Thursday, 19 June 2014

Race report: Windsor Olympic Distance Triathlon



So where did it all go so wrong? Was it being lured into a false sense of security at the beginning of the season where I took 6 mins 53 secs off last year’s Sevenoaks Tri time and 8 mins 29 secs off my club’s sprint distance course? 

Was it succumbing to the double whammy of a sinus infection and a back injury in the final weeks before the main event? Was it my general lack of preparation for the open water swim? Or was it the psychological blow of losing my sunglasses in the portaloo minutes before my wave set off?

As I lowered myself into the Thames I soon realised that a wetsuit isn’t just to keep you warm, it’s to make life easier when swimming against a strong current. And I wasn’t wearing one. A couple of weeks earlier I’d discovered that my wetsuit was never going to fit regardless of how much weight I could lose - it was just too tight and restrictive around the shoulders. And I couldn’t afford to buy a new one.

At the time I wasn’t that bothered as I had done quite a bit of sea swimming on holiday so thought I’d easily cope with the temperature. However I soon realised the current was a different matter. Even holding my start position was proving arduous and I could see why everyone else was sensibly covered in neoprene. The horn sounded and we were off. 

Can you guess which one is me?
 Swim

This wasn’t my first open water triathlon (without a wetsuit!) but the scrum was a lot more brutal than anything I’d experienced before. I managed to get a rhythm going but I soon realised that 1500m in the Thames was going to be very different to the 2500m sets I’d been doing in the pool. On top of the currents and being bashed about by my fellow competitors I could barely see where I was going, regardless of whether my face was below or above the water.

Even those wearing wetsuits were struggling with a number of my fellow competitors opting to walk in the more shallow parts of the river. However I was worried that if I adopted that tactic I may not get going again and floundered on. I have to confess I started to consider alerting the kayak marshal that I’d had enough.

The buoy that marked the turning point just wasn’t getting any nearer and I had found myself being caught up in another scrum as the next wave of swimmers surged past me. But then I realised I’d just about made the turning point. As shattered as I felt I knew that I now had the current at my bidding so literally let myself get taken by the current like a kid at Centerparcs with a minimum amount of swimming.
I clambered  out and just about had enough energy to run into transition – the swim had taken me 36 mins 49 secs.

Just a 40km cycle and a 10km run to go...
 
Bike

I pulled on my shoes and helmet, grabbed my bike and was out of transition in 2 mins 30 secs. Cycling is certainly my strongest discipline so I was aiming to make up some time, the goal was to finish the whole thing in under three hours. However more technical difficulties – I just couldn’t get my heart rate monitor to work. Like losing my sunglasses, this wasn’t something that could prevent me racing but was affecting me psychologically. I know what sort of effort I can keep up and therefore wanted to know when I was easing off too much but despite continuous fiddling couldn’t get any signal.

Still not smiling for the camera

I charged on, realising that I needed to complete the bike in around 1 hr 20 minutes if I was going to come in under 3 hrs. After much huffing and puffing and cursing my sore back I soon found myself wheeling back into town. I’d completed the cycle section in 1hr 20 mins and 15 secs.

Run

Running is the aspect of Triathlon that I like the least. While I have improved in this discipline I am still incredibly slow. And I have to say that the final section of the Windsor Triathlon was one of the most gruelling things I’ve ever experienced. After a 2 min 55 secs transition I knew that I had to get round in 57 minutes. My 10k personal best is just under 55 minutes and my previous run time in an Olympic distance Tri was 1 hr 2 mins 46 secs. 

Considering how shattered I felt I knew it was more likely to be nearer the latter time than the former. After one lap of the three lap route I felt like I could no longer go on. How much shame was there in admitting defeat? I’d given it a good crack but it wasn’t to be. But then I knew how annoyed I’d be with myself afterwards for not forcing myself through the pain for another 40 minutes. I struggled on and despite every fibre in my body telling me to stop managed to keep going at a pace that was just above walking. 

Almost there...
 I staggered in at 3 hrs 3 mins and 3 secs feeling rather disappointed with my effort. 

However the good news is my sunglasses were handed in to lost property and as I was passed by several elite athletes on the run section you should be able to see me on the TV coverage wheezing away behind Mark Buckingham. 

Just look out for the Big Fella in blue.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Beer and meat

If you read my last blog update you will know that I recently attended a product launch. But what else have I been up to in the last few weeks since I was flushed with success from the 7Oaks and EGTri Winter GP Sprint triathlons?

With less than two weeks until the iconic Windsor Olympic triathlon have I been building on the gains I made in my previous two races? Well, er, not really. To be honest I spent the best part of two weeks drinking lots of lager and eating lots of meat. 

So what possessed me to undo all the good work I’ve put in over the last few months? Well first of all, as I may have previously mentioned, myself and SRG were involved in some marathon boozing for one of my oldest friend’s stag do in Hamburg. 

This obviously involved consuming lots of beer from glasses, as SRG described it, as big as our heads. 

SRG pushing himself to the extreme for a new PB

This was supplemented with a high volume of sausage munching (no sniggering at the back) and not much exercising. There was a brief interlude from the debauchery with a five-a-side competition (which surely counts as an intense sprint set) but certainly not the usual level of exercise I’d indulge in at the weekend.


He shoots, he misses

Two days after returning from Hamburg then the Trihard family were off on holiday to Cephalonia. As we were with longstanding friends again I had my arm twisted into drinking lots of lager and eating lots of kebabs (but did sneak in some Greek salad.)

However I did manage to get some intense runs in (our villa was a couple of kilometres from the beach but up a mountain) as well as some good sea swims.

Just below the waterline I'm clutching a beer and a kebab

Since our return I have managed to just about get back on track with my training, partly helped by a trip  to the Surrey Human Performance Institute which involved me being subjected to some horrendous cycling and running tests to see at what point my body could take no more and I’d started weeping for my mother.


Just when you thought I couldn't look any sexier in a Tri suit
Luckily I survived the experience and have learnt a lot more about how to improve my training. I’m sure you’ll hear a bit more about my trip in the coming weeks.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Product Review: Secret Training Race Informed Products

Yesterday I was invited to the launch of Secret Training Informed Products. This is the latest venture from Tim Lawson who is a European Champion Track Cyclist but is perhaps better known for the company he launched 20 years ago from his family's kitchen, Science in Sports.


One of these men is currently launching his second highly successful business
The whole ethos of the STRIP product range is to make racing as comfortable and hygienic as possible on the day of your event.

I spent the morning with Tim at the Cyclo Park in Gravesend (which I thoroughly recommend cyclists of all ages and abilities check out) who has clearly been working hard on this project for a number of years.

Along with some other journalists I got to try out the range before and after some intensive cycling and they certainly succeed in doing the job they were designed for.

I give my initial thoughts in the video below but hope to follow up with more in depth testing asthe racing season continues.

        

For more information head over to www.secret-training.cc.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Race report round up

So it's been a while since my last post. The last you heard I was all enthused about the penultimate event in the EGTri Winter GP - the hill time trial. Unfortunately I didn't make it due to Toddler Trihard developing a vomiting bug on the Saturday which I then came down with on the Sunday morning, when I should have been struggling up hills on my bike.

This has led to the club chairman referring to this blog as a bit of a soap opera. "He's ill, then he's alright again. He's ill, then he's alright again. It's like Eastenders, if you watch it long enough you'll see the same storylines keep coming round."

Anyway, despite that setback I have been training hard and recently have had the opportunity to see if the work had paid off.

7Oaks

So Sunday 27 April was the 7Oaks Triathlon. No I haven't taken leave of my grammatical senses, I'm adopting the same cool branding that the club uses. This was an event I took part in last year so meant that I had a time to hopefully beat.

While 7Oaks is a "sprint" distance, the distances are slightly different to other races. This comprises of a 400m pool swim, a 25km cycle and an 8km run (generally sprints are 500m, 25km 5km).

After last year's race I felt that (other than the swim) the course was more challenging than an Olympic distance race (1km, 40km, 10km) I'd done the previous year. The cycle is incredibly hilly (including one real long b*stard of an ascent) and the run is just 8km of hell (mainly uphill for the first half).

2013: If I'd known what I was in for during the run, I wouldn't be looking so cheerful
Last year I walked most of the first part of the run and practically pulled up a chair for a chat with the marshals at the halfway water station. I reasoned that if I could at least avoid walking then I should be able to beat last year's time of 2 hrs 2 mins 51 secs.

The swim went well and despite the weather not being as pleasant as last year I took the brave decision to do the bike section in just my tri suit. This would hopefully limit transition time and reduce drag from extra clothing on the bike course (that's how serious I'm getting these days!)

I'm not sure whether it's the amount of bike work I've done or having lost a bit of weight in recent months but to my surprise the b*stard wasn't quite as tough as I remembered it. Don't get me wrong, it was still a b*stard but perhaps an awkward b*stard as opposed to an evil b*stard.

2014: Me and the b*stard - hey the camera takes off a few degrees of steepness

As I hadn't been able to note what time I started the bike section I was unsure whether I had been quicker than last year but it certainly felt faster and I also went into the run feeling a lot fresher.

That changed as soon as I started up the first hill. I didn't quite feel like I needed to stop and walk but the pace I was "running" at didn't feel much quicker than walking. However I made it to the halfway water station and didn't stop for a chinwag like I did last year. After that it was mainly downhill.

By that time I'd worked out that I was probably on course to beat last year's time by about 5 mins. I felt as though I could push myself harder but as the same time didn't want to run out of steam, particularly as the last 200m involves a hill which, in my opinion, requires a chairlift. I did resort to walking at that point but my heart rate was still around the same level as though I was sprinting on a flat surface.

Had I paid for two or three hours of parking?
I finally made it to the top and charged to the finish line - in 1 hr 56 mins 1 sec. 6 mins and 50 secs faster than last year. I was absolutely ecstatic.

EG Tri Sprint Triathlon

This Saturday was the final event of the EGTri Winter GP where club members get to race the EGTri course. The rules of the club are that you can only enter the official race the first year you are a member as the race doesn't marshal itself!

This was therefore the fourth time I've done the course (the official race in my first year and then three times as part of the Winter GP.) Last year, which was my best time yet, I did it in 1 hr 37 mins 11 secs.

After 7Oaks I was still feeling quite tired and not as fired up as I'd been the week before. I was hoping to perhaps take 5 mins off last year's time but would settle for a new PB even if it was by a few seconds.

As it's a mass start I said I'd go at the back of my lane as I wasn't feeling 100%. However I soon regretted my decision as I felt I could swim a lot faster than those in front.

The swim rules are that if you want to overtake the person in front then you tap them on the foot so they can let you pass at the end of the lane. Despite four lengths of me constantly grabbing my fellow members foot he wouldn't budge. I started getting really frustrated but then decided to let it go as I knew getting angry wouldn't do any favours.

Once we were out of the pool I grabbed my bike (this time pulling on a top) and set off for the 25km cycle. Halfway through I really started to feel the exertions of the previous week. Another mile or two later my back was killing me, I'd slowed right down and had more or less given up on beating last year's time.

Just pain, no pleasure
However I then had a flash of determination, (or more likely my high caffeine, carbohydrate drink kicking in) got my head down and started pedalling. As I pulled into the transition area I realised that I was actually further ahead of last year's time than I thought. Even with a slow 5k I could still beat it.

However I was really hurting at that point.

I gritted my teeth, downed a carbohydrate and caffeine gel (which almost came straight back up again) and trudged on. As I made it to the finish line I was amazed to see that I'd finished in 1 hr 28 mins 42 secs - 8 mins 39 secs quicker than last year. This season's getting interesting!


Thursday, 3 April 2014

Whatever happened to SRG?

Obviously it's been a while since I updated the blog but it's also been quite a while since I updated you on the adventures of SRG. For those who can't be bothered to click on the link SRG is one of my best friends who I have had the pleasure of knowing for 20 years.

When we first met our physical activities were limited to the occasional kick about and our relationship was based on music, underage drinking and the other undesireable things that teenagers get up to. However in recent years he's become something of a running superman.

When I first started writing this blog he was very keen to appear but was concerned that he would come across as "some kind of Smug Running Guy." And a star was born.

Anyway, SRG has been training away taking on some rather hardcore cross country running of late as well as some half marathons. Despite suffering an injury he recently achieved a personal best for a half marathon  - a staggering 1 hr 24 mins 32 secs. This was a sufficent time for him to make the papers once again.

Charlie Keitch aka SRG

Unfortunately I haven't seen SRG for a while but chances are that we're probably going to be sick of each other by the end of the summer. Not only have we got a weekend in Hamburg for a mutual friend's stag do but also the corresponding wedding and a trip to Milton Keynes to see the mighty Pearl Jam.

However there is also one other event where will be seeing each other (well, I'll see the back of him for a few minutes before he disappears into the distance) which is the Bewl 15. As the name suggests this is a 15 mile off road run around a lake (Bewl Water) which he managed to cajole me into. The swine.

Anyway, I'm sick of hearing about SRG and his unparallelled success and you probably are too. The big question, is what have I been up to?

With the improvemet in the weather and my health I've been spending quite a bit of time on the bike. This is partly in preparation for the penultimate event in the EGTC Winter Grand Prix which is the hill time trial. This involves a 25 mile cycle with three timed hill climbs thrown in. The second of these is Kidd's Hill, also known as "The Wall."

Nothing can describe the horror of this ascent, a mile long 400ft elevation, but this video I found on You Tube does a pretty good job.



While I have been up "The Wall" many times I have to confess there have been two occasions where I've had to stop midway. The first occasion was on my first ever attempt and the second time was during last year's event. I can hardly contain my excitement.

A couple of weeks ago we had a 20km time trial (another Winter GP event) which was four laps of a flat circuit.

Something very exciting is occuring on the other side of the road...
While I hadn't been out on the road much previous to this I had been putting in quite a bit of time on the turbo trainer. Having also lost a bit of weight I was fairly confident of beating last year's time of 35 mins 44 secs.

My fastest lap last year had been 8 mins 42 secs while my slowest was 9 mins 10 secs. I worked out that if I could aim for less than 8 mins 45 secs for each lap then I would comfortably beat last year's time. With the entire Trihard family (including my Dad) there to spectate the pressure was on.

Hijinks in the car park while I'm slogging my guts out in the quest for a new PB
As both Mrs Trihard and my Dad had their cameras I suggested that they'd want to be ready for my first fly by at around 8 mins 45 secs. However I was so quick on the first lap that I completed the first circuit nearer the 8 mins 30 mark meaning they accidentally photographed some of my fellow club members who were also wearing the EGTC kit.

Me modelling the EGTC cycle top
However by the final laps they'd managed to work out when I'd be panting past, as you can see above. While the lap timings still haven't been made available I'm pleased to say that I well and truly smashed last year's overall time, coming in at 33 mins 58 secs.

So if I can make it up Kidd's Hill without stopping this coming Sunday, then I will be in a very good position to have beaten all my previous times from last year's Winter GP (obviously conveniently ignoring the ill fated 1km swim).

Pray for me.

Friday, 7 March 2014

When David met Daley

So like many triathletes, last weekend I made my way down to Sandown Park in Esher to the 220 Triathlon show. There are several ways to describe what the Triathlon show is like. One would be like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory for triathletes. Another would be like one of those boring industry work conferences your boss makes you attend but this one was actually interesting and fun.

Like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory there is temptation everywhere but unlike Willy Wonka's chocolate factory the goods aren't free. Despite having been paid the day before I managed to exercise remarkable restraint and only spent £32 on some new swimming fins and goggles. Despite having been paid the day before there were a number of training aids that my budget still wouldn't have stretched to.

I did have the family credit card in my possession and while Pre-school Trihard is becoming a highly proficient swimmer, which we are obviously encouraging, I don't think Mrs Trihard would have been too pleased if I had come home with one of these:


Retails at approximately £15,000

And while Mrs Trihard is currently in training for the East Grinstead Ladies Try-a-tri I'm not sure she would have even supported any decision to buy one of these:



Retails at approximately £2,250
Anyway, as well as enticing you to buy lots of expensive triathlon gear the show also included talks by professional athletes and Triathlon experts in the 220 Theatre. I was lucky enough to grab a place in the Q & A session with none other than Dave Scott. Perhaps the best way to describe Dave Scott is the Muhammed Ali of triathlon. He's won the World Iron Man Championship in Kona six times and unlike Muhammed Ali's public persona is perhaps one of the most down to earth people you could ever meet.

When Dave first started racing the sport was very much in its infancy. So much so that when he competed in his and possibly one of the very first triathlons in 1976 the first prize was apparently a frozen turkey. For his first four World Championship wins at Kona (between 1980 and 1984) he told us that the amazing achievement was marked each time by being presented with a t-shirt.

It'd be impossible to recount all the amazing stories and advice Dave gave during the session but the one that stuck with me the most was his 20 minute rule. To paraphrase: Even if you don't feel like getting out for a run, swim or cycle just doing 20 minutes will make you feel so much better than doing nothing. And the majority of the time those 20 minutes will develop into to a decent training session.

Anyway Dave now coaches in Colarado. While this involves training some of the very elite triathletes in the world he said that in some ways he gets more enjoyment working with everyday folk like the majority of those in the theatre audience. But he didn't rush to offer me any training sessions when I accosted him for a photo.

One of these Daves is a six times Iron Man World Champion

Anyway, one of the main reasons I was at the Triathlon show was because I was offered the chance to interview Daley Thompson for my 220 Triathlon blog. Meeting a world class athlete who has inspired millions can be quite overwhelming, but I told Daley that I was a normal guy just like him and not to be too awestruck.

Anyway you'll have to wait for the next instalment of my 220 blog to find out what training advice he gave me, otherwise I might get in trouble. But here's a nice photo of the two of us for you to enjoy in the meantime.







Monday, 3 March 2014

Eye infection of the tiger

It's been rather a tumultuous couple of weeks. After abandoning the 1km swim I had a few days off training but then was able to motivate myself into a 12 mile run in preparation for this weekend's Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon.

This was followed up by another event in the Winter GP calendar the 500m swim/5km run where we literally bash out 20 lengths, get out of the pool grab our trainers and run 2.5km down the road, turn round and run back.

At 7.30am. On a February morning.

After the disastrous 1km swim two weeks previously I was feeling nervous and right up to the last minute was considering giving this one a miss. While the aim of the Winter GP is to assess progression from one year to the next I decided I'd not push myself to the limit in the swim and see how things went from there. It was more about psychologically getting over the failure of the previous swim than worrying about beating last year's swim/run time.

So to cut a long story short I did a lot better than expected and took 50 seconds off last year's time.

However during the next few days things started going horribly wrong. On Sunday evening I started feeling a bit blocked up and by Monday morning was doing an uncanny Darth Vader impression.

Just a minor sniffle
As a result training was written off for a week as I effectively developed a sinus infection that then moved in to my left eye. Sexy stuff.

Unsurprisingly I thought it would be sensible to give the half marathon a miss.

But this didn't ruin my weekend as on Saturday I attended the 220 Triathlon show where I got to meet several triathlon legends, including Dave Scott (yes, Dave Scott!) as well as interview none other than Olympic hero Daley Thompson.

But it would be a major injustice for me to include a summary of the day's events in a post about me getting ill so I'll leave that as a cliff hanger for the next exciting instalment which hopefully I'll get round to writing some time this week.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Birthday blowout


As well as being my birthday, last Saturday was the second event in the EGTC Winter GP, which was the 1km swim. This is one of my favourite events in the Winter GP calendar as it doesn’t involve running and you don’t mind getting wet, unlike The Perch.

Last year I was aiming for a time of less than 20 minutes and to my surprise clocked in at 18 minutes 20 secs. This year I was therefore aiming to surpass this with a time of less than 18 minutes. Every three months we have a swim session that involves three 300m swims with a rest in between (which I think is a minute, but could be more. Whatever it is doesn’t feel long enough before you’re churning back up the pool). The point of this is to get a good assessment of your speed over 100m which equates to your hardest sustainable effort.

When you can't sustain the effort
Last Friday I was looking through the results of the last time we did this (in December) to see what my time was over 100 metres - 1 minute 48 seconds. At the time, guess what, I hadn’t been feeling my best so felt that I hadn’t really pushed myself as hard as I could. 

I worked out that over a kilometre 1 minute 48 seconds would bring me in just under 18 minutes. No problem. All I had to do was turn up and a new personal best would be mine.

But unfortunately, you’re never going to believe this, I was feeling a bit under the weather. I’d been suffereing from a sinusy headache and my energy levels felt low. When I woke up on the Saturday I didn’t feel much better, but knew I’d regret it if I didn’t turn up. I dragged myself out of bed, had a good old sniff of Olbas Oil and after some porridge felt a bit better.

Once in the pool I began the warm up. And I was struggling. I considered getting out but soldiered on. I downed an energy gel, thinking that might get the juices flowing. We set off but I wasn’t feeling much better and was struggling to keep up with the others in the lane. After about eight lengths I had to stand aside to let a fellow club member pass me. 

After 12 lengths I was spent, so clambered out of the pool and went home with my tail between my legs to open my birthday presents.  

However you’ll be pleased to know that I have made a recovery and have this week managed a turbo session, a 10 mile run and the Thursday club swim session last night. So now I’m knackered.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Going downhill fast

Whilst I generally stringently observe the day day of rest, this Sunday (as there wasn't vast amounts of water falling from the sky) I decided to get out for a quick cycle. I'm ashamed to admit that this is the first time I've been out on my bike since 17 August 2013.

My eyes!
This is partly due to the fact that in that time I've been trying to focus on my running a bit more (and I've been using the turbo trainer at least once a week since October) but still quite a shocking realisation.

Despite having spent sometime on the turbo I was quite surprised at my lack of cycling fitness. And I was only out for an hour.

There is a lot of snobbery from some cyclists about turbo training (online discussions about winter riding/turbo training will always have a cycling nazi banging on about rule #5) but it did bring home to me that there that there is no substitution for getting out on the open road.

While you have no choice but to get to the top of the hill you also forget how psychologically reserved you can get on the downhills if you haven't been out for a while.  While I certainly wouldn't condone a lackadaisical approach to safety, when you're racing if you've got the cojones to ease off the breaks during a steep descent you can gain some precious seconds.

This is one reason why, if possible, it makes sense to get as familiar as you can with the cycle section of a Tri so you generally know what's round the corner.

So does this mean that I'll be out again this coming Sunday? Probably not. It's my birthday on Saturday so I expect my friends will be forcing me to drink copious amounts of beer.

And last weeks ride reminded me why I have become something of a fair weather cyclist in recent years. It took me another good hour to properly clean my bike.

I checked there wasn't a hosepipe ban on before cleaning my bike

Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Dark Knight Rises

This week has been rather an exciting one in the world of Mr Trihard. Firstly, this morning as I was rummaging through my clothes drawer to find a clean top I came across an old batman t-shirt. I acquired this at a preview showing of The Dark Knight back in 2008.

In recent years (at least four) I have not been able to wear it due to piling on the pounds. I certainly wasn't able to squeeze into it when The Dark Knight Rises was released in 2012. As I have lost a bit of weight recently I thought I'd see how far I had to go until I could shoehorn myself back into the bat suit.

While I'm certainly not in the sort of shape to rival Christian Bale it appears that I've been doing something right because POW! it actually fits quite comfortably.

Too much dinner, dinner, dinner made me a Fatman
The second bit of exciting news, which may have contributed to the first, is the acquisition of a new turbo trainer. While there wasn't anything mechanically wrong with my existing one it wasn't able to give enough resistance for some of the club turbo sessions that replicate hill climbs (cycling at just 60rpm whilst getting your heart rate up to 90% effort).

I have to confess this is actually a birthday present from Mrs Trihard (with a contribution from Grandad Trihard) which isn't for a few weeks. However after seeing that this weeks turbo session was a hill set I thought it would be rude not to open the present early. Judging by my inability to walk without looking like John Wayne after the set I'd say the extra resistance has done the job.



For illustrative purposes only, this is the old Turbo Trainer
Anyway, the third bit of news is that I have been given the opportunity to enter the Windsor Triathlon (one of the UK's most popular triathlons) and write a blog about my training and preparation for the highly esteemed Triathlon Magazine 220.

The only downside to this is that it's an Olympic distance race. I've only done one of these before back in August 2012 which more or less ended in tears. I'd been on a stag do to the Isle of Wight festival three weeks before, where it rained constantly and what I consumed probably wasn't what the Brownlees would have pumped into their body prior to the Olympics.

As a result I got rather ill (quelle surprise) and didn't really do any training in those weeks leading up to the race. On the day I survived the swim and cycle but the "run" was a total disaster with me walking a large proportion of it. I finished 65th out of a field of 75. No, not in my age group, I mean overall.

But this time I'll be getting lots of nutritional and training advice from the race organisers, Human Race, who have arranged the blog so what could possibly go wrong?

Perhaps the fact that I've got a stag do in Hamburg about four weeks before the event. I would say it'll be OK because SRG will be there to keep me on the straight and narrow. But he was there at the Isle of Wight festival and it didn't really do me any favours.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Race report: The Perch 10km run

This weekend saw the first event in the EGTC Winter GP. As a quick reminder the Winter GP is a series of events in the different triathlon disciplines which provides members the chance to compete against each other but also helps provide a benchmark to judge any improvements made from one year to the next.

"The Perch" is a 10km cross country run around Nonsuch Park in Epsom and is put on by the Oddballs Running Club, in case you were after a few more details. Last year I pulled out at the last minute as, guess what, I was a bit ill. One of the reasons why I allowed my sickness to override my motivation 12 months ago was because I couldn't find my race number the night before the run.

Earlier last week it occurred to me that I hadn't received my race number for this year's events. I checked the emails I'd received from the organisers and realised that I had to pick it up prior to the race. It dawned on me that perhaps this was why I couldn't find it last year - because it hadn't actually been in my possession.

"The Perch" is an event that is more renowned for being "a bit of a laugh" rather than one where you're likely to pull off a personal best.

The tales I heard from last years event made it sound as though it was more of a wading contest rather than a running race due to the incredibly boggy conditions. I don't know how it's been in your neck of the woods but in the South East we've had a lot of rain in the last few weeks. The general consensus amongst the club members was that it was likely to be worse than the previous year.

One of my fellow club members, who raced last year, decided to give it a miss. When I asked why he replied: "I had a torrid time last year and not in a hurry to repeat."

As you can imagine I was very excited about this assessment. Especially as his "torrid time" was still a good few minutes quicker than my fastest 10k time, performed on a firm flat surface.

Anyway, I successfully made it out of the house (with the Trihard Family joining me to support) over to Epsom and successfully acquired my race number. I was already doing considerably better than last year's effort.

Then it started to rain. Despite there being a comfortable cafe at the start/finishing point, and the fact that as it was a two lap race they'd get to see me pass by mid race, Family Trihard suddenly seemed to have lost their enthusiasm for spectating. Being the supportive family man that I am, I suggested that we all got back in the car. But it appeared that as I'd dragged them out early on a Sunday morning they wanted to see me punished and demanded that I join my fellow club members and run in the horrific conditions.


200m of path, 9.8km of mud
We set off. I watched the majority of my fellow club members race ahead of me. I tried to keep up with some of them but had to ease off after about 10 minutes. However I then managed to get into a pace that was sustainable but a fairly hard effort (for me.) To be honest, while it was muddy it wasn't quite as bad as I thought. Most of the running I do is around the fields in our local area so I am used to running in mud. Two thirds around the first lap and I was feeling pretty good, perhaps I'd be able to comfortably finish within the hour.

But then suddenly we turned a corner and the mud got even worse. I managed to keep stay relatively sure footed but people in front of me were slipping and sliding all over the place.

And then we had to run up hill and it got even harder. Then we turned another corner onto an open field and into what felt like a howling gale. I then thought of something else my fellow club member who had decided not to run this year had said: "I went out too quick and burnt out early on."

My thighs were starting to ache and I hadn't even got round the first lap. Had I made the same mistake? Fortunately the next corner led us back on to the path and I realised that the first lap was almost over and I'd done it in just over 30 minutes. Perhaps that sub hour time was still within reach.


One lap down and I'm marginally ahead of a man many years my senior
However 10 minutes later and the conditions that hadn't felt so bad on the first lap were considerably worse. Obviously the ground had been churned up even more by that time. My left hamstring started to ache and I considered throwing in the towel. But then I spotted one of my fellow club members not to far ahead. Someone that I consider to be quite a superior runner to me. If I could finish within a minute of her I thought that would be quite an accomplishment. I pushed on.

Another 15 minutes later and not only was she still in sight but I was gaining. We then made it on to the path. Perhaps I could catch her?! 100m later and we were shoulder to shoulder. We had a chat, I tried to be quite casual but I couldn't believe we were going to finish at the same time.


No prizes for guessing my finishing time
I joined my fellow club members for a group photo then off to Mrs Trihard to wax lyrical about my amazing performance. She told me how nice my fellow club members were and that they'd been chatting with her for the 20 minutes or so between them and me finishing. In fact she'd been chatting to the husband of my fellow club member who I'd been determined to beat. Apparently she'd done a 15 mile run the day before.

Well you can't win them all.




Friday, 10 January 2014

Good news and bad news

Happy New Year! Hope everybody had a good Christmas. If you've been wondering whether my magic man flu jab worked and I've been too busy training to update the blog since early December, well the answer is no!

This week represents the most intensive week of training I've had all month - a swim on my own on Monday, a turbo session on Tuesday and a club swim session last night. While man flu did keep me away from training there were also family members to entertain and most importantly Christmas drinks to be had with friends. However on the Monday before Christmas I put my back out lifting some wood for our brand spanking new log burner. As a result I wasn't able to get to the Chiropractor to crack me back into shape until just before the New Year.


Fire in the hole
On top of this I developed a strange throat condition which was (apologies for the detail) making me retch and vomit on rather an unpredictable basis. Unfortunately this meant that not only did I miss a large chunk of training but I was also unable to attend SRG's birthday celebrations last Saturday.

However the good news is, despite not training to any great extent I've still managed to lose some weight over Christmas and am now a stone lighter than I was when I completed the Basingstoke Half Marathon (disclaimer: 10 pound of this was before Christmas due to a healthy diet and exercise. I'm not advocating vomiting as an effective way of losing weight).

Anyway, back to SRG. Seeing as I haven't felt the need, or desire, to update the blog in recent weeks the majority of you would not have heard that he has well and truly epitomised a Smug Running Guy by winning not one but two accolades at his running club's end of year awards do. So as well as referring to him as SRG he can now be referred to as Great Bentley Running Club's Marathon champion and Best Male Newcomer 2013. Congratulations SRG!

I bet he didn't look this pleased with himself on his birthday
 So, back to me. As you recall I had just began a 12 week half marathon training plan. As I have not run at all since then I think I'll be looking into a six week half marathon training plan. And hope I don't get ill.