I’ve definitely caught the TT bug and the last couple of weeks have seen some great improvements for me over the classic D10/1 Rainford 10 mile TT course. After my disappointment at my puncture at 9 miles a few weeks back I was determined to go back the week after and see if the average 22.4mph I’d managed to hold up until that point was a fluke or not.
Wednesday 22nd June I headed over to Rainford for round 11 of the 2011 season. As the sole representative on the night for North Cheshire I was fired up and managed to get a nice early start time at number 3. As I was getting ready I met a guy from Manchester Tri who was doing the course for the first time so feeling like a regular I talked him through it and rode with him down to the start line. I went my separate way for a warm up as his nice bike and Zipp wheels suggested I wouldn’t be able to keep up.
At the start line I wished him luck and as he was number 4 I asked him not to pass me too soon but he did, less than 2 miles in… zoom into the wind he was passed me and gone. I just got my head down and concentrated on what I needed to do. I approached mile nine having flashbacks and turned into the wind, I felt I was on for a good time but struggled to keep the speed up into the wind, I just kept pushing and crossed the line in 27:04 averaging 22.2mph.
Back at the car packing up I asked my new buddy how he got on to which he replied “not bad”. It was a different story when the results where read out and he had the fastest time of the evening at 22:49. Turns out after talking Triathlon with him he does the Olympic distance in Sub 2 hours!! Has won a half Ironman event and is currently training for Ironman UK.
Wednesday 29th June I wasn’t sure whether I had recovered from Liverpool Triathlon or not but the wife was having a friend over for a catch up so I took the free opportunity to have a go anyway. After recent results I’d set my next target at averaging over 22.5mph. Another early start at number 2 this week and was feeling good after an 8-9 mile warm up with NCC member and work colleague Gary. It was tough this week; the wind was strong with twice as strong gusts, great when it’s behind you but the last 3 mile was in your face and my legs where feeling it and in the last mile I had nothing left and even crossed the line shouting out the wrong number. I shouted my last week’s number 3 instead of 2. I cycled back to advise the Time keepers of my mistake and they made they made a few calculations and told me my time 26:34, another 30 seconds off my PB averaging 22.6mph. No wonder I felt ill!
The night soon turned sour though as we returned to our cars to find 6 or 7 of them had been broken into and bags, wallets, phones were missing. Luckily I was missed out but Gary was not so fortunate having 2 windows smashed and his bag stolen with Keys, credit/bank cards gone too. That sick feeling soon came back for different reasons, how can one human being do that to another?
22nd JUNE – 10.07mile 27:09 avg 22.2mph avg HR 168bpm max HR 175bpm
29th JUNE – 10.05mile 26:35 avg 22.7mph avg HR 167bpm max HR 176bpm
So in 8 weeks I’ve knocked off 1 min 46 seconds and there’s still another 10 weeks of the season to go. Next goal is to break into the avg 23mph and then I might treat myself to a TT bike – shhh don’t tell the wife.
I had high hopes going into only my 2nd Olympic distance triathlon, not only from fitness and form but also from being a part of the 5150 Triathlon series debut in the UK. 5150 got its name simply by adding up the 1.5km Swim, 40Km Bike and the 10K run equalling 51.50km. You may also see it written as 5i50 as it’s run by the same owners and organizers of the Ironman/Ironman 70.3 series.
After doing this event last year there where certainly area’s for improvement the main one being the lack of mats down to run/walk on from the swim to transition. I would of thought the World Triathlon Corporation responsible would have been on to this and made the appropriate amendments but unfortunately it was just the same only with more advertisement banners up which ironically if you had laid them down they would of covered the distance from the water to bike no problem and would of made the journey at least a little more comfortable.
One thing the 5150 series did is make this a much higher profiled event attracting some big names into the elite field including the current Ironman UK champion Fraser Cartmell. Unfortunately we were to share the same fate and have to settle for second best as he lost out to the day’s winner Stuart Hayes in 01:49:18 and I was once again beaten to arch enemy Liam Bennett. Liz Blatchford won the ladies with an impressive 01:57:46.
My day started with a 6am alarm call and although I was well organised the night before I still managed to clatter about the house getting ready and waking baby up in the process. I’m not much of an early eater but after forcing breakfast down and racking the bike up I was on my way across town to pick up Liam.
Due to start a 9 o’clock it was fast approaching 8am and we were only just getting to the car park. Luckily we just made it into the main car park right next to the transition area. With only a short walk to registration which was smoothly operated we were back on time and in the transition area when I realised I’d left my number in the car. Liam had also left his water bottle so after a quick dash there and back we were now running a little late. They start letting you in the water at 8:50, we didn’t even have our wet suits on! Panic was over when we joined the back of the queue and then got in the water, after working up a bit of a sweat just to get there on time it felt refreshing instead of the usual shock of cold shouting up my body.
I positioned myself on the outside hoping for clear water and was just discussing this with Liam when a guy behind shouted in the style of Murray Walker “Go Go Go!” Then the masses of arms and legs started thrashing about, what no countdown or hooter like last year I thought to myself as I threw my arms forward and kicked my legs joining in with the mayhem. Not even 100 meter in and I couldn’t catch my breath, every time I popped up to take a breath I’d just get a mouthful of the Mersey. Bodies everywhere, arms hitting and pushing you, legs kicking you, and I’ve paid money for this. After about 200 meters it funnelled down and the carnage well and truly kicked in. If you’re a strong swimmer like Liam you can get yourself ahead of this massacre but for someone like me it’s every man for themselves!
Clear water finally came and I could get my head down and concentrate on swimming instead of surviving. I got myself into a rhythm and just kept going, wanting this bad swim experience to be over. The end was in sight and it didn’t seem like I’d been in the water for 30 minutes so I thought I’d clocked my target time. After a few stumbles getting out of the water as my feet found themselves again, I managed to get my wetsuit down to my waist and checked my watch, I was disappointed to see it approaching 35 minutes! Transition didn’t go smoothly either; still slightly light headed I struggled getting the wetsuit off and was glad to finally get out of there and on the bike.
I was at home on the bike and confidence came souring back as I passed other riders. I caught a glimpse of Liam on the other side of the road early on my first lap knowing he was around half way through his first lap, I estimated he had 10 minutes on me already so I had my work cut out to catch him. I got my head down and hit some nice speeds wind assisted and they felt strong into the wind keeping up my average speed. Each lap I saw Liam and the gap was closing and as I started my final lap I thought I might just catch him. I almost did too, I entered the transition area to see him scoffing some jelly babies and off he went to start his run just as I racked up my bike. I’d managed to get the gap down to about 30 seconds.
I zoomed through T2 and set about the chase. It wasn’t until the turn at half way through the first lap I saw Liam again and the gap still seemed about 30 secs but I was running low on energy but determined to give it all I had I kept pushing. I could feel myself slowing and I walked through a drinks station to take on water, by now it was getting hot too and I was struggling to keep up the pace. I started lap two with a second wind but it barely lasted a Kilometre, then a stitch in the last few Kilometres didn’t help matters. I saw Liam again just before he turned off for the finishing straight and gave him a high five as we passed each other and said well done, good running.
I wasn’t sure of my run time and pace but felt overall I was quicker than last year so as I turned for the home straight I was happy to see the clock under 2h 45. Not quite the 2h 40 I’d hoped for but after that swim I was more than happy I Knocked close to 7 minutes off my PB. I didn’t beat Liam but I had him scared and I’ve certainly closed the gap. Of course he was waiting for my at the finish line where we showed our respect with the traditional man hug. To steal Dr. Claw’s catch phrase, “I get you next time, Bennett! Next time”
Photos to follow – still waiting for them to go online.
SWIM – 33:51 T1 – 3:24 BIKE – 1:14:37 T2 – 1:23 RUN – 51:23 TOTAL – 2:44:36
SWIM – 24:31 T1 – 1:49 BIKE – 1:24:08 T2 – 2:19 RUN – 48:19 TOTAL – 2:41:04
Time soon comes around with Liverpool Triathlon this coming Sunday the 26th June and I feel I’m hitting some good form going into it after a great week of training. Not really high on the mileage this week but some really good solid sessions and performances helping with my confidence and motivation.
The pick of the bunch came on Wednesday night after deciding to do the Rainford 10 TT again. On what looked like perfect conditions on paper it was a different story on arrival with one regular quoting “it’s always windy here, no matter what”. Compared to my first attempt on this course it was looking good and I was confident in getting a PB and gaining a club standard with the North Cheshire Clarion with a sub 28:12 after missing out by 9 seconds first time around.
I was 3rd up with 2 fellow NCC riders behind me in 4th and 5th so my tactic was simply, go as hard as I could and don’t get caught by these two guys or I would never live it down. I started off well with the assist of a tail wind but suffered early on at the turn into the wind down to the motorway island. As I exited the island I saw that NCC rider Matt Ellis was gaining on my and I needed to up my game so not to be caught, luckily the was wind was assisting again and I was hitting some good speeds and got lucky on my approach to the next two islands as they were clear of traffic. As I turned for home into the wind I had managed to reserve enough energy to put in the effort and keep my speed up. Usually I have my average speed showing on my bike computer but I decided not to this time and just concentrate on putting the effort in, I could still see my current speed and new I was on for a good time even when riders 5 and 6 passed me, both Maxgear riders pushing for the win. I was just admiring them taking on a S-bend at 9 miles when pop… my back tyre went almost instantly flat and it was game over. I got off my bike and stopped my Garmin and read the results, 9.04 miles in 24:12 then I saw the average speed, 22.4mph. I was devastated, I knew I was going well but thought I’d be in the mid to high 21mph. The last mile was into the wind but I would like to think I could of held my average at just over 22mph for the whole 10 mile but I guess we’ll never know!
The rest of the week has been great; I even went out on Friday night for a 30min Fartlek run. I’m feeling as though I’m hitting peak form just in time and I hope I get more luck in the Triathlon with no punctures. I haven’t really set any targets apart from to beat last years’ time of 2:51:08 which I’d be very disappointed if I didn’t considering all the training I have done since then. If you were to push me for a target time I’d like to go under 2hour 40 but one thing for sure I’ll give it everything I’ve got.
Week 7 Stats:
Mon: CYCLE 10.70M Work@16.2mph AvgHR135bpm
Tues: RUN 2.59M INTERVALS SWIM 500M – Timed Slow 10 minutes
Weds: CYCLE 16M Rainford 9 miles @ 22.4mph SWIM 920M – INTERVALS
Thur: REST DAY
Fri: RUN 2.7M FARTLEK with hills GYM – WEIGHTS
Sat: CYCLE 15.61M @18mph AvgHR139bpm
Sun: REST DAY
Week 7 – Total SWIM 1450 Meters BIKE 42.31M RUN 5.29M
Only a little bit of training to report either side of a great family break in Cornwall. I think it was much needed rest with just a few swim sessions while away so mainly just having fun and spending time with the wife and little one. She’s such a character now and learning new things all the time and it was great to see her development in just one week instead of being stuck at work or out training.
My plans where for a more intensive swimming week but it just didn’t happen. It started with the first open water swim of the year in the River Mersey – nice! Actually it’s not too bad, it’s in the Queens dock which is the probably the cleanest part of the docks, it still doesn’t taste too good and its bloody cold.
My first session didn’t go too good, I felt tired after 1 lap of 400 meters and only completed 3 laps and I’d had enough. It was a wakeup call and I was so glad I had booked another session for the week after. One thing I worked on in my first session was sighting and swimming in a straight line, believes me it’s more difficult than it sounds so at least I came away with some positives from the swim. I also thought I might of be trying to go too fast as I find it difficult to judge my speed, effort and efficiency in the open water as every time my head pops up to take a breath it looks like I haven’t moved which makes me increase the effort and lose efficiency.
My Second session was far better and even colder! I did timed laps to try and get my effort levels sorted out so lap one I swam like I did in session one and got a lap time of around 7:30mins. Lap 2 I reduced the effort while concentrating on technique and was within 30 secs of my lap one time and didn’t feel half as tired. By laps 3 and 4 I had found a consistent rhythm and I’m now feeling more confident in the open water. My aim for the 1500 meters is sub 30 mins so I was happy with my lap times suggesting I could achieve my target.
Liverpool Triathlon is now only 2 weeks away this week I’ll have to knuckle down and get some key sessions done to work off all the Cornish pasties and Cream teas!!
Busy. Busy, Busy!! We have a family holiday coming up next week and the amount of organisation and planning involved you’d swear we were emigrating!! We are in fact heading south to Cornwall for a break from the norm. It’ll be our first family holiday and mine and the wife’s first holiday since our honeymoon, Mexico 2008. Not quite the same but we’ll sure make the best of it and enjoy every minute. I can’t wait to see Isabella’s face when she feels sand for the first time, takes her first dip in the ocean, more milestones in her and our lives that grow more and more every day, can you believe she is almost one?
Training wise it’s a full week of swimming with 2 open water swims booked either side of the holiday plus plenty of swimming in the onsite pool and maybe in the ocean although I’ve heard about the passing basking sharks, generally harmless to humans but still, seeing a fin sticking out of the water and considering these are the second largest living fish I don’t fancy that much at all.
Week 4 as previous weeks I’ve struggled to fit my training in so same old story. I run a small photography business and have been pushing on with that for the last few weeks designing and creating a new website, making contacts and drumming up business. I’ve been doing a couple of unpaid jobs but it’s all helping towards my portfolio and heading in the right direction. I was working on my Sports Photography on Wednesday night at the Seamons CC Championship 10 mile TT which I loved, great way to combine my hobbies and beats working for a living! Seeing these guys flying past one by one trying to catch them in my viewfinder really impresses me and motivates me to improve and become faster. The picture’s below are of Joe Lockett, the fastest junior on the night clocking a time of 24:29 averaging 24.51mph and below that the champion Charles Carraz with a 22:16 time which in average speed 26.95mph. I really look up to these guys, Charles for his speed and desire to win and Joe for the times he’s achieving at this age. When I was a junior I was into football and golf and never really that good although I did qualify for the PGA Junior Championships. Riding my bike was just a way to getting to places and I never knew things like TT’s or Triathlons existed. But like most things in life there is no point dwelling on the past and it’s just good I’ve found this passion now at the relatively young age of 30!
Mon: REST DAY
Tues: RUN 3.91M @ 7:27 m/m avgHR 163bpm
Weds: CYCLE 12.41M Kilton 8.75M 25.41
Thur: CYCLE 5.81M @16.9mph AvgHR 127bpm SWIM 920M – 4L x 10
Fri: GYM – WEIGHTS CYCLE 5.24M @13.9mph AvgHR 127bpm
Sat CYCLE 20.49M @ 17.4mph RUN 6.2M FARTLEK 8:17 avgHR 158bpm
Sun: REST DAY
Week 4 – Total SWIM 920 Meters BIKE 54.06M RUN 10.11M
Training hasn’t been going too well over the last few weeks; well I say that, it’s more to do with the lack of training. I’ve been finding it hard to stay motivated. Since October I’ve been training more hours than ever and it’s eating away at any spare time I have. I find it easy to train at lunch as it breaks up my working day and gets me away from my desk for an hour. Cycling to work now has become harder since my wife went back to work after maternity leave, I now do baby drop off and pick up 3 times a week leaving Mondays and Thursdays for the bike or run commute but sometimes I have other commitments that I need the car for. Come the weekend I want to be out on family days and visiting friends and family but this is my only chance to get a solid long session done. It’s so difficult to get the balance right; I don’t know how a lot of people do it.
Last week I celebrated my 30th birthday so I took the opportunity to have some time away off and let my… hair down! It was just what I needed, I still hit the pool but this time with my daughter slashing away and it was great fun, I played golf for the first time in over a year shooting a 12 over – It never leaves you! I’ve also enjoyed good food and a few too many beers and wine and even a some champers. It was just what I needed to re-energise and come back stronger.
It’s now 5 weeks until the Liverpool Triathlon and I’m feeling fitter than ever posting faster times on the bike and during week 2 I ran my first sub 20 5K which I’m still buzzing from. I just need to transfer these times into the 25 mile TT and the 10K run and bring them altogether…easy!
The next big hurdle is we’ve just booked a week away in Cornwall for week 6 but managed to get an pool on site and also right on the ocean so will take the wetsuit and get plenty of swimming done.
Week 2 Stats:
Mon: CYCLE 11.17M @15.4mph Avg HR 131bpm RUN 2.89M – Fartlek – speed work
Tues: GYM – WEIGHTS
Weds: CYCLE 19.06M Kilton 8.75M 25.33
Thur: REST DAY
Fri: 3.35M – 5K timed @ 19.47 6:22m/m Sat: REST DAY Sun: REST DAY
Week 2 – Total SWIM 0 Meters BIKE 30.23M RUN 6.24M
Week 3 Stats:
Mon: GYM – WEIGHTS then time off and enjoyed myself!!