Friday, 29 July 2011


This is the last pre-race post.  I was hoping to have a bunch of posts written and set to post over the next few days but not enough time.

If you're hanging around a computer on Sunday or have a phone with internet, you can track my progress online at  I'm not exactly sure how it works, but there should be a link on the homepage allowing you to follow live commentary and/ or track a competitor.  I'm bib number 480.

Feeling focused, I'm ready (and excited!).

Thanks to all for the support, we'll speak again early next week.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Lucky 100

Celebrating 100 posts on this blog!

And, I'm happy to report (fingers crossed/ touch wood) that I broke through the congestion this afternoon.  Feeling rough this morning, game time decision to sleep in and switch today's morning swim to tomorrow. Drowsy through the day and doubting my abilities for the weekend, all of a sudden it started to clear up!

I took advantage, headed for 45min run.  The legs were sluggish at first but once we got moving it felt great!  Back on top and feeling positive for the weekend, let's hope I don't have to report anymore downturns!

Monday, 25 July 2011

5days 8hrs

Throat better but has moved to a stuffy nose.  Again, nothing that will prevent me from finishing, but it's not about finishing, it's about doing it under 11.5hrs.

More rest and vitamin C, and I should be better in the next couple of days.

The question is, do I stick to the training plan?
Tue - Swim 3500m, Run 45min easy effort
Wed - transition session, Bike 45min to Run 15min
Thu - Swim 30min easy, Bike 60min easy
Fri - Run 40min easy
Sat - Bike 15min easy, Run 20min easy

We'll see how I feel tomorrow morning (but I wouldn't bet against sticking to the plan).

Ironman at it's best

I spent Sunday watching these.

The IronWar 1989, Dave Scott and Mark Allen (if you don't like triathlon, at least you'll appreciate the style: mullets mustachios and all)

Hawaii Ironman World Championship 2010, Macca is a true entertainer

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Less than 1 week

That's right, and I'm all excitement!

Live and Learn
Woke up Friday feeling better, 45min cycle and 30min run, of course I was feeling great afterwards.  But, once sat at my desk, the tiredness struck.  Struggled a bit through the day, headed home, quick dinner and off to bed.  I had the sense to cut training short on Thursday, but not enough to sleep in on Friday.  Ok, lesson learned (hopefully).

The Weekend
Saturday morning, my throat was at its worst, but I was feeling better and 2hr bike and 30min run cleared the throat right up.  Post training, straight to bed, 60min sleep and woke up refreshed.  Off to the cycle cafe to watch Cadel Evans become the first Aussie to take the Tour de France and back home for rest and early to bed.

I rose on Sunday feeling good all around, slept in until 7, 60min cycle on the turbo trainer then into the sun for 60min run.  Both felt incredibly strong, I can't wait for next week.

The Dilemma
To go hard or stick to the goal time?  The more tapering progresses, the stronger I feel and the more I question if beating 11hrs and 30mins is too easy a target?  'Surely if all goes to plan, I'll be closer to if not under 11hrs.  Do I push the bike harder?  Or, save it and start the run strong?'

These thoughts take me back to my first marathon in LA where my target was 3hrs 30mins, roughly 8min miles.
- first 5miles, 'This is great, feeling strong, 7.15min miles, let's bank the time now, I may need it later.'  
- miles 6 to 15, 'Wow, not a matter of hitting 3hrs 30, but by how much will I beat it?!?'
- somewhere around mile 19 a mix of jog/walk, 'Can I finish? Won't get 3.30, but have to finish'
- last 6miles still a jog/walk, 'Definitely underestimated this, lesson learned for next one.'
- stumbled across the line at 3.45, not bad for a marathon debut, but duly noted the marathon demands more respect

Reliving that day and not to show any disrespect to ironman, I'll stick with the target time, 11.29.59, no more, no less.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

And down

What would this roller coaster ride be without a few bumps at the end?

Around 4pm, I started feeling sick: light headed, bottomless stomach and dry and scratchy throat.  I went for a quick walk, some fresh air, then sat back down at my desk and started taking on fluids, 'after all, I still have to train today'.

Feeling better a few hours later, I headed out ready for a swim and run session.

At the pool, 900m in, I stopped for a brief break, and it hit me again.  I noticed my soar throat and negative feelings surrounding my body.  A split second later, I was out of the water and had decided to call it a day, 'The main point of the next 10 days is to first rest and second keep the body moving.  You'll be fine to skip this session, get rest and get the body moving again tomorrow morning'.

Now 9pm, having laid in bed for the last 90mins, feeling a bit better, dinner time and back to sleep.  Tomorrow morning will start a better day,

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Feeling good

As the miles fall, my performance rises.  The last few sessions have been some of the best and my energy levels are rising exponentially day-by-day.

Random Updates
- I've stopped using the heart rate monitor: (i) by now I know where my heart rate is relative to effort, (ii) the monitor is correct about half the time and (iii) it drives me nuts when it gives incorrect readings.
- Calf still improving, but not perfect and a return visitor to the aches & pains section, my back is tightening up again.  I think this is the result of this weekend's swim, even more time with the foam roller
- Reducing calorie intake in-line with lower training volume, avg. daily intake around 3000-3500, not easy after constantly eating every day for the last 8wks, but I've been disciplined so far.
- Time to start race visualization
- Hard to believe there's only 3 more swim sessions before race day!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Week 29

Really?!? Stoked.

Tapering continues, 11hrs of SBR this week: Swim 3x3500m, Bike 4hrs 45mins and Run 3hrs 15mins.  Longest session, 2.5hrs, piece of cake!

and I may have one afterward
This is the point when I begin to question the preparation: 'is 3wks too long to taper?' 'only one 20mi run, should I have done more?' 'have I prepared enough hills for this course?' etc.  These questions run rampant day and night, at work, training and rest, but I answer each one with resounding positivity and confidence, 'I stuck to the program, experienced the physical and mental pain and pushed through it, so I'm ready.'

Maybe the biggest question is my decision to skip the 2hr run last Sunday.  I was exhausted after the Hampton swim, so decided to do the high rpm bike and skip the run.  This is when logging workouts with Garmin comes in handy; last Sunday over 20miles, previous 18.25, before that 2 at 16 and before that 15, 14... yeah, I'm ready.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Pics - Hampton Court Swim

the masses gather

wave 2


my start strategy - everyone else swims between
the buoys, I (bottom of pic) swim to the left of
the orange buoy, clear lane ahead

bottom of pic, looking good
notice the crazy dude at the top w/o a wet suit!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

54:09 - Hampton Court Palace Swim, 3600m

Blown away!  With a target of 57mins, 54.09 is a brilliant surprise.

The morning was smooth. Up at 5.30, on the bus by 6.30, train at 7.30, register just after 8, wet suit on, active stretch to get the blood flowing and in the water before 9 for a 9.05 start.

As we neared the off, I was thinking through start strategy.  The number of people was impressive, and I didn't want to get caught up in that mess, so I drifted closer to the bank noticing that everyone else was drifting away from the bank.  Their move to the middle was likely an attempt to catch the current, but having heard it was moving at 8m an hour, I figured the current wasn't worth fighting for.  As the seconds ticked down, nobody noticed my wide open space near the shore, so that became my plan.

BANG and we're going.  Heads down, arms flailing and white water churning the fight began, at least for everyone else.  About 100m out, I had to move away from the bank to avoid parked boats, got smacked a few times, returned the favor but 30secs later there was space to move back toward the shore so I did.

We pushed on, and I focused on long, smooth strokes, finish at the hip, high elbows and breathing.  Yes, focus on breathing.  One of the many benefits from yoga is an awareness of breathing.  Being present in the moment and noticing how breathing affects the brain and body and how they affect breathing.  Relating this to swimming, when you don't blow air out under the water, it forces you to breath out then in when you turn to breath.  The quick out-in, for me at least, sends a signal of stress to my brain, causing my stroke to quicken (not necessarily bad), shorten (bad) and body position to fall apart (very bad).  Any panic or poor technique goes back to normal the moment I turn attention back to breathing, 'out the nose under the water, turn head, eyes open, oxygen in.'

Aside from a few shallow parts and a run-in with a stubborn tree, it was smooth-sailing.

Exhausted afterward, I've forgone the 2hr run that was intended for today. We'll see how this decision plays out in 2wks.

Pics from the race to come.

And again

Ironman record smashed at Challenge Roth last weekend, and this time both the male and female marks were beaten.

Chrissie Wellington, a true inspiration to all athletes and a blur-er of the line between the athletic capabilities of men and women, stormed to 8.18.13 including a 2.44 marathon.  She finished 5th overall (i.e. including the men!) and took the women's title by well over 30mins.

Can't wait to see what she does at Kona this year.

Andreas Raelert bested Vanhoenacker's 10-day old record by over 4minutes.  His time of 7.41.33 included a 4.11 bike and 2.40 marathon.

To put that in to perspective, he cycled 180km, 2mins faster than I cycled 120km, awesome.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

28th week of training

Another good one.  14.5hrs of work (including tomorrow):

Swim - 3x3500m (one will be tomorrows Hampton Court Palace swim, 3600m)
Bike - 6 and 3/4hrs (4hr ride today)
Run - 4 and 3/4hrs (2hr session tomorrow after the swim)

Even with slightly less training this week, I've needed more rest than the last.  Talking with Alan today, we likened it to the 'holiday effect'.  You know, when you're putting in long hours at work, week after week, looking forward to that holiday, and when it comes, you get sick on the first day or two.  Work keeps your mind and body occupied, and when that rest comes along the body breaks down a bit before it recovers.  Hopefully lots of sleep this weekend and next week will get me fully recharged for the 31st.

Hampton Court Swim - 2.25mi (3.6km) Thames river swim from Hampton Court Palace to Kingston.  I'm targeting a time of 57mins, better than last year's 59.55, and a pace that puts me on 1hr for the IM UK swim.

- calf, yes it's still bothering me.  The pain is slowly dissipating, but it's still there, and I don't think it will go away until I take at least a full week away from running (which won't come until after Ironman).  That said, I don't think it's affecting my ability to run, mostly an annoyance.
- wrists, taking longer than I thought to get used to the aero bars, but again, it doesn't impact performance, not a major issue.
- trap fully recovered, no IT band issues

Final meeting with Freddy last Monday, official weigh-in at 62.9kg (138.7lb) and 7.1% body fat.  He says the weight I've put on over the last 4wks is a combo of adding lean muscle (YAY!), better hydration and larger carb stores in the muscles, all good signs for the 31st.  We also went through race nutrition, but I'm still fine-tuning a bit, so will spell this out closer to race day.

- dried fruit, pineapple and peels, sugar infused and I'm putting it in everything!  Salads, porridge, yogurt, on it's own, you name it.
- guacamole, high in fat and big on taste, a great addition after a long session (but not until after the carb loading window is over, b/c we all know fats inhibit carb absorption)
- Off the Sprite/ 7up and not as much baked beans as previous

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Catching up

on sleep.  More blogging to come, but first comes proper rest after the massive weekend.

Monday, 11 July 2011

What a weekend

157miles (253km) over two days.  Sat was Bike 110mi/ Run 8mi and Sun Bike 19mi/ Run 20mi.

Sad to say, but I spent more time with Alan this weekend than my girlfriend!

Sat ride was great, same story as previous, start with hills, then Regents Park, more hills and finally to Richmond Park.  At 5hrs 20mins it was time for a hard effort.  I took off and Alan was nowhere to be seen.  An 18min lap and I was done at the park and heading home.  Off on the run, first 50mins were good and last 10 were tough pushing through dizzy/ light-headedness.  I tried my best to focus for the last 10mins, and duly noted that I need to experiment more with hydration/ calorie in-take to avoid this on race day.

Sun morning, back on the bike for high rpm session which ended at Alan's from which point we ran the canal past Wembley and back, 3hrs.  The first 45mins were a struggle for me, light-headed again, stomach aching, one caffeine gel, 15mins for it to kick in and these issues were sorted.  2hrs 30mins into the run, Alan started to pull away.  I wasn't feeling great and saw no benefit to pushing to stay with him (the program called for moderate to easy effort, nothing hard), so step-by-step I relinquished bits of the path.  When he reached a gap of 400m, a 6th sense kicked in and told me this was too much and adrenaline came out of nowhere.  In a short span of time, my per km time dropped from 5.45 to 4.15, but I wasn't gaining any ground, 'damn, he's doing to me what I did to him yesterday.  I'm not gaining ground, but I certainly can't lose anymore.'  And with that, we finished the last 20mins of a 3hr run at a full out sprint. Proof that training with a partner/ group is beneficial.

Needless to say, I spent the rest of Sunday sleeping.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Ironman Record

Right, remembered what I wanted to say.  Last weekend, Marino Vanhoenacker of Belgium put down a 7:45:58 ironman in Austria (known for being a flat and fast course), besting the previous record by over 4mins, wow!  And to put it into perspective, here are the splits:

Swim 3.8km - 46.49
Bike 180km - 4.15.37
Run 42km - 2.39.24 (that's a sub-2.40 marathon after the bike and swim, jaw-dropping)

Promising news on the American front, Mary Beth Ellis produced a women's course record, 8.43.34, and the all-time fastest debut ironman for a woman.

If you're looking for a PB, Austria is where you're likely to find it.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Friday night update

Great week.  Rearranged the schedule for a work event and mid-week race, got in all of the workouts (except lifting and core) and looking forward to the weekend.

Last night was the JP Morgan corporate challenge, 5.6km run in Battersea Park.  As always, I was hoping for a sub 20min performance only to come home in 21.06, not bad, but not where I wanted to be.  I hit 5km at 18.45 which is my fastest 5k by 17secs and given it came at the end of 3 consecutive days of double sessions, I'll take it.

The level of tiredness today is funny, feels close to a hangover (minus the self-guilt that comes from not remembering what I did/ said last night).  Despite this, had a great session in the pool.  It truly seems the more tired I am, the better I swim.  If anyone has an explanation, I'd love to hear it.

There is something else I wanted to cover but can't remember.

Pre-9pm on a Friday night, I'm off to sleep.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Let the party continue!

Pure, unadulterated exhaustion.

My life has literally become: up at 5.45am, train, work, train, sleep, repeat.

I'm questioning the need to stick to the plan vs. "listening to my body" and taking some rest.  The path of most amateur endurance athletes is to stick to the plan, "more is better", and given I don't think I'm at risk for serious injury, this is the path I'll follow.  After all, training through mental fatigue and physical exhaustion now (assuming it's not accompanied by injury) can only better prepare me for race day.

Plus, I had a great swim session this morning, started lethargic but once into the main set, I was working hard as ever.  Similar for the evening bike to run session, so I'll keep it going.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Less than 4 Weeks

Here we are, the summit, the pinnacle, the peak of the peak, the final week of increased work.

20hrs of SBR:
Swim - 3x3500m sessions
Bike - 10hrs across 4days with a 6hr session on Sat
Run - 7hrs across 5days finishing with a 3hr run on Sun

If this week is anything to go by, it's going to be as mentally challenging as physically, but by Sunday afternoon, I'll be better for it.

some weird baked bean eating contest
(no that's not me!)
Latest cravings
- Sprite/ 7up, I think it's the carbonation, maybe a bit of the sweetness, but I've been adding small doses to some post training drinks (not sure this is ideal)
- baked beans, loving'em with breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack (though not all in the same day!)

Bumps & bruises
- calf, still hurting.  At a point this week, I considered taking a day off to rest it b/c felt if it got any worse, it may turn into a more serious injury.  What did I do?  Kept running and iced it more.  So far it's paid off, calf is getting better, but not quite 100%.  It no longer hurts when I walk, slight pain when I begin running, but once I get going it wanders off.  Hoping extra icing today and rest tomorrow will put this pain to bed.
- IT band, an issue I've had when running marathons, a tight IT band causes pain in my knees (usually the left), and while the pain has not officially surfaced yet, I can feel it on the verge.  More foam roller
- wrists, getting used to aero position on the new bike means bending wrists in a way I've never done before.  Alan assures me this is normal and it'll go away.
- trapezius, sore not painful, also a result of getting accustomed to aero position


Nutrition & body comp
I've put on about a kg (2.2lb) in the last month or so.  I like to think it's muscle from the introduction of power lifting, but could also be from the massive increase in calorie intake (I've hit a 6000cal day!).  I'm seeing Freddy on Wed, so will report back on the outcome.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Finish off the week

'At this time in 4wks, I'll be racing.'

These thoughts ran wild as I mounted the bike this morning.  Thankfully, my legs will be much more rested on race day.  The first five mins were a struggle, quads heavy as steel beams and throwing in the towel crossed my mind more than once.  Knowing that is not an option, I headed for Regents Park, 6 laps and heading home.

Out on the run, I told myself to relax, enjoy it, no need to push, its a Z1-Z2 run.  15mins in, light headed.  Not sure where it came from, sun was out but not overpowering like last week, but I assumed it was hydration-related, so I sped up my drinking schedule (normally a sip every 5mins) and 30mins later my focus was back.  I made my way through Hampstead Heath, a highlight of the week.

Eventually home, time for re-hydration.  In the 4hrs after finishing, I downed 5L of drink (2 Lucozade Lite, 1 Powerade Isotonic, 1 Powerade Ion and water w/ electrolytes).  Re-hydrating has become a major task over the last few weeks, and I'm certainly not complaining because it means we have more sun, but it has added a new challenge to recovery.

Having covered 152mi (246km) this weekend, I'm now glued to the couch, watched the Wimbledon final, a bit of reading, maybe a nap then time to prep for the week.

Saturday, 2 July 2011


Wow, was that rest worth it or what, had a great Sat session.

Met Alan at Regents Park, steady pace.  We crossed town to Richmond Park and after one lap we crossed paths with a guy who had a race tag from IM UK 70.3 (half ironman) a few weeks ago.  He seemed to want a challenge and using the 70.3 tag to assume he is also taking on the full race in a few weeks, we obliged the competition.  Three laps pushing the pace back and forth between the three of us, great fun.

Then I lost Alan somewhere (actually still don't know what happened, will have to give him a buzz after this) and decided to take the last lap to push the pace even harder.  So, nearly 5hrs into the session, I put the hammer down.  I was planning 12mins of hard effort, but when I hit 12mins realized lets keep pushing for a full lap, no sense in wasting 12min hard effort and not finishing with a 1lap pb.  Cleared the last lap in 18.20, 2mins faster than my previous best!  What a great feeling.

Came home at a moderate pace and carried the feeling into running, 13km in an hr, steady hr, great finish.

Time for more rest.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Reaching the limit

I'm not sure where it ends or what would happen if the line was crossed, but I do know I'm near the limits where exhaustion turns to something else.  The effects of last weekend carried into the week, topped off with 4hrs swimming, 3hrs running, 2.5hrs cycling and 1hr lifting/ core, and now barely thinking straight.

Skipped Friday night's social event, I didn't have the energy to get on the bus and go there let alone stand around chatting with friends.  A disappointment, but the rest is much needed.

Here's to tomorrow morning, we'll make it a good one!