My Ironman Journey for Sporting Footprints 004: April, What a SHOWER!

Sometimes things just don’t go to plan.  In the whole of April I managed just 2 miles of running and the cycling wasn’t exactly pain free either. The patellar femoral pain (knee cap) I had been having for a while now finally got so bad I couldn’t run, so more trips to physio and osteopath and sports massage to speed things up, unfortunately the pain is still there I think it is now down to me having to manage it as I do not think it will go away before Ironman in July let alone my half ironman in a few weeks time.

 

At the start of April I met my nemesis in the swimming pool, I named her ‘Olympic Nana’ she was in her sixties at a guess. Now Olympic Nana was swimming 2 lanes on from me and I was coming to the end of my set when she pointed over to me and signalled ‘Four’ with her fingers (unless my goggles were foggy and she was swearing), here’s how it played out:

ON: “You and me four?”

ME: “Sorry Four? Four What?

ON: “Four lengths come on lets go!”

ME: “Erm, ok

ON: “When the clock hits 12 we go ok?”

ME: “ok” (thinking I’ll go easy don’t want to break her spirit)

 

So we set off, me doing front crawl (badly as usual) after 3 lengths I looked across and she was level with me but much to my horror she was doing backstroke and she was level with me yes she was level, this gave me a kick up the speedos that I needed so I went all out on the last length.

She beat me. Doing backstroke.

Talk about a kick in the pull buoy.

 

ME: “Well done that’s impressive, backstroke as well (then in my head I could feel my excuse coming, part of me was saying don’t be an idiot, don’t say it, don’t say it!) I’m injured at the moment, bad knee (Idiot you said it!)”

ON: “ Oh really , well thanks I find Im better if I have someone to challenge myself against I need it”

ME: (who is this lady) “Yeah I do triathlon and have always struggled with the swim” (double idiot!)

ON: “OK lets go again, ready?”

ME: “Again? (im knackered) Ok lets go again (I’ll get you this time nana)

 

She then looked over with a steely look in her eyes, we raced I almost killed myself but I beat the 60-year-old pensioner by less than a second I reckon. I’ll take that, thank you very much Olympic Nana! I now hope I don’t bump into her again incase she wants a rematch, fair play to her, a great example of keeping fit and healthy and someone I would like to be like at her age but made me realise how much I need to work on my swim!

 

During April we had a family trip to Ibiza where I was going to treat this as a little bit of a warm weather training camp because of the injury that didn’t happen although I made sure I did daily mobility and some TRX exercises to tick over, not helped by a bit too much cheesecake during the week, well I was in Ibiza, rock n roll!

 

On the last day I had enough (more to the point my wife had enough of me being in a mood so suggested I go out and ride) so I went out on the bike to test the knee, felt ok, iced as soon as I got back I was just glad to be on a bike again.

Enjoying the Giant Propel in Ibiza

 

There is not much more to say regarding April, my training was not good at all. At the moment it is 2 steps forward 1 step back but as long as im moving forward that’s the main thing. Keeping a positive attitude to it helps but there are days where the enormity of it all and the fact I don’t feel ready start to fester in the mind. I have spoke with my coach who does an excellent job in telling me not to panic (yet) and diplomatically tells me Im “on track but could always be a bit further on track”.

 

My first event is coming up at the beginning of June, this is the Cotswolds 113 which is half ironman distance, so 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run. Last year this distance was my main race, this year it is now ‘merely’ a warm up to Ironman UK, a true indication of the size of the challenge at hand.

 

If you enjoy this blog and and are hoping for a rematch with Olympic Nana then please sponsor me and reading the story behind the charity here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Matt-Hart4

 

Thanks for reading, 69 days to go! Arghhhhh!!!!!!!

 

Don’t forget to sponsor !

 

My Ironman Journey for Sporting Footprints: Blog Post 003 – Mixed Bag March

March was a funny one and not because I used Veet on my legs for the first time (no laughing at the back!). Apparently it makes you more Aero, or it helps with massages, or stops getting hair in your cut if you come off the bike, lets face it its all a load of rubbish, the only reason triathletes and cyclists do it is because it  MAKES YOU LOOK PRO! Apparently. Either way I am now part of this new found smooth legged club.

 

I hadn’t long taken ownership of my new bike and was signed up to ride the Wiltshire Wildcat Cycle Sportive with my mates, 81 miles and about 5000ft elevation meant it would be a good day out and a gauge of my fitness.

Normally when I look at the forecast and it says windy im not too bothered however as the new bike has deep section rims, and as I am light crosswinds make it a battle to stop myself flying sideways into a hedge or oncoming traffic. The forecast for the Wiltshire Wildcat was one of high winds. The whole day was spent in quite a tense position on the bike plus a slipping seat post meant it didn’t all go to plan, thankfully I had my mate Neil ‘Legs of Steel’ with me to help push on through. We finished the ride in just under 5 hours so all was well in the end, although spare a thought for my brother in law Aaron who suffered a record breaking 6 punctures (If only Norris McWhirter had been on hand with his Guinness book of World Records he’d be famous) so he had to call it a day early on.

A week later I had Surrey Half Marathon where I managed a 7 minute PB, I was really pleased with this and felt strong, it poured down most of the morning but it was a good event and I managed to beat the man with a fridge stuck to his back so I call that a result.

 

You may be reading this this thinking, ‘this guy’s not mentioned injuries yet’ well hold your horses! For the first 2 weeks in March I couldn’t swim due to a shoulder impingement meaning I couldn’t lift my arm past shoulder height. This was probably brought on by holding on for dear life while on the sportive. A trip to the physio and some exercises I was back in the game 2 weeks later.

 

The rest of March has been the usual, swim bike, run as much as possible and trying to be as consistent as I can, unfortunately not as much as I would have liked but still lots of brick sessions have been good and still averaging about 9 hours training a week.

 

The end of March saw me enter my first TT (Time Trial) hosted by Andover Wheelers along with the man that began this Ironman journey with me Steve, now we are completely new to this but we went along with our mate ‘Legs of Steel’ Neil who is an experienced head in the art of going fast, in case you hadn’t surmised from his nickname. This TT was a 8.25 mile Loop and you set off one at a time in 1 minute intervals. Annoyingly I was drawn number 21, Steve 22 and Neil 23, so I knew as I was going first they would be trying there hardest to catch me, if ever I felt like a hare being chased by a couple of dogs now was the time, woof woof.

I started off ok then hit the headwind stayed as aero as possible and just gritted my teeth and pushed as hard as I could, the intention was to go as hard as my legs could go without those 2 dogs catching me.

After about 4 miles nobody had gone past me so I was feeling quietly confident, that was until about mile 5-6 when ‘Legs of Steel’ rode past me as if he was on a Sunday jaunt, in fact he may as well have been reading the paper he looked that casual, yes he has a smart TT bike but it would have possibly been the same if he was on a Penny Farthing.

 

Considering Neil started 2 minutes behind me he must have been giving it some, Steve who started 1 minute behind me hadn’t passed me yet so I still had something to hold onto, that was until 1 mile to go when I turned to see him head down foaming at the mouth dripping in sweat, and screaming ‘’ must catch matty!’ , ok it wasn’t like that at all he just rode past me quite fast, faster than me so of course I let him go, my time would come, perhaps in a race when neither of those 2 were racing.

 

We finished the race knackered but loved it, there is something to be said about going as hard and fast as you can for a short period of time leaving nothing left on the table, giving your absolute all. I realised at the end I had an excuse, my seat post had dropped (again) so I wouldn’t have produced as much power towards the latter part of the race, truth be told I doubt id have been much quicker but I blamed that damn seatpost!

 

At the time of going to press Ironman is only 99 days away and I still have a long way to go, so far the furthest I’ve ever ran is 13.1 miles, I have not swam the distance yet and have only done 2 100 plus mile rides to date so lots of hard training to come so I just hope I can manage these injuries. positive thinking goes a long way.

 

I leave the end of March and the start of April injured (yes I know hard to believe) , an ongoing knee problem which I’ve been maintaining for 6 weeks now has finally got too painful I’ve had to stop running, patellar femoral pain so I won’t bore you with the details as it bores me but it’s just another little obstacle to get through, the good thing about triathlon is there is always another discipline to focus on if you can’t do any of the others.

 

And finally, the reason I am doing this please, If you can sponsor a bit of money for this worthy cause, if you read this blog and enjoyed it or even if you haven’t and you want me to shut up, sponsoring is the way forward.

 

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Matt-Hart4

 

April sees some warm weather training, Ibiza here we come, injuries permitting of course.

My Ironman Journey for Sporting Footprints: Blog Post No. 002 – Fast but Slow

February was a quick month, where did it go!?

The start of Feb saw me doing a 1000 metre Time Trial test in the pool. Im not a big fan of these tests as they push you to go as hard as you can and as you know by now I struggle with my swim at the best of times, however it seems a minor miracle occurred.

The previous month over 1000m I averaged a time of 2:28/100 epically slow not helped by me looking at other people’s times on Strava. (Note: Focus on yourself and your own target.)

This month I didn’t feel like I was dying/drowning and managed a time of 2:16/100 and knocking a whole 2 minutes off the total 1000mm Time Trial. I’ve now gone from very slow to just slow, happy with that!

During this test week I also had to do a Lactate Heartrate Threshold Test on the bike, again this test isn’t pretty, you have to ride as hard but as sustainable as you can for 20 minutes. I did this on my Wattbike and a small improvement of 5 Watts power increase over the last month, again I’ll take that thank you very much.

Speaking of power, specifically bike power, one of the main measuring factors athletes use to determine your power on the bike is Power/Weight ratio. For example I am a short arse and weigh 60kg, yes this is light and all this training has certainly helped and I have a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) of 177 this is the power I could sustain over 1 hour on a bike (ish). I could probably do more who knows.

Therefore to work out my power/weight ratio you divide my power by my weight giving me a score of just under 3 watts/kg.

However, you would think a heavier rider would have a better ratio, this isn’t entirely true, let’s take a cyclist who weighs 107kg and for the purpose of this blog we’ll call him Steve. Steve has a FTP of 266 watts, massively more power than me but his ratio is 2.4. This doesn’t mean that much really because on a flat bit of road or downhill Steve will be faster because absolute power will come into play however on the uphills I should be quicker. These numbers may mean nothing to you and you may have started nodding off, I’m a bit of a geek with numbers but I’ll leave it there so as to not bore you to death.

February also saw a few brick sessions which involves cycling then running straight off the bike , this is to get your legs used to the jelly legs feeling you can get running straight off the bike leg of a triathlon. Nobody wants to look like Bambi on your big day.

I have also upped the running miles this month starting with a 10 mile trail run. I have been getting a 10 miler in each week now as well as a few shorter runs.

Photo: Muddy shoes and sore knee post trail run

I know what youre thinking, I haven’t mentioned any injuries yet, well wait for it,  I seem to have a bit of patella tendinitis/ patellar femoral pain so am trying to be a s careful as I can with this, still doing lots of strengthening etc. and hoping to keep it under control.

The highlight of Feb other than running with my lad on his first junior Park Run, and even better than pancakes was my new bike arrived, it may not make me go faster but at least it might make me feel faster!

Photo: My new baby on its first ride out, is it weird that I cant stop stroking it every time I walk past it.

 

Coming up In March I have Surrey Half Marathon so stay tuned for that, bet you can’t wait.

 

And of course, the reason I am taking on this Ironman Journey is to raise money for Sporting Footprints please see my Just Giving page and spare anything you can.

Until next time.

 

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Matt-Hart4

Taking my running to another dimension, well kind of !

Back in January of this year I had a play on a new machine that had just landed with Nick at NK Sports Podiatry. For months previously I had been suffering with a niggling injury called posterior tibialis tendinopathy so was recommended to go and see Nick to see if he could help.

Over the months I stopped running, carried out some rehab work and was advised to get some orthotics to offload the injured area. Both Nick and myself didn’t see the orthotics as a long term solution just a tool to help me recover quicker.

The 3D analysis machine itself is an impressive bit of kit. Firstly lots of sensors are placed on your body whilst various cameras then monitor your running style. You can then adjust your style to fit into the parameters thus making you more efficient.

 

I discovered that I had a slight overstride, minor ankle eversion and my knees had a habit of drifting inwards (valgus) as I ran so Nick got me to run at a slightly higher cadence and widen my legs slightly as you can see here in the video how after these adjustments I fall into the more efficient running parameters.

Also rather annoyingly in a way I discovered I was much more efficient at running without the orthotics, there goes £££ down the drain! Since my time with Nick I have ditched the orthotics, bought more stable running shoes and am now back running, injury has more or less gone and I am still strengthening the area daily with some band exercises he recommended. Whilst running now I am more conscious to try and land my foot below me rather than overstriding, trying to increase the cadence which limits the time the foot is in contact with the floor thus also helping the knees and widening my stance slightly. In time I’m hoping this will help with my overall running style, and reduce the injury risk.

If any of this interests you and you would like to have a chat with Nick then click the link here NK Sports Podiatry

My IronMan Journey for Sporting Footprints – Blog Post 001

 

The Challenge

  

2017 sees me taking on my biggest challenge to date (even surpassing trying to cook one of Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals in 30 minutes which I have found is impossible, false advertising if ever I saw it.)
On 16th July I will be partaking, and ideally finishing Ironman UK, for those not familiar with triathlon and in particular Ironman, the premise is as follows, swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles then run a marathon which as most people know is 26 miles.

To make it a little more challenging I have under 17 hours to finish this with various cut offs along the way so the fear of being tapped on the shoulder and told you’re not going to make it and have to prematurely end your race is a real one. I have decided to write a monthly blog so if anyone is interested in what goes on in the build up to this type of event can have a gander. Also to annoy people with the continued pestering of sponsorship which leads me on nicely to this…

Sporting Footprints

  
My nephews have a illness called PVNH and what comes with that is lots of health issues, my brother and sister-in-law decided to set up a charity which helps the children and their families including my nephews that use a respite house in Basingstoke called Bluebells House.
I have decided to try and raise as much money as I can for Sporting Footprints and here is what this awesome charity run by my brother and sister -in-law do:
Sporting Footprints works alongside Sebastian’s Action Trust and the families they support to assist with funding for specialist equipment or opportunities that would otherwise not be easily available or prove to be an added expense to the family budget.

At Sporting Footprints they believe that being able to enhance the quality of life for an ill or disabled child should be a priority so, along with their fantastic supporters, they host annual challenges and events to raise funds that enable them to continue to provide this worthwhile service.

Every single grant Sporting Footprints is able to give would not be possible without supporters and fundraisers continuing to selflessly raise money and awareness for their cause.

Please have a look at their website to find out more https://www.sportingfootprints.org.uk/

Training

My training started in November 2016 but is only now starting to ramp up a little this January, mainly because Mr Injury over here has been errrrr…injured. Yup up until 2 weeks ago I hadn’t ran in about 4 months due to Posterior Tibialis Tendinopathy (just in case you wanted the meat and bones of it). I also had another visit to the Cardiologist due to ongoing palpitations which I’ve had for years. An echo-cardiogram confirming the structure of the heart is ok and its once again something I have to live with. Still unnerving but I am determined to not let it get the better of me, which it does on occasions.
I’m pretty sure this blog will have a very strong injury theme to it so I’ll try not to bore you with it too much. In fact don’t be surprised if I get finger tendinitis from typing this up. (Is that even a thing?!).
I have the expertise of an experienced online triathlon coach setting my training every week on a training platform called Training Peaks, I now find myself answering to someone, I now know how my clients feel! If I don’t complete a swim set or my bike ride is not in a certain heart rate zone then I hear about it from the boss, unless of course I have a valid excuse. When it comes to this type of training and the volume needed I find being accountable to someone really helps, there really is nowhere to hide. Everything I do on my Garmin gets automatically uploaded to him as soon as the session is over.
At the moment, I am training 6 days a week sometimes twice a day so it’s a juggling act to fit work in around my training (If my coach is reading this he will see that I prioritised training over work there, brownie points) luckily by nature of my job I am surrounded by fitness equipment all day long so barring injury (there I go again) or illness I don’t have an excuse not to train.
A Snapshot of a weeks training would be as follows:
   This is a recent week, green means I have done the exact session my coach has set me, yellow means I have either done a bit too little or too much and red means I have been a very naughty boy.
I seem to be getting better at swimming, I am still slow but at least I don’t feel like im drowning anymore, I still think a dolphin can walk better than I can swim but persistence is the key.So swimming 3 times a week, cycling 3-4 times a week and im gradually building up my runs have recently ran 4 miles. Lots of foam rolling, stretching, strengthening, mobility and icing is the key for me at the moment. Also that snapshot doesn’t take into consideration 2 days a week of strength training which I need to fit in somewhere.
So in all it will be about 8 months of solid training with a few races in the build up, I have a Half Marathon planned in March as long as my rehab and running goes well, then a Half Ironman early June followed by an Olympic distance end of June and the big one Ironman UK in July. Depending on recovery etc I may have to scrap the Olympic triathlon as Ironman is my A Race.
Luckily I have a very understanding wife (more brownie points) who is training for her very first triathlon so logistically it can be quite a challenge for us both to train and not impact on the kids activities and the like but we manage and plan ahead.

Coming Up

Blog number 2 will be about my visit to Nick at NK Sports Podiatry who hooked me up to a 3D machine just like Andy Serkis (you know the Gollom fella from Lord of The Rings) in order to look at my running gait and try to see why I had the injury and how to improve my running from that.

It’s a bit geeky but Im a bit of a geek when it comes to that sort of stuff. Turns out screeching ‘My Precious’ whilst looking for a ring in an ape like manor on a Treadmill was not the way to go about improving your technique. Who’d have thought.

Oh and most importantly here is the link to my Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Matt-Hart4 . If you enjoyed this blog and would like to sponsor me please visit, even just a few quid will make a difference.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for Blog Post 002
Matt

 

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Matt-Hart4

Silly Season is Upon Us

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Well it’s that time of year where silly season hits us again. Fad diets, restrictive detoxes, wonder pills and whatever the latest celeb is endorsing.

Remember there is no quick fix these so called wonder diets pretty much always set you up to fail.

There is no miracle diet out there, if Fat Loss is your aim you have a whole choice out there be it 5/2, Low Carb High Fat, Atkins, Juice Diet etc I could go on but guess what the so-called ‘magic’ is behind these diets? Good old fashioned Calorie Restriction, that is all, by restricting your calories drastically you will lose weight but the key question to ask yourself is, is are these diets sustainable? If not, then its not for you.

I’ll let you in on a SECRET.

The ONLY diet that works is one that you can do for the rest of your life. Sustainable, enjoyable, balanced and not too restrictive.

If you are dieting this January, then how about ditching the drastically restrictive yo-yo diets and setting a small daily deficit (daily includes SATURDAY and SUNDAY!) allowing yourself something a little bit ‘naughty’ now and again but adhering to it a lot more than cutting everything out straight away. Its easier on your body and mind and if it means you have been slowly losing weight over 12 months rather than drastically losing it over 1 month only for 6 months later to pile it all back on again then surely its got to be worth a shot, your body will thank you for it.

If you are tracking calories be careful, we have a tendency to over estimate how many we burn when exercising and under estimate how much we actually eat.

Finally, remember Fat Loss is not linear there will be ups and downs but as long as the trend over time is still one of reduction then you are doing well.

And finally finally, Happy New Year , heres to a happy and healthy 2017!

New Class Alert!

As from Monday 14th November I will be running a NEW Smash HiiT Bootcamp,

Consisting of a Circuit based workout with High Intensity Boxing Interval Training included, suitable for all abilities.

Location: Pavilion Hall, Bramley

Time: 9am – 9.45am

£6 per session.

 

Its gonna be good so book your place now!

Going through the motions?

Are you one of those people at the gym that is still using the same old tatty gym programme card, doing the same thing you’ve been doing for what seems like ages?

I see it quite a bit,  you pick your card up, look at it, sigh, shrug the shoulders think ‘here we go again’, then do the same exercises at the same weight you’ve been doing for the last 6 months then wonder why your body isn’t changing.

A good PT or Fitness Instructor should spot this and see the signs, come over to you and offer the opportunity of a new programme and/or fitness assessment to keep the motivation and enjoyment going.

Generally a programme should be periodised,  every 6-8 weeks is quite a popular time frame but during those 6-8 weeks you should be seeing progress and constantly trying to improve week in week out, this doesn’t mean increasing the weight or time spent on a machine EVERY session but a gradual improvement should be seen over this time. If you are not monitoring and writing down your weights or times then how are you going to see progression?

After this time it can be beneficial to change it up a bit, wether its a case of different exercises/ rep ranges/ different tempo/ rest times etc, there are lots of variables we can use to keep your mind and body stimulated.

Don’t let it get to that stage of boredom and apathy towards the gym, when you feel like that is about to happen go and speak to your friendly (at least I hope they’re friendly!) fitness professional to get you back on track.

 

Remember its all about Motivation, Progression and Results….Im sure I’ve seen that strap line somewhere !

 

change-same-old-choice-signpost-hand-drawing-blackboard-concept-55982858

From Half-Hearted to Half Ironman

From Half-Hearted to Half-Ironman

 

One thing I wasn’t prepared for on the day of my Ironman 70.3 was the emotion, it had been a long journey with lots of obstacles along the way but here I was running (just) down the red finishers chute with my family and friends cheering me on with a complete sense of satisfaction, relief and pride.

 

The purpose of this blog post is really for future me to look back on as a reminder of the day but there may be the odd person out there who may find it interesting also, so please read on if that’s you. Last August I signed up with a friend to do a Half Ironman or Ironman 70.3, which consists of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride followed by a 13.1 mile run.

Having researched some of the Ironman 70.3 races out there my mate (yes, you Steve) decided the best one to do would be Exmoor, which is quite notorious in the triathlon world as being the hardest 70.3 in Europe, mainly down to the fact it has some hills, 52 hills in fact, that’s just on the bike, then you have a hilly half marathon with a mixture of grass, mud and gravel to finish you off. The only thing flat is the swim, even the transition from swim to bike is on a hill. You get the picture there’s a shed load of hills.

As I said last August was the month we booked the race, I then spent a few months freaking out about the course and the fact I still wasn’t a very good swimmer. I believe you should focus on your weakest discipline and swimming was it but I knew if I kept at it it would eventually click so 2-3 times a week I would get up early and head to the pool practising my drills, whilst also doing a couple of bike rides outside or on the WattBike and a couple of runs when I could fit them in a week.

During this time I picked up many injuries which I now realise is part and parcel of this game, my shoulder was causing lots of pain, I had AC Joint degeneration and inflammation mainly due to my poor swim technique, ongoing calf issues, hamstring tweaks, rib pain from a torn intercostal from years ago, ankle pain and a suspected stress fracture but the most worrying was a trip to Surrey Sports Park to have an exercise stress test as someone who suffers from ectopic beats I thought it best to have a check-up, a couple of months out from the race. Here they hook you up to a 12 point ECG and put you on a bike and progressively increase the resistance until you can’t physically go any longer whilst also checking your lung function. Everything came back good apart from one ‘slightly concerning’ marker from my heart. I was told to see my GP so I googled (never google health ailments!) what I was told I had by the technician and got an appointment with my GP the next day. He didn’t do much to allay my concerns basically telling me to not worry but in the meantime until I saw a specialist to not let my heart go above 110bpm!!

Obviously on hearing this news my Heart Rate skyrocketed to 111bpm! I managed to get an appointment with a consultant 3 days later but those 3 days I don’t mind admitting were horrendous I literally thought my heart was going to stop at any minute and kept thinking my Triathlon days and my job as a Personal Trainer were over, and even darker thoughts about  never seeing family. I didn’t take it well.

I then had another stress test with the consultant who afterwards sat me down and said the awesome words ‘Your ECG is fine’ , I do have something different to most people but it was nothing to worry about and recent research showed a small percentage of soldiers in the American Army have it also, HOOORAH!

That was like a second wind for me so that night I went up the lake and smashed my 2 lap (1500m) PB by 3 minutes.

Training for the last 2 months consisted of finding the biggest hills and riding up and down them as much as possible, I started to relish hills and enjoyed finding the big ones and trying to get up them as efficiently as possible. Swimming was improving but I still wasn’t running as much due to niggling injuries, 2 weeks out I still wasn’t sure if I could run and was told by my physio to not run for a week so not the best run preparation but I knew it wasn’t going to stop me even if it was a stress fracture I was going to do Exmoor and worry about the pain after.

Race Day

The day had finally come, we had camped on the site of the Ironman 70.3 with my wife and kids in a rented campervan so I was up at 4.30am, 2 pots of porridge, pitta bread with peanut butter, water and a Beet It shot later I was nearly ready.

Sipping on a bottle of electrolyte and packing my last bag after racking and packing my bike and run bag the day before and leaving in transition I was finally set.

Last minute words of encouragement from the family and my friends who had all come down to support. Ironically this whole thing was Steves idea and due to and injury he had to pull out months before but still got a nice bag eh Steve (only £250!)

 

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Swim

The swim is self-seeding and a rolling start which is meant to be much safer and less chance of getting knocked out in the usual melee of a mass start. You have 1hr 10mins to complete the swim otherwise you’re race is over and you get hit with a DNF (Did Not Finish). I seeded myself just past the 45 minute marker hoping anything under 45 minutes would be good. So there we all were hundreds of men and women lined up waiting for the national anthem to end, which was blasting around the stunning Wimbleball Lake, before the race began. I don’t know why but I was the calmest I have ever been before a race, and decided to take the inside lane of the 1 lap route, the swim went by without a hitch I felt so relaxed, had quite a bit of open water and only a few little digs here and there. I was astounded to see my time on my watch when I came out of the water to read 40:53 I’d never swam that fast before. I saw my friends and family for the obligatory high 5 and hugs as I made my way up the hill to bike transition, feeling full of energy and pleased to see them.

Then it all went a bit tits up.

I arrived in transition and grabbed my bag and ran to the nude changing area as I wanted to change into full cycle kit, opened the bag and Id grabbed the wrong one, so quickly ran back put that one back and grabbed mine, got changed, grabbed my bike and headed out of transition. Feeling good and heading up the first hill for about 250 metres before realising I hadn’t put my number belt on, now this is Ironman where you will get disqualified for dropping litter. I immediately thought my race was over, I wasn’t sure if no number belt meant a DQ but I had no choice but to go back and get it. I jumped off my bike and ran (anyone who has ran in cycle shoes knows this is ridiculous) all the way down the hill swearing my head off thinking after all these months of hard work Ive blown it with a stupid number belt issue. I found a referee and said ‘Im really sorry Ive left my number belt in transition can I go and get it’. He thankfully said it was OK, I asked if it would affect my race in any way and he said No, the relief! So in total I probably lost about 5-7 minutes with that balls up but as my swim went so well I figured I was about level.

 

 

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Bike

The bike is 2 laps and the cut off is 5hrs 30mins from my swim start (so includes swim and bike time).

Thankfully the bike was pretty uneventful. I saw guys off their bikes and pushing them on the first hill ‘only another 51 to go guys’! All my hill training paid off and I made up a lot of places on the bike passing people with relative ease on the hills. I wanted to finish below 4 hours and average 15mph over the 56 miles which would mean I would beat the cut off but still hopefully have enough in the legs to finish the run.

Then my bike started making all sorts of creaking and cracking noises on lap 2 to the extent where I was nervous to peddle so tried to not peddle as much as possible, which is frankly near enough impossible on a course like this but at the end of the 2 laps I beat cut off and averaged exactly 15mph, love it when a plan comes together!

Finished the bike in 3:54 relieved my bike held up.

 

Run

Transition went smoothly and I headed out for the run, legs felt remarkably fresh (lots of brick sessions paid off) , really wanted to see my family though and there they were at the start of the run, cuddles and kisses with the kids and reassuring words from my awesome wife and friends put me in a good frame of mind.

At this stage I didn’t have a clue how long I had been going, I knew I had to beat 8hrs 30 mins to beat total cut off and finish the race. The run consists of 3 laps of hilly, undulating, uneven terrain. Lap 1 felt good and as I came to the crossroads to either head down the finish chute or start lap 2 again my amazing support crew were there with placards and hugs and high 5’s, this time though as I turned the corner to start lap 2 I started welling up at the thought I might actually do this. Lap 2 was horrible, my ankle, in fact my legs were hurting bad but there was no way I was going to stop, again I got to the crossroads more encouragement and hugs from my wife and kids and more welling up from me as I went round the corner, must have been dust or something getting in my eye!

At mile 10 I felt like I was going to collapse, legs felt weak and my head started to get dizzy. I knew this might happen so didn’t panic, did another gel but still didn’t feel better, then a short battle with the head saying just stop, of course that battle lasted all of 3 seconds there was no way I was going to stop but I needed something in me before I collapsed, so I simply relaxed and listened to my body which wanted real food, I grabbed half a banana from the aid station and immediately felt better.

 

The Finish

Finally I saw the crossroads and could see my support crew were not there so knew they were waiting down the finishers chute, a great feeling not having to do another lap I can tell you, and a beaming smile saw me head down the red Ironman Carpet, I milked this moment, slowing down, smiling, high 5 ing the crowd and again that special moment with my wife, kids and friends before crossing the line in 7:01, utterly ecstatic that after everything that had happened on this road to Half Ironman I had done it and done the hardest in Europe!

Tears were shed properly this time when my wife and kids came over and wouldn’t let go, they knew how much it meant to me, they had put up with a lot as well. I struggled to get the words out but I know they were along the lines of………now I want to do a full one!

 

 

 

Thanks to theses amazing people for so much love and encouragement not just on the day but during the whole journey: Steve & Lydia (and kids), Neil & Joelle (11 times mate!), Ray for the training rides and positivity and my amazing wife and kids who are now Ironkids after completing their event the day before for the inspiration and motivation and for just putting up with me!

 

 

 

 

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On your marks, get set….injured!

There is nothing more frustrating than that injury that first starts off as a niggle then progressively gets worse and becomes a chronic source of pain, Im sure most of us who lead an active lifestyle have been there at some point. The thing is its not just the physical pain and discomfort that an injury can bring its also the mental anguish of not being able to train and do what you love. Instead you sit around getting stressed, moody and may even end up taking it out on those who we work with or are close to us, I notice it if I haven’t had the time to train for a couple of days I start getting a little bit stroppy until my wife chucks my trainers at me and tells me to go out for a run (ok maybe not that extreme but you catch my drift!)

Its how we deal with these setbacks that defines our mental state towards them. I’m reading a great book at the moment called The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday which in brief goes on to say that those setbacks are just the route in which we are taking to get where we want to be, they are in fact not setbacks at all, its a hard one to get the head round but in my humble opinion its worth a read.

In preparation for my first ever Half Ironman in June I have been training a lot and have had a ridiculous amount of injuries over the last year it did make me question whether my body was going to manage it, im still not 100% but adapting my training as best I can and here in lies the answer, if you have an injury which is stopping you from say running, then get in the pool, cant swim? Then learn, try something new there is always another way. Going to the physio who then gives you some exercises to do which you only do for a week then don’t bother carrying on then wonder why your not getting ‘fixed’ immediately is not going to work, you need to be patient and consistent with your rehab.

Keeping a positive attitude towards training, listening to your body and not being afraid to try something different all helps to keep us on track to a healthy body and mindset.

On that note, im off to ice my knees.

 

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