Wednesday, 30 December 2015

How hard is it to complete an Ironman?

After Kona this Year I was interviewed by the Daily  Telegraph - This is the transcript of the dialogue

1. Presumably a lot of the preparation on the day is psychological, as there’s not much more you can do physically?
The race is very physical, from start to finish. There is a almost a continuous level of mental pressure and you need to be able to find a balance between enough pain to ensure that you're competitive, but also be mindful that its a long race and you'll only be competitive if you make it to the finish. On race day you need to be able to draw upon 'your bank ' of training that led you to this race. It's this that gives you the confidence to push though the pain when your mind is telling you to stop
2. When you start your swim, what’s going through your mind – and how do you feel by the end of the first section? Do you think of it as 1 down, 2 to go? Or are you knackered already?
I've taught my self to be totally calm on the start line of a race. In an Ironman I'm treading water surrounded by a couple of thousand athletes until the start cannon fires, and then I propel myself forward fighting for clear water. It’s not unusual to take a kick in the face or to be knocked around when so many athletes are in such close proximity. This isn't normally intentional... It’s just racing! I don’t think of the next segment of the race until I'm within 400m of the shore, only then do I rehearse my transition from swim to bike in my head. I plan every thing, from the order I'll put my cycle helmet and sunglasses on to exactly where upon exiting the transition area I'll jump on my bike. This is crucial to ensure that valuable time is not squandered. At this stage my only concern is to exit the transition zone safely without an incident or crash with another athlete.
3.With the cycling, how hard is the transition? Because clearly your legs will be doing completely different things – so that must be hard?
Typically for 2.4mile (3.8km) swim I'm in the water for just over an hour swimming flat out. In Hawaii this is an out and back and at the turn point it’s about 30m deep, it can be very choppy when there's a swell and this always affects how you feel when you exit the water. This year it was reasonably calm and I felt in control exiting the ocean. In previous years it’s been rough and I've swallowed too much sea water. This can leave you feeling a bit disorientated when you reach the transition zone.
4.Do you get to eat and drink as you’re running for your bike? How does nourishment work during an Ironman? Do you know how many calories you use per discipline/overall?
Overall during the race I'll burn about 8000 calories. During the race there's no way that I can replace this level of nutrition. My refuelling is done on the bike and the run. On the 112 mile (180km) bike section I will eat 2x Clif Bar Blocs every 20 mins. These are like fruit pastels but will provide me 100 calories + electrolytes each 20 mins. I'll eat 300 calories and drink 1 litre of water every hour. This equates to 1500 calories and 5 litres of water for the whole bike segment. On the run my heart rate is higher and its harder to take solid food on board so I'll switch to Clif Bar gels. These contain 100 calories but are in a liquid form. I'll take one every 15 mins and aim to drink 30ml of water each aid station ( every mile).
5.Whilst you’re cycling, do you get major uncomfortable? Presumably cramp happens occasionally throughout the race, and chafing must be an issue?
My bike position has been tailored to my physiology. This means that the components perfectly fit my body shape. Freespeed London are a specialist bike fitting business and the owner  Richard Melik has created my optimum cycling position which is a perfect balance between power, aerodynamics and comfort using a Retul bike fitting system. This means i can stay in the most aerodynamic and fastest position for the whole 112 miles. My race suit is also aerodynamic and creates minimal drag to ensure each watt of power isn't wasted.

6.Is the transition from cycling to running easier, or is it really disheartening to feel as if you’re going much slower once you transition to foot?
The transition to the run is the hardest one, when I  step off the bike my legs feel really wobbly. They have to transition from being gluteus and quadriceps dominant to the calf and hamstring muscles taking over. They feel really strange like they're not firing properly. I know this is normal so I try not to let it concern me and any involuntary twitches or pain I simply ignore. After about 3miles (5km) they normally feel OK so I just keep moving forward.
An aero bike position can save valuable watts and help you keep a higher average speed
7.Your legs must be feeling it by the time you’re well into your marathon – how do you deal with that pain?
The first 10 miles are free, every thing hurts, but its imperative that you establish a rhythm and hit your target pace. I say its for free, this simply means that before you know it you've run 10 miles. I think that it's possible to marginalise the sort of pain that comes through attrition. I've found that at this stage in the race every thing hurts, bet generally if you increase your pace it doesn't always hurt more. Conversely if you slow down it doesn't hurt less... so its best to stick to your target pace irrespective of how much pain that you're in.
Exiting the notorious Energy Lab with just 8 miles to go
8.What’s the hardest discipline on the day, in your opinion?
The run is the hardest part of the race, ideally this is where you utilise every ounce of energy. You leave it all out there.... what ever you have left is completely rinsed from you being, both physically and mentally and I will be broken when I cross the finish line. Running a fast marathon on top of fast swim and bike is what completes a competitive Ironman race.

9.Is the hardest also the most energy-sapping, or is it hard for other reasons?
It’s hard because it's completed in one day. I've completed in other Extreme Endurance challenges like the Norseman  and Cape Epic and  Ironman ranks among them. Although the distances in Ironman are the same irrespective of where you race there are different factors that can make one race harder than others, like temperature, wind, amount of vertical assent or descent. Ironman Hawaii - Kona is hard because its an open ocean swim without a wetsuit. The bike segment is windy with 1300m of vertical ascent and its hot (34 Celsius) .The run is also crazy hot. This year it peaked at nearly 40 degrees Celsius ( Tarmac temp) for 1.5 hours  before it clouded over and settled at 32 Celsius

10.Finally, in a few words, could you just answer the headline: How hard is it to complete an Ironman (overall)? My coach Richard Hobson, would say that with the right attitude, any one can complete an Ironman with right training programme, conditioning & mental attitude and I agree..

Team 'Frazzled' Freespeed - Alison Rowatt & Richard Hobson - Podium Winners

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Cape Epic - The Untamed African MTB race

With 2016’s Cape Epic gathering impetus, competitors will be starting to feel a pinch of pressure and anxiety. A New Year heralds complete commitment to the ‘Epic’ both mental and physical.

Last year I found myself excited, driven and scared of what this mammoth off-road Mountain bike stage race entailed. The Cape Epic is the equivalent to the Tour de France on mountain bikes. It consists of 8 stages, 800km with 16000m of accumulated climbing, starting with a short Prologue to establish each teams starting position on the grid. Each stage ranges from 70km to 130km of rough African Bushveld. An average speed is about 15kmh off road.

My journey started with my transition from Road and TT bikes back onto a XC mountain bike. My weekends became all about riding dirt with Declan Doyle, my team mate for the race. Dec and I spent our weekends riding with Juan Christen, a rider from my Tuesday night road chain gang. He helped us improve our skills and technique and was patient on the trails when we lagged behind. Riding in the Surrey hills, albeit different to the Cape Epic terrain taught us control and above all gave us strength. Mountain biking is a hugely skilful combination of dexterity, power and endurance. We both had our fair share of crashes and tumbles. Kneepads, a bigger MTB helmet and a portable first aid kit were a prerequisite.
I ride a Canyon road bike and TT bike and had been training on a Canyon Hard tail with a dropper seat post for really gnarly drop offs, but for the race I was taking delivery of a super specialist Canyon Lux. This is the Lamborghini of Marathon XC racing used by the Top Pro contenders to take the overall win. The Cape Epic delivers the Pro experience for every rider. On completion of each stage your bike is taken from you and professionally washed and placed in a paddock. A privately employed mechanic will then come and pick up your bike and take it to be serviced. They will replace any thing broken or damaged and ensure it’s in prime condition for the next stage, before returning it to the paddock that evening.
The Prologue - 20km TT
A steady stream of athletes left the Rugby Field at Cape Town University, Dec and I waited in anticipation. We had ridden the course and were pumped. I was high with anticipation as we positioned ourselves on the launch ramp of the TT start. 

We hammered off the start climbing foothills of Table Mountain, just 8 mins’ in and on a slight technical section I caught my bars on a pine tree and was dumped into the dirt simultaneously. I mounted and regained composure, shaken but Ok we hustled and began to catch the team a minute ahead. We passed them on the next decent, but their backmarker who was clearly a nervous descender steered directly into my path. We clashed bars and we both went down. I managed to step clear, they didn’t, and they took a nasty tumble.  Choice words were exchanged and we narrowly avoided an altercation... It was nuts, we were not even 20 mins in and I’d crashed twice, and almost had a fight! This wasn’t what I’d come here for... or had expected. I was sore from my crashes, my lungs were screaming for air as we climbed to the Peak of Table Mountain to ‘Dead Mans Tree’, Dec sensed this and gave me a push up the hill – that’s team work.

The last part of the course was a down hill with just one rutted steep technical downhill section. I’d ridden this in practice and had nailed it perfectly each time. With confidence I hit it full gas without fear, but was confronted with a bottle-necked, congested section with athletes walking the prime trail line. I braked hard off the ideal trail line and hit a rock, I steadied my position but was not further enough behind the saddle, so when I hit the next one I was thrown over the bars and I landed with my bike on top of me.  

I landed hard and I felt my shoulder crunch and drop, I thought I’d broken my collar bone, but as it turned out I’d only separated it at the AC joint.  It was crazy painful. After fixing the bike, I rode one handed for the remainder of the course. This was not what we were expecting… and at that point I was worried I might be out of the race.

Declan Towing me over the Finish line

That night we packed up and moved to Elgin, having visited the medic they strapped my shoulder and gave me ibuprofen to help me get through the race. Upon my return to the UK, I had an MRI and the surgeon gave me a ultrasound guided cortisone injection to help the shoulder seat correctly.

The Race
Ahead of Declan and I were seven further stages and we were determined to make it to the end. My crashes and injuries had set us back, but we were not out. We always knew that we weren’t out and out speedsters, and that our strength rested in our ability to go the course and keep strong and consistent until the final stage.

Over the next seven days we both suffered. Each time my shoulder was shaken on rough trail, it felt like I was being stabbed. At times I struggled with the pain, and although my background in Ironman racing had given me a huge capacity of tolerance for pain this was different. This was acute pain that came from injury, not the pain that comes from the slow attrition of endurance racing. Time and time again, it felt like the trail was punishing us.

If I was going to make it through to the end, I knew that I was going to have to give up fighting every corner, downhill and uphill and accept how tough this race is and enjoy being a part of it. This simple change in my mind-set allowed me to accept the pain. It also gave me the strength to start challenging the competitors around us.
Declan leading the charge and setting the pace

Day after day Dec and I battled the wilderness and raced in some of the most formidable, yet beautiful countryside in Africa. This ranged from scary rocky descents, pine forested single track and long off camber rock ridden accents. The course is designed and the terrain chosen specifically to test each athlete’s strengths and weaknesses. 

You’ll find plenty off smooth flowing single track where you can let loose and keep your fingers off the brakes, but then there’s also loads of technical climbing where more efficient riders can test their limits of skill and power riding on their limit.

The emotions that I have encountered within this race are like nothing I’ve ever felt before. The long days in the saddle serve to erode your spirit and you’ll see this in the eyes of any of the rider’s as they finish each stage.

The Epic course planners are meticulous in their planning and this ensures a tough challenging course, but you can be sure that... .If you’re 20km from home and you can see a mountain – that’s where you’re going’  

The race is just beyond hard. Just when you think you’re finished, or near home the remainder of the race will be uphill and over treacherous rocks.

The Finish
We had made it through to the last day, despite crashes, injuries, insect bites and saddle sores. Declan and I had conquered this race and for the first time I got the chance to see my wife, Mette and Declan, his girlfriend Sam. We rode with smiles and were determined to get through the last stage safely. We crossed the finish together shell shocked by what we had accomplished. It was only in the hours after I was able to process what we had achieved together.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

11th Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon 2013

On the eve of the 11th Isklar Norseman Xtreme lighting and gale force winds battered Eidfjord. At 5am after a 3am alarm call the other competitors and I jumped off back of a ferry into choppy glacial fed fjord. The swim was slow for everyone, not just me thankfully. It was cold but manageable and 254 athletes headed for the fire lit beacon on the shore. T1 was a blur... Although my race support, my wife - Mette Anderson was invaluable and dispatched me swiftly helping me to change into my bike clothing.

Passing Geilo through before the lightning storms

I've never been so cold on the bike
The 40km climb from Eidfjord through the mountain was breathtaking and allowed me to hit a rhythm. It was only on the climb towards the Geilo Alpine ski resort that light rain gave way to a ferocious headwind, torrential rain, hail stones, thunder, lightning and a thick fog throughout the cycle. This was the toughest bike course I've ever raced. Each time I heard a motorcycle approach I thought that it was going to stop me to tell me that the race had been cancelled because it was too dangerous. It was very scary on the wet steep descents and I struggled to hold onto the handlebars in the cold. At one point I lost the front wheel on a bend and then the back followed. I drifted sideways across the bend and I'm not really sure how I bought it back but in that second I felt sure I was about to hit the deck. Cold and wet I made it safely to T2 where I met Mette.
Arriving in Rjukan with just Zombie hill, a 12km ascent and then a further 5km of rough trail climb to the summit of Gaustatoppen, we were fortunate that there was a change in the weather. All the competitors took strength from this and pushed hard for the finish. It’s an epic climb and the Hardangervidda plateau is one of the beautiful places I've ever been to. It’s an amazing feeling to summit and receive the black T shirt. This really is an iconic race.

The remaining 5km up to the summit

Almost there... still moving forward!
One of the unfortunate outcome of the days lighting strikes was that the internal cable car which is normally used to transport finished athletes down from the top of Gaustatoppen was disabled. This meant we all had to hike an additional 5k down off the mountain once we had finished. I did this with a fractured left foot that Id sustained in the ascent.
The Summit of Gaustatoppen
This really is the most 'EXTREME' race that ive ever done...I felt wounded and broken on completion. Despite this…. time will tell, but maybe it won’t be the last time I visit Norway!

 Swim -1.08 hrs Bike - 6.58 hrs Run - 5.35 hrs Total -13.47 hrs

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Kona Bound - 2 Freespeeders already qualified!

With my Kona qualification already confirmed in IM Cozumel, I returned back to the UK to see that Jenny had entered Phuket 70.3 very last minute....

She had already flown out and was preparing to race. Despite her respite after Vegas 70.3, where she achieved 4th pace in her age. Jen was still in reasonable shape and recorded a PB 10k time and won the ‘Shock absorber’ 10km race in Richmond Park.

Phuket 70.3 is a tough one…. With big hills, humidity and heat and it was set to be a real challenge. Like the rest of Team Freespeed though, we seem to relish the tougher events and this was a perfect race for Jen. Despite struggling with an upset stomach, Jenny won her age group very convincingly by 9 minutes – whoop whoop!!

What a result…. Phuket is one of the few races that has qualifying slots for the Las Vegas 70.3 Word Championships and Kona – The World Ironman Championships and Jenny had qualified for both with her placing. Bravo Jenny

2 Team Freespeeders in…. 2 to go…

Friday, 30 December 2011

Ironman Cozumel 2011

My finale for the year was Ironman Cozumel. It was over a year since Kona 2010 and no matter how well your training has gone there is always apprehension, after all an Ironman is a long way. I think this anxiety is a good thing, it shows how important the race is to you. I try to focus this energy on planning my race and performance, setting way markers and goals for each leg of the race.

In the weeks leading up to my departure the weather had been kind and I had been able to do all of my long rides outside. This had been an unexpected benefit because at this time of the year the weather is very unsettled and often cold and wet. My run also felt strong, I’d benefited from a block of very fast stuff so my long Tempo runs felt very easy, even up to 30km.

Treading water on the start into the incoming current was tough. I was 1 row off the front and was prepared for an aggressive start. I wasn’t disappointed, within 5 strokes I’d been kicked in the face twice. The second kick I took in the left eye and it dislodged my goggles. Thankfully one eye was still ok and It was about 2.5km before I had enough space to flip over onto my back, empty the water and reposition my goggles. The swim starts off into the current, but its not long until you’re turning back with the current and this is real help despite it being a non wetsuit swim. I was pleased with a 58 minute swim, despite going a little off course due to the wash and waves created by spectator boats obscuring the buoys.

Quickly through transition where I met Conan Gibney also changing, I striped off my Skinfit plasma swim suit and headed for the bike. Its pot luck where your bikes are racked, and neither Conan nor I had particularly good positions. We had a little further to run than some of the other competitors

Putting this aside, next up was the bike leg. The course was flat, but the difficulty lay in the middle third of the course. It ran parallel to the sea and when the wind picked up we took a battering from the prevailing wind. It was fine for the first 60km lap;however, it picked up on the second and third lap. This is when your body naturally starts to fatigue and I found it harder to hold my speed and watts. I felt for the slower swimmers because they had it progressively harder than those who had exited earlier like the Pro’s who had started 30 minutes before us. 182km later,on my Garmin, I was preparing to hit T2 and felt ok apart from little gastro discomfort. I’d had this before in Kona and knew that it hadn’t slowed me down so I pushed on. I’d gone through 180km in 4h.50 mins, so I was where I had expected to be. Without the coastal winds a sub 4.45 could have been possible.

Heading out on the run, I noticed the puddles around me because it had just rained in town. It was already reasonably warm.... my Garmin was showing 34 degrees when I was on the bike and it felt hotter now. This rain meant the humidity increased and it felt super hot. The pro’s that had hit the run course 30 mins before us suffered more here than the age groupers. I started off my run strong, but after about 14km I was slowing. There weren’t any sponges on the course and I was overheating. Rather than using cups and sponges they had these little plastic bags full of water. I found this very difficult to use effectively, for either cooling or drinking. My pace was slowing, but I didn’t have any idea by how much… My Garmin 310xt had run out battery and it seemed that what with the water problem, stomach issues and watch failure every thing was against me.

In order to help the gastro and water issues, I reluctantly decided to walk for a bit… I hate walking especially because I had come off the bike as 5th Age grouper. This had given me a great opportunity to run down some of the other competitors. It was soo hot, that I thought by giving my body a chance to cool down and allowing my stomach to settle it may give me the respite I needed.

The next 28km was tough for me. I ran and walked when my stomach became too painful. In all, I suspect I walked about a kilometre over the course of the race. It was only after the monsoon storm that I cooled down enough to be able to run properly again. The storm was amazing, it rained torrentially for about 15 -20 minutes. Within this time the whole coastal road flooded, and the side roads became rivers. The spectators disappeared and in some places we were running in calf deep water. Talk about epic…. I was only glad to be heading to the finish. I had no idea of my splits, my position or whether I had done enough to qualify for Kona. I was soaked and felt a bit flat and disenchanted. Two of the three legs had gone well. The last, my strongest had felt rubbish… compared to how I had expected to run.

It was only when I phoned my wife Mette back in London, that she was able to tell me my splits and where I had come. I was 7th amateur overall and 6th in my Age group

Overall 26th Swim 58.39 T1 2.55 Bike 4.54:54T2 2.03 Run 3.15:38 Overall 9.14:09

I was delighted; collecting a Kona slot was the main objective, a Sub 9 hour Ironman and a sub 3 hour Ironman marathon will have to wait. Conan came in few minutes behind me and seeing him really cheered me up. We had both qualified for Kona and this rounded off a super week that we had spent together

2011 Race Season Summary

It’s been a pretty epic season, full of emotion, happiness and disappointments. Like any season one needs to take the rough with the smooth and 2011 will be one that I recall with fond memories.

With Team Freespeed firmly in place, Jenny Gowans, Declan Doyle,Tim Bishop and I embarked on year that would test us physically, emotionally and mentally. The teams focus would be Sub 9 hours within an Ironman distance race for the boys and a 70.3 World Championship podium for Jen. Alongside this Dec was keen to gain Kona qualification at St George Utah .We had set the bar high and our training focus was further speed development.

My focus was to race short distance and mid distance with the view to build speed for Challenge Roth which would be my ‘A race’ of the year. This race was going to be ‘boom’ or ‘bust.’ To add an extra incentive, Challenge even refunds each athlete €250 if they go Sub 9….. How cool is that?

Dec was first up in Ironman St George in Utah, and on a very tough course cruised home in 26th place. This was the first of many successes for the newly formed Freespeed team. Declan had done enough to secure his Kona slot and the season had hardly started.

My first race was the Volcano in Lanzarote, this was almost a home fixture considering that when I'm outside of London, most of my training is done in Lanzarote. For me Lanzarote is like a home from home… It can be beautiful, brutal but it’s always challenging. If it’s not the heat, the terrain or the wind, its relentlessness will toughen you up. I had a promising result, but landed just out side the top 10. Although I was swimming ok and my mountain biking over the winter had kept my bike strong. My running needed more work. I had been training to run 4.17min kms for the last 3 years whilst concentrating on Ironman racing, so I had no idea what I could hold in an Olympic distance race. I left T2 holding 3.15 min kms so it was only a matter time before I blew…. Mentally there and then I made a note to myself that I needed pacier running sets in my 2011 schedule.

Overall 14th, Swim 21.47 T1 2.46 Bike 1:04.37 T2 2.02 Run 39.20 Total 2:10:31

Next up was Ironamn UK.70.3 and the whole team was racing. We had all recce’d the course a couple of weeks prior to the race so knew exactly what to expect… It was a very tough course with 1900m of climbing, quite technical in places which suited me perfectly. Even the run was hilly.... it was more of a cross country run than your normal out and back Triathlon run. We arrived on the Friday before the race and pitched our tents in the rain. This was not a good sign, nor was the fact it rained all day Saturday... Come Sunday the rain had cleared, but left the lake a little cold....Brrrrr! I left my entry until the last minute determined to preserve as much heat as possible. This was a good plan because I had a reasonable swim and exited well up the field. This meant the race was on.... and I set about working my way through the field. I love the hills and ripped through the course, coming off the bike level with a Suisse guy who is now a good friend called Reto Brendli. I left T2 just ahead of Reto and managed to hold this gap for the run, we finished just a minute apart.

My victory added to Freespeed’s performances. Together we dominated the stage. Dec was just behind Reto, Tim was third in his age group and Jenny won the ladies amateur. She out ran last years winner Tracey Cook by 6 minutes and gained a 2 min cushion.

Overall 9th, Swim 30.09 T1 4.02 Bike 2.44.27 T2 1.19 Run 1.26.01 Total 4:45.56
1st Amateur

We had all booked our slot to the World 70.3 Championships in Las Vegas – Yippee!

As we headed towards July the team were on a high and I was feeling good about my entry into Challenge Roth. Then out of the blue, I pick up a virus… 4 weeks in, and after 2 courses of antibiotics there wasn’t any change or improvement in my health. Always optimistic.... I remained confident that if the illness subsided, I would be fit enough to race so I travelled to Roth in anycase. Sadly my night fevers persisted and this took the choice from out of my hands and I had to pull out. I was absolutely gutted; I had been planning this race for 11 months and had endless daydreams and conversations about it. Both Declan and Tim were in good shape, so even without me Freespeed were set to fly…

That day was a tough day for the whole team. Me, because I was frustrated, ill and annoyed that I wasn't well enough to race. Tim because he pulled out on the run, and Declan because despite towing a trailer load of wheel sucking drafters around, missed his Sub 9 by a couple of minutes. hat adowner for all of us....Thank goodness for Erdinger!!!

I've learned to move on quickly after a bad experience. My focus shifted towards Las Vegas 70.3 World Campionships and I also entered Ironman Cozumel in November. Tim entered Challenge Copenhagen and Declan enjoyed his summer vacation training all over the globe.

For Jenny and I our training now centred around 70.3 racing and we focused on building race speed on the swim, bike and run. We already had London Triathlon in the diary and we were set to race on both days to make it more of a challenge.

The team would race in a celebrity relay on Saturday, then again on Sunday. Jenny would race the Olympic distance plus (Double bike and run) and Tim and I would race the Olympic. London Triathlon is a triathlon on a mammoth scale and we loved being a part of it. The organisation and efficiency of the staff at Virgin Active are second to none. Come race day... Jenny crushed the field in the Olympic plus; I hung in there having led off the bike in the sub 2.30 Olympic distance race and ended up in third. This was the first fast run that I’d done in weeks and the next day it really hurt.

Overall 3rd, Swim 25:08 T1 03:10 Bike 56:58 T2 02:17 Run 38:38 Total 02:06:10

Tim had been training hard for Copenhagen. He’s very strong minded and has a talent for being able to really increase his focus when it’s needed. I’ve always admired this about him and knowing this made me really excited to see how he would race. Heading to Copenhagen he said he was ready to let rip...and he didn’t disappoint!! The dream of Sub 9 obliterated…. He smashed it going 8.56 for 19th overall... Bravo Tim – what a result!

With Las Vegas in mind, next up for Jen and I was 'The Pennymatters Classic Triathlon' at Dorney lake. We had been doing lots of faster paced stuff in training and this race fitted in well with our training schedule. F3 organise and a great local series of races which are perfect to test your race technique and speed. Despite a solid week of work and training behind us and without a taper, we both raced very well. Jenny was the first female and I was second male. Things were looking good for both us in Las Vegas....
Overall 2nd Swim 22:50 T11:05 Bike 1:00:17 T2 0.41 Run 34:45 Overall 1:59:39
Overall 1st Swim 22:57 T11:17 Bike 1:06:22 T2 1.00 Run 37:41 Overall 2:09:20

On the spur of the moment we decided to enter a team for the National Team Relays, but neither Tim nor Dec could make it… Fortunately Richard Hobson(our coach) and Sarah Gailey from Fulon Tri came to the rescue, but this did complicate things. We were no longer eligible for the Club category. Instead we changed our entry to the Open category because both Richard and Sarah were not Freespeed members. We had a really fun day hanging out with Tim from Compressport and were lucky with the weather.

There were some speedy teams and we were in head to head with Loughborough University for third going out on the final leg. As last man out, I set off ahead of Tom Bishop from Loughborough. I had about 15 years on him and it wasn’t long before age gave way to youth. We were both running 3.05min kms which I knew I couldn’t sustain. I held on the best I could, but we narrowly missed out on third position by 30 seconds(In a time of 3.19:15)… we all pledged that we wouldn’t let this happen next year and we were up for a rematch

Just two weeks had passed and Jenny and I were on our way to Henderson, Las Vegas to race in the World 70.3 Ironman Championships. Henderson was a fabulous place for a race. It was my first time in Las Vegas and its simply an awesome place to visit. There are so many exciting tourist attractions including the Las Vegas Strip, The Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. To top all this off the race course is a really tough and honest. It was not just a tough bike or run but it was also a non wetsuit lake swim. This meant it was really fair and favoured the all-round athlete, rather than the bike or run specialists.

On race morning we were set off in waves and the previous day’s rain had made the water very cool. I suffer particularly in the cold and so does Jenny. We were held there for 15 mins treading water. I was freezing by the time the gun sounded and consequently didn’t really swim to my potential. This was the start of a catalogue of errors for me and despite picking myself up after each blow I never really delivered the race I should have. Jen on the other hand was on fire coming in bang on 5 hours and securing 4th in her age only just off third. Whoop.. whoop!

Age Group
19th Swim 32.12 T12.57 Bike 2.32:15 T2 1.32 Run 1.27:54 Overall 4.36:30
Age Group
4th Swim 32.18 T1 3.36 Bike 2.45.31 T2 1.37 Run 1.37.24 Overall 5.00:26

We both agreed that we loved the race and the course and its one we’d like to do again. I loved it there and I think that having raced it once I’d fair better next time around.

This was practically the end of the season for the Team; Dec sadly had picked up an Achilles injury and had to pull out of Kona. Tim had raced Ironman Wales with a view to an early slot and had missed out by seconds so was now in off-season mode. I was the only one still training. Jenny and I kept up our swim sessions but she had also eased back her training due to work pressures. In the back her mind she was toying with entering 70.3 Phuket. This had slots for both 70.3 World Champs and Kona. I on the other hand had Ironman Cozumel left to race with a view to qualifying for Kona. Training had gone well and I had only a few weeknds left before IM Cozumel. On one such weekend. I combined my training with 7 hour session (bike/swim) on a Saturday and a race on the Sunday.

It was a great plan, The Jekyll and Hyde Duathlon was a super race (Run 4.2km/Bike 20km/ Run 7.5km) and there were some really fast runners and duathletes. Although I had biked the fastest split I gave away a bit of time to these short distance specialists each run, and came in 4th overall which I was really pleased with.

Overall 4th Run 14.10 T10.28 Bike 31.05 T2 0.27 Run 27.47 Overall 1.13:56

Next up was Ironman Cozumel.....