Try to Tri

Join me for my rookie year as a triathlete!

May 2009

Posted by trytotri on May 19, 2009

I know that I said that I would update this blog more frequently, given that we have entered the race season but clearly I have failed as it has been at least a month since my last update.

My training has still been a bit haphazard as I am also studying for my Management Accountancy exams and have therefore not been at the office every day for the past few weeks, and because I cannot ride or run into work when I am at college, my overall mileage has reduced somewhat!

Well we are in amongst the races. I helped marshal my club’s off road triathlon on May 10th, which went without a hitch and helped me prepare for my first triathlon the following week. Because of studies I had an enforced taper that really only saw me swim on the Monday night, giving me plenty of rest leading up to Sunday’s race. 

RACE REPORT

This race has been along time coming, and I have collected all the gear, read all of the articles, listened to all of the podcasts and questioned my triathlon buddies on Twitter, so felt very prepared, but so worried that I had got everything covered. Over the two weeks prior to the race the one thing that I hadn’t sorted out was something to wear. I had ordered a tri top and shorts from the tri club, but in case they didn’t arrive I bought another set on ebay. Why is it that Tri Tops are so short? The tendency for them to ride upwards and reveal my midriff was more than my kids could stand and so the items were duly banned from public viewing, the club kit arrived and followed a similar fate!

On the day before the race I packed everything together, a list of 50 things and I practised my transitions, including the leap of faith on to the bike with bike shoes attached. Having sort of mastered the approach i.e. didn’t fall off, I packed the bike and kit in the car ready for a 4.30am alarm call on Sunday morning.

Race Day arrived through bleary eyes as the alarm brought me to my senses and I shut it off to avoid waking my wife and children. I went down to my pre race breakfast (2 slices of toast and marmalade – does everyone call it marmalade? Its an Orange based preserve, if that helps), glass of fruit smoothie and a cup of coffee. I looked out of the window to see the bright sun shining through the window! I wish, it was persistently raining, a polite way to say that it was pi$$ing down.

I drove the 83km to the venue through pouring rain but arrived with plenty of time to register, get marked with my race number (46) and collect my goodie bag. I racked the bike and then joined the crowd under the awning trying to decide how to lay out the transition area amongst the puddles.

I had done some preparation and had a plastic crate to collect all of my kit, but luck would have it that the God’s smiled down on us poor triathletes and turned off the tap for a while. A mad dash followed as everyone started to lay down their claims. I opted to follow the advice given to me on twitter by Thomas De Vos (@traintriathlon) who advised to put the bike and run shoes into carrier bags, so I changed my strategy and decided to put the bike shoes on in T1 rather than leave them on the bike. I had also decided that due to the cold, wet weather that I would wear socks on the bike rather than try to go bare footed. As for kit I opted for the  Tri shorts and a running vest (to make it easier to get the bike jersey on in T1) for the swim section with the intention to put a bike jersey over the top for the bike leg, so all of these were carefully laid out in transition.

The swim went really well apart from the muppet that smashed me over the head whilst trying to overtake in the swim lane. He knocked my goggles loose so I spent a couple of seconds getting them water tight again. The remainder of the 12 lengths went by quite smoothly and I felt that I had kept up a good solid stroke and I climbed out of the pool after 6 mins 20 secs, a mere 10 seconds up on my time trial time at the previous club swim session.

T1 was an experience! I felt ok but trying to stand up and put socks on to wet feet was interesting. I felt a bit dizzy but got there in the end (Learning Point #1 – practise without socks for bike leg and start with shoes on bike).

The bike ride was awesome.  The route was pretty good, basically flat but with some rolling hills, bordering the Newmarket Racecourse and Stud farms (Newmarket is renowned in the UK for it’s Horse Racing). The wind wasn’t too bad but getting down on the aero bars showed about a 1-2 mph increase in speed. At the end of the first lap I did get a touch of cramp at the top of my calf muscle and I frightened the marshall as I unclipped my leg going around the roundabout to shake out the cramp. I eased back a little and tried to get everything working again, and after a couple of minutes it felt ok and I pushed on. The 22kms went by in 44 mins 27 secs and I arrived in T2.

T2 was easy in comparison. I eased off the bike shoes, slipped on the running shoes, put the helmet on the bike and was gone!

The run (Learning Point #2 – practise brick sessions). On reflection the run wasn’t too bad. The run downhill at the start was a little tricky because I could feel that my calf muscle was still a little sore and it felt like it could go again at any second, but as the run went on and the feeling returned to my legs I felt ok. The run was only 4km so the second lap came around very quickly and it was lovely to hear the commentator as I ran up the hill for the last time. I even managed a sprint to the finish line to record an overall time of 1hr, 14mins & 16secs.

I have to say that I am absolutely delighted with the race. All of the technical stuff went well, I managed to beat my target time by nearly four minutes and I felt good at the finish, well after a couple of minutes that is.

It is nice that I can finally call myself a TRIATHLETE. It is a fantastic sport and everyone is so friendly. It has been great talking to fellow competitors and it will be nice to see them again at future races. To complete the facts:

 I finished 75th out of 150 competitors, I was 60th male and 9th in my age group, so no prizes but a target to knock off 15 minutes if I want to start winning my age group!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank a few people for there support, encouragement and understanding.

Firstly to my wife and kids, despite laughing at me in my tri kit! Seriously I am a bit all or nothing and Triathlon is never far away from my mind, although I hope that I have managed to keep a sensible balance. Thank you for your support.

I would also like to send special thanks to Barb, the Kelownagurl (@kelownagurl). Barb produces a fantastic podcast on a weekly basis aimed at the newbie triathlete and I have listened intently to everyone of them. She has inspired me, provided lots of tips and generally entertained me on my runs and countless train journeys. Check out her podcast, there is a link in the side panel. In fact this update is dedicated to Barb, who gave me a mention on this week’s podcast and ashamed me into posting an update to the blog (I hope you enjoy reading my race report).

Another excellent podcast is The Age Grouper. Jeff and Eric have helped me put my plan together for this year and like Kelownagurl, keep me entertained on the daily commute, again there is a link to their podcast in the side panel.

Well that is it for this update, just 18 days to go to my next race, The Braintree Triathlon, which is being organised by my Tri Club so there will be lots of people I know on the course. It is also a lot closer to home, so the family will be out in full support.

To quote Eric from the Age Grouper “Keep Tri-ing”.

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April 2009

Posted by trytotri on April 16, 2009

On the 4th April I attended a triathlon training day organized by the team behind the London Triathlon. The day consisted of sessions for each of the disciplines and a presentation on what to expect and how to prepare for the London and Blenheim triathlons.

We were split into three groups, my group had the run session first which was taken by Ralph Hydes, who is one of ‘the trilife’ coaches and a coach in his own right. His session gave us a thorough warm up routine including a number of dynamic stretches and drills. We then went out to the track for ten sets of 1 min cadence drill, aiming for 92 strides followed by 1 min recovery. It was a good work out and I have subsequently found that my speed has dramatically increased with minimal additional effort, so thanks Ralph. We then went inside for a warm down and stretch routine to help us recover and stay injury free.

The second session for our group was in the pool. Our coach this time was ex GB Triathlon Team coach Dan Salcedo. Our first task though was to don our wetsuit and for many of us this was a first. We then had a series of poolside briefings followed by practical swim sets. The focus was on developing good front crawl technique, again it was a really good session and gave me a good boost to take into my club swim sessions. We finished the session with a mock transition to extricate ourselves quickly from the neoprene. I can see why swimming is the first part of a triathlon as they come off much quicker than they go on!

After lunch we had the presentation session with the team from IMG and then a presentation from the 220 Triathlon coach of the year Simon Ward (@triathloncoach on twitter). This session gave an overview of what we all need to do during the 17 weeks to the London Triathlon, which focused on getting and keeping to a training plan.

Our final session was on the bike ( or should I say off the bike, as we didn’t actually get on the bike that I had taken on the 110 mile round trip!) the session was taken by Dermottt Hayle who gave us a really good overview of the bike discipline, helping everyone to understand what they need in terms of bike equipment, maintenance skills (in race), training and bike skills. I didn’t learn much but it helped remind me about all the things that I have learned over the past six months.

So overall it was a great day’s training and most of all it gave me some satisfaction in that so far my preparation is on track and fingers crossed as long as I stick to it I should be ok for London!

Half way through the month and just 30 days to my first triathlon! I’ve decided to update the blog more frequently as the pace picks up for the race season.

My training has been going quite well but I have had to amend my training schedule as my body can’t take two runs on the same day (Yes I know, I”m a big wimp). I was having to miss the Thursday runs as my legs were still hurting from the runs on a Tuesday. So as of this week my aims are to complete the following training sessions.

Monday – cycle to work (4.5m)/run home (4.5m)/club swim (1600m).
Tuesday – run to work (4.5m)/cycle home (4.5m).
Wednesday – cycle to and from work (9m) /club run (60mins)
Thursday – cycle to work/run home (9m)
Friday – run to work (4.5m)/cycle home (4.5m)
Saturday – long bike ride (20-30 m – race bike)
Sunday – open water swim session

So in total the commute bike rides total 27 miles, race bike 20-30 miles. Runs total 18 miles plus the club session and two swims for about two hours.

About 9 hours per week, not bad for a beginner, although I would hold my hands up to the challenge that the commuting bike rides are not really focused training rides but time is precious and it’s not a if I’m doing an Ironman!

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March 2009

Posted by trytotri on April 6, 2009

At the start of another month and exactly five months to my A race, the London Triathlon. More of a worry is that my debut triathlon is now less than two months away. Having looked at my work out log I can’t see any regular sessions appearing and so I have decided to try and come up with a weekly schedule.

Born2Tri run a swim session on a Monday night and very early on a Friday morning and in the warmer weather there is an open water swim on a Tuesday night. They have a run session at the local running track on a Wednesday and a road / trail run on a Sunday morning. Their bike session is on a Saturday morning. Unfortunately I can’t make all of their sessions so I will have to mix and match. I also want to try and do as much as possible during the working day, either on the way in, at lunch time or on the way home.

I intend therefore to cycle to and from work before going to the club swim session on a Monday, run to and from work on a Tuesday and Thursday, cycle in and out on a Wednesday and then go to the club track session. Friday will be a rest day apart from the commute. On Saturday I will go for a run and either join the club ride or go out with my cycle buddy Paul and I’ll finish the week by joining the Sunday morning club run or open water swim. That should do the trick.

I have been advised that every fourth week should be a rest week to help the body recover and then move up a notch in terms of effort or distance. On those weeks I’ll cut out the midday run and the run to and from work. I’ll also try and take it a bit easier at the weekend.

March 11th

So much for plans, as over a week has passed and I haven’t put it into practise yet. Perhaps next week!

Having celebrated my 44th birthday last week I am now the proud owner of three books that have defined triathlon training. They are the Triathlete’s Training Bible, the accompanying Training Log and Total Immersion Swimming. I now have a lot of reading to do but from a quick flick through I think that they will be invaluable as my triathlon training progresses.

March 18th

I had a good ride on Saturday completing the 20 mile circuit in 1:17 including an awesome downhill run that recorded 35 mph on the Garmin and cycle computer.

On Monday I just about managed to get to the club swim despite the best intentions of the train company as we were turfed off the train due to a fault?

On Tuesday I had a good run in to work but I extended the run home to take in the sites of London, taking in Picadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the London Eye, a run along the embankment past The Tate Museum over the Millenium Bridge up past St Pauls and The Bank of England.

The run home took quite a lot out of me as the 10 mile daily total prooved a bit too much too soon. I have also come to the conclusion that my running shoes are past their best, I did buy them in 2006! All right I didn’t really use them during 2007 & 2008!

I have joined the twitters! I can’t quite remember why, but I have now set up my profile and you can follow my tweets at www.twitter.com/trytotri.

Does anyone read this blog? If anyone is out there can you let me know either by leaving a comment or let me know using twitter.

March 27th

I had a great ride on Saturday we rode out to Maldon and back taking in some good hills and lush countryside. On the way back I came off my bike, only my pride was hurt as the incident occurred as I tried to clip in to the pedals. I didn’t push away properly came to a halt and toppled sideways! I suppose I can now say that I’ve now joined the club.

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February 2009

Posted by trytotri on April 6, 2009

A frustrating start to the month as the English weather conspired to keep me off my new road bike. I did manage a few swims and a few runs but it didn’t really cover what I had planned.

I did eventually get on the bike and did a 20km loop which was very enjoyable. It wasn’t super quick as it was a big change from my commuter bike. My hands felt really uncomfortable so I have adjusted the set up so hopefully it will improve for my next ride.

I have finally made some plans for the year signing up for some interim races to build me up to the Olympic distance in August. I have decided to do three sprint distance tri’s: I will be competing in the Newmarket Sprint in May, the Braintree Sprint in June and the Norwich Sprint in July. it’s all nicely spaced out and will allow me to keep up the training in between.

I have also taken the plunge and joined a triathlon club. I am now a paid up member of Born2Tri. I joined them for my first swim session and managed to swim about 1000 meters all front crawl! It was a really good session and bodes well for the rest of the year.

Another significant is that I have signed up to support Dr Barnados, a charity based in Essex who support children all over the country. It is also my company’s supported charity and they have agreed to match my sponsorship fund so if anyone fancies digging in their pocket you can donate your readies by going to www.sponsor-me.org/andywalkerlondontriathlon

As the month progressed I built up my bike mileage completing a 20 mile run out each Saturday I also completed a mock triathlon on a midweek day off. I swam 400 meters, drove home, jumped on the bike for 20km and then pulled on the running shoes for a 5km run. It was the hardest 3 mile run I have ever done as running off the bike was a very strange experience. My legs felt dead but I managed to plod around in just over 9 minute miles, not far off my current normal run pace. Overall I completed the sprint distance in 1 hour 23 minutes and 10 seconds. I was happy to have completed the distance but to beat the 1:30 mark was a big bonus.

So the training is progressing I have knocked a minute per mile off my run pace, my swimming is coming on really well thanks to the coaching from Mark at Born2Tri and I’m really getting on well with my new road bike although some foot pain on the last ride means I haven’t got the set up right just yet!

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January 2009

Posted by trytotri on April 6, 2009

I can’t believe that January has come and gone already. It has been a busy month both on the work front but during a week’s holiday I can finally declare that my training has well and truly started. However the scale of the challenge still stands before me.

The training year didn’t start off too brightly with the first week barely registering on the training log. Leading up to my week off I had only managed the cycling commute, although I did run home from work for the first time. This involved the 2.5 mile run from Oxford St to Liverpool St, the 35 minute train journey in the middle made the 2 mile run from the station to home a bit more of a stuggle but I clocked in just under the 45 minute mark.

My week off work was the trigger point to get serious so Saturday morning saw me in the pool for the first time. I only managed 20 lengths of the 33 meter pool where I live and I have to admit most of it was breaststroke. On Monday I did a run and swim double clocking in a 30 length swim with a 4.7 mile run. Tuesday the swim went up to 40 lengths and Wednesday I decided to run and completed a 4.5 mile loop. Thursday I swam 50 lengths to chalk off the 1500 meters that I would need to swim in the London Triathlon. it took me 46 minutes and yes it was breaststroke!

I finished off the week with a small 2.5 mile run followed immediately followed by 24 lengths of the pool. A really good week that really gave me some confidence for the swim leg and got some run distance under the belt.

Going back to work seriously reduced by mileage as I returned to a busy work week. However I ended the week on a high collecting my brand new road bike!! I cycled home using clip pedals for the first time. the key thing was that I didn’t fall over although I came close when I unclipped my right foot and swung it over the bike unwittingly unclipping my left foot leaving me dangling on the handlebars heading for my neighbours front garden! A good way to end the update.

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