Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Inspiration of the Ironman-kind

*DISCLAIMER: graphic bike accident, don't read if you're squeamish

Ironmanlife: Jordan Rapp is back

The last thing Jordan Rapp remembers about March 23 was that he was riding really fast. He was down on his aero bars, flying along the road with the wind behind his back. He doesn't remember when he got hit by the car. He has no recollection of naval officer Tom Sanchez rushing to his side as blood poured from his neck. He doesn't remember Sanchez reaching into his neck and finding something pulsing there and pushing down on it.

“You’re going to be OK,” Sanchez kept saying, not really believing it himself. Rapp only came around two days later because of the pain he felt when they were taking his breathing tube out.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Bipolar swimming

Early morning swim sessions have become a tale of two cities.  Waking up before 6am and getting psyched to go is getting progressively harder (sometimes an all out negotiation between two different parts of my brain) and walks to the pool are becoming more lethargic.

But, the bipolar happens once I'm in the water.  A few hundred meters in, I wake up and start putting in solid effort and working harder with each passing morning.

I have no idea what's the deal, but what happens in the pool is most important, so hopefully I continue on this course.  Hard to believe only 14 more morning swims til the BIG morning swim followed by bike and run.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Week 26

19.5hrs of SBR, about 1hr of weights, countless hours of stretching and even more sleep.

30mins more than last week, and I'm looking forward to every moment.  With only three weeks (including this one) until taper begins, I will definitely take advantage of the final push.

I signed up for an open water swim on Sunday but don't think I'll make it.  I had planned to take Friday off work and re-arrange training to make the swim, but with a work and social event on Friday (yeah, that's right, a social event!) it won't work.  Thankfully, I signed up for another open water swim on July 17th when my training hours will be less and the sessions can be more easily inter-changed.

Other than the most training I've ever done in a week, 26 presents a challenge of a different kind, I am without my partner!  That's right, Natsuko is in Berlin for the week studying/ practicing Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, so I have to get her smiles, advice and support in small skype doses.  The first issue I've run into is a reduced willpower against overeating.  Subconsciously, her presence focuses me on the true purpose of food, something we both love but only in quantities necessary to nourish the body and support daily activity.  She left last Friday, and I partook in a late-night binge of unnecessary calories on both Fri and Sat night (weetabix, fruit, yogurt, pita and peanut butter).  Sunday was fine, but today again, I find myself fighting a part of my brain that wants to eat for the sake of eating.  The best thing to do in this situation: brush my teeth and go to bed.

Eat for the sake of it: 2
Willpower: 2
Three nights until she returns, hopefully willpower can take the series.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

25 down

And the weeks keep ticking by.  Another good weekend with Planet-X and the sun.

I stuck to the training schedule this Friday and even got in a power lift/ core session after the evening run.  I'm enjoying power lifting (3 sets of 3-5rep max of squat, cleans, clean and press, etc.) b/c it's a change from the long distance, moderate pace training for SBR.  I super-set it with core and finish the full work-out in about 20mins (of course that's after 90mins of run).

Saturday was the first long ride with the new bike (last Saturday I stopped at home and switched bikes halfway through), and it was everything I could ask for.  The bike is built for speed and when in the aero position, it begs you to pick up the pace without making your legs struggle.  Yesterday was also my first century ride (100mi/ 160km) which was cool.  Transition to run was not as smooth as last week.  I covered just over 7miles and felt more sluggish, but Saturday isn't about run, it's all about bike.

Sunday, the hottest training day so far.  Out on the bike by 7, air was noticeably warmer than usual.  Then, almost in tandem with my transition to run, the clouds cleared and sun was in full force.  I spent the first 45mins chasing the sun, dodging shade to work on my tan but realized just how hot I was climbing Highate hill in 27C (81F) (maybe that doesn't sound high, but remember, I've done most of my training in 20C/ 68F or lower).  Once into Hampstead Heath, I stuck to the wooded trails enjoying the shade and loving the off-road challenge.

The rest of Sunday was difficult to get hydration back to normal, so let's hope race day doesn't get this warm.

146mi (234km) covered over Sat and Sun.  Enjoyable? YES.  But, I'm glad I don't have to sit on a bike until Wednesday.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Great story

Another story to keep you going when you think about giving up.

Hometown glory: How Japanese soccer club rose above disaster

(CNN) -- It was a promise that seemed to owe as much to optimism and sentimentality as reason.

When the notoriously passionate fans of Vegalta Sendai, a small, understated soccer club playing in Japan's J-League, stood before their team as they took on Kawasaki Frontale, they unfurled a large banner for the world to see.

"Thank you for all [our] friends," it read. "We do not lose until we regain a hometown."

Yet it is a promise that Vegalta Sendai has managed to keep. Sendai, and its football club, were devastated in Japan's earthquake and tsunami.

But since the restart of the Japanese football league, the unfashionable club has gone on a remarkable run, remaining unbeaten this season with a chance to secure their very first league title in the face of disaster.

Since it began life 23 years ago, Vegalta Sendai has led something of a quiet life, spending almost all of its time in Japan's second division, before finally wining promotion to Japan's top tier in 2009.

But on March 11, that all changed... (READ ON)

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


Six weeks remaining until the big day.  (I'm actually anxious typing that out!)

Training rolls on with just over 19hrs of SBR this week.

SWIM - 10.5km across 3 sessions (Tue, Thu, Fri)

BIKE - 9.5hrs in 4 sessions, longest is 5.5hrs

RUN - 6.5hrs in 5 sessions, longest 2.5hrs

Aches n Pains
- left calf: slight pain shooting up the left side from the ankle.  I'm not sure pain is the correct term, feels a bit like tendonitis, annoying but not 'painful' enough to stop.
- back: another shooting pain from the very lowest part of my back down my glutes and into the legs.  This comes about on long bike rides and usually goes away before long.
- groin: the muscles are overly tight, it's funny because it never affects running or cycling but gets my attention when walking

Looking forward to saturday and getting out on the new bike again!

Monday, 20 June 2011


The surprise I worked on Friday night and enjoyed for the first time this weekend.

A brief run-down of Planet-X's Exocet Dura-Ace:
- full carbon (frame, fork, seat post, crank, aero bars, break levers, bottle cages)
- internal cables
- complete Dura-Ace kit (including carbon clincher wheels!)
- weighing in at 8.5kg/ 18.7lbs

We're not best friends yet, need to spend more quality time together but this weekend was a good start.

a beautiful sight

just finished our first ride

logo and notice internal cabling (upper right)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

24 in review

An odd week for me.  I took my first self-prescribed rest day.

Wednesday was morning swim and evening bike to run transition.  The pool is getting aggressive: more crowded now that it's warmer, less people following the un-written rules of lap swimming and many clearly ignoring the sign at the end of the lane, "FAST SWIM".

Thursday was morning swim 3500m time trial and evening cycle.  The time trial was a struggle: no clear swimming until 2000m, got dizzy/ headache around 2500m (think goggles were too tight), lane got crowded again at 2800m, wanted to quit at 3000m but conned myself into thinking the swim was actually going well.  Little did I know, I was right finishing in 61mins, two mins faster than the previous time trial!  Was a great start to the day.

Friday, unanticipated rest day.  Was overly tired at 5.45am when I got up to swim plus had some work I needed to get done by 11am, so back to bed until 7, shower and straight to work.  After a full day in the office, I had some prep for this weekend's surprise (blog coming soon!), bagged the evening run and spent time in the work shop.  Yes, Friday night I was feeling very lazy, a whole day without training, and I didn't even have an excuse.  I just kept telling myself I'd make up for it during Saturday's 6hr+ session.

Saturday was brilliant.  Spent the first few hours of the 5hr cycle beating myself up mentally (likely a guilt-hangover from skipping Friday) but once that was out of my system, the ride felt good and went by quickly.  Transition to 60min run and was feeling great!  13km (8mi) in 60min at a heart rate at or below 150bpm, all good stuff.

Sunday another great day.  Out the door by 6.30, bike and run under the sun, followed by yoga with Natsuko, done before 12, time to eat, blog and nap.  The week was physically and mentally exhausting and the increased training week on week means I'm spending the rest of the day between the couch and bed.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Pics - Eton Super Sprint

Finally got the pics from the first race of the season back in May (race post).


finish strong!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Week 24

7 WEEKS TO GO!  Going quickly.

Passed the Boskman test at the end of week 22, week 23 was 17hrs+ of training but all at moderate heart rate, week 24 is 18hrs and adding back the Z4 efforts.

Tuesday's 3x6min sprints felt like clearing the cobwebs from my leg muscles, seems to be forever since they worked that hard.

Rest of the weekdays are pretty standard but the weekend gets interesting: Sat 6hrs (Bike 5/ Run 1) and Sun 3.15 (Bike 1/ Run 2.15).

Plus big surprise for the weekend, stay tuned, I'll post it on Sun or Mon!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Boskman (continued)

wow, that's a lot of kit!
Saturday (Pre-race)
8am, bags packed, mounted my bike and off to Alan's.  By the time I reached his, my back had begun to show signs of strain, not good the day before a race.  We loaded the car and headed for the New Forest.  Two hours of race strategy and nutrition talk later, we arrived at Croft Cottage (highly recommended, great BnB) near Fordingbridge, met the owners, dropped our bags and headed to Sandy Balls holiday centre for registration and race walk-through.

After hearing about the course and pending winds, we were off to Ellingham lake for bike racking, where we met a few of the other competitors.
- To a guy wearing a t-shirt about bike fitting, Alan asked, "you fit bikes?  I'm looking to get mine fitted."  To which the bald guy with the nice bike replied, "I don't but my sponsors do."  'Huh?  There's dudes with sponsors in this race?'
- A couple of Irish guys that have done the race before, they queried, "so is this leading up to something bigger for you guys."  To which Alan jumped at the chance to mention, "Yeah, Bolton at the end of July." (notice the subtle reference to IronmanUK by simply stating the location, no more detail necessary)  One guy responded, "Oh great, I'm heading for Austria, hoping to match the Irish IM record." 'ok, thoroughly intimidated, let's go." (PS, we checked the Irish IM record, 9:03, that's fast).

Back to the cottage for an hour of rest and relaxation, 20min jog, 45min stretch, dinner at the Italian restaurant at Sandy Balls (avoid this restaurant at all cost, none of the food has any taste), followed by some tv and early to bed.

Croft Cottage

Sunday (Race Day)
Up at 4am, breakfast time: 1) fat free yogurt with 2 scoops of whey and dried fruit, 2) 4x Weetabix with milk and a banana and 3) Lucozade sport drink mixed with water.  5am catch the bus to the lake, organize swim to bike transition, wet suit on and heart racing.  I couldn't believe how anxious I was (can't remember the last time I felt like this) and with my nerves working a mile-a-minute, I passed on the caffeine gel planned for before the swim.

SWIM (2.6km)
Two laps of Ellingham could not have gone any better for me.  I slotted myself near the outside and the countdown began; 3-2-1 and we were underway!  The guys on either side of me dropped back after about 50m and clear sailing ahead.  Oh yeah, except for the water filling my goggles.  At 100m, I paused, let out the water and got going again.  The right goggle slowly filled back up but the left side remained clear, 'one eye should do, no need to stop again.'  My stroke felt long, fluid and easy and I was sighting the buoys well with one eye.  

At the end of the first lap I lost the next buoy.  Stopped again, let the water out of my right goggle and pushed on.  This time my right eye stayed dry, and I quickly sighted the yellow buoy ahead.  'Wow, this is going great, time to push the pace.'

Around 2km I caught some stragglers from the 2nd wave, but in the theme of everything working in my favor, I was able to navigate through without incident and soon found myself climbing out of the water just under 40mins (9th out of the water).

Off with the wetsuit, on with the socks/ cycle shoes, helmet, sleeves, race belt with number, nutrition, bike off the rack, 'oh, shoes not tight enough', prop bike up and bend down to tighten shoes.  "Hey, you're helmet's not done up," the head official barked at me.  My world stopped and in that instant I realized I had committed one of the few tri-sins, 'thou shalt put on and clip thyne helmet before unracking thy bike,' a sin punishable by DQ.  "But, I had it on, just not clipped," I responded in the voice and demeanor of a child whose mother just caught him playing ball in the house.  She knew she had me, her stern face shouting 'I'm going to make an example of you,' but, to my surprise, she quickly softened, "it's ok, you're fine,  just clip't and get on your way."  'PHEWWWW!' And with that I grabbed my bike and was off.

BIKE (120km, 3 laps)
LAP 1 - The scenery was brilliant and this lap was even better.  I was flying, 'no way Alan's catchin me.'  Done in the blink of an eye (or about 90mins).

LAP 2 - It all changed when I hit the headwind.  Having barely affected me on the first go-round, I began to struggle.  On top of that, I started to feel some pain down my back, in my left calf and all the cyclists who I had beaten out of the water began passing me.  What a difference a lap makes!  Then, at the closing pedal-strokes of lap 2, it came, the moment I had been dreading, peaking over my shoulder with each approaching competitor, Alan.

We rode together for a bit, chatting about the wind, the swim and nutrition to that point after which he parted with, "see if I can put some time into you for the run."  At that very moment, my watch went crazy, BEEP, BEEP!  I struggled to figure out what was wrong as I glanced between my wrist and Alan's back wheel which got further and further with each turn of my head.  Finally, I looked up, and he was gone, 'forget this watch, turn it off and concentrate on pedalling,' so I did.

LAP 3 - Alan was nowhere to be seen, but I felt much better on lap 3 (all pain was gone and I was catching a few guys at this point), 'keep a good pace, push the run, maybe catch'im.'

Finished the bike having downed three carb bars, three gels, one bagel, not enough water and two bathroom stops (really, two during the bike!).

Alan was on his way out of T2 as I approached, I figured I was about 10min down, a lot but not insurmountable.  Dismounted, left my bike with the volunteers, run bag, have a seat, helmet/ cycle shoes/ socks/ gloves off, running socks/ shoes on, new nutrition packed in various spots, quick stop in the bathroom (that's 3) and finally running.

RUN (22km)
0-5km - 'So, will this pace catch Alan? No. Ok, get to that pace and see what happens.'  That pace lasted about 5mins before I settled somewhere much slower.  3km in I came face to face with the hills.  Yes, multiple 300ft+ climbs at a steep gradient.  'Ok, one at a time, let's do it.' Up and down two sets and my stomach dropped, 'again, really?  Ok, a fourth time that's it, no more stops.'

5-11km - The run was several out-and-back's from a central point, so I knew I would come across Alan at least twice to gauge progress.  8km, the first pass came, high five, quick exchange of good job/ well done, and I calculated I was 8 minutes down, 'nice, made up a bit of time despite the stop.'

A couple more up and down, and I was feeling ok, but my stomach was calling again (5).  By this point, it wasn't hurting, I just couldn't take on any solid food or gels (my brain just wouldn't allow it).  I had eaten bagel 2 at the start of the run, but nothing since, and just under an hour in, I knew I'd start fading at some point.

11-17km - One more uphill and it began: thoughts adrift, focus weakens, strides shorten and doubt sets in.  I had no concept of time since I turned off the watch during the cycle.  Beginning to doubt that I would break 7hrs, I was going a slow pace and getting slower.  Saw Alan again, he looked good, I felt not good, figured I was about 13mins down at this point.  'Ok, not going to catch'im, let's just enjoy the scenery and run to the finish, whatever pace gets you there.'  With the more relaxed mindset, I thought no reason for any discomfort, stopped for the 6th time.

17-22km - I decided to try the watch and funnily enough, it had sorted itself out.  Even bigger surprise, I was well within 7hrs.  'Ok, something to push for, let's do this.'  I picked it up as much as possible and headed up the second to last hill.  "Hey, some walkers up ahead, you can definitely catch'em," some helpful advice from a woman heading the opposite direction, "thanks, nice-one, keep it up" I replied and notched up the speed.

look close, you can see the thumbs-up!
Crested the hill, saw the walkers ahead, who were running at this point, 'well, let's try to catch them on the last up hill.'  I made up a bit of ground, but once we hit the final, flat stretch they both took off, I couldn't match.  I accepted my position, reflected a bit on the great day and beautiful scenery and came around the final corner all smiles and a thumbs up.

Exhausted but no time to waste, have to start recovering for the 17hrs of SBR in week 23!  Pear, apple, MuleBar ReFuel, shake with whey and amino acids and a recovery massage.

6.53, not too bad.  4mins off target time, but definitely puts me in a good frame of mind for IM in two months.

- swim, felt long and smooth, sighted well
- bike, despite some struggling, put in a better time than expected

- nutrition, need to take on more fluids, speak to Freddy about all the bathroom stops
- run, need to stay focused, more hills over the next weeks

The Boskman is the best race I have done (not my best performance in a race, but the best overall experience).  If you like beautiful countryside, long or short distance events and out of town races that are superbly organized, check out Race New Forest, you won't regret it.  

Thursday, 9 June 2011

6:53:50 - The Boskman

Not quite on target, but a good show and the best race I've ever done.

Swim 2.6km - 40.32
Bike 120km - 4.16.52
Run 22km- 1.56.26

A true lesson in endurance racing, and Alan was my teacher for the day finishing in 6hrs 36mins.  He was 15th out of the 100 finishers, I was 32nd.  The winning time was 5hrs 34mins with an astonishing 3.19 bike.

Full recap to follow, right now it's time for sleep!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

6:49:30 - Boskman Target

but anyway, here we go

Official target, break down:

Swim 2.6km - 39.00
T1 - 3.00
Bike 120km - 4.20.00
T2 - 3.00
Run 22km - 1.44.30

Based on last year's results, this would place me top 15 though this isn't a heavily attended race with 50 people last year and a huge disparity in times from 5.5hrs to nearly 10hrs.

How I came up with the target:

Swim - break down by 100m, I want to go 1.30's slightly below Ironman target of 1.35's

Bike - break down by km, target 2.10 which is the same as Ironman goal and slightly below the 2.18's I did at Ballbuster duathlon given the amount of training I've done since and the duathlon course was more hilly

Run - 4.45 per km, well within the 5.30 target for IM given this run is half the distance and less hilly and more or less in-line with time run at Ballbuster given similar run distance and factoring training plus the fact that I'll be more tired on this run given the distance beforehand than I was at Ballbuster.

Transitions - wild guess, the results from last year don't show transition times, so who knows

It'll be interesting given the roads won't be closed to cars or the local wild life!


Friday, 3 June 2011

Better and Great Inspiration

The week and my mental state have improved.  I'm back to calorie targets and feeling more in control on the nutrition front and Thursday evening massage brought my legs back to life.  Have the day off work today, picked up a few things for the race and long weekend in new forest and now sitting on the couch, resting, where I belong.

On a separate note, here's a great story from

Dirk Vlieks Returns to Honu to Close a Chapter
Dirk Vlieks Returns to Honu to Close a ChapterWhen age-grouper Dirk Vlieks dipped his toes in the waters of sparkling Hapuna Bay to begin the 2006 Ironman 70.3 Hawai'i, he was at the peak of his game. He had been participating in the sport for ten years. During that time, he had completed eight Ironmans, including the 2005 Ford Ironman World Championship, which he'd qualified for in the 30-34 age-group at the 2005 Ironman 70.3 Hawai'i. Living in the San Francisco Bay area with his wife, Kelsey, Vlieks returned to the Big Island in 2006 to race Honu again, hoping to re-qualify for Kona. But as Vlieks sped out of T1, he was about to meet a far larger destiny on the road to Hawi than another trip to the Ironman World Championship. A paragon of good health, Vlieks had no idea that what awaited him under the Hawaiian sun would be a fight for his life involving race officials and volunteers, his wife, Kelsey, and medical personnel from Hawai'i to California, not to mention Vlieks' own determined nature.  (KEEP READING)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Week 22

A reduced week of work leading up to The Boskman on Sunday.  Total SBR 6.5hrs with as much stretching as possible, some core, probably no weights.

Tuesday - Swim 3400m, Run 60min Z2 with 5x1min sprint

Wednesday - transition session Bike 45min to Run 30min

Thursday - Swim 30min easy in the wet suit, Bike 60min with 5x1min sprint

Friday - Run 40min Z1 with 5x1min sprint (after sleeping in, I've taken the day off work!)

Saturday - Bike 15min easy, Run easy 20min (both on the race course transition area to familiarize myself)

Sunday - RACE! Swim 2.6km/ Bike 120km/ Run 22km

Nervous?  Of course.  Going head-to-head with Alan for the second time since training began, and the competitive spirit is heating up.  I took the first race, but Alan has stepped it up since then and won't accept the same result this time.

Excited, stoked, can't wait?  You better believe it.

Physically and mentally the week has not started great.  Physically, my legs have been heavy both Tuesday and this morning.  The long weekend, 171km/ 106mi over Sat and Sun, has had a longer lasting effect than I thought.  I need to do a better job of recovery and by recovery, I mean not going out straight after sessions rather sitting on the couch or in bed allowing my body to cope.  Let's hope tomorrow's easy swim and subsequent bike go smoother for my muscles.

Mentally, it's mostly diet-related.  With the pick-up in training and in response to conversations with Freddy and books I've been reading, I've tried to listen to my body (within in reason) rather than targeting a specific calorie intake.  However, my brain seems to be playing tricks and I overate on Sunday and again on Monday.  This has led to feelings of being unfit and questioning my discipline on the dietary front.  This second guessing spreads to other areas: both Tue and Wed mornings, I spent 10-15min debating if I should get out of bed for the morning sessions, 'How can I rearrange the sessions to sleep-in?  I should sleep more, need to make sure I'm rested for Sunday.  But, there's no efficient way to re-arrange the sessions, let's just get up and do it now.  Ok, but you've been reading that you should listen to your body and right now it's saying sleep in.'  Well both days I got up and did the sessions, but maybe the mental reluctance then led to the heavy legs mentioned previously.  And all of it leads to questions of whether I'm fully fit and prepared.

Stay focused, re-group, deep breath, remember the previous 21.5 weeks of sweat and be confident through the next 8.5.