimano flag and begin getting my feet out. It’s the wrong flag though and I have done it waaay too soon. Finally the dismount line comes into sight.

Transition 2
I’m off and running. Again I have a think about my row. I reach my spot and stop and stare at the racking for what feels like 10 minutes pondering how to put my bike on it. Eventually I put my handlebars over it. Unclip my helmet, but because of my T1 choices sunglasses are over the straps, so they come off, helmet off, then glasses back on. Run shoes on. Hat…! Grab that and I’m off.

Out of transition and straight into aid station 1. They have bottled water not cups. I grab one and have 2 gulps before emptying the rest over me. I soon realise the downside is my feet are now squelching in my shoes. I reach the hill. A nasty 5-10% switchback that levels out but lasts 400m. Thankfully there is a second water station at the top. I grab a bottle and repeat the 2 gulps and pour over myself, filling my hat with water before putting that back on. My right heel is killing me now though. It seems my shoe is trying to amputate my foot. 2km in and the catalogue of ailments is growing; left Achilles, right heel, left toe. Now my quads join the party with shooting pains through my legs. There is no way I can even try to put on a brave smiling face as I pass Faith’s entourage. This is grimace and bare it territory. Through the aid station with my now standard procedure of 2 sips and shower. The GB support is great through this part of the course and the cheers are helping lift me up. Second attempt at the hill is just as painful as my quads cramp up on it. I get a multi-lingual cheer from a (Swiss?) woman. I almost run into the bollard at the timing point, why not put it inside the barrier? Down into the town and I’m begging my legs to behave. Halfway. Second to last go at the hill and it hurts lots. Only once more though! A little jostling for space as we go through the aid station. As I run through Team Faith my legs are screaming, if it wasn’t for all the water I’d poured over myself they might have seen the tears. Last lap. Make it a strong one Jibby. I look at my watch, 8 minutes for a sub 2:15. No way. A sub 2:20 is on the cards though. I try my hardest to up my pace, but my legs don’t want to go anywhere. As I reach the hill I contemplate walking. The GB cheers are too motivating though so I suck up the pain. As I go through the aid station another Brit is running beside me, she chucks her bottle to the left off course (as we were instructed to do), except it narrowly misses a passing couple and the dregs of water appear to shower them. It lifts my mood as I head into the timing point. I try to up the pace giving every last drop of energy I can find.

I enter the finish straight and it feels like I’m sprinting for the line. I don’t think anyone is behind so I grab a GB flag holding it up as I cross the line. I’m totally spent and just want to collapse in a heap but I’m not allowed. A medal is put around my neck, my chip is removed and I’m ushered out to somewhere I can. I sit on the floor for a bit. I have just finished what feels like the hardest race in my life. I get up take my shoes of, grab an iced water sponge and cool down. As I walk away the looks of other confirm what I feel. I’m a total mess.

Swim: 26:46
T1: 00:40
Bike: 1:07:11
T2: 00:36
Run: 43:49
Overall: 2:18:52
24/28 in Age Group, 149/256 Males

I’m uncertain what I feel. I wasn’t last in my age group. It is an Olympic distance PB by over 4.5 minutes, so that is good. I have represented GB in triathlon now, but I’m hungry for more. So Austria next year, hopefully.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Thorpe Sprint Series Race 3

What: Thorpe Lake Sprint Race 3
Where: Thorpe Lake, Surrey
Organiser: The Tri Project
Course details:
Distance: Swim 750m (Open Water), Cycle 20km (Road), Run 5km (Mostly Trail)
Closed Roads: No
Marshalling: A couple of numpties in kayaks. A few people on the course.
Facilities: Toilets/changing/showers , café. Quagmire to get car stuck in.
Technical: Chip timing.
Freebies: Nothing.

A last minute race for me. Was meeting up with Ben and the others post France for a spot of training this weekend. Not sure what state I was going to be in after Run24 last weekend so not convinced about this one. Somehow Faith planted enough of a seed in my mind that I ended up wanting to do it and soon enough I was on the entry list. After a nightmare of a week with work (half of it away from home) I made it back at 8pm on Friday to pack and reassemble my bike after France for a 5am start to get to Thorpe to meet the others, praying I had packed everything.

After a swim and a bike route recce the day went the BCTTT way. The recce had me questioning how well I’d do as it was a little lumpy. Maybe I sandbag a little too much these days, but when the road goes uphill I tend to struggle. The goal was to swim about 12 minutes, bike around 38-40 and then aim for the 21-22 minute mark on the run (depending on course length). The goal was to make it onto the run before Faith overtook me. With a 10 minute headstart I figured it should be just about possible.

Driving to the lake it was obvious plans would need to change. After a lot of rain overnight there was a lot of standing water on the roads. Maybe I’ll need to be more conservative on the bike. Arriving at the venue cars were starting to get stuck in the car park. Why did I have to go and forget my trail shoes? Maybe I’ll need to be more conservative on the run too…

After racking The Fear visited and I started questioning why I was doing this. How do I get talked into these things? After a mini cluster losing Tarka who had my wetsuit I was ready for the plunge. Jumped in, warmed up, then took a position near the front on the inside line. 5-4-3-2-1-Whistle
I mashed the water to start with to try and get clear. Think I held my own then eased into a steady stroke. After about 200m a guy just appeared from my blind (left) side and next I know my left cheek hurts as his heel smacks me hard in the face. Goggle squished in but not knocked off or leaking, but my face hurt. The red mist came, unfortunately instead of channelling it into speeding up and getting clear my mind wandered onto revenge. Could I get up and pull his zip? I soon snapped out of it and returned to swimming, albeit a little slower. Round the turn buoys and onto the final straight. Drifted off a little and found myself snaking. Regained composure and then picked up the effort to the exit. Annoyed at being a little slow. 13m05s on my watch at the exit. 13m21s official with the little run to the mat.

Into T1 and I obviously haven’t done enough OW events recently. Struggled to find my zip. WTF, I’m normally good at that. Argh. Then I ran looking for my bike as I got my arms out. Then thought I’d run too far so turned around and looked back for my bike. Couldn’t see it. I was stood next to it. More wasted time. Got the rest of the wetsuit off. Helmet on, shoes on, bike out. Reached the mount line, moved left went to put my leg over and noticed the chain was off. Grrr. Reach under, chain on, mount. More wasted time. Official T1, 1m20s.

Up the ramp, out onto the road and off on the bike. Just tried to settle in on the first bit, was starting to catch guys in front, and then there was the roundabout. I corner like crap though and lost about 20m by the time I’d exited. Need to fix that. Started reeling them back and I had made ground up before the left turn. Started playing leap frog with a guy on this run. This pretty much continued through to the traffic lights. About 4 guys in front were slowing up for the red light and starting to dismount. I saw a car coming from the other side and decided to play it cool, slow down but stay clipped in, sure enough green light! Onto the downhill, big ring, grind away, 4 places made up. Then came the uphill bit, I was actually holding my own, not getting overtaken and even opening up/closing down gaps! 7.5k in and the first guys were heading back. I didn’t think to count them at this point. Or look to see how far back I was. Turns out I was only about 5 mins down on the leaders. I just stuck my head down, in the drops and rode until my lungs hurt. Remembered to have a swig of drink, then around the roundabout for the run back. Now I could see everyone else behind coming up. I was holding a reasonable place by the looks of it. A little unusual. The amount of cheating feckers drafting was slightly annoying, groups of 5-6 riders isn’t an accident. Saw the first female and starting keeping an eye out for Faith. Uphill into the lights and just as I spot her hear ‘Go Jibby’ returned the encouragement before negotiating the red light. Mr Frog was ahead on the outside and stopping, then just as I go into the neutral zone the light changes. Having not unclipped I let out a huge scream as I tried to get the bike moving again and through the lights. Lost a place in the process but never saw Mr Frog until the finish. Riding nicely I was knocking out 38+km/h. It was comfortably uncomfortable and I was loving the fact. Final turn into the drive down to the lake and the marshal shouts I’m in 12th. S***, I never ride that good. At that point I decided not to waste my lead playing with a shoes off dismount. Official bike 36m26s.

Into T2 and let the cluster begin. Almost missed my racking point. Helmet & glasses off. Shoes off. Right sock on. Right sock isn’t going on. Doing too well to lose lots of time in T2. F*** this, abandon the socks idea and I’ll suck up the pain from any blisters. Shoes on. Shoes don’t like wet feet either. Crap, eventually on and run out of T2. 1m12s apparently. Felt a whole lot longer.

Out onto the run and within 20m I wished I had my trail shoes. Lots of puddles and wet mud. There was a guy not far behind and didn’t want to get caught so pushed on hard. 4m16 for the first k. Maybe too hard. I got over my bike>run spurt and settled in at 4m40/km pace for the next couple of k. Got passed once, then on the dogleg I saw the fast guys heading my way, counted them through, then spotted a woman. WTF? By the turn I had counted 13 guys and a woman. Just had to hold this… Lifted my pace and did a 4m20 Then back onto the tarmac. If I’d known how far it was I would have kicked earlier. I left it a little late to give everything I had. Crossed the line after a 21m39 5k then did my current trick of collapsing. Everything left on the course again.

Swim 00:13:21
T1 00:01:20
Cycle 00:36:26
T2 00:01:12
Run 00:21:39
Total time 1h14:01, but have 4s taken off for the traffic lights, so really 1h13m57s. 18th Overall, 15th male, and 8th in Under 30s. Glad I was talked into doing it, it has restored my passion for racing tri, and reaffirmed the fact I want to go short and fast for a bit once Barcelona is out the way. I think it might be in me now. It has also given me the boost I need to convince myself I can get in the time needed in the ETU qualifier, if not a placing.

Learning Points:
1. I need to channel the Red Mist constructively in future during swim fights.
2. My OW transitions are shocking. Need to improve that.
3. Check my bike is in the proper gear before heading to the swim. Complacency.
4. I can hold my own on the bike and I need to have more faith in myself.
5. I can’t corner and need to find a way to get my confidence back.
6. I can run 5K without socks and not blister too badly. Maybe tape my feet for Bedford.
7. My transitions need practice. Too slow in both of them
8. Should have memorised/scouted the run course to know when to kick for the finish.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Bedford Sprint Series Race 2

What: Bedford Autumn Sprint
Where: Bedford, Bedfordshire, UK
Organiser: Galeforce Events
Course details:
Distance: Swim 400m (Pool), Cycle 25km (Road), Run 5km (Tarmac path around park)
Closed Roads: No
Marshalling: Marshals at every major turn and junction. Sign-posts at every turn.
Facilities: Toilets/changing/showers in leisure centre, lockers, café, warm up swim area, tri shop, massage (not free)
Technical: Chip timing. Start from timing mat. Mats at bike out/in, finish
Freebies: Fleece, Chocolate bars, juice box, and water at finish

So, the do I don’t I race dilemma. After Swashbuckler my mojo was gone. I hurt, I left everything on the course, but I left it in the wrong places and there was a nagging feeling of “could do better”. Looking at my race calendar the only chance I have to race Bedford this year was Race 2, and I do really like this race. But my feet were a mess. I put the question to the BCTTT and in a moment of madness they suggested I didn’t race (really guys?). Of course, ignoring what was justifiably sensible advice on Thursday afternoon with just a couple of hours to get ready I entered. I would miss racing more than a DNF would frustrate me.

After a tough 100 minute turbo in the heat chamber on Friday I arrived home, then got up early and made my pilgrimage to Bridgtown. After a few hours up there I returned with a new bike, and more importantly some tweaks to my road bike position and some new bling tri shoes, throwing sense out the window I’d be racing with a new position and new shoes.

Having got up at a nice leisurely time I arrived, got my number, got racked then sat about for a bit. At one point I saw the BTF ref removing a helium filled balloon from transition. The guy claimed he’d been to on a triathlon site to use one. Quality. Then I set about dealing with my feet. My blisters still looked pretty messy as I had managed to keep them intact. So I covered them up with a plaster then put a few wraps of ZnO tape around each foot to keep the plasters in place. The idea being it would stop them falling off, and also mean my socks couldn’t rub. Then I went and sat poolside in the warm and waited for the swim start for the fish. Dad arrived and I handed my dry kit to him then had a warm up, stood in line then it was go time.

There was a new start system this time around, step off a timing mat into the water. It got me a little flustered to be honest, I new the time had started but I wasn’t swimming. Then I hit “lap” not “start” on the Garmin so missed the first length(s?) after a few length I caught the guy in front, which provided a slight respite to clear my leaking right goggle. Then I was caught with 2 lengths to go. Great, a little draft for the final 66m to make things easier. Out the water, and on to T1. Garmin made it 6:02, official result shows it as 6:44, but that also includes a 20m run into T1.
T1 went OK. Decided to stick my windguard vest on as it felt nippy. Wise choice I think, except it was a little clingy. Helmet, glasses, socks on properly this time! New shoes, and off!. Avoided the huge puddle at the mount line and then out on the bike.

Could hear the rear brake rubbing, but it centred at the first roundabout when I had to brake. Start of the bike felt tough. Supposedly it was a crosswind, but it felt like more of a headwind. Having managed the gradual rise over the first mile I then found my pace and started taking scalps as I headed out to the loop. A couple to TT tricksters sped past, but I was slowly picking the easy prey off. Made it up the first hills in the saddle, then onto the nice downhills. Took a guy on a Cervelo with flashy Zipps on one of the inclines. Result! Then powered back. The ride felt great, actually really comfy again, and my peddle stroke was nice and smooth. The tweaks Mike made were paying off. Loved the ride back, hit 60 km/h on the long down section, picked a few more people off before arriving back into T2.

T2 was ok, bit slow as I did a mental check before leaving, and a moment of indecision about whether to wear sunnies or not.
Out of T2 and onto the run, and I felt slow. I was running strong though, I latched onto a guy who I thought was running well, and stayed with him for the first lap. Turns out I was running well. Through the first km in 4:04, hmm, this is parkrun pace… second km in 4:06, going well. Lost my pacer as he broke off for the finish. Kept my stride and plucked another 4:04. Getting tough now, but I was picking people off. Through the 4th in 4:08, the slight rise was killing my legs. Now I was on the home downhill though, looked at my watch and knowing the course is short knew a sub 20 was on the cards. Lifted my pace, lungs were burning now, eventually the finish line came. 3:03 for the final 800m according to the Garmin.

Official results: (PB Result)
Swim: 6m44 (7m10)
T1: 1m49 (1m08)
Bike: 48m03 (44m55)
T2: 1m22 (1m14)
Run 19m11 (20m32)
Total 1h17m11 (1h15m01)
Came 32nd out of 193 finishers, and 3rd in age group.

Really pleased with that. It’s 2:10 more than my PB for the course, but I don’t think that tells the whole story. Looking at the results there were 3 guys ahead of me also in my PB race, and they were between 1 and 4 minutes slower today. I faired better in the rankings too. The bike was windier, and that is where I lost out most. I took 1m21 off my run, and I’m really pleased with that, swim turns out to be a little quicker, but then I had a strapped/recently sprained ankle last time around that stopped me swimming properly. Transitions were slower, but the weather wasn’t as nice and that probably accounts for 20-30s of the wasted time. I was consistent today though, I have undone the demons from last week.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Swashbuckler - how not to race

Where: Buckler's hard, Beaulieu
When: 13/05/12
Organiser: Race New Forest
Course details: Swim in a Beaulieu River. 2 loop rolling bike, Lumpy run.
Distance(s): 750m swim, 80km Bike, 23km run
Marshalling: Quite a few marshals
Facilities: Toilets, free entry to Buckler’s hard
Technical: Chip timing
Freebies: Tech Polo Shirt, Cake buffet, Medal

Swashbuckler was to be one of my main races of the year. I’ve wanted to do it for a couple of years, but it has always conflicted. This year my calendar was free, so there was no way I was missing it. In tempting other BCTTT’rs into it I offered space on my living room floor to any would be Swashbuckler. A couple of weeks ago SoS decided to take the offer. Having had a hectic week at work, an untidy flat, and a number of unfinished DIY projects the build-up wasn’t exactly stress free!

For something that was to be an A- race my training wasn’t exactly brilliant either. Having screwed my wrist up doing 24HrTT in Feb I managed to use my bike for a grand total of 7 road rides and 7 turbo sessions in the past 3 months. Not the smashing the bike course every other week I had planned. My running stats aren’t much better either; 22 hours in the last 3 months. I was going into this pretty under trained. To compound matter the physiology study I am taking part in involved a VO2 max test on Friday afternoon, followed by 1 hour of riding at 60% VO2 Peak power without fluid ingestion. I wouldn’t recommend it as a pre race strategy, I wasn’t sure if my quads would recover in time.

Having welcomed SoS into my freshly cleaned flat on Saturday we headed off for some fast food lunch whilst waiting for Ris to get into the station, then we headed out to Buckler’s hard to register, taking the long route so I could show off the wonderful New Forest route. Having arrived we registered and I manged to pick up some Clif Shot Bloks at the race stall (my nutrition strategy that is proving to be another online shopping nightmare), I figured I ought to be able to survive on 3 packs. We ventured down to the water front where Tritans came down and said high, with his carb loading beverage in hand and pointed out the swim route to us. Then we had the briefing where we were told there would be swim, it would be short, if we didn’t want prizes we could wear booties, or wuss out and not swim. No way I’m paying £100 for a training session, Hill Head was cold but bearable the week before so I was swimming. Then the 3 of us headed back to my still sparking flat to cut the freshly baked coffee and walnut cake and I put on a pot of Colombian Oporapa for an extra caffeine hit. Bopo joined us, we talked triathlon for a while, then he left with Ris and SoS and I sorted dinner. Upholding BCTTT traditions it had to be fish and chips, but I don’t like any of the local chippies, so I’d bought some nice fillets of haddock. SoS and I headed off to get some chips though, we venture into the chippie and I say “how many chips do you like? Is sharing a large portion going to be enough?” I got a strange look. The question was soon understood when SoS could barely lift the wrapped portion off the counter. We headed back, I cooked the fish, we ate, then about 2130 I decided I’d better my kit together for the race. Queue clusterdom. I couldn’t find my long fingered gloves for love nor money. I gave up and resigned myself to the fact I’d be racing in mitts, I still needed to shower and shave.

Eventually I went to bed, after 4.5 hours sleep I awoke to my alarm at 0315. Urgh. Bagels for brekkie, coffee, OJ. Pack car. Drive to Bucklers Hard. Start getting everything together then head into transition. Hear that the swim is being shortened to 750m in the briefing. Hmm I can cope with that Pick the outer row of racking, head halfway up to a clear bit (not a far to run in cleats that way) and set up. SoS sets up next to me, cue jokes about picking the wrong bike, then Ris appear opposite and sets up, spot Bopo mulling around. Get everything sorted, make sure I am at minimal obtainable weight then faff in transition until I hear someone shouting they are closing transition for the first waves. F***! I’m still in my tracksuit. Cue a panicked wetsuit donning. Then I run down the slope to the waterfront, where the swim brief had just finished and people were getting in the water. Only problem was I didn’t arrive on my feet. I managed to slide the last 4-5m on my a*** just as everyone was turning around, there were a few “ooo”s and “ahh”s as I picked myself up and very nearly face planted into the river, making into the water with just enough time to get my face wet before the klaxon went.
My swim was utter sh**e. It was more of a fight. I was in the wrong place on the line, stuck behind slow people in the middle of the pack. I tried for clear water, but either I wasn’t swimming straight or other people weren’t as I kept having collisions, one guy got so over my feet he was grabbing my ass with each catch, so I tried some white water, connected with a rib and that was the last I felt of him. At one point someone smacked my ankle so hard I feared it would be sprained again. After 11m24s I made it out of the water. Disappointed with my performance though. I could have swum so much better.

Then T1, a long run up the hill. I seemed to be flying up the hill passing lots of people. Starting stripping my wetsuit on the way up and the top half was off before I entered T1. The Garmin says it was a 320m run ascending 20m, not inconsiderable. Then I faffed and p****d away all the gain. Couldn’t feel my feet or hands, so couldn’t get my wetsuit off properly, sat on one of my towels and dried my arms off with another, removed the suit, stood up, tried to put my socks on (should have done it sat down!) failed to get them on properly. Shoes on, Belgian booties on top, then tried to get my gloves on, failed again as my hands were still wet. At some point I spotted Tritans and hurled some abuse appropriate to his bottling out of the swim. Then as the first of the next wave arrived I left for the bike. 6m30s for T1. Shocking.

I think that contributed to what I did next. I’d worked out I could ride the route in 2h30 on a calm day. So I’d aim for a 2h45 to save myself for the run. Through the red mist though I went out hard. I was talking scalps that had got one up on me in T1. There was a problem though, I realised at the first of the inclines as I tried to stand for a kick up the slope. My feet were completely numb, not just my toes, my whole feet. My fingers were also numb, which didn’t make changing gear particularly easy. The thermometer was fluctuating between 2 and 3°C, it was cold! As I was descending into Ipley Cross there was a startled horse galloping along by the road, not sure what to do I road down the far right hoping it wouldn’t cut across me. I made it over the b****** cattle grid in one piece, then onto the hill that normally catches me out. Drop down early! So I did, my front mech moved, but the chain didn’t at first, not until it had bent the mech. So at the top I had fun getting back into the big ring, where it was now rubbing the inside of the mech the whole time. I ploughed on then got past the cheating feckers riding 2 abreast. Onto the A35 where the pelotons started coming through. Leaving Ashurst I caught one, not wanting to draft I went for the overtake up the bridge, managed it, the chain went over the top onto the cranks, while I was on the outside, once the peloton passed I pulled in, got the chain on, bent the mech back into shape then tried to get my place back. Passed the hour mark just as I went through 20 miles, and realised how badly my nutrition was going, I hadn’t drunk, I hadn’t eaten. Nearly at Balmer Lawn, once I get on the quiet road I’d pig out I told myself. Except I didn’t I had a Shot, a drink and made the most of the smooth tarmac. I passed an ambulance blue lighting it to fetch a guy by the cattle grid who was apparently hypothermic. Then I picked up a real cheating fecker. It’s one thing to draft someone in a race, it is something quite different to try and have a chat going up one of the hills. Knowing the course I saved myself, and in a Schleck/Contador moment attacked and dropped him. Through the first lap then another peloton in front of me. Up the hill near Ipley, with a rather daring photographer in the middle of the road, hopefully a nice shot. I wasn’t going to let the course get the better of me and I was nailing it. My tough hill passed fine this time and I was back down on the A35, nice fast run this time. Legs were tiring though. I was being chicked by an RAF tri woman. I picked myself up and held on (draft legal distance back) until just before the turn at Lyndhurst when I put a spurt in and unchecked myself. Onto the nice section to Beaulieu Road Station, nice quick descent past Matley wood and retook a couple of Bedford Harriers on the corner. I Realised I was heading towards nutrition fail and tried to chew a few more shots, and more importantly drink. Went through Ipley cross for the third time and onto the straight run home. I tried to force fluids down here and backed off a touch, saving myself for the hill back to Buckler’s Hard, it has a bit of a sting to it. Made it home and spied Bopo with the camera. 2h34m11s for 79.4km. A damn good ride at consistent pacing, estimate is 211W average for the ride. A serious nutrition fail though. 700mls of fluid, and 5 shot blocks (should be 6/hour!)
Looking at the Garmin T2 wasn’t as bad as it felt. 2m7s. Problem was I couldn’t feel my feet still, they were numb from the ankles. Made getting shoes on hard. As a result I didn’t feel the fact my socks weren’t on properly.

Out onto the run and Bopo was there cheering me on. I was hurting though. I’d come in from the bike 10 minutes ahead of schedule with two lumps of frozen jelly on my feet. The run hurt. No two ways about it. Every foot strike result in a painful jarring right up my tibia. Probably as a result of the fact I couldn’t sense my foot striking. The fact I was doing 4:30/km might not have been helping matters. About 4k in I regained the feeling in my feet with a vengeance. I could feel a blister forming on my insteps. The run was just one long blurry pain train. The camber was messing with my calves and hips, I was alternating sides of the road, doing 200m on each, or just running down the middle. I didn’t drink on first lap (idiot!). The trail section came around and I loved it. There is a noticeable lift in my pace as I found my element. Then I passed the ice cream hut into Bucklers Hard and there was this huge white flappy thing with black writing all over it. Bopo had put up the club colours. Top man. That gave me a lift. As did seeing the man himself stood camera in hand. I made it up the hill and took a cup of energy drink and water, energy down the hatch, water over my head. My feet were in a mess, I was considering stopping and attempting to fix them, but thought better of it. This second lap was going to be tough. I just needed to survive to the trail section. That was my focus. The wheels fell off at 16km, the hill just before the aid station. It destroyed me. I took energy and water at the aid station, except drank them both this time, and walked a little longer. Then the walk/running started. My legs were a mess, everything hurt from my feet to my hips. Save it for the trail. 4:45 slipped out of my grasp, 4:50? I made it to the trail and got a mental lift again, my speed crept up and I just kept telling myself to power on. I rounded the corner, saw Bopo and went for the line. Someone sprinted past, I tried to follow but the tank was empty. Crossed the line in 4:31:51 on my watch after a 1h57m20s 22.4km run. Official results have me 5s slower.

Then I collapsed after 5m from the line. I was destroyed. I could see Bopo stood at one side of the pen, but had no energy to move. I crawled over eventually and took my shoes off to see the mess. My god it was ugly. A blister bigger than a Compeed on my right instep and a smaller one on my left. Basically this was a catalogue of how not to do an A- race. I completely screwed up hydration/nutrition, I was late to the start, I mentally gave up on the run. I feel happier today, but there is still a niggling “could have done better” thought in my mind. It was great having the BCTTT there in full support, great cheering people on. The weather came good and it was a fun day out all in all!