triathlon

2009 - 2010 goals

I know, it's a bit early for goals for next year. But I have no multisport races booked in for the rest of 2009, and expect my first triathlon of 2010 to be in April or May (e.g. Thames Turbo, Sevenoaks sprint). Additionally, my Ironman training plan doesn't start until January, so I'd like things to focus on before that gets into gear.

  • 25 minute 1500m swim by June 2010 - ambitious, but hopefully achievable
  • 45 minute 10km run by June 2010 - doesn't seem much shorter than London Triathlon 10k, but not convinced it was the full 10k
  • Ironman Switzerland (IMCH) in sub 13 hours - not sure how ambitious this is at present!
  • New Forest tri in less than 2:30 - assuming same course
  • Bike leg of (flattish) middle distance triathlon in 2:45

If I was doing London Triathlon in 2010 (which I'm not because it will clash with IMCH, and also I'd be doubtful anyway because the traffic is an epic nightmare) I'd be wanting to hit 2:30. I think I can shave off 20 mins in a year.

So, basically, be faster at everything. What do I need to work on to achieve those?

  • Swim *speed* as well as technique - fitness sessions as well as technique sessions
  • Develop bike legs - at the moment I'm being overtaken by everyone, and seem to only achieve reasonable cadence in low gears
  • More variation in running to get faster - more tempo intervals, cruise intervals, and fartlek

That's training. In addition to training, I'd also like to do the following in the next three months:

  • Maximise comfort in the run - get well-fitted shoes
  • Maximise comfort on the bike - have a bike fitting session

Finally, I'm a triathlete

It can't be much less than a year ago that I bought my first copy of Runners World after recently taking up running again. With it came Triathletes World. I was even going to post it to a triathlete friend at one point, but ended up taking it on holiday to France with me as reading material instead. I didn't even like swimming at that point, so the very idea of doing a triathlon seemed ridiculous. I'm not quite sure when that changed, but I remember thinking by the end of that long weekend in Champagne that it might not be so terrible an idea (hmm, perhaps Champagne is the clue)

Starting learning to swim again (I could literally just about swim a length when I started, although I have been able to swim further in the past) from July onwards meant that I missed last year's triathlon season completely. I did, however, sign up to London Triathlon shortly after going to look at last year's. The earliest triathlon I got around to signing up to (Sevenoaks Sprint got full while I dithered about entering) was the New Forest Triathlon, held at Ellingham Water ski lake.

I managed to wrap a New Forest holiday around the triathlon to take advantage of the bank holiday weekend, staying at a lovely B&B in Ringwood. Friday was spent exploring the Jurassic coast, visiting Lulworth, Durdle Door and Lyme Regis. Saturday we went to Burley and also Lymington.

Yesterday (Sunday) morning I got up at 5.15 to have breakfast before heading to the triathlon. The patter of rain on the conservatory roof was a little annoying - the weekend had so far been gorgeous. Luckily it had dried up by the drive. The walk from car park to transition area deterred me from taking my transition box - instead I just put everything I needed in my backpack, slung my wetsuit over my shoulder and pushed the bike. Registration was quick and easy, after which I ensured my transition area was suitably set up (towel, bike shoes with pre-rolled socks in, run top, bike jacket, helmet, run shoes and race belt in place). Once I saw a few other people were in wetsuits, I changed into mine, leaving my tri-shorts underneath, applying body glide under the arms, and gingerly headed over to the lake avoiding as much gravel as possible.

The sun was rising over the trees bordering the lake at this point, still quite low in the sky, so I hunted areas of grass out of shadow, in the hope that standing on them would warm up my cold feet a little. To some extent it did. We then had the race briefing, including 'please cycle on the left' - apparently a competitor had a fairly nasty accident last year not doing this! I then discovered I was in the first wave into the lake, and everyone started moving towards the lake. I hung back a little, wanting to avoid the cold as long as possible. However, walking into the lake, I found that the water was warmer than the ground, and the water wasn't as unpleasant as I had feared. As a fairly poor swimmer, I headed to the rear of the scrum that is a triathlon start, and we treaded water for a minute or so, before the horn went.

I managed to keep a little space around me, avoiding the people around me, but ready to protect myself against thrashing feet, and after a while, the space opened up a little and the swimming got a little less cramped. I found that I was swimming fairly comfortably, not with perfect technique, but reasonable enough not to exhaust myself. I was also sighting regularly to ensure I was still on course. One thing I found was that I had little choice about which side to breathe - within minutes, the sun was high enough that I would be breathing into the sun on one side, so protected my eyes by breathing on the other side. Rounding the buoys that marked the course was often crowded, but I managed to avoid trouble. By the end of the swim, I was a little tired, but by no means shattered.

On leaving the lake, I felt pretty wobbly, but able to jog at a pace slightly quicker than walking to transition, where I wobbled out of my wetsuit, and into my bike gear. My transition clearly needs work, as the person next to me was in and out in a small fraction of the time I was there.

Once out on the bike, I started being overtaken. A lot. Some of the bikes made really cool whirring noises due to their aero wheels. Many of the bikes looked very shiny. I slowly got into the bike - I got some pretty good speeds out in the middle of the course, the winds and hills definitely played a part. The roads were lovely, and I quite enjoyed passing the group of 4 New Forest ponies, but cycling was my weakest link. I tried to keep cadence highish, and get a decent speed up, but the only bloke I overtook for longer than 20 seconds was on a mountain bike. I kept telling myself that if I got around in less than three hours (my goal times - 30 mins swim, 1:30 bike, 1 hour run, with transitions eating into those times) I could have a new bike, although I suspect that what I really need might just be more practice and a more flexible back (or perhaps a better fitting bike?).

Transition 2 was much quicker, racking the bike, removing bike jacket and helmet, switching shoes, moving race belt around so number was at the front (slowed down a little when the belt detached from buckle - stupid thing!).

The run was pretty horrendous - the first km was flat (and quick for me), the next few had a lot of uphill. My lower back was really giving me grief at this point, I was in a bit of pain. I plodded on slowly, and walked up the worst of the hills. This probably helped. By about 4km into the run, I was feeling a lot more comfortable. At the half way point, I took the offered water, swallowed some, breathed some (oops) and poured the rest over my head. Still far too many hills, so a few walk breaks at times, but most of my kilometre splits were sub 6 mins, which meant that I was doing well against goal times.

Peta was spectating at the finish, when I saw her waving, I returned her wave, it was lovely to see her there (she'd caught a taxi to the finish, rather than spend four hours waiting to see me during the race). I was able to gather a few more places nearing the finish, I was determined not to lose any places either, so when I noticed someone trying to pass, I picked up my pace. So did she. I picked up some more. So did she. It was an all out sprint to the finish. I have zero idea who won - there is noone with the same time in the race results. My theory is that she was from the second swim wave, so I was racing against someone who was beating me by 20 mins.

Peta came to meet me, I think she was torn between giving me a giant hug and staying well away from the dripping sweating monster, and we headed to get race tshirt, biscuits and tea, and we watched the prize giving, which was a first for me in a race, it did show that if you want lots of cheering, join a big tri-club!

I must have twisted my ankle (or sprained or strained or whatever) during the run - I even think I know when I did it, slipping off the edge of the road, and remember thinking, 'ooh, that could have hurt, lucky escape there' - presumably adrenaline got me through. Hopefully it will recover quickly enough.

So I am now a triathlete, and hope to remain one for a good while yet. Lots of things to learn (I need to improve my cycling, my core strength, and do better on hills on the run, improve my transition times, and continue to improve my swim, which may no longer be my 'weak discipline', particularly taking proportion of race time into account).

Final times: swim 1100m: 31:42, bike 34km: 1:21:30, run 10km: 56:11, total: 2:49:25.
Position: 239th male (out of 263 who started, 253 finished).

18 - 31 August: A fortnight in review

Goals for last week:

  • Swim Twice.
  • Do two lots of 30 mins constant running.
  • Long run in Australia on Sunday or Monday
  • Dedicate some time to thinking about my schedule to include classes (spinning, pilates), and types of training (tempo, interval, easy, etc.) and how to optimise to achieve my goals
  • Pack swim and run kit

Mon: Swam 30 mins
Tue: Ran 30 mins
Wed: Swam 40 mins - followed by gym
Thu: Ran 30 mins

Mon: Ran/walked 14km (including 1km warm up beforehand) - very scrappy run though, probably due to poor nutrition and hydration, the effects of 24 hours in flight, and warm afternoon weather. Walked up the hills, and had to walk for a bit as so tired. Lowish heartrate suggests lack of energy.
Thu: Ran 7km continuously.
Sun: Ran/walked 15 km

Goals for next week:

  • Swim at least once
  • Run at least twice

Ok, nothing amazing, but being on holiday with plenty to do does shift the focus somewhat! I have managed to do plenty of reading, at least, so should be able to come up with some training schedules soon.

London Triathlon 2009

I've now finally managed to sign up for London Triathlon 2009, at Olympic Distance.

So now I just need to improve my swimming (and general fitness) so that I can do 1500m swim, 40km bike, and 10km run! 357 days to go to sort that!

Signing up for triathlon

I am now a member of Triathlon England.

I would also have signed up for the Olympic distance at the London Triathlon, but it seems to reject my entry for some unfathomable reason. I might try again using a different browser or even OS.

A week in review

Goals for last week:

  • Swim Twice.
  • Do two lots of 30 mins constant running.
  • Do 9-10km long run at the weekend.
  • Go to see some of the London Triathlon.

Mon: Swim 30 mins
Tue: Ran 30 mins - to Putney Bridge, across, and then back
Thu: Ran 30 mins - to Barnes Bridge, across, and then back
Fri: Swam 30 mins, then 30 mins gym
Sat: went to see some of the London Triathlon
Sun: Ran 50 mins in one go (10km including warm up) - it really rained on this run, which may have cooled me down and actually improved my performance!

So, a pretty successful week!

Goals for this week:

  • Swim Twice.
  • Do two lots of 30 mins constant running.
  • Do 10-11km long run at the weekend.
  • Book a swimming coach.

I might also do some thinking about whether two 30 mins constant running is the best use of two training sessions - maybe an interval session could replace one of them.

4-10 Aug: A week in review

Goals for last week:

  • Swim Twice.
  • Do two lots of 30 mins constant running.
  • Do 9-10km long run at the weekend.
  • Go to see some of the London Triathlon.

Mon: Swim 30 mins
Tue: Ran 30 mins - to Putney Bridge, across, and then back
Thu: Ran 30 mins - to Barnes Bridge, across, and then back
Fri: Swam 30 mins, then 30 mins gym
Sat: went to see some of the London Triathlon
Sun: Ran 50 mins in one go (10km including warm up) - it really rained on this run, which may have cooled me down and actually improved my performance!

So, a pretty successful week!

Goals for this week:

  • Swim Twice.
  • Do two lots of 30 mins constant running.
  • Do 10-11km long run at the weekend.
  • Book a swimming coach.

I might also do some thinking about whether two 30 mins constant running is the best use of two training sessions - maybe an interval session could replace one of them.

Swimming - day 2

My second go at swimming this week. Some progress was made - I swam for a bit with my face in the water, breathing out underwater, and turning my head to breathe in. Occasionally I got the timing of this wrong and inhaled water. This had the side effect of making me keep my head above water, which is bad form! I also tried to remember to push my arms into the water at an angle, rather than flop them in at the end of a windmill cycle. I may have forgotten to kick in all of this. Too many things to remember at once.
Ah well, I managed three consecutive lengths, twice, and several double lengths, and some singles. I also tried to sink to the bottom of the pool, but am too buoyant. I suspect breathing out might help, but then I want to breathe in, and then I might drown!

Triathlon - in the beginning

I am a total novice to triathlon. While I've run in the past, and cycled in the past, and even swum in the past, I certainly currently lack the endurance to do all three in one go.
Swim
My weakest discipline. I currently struggle to do a length. I went swimming in the pool today for the first time in many years. I managed several lengths. None consecutively.
Bike
I can manage a few miles on a bike. I need to work on high cadence - my school of thought until recently was that you should go in the highest gear you could - this really isn't good strategy for endurance!
Run
I've just finished Week 5 of the Runner's World Beginners Plan. So I'm managing to do 24 minutes running in 30. My last run was a worry, as I managed to do 5km exactly in 30 mins.
I've entered the Royal Parks Half Marathon on October 12. I'd love to do it in under 2 hours. However, that is predicted by a 26 min 5K, so there's some work to do.

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