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Couch Potato To Ironman

Documenting the journey from sofa to endurance sport

Updated: 2018-03-06T09:45:40.815-08:00


The death of a blog...


A while ago I wrote a blog post about how I had decided to move my blog.
Stupidly, I appear to have posted this on the new blog.. but not the old one.
The blog post is HERE And the new blog site is
I do have a bit of an update on the previous post though that makes this post all the more appropriate. The journey from couch potato to Ironman is on hold.
Not cancelled.. just on hold.
There are personal reasons for this, if you wish to know what they are.. keep reading!
Ironman training takes a lot of time. I have a full time job and two young kids.
I work Monday to Friday, and I don't get to see my kids as much as I would like to. My wife works on a Saturday, so that's my day to be a full time Dad.. which I love.
This means that Sunday is our only family day together. I wish we had more time together as a family, but like everyone else we have bills to pay so we gotta work!
I think I wrote a post before on priorities, I wont bother looking for it or linking to it, but the key message is thus... Unless you're a professional athlete... Training is hugely important, but it shouldn't be a number one priority in your life.
Some people put work first. I put family first.
So, basically I don't have the time to put the hours in that are needed to complete an Ironman (properly). In fairness, I don't really have the time for half Ironman training.. but that's a point to discuss in a later posting over on the new blog
Does this bother me?
This year hasn't really been triathlon focused anyway. The first few months were all about boxing, which was an amazingly fun and completely different challenge. Ive been running fairly consistently, but not in a structured manner. I haven't really been on the bike at all, and I've been swimming once since the end of last season. At the moment I'm doing a bootcamp with a bunch of martial arts folks (again, the subject of a later blog post) and its also an amazingly fun challenge.
So this year is all about doing some new things and just having some fun. So, in short.. this blog is pretty much dead. All the content is now on the wordpress site and moving forward that is where I will be updating on what I am up to. I hope all you lovely readers will continue to follow my exploits there.

To err is human, to really screw up you need to be a runner.


The most common mistake beginner runners make is to do too much, too soon.
Its almost inevitable. Seriously... don't beat yourself up up over it.
You start out and its HARD going. Seriously hard. If you're following a plan like the one I started with or the one I hand on to many others to help them get started you will start out running 1 minute or less with long walking breaks.
Then after a while, running feels good.
Seriously.. you can run.. you've gone from couch to 5k, or from nothing to 30 minutes.. or whatever it is and suddenly YOU FEEL GOOD.
At the start it seemed like it would never happen but... You ENJOY running.

Little side note.. as a scientist...
What has actually happened here is that you have developed a level of cardiovascular fitness. Your heart has upped its game and is now able to support this insane new activity you are doing. Your heart is AMAZING. Seriously.. just as a little test.. take something in your hand, a soft ball or a ball of paper or something, and squeeze it tight, really clench your fist.
Do this 100 times..
If you get to 100 and its still easy, keep going.
What number do you get to? 150? 200?
Perhaps the muscles in your hand and forearm told you to stop at 50.. or even 20.
That activity, that clenching, is done by your heart 60-80 times per minute every minute of every hour of your entire life.
Seriously incredible huh?
Anyway.. the heart is starting from a much stronger base point than your puny little skeletal muscles, so its probably unsurprising that when you start running, it can up its game a little easier than anything else.

Back to the main story.
So.. running feels good. So you run further.. you run faster.. and you can do it. you can breathe.. you don't collapse and puke or want to die.
You CAN do it.
Thing is.. you cant really.
The original limiting factor for a total beginner is the cardio fitness. After a while the limiting factor becomes the skeletal muscles... the legs.
So its highly common for people to push to far, too fast to the point where they get hurt.

2 days ago I went out for my first run in a few weeks. During boxing training (all 8 weeks if it) i did very little running.. probably less than 10 miles per week.
The other night I went out and i was feeling great. My cardio fitness was spot on and after a very brief warm up I started flying down the road... I was doing a 6:30 minute mile for a bit, then I caught myself on and slowed down to an equally stupid 7:30 pace.
I only ran 4 miles, but at an 8 min mile pace overall.
After a long break.. I should have been running about 2 mins a mile slower than that to give the legs some time to get back into it.
But no... I didn't.. I hammered it, ran too fast and guess what?
Yeah my legs hurt like hell today.
So.. in short.. try not to do too much too fast. Try no to hurt yourself... but don't beat yourself up when you inevitably do.

That ever illusive motivation...


Motivation is something I often struggle with.

I know a lot of people may be surprised by this, but let me put this into perspective..

When It comes to training and racing.. I'm a "mid-packer"
Basically, I run in the middle of the pack. I'm never going to win, but I will never come in last (I hope)
Ive no issue with this. I don't consider it mediocrity, I consider it standing proud among people who are great at what they do.
There are people in front of me who train harder and are who are naturally faster
There are people behind me who train less and are maybe just naturally a bit slower.
Of those that train harder... do they have more time? Do they have less commitments or responsibility? Or do they just have more motivation.
Its a combination of these things, combined with innate ability and many other factors.
I am fitter than a lot of people I know. The fact that I can go out and take part in an event that requires a certain level of fitness and skill, puts me in a group that is well apart from the majority of the population. Being in the middle of these folks is not mediocrity.

Saying all that, sometimes I struggle with motivation just as much as the person who does no exercise and sits on the couch all night watching TV, drinking wine and eating potato chips.
Oh.. wait... I AM that guy.

I post on here mostly about my athletic endeavours... but the truth is that getting out the door and training is a lot harder than buying a bottle of wine and hanging out on the sofa with my wife and watching a good movie.

In the long run though, going out and training is going to be more beneficial, plus I will feel a lot better the next morning. Sometimes though.. its still really hard to get out and do it. Ive blogged before on the importance of goals, and having something to train for is a real motivator. Sometimes though, its still hard.

I just thought I would share this thought.

This blog has become something I seldom post on, but a few peoples messages to me on the last post reminded me that not only do I enjoy writing blogs, people also enjoy reading them, so I'm going to try and write more often.

Fight Night


I always plan on writing these event based blogs straight after the event.On the one hand perhaps I will better capture the post event thrill.. on the other hand I want to do it before I've talked to everyone about it already and told my story and got tired of saying it.On the flipside, coming back to do this a few weeks later in the cold light of day probably has benefits too.. So here we go.The fight night came around and it was a truly incredible experience. I cant tell you now that physically, its like nothing Ive ever gone through before, and emotionally its certainly pretty high up the rankings too. On the night of the fight we all arrived to the Europa hotel and had our briefing. We were brought to the function room that was set aside for us and we were led in to the ballroom where the ring was set up and we got to have a look around before anyone was brought in. The ring seemed smaller than I had expected, and the room seemed pretty damn big. At this point myself and Neil, my opponent, posed for a quick photo. After this we went downstairs to wait as the spectators were brought in, then we were led in for the "Parade of Champions" we were all led into the room and into the ring and got to see the crowds. It was amazing, there were about 800 people all clapping and cheering. I climbed into the ring and looked around to find my wife and friends and was hugely relieved to find them. Then i was able to relax and take it all in. It was amazing. Such a buzz, and everyone else was the same. We were all grinning and clearly excited. Then, we were led back downstairs and the first fighters started warming up. Some of the guys chose to go upstairs to watch the earlier fights. I was up pretty early so I just stayed down in the room getting myself mentally and physically ready. The preparation for this was weird. I'm used to racing and there are a range of emotions you can feel... Nervous, excited, eager etc etc. But the objective for me in a race is to do it, possibly to hit a time goal. Its not to win. This was a head to head battle and I needed to get into the ring wanting to win. This was a completely new experience for me. I'm not a competitive person and am not really driven to be a "winner". Getting myself to a mental place where getting in there and winning was my objective was a very different experience. As the time came closer to my fight, I started getting physically ready doing simple warmups. One of the trainers took me aside and did some pad work with me and I was starting to feel ready. Neil openly admitted that he was really nervous, and I think this gave me a bit of a mental edge. I wasn't nervous, I was ready to go. We were led upstairs and stood waiting to walk into the room. I heard my name being announced and I took the long walk to the ring to my entrance music which was "Solidarity" by "Enter Shikari". It was a good choice and I was totally ready to go. I stepped into the ring, walked to my corner and waited. The guys in my corner talked me up and got me ready and I tried not to be too overwhelmed by the music and the cheering crowds.My opponent entered the ring, the ref called us forward, gave us our briefing and the bell rang and suddenly the crowds and the noise disappeared. For the duration of the fight there was just me and my opponent. It was incredible. We could have been in an empty room. It was just pure focus and it was very intense. The rounds were 1.5 minutes long, but in some ways they seemed to last an eternity. The breaks between the rounds were 1 minutes but they seemed to be mere seconds. The coaches in the corner were amazing. They briefed me after each round as to what I should be aiming to do for the next round, what my opponent was doing and where he was weak and What I needed to do to exploit that weakness. Physically the fight was really tough. Anyone who has ever done an intense workout using a punchbag will know how hard it is. Being in the ring is like this but while being used as a punchbag at[...]

What a ride..... FIGHT NIGHT.


“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”- Hunter S. ThompsonThe last 8 weeks have been crazy.The training for the boxing has been intense and incredibly good fun.Ive met an amazing bunch of people and literally enjoyed every minute of it.They say all good things must come to and end, and in this case the end features me climbing into a ring and going toe to toe with one of the amazing people that Ive met.The whole thing has been good fun and the camaraderie has been phenomenal.For 3 rounds tomorrow night, that camaraderie will be put aside and myself and Neil Reid will go head to head and we will fight.Its such a weird thought, but its going to be a fun and exciting night.Neil and I have already agreed that the winner is buying the first round and we've already planned that the moment our fight ends there will be an immediate rush to the bar by Neil, myself and Nico Fell who has been doing the photography throughout and whose photos are above and below.When I signed up to do this, I was nervous and apprehensive. I am doing this for charity and knew i was stepping outside my comfort zone.While Ive been overwhelmed with how much fun its all been.. It certainly hasn't been easy. The training has been tough going. Its taken a lot of time and been a big demand and I can tell you.. the first night when I sparred and got hit hard in the head.. I seriously wondered what the hell I was doing. The phrase "I'm too old for this shit" was echoing through my head.A few weeks on though, the worry has passed. Getting hit isn't that bad. I can take it, and I can hit back. I'm looking forward to the fight and I'm looking forward to pints with my opponent and the rest of the crew afterwards. I'm fighting early and I'm really looking forward to introducing my wife and mates to some of the other guys and girls from the training and us all having a bit of craic and watching the rest of the fights.On top of all this, Ive managed to exceed my target for the charity... and am still hoping to get more. There is still plenty of time to visit my just giving page and to throw a few quid. For you UK folks, don't forget you can also donate by text. The text code isASTY50 £? to 70070Just replace the ? with a number of your choice..Thanks for your generosity and thanks for reading and thanks to Nico for the excellent photos.[...]

13 and Finish strong



Just finished the last of my 13 days of training in a row to kick off the new year.
On Friday, the thirteenth, I got the tattoo pictured above. Its nothing too deep or significant, more a bit of fun than anything else to be honest. Kinda fun to have got it done in the middle of this 13 day session.

The other day I was chatting to my boss who is training for his first marathon. He was asking for a few tips and one of the tips I gave him was something I've said to a good few people and something I try to do myself. Try and train to finish strong. Most people start out fast and strong and fall to bits at the end. Its a good idea to train yourself not to be like this. Finish strong in training and you'll finish strong in a race. Today I lived to to this myself by ensuring the last day of the 13 days training was my strongest and fastest run. It felt good.

Tomorrow I have a rest day then on tuesday night the boxing training starts. Dont forget to pop along to sponsor me!!!


simple update


Just a quick update.
Off season is officially over. I'm planning the season out. Starting out with the boxing, then three half ironman. Distance then hopefully a marathon to finish the season.
The formal boxing training starts next week so until then I've kicked in my own base training to get a bit of shape and conditioning back.
The off season was too long and I've lost too much fitness, but I'm getting focused again. I've now trained 10 days in a row with bike, run and strength training sessions. I'm aiming to keep this little string of sessions going till Sunday totally 13 days in a row. After that I'll take one day off then the boxing training kicks in and I will definitely blog on how that goes :-)

Taking a detour?


Its hard sometimes to come back and write a blog post when you leave it too long.
Ive had a few things I wanted to blog over the last while, but life has been busy and the longer I leave it the harder it gets. Tonight Im biting the bullet and getting writing...
Im planning out my next season.
My "off season" has been a bit too off.. Ive been barely training at all and drinking too much and eating too much.
Next year I had a few things planned, but recently something came up that has caused me to take a slight detour from my planned training journey.
The other night I signed up for an event called "The Fight"
This is white collar boxing. 30 people who have never boxed before have all signed up to do the same thing...
On the 17th of January we will all commence an 8 week intensive training program which culminates in a big fight night.
All of us will get in a ring in front of around 800 people and fight.
Im no figher, in fact im actually a pacifist. The main reason I am doing this if for charity.
I like to do something for charity once in a while. I dont do it too often as it gets annoying to ask people too often too support you to do these things. I never ask people to sponsor me to do triathlons or running races a these are the things I do for pleasure. I might as well ask people to sponsor me to watch TV and drink wine.
The Fight is different.
Doing this genuinely scares me. The training is no big deal. Ive heard its intense and tough going, but I know I can handle it. In fact while training for this I will continue to train for triathlon, so in addition to the boxing training I will still run, bikle and swim as I will be doing at least another 3 half Ironman races next year and probably a marathon. The full detail of the remainder of the year wil be a subject of another post at a later stage....
The thing that is gonna be tough about this is the final event.
I will get into a ring and face an as yet unknown opponent who will be intent on knocking me down and knocking me out.
Im 36 years old. I will be 37 in a few weeks. How many people do you know who, at the age of 37, get into a ring in front of a huge audience and trying to avoid getting the absolute crap beaten out of them?
3 years of full on training for running and triathlon has not in any way prepared me for dealing with being punched in the face. Repeatedly.
Seriously, when did you last get punched in the face?
Its going to be an intense expereince and a hell of a journey.
Im looking forward to it in many ways, and i am hugely nervous in other ways.

So, do me a favour, click the link below and start off by giving a few quid now. I will blog more on this over the coming weeks, and I will be a bono-level pest about this as I have a pretty big target that I really want to hit. Im not getting the crap beaten outta me for nothing.

Galway Ironman 70.3


This is a long one with a fair few pics :DFinally.. my A-race of the season.Well.. this was always my planned A-race. However it ended up being a joint A-race with Groomsport. My main aim for the year was to complete 2 half Iron distance races 2 weeks apart.I hit that objective.The scale of the event in Galway was phenomenal. This was the first Ironman branded event I have been involved in and it really was huge. Just for context... this is the third half iron distance Ive done this year. The first had around 40 entrants. The second had 130. Galway had over 2,000Wow.I got up early on Sat, got the bike sorted and drove down to Galway. Sadly Steph had to work so she and the kids couldn't come along as support. I got down in the afternoon and headed for registration and instantly the scale of the whole thing hit me. I walked into the registration hall and saw the massive Ironman banner and the scores of people and staff and was part excited, part nervous.After registering and picking up my Ironman branded bag (with disappointingly little swag in it) I went out to sort out my gear into bags. This whole concept of having specific bags for each discipline and packing them and registering them the day before is new to me. All the other races Ive done over the last 3 years Ive just turned up on race day, dumped my bike and box of gear and that is it. For this you have to have far more organised. Once I got the bags packed though and headed to rack my bike I could see why.. and this is when the scale of it really hit me.Bikes as far as the eye can see. The length of the bike racking area was huge. After racking the bike and registering the bags i went for a walk to see the distances involved in the transition. I reckon the distance from swim exit to bike mount was going to be easily over 1km. There would certainly be no fast transitions going on. I then went and checked into my hotel and pottered about until it was time for the race briefing. The briefing was the next stage in the whole thing being HUGE. I was in the second briefing. the first was for the first thousand. Mine was for the second thousand. The host was Mike Reilly, "The Voice of Ironman", the commentator at all the major Ironman events including the world championships in Hawaii. The briefing was actually fun and entertaining and afterwards I felt a huge mix of excitement and nerves. Which is weird.. i mean, I had done this distance race just 2 weeks previously but the scale of all this definitely had an impact.RACE DAY.Race day was an early start. My alarm call was for 4:30 am. I headed out of the hotel and noticed a few other triathletes in the breakfast area. I joined them for some porridge and coffee then wandered out through the lobby which was still full of people drinking and partying who were at the hotel for a wedding. That was a bizarre moment!When I arrived in transition it was still dark but T1 was busy. I racked my bike and just wandered around absorbing the atmosphere. My wave was due to go at 7:05am.. just 5 mins after the pros. It was cold and very windy. I got changed into my wetsuit and headed down to the swim start. It was shortly after this that Mike Reilly came on the mike to inform us that due to the weather and the waves, there were a few changes. First of all the start was being delayed by 30 mins... secondly the swim was being cut to 750m. There were general mixed feelings on this. I myself had mixed feelings.. What bothered me most was the delayed start. At this stage it was about 6:40 and with a 30 min delay that meant standing about in the freezing cold and wind for nearly another hour. At this stage I was getting more worried.. I hadn't packed any additional clothing into either of my bags. The sun was starting to come up though, which was good as I didn't fancy swimming in the dark. The time passed slowly, but eventually[...]

Groomsport 2011 Half Iron


Yesterday I completed my second half-iron distance race of this season. I had done this race last year as my first. It was very tough and I was hoping that this time it would be easier. Realistically, I wasn’t sure what to expect though. My training has been a bit on and off and has seriously lacked in consistency or planning. On the positive side, when I have trained it’s been mostly good training and I’m not injured or hurting in any way. This race was the first of a double A-race session, the second of which is another 70.3 in Galway in two weeks. So I had to pace this right. I couldn’t just go out and wreck myself and not be able to race again in two weeks. As a result of this, I paced the race much more carefully. I took it easier on the swim and held back just a little on the bike. In honesty though I didn’t hold back THAT much. I started the day by meeting up with Lisa and Greg which was great. It was nice to have some friends to hang out with pre-race. The atmosphere was good and everyone was in good form. The swim was an uneventful 2 lap affair (yes.. 2 laps Greg) and I came out of the water in 34:42. This was a few minutes slower than last year (last year was 30:10) but I went harder last year and besides, I’ve only swum 5 times in the last 12 months, and 4 of those times were in races. T1 was fine, a few seconds slower than last year, and I headed out on the bike. On the bike I felt good. I got some food in and enjoyed it. I kept a stead 19 MPH average for the first lap, got passed by a few people with aero helmets on tri bikes and passed about as many as passed me. On the second lap… pretty much the same probably dropped to about an 18.5mph average (I think) and a few people passed me and I passed a few. The third lap I clearly started to show that I haven’t been cycling enough. By then the field had spread out and I didn’t see many people for that whole lap. I started to tire and I just started to feel heavy and slow. There was more of a headwind and my speed dropped to around or below 17mph. this is where I really decided I needed to be smart and pace myself. That was the speed that I could do with the same effort level and when a few people passed me in the last 10 mile stretch, rather than push and stay with them I let them go. Last year in the race I was happy with my performance as it was my first, but I fell to pieces on the run having put too much into the swim and bike. This time I wanted to run better. I got off the bike in 3:12:57 (slower than last years time of 3:09:32) and was also slower in T2. So.. at this stage I’ve already lost nearly 10 minutes off last years time. At the time I didn’t know this level of detail, but I had a fair idea I was a good bit slower. However I also knew that I was going to do the run better. I set out running and felt ok.. My real target for this whole race was to run the whole run section (walking the aid stations to drink water doesn’t count). In both previous races I was forced into a run/walk strategy due to the pain and exhaustion… I didn’t want to do it in this race, and it worked. I ran the whole thing and only walked the aid stations. I aimed to keep a 9 min mile pace for the whole run. As I progressed I started modifying my goals a little. In addition to not walking, I also wanted to do a sub 2 hour run. Then, after a few miles, I realised that if I kept the 9 min mile pace going I could beat last years time by a few minutes. The run was tough… but I managed it and hit my targets. I did the run in 1:56:34, an average pace of just under a 9 min mile. My finishing time was 5:50:28. A ten minute improvement over last year. Last year I had really died on the run… so despite losing time on every other part of the race, I still managed a 10 min PB. Triathlon is a complex thing..[...]

Causeway coast triathlon 2011


Yesterday I did my first Olympic tri of the season. This was actually only my second Olympic ever.. and the second time doing this particular race. Last years race was pretty hectic. The sea was nuts.. lots of big waves and sharks. Seriously.. SHARKS. The swim nearly killed me and took an insanely long 43 mins. I had been undecided about doing the race again, not because of last years conditions which were mental but enjoyable, but because it was only 2 weeks after my first half iron of the season and last year the half iron distance race screwed me up for a few weeks.Well, the half iron passed and went well as mentioned in the last blog post and I recovered well. I was out on the bike 2 days after the race and actually did a 10 mile TT in just under 30 mins... and then went on to do a total of 19 miles. I also ran twice and did another hard bike session on my new bike.Oh.. yeah.. I got a new bike.. but that warrants a blog post of its own so it will have to wait.At this point I realised that I was totally fit for an eager to do the causeway race again. Sadly I had left it too long and registration had closed. Thankfully though the race director is a legend and I dropped him an email and he registered me no problem. I threw in a few more hard bike workouts and some run speedwork then took a few days off to "taper"Strictly speaking this is a joke.. I didn't taper, I had some work related travel that took up a few days and then I took one extra rest day :DThe day of the race arrived and despite being last to register, I was one of the first to arrive on race day morning. I met up with my good buddy Lisa and we hung out and chatted, registered, set up transition etc. Her race report is excellent and she WON HER AGE GROUP, so go read it)The race itself was excellent. The sea was lovely, the swim was much easier than last years, which was clearly evidenced in my time. Last year it took me 43:35 mins.. this year it took me 24:29. Yeah... that's right.. 19 minutes faster. Crazy. And its not from training, cuz I haven't done any swim training.The bike was good, pretty hilly and sadly on the downhill sections it was windy so I was a bit slower than last year. The bike leg took me 01:16:03. Average speed of 19.7mph this is decent for me but a few mins slower than last year (when I did it in 1:12:26.) This slowdown was partially the conditions, partially some annoying hip pain i developed for the last 8 miles or so but probably mostly due to the fact that last year this had been a bit of a priority race and not something that I did at the last minute two weeks after a half ironman and with 3 hard bike workouts in the short time between the two races. Considering all this I'm actually VERY happy with the time.The run was OK too.. I haven't done a lot of speedwork and managed the 10k in 48:22. This is OK.. an average pace of 7:48 which is faster than Ive run for a while. Last year I actually did the run in 43:52.. but it was a shorter and easier run course, so again I am happy.My overall race time was 02:33:52... which I'm very happy with indeed. Nearly a 10 min PR. The only thing I'm not happy really about with this race was my transition times... it seems petty but T1 was 3 mins and T2 was 2 mins. 5 mins transition in an olympic is a lot, and for me its over 2 mins longer than I should have been, and indeed was last year. It came down to bad prep and not really thinking about what I was doing. Knowing this I know that I can easily shave this time down below two and half hours without too much work.One thing I'm really happy with, as with the last race, is the swim. There were lots of much faster swimmers.. but the overall winner of the race only beat my by 1 min 45 secs on the swim. He beat my by 33 mins overall... hell I wasn't even close.. but it really shows [...]

Eskragh Half Ironman


©Shane Molloy PhotographySaturday was the first triathlon of the season for me.The approach to this race was a bit of a mental battle.It was my first race since the broken wrist, my fitness levels still aren't where they need to be and on top of all that I developed some kind of random and inexplicable problem with my hip.. it hurt to walk. No idea why or how it happened.In the month or so running up to the race I went through a variety of plans.initially, due to the fact that I hadn't had a swim in about 8 months, I figured I would skip the swim and just do a long bike ride and run. However in the last few weeks I managed to get back in the pool twice. The first time was a 1500m session, the second was 3000m. So having concluded that I might manage the swim without drowning, I decided to give the whole thing a go. Then the hip problem kicked in. So I figured that I would try the swim, and maybe the bike and not run.In the last few days coming up to the race I seriously considered just dropping it. However I got some great advice from my mate Iain, the nutter who calls himself a "lazy triathlete" but who qualified for and raced Kona last year :DIain's exact words were (and this warrants a direct cut and paste from the email)Maybe do this weekends race but have it in your head that if the leg gets too bad you'll stop. That's what the Pro's do, Chris Lieto dropped out when he was leading IM Texas last week because he's carrying an injury. Jodie Swallow did the same in St George. They got in a solid swim & bike training session then put a few miles in their legs.This made a lot of sense to me. I guess in a lot of ways I probably had a lot of psychological blocks against doing the race anyway.. First race back after a serious injury.. Is a half ironman too ambitious? Can I complete a half ironman with nowhere near enough training? etc etc etc...Anyway.. I turned up on the morning pretty convinced that I wouldn't finish the race. I always try to set a series of goals, the biggest goal being the most achievable.Normally my first goal is to finish...For this race, my main goal for the day was to start.My next goal was to finish the swim, then to finish the bike.In honesty.. that was about it. I didn't really even expect to start the run. So I turned up on race day and wasn't even really nervous. The field was STRONG. I mean.. you could tell by the bikes and the look of the folk who were there. It was a small race, around 40 entrants. Still though, everyone was very friendly and the organisers, "Tri-limits", are really nice guys. If you ever get a chance to do one of their races I highly recommend it.The nerves kicked in a little when I stood and looked out at the lough. I've only done two open water races before, the causeway coast Olympic and my first half ironman at groomsport last year. In both cases the swim was 2 laps, which was nice as it gets you out of the water and gives you a few seconds rest from swimming. this was one lap, and looked LONG. A photo of the lough is at the end of this post. Still though, my aim was just to start, and there were lots of people out there to rescue me if i started to really struggle, so I racked up my bike and got myself ready to give it a go.The swim turned out to be really nice. The water was warm and clear and as there weren't too many people it was pleasant. No one swimming over you, kicking you, punching you.. and no insane waves or tides. Just a nice little swim in a lough to start the day. In all honesty I think the swim distance was a bit short as I completed it in 25 mins and I'm NOT a great swimmer. the last 70.3 I did it in 30 mins and I hadn't done any training to explain any significant improvement, so I'm assuming it was short but am happy to have done it. I came out middle of [...]

Back on form...


Finally I'm feeling really like I'm getting back on form.
This week I really kicked it back into tough.
Steph and Alexa are away to the states for a visit, so Im on holiday and being full time dad for 2 weeks. For the first few days though Zane was still in school so I took advantage of this and got some solid training in.
On Wednesday I started out with a 16 mile run that took 2.5 hours..
On thursday I knocked out my first half century bike ride of the year. 50 miles in 3 hours 10 minutes. Not gonna win any records for speed... but decent enough training and all zone 2.
Finally.. today, Friday... I finished off this 3 days of tough training with a self supported olympic distance triathlon...
First of all I got back in the pool for the first time in about 7 months. It was tough and I was slow but I managed the 1500m in 34:37... Not bad.
Then I drove home, and headed out on the bike. Which was an Awesome ride. Zone 2 all the way, felt great. Bit of a balls up at the end.. blew out both wheels.. Then blew out one of my two spare tubes when changing it.. had to ride last mile home on a flat back wheel.. time for changes isnt included :D Still managed the 25 miles in 1:31:17 (not including tyre changing time). Would have been better if it wasn't for the last mile on a flat.
Finally, I headed out on the run. The run itself was tough going.. but after these three days and as the first brick I've done in ages, this was to be expected. Still did it in 58:48 with an AP of 9:29.. so not bad overall! A decent 3 hours worth of training, which brings the week to a total of nearly 9 hours for the week in just 3 days.
Feels good. :D

Sort your Zones out...


Ive done quite a lot since my last blog post.. Training has been up and down. This blog post is a bit of a training tip though, rather than an update on my training.. and the focus is training zones.

Most people train with a heart rate monitor. If you don't, you should, go buy one.. I'll wait....

Got it?

OK.. good.

So.. Its one thing to have a heart rate monitor (HRM) but its another thing to actually use it correctly. In order to do so, you should actually train according to your heart rate. The key to doing this correctly is to discover your own heart rate zones. Now lots of websites and probably even your own HRM software will probably offer to do this for you based on your age. It may even be really fancy and ask you to determine your resting heart rate. This is very basic and there is a way better way to do things. The way to find your ideal training zones is to base your training on what your heart rate is when training. In order to do this you can do a lactate threshold test. I first heard about these things from Joe Friels book "The Triathletes training bible" and thankfully Joe as a blog post that explains both how to do a LT test and how to set your zones based on it. LT tests are tough. It basically involves you doing 30 mins running or cycling (you will need to do both.. at different times) to find out what your average heart rate is at lactate threshold.

I did a run LT test the other night for the first time in over a year. I'm glad I did as I discovered that my standard zone 2 heart rate was a bit better than i thought and my pace for zone 2 runs is a little better than I was aiming for.

Training according to heart rate makes sense. Its a way of gauging your pace and effort based on what your fitness levels allow and what you re capable of and what your body can do, rather than what you want to do or think you can do. Running based on heart rate and doing a lot of zone 2 training can reduce injuries and ultimately make you fitter and faster... So.... clear off and do a wee LT test. :D

Just to finish, and cuz I like pics in my blog posts.. here is a little pic of me, covered in mud at a recent adventure race/ mudrun i did recently...

Woah.. its march already???


Training has picked up a bit over the last month..
Actually, having just checked back when I last blogged.. things have really picked up a lot.
Ive made it back out on the road on the bike.. twice now. On both occasions I went out on a Sunday morning and did a 30 miler. Both were tough.. wonderful Belfast conditions were in full force. The first week was windy as a wind tunnel, and it was hard going. The second time it looked like it was going to be a nice day.. so I went out in just shorts and a short sleeved cycle top and some arm warmers.. big mistake. It rained so heavily that for a while i couldn't see.. then it cleared up for a while, then there were hailstones. When i got home I was physically shaking with cold for about 20 mines. But it felt good to get out.
On both occasions my wrist ached like hell, and was sore for a few day after.. but I'll just have to get used to that. What the hell, its another reason to argue that I need a full carbon bike, right?
I managed to get in 200 miles of cycling in february with about 40 miles of running. This pretty much doubled my cycling and running mileage from January
Target for March is to try and get in about 300 miles biking and about 50 miles running.

I kicked that of tonight with my first run of the month and my first double digit run in about 6 months. Ive been focussed this last while on running slower, which has been a real necessity as im trying to get my mileage back up and the speed needs to be sacrificed to do so. I realised today while updating my outlook calender that my first race of the year is only two and half weeks away. The larne half marathon will kick off my 2011 season. Im not aiming for a PR.. im just aiming to get round the course and have a nice run. Im hoping to finish sub 2 hours... which is WAY off a PR.. but after the amount of time off and lost fitness that Ive had, it will be a good start to the year. The PRs can come later

Looking up


Things have started to improve this month. While I'm still far from back on good form, I have undoubtedly started training again. Admittedly this entire month has had less hours training than a previous heavy week.. but its improving. Ive built up at a safe and semi-conservative pace. Ive pushed myself, but not too much, and I'm starting to see results. Ive shed some of the excess weight I picked up along the way and I'm abe to run and cycle (on the turbo) and enjoy it again. The first few runs this month were horrible. Truly unenjoyable and unpleasant. This week I managed a 5 mile run and enjoyed it. Then 2 days later did a 6 miler and enjoyed that too. Longest runs for 3 months, and the most enjoyable. Hopefully next week I'll be back to running an hour solid.

I'm also considering trying to go out on the bike on the road again. Possibly this Sunday morning. I'm nervous to do so, but Ive gotta shake off the fear and do it. Actually, in honesty, its not even fear. Its a complete lack of desire tempered with a touch of dread. I'm just hopeful that 2 Min's out on the road and my love of cycling will overpower it all and my problems will be solved. Fingers crossed for that.

Haven't considered swimming yet. Got a new tattoo a week a go so need to let that settle in for a few weeks before I can swim. I cant imagine how weird swimming is going to be. I'm hoping it will be OK though. Again, fingers crossed!

The Turbo


I'm currently sitting on a train to Dublin, and this seems to be as good a time as any to write a quick blog update.

I was just following a conversation on Twitter there about turbo sessions, and found myself thinking, as I have on many occasions before, am I the only person in the world that actually likes using a turbo trainer?

I often hear people berate the trainer. It seems to be hated almost as much as the dreaded treadmill, or dreadmill as I personally call it.

I like the trainer. I do. Last night, for example. After we got the kids to bed, Steph and a friend of hers had gone out to a Zumba class, but got stuck in traffic, so they came home and decided to play the Dance Central game on the Xbox as a replacement. So guilt free I retired to the front room to hit the trainer. With the kids asleep and Steph busy, I didn't have to worry or feel guilty that I should be doing something else. The only worry was the downstairs neighbour, who has on one occasion, complained about the noise of the trainer. But it was only 8pm... so even that worry was appeased.

I turned on the fan, dimmed the lights, queued up a few tracks on the ipod and jumped on the bike for some intervals and had a good solid hour workout. Which I fully enjoyed.

Why do I enjoy it so much? Well... at 8pm at night in Belfast at this time of year, its dark. Cycling in the dark is OK.. but its not the safest thing in the world. Its also cold, so requires about 4 hours of getting ready to actually go outside. Finally.. and most importantly.. I can do completely focused training sessions. Last nights was intervals to build speed and power. When I cycle out on the road, I'm not really very good at this. I just happily cycle along and enjoy it.

Now at the moment, I'm not cycling on the road anyway. I still don't really have the strength or flexibility in my wrist, and I don't have the confidence either. This is not the issue though, last night was just a prime example of how enjoyable using the turbo can be. I got a really good hours training session in. My legs feel it this morning much more than an hour on the road would achieve.

Weirdly, the total opposite is true for running. I cannot run on a treadmill. Well, obviously technically I can, I just hate it. Id much rather be outside, regardless of the weather. Rain, wind, snow, whatever. I guess the turbo haters just feel the same way

Now, apart from the fact Id rather be outside.. I also have a bit of a rationale for this loving the turbo and hating the dreadmill thing. I think running outside makes you a much better runner. The wind, hills, fluctuations in the terrain etc are all good for the leg strength and stability in a way that running on a treadmill just wont achieve. Conversely.. If you use it right, I think the turbo can provide very significant gains for cycling. There are no downhills on the trainer. Provided you are using the right resistance and gearing, using the trainer should not be like cycling on the flat. Even a steady state spin should be a like a constant gradual incline. My average speed on the trainer is by default several mph slower than it is on the road.

Fair enough you can set a gradient on the treadmill, but its not the same. Maybe its just personal preference. If you love the treadmill, feel free to comment or drop me a mail !

Back on track? Meh.


Another month has passed since last update.
Ive had to do a lot of thinking over the last few weeks.
Not doing any training for about 3 months now has resulted in me losing lot of fitness. Ive had to evaluate my plans for this year. 2011 was meant to be the year of my first Ironman. Ive had to reconsider this, I was struggling with this a lot and was very grateful to Phil Lavoie with whom I had a great chat over the whole issue. Phil is a phenomenal athlete who has clocked up some incredible times in the IM's that he has done.
My basic issue is that I don't really want my first Ironman to be a horrible experience. I don't want to be desperately trying to beat the cutoff and I don't want my first to be my last. In short, I don't want to go into the race not sure if I can finish.

So my plan this year is now to complete a few half Iron distances and get faster at them. The day I made this decision I signed up for the Galway 70.3 event. The first WTC event in Ireland.

Trying to get back to training has been a lot harder than I anticipated. While my wrist is recovering and is still pretty sore. My range of motion is terrible and i cant support any weight with my right arm. Ive put on a lot of weight and can feel it. being off over Christmas, eating too much and drinking a lot (partially for pain relief!) really didn't help.

I went for a 3 mile run last week and my legs hurt for days afterwards. I got some new shoes at the weekend and went for a 4 mile this week. In short.. it sucked. I hated every minute of it.

This saddened me greatly as I love to run, I really love it. I'm sure the love will come back, hopefully sooner rather than later.

As for cycling.. well, I spoke to the consultant about this last week and he said that if I really wanted too I could try and go out on the bike again but to be very careful due to the restricted range of motion and lack of strength. The truth is though, I dont want to. The accident has thrown me quite a lot psychologically and going back out on the road is kinda scary. I'll get over it, but I'm not even going to try until i get a bit more strength and flexibility in the arm.

I have, however, been back on the trainer and just finished my first hard trainer workout with intervals and some high intensity effort levels... and I feel pretty good.

Ive got some plans in mind for racing this year.. and over the next few weeks I will see how I feel and how the trainig goes and see how achievable they are. Hopefully now that I am back training again, I will be back to blogging a bit more often.

Life is full of challenges


I think this may be the longest I've gone without blogging... and I'm terrible at it at the best of times.The last few months have been incredibly busy, but not so much with training. I had my off-season, then just as i was starting to get back into training, I had a spot of bad luck.A few months back I bought a motorbike and started commuting to work. It was economical and fun. After a few months of this, the bad luck struck. While driving through a town on my way to work, a car pulled put in front of me from a side street.. I had always heard that the biggest risk with motorbikes is other drivers and its very true. The driver just drove out directly in front of me. I was lucky in that i was probably only doing about 10-15mph when I impacted... But I hurt my wrist.A visit to the hospital revealed that it was broken. The bad luck continued in that it wasn't a clean or simple break... So they dosed me up with morphine and something that removes your memory and did things to my wrist to try and set it right.A week later some more X-rays meant more bad luck.. The bone wasn't setting right and I needed surgery. I am hugely impressed time and time again by the British National Health System. I was called in for surgery the nest day.The surgery happened, I got a plate put in my arm and spent the night in hospital. I'm not dwelling on details, and this is not a desire for pity of any kind... but its probably worth noting that I have a few little phobias about medical procedures... particularly needles. Surgery is something Ive always been terrified of, so it wasn't really a fun experience inside my head. Plus, the pain afterwards was pretty damn intense. Its now 2 weeks post surgery. The pain is getting better, although I'm still popping painkillers 3-6 times a day. I'm due for a review appointment tomorrow morning, so please send good wishes and positive thoughts my way that everything is healing well!Anyway.. there is a point to all this, and its not meant to be just a blog post of complaining. I haven't done any exercise in nearly a month now. Over the last few weeks I've been endlessly frustrated by only having one functional arm. The frustration isn't helped by having little sleep... but the thing is, its really hard to function with one arm. Simple things become lengthy and arduous tasks... things like picking up the baby, changing her diaper, buttoning a shirt, typing, putting on Zane's shoes, tying shoelaces etc etc. Some of these things seem damn near impossible with one hand... Seriously.. how do you tie shoelaces with one hand? If it wasnt for my awesome, wonderful wife I don't know what I would have done.Through all this, through the pain and the frustration, I've found one thing often popping into my head... A guy called Jason Lester, here's a little part of Jason's story from his wiki pageLester grew up playing baseball and football. When he was twelve years old, he was hit while on his bicycle by a woman driving 70 mph who ran a red light. He was left for dead with 21 broken bones and a collapsed lung. Lester lost the use of his right arm, which became partially paralyzed as a result of the accident. During the next several months he began a lengthy hospital recovery. While he was still in the hospital recovering, his father, and sole guardian, died of a heart attack.Jason is now an endurance athlete. In 2008 he became the first physically challenged athlete ever to complete the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii finishing the ultra-distance triathlon where he swam 6.2 miles, biked 261.4 miles and ran 52.4 miles to the finish [...]

70.3....... DONE


I'm going to actually try and make this a concise and short race report.Yesterday I did my main "A race" for the year.This was essentially what I had been training for all year.Beyond that it was the next link in the chain that ultimately leads to doing a full Ironman. Suffice to say this was pretty important!I had been really concerned over the last few weeks. I was injured. I'd been to see a physio a few times and I hadn't trained AT ALL for the last 3 weeks. You could consider it an extended taper... but my original intention would have been one more BIG week of training with 2 weeks of actual tapering (ie still training but less).Instead I got 3 weeks of inactivity and, funnily enough, weight gain... Not ideal, but those were the cards I was dealt.I arrived on race day excited and nervous. Nervous of what i was about to do, and even more nervous that my knee was going to pack in on me. I was early and I wandered around soaking up the atmosphere. It was awesome to bump into Lisa and her family as they had come down to give some supportAs the start approached my nerves got worse... but so did the excitement.. eventually they led us out of transition and I walked with the 200 or so other competitors down to the beach.THE SWIMMy last open water swim was ROUGH the sea had been very choppy and rough.. this time round it was flat and still. Last time round I also went out too hard, this time round I deliberately started as slow as I could.. and the tactic worked. The swim felt easy, I stayed relaxed and even when I got thumped or kicked in the head, it didn't throw me off (too much) and despite taking in some water, I cruised the two laps in what felt like a pretty easy 30 minutes and 10 seconds. For a 2km swim I'm very happy with that, especially considering the last one was only 1500m and took me 43:35. I took my time in transition and felt ready for the bike.THE BIKEThe bike course was lovely. It was flat and pleasant with lovely scenery. In retrospect I realise now that I went out too hard.. but it felt good. the injured leg gave me a few twinges that caused me to hold back a little, but overall I was more than happy. Along the course the occasional spectators and the cheers from the volunteers was a fantastic boost. At one point along the course I was going through the village of Donaghadee and totally unexpectedly saw my wife with Alexa and our friend Fiona. This unexpected site and their cheers of encouragement literally brought tears to my eyes :D Although I did instantly realise that tears were a loss of body fluid that I couldnt afford and knocked that on the head immediately.According to my garmin the course was a few miles long, so my time of 3:09:32 was perfect and I was pretty much on course for my best possible scenario race day... but with the lingering injury the worry was always the run...THE RUNI racked my bike, pulled on my shoes and headed out on the run and IT HURT STRAIGHT AWAY. Funnily enough, the majority of the pain was in the leg that wasn't previously injured... although Id been feeling some twinges in that knee, probably from overcompensating for the injury. I knew within minutes that there was no way I was running the whole course. In fact I was very worried that I was going to have to just walk the whole thing. It took me a while to work out what to do, and the off-road nature of the majority of the course made it hard to get into a routine.. but I settled eventually into a run/walk strategy of 4 mins run, 1 min walk. For the first half of the run it basically worked something like th[...]

Two weeks out...


I'm now two weeks out from my main race of this year... the half ironman in Groomsport.

And I am NOT training

Yup, nothing at all.

I haven't done any exercise in 5 days now.
This is due to injury and not laziness.
Ive been seeing a physio over this tendon problem. Ive had a few treatments and have had to have complete rest.

Psychologically, this was tough to start with. To make the decision that after a years training, i stop 2 weeks out from my race is difficult.

Physically its even worse.
I worked out the other day that on a big training week I can burn off up to 11,000 calories.
That's over 4 days worth of food.
My body, despite not training, doesn't realise that it doesn't need the food. So I'm hungry, trying not to eat as much and gaining weight nonetheless.
Not great.
I'm rather on edge. I'm kinda cranky, and I'm sure I'm a total pain in the ass to be around at the moment as my body is really not dealing very well with the transition from lots of training to no training.

Still, the most important thing is to make sure this injury gets better so that I can show up to the start line in two weeks and do this event.
I no longer care about the time.
I was never THAT concerned.. but its nice to have targets.. things to aim for.
At the start of the season, my aim for the year was to complete a half ironman.
As the year progressed and my training went well, I started to have little internal time targets. At one point I was starting to aim pretty high.
Now I'm back to just wanting to show up uninjured and to complete it.

Despite all this, I'm totally upbeat and happy. These things happen.
My body has shown me that it has limitations... and that I pushed it too hard.
All I can do is learn the lesson and get better in time for the race.

(Not a) RACE DAY (for me)


Today was my first experience of not racing in a race I had registered for.
The City of Lisburn sprint triathlon was my first Tri last year. Its where I got the bug and I had been really looking forward to doing it.
Sadly over the last few weeks I've been struggling with a hamstring tendon injury. I thought it was gone, but it seems its not. I went fro a swim yesterday to make sure I still knew how... its been a few weeks... and while i CAN swim.. the swim seems to have aggravated the hamstring injury.
I spent the rest of the day sore, cranky and irritable.
Mid afternoon I made the call.. I wasn't going to race today.
If it had been my A-race for the year, I would have done it anyway (probably stupid, but I would have). Its not though, it was a priority race, but my A-race for the year is my half ironman. Which is a mere 3 weeks away. If I had raced today, I KNOW i would have ended up hurting myself and not racing the half ironman. Now THAT would have sucked. Not only is it my A-race, its also an important step towards my overall longer term goal... Full Ironman. Last year I did the marathon. This year half Iron, next year, Ironman.
I cant afford to screw this up. But it was still hard to decide not to race a race that I knew would be fun. I also knew I would have made a very significant improvement over last year and was looking forward to seeing how much. Still, what can you do?

Howver, there waws one silver lining. My friend Lisa who I have been coaching this year.. for her The Lisburn tri was her A-race for the year. So I got to go and watch and cheer her on. Which was great. I was supposed to be in the wave after her so wouldn't have seen her race at all after the swim. As it was today I got to watch her swim with her dad, then met her dad, her husband and her kids to watch her on the bike course and again on the run course.

She executed her race perfectly. Her perfect race target was to get a sub 1:30 time... she managed it in 1:27. An amazing performance. It was fantastic to watch someone achieve their goals, especially when you've played some small part in helping them along towards those goals.

I always feel a bit of a fool saying I am coaching anyone.. I'm totally inexperienced myself. But Ive learned a lot through my own training, through my own mistakes, and through reading HUGE amounts of literature on training. Today I felt less of a fool and very glad that I had been able to help someone support someone in achieving what they set out to achieve. Lisa's race report will be on her own blog...

It really help make up for not racing.

Now.. I have 3 weeks to get this niggling injury sorted, lose the extra pounds Ive put on this last month and execute my own A-race for the year.

Oh so very delayed! Causeway Coast Triathlon Race Report


This is one seriously overdue blog. About 5 weeks back I did my first Olympic Triathlon. I was ready to write the blog straight away.. but life's been busy. Lots been happening, most importantly of which is the birth of my daughter Alexa Grace. And here I am with both of my awesome kids...SO, that's my excuse... Now on with the blog and race report.My first Olympic triathlon was the Causeway coast triathlon on the 13th of June. It was both a hugely enjoyable experience and a very humbling one. The swim was my first open water swim, as my other tri's have been sprints with pool swims. It was TOUGH. And it wasn't just me that thought it was tough. The conditions were tough and swimming in the sea was like swimming in a washing machine. It was two laps of 750m.. but with the waves and currents, I definitely did more than this with lots of being dragged around. Here is a quote from the race organisers report on the race which highlights the difficulty..."The average time for a swim of this length in benign conditions for elite swimmers is about 20 minutes so it was somewhat of a surprise when the first swimmer took 33 minutes to eventually emerge after 2 laps"Yup, it was hard. The first lap was a struggle and when I came out after the first lap i was shaken and kinda scared to go back in again. This was me coming out of the water...Part of me was even vaguely tempted to give up... Then I saw my wife, my mother in law and Zane cheering and that gave me the kick i needed. This was me waving as I ran back in for my second lap...The second lap, I slowed down a bit. I found out later that I had gone out way to hard on the first lap. I did the first lap in 19:55 and the second in a much more realistic 23:30. Steph said afterwards that she was worried about me after the first lap because I was coming out FAR to close to the folks at the front :DMy total swim time was 43:35. The fastest guy out of the water did it in 33 Min's. The guy who WON the whole race did it in 40:26... So I was only 3 Min's behind the winner out of the water. When I came out though, I was SHAKY. One of the race officials grabbed me and pulled me to the side to ask if I was OK. To be honest, I wasn't. I felt like I gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson. But as I explained to the official, Id be OK once I had a nice wee sit down on the bike. At this he laughed and sent me on my way. In this pic you can see me just after this has happened. The guys who was concerned for me is on the left.. I love the fact that the other guy is cheering on my stupid determination.I got my wetsuit off, grabbed the bike and got going. It took a while to get my heart rate down and get settled but once I did I loved it. The bike course was beautiful and I was able to keep a fairly decent speed despite it being pretty hilly. The 40k took me 1:12:26. If the distance was right and it was indeed a full 40k, then my average speed was 20.6mph... and I am MORE than happy with this.The run was uphill for the first 3 miles, then a bit of downhill and the last few km was on the beach... not an easy finish. Steph managed to get a quick photo of me just coming out of T2Definitely looking better than I did coming out of the water and rocking my CREW tri-kit in all its glory.I'm pretty sure the run was a little short of the full 10k as I finished it in 43:52.. which would be a 10k PR for me, but who am i to argue, I'll take it.This is me just over the line.The finish time shown in the photo was my[...]

Race season continues....


Since last posting I’ve had another race. On Sunday past I got up at a horribly early hour (5:30am) to drive to Derry to take part in the Liam Ball/ Northwest Sprint Triathlon. My “taper” for this race consisted of doing the most amount of cycling Ive ever done in one week, plus a bit of running and a wee swim. Basically.. this was a normal training week so no taper allowed! I started the week with some bike commuting. My daily commute is 30 miles, and this week I did 2 full days of bike commuting, thus clocking up 120 miles of cycling by Wednesday. I took Thursday as a rest day, had a 1 hour run on Friday, then on Saturday got in the pool for a quick check that I still knew how to swim as I hadn't done so in 2 weeks due to getting a tattoo. Thus I arrived on race day, far from refreshed and rested.. but exited nonetheless.I had decided to follow some advice from my buddy and favourite pro-triathlete John Hirsch and “race like a Buddhist monk”. I wanted to get faster in transition so no messing around with unnecessary crap. So I cut my transition setup down to the bare minimumTri-suitGogglesT1: helmet, sunglasses, bikeshoesT2: socks, shoesNo messing around.I was glad I had opted for this strategy, as to start off with.. the race had a hell of a transition. The pool was upstairs (yes.. UPSTAIRS) in the leisure centre, so T1 involved a run the length of the leisure centre, down the stairs, through the sports hall, and halfway across some gravel pitches. T:2 was pretty long too.. so I was already expecting to struggle to PR on this course due to this. I got into my lane for the swim and started out second, after a few lengths I passed the guy in front of me and led the swim and was first out of the water in my lane. I think I was maybe 2nd or 3rd out of the water in my wave. I'm not really that insanely fast or anything, If I had been in the next wave, I probably would have been way down the ranking.The bike leg was a challenge. Strong headwinds on the way out and a course that was a mile longer than the standard sprint distance. I think the total length was 13.4 miles. This was fine by me, and it was a nice bike course. However, that extra mile when you aren’t expecting it is kinda tough… not in total.. but when you're expecting the turn around point to happen any second and it doesn’t! T:2 was fun… I couldn’t find my shoes.. which slowed me down for a few seconds, and was equally frustrating and hilarious. The run course was, I think, a fair bit short of 5k as I did it way faster than I actually am capable of running at the moment.. but what the hell, I will take it.. a 20:11 5k sounds good!In the last 100m, the guy who I had passed in the pool and who had been behind me for the whole bike leg, put a sprint on and passed me.. damn… I ended up finishing 4th in my wave, which I'm totally happy with, and 13th in my age group… which I am both HAPPY with and AMAZED by as its exactly the same placing as last time.Overall, in terms of time I was a little slower than the last race, but with an extra mile in the bike leg and a lot longer transition, I consider it mentally a PR. RESULT.Next race is another two weeks away when I do my first Olympic length tri… and my first open water swim……[...]

Kickin off the season...


This week was a busy one. I had a cold, travelled for 40 hours to the west coast of the states and back, had jetlag from hell and kicked off my triathlon season.Not the easiest of weeks!While over in the states I manged to get a few training sessions in. I went for an amazing 1 hour trail run in San Diego out in the Torrey pines State park in La Jolla. Spectacular trails that included a 1300 ft descent and climb. Not easy, at one point i was running (kinda) up and 18% grade. A hell of a lot of fun though. The next day I met up with a Triathlon buddy, Morgan and we went for a nice easy 8.5 mile run down by the coast. It was his first long run since completing his first half -ironman so I was picking his brain extensively for tips. Meeting up with a friend while away from home is great and we had a cool afternoon training and hanging out.SO, fast-forward to the weekend. I got home, suffered the worst jetlag Ive had in a LONG time and then come Saturday morning its time for the first tri of the season. The tri was in Roe Valley, near limavady here in Norn Iron. Nice spot. I was very excited about the race. The bike course was actually pretty hilly and while this was in no way a priority race for me, i was very keen to see how my fitness was and how the winters training had come together. Also this was the first time Steph had been able to see me race a tri so I was extra excited about that.On the morning of the race I wasn't certain whether to bother bringing my Garmin or not. For the simple reason that I wasn't going to be speeding up or slowing down based on anything it could tell me. In the end my decision was made for me as it turned out I had left it in work! So, stopwatch it was!My friend Lisa, who I have been coaching, was in the first wave so I got to watch her and she did really well. A strong swim in a good time. Great to see.Then I got myself ready and I hit the water in wave 3. Amazingly enough, one guy who was in my wave actually knew me... and apparently reads this blog! I was kinda nervous at this stage and this totally threw me so I didn't even catch his name.. so dude, if you're reading, drop me a note! :DThat's me sitting down at the poolside putting on my swimcap :DThe swim was OK. I probably could have been in wave 4, the slightly faster wave, as I had put in last years times. It looked like I was second fastest so I set out second. The swim was pretty tough going. I had probably drunk too much coffee beforehand and that combined with nerves had my heart rate way too high and this made breathing difficult so my swim was a bit scrappy. I was happy enough with it though and actually ended up being out of my lane first. T1 seemed pretty fast then it was out on the bike. I pushed hard on the bike, the course was pretty hilly overall. Definitely not a fast easy ride! Luckily no one passed me on the bike and I passed a few people. Towards the end I think there were only 4 people ahead of me from my heat and we all came in pretty close together together with me as the last of that group to get in. The run was flat enough and went well, I passed 1 of the 4 who had been ahead of me right at the start and was chasing down a second from about the halfway mark.. I just managed to get ahead at the end and crossed the line once second before him.. So I totally thank him for giving me the motivation to sprint across the line :DI actually hadn't hit the start button on my stop[...]