MK Half

by on Mar.19, 2011, under Results

I had a half marathon down on my training plan from day 1 this year and this one is particularly convenient as it starts just a couple of miles from my house. Part of my motivation was too see if I could hit a target that would legitimise my following of the ‘ambitious’ athlete demographic in my training manual (as opposed to ‘Training To Finish’ or ‘Performance’).

I was hoping to run under 1h50 but secretly I really wanted to hit 1h45. This would mean running 8 minute miles consistently. This seemed like a reasonable goal, although on the long runs I’m no where near this speed – but on my tempo run I usually hit a couple of miles at or below that. To be fair my run training so far this year has been good, a mixture of long base endurance running (all around 13 miles at a time), some shorter quicker tempo runs (home from work) and the occasional speed workout on a Thursday morning. I was hoping I’d lock into an 8 minute mile ‘groove’ early on and would be able to hold it. I’d done some rough numbers so I knew what I’d need to put in if I fell behind.

Come race day I was quite nervous. I always feel this way before any race, the short cycle ride up to the start calmed me down nicely though – as did the cold rain in the air.

From the off the going was quite busy – it always feels like it’ll be slow until everyone gets sorted out – but invariably it’s usually quicker than you think. In this case the first mile came up in 7:50, which is pretty much what I expected. I carried on and was surprised to see the next mile at 7:45, then more surprised to see mile 4 at 7:47! Things were going well I’d not even noticed mile 3. I started to worry that I might be going too quickly to sustain it, although I felt I could run quicker. I didn’t slow up, but I also didn’t push on.

I’d arranged with Laura to pass her and Jodie as the route came close to the house around mile 8. My quick sums said this would take 64 minutes, so be there at 11am. I was a little worried she might miss me as I was running around 7:45 consistently, thankfully they hadn’t cut it fine and I got a brief cheer on and high-five.

Miles 9 and 10 came easy. I’d been unsure about what to do nutrition wise as my normal long runs are unhurried and I carry a bottle of carb drink. As it happened the water stops were ideally located and a few sips were all I felt I needed. I’d packed some Powerbar Ride Shots in case I felt things flagging. By mile 10 I wasn’t sure I needed anything, but with the uphill section coming and the delay on the carb intake I popped one ‘just in case’.

My miles remained consistent right up until the last one which was where the route climbs back to the start location. This was the only mile I dropped off my pace (to 8:12) – so not too bad considering.

All done, 1h43 minutes (well, 1h42m59s on the chip timing), averaging around 7:45 pace. The thing is – at no point did I feel like I’d really pushed myself (except possibly on the hill at the end). I was happy to hit sub 1h45m. Maybe in hindsight I should have chosen a tougher target. Would 1h40m been possible? Part of the problem was not knowing how I’d hold up in the second half of the race. So next time I have a tougher target – but looking forward to my 70.3, I’m confident that my training plan is working and that my goal isn’t unreasonable.

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Swimovate Poolmate

by on Feb.17, 2011, under Review

Probably my favourite aspect of Triathlon training has been the open water swimming. Because I’m not a Channel Swim looney, this unfortunately means that the outdoor swim season is quite short in the UK. This in turn means the dread boredom of pool swimming. Aside from the unnatural lighting, chemical water and (shock) other people.. the thing that I don’t like is how easily I lose count of lengths.

Thankfully I got a Swimovate Poolmate as a Christmas gift. It’s been great. It automatically tracks my lengths, times them, keeps a history as well as counting strokes per length and giving a ‘efficiency’ score.

I have the ‘regular’ version rather than the ‘pro’. From what I can tell, this just means that it doesn’t do an automatic data transfer to a PC. I work on a Linux machine most of the time anyway, and I suspect there probably isn’t an app I could use for the pro version anyway. Plus I’m quite happy to hit the buttons and go through it’s training log and transfer the details into SportTracks manually anyway.

What I like is the faultless way it keeps track of my distance and times, as simply as pressing the start button. You then just hit start again if you’re doing any kind of training to introduce a recovery period, then start when you begin the next set. Hold down start to complete the activity.

Swimovate Poolmate


  • Nice and small. Looks like a regular ‘petrol station’ digitial watch. i.e. not massive like my 310XT
  • Simple to use. Basically, designed for pool swimming – so no myriad of settings etc.
  • Effective. Does exactly what it’s supposed to. No errors so far!

Minor niggles,

  • I’d like the lap counter to be bigger – it’s the number I’m usually looking out for – but it uses the small digits on the display rather than the larger ones that are reserved for time
  • Some of the button presses are a little unintuitive. When viewing an activity it’s quite easy to get a scary “Erase?” prompt up. I hold down start when I see that to back out quickly.
  • The history log doesn’t include the individual rest periods, but does include their time in the overall time. So if you do the 5 reps of 400m @ 8 mins, with 30 second rests you only see 5 sets in the log, but a total time of 44 minutes. You’d then have to do the maths to work out your reset time looking at the log.

Overall though, I’d say it’s a great bit of kit…. I’d still rather be in the lake though.

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A New year – a New plan

by on Feb.10, 2011, under What

I haven’t posted for a little while.. well.. a long while.

I’ve actually been busy training!

I’ve booked my ‘A’ race for the year – the Big Cow ‘Cow Man’ Middle Distance 70.3, which has really spurred me on with a definite goal. To help me out I’m working from Ash & Penker’s “Ironman 70.3 – Training for the middle distance”. Currently I’m hitting my 8-9hr a week training target, mostly base building runs and a lot of swimming. Not so much cycling so far, but that’ll start up soon and take over as the evenings get lighter.

The week usually looks something like this at the moment

Monday – Lunchtime swim / Evening Spin class
Tuesday – 5mi run home (Tempo / Fast / Cross country, T3-4)
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Morning run (T2), Lunchtime/Evening Swim
Friday – Either a Bike/Run brick in the gym or weights
Saturday – Morning swim
Sunday – Long run (T3)

I’ve bought a couple of bits to help with my middle distance goal – and I’ll try and cover those in some short reviews soon.

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Race result comparison

by on Aug.27, 2010, under Results

Although they’re different courses I’ve been comparing my two pool sprint times. Roade 2009 and Beverley 2010.

* Roade Swim is 414m, Beverley is 400m
** Roade Run was 4.5k, Beverley was 5k

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Beverley Triathlon 2010

by on Aug.27, 2010, under Results

Arriving at T2

This was my last planned event of the year, entered for a bit of fun as it’s up near my parent’s home in the town I used to go to school at. It’s a pool sprint format; 400m swim, 20k ride, 5k run. I hadn’t trained much since MK Tri and the week before rather than cramming some final interval training in I went to Manchester for a beer filled weekend with mates instead. Ideally I was aiming for under 1hr15, 1hr10 would be great but probably unlikely considering.

The swim worked out quite well. I was in the 9.30am wave which seem incredibly civilised since the other races this year have been 7.30 or earlier. In fact I think I’d finished the Big Cow sprint by 9.30am! The wave consists of 8 lanes with up to 4 in a lane, theoretically all swimming around the same 400m time. However I’d given my 9minute/400m time based on Roade last year, whereas in training I’d been hitting around 7m30s. Luckily one of the other competitors in my lane had also given the wrong time and was swimming about the same time as me. Luckier still we were scheduled to head out first with the 2 remaining swimmers in our lane following at 9 minute pace. This meant we didn’t really need to overtake until the end of our 16 lengths so we didn’t get slowed up much. The other good thing was that the lane counters at Beverley Tri give you a 2 length warning so you know when to get out! That was probably my only major worry about this race!

Race finish with Jodie

I’d recced the ride the day before from the car and it looked flat enough. In the race I was able to stay on the big cog the whole way round and keep the cadence between 85-95. I was hoping to improve my bike pace a bit and get closer to 20mph average, but this didn’t happen – lack of saddle time really. During the recce it looked like there might be a few places (roundabouts & junctions) which might involve a stop, however during the race this didn’t happen – although I was instructed to bump up onto a path by a marshall to avoid a congested junction, which lead to a few minutes of confusion trying to get off it and back onto the road later.

The transition to run went okay. I didn’t really use my watch to monitor my pace and just headed out (because I was treating it as “a bit of fun” I think I probably didn’t push so hard). I briefly had to stop at the level crossing for a train. Probably about 10 seconds, but not long enough for the marshal to give me a time credit. No matter. The best bit was that this time because of the later start Jodie came to spectate with her cousin, aunt and Gran – so they cheered me on in Transition and across the finish line.

Final time was 1h14m27s, although my Garmin clocked it at 1h13m23s. It seems odd that the timing can be out by so much, and I did notice that the pool clock was registering 9.31.05 when we started not 9.30.05 (as scheduled). I’m taking it as 1h13m then!

It was quite good fun, I had no pressure on. I might be tempted to do it again next year even though the goal is to concentrate on the longer course events.

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MK Tri 2010 – Done!

by on Jul.25, 2010, under Results

Now that went well! I’d set myself some rough targets in my head. 1500m swim, 30 minutes. 40k ride, 80minutes. 10k run, 50 minutes. Total time. Total around 2h40, maybe 2h45 with transitions.Well, I beat all those by a couple of minutes each.

Swim. 27m49s, I think this is my favourite discipline at the moment. If anything I should have pushed to the front more for the start as I spent a little while coming through the pack. I favoured a wide line round most buoys so didn’t get into to much trouble. Now and again in the second half I thought I had some cramp coming on but just relaxed and breathed carefully, then picked a target and pulled out 10 big strokes at a time which pulled me past quite a few competitors.

T1. 2m11s, not too bad. Could have been a little more focussed but had no trouble getting my wet suit off even given then I had opted to wear my quite bulky 310xt. Luckily my racking point was close to bike in and out, so didn’t waste too much time running in my bike shoes. Faffed around for too long try to get mounted, wasn’t helped by the fact there was no mount line which was confusing.

Cycle. 1h18m26s, spent a lot of time swapping positions with a fellow competitor. Probably kept us both going quite well, but was concious of not drafting. Took 3 60g gels on the bike, the last one about 5k out from T2 to help out on the run. Dealt with the hills fairly well, never got up out of the saddle. Now and again thought my calves were going to cramp, particularly when I shifted to the smaller cog for hills.

T2. 1m05s, not much to say about T2 as it’s always the easy one. Shoes swapped okay and no time wasted running the bike in.

Run. 48m03s, running off the bike always feels strange however I headed out at 8min mile pace or slightly quicker. I’d opted to wear the 310xt for the whole race, but I would probably have worn it for the run anyway for the pace info. Tried to lock into 8min miles as a minimum which largely worked, spent a lot of time counting and breathing. In the end as I approached the the finish on my 3rd lap I nearly got confused and started an extra lap! The sign said “Lap 2 & 3 left, Finish Right”. Since I was on lap 3 (and in my addled state) I wondered if I should go left. I actually started that way when luckily the 310xt saved the day and bleeped up the 6 mile count. I looked down and saw 48mins so knew that I should really be finishing so ducked under the lane tape just in time and crossed the finish line. Whew! All done. A few nervous moments of wondering if I was going to be DQed for not doing enough laps, then relief at realising I was done and my time was good!

Finish time. 2 hours 37 minutes 36 seconds

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MK Tri – Tomorrow

by on Jul.24, 2010, under When, Where

This is my ‘A’ race this year and my first Olympic Distance. The last few weeks since the Sprint Tri I haven’t been able to put in as much training as I’d like, however I think I’m prepared.

Today I’ve got the usual anxiousness. Mostly about the ancillaries rather than any of the stages, I’m always running through questions like; what time do I need to get up? should I wear my GPS for the whole event (no real reason to do it, but I like the pacing information out on the run)? Should I put bike shoes on in Transition or run barefoot with them to the mount line (Transition at Emberton is quite small and grassy – so I think I’ll run with the shoes on)?

I’m not really looking forward to the run as 10k is a ‘fast’ distance in my mind (unlike say the 13mi of a 70.3, which is more a ‘complete’ rather than ‘compete’ distance). Although I don’t have any trouble with the distance I do know how drained I can feel off the bike. All I can do is push on, I’d really like to go under 50 mins on the run, but I don’t know how likely that is going to be on race day.

I know everyone says, “just go out there and enjoy it”.. but on the other hand you do want to do yourself some justice in the race, and that means pushing and that means pain and that means not enjoying it.. until your done.

Anyway, until tomorrow..

Big Cow MK Tri 2010

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New Toy – Garmin 310XT

by on Jul.10, 2010, under What

Treated myself to a new Garmin. I’ve got the 310XT which is waterproof. Here’s the track from this morning’s OW swim at Broggie.

I’ve also got the cadence sensor, which is now fitted to my Cayo. I’ll see how well that works out tomorrow. So far though I think it’s pretty good – not sure I’d race with it though as it’s quite big and will certainly make getting out of the w/suit harder.

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Big Cow Sprint 2 – 2010

by on Jul.08, 2010, under Results

Wow. Been busy since Sunday. Anyway, first Open Water Tri Sprint done!

How did it go? Not too bad, these were my splits

Swim (750m) : 16.04
T1 : 02.00
Ride (20k) : 38.44
T2 : 01.09
Run (5.5k) : 25.07
Total : 1.23.04

My pool sprint Tri at Roade last year was 1h22m, and the run there was much shorter than 5k. So all in all I’m quite happy. Afterwards I thought I could have probably pushed a bit harder in all stages. And a few simple changes in T1 would knock off 30 seconds (forego socks for sprints, remember to leave helmet strap unclipped etc.).

I was a little disappointed with the run, although apparently it was slightly longer than the standard 5k. The watch says my 5k came up in 24:11. I seemed to flag a bit in the middle.

So next up is MK Tri in a couple of weeks time.

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5 days to go…

by on Jun.28, 2010, under Uncategorized

First tri this year is 5 days away. Everything seems to be going well at the moment. Got 50+ miles of riding in mid-week by meeting up with some TeamMKers after work. This was good as I hadn’t done a long ride in a while (mostly focusing on race distances) and it was my first ride in a group. Quite different, and a fair bit to get my head around. Not entirely sure I like not seeing exactly what’s coming up when I’m drafting someone else though.

I’ve also been practising getting the w/suit off and can do this sub 30 seconds on occasions.. but now and again my wrists get snagged, which slows me up. I’m hoping this won’t be a problem as this stage will be done on the run from the water and will probably allow me a bit more time to accomplish.

Since my Sprint race is close I held off another long ride on the weekend. Instead I did some more brick intervals on Friday and switched Sunday’s Ride+Run for a Run+Swim+Run. The Swim in the pool felt really good – quite fast and my stroke style I think has benefited from the OW swims in a wetsuit. In fact formwise I’m actually a little disappointed I haven’t booked in a 70.3. I’m fairly sure I could complete one (although I haven’t done the run training for 13 miles), maybe not at my best speed.

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