Sunday, June 28, 2009

Training Update

Today was Sunday and therefore a club training session. It had been a while since i had been out on a Sunday what with races and fathers day so it was good to get back to it. The familiar 7:30 start at the club car-park (which luckily is at my house so i get an additional 10minutes in bed). Today's session was a bit unbalanced in that it was to be a short ride with a longer run.

The ride was a 20.50km ride with a lot of uphill. There were KoM points up for grabs on the first climb to the Royal William Pub. Today it was Le Fassett, Nigel and myself. Darren out of action for a while since having his eyes lasered and Mark doing a 100mile ride somewhere in the Chilterns.

Normally on a hill i am left wanting, the points were 2.5miles up the hill and so as we set off i put down some power to at least give Nigel and Martin something to think about. Nigel stayed with my but Le Fassett was dropped. We contined up and Le Fassett did get back on the wheel. I felt pretty good and so went again, Nigel stayed with me. Le Fassett was dropped.

Nigel then pulled in front of me, i managed to keep on his back wheel and then the finish was in sight. I pulled out from behind him and tried to accelerate, he kept pace and more importantly a half wheel advantage. Sprinting up hill i needed a gear change but could not - i was pipped at the post by less than half a wheel.

The exertion in the short space of time was pretty exhausting and we both had that nice metallic taste in the mouth from getting traces of blood in the lungs! Nice!

We had agreed that the rest of the ride would be as a group so it was an easy ride up to Birdlip before coming down scary hill. I don't know what it's called for real but it is scarily steep. I used it as a training hill for the Mayhill Massacre and it is tough. Coming down is hairy as there's a couple of bends and some nice loose gravel! We are all cowardly and so it was controlled and measured!

There was a final sprint back up Shurdington Road which Nigel won with Le Fassett second and me third.

Next up the run. We were to do a longer run today that comes in around 7miles. Basically down Badgeworth Lane to the Golden Valley then up the ring road and back to Shurdington. We did the first half together and as we were in the final 4km i pulled away. I managed to gap Nigel by around 2.5minutes who in turn gapped Le Fassett by a minute or so. A great run in nice warm weather.

All in all it has been a good week for me. I have managed 50km of running and 50km of cycling. Not enough but better than nothing and my condition feels like it is improving. Psychologically my decision next year to do a mrathon and possibly an ultra marathon has already registered with me feeling much more motivated to run. I honestly think that the running mileage this week made a difference on the hill this morning.

I need to get back to some longer rides though in preparation for London and so i think that this approaching Sunday will see a return to the 55km ride over Cleeve Hill followed by a run - distance TBA!

I am going to have a day off training tomorrow (kind of regreting that decision already!) and will hit the road again on Tuesday lunchtime. Then will see what the week brings, Friday is a swim session with the Cheltenham Tri Team to determine our avg. swim time so that will be a good. The weather is great at the moment and so going to the Lido not a hardship at all.

Happy Training - Marcus

Monday, June 15, 2009

Nokia Royal Windsor Triathlon - 14th June 2009

This weekend was the Nokia Royal Windsor Triathlon. An Olympic distance race in a stunning setting. Where else can you race in the shadows of such a famous landmark?


The weekend started at 7am on Saturday with preparations for a football tournament!

The Cougars were in a tournament in Cirencester on Saturday morning with the start scheduled for 9am! Luca and I were up early and breakfasted waiting for our lift. The plan was that we would get a lift to Cirencester and that Sue and Amelie would then pick up where we would then continue on to Windsor. Racking at Windsor needs to be done before 4:25pm on the pre-race Saturday.

I loaded up the family car with my kit and bike – panicking that I forgotten something which is ridiculous!

The tournament at Cirencester was brilliant! Really well run with good teams competing. The format was a 7 team league with the tope two playing off for the final. Games were 5mins each way. We had a strong squad of 8 players and agreed a rotation policy that saw them each miss two group games. In the group stages we lost only one match winning 2 and drawing the other 3. Through all of this we only conceded three goals in the 6 matches. The last group game was tense with a win required to qualify. We won that match 2-1 with a last gasp goal from a corner. We were in the final.

The final was against Cirencester A who had beaten us 1-0 n the group stages in what was a very tight game. The final would follow the same pattern with the score at 0-0 after full time and extra time. It was to be penalties, three each and then sudden death. We scored our first two with the third hitting the post. The Cirencester player stepped up to take their third penalty, if he scored it was sudden death, miss and we would win. He struck it and our keeper made the save! Cue pandemonium as our keeper was lost as the other boys dived on him! Great moments! There was a presentation of the trophies and then a hurried departure.


We headed towards the M4 and Windsor!

We were there in plenty of time, I registered and racked my bike and helmet.

We then strolled into Windsor for a coffee break! A little more wandering with some shopping and then Wagamamas for dinner! We made our way back to the car park – it was locked! There was no way to get our car out! Luca and I jumped the gate to see if anyone with a key was around. They weren’t!! The plan B was to get our gear out of the car and then taxi to our hotel. As I was just considering this a guy who was camping in the car park said you could lift the locked gate off it’s hinges!! I checked it out and you could! Amazing, so I brought the car round, lifted off the gate and then put it back on! Nice and secure :)


Race Day

This was a race over the Olympic distance and was my third year in the event. I was doing it again this year as the previous attempt had ended so miserably. In 2008 I bettered my 2007 time (marginally) but ended so full of cramp and in so much pain that it really took the fun out of it. My reason for entering this year was that I wanted to do well.

To me that meant finishing in a better time but also not finishing in such a state of disrepair.

The forecast for the weekend was rubbish with rain forecast. They could not have been more wrong, I have no idea what the temperature was but it was a beautiful day and perfect for racing. My start was 07:30 and the temperature was already at 14C. I jumped, with my fellow age groupers, into the Thames which was definitely colder (and dirtier) than the lake at Blenheim last weekend. I got my positioning wrong and was to the back of the field. The horn sounded and immediately I was in a scrum. Elbows, fists and feet were everywhere. As we made for the far side of the river I could not get clear water and took a hard blow to the right groin that rocked me back a bit. On the far side of the river the traffic was as bad and at one point I slowed and as my legs dropped I touched the back and walked a bit. Spotting some clear water I dived for it and then got clear. Unfortunately looking at my splits for the race the damage to my time was done. I am normal a comfortable sub 30min swimmer (still not fast I know) but to do 32mins was disappointing.

Clearing the swim it’s a short run into transition and to the bike. The sun was shining and at 8am it was really warm. My strategy for the bike was to just keep comfortable, that is to use the gears as best I could and keep my cadence high. I also wanted to be on my tri-bars for most of the cycle and just keep spinning. This was as previously my bike leg has not been strong and has left me with nothing for the run. Last year was an improved cycle leaving me with cramps in the run that I struggled with the whole way round. The bike course is very familiar and fairly fast, there are some rolling sections but nothing that could be defined as a climb of any note. The sun was beating down and there was little wind. The only real noise was the low rumble of guys flying past me on wafer thin carbon fibre flying machines with disc wheels! Oh for a new bike!

I do wonder what difference it would make to me - I am a plodder on the bike, not the strongest at all and so would one of these amazing bikes make a difference and how much time would I save?

I felt comfortable the whole bike ride, no twinges in my quads (tell tale signs of cramp) and the road down through the Great Park was fantastic. Down low on the bars, pedalling hard as the road leads down into Windsor. As I approached T2 I glanced at my watch and was really surprised at the time! For a fleeting moment I considered a 2:30 finish! I jumped off my bike and tip-toed through transition to my kit. Changing as fast as I could and out onto the run. I was a little nervous as I started as was half expecting cramp to set in. That didn’t happen and I settled into a rhythm for the three laps.

My run was similar to last week at Blenheim, I got into a pace and felt comfortable but could not then increase the speed. I was not suffering at all but I couldn’t up the ante. As I cam round for the final lap and into the home stretch I put a sprint to finish before the clock turned over to 10:35. My finish time was 02:34:54 which at the time I was thrilled with.

I stayed at the finish waiting for Nigel to come in, he came though very strongly and, it turned out, had broken the 2:30 barrier completing in 2:28 and turning in a sub 40minute 10km run. Hats off! Lightning didn’t strike twice for me and attentions now turn to London on August 2nd!

The results and positions cam through later in the evening and then I was disappointed. My swim was slow for me, the bike was much improved and then the run was also slow, considering how I felt. I shouldn’t lose sight of the goal I had for this race which was to finish well and not be physically wrecked afterwards. I achieved that, 10mins of my PB is not to be sniffed at and I was absolutely fine after the race no real after effects other than achy legs. I certainly wasn’t sick like I was last year!

It’s also good to know that the increased training and better quality training has paid dividends. The 55-60km rides followed by runs of around 5-7km have really made a difference to my fitness and performance, as they have also done to Nigel.

This will be my last Windsor triathlon despite Le Fassett’s pledge to be there next year. Three years running is enough and I want to try some different events. I’m now off to research how to run faster!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Blenheim Triathlon - 7th June 2009

The Blenheim triathlon was my first triathlon of the year, a sprint triathlon in a stunning location of the grounds of Blenheim Palace.

The distances were 750m swim, 19.8km bike then a 5.4km run. Training and tapering done it was race day. My kids were also racing in children's duathlon events. My start time was 11:20 with theirs at 10:00. In the days up to the race the weather was absolutely appalling, we had had nothing but rain for days and the weekend forecast was no better.

I was up early on Sunday with Luca and checking and re-checking the forecast. It was pouring with rain but forecast to clear. Amelie got up and wanted to stretch to get ready! We had breakfast first then i helped her stretch. With the kids agreeing that racing in the rain was fine we loaded up and set off.

An hour drive to Blenheim saw the weather improve and some blue sky. By the time we arrived it was relatively fine although the ground was like a ploughed field. The Shurdington Tri Club had 3 entrants in the race and we all hooked up on arrival. My dad had also come to watch - actually he had come to take photo's but that's neither here nor there!

The children's races were first up - we cut it fine for the briefing and as they lined up the older kids (9-11) Luca had a wobble, an attack of nerves. He held it together to start the race. An 800m run then 1200m cycle and a further 400m run. They started and he quickly had a lead on the run. Into transition and he was on his bike which suddenly looked small compared to the other kids. He held his lead but on the 3rd corner of the second lap - disaster he crashed in the wet and hurt his leg with the pedal. He couldn't continue and ended upset with a DNF. To his credit he refused a medal and also wouldn't put on his t-shirt as he had not completed the race.

He would later rectify this position.

Amelie was up next, she lined up with the other 6/7 year olds. Their race was a 400m run with an 800m cycle and then a 200m run. After the first run she was in the lead by a head. She jumped on her bike which much like her brothers suddenly seemed too small. On rough ground and with long grass she could not turn the pedals enough to keep the wheels turning. she then took a tumbel and took a chunk out of her heel. I ran over to her and calmed her down, i then persuaded her that finishing was all that mattered. Not winning just finishing. To her absolute credit she continued. I ran beside her and talked her to the finish. She did not come last and her face on finishing was fantastic. A very proud moment.

After the emotions of the children's races it was my turn. As the oldest tri club competitor at the race i had an earlier start time. I made my way to transition and racked my bike etc - it was miles to anywhere and i have to say that a criticism of the race was that it was a long way between stages and to the course.

With the wetsuit on i walked down to the swim start. A beautiful lake in front of me the sun broke through. It was going to be a good day!

The swim was brilliant - I took a kick in the face and had to stop to sort out my goggles. That cost me a few seconds but nothing major. Emerging from the water there was then a 400m run up the hill to T1.

Into the bike shoes and out, the bike course was a 3 lap route around the grounds. It was a compact course which was pretty challenging. I am not a particularly strong cyclist and so my performance on bike is all about hanging on for the run. I had a couple of good tussles with some other competitors - some guy in a trek that went flying past me on any downhill and then collapsed on any uphill section. He was really getting on my nerves and so i worked hard on a down to hold him off then left him at the next uphill. There were, as usual, some awesome bikes on display but i can't help thinking that there are some very wealthy and very average triathletes out there!!

Overall I felt I did pretty well on the bike and although I am a cautious cyclist tried to keep my pace going and the cadence high!

Back to transition and into T2. Running shoes and cap on it was out for the run. A wrong turn leaving transition cost me a further few seconds. The run was a 2-lap course with a couple of hills that while not massive were enough to slow you down. I got into a pace and felt comfortable without being quick . I have definitely been faster off the bike and into the run in training but that was without a swim which probably makes more of a difference that I remember. I took it steady, focusing on the person in front of me and trying to catch them without really changing pace.

Of course you save the best to last and with the finish in sight put the hammer down and power through to the line! That's how it felt anyway!! I crossed the line took some water and Gatorade, got my medal and had my photo taken.

Sue and the kids were waiting as was dad which was great. Lots of congratulations all round. Next it was clock watch to see when Stoddy would cross the line. He has a year more competition in his legs than me and on a tri course i have never beaten him. It is a healthy rivalry that started on our first tri when he beat me by something like 19seconds.

I knew his start was 20minutes after me and so watched the clock and kept looking down the track for his little legs. 20minutes passed and i could not see him, confident that i had finally beaten him i still needed it confirming. He came in and a time check showed i had beaten him by 3 minutes - result!!

It was then a further wait for Mr Booy to complete the course. His galloping gait came into view and he crossed the line.

That was to be the end of the day - but in between the children's races and me finishing the organisers of the children's races had seen Luca and told him there was another race at 3pm if he wanted another go. He resolved himself to try again. The picnic that we had packed for the 4 of us somehow went around 7 of us while we waited for 3pm to come around.

3pm, race briefing over and 5 boys lined up on the start. They set off on the 2laps (800m) run. Close at the start Luca pulled away with a boy close behind him. They had half a lap on the other lads. Into T1 with Luca in the lead. Three laps on the bike was tough, Luca held the lead despite the other boys much bigger wheels eating up the ground. On the third lap Luca was caught as the other lad came round on the outside. He was in front for seconds as Luca regained the advantage.

Into T2 and Luca dropped his bike and was off. The quick transition paid off and he had a quarter lap advantage. The other boy tried and made some ground but Luca dug deep and crossed the line in first place! His demons vanquished and a well deserved medal around his neck.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


This Sunday is the first race of the year, well strictly it's the second race as the first was the Mayhill Massacre in February. That was a run this is a triathlon. The race is the Mazda Blenheim Triathlon a sprint distance race. This will be followed a week later by the Nokia Royal Windsor triathlon which is Olympic distance.

As the first tri approaches i have been checking my data. I guess when it comes to data i am geeky! I have spreadsheets that track a lot of data, date and time, distance, avg. per mile and avg. per kilometre. Cumulative distances and times by month, blood sugars pre and post and heart rate data. What can i say i am an IT Project Manager!!

What i have been doing is trying to establish what shape i am in. So using data for the past 3 years (this is my third year in tri) i have looked at the training i have done.

In the year to date (January - end of May 2009) i have swam 14km, cycled 890km and run 496km. Not huge figures but considering that i have a life and commitments not to mention lengthy commute and family i am pretty pleased with that.

Compared against the same period in 2008 i have swum 0.8km less, cycled 218.8km more and run 60.9km more. Not a huge increase but from my point of view the fact that i have cycled more is a huge plus as in previous races i generally suffered with cramp getting off the bike - particularly a Olympic distance. The increase in cycling this year and more brick sessions should have resolved that. With the nuun that is now the staple in my water bottle i hope it is well and truly consigned to history.

Going back a further year to 2007, told you i was geeky, my 2009 numbers in comparison see less swimming to the tune of 9km but an increase of 547km on the bike and 60km less running.

Again the increase in cycling is significant, i have always run and been reasonable at it.

This year i think i should be in better shape i have done more training hours and more training kilometres than the previous years and generally feel stronger. I have not dropped any weight though which i hope is due to more muscle (yeah right!!) and not because i am a year older!! Race weight is normally around 11 stone and i am currently around 11stone 4lbs.

I have plenty more stats that i will save for an insomnia night - Sunday cannot come soon enough now.....the Shurdington Tri Club will be there in force with 3 entrants and Le Fassett acting as photographer! The time for reviewing statistics is gone! Bring it on!!