Friday, 1 August 2014

Outlaw Ironman - 2014

Outlaw Ironman - 27th July 2014

The race

This was my ‘A’ race for the year and my training plan which involved the 'Marshman half ironman, was all targeted towards this race. With the Ironman European Champs in Frankfurt booked for June 2015, the Outlaw would give a good indication of the fitness I have reached since Ironman Sweden (following a stricter regime (Training Peaks - Performance Management Plan). With the Outlaw course being similar to Frankfurt and as it turned out the weather being similar too (hot), my Outlaw time should give me an indication of whether Ironman World Championship (Kona - Hawaii), was achievable.


Short Version

9 hrs 31mins 24 secs

Position overall 5th out of 1150 starters

Age group 3rd (40-44)


Swim 59:01 (29th)*

Bike 4:59:42 (14th)*

Run 3:26:17 (28th)*

T's 6:23 (approx. 100th)

* position includes teams (one swimmer, one cyclist & one runner).




Long version



It was fairly hot and breezy.



We camped at the National Water Sports campsite in another pod (shed), this time even smaller than the one at Lydd. This meant we needed to suppliment with a pop-up tent annex. Faye drawing the short straw on this one. I took advantage of the half hour practice swim in the course lake, assembled and test rode the bike for 10 miles, attended the race briefing had a mile run to check the legs (all good) and racked the bike/fitted the transition bags etc...

The rest of the day was spent chilling out and eating before laying out the race gear and having an early night in the pod - aka sauna.

With a 6:00am race start, I was up at 3:00am and endured the never easy task of an early breakfast; 2 x porridge pots with apple sauce, chocolate carb/protein shake and a banana. I had a stretch, got dressed downed a coffee and visited the sweet smelling porta-loo.

Tyres were pumped, drinks bottles and bars added to the bike and route to bike from T1 memorised. 

I met Faye and the kids, zipped up and got in the lake for a 6:00am race start.

Swim 59:01 - IM PB

The water temperature was 21 degrees (wetsuits allowed) and the lake was incredibly weedy, especially at the start. The water wasn't particularly clear but smelt/tasted ok. Swimmers were corralled into 3 pens, I opted for the sub 1:00hr pen. The course was a 1850m out, 100m across and a 1850m back.

When the gun went off I elected to stay wide for a clean swim (apart from the sea weed) for the first half and drafted for the entire 2nd half, the return half being into the wind and bit choppier. All was going... well swimmingly, until I sprinted the last 50m to gain a few places and cramp bit my left calf. I had to float and stretch for 20s whilst the swimmers I had just overtaken frustratingly passed me before I could continue (better that than running on a cramped calf I thought). I was happy with my time which was on par with my training swims.


T1 3:13

Quite a long tarmac run to the tent, wetsuit off, helmet and shades on, wetsuit in bag and bag dropped off on run to bike. As I ran out of transition, Faye shouted to me that I was in 30th which I was really pleased to know as I like to play the add/subtract game on the bike.


Bike 5:59:43 - IM PB

The bike course is pretty flat with only one short hill, and that wasn't particularly steep (infact this was the only time I changed down to the small chainring). I was keen to race to power and to keep that power output as consistent as possible. I knew from previous TT rides what power I could achieve but I had never TT'd to power for 112 miles so this ride would provide valuable data for Frankfurt.

 Pic. c/o

I was able to overtake several riders (fast swimmers or team swimmers) in the first 20 miles and from there the ride was pretty lonely. There were good crowds on the course but these were isolated to only a few areas. The course took a south loop, a north loop and then repeated the south loop before heading back to the lake on some sketchy roads. 

There were aid stations about every 25 miles and I had factored these into my bike nutrition plan. I was trying a slimmed down approach this year and had just one 750ml high 5 bottle of carb drink between the arms, one 500ml high 5 concentrate behind the saddle (divided into 3rds to add carbs to suppliment the remaining weaker 3 x 750ml bottles of high 5 that I planned to pick up on the route.

Total of 4 x 750ml plus 1x 500ml, 4 x high 5 zero tablets and 2 x energy bars (taped to the base bar).

The nutrition worked really well for the effort and temperature. I'm not sure I would necessarily make any changes next time.

I was able to kept an average Normalised Power of 230W for the first half of the ride but by the end this had dropped to 227w (which relates to an intensity factor of 0.77 - with current of FTP of 296). This was higher than I had planned but didn't feel overly hard.

I was only overtaken by 2 riders on the bike course, one was Kevin Dawson (former UK timetrial champion and course bike record holder of 4:30) at about mile 75. I would be keen to see if I could catch him on the run later.

T2 3:10

The dismount line being around a steep downhill bend caught me off guard and I hadn't got my feet out of the cycle shoes, cue a bit of fumbling and a few wasted seconds before I handed the bike (and shoes) off to the helper and stumbled off to the change tent. Helmet and shades off, run visor, socks and trainers on, 4 gels in my pocket and off on the run - sans toilet this time!


Run 3:26:17 - Marathon PB

The run course takes in a loop of the lake before heading out to the tow path out and back via Nottingham Forrest stadium and a river Trent crossing. Then back for another lake lap, a second tow path out and back and finishing with two more lake laps.

Things started off fine, albeit a bit too fast but the average pace for the first half marathon was 7:30 min/miles and this was as per my plan. Then things inevitably slowed. I didn't feel I was slowing but the pace was dropping mile by mile and by mile 20 I was way over 8:00 pace.

I was pleased to pass Kevin Dawson on the second out and back and was starting to try to work out my position as it was looking like I could make the top 10.

I was pretty confident I could still run under my Sweden 7:59 ave pace so cracked on with ticking off the miles drinking and drenching at each aid station and only adding high 5 drinks from mile 20 onwards.

My calves were tightening (a problem that has been bugging me all season) and at mile 25 'pop' the right calf tore. Running was actually less pain than walking so I ran at 'engine recovery' speed to close out the race.

Just before I entered the finishing chute, I took a glance over my shoulder and saw Kevin Dawson approaching so I had to pick up the pace for the last 100m.

I was surprised to hear the race announcer call me in as the 5th finisher over the microphone, although I'm surprised that even he could be heard over the "come on Toneeeeeee" screams of 'Team Weeks' who had taken up position right by the finish line. My legs were in agony but you still have to climb 3 flights of stairs to get to the food and massage tents.

So Ironman #2 in the bag, 5th overall and 3rd in the 40-44 (fastest age group this year - go oldies). I was 13 mins behind 4th and only 9 seconds ahead of 6th - so very close!

The following day we attended the awards ceremony and I was presented with my Perspex.

The good and the bad



Nutrition pre and during race seemed to work, although my 2nd half marathon pace may have suffered due to lack of run carbs

Got away with no toilet breaks

Swim tactics (clean first half, draft second half) seemed ok but room for improvement as I can leapfrog draft some more

Solid ride, need to up FTP so that 230w is closer to 0.75 IF (increase FTP from 296 to 310) - or get a faster bike, or both!

Heart rate on the run was 142bpm which was totally acceptable in the heat


Need to tidy up transitions 

Draft more on the swim

Find a solution to swim cramp

Tri top when wet flapped around in wind and legs ride up making bum pad uncomfortable - May look at a longer sleeve skinsuit top

Got to sort out the run pacing. Perhaps dialing down the bike by 5 mins may save 10 mins on the run, better still, by getting stronger on the bike I can keep the 5 hour split but still be fresher on the run

Sore feet, still need to find a better shoe

Final thoughts

I'm obviously really happy with a 16 min PB and this being made up by PB's in all three disciplines is really encouraging - it's a great reward for the last years hard training. I'm a bit disappointed with the Marathon as I feel I am capable of 7:45 pace and potentially 7:30, which would be a 5-10 min saving.

Assuming the Outlaw course was similar to Frankfurt's (more internet research required), a 9:31 finish should secure a Kona World Championship slot, according to the Frankfurt M40-44 finish times of previous years. 5-10 mins faster would be a good safety buffer.

I really pushed my limits in this race and certainly suffered some damage as a result. I'm going to take great care in the recovery phase and make sure that I transition into the next build phase fit and fresh. I may even look for a late season 'Olympic' race to chase a PB.

Faye has also given the green light for a bike upgrade but still answer 'NO' when it comes to shaved legs.


Monday, 12 May 2014

Marshman Half Ironman

Marshman Half Ironman - 11th May 2014

The race

This is my ‘B’ race for the year, the ‘A’ race being the ‘Outlaw’ Ironman in July. My race performance would give an indication of current fitness and highlight areas that are strong/weak. The race also gives me a chance to play around with nutrition.


Short Version

4hrs 39mins 37secs 

Position overall 6th out of 112 starters (5thpercentile)

Age group 1st (40-45)


Swim 29:22 (8th)

Bike 2:34:11 (6th)

Run 1:29:51 (9th)


Transitions 6:11 mins total (3 ½ slower than the fastest)





Long version



The previous day saw 30mph winds with 50mph gusts, race day was slightly better at 25m winds and 38mpg gusts! Air temp was reasonable and the ground was dry – just a few spots of rain.


Pre race

With a 6:00am check in and a 7:45am start, we decided to camp locally the night before the race. Romney Farm have 3m x 3m cabins (insulated sheds) for £35/night – better than a tent.

I was up at 5:00 fed and stretched then had a warm up 2 mile cycle to race HQ, where I met Charlie and we registered and racked. I have to say the reg/rack/briefing was one of the simplest I have experienced and the porta loo's were straight off a movie set!


Swim 29:22

The apparent water temperature was 16 degrees (it didn’t feel it). The water was murky but tasted fine. The course was a letter ‘M’ written from right to left and quite easy to navigate. The high wind made the water surface a bit choppy but not too bad. I got to the front of the pack in the water and we were off without even a countdown. There was little battering at the start and I was able to get clear(ish) water after the first couple of 100m’s. I had several goggle issues  but was able to sort it out losing only a few seconds. I then swam side by side with one swimmer for 1/3 of the course before having clean water for the remainder. The ‘M’ shape of the course made for easy sighting of other swimmers as you passed each buoy. The swimmers ahead of me were pretty evenly strung out. I spotted Faye and the kids on the shore and even managed a wave, before exiting in 8th position.


T1 3:51

I knew T1 would be slow as I wanted to put on a long sleeve jersey and rain jacket along with gloves, socks and my cycle shoes prior to exiting. A barefoot exit was not possible due to the sharp stoney run out.


Bike 2:34

I had previously cycled the route on my road bike on a much calmer day. Today, with the westerly gales, I knew some sections would be fast and some painfully slow but I was banking on a fully aero set up (helmet & disc wheel) saving a few minutes. The ride went to plan and I was able to fuel easily. There were some hairy moments passing gaps in the hedges where the wind would push the bike right over but it was manageable (certainly better than the test ride I carried out a day before).

I would have hoped to have been about 3 mins quicker but the hard pushes through the windy miles (and there were a lot of them) took their toll on the average pace. Interestingly my average pace was exactly the same as Ironman Sweden which was obviously twice the distance but probably less windy.


T2 2:20

Not a lot to do here other than undress a little and put the running shoes on.


Run 1:29:51 (PB)

On the run exit, Faye told me I was in 6thplace overall and Elliot acted as a pace maker for the first hundred meters (I couldn’t catch him!). The course is flat, relatively sheltered and shaped like a lolly pop. A run out, a loop and then a run back. You only see slower runners for the last two miles. I started out fast and slowed to a 7:00 pace by the half way point and was overtaken by two runners. I gradually picked up the pace for the second half and was able to overtake one runner putting me 7th. With a couple of miles to go, I was closed in on one of runners that had previously over taken me and chat with him for a bit before taking a chance and sprinting for the line with a 6:26 last mile. I finished 6th. Faye and the kids were in the finishing chute ‘screaming’ thinking the runner behind who I had just dropped was gaining on me. After grabbing my medal, I ran a further 100m to ensure the ‘full’ half marathon was ran, knowing a PB was in the bag.



The good and the bad



Clothing choice

Wheel choice (Aero set up was on the limit but faster)

Solid ride, despite v-strong winds

Nutrition was perfect for the HIM distance

Half marathon PB! Maybe a fast start, slower middle and fast finish suits me?



Goggles leaked (possible impact at start)

Pushed harder that should have for a ‘B’ race (sore calves and knees)

V-slow transitions


Monday, 24 March 2014

90 mins Tri ride at Cyclopark with Faye

Objectives: For starters a mile brisk walk from school, then off to the Cyclopark for a 90 mins hard push. Then carried on with calf and shoulder stretches.

Session Details: The mile walk was absolutely fine and the calf felt excellent under this level of workload, I resisted the temptation to break into a jog.

The Cyclopark was it's usual indecisive self! We were told on the phone some of the circuit was being used before 12:00 but when we got there it was all open. Half way into the ride part of the circuit was closed off to let some wally 'rollerblade'. Grrrrr.

Execution: The effort was pretty consistent and hard - somewhere between Olympic and HIM pace. The circuit was in the new (clockwise) direction but the wind was fierce. This meant that my efforts were about 5-10% harder than a still day, but still, all good training.

I averaged 21.9mph (no aero helmet or disk wheel today) and totalled just 33 miles.

Here is a short video of the up hill section (I know, Faye is no David Bailey).


Garmin file:

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Dainish weekend

A rest weekend sightseeing with the Mangat/Baxter combo. About half a marathon of walking and a couple of core sessions thrown in for good measure.

Managed a 'tight' treadmill mile but left it at that as the walking was making both calves sore. Shoulder stretches continued.

Ate loads so should be a little more buoyant for swimming!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

VO2 Sportive 9th March 2014 - 120K

I booked this sportive last year as I thought an early season ride (post skiing) of somewhere between HIM and IM length, would give me a good idea of my road cycling form.

Last weeks calf injury put the ride in doubt but after a couple of test turbo's I was confident to at least give the ride a start, with the back up plan of Faye picking me up in the car if I got into any difficulty.

Great weather made this the first really 'dry' ride of the year (there were some puddles but thats nit-picking). I was in about the 5th wave to set out so was about 100 riders back from the start. I was able to pass a lot of riders up to the 25 mile point, I then shared the ride with one guy before leaving him behind on a ling hill then it was solo for the last 40 miles. I wasn't overtaken for the entire ride.

Nutrition went well (high 5 drink & gels) and I didn't need a pit-stop. My back/bum got a bit sore for the last 20 miles where I'm a bit sportive rusty and my left pedal made some wording 'clicking' noises. Other than a 2 min red light stop the ride was pretty smooth and the calf didn't get any worse. I held back on the hills as thats where I felt the calf was most vulnerable.

I came 10th position out of 400 (Platinum level - Sub 4:30)

Here's what the event organisers say about the route:

The 120km route takes in some stunning scenery around Kent and Sussex.  Starting in front of the beautiful Fosse Bank School, the route takes a short anti-clockwise loop before heading to Shipbourne for the first major climb of the route - Shipbourne Hill.

From there the route winds across to Knole Park in Sevenoaks and descends River Hill before entering Weald village. From Weald the route heads to Chiddingstone and around Bough Beech where it climbs the 2nd major climb - Ide Hill. At the top is the first feed station.

After taking in the scenery and some food the course descends to Brasted before climbing Toys Hill. Descend into Four Elms, where the two distances split and the 120km route continues on to Edenbridge. The route then climbs and takes a 5 mile stretch of road taking you to the Ashdown Forest .There the climb is up Chuck Hatch to the top of the stunning Ashdown Forest. At the top is the 2nd Feed station.

Descend into Groombridge and across to Penshurst to climb up past PORC on Grove Road. From there the route winds its way back across to Bough Beech and onto Chiddingstone Causeway. The route then turns left to Weald and climbs Hubbards Hill, before following the road to the T-junction at the end and turning right onto the main road out of Sevenoaks. Descend River Hill and head towards Hildenborough. Then finish back at The Walled Garden.
me 10th position out of 400 (Platinum level - Sub 4:30)

Heres the Garmin file: (note HR data was spurious for the first 5 mins - I estimate the effort to be at 78%max HR)

Heres the Strava file:

Monday, 3 March 2014

The toughest training day

As you progress through a season of training, through the easy long sessions of the base period, the faster harder build period and lastly the race specific nature of the peak period, it's becoming pretty clear to me what the toughest days are....

The ones where you don't train.

Rest days really are a time to savour. They are a time to look forward to and a time to gain some much needed 'family credits'. These are not the days I'm referring to. It's the days missed through injury.

With my job as a firefighter, I have become pretty adapt at dealing with incidents that for most are pretty catastrophic and life changing. When it comes to personal training setbacks however (and by that I mean injury), I'm pretty pathetic.

I've had enough of there setbacks now to know that they can always be overcome. In the multi-sport world you can usually turn your focus to at least one other discipline. You just have to manage your expectations a little differently and usually a solution presents itself.

Despite this rather obvious realisation, I still (always) find setbacks difficult to deal with. So to manage the current one and hopefully to ease the process of any future ones I have put together a checklist of the stages to expect and hopefully overcome.

Prevent the injury in the first place
Plan workouts with an emphasis on stress and rest.
Keep an eye on technique and equipment fit (& wear and tear).
Regularly assess technique and form.
Make core strength and conditioning sessions reflect the training activities.

Stop as soon as injury has occurred
It's too easy to exercise through pain in order to just make the last interval, or last mile, or to make it home. The brief achievement of doing so is greatly outweighed by the missed training during recovery.

Treat injury instantly & correctly
Experience has shown me how and when to treat an injury. Usually it's instantly and patiently. I have found it useful to look back through training data to see how long the recovery took and what the process involved. Hopefully by applying the previous step (stopping as soon as injury occurs), recovery of the current condition shouldn't take so long.

If unsure, consult
I know a good Physio who so far has been faultless in injury diagnosis and recovery advice. Looking at the big picture...... money and time well spent.

Assess time period
Be realistic about recovery time, again from experience. Use periodic test measures to assess progress so that exercise intensity can be adjusted accordingly.

Find alternatives
It's a multi disciplined sport where all 3 disciplines benefit from improvement and each discipline benefits from cross over fitness of the other 2. Every stroke, revolution and stride (if done correctly) is a step closer to that finish line.

Record and learn
The athlete that plans and records... Succeeds. This applies not just to distances and speeds, but also to how it felt especially when training with injuries - let's face it, most of the time.

There you have it, simple, what could possibly go wrong. Train smart!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

2014 season training commences

My 2014 season’s Training officially starts ….TODAY….

I’ve planned 12 weeks* of base training, 8 weeks of build training, 2 weeks of peak/taper and then the race week itself.

*Each week is 8 days, inline with my shifts 2days, 2nights, 4off

This season, I have signed up for an early 70 mile cycle sportive in March, one half ironman - the ‘Marshman’ in Lyd, Kent in May and one Iron Distance race - the ‘Outlaw’ in Nottingham at the end of July.

In total, there is about 350 hours of training over the 23 week period. My longest rides will be 100 miles, my longest run will be 20 miles and my swim will never go over the IM distance of 2.4 miles.  It sounds a lot when it’s put in those stark terms but the volume of training is only a 15% increase on last season. The main difference this year is that I am keeping a check on my fitness & fatigue levels and better matching training efforts and paces to those required for optimal improvement.

Here is the breakdown for Base 1 week 1

Swim (pool): 1 hour
Bike Commute: 4 hours
Bike Intervals: 45 mins (turbo)
Bike Long: 2 hours
Run Intervals: 50 mins
Run Long: 1:50 hours
Run Brick: 15 mins
Gym: 3:30 hours

Total: 14:15hours

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Training Periodisation (Prep)

I'm currently in what's known as the preparation period, this is the time between transitioning from last seasons racing and next seasons base Period.

It's easy to slip into the 'training for training a sake' trap, so I've really tried to establish some structure into my training such that a routine is firmly established going into the base period. The preparation period also gives me a chance to try some new techniques as well as redefining some of the training sessions that proved to be of value last year.

For the 2014 season, I've looked at last years annual effort and increased the yearly hours from 600 to 700. From this I can calculate the weekly (in my case 8 day) training duration for each week of each training period, preparation, base, build, peak and race.

The preparation period lasts for 4 weeks and are 12, 12, 12 and 10 hours in duration.

Each week breaks down as follows:

Swim: 1 hour 3km pool drills with a paced main set over 50m/100m/200m repeats
The 4th week is a pure IM 3.8K swim at a set 50m pace (currently 50s)

Commute, at above IM effort to/from work, usually 35-40 miles combined distance, the hills serve as short intervals
Long ride, one or two rides totalling about 2 hours at endurance/tempo power level

Just two runs instead of three to reduce the likelihood of injury. The first is the longer paced run, most likely with Grant, either on or off road. The pace is tempo for the shorter durations and just a bit slower than HM pace for the longer runs. This will need to slow as the duration extends in the base period.
The second is the interval run, usually within a 10k to give a warm up and warm down and to fit 4 miles of intervals, where the fast/slow paces are 6:00 and 7:45 respectively.
I am holding back on the brick runs for now as there is no real benefit.

Strength and conditioning
I can do an hour on both of my day duties and half an hour in the mornings following both night duties,

The 4 sessions (3 hours total) concentrate on the core muscles and involve lots of balance and stretching, I've also introduced a small amount of ski-fit training in readiness for Februarys skiing.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Interval run - Chevening Road

Home loop to Chevening road
1.2 mile warm up @ 7:00 
4 x 1/2 mile 6:00 1/2 mile 7:45 intervals
1.2 mile steady run home @ 7:00

Total distance 6.4 miles
10k split 42:38
Ave pace 6:52/mi

Bit of a runny nose today and really pushed calves.

Here's the Garmin file: