ITU Long Distance World Championship 2018 Race Report

After some wild young Danes partied into the earlier hours of Friday morning – I can’t say I slept exceptionally well the night before the race. Though there’s not much new there.

The 4:30 alarm buzzed – but I was already wide awake. It was time to play, I didn’t need any warning.

5:15 we left the house to walk to transition and I was one of the first there. People that have seen me prepare for big races know I get incredible nervous. I’m often sick on the start line, hard to talk to, very twitchy.

But this time I felt different. I was very calm, very relaxed. I think the biggest difference was I was confident.

I trusted my legs, the work I’d put in this season and the form I had. Joel and me had left no stone unturned to get me to the start line, we’d looked at every aspect of form and although I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be – I knew I had a big performance in the body and mind.

Having crashed out of a big race 3 weeks before – I knew what that felt like. And I was ready for it to happen again. The comfort in my resilience in these situations kept my mind at ease. Don’t over think it – what will be will be. If it’s over in that way, there’s always a next time.

DSC_8949As I approached my bike I could see instantly something was wrong. I had a flat front tyre.

No worries, I had 2 spare tubes with me and time. I quickly fixed it up and got underway.

Into the bag for nutrition and I’d only brought sparkling water. Fantastic. Don’t complain – pour it in, no excuses.

It was clear that this time round, this race – I was going to have to make my own luck. But I was ready for that.

A quick portaloo stop, a pretend stretch and we were into the starting pen. A few handshakes later – and it was time.

DSC_9058The water was nice. Fresh, clear, though slightly salty. The start line was compact so I knew it was going to be a punchy one.

As the horn went I was straight into the washing machine. I didn’t let myself panic or get cycled backwards. Instead I picked my line, and held it.

I picked a good line and good feet to follow on the way out. Although it’s hard to know how well you’re swimming, I was pleased with my efficiency. I didn’t let the jellyfish phase me – I just had to get to my bike in one piece. And hope it was in one piece waiting for me.

Out of the water at the turn around and up the steps, across the timing mat – there weren’t many people around, never a good sign. Had I been dropped already? Again…

Into the water and I tried to find some feet to follow. There was a small group just ahead but I couldn’t shut the gap. It was a long, lonely way back to transition from here. I was going to have to do it solo. The wave behind swam through me very late on – this gave me confidence – I can’t be that far back.

Out of the water and into transition. Safe to say it was an absolute shambles. I couldn’t find my bag as it was hanging on the wrong hook. After over a minute of faff with a marshal, I got my kit and got underway.

Out of the snake pit – into the fire.

DSC_9169When I started the bike I had little confidence. My position hasn’t been fully dialled in yet, I’d had a few mechanical issues in my warm up rides and I wasn’t sure how it would handle. It was a windy day and I knew that would suit me, so I just got my head down – looked for that 282 Watts on the screen, and ticked over.

3 words repeated over and over in my head. Calm. Collected. Composed. There was no point smashing everyone in the first 30km, it was going to be a long morning in the chair.

Joel had said to me the day before “if you hold that power, you’ll destroy people.”

I’d laughed at him. Brushed him off as a joker. Not a chance. Until the first 10km of the bike. When I realised he wasn’t messing.

I didn’t want to come out hard, burn any matches. I’d decided I was going to stick to the average and see what happened.

And people started coming towards me like they were going backwards.

I was riding through big powerful guys, on £10k bikes like they had glue on their tyres, and I was loving it. I couldn’t get enough. Not a single person came past me.

DSC_9198One by one I ticked people off. Sometimes moving through packs of 4 or 5. Straight on the back, round the side, and away.

My confidence was building km by km, athlete by athlete, but i knew I had a long day ahead and the big boys wouldn’t be waiting for me at the front.

In Penticton I passed British athlete Matt White at 95km on the bike – and he’d told me his form was good this year. I’d never caught my idol Tony weeks on a bike leg in my life, and he also flew out with good bike legs, but by 60km I’d ridden through them both. They can’t both be having a bad day, surely?

Letting myself believe – I just kept ticking. I had no concept of speed or time. Just distance and power.

Josh was still up the road, as were at least 4/5 guys in the age group. And 30km is a long run yet!

After accidentally throwing a bottle at tony – hitting him travelling at 45kph (sorry mate), I got stuck into the second lap.

I felt great. I was on top of hydration, nutrition and the numbers. This was where I was going to make a move – back into the head wind I needed to make ground on the front of the race. And if you’re going to make a move – make a proper one.

Working hard for the next 20km, I was still flying through people. And eventually, I finally caught Josh. 83km. Right at the point where this became a super tight race.

It was decision time. Do I gamble and smash the last 20km – knowing I might not have the running legs – but I’d make contact with the front. Or sit up & cruise – to attack the run and empty the tank.

With a German in our age group right on my wheel I wanted to do the first, but I know a smart race looked like the latter. So I bid my time, I’d gamble when I get to the run, I didn’t need to yet.

Into t2 and it was mission accomplished. I had to make a quick toilet stop as I hadn’t managed on the bike. And back out.

DSC_9426 DSC_9557 DSC_9264I knew I was around the top 5 and the lack of bikes implied i was on a good day, but it was a long way home. And josh was right on my heels.

I attacked the first part of the run. Not flat out – but a pace I’d have been able to hold earlier in the season.

At 10km it was getting tough and the splits my parents were giving me meant i knew I might hold some of these athletes – I was making ground. Coming into the middle 10 and I had to put the brakes on slightly. Dropping a few seconds per Km, it was a real battle.

I was fighting hard – deep into the uncomfy zone of racing, I was determined not to quit. Not to slow down.

My legs were burning, my stomach felt sick, I was getting dizzy and light headed. I’d pulled out bigger numbers in states worse than this – so I battled on.

DSC_9593Just past the half way mark and I knew I was going to get shut down by Josh. I couldn’t hold the pace and I couldn’t shut the gap to the front, but I didn’t want to lose too many places. I’d battle on as there was still a lot to play for!

Then it hit me. KM 22 – a 1:25 half marathon in the bag, on the money where I need to be. But the wheels fell off.

I thought I was going to stop, I was ready to. I could have thrown in the towel. But that isn’t me. I’d worked to hard to throw away 30 minutes and walk the last lap.

I fought on – step by step, corner by corner – to the finish line.

Pipped by the South African on the line. I’d lost 4 minutes on the last 8km. A battle to win another day – and a result I was extremely proud of. 6th in the world, my first top 20 overall and 3rd Brit in a field full of international medalists.

DSC_9656The running legs are in there, I’ve shown that in my early season races. Transitions were a shambles but that can be learned – and I even had more on the bike.

Which leaves just one area to work on – my swim.

Though I’d taken 6 minutes off my swim from Canada – on a swim where most people added on 4. So a success in itself. I hadn’t quite had the legs to challenge the podium.

Plenty of areas to work on before the tail end of the season, and lots of positives in this heavily competitive age group – before I even turn 25. It’s a bit surreal being up with some of the top athletes on the age group scene, especially when I know I have so much more to offer.

Although I have plenty to focus on this year – half an eye will be turned to world champs 2019. My entry is in, my mind is hungry, and if I come – it’ll be all to play for.

Life Underneath an Instagram Filter

Today started not too dissimilar to any other day. The 5:20 alarm buzzed to wake me, and I was quick to snooze it, bleary eyed and groggy, knowing I still had a brief time left in bed.

I’ve been having a rough week, swimming was the last thing I really wanted to be doing, but I know I have to. In the quest for excellence there isn’t anywhere to hide. Every time you miss a session, you get slower. Everyone else is out there, getting it done, making no excuses, feeling a millon dollars.

3_m-100779636-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2141_001833-10660446The guys I have to race don’t make mistakes, they don’t miss sessions, they never let up.

I finally got out of bed, had a small breakfast and made my way over to the Macclesfield pool. My toe was incredibly sore, my head wasn’t in the moment, I just didn’t want to get in the pool.

The moment I broke the water I had perfect clarity. My mind was clear, all my worries were gone. It’s so easy to hide here, behind the numbers and the work. I don’t have to be myself, I can just become monotonous. I just follow what the numbers say on the board, and don’t think any more than that.

Slowly the clarity began to become hazy and clouded. My toe was letting me know it hurt, conversations from the week creep back into my head, my body is tired, I haven’t really slept this week. What am I doing here?

I pushed on, into the main set and I’m setting the pace. Like normal we start strong, a testing pace that we know we can hold. Except it doesn’t feel like normal – there’s a battle in my mind. I’m not myself. I’m not hungry to go fast, to push myself, to work hard.

In fact, all I really want to do is get out of the pool, and go back to bed. Shut myself off from the world, and sulk.

But that won’t make me faster. That won’t get me where I want to be. If I’m not training, I’m getting slower…. right?

1/4 hard blocks completed. Just.

img_5743Into the second and I’m not pulling away like I normally do, I don’t have the will to push, in fact, I’m holding everyone up.

I fought on, it’s just a bad day. We all have those, you can do this.

2/4 done. Every turn was a battle, why don’t I just get out? I shouldn’t be here and I know it. But I just can’t quit.

I was using more mental strength to keep going, than I’d used to get round some races. And that’s when I knew something was wrong.

3/4 and at the half way point, I threw in the towel. I was done. Cooked.

And before I knew what was happening, I found myself on the side of the pool in pieces, genuinely sobbing.

Had you asked them before the session, I’d have been one of the last people pinned to get out early. Resilient, tough, robotic. Training & emotions separate – park it before the session, pick it up afterwards.

But does that mean I’m always ok?unnamed

As I’m moving forward through sport I’m realising more and more, it’s so easy to hide our emotions, so easy to lock ourselves away and so hard to just open up.

And it isn’t just restricted to athletes. It goes right across the board.

img_3080We can assume that because people are in a better situation than us, they have it easy. They don’t have any battles.

We live in a society where we’re made to feel guilty for having a bad day, a tough time.

Crying is seen as weak. Mental health is dismissed as “nothing” – and before you know it, you can be completely isolated at a time when the planet is the most populated it’s ever been.

On Earth it’s estimated that we can speak over 7,000 different languages. From the moment we’re born, we begin to communicate. You don’t even need eyes or ears to convey your intentions. We can talk to different species, and we’re sending communications to space.

But we can’t even ask the person next to us if they’re ok?

Is it that we don’t want to hear it? Or is it that we’re all so involved in our personal battles, that we forget to pay attention to the people around us?

As athletes we can forget about it all in sport. Numbers, data, training.

But other people can hide in work, deadlines, hobbies. Just hide behind a facade.

We act confident, we’ll tell you we’re fine. You’ll barely know anything is up, just a moderate silence. A quick change of conversation to move on.

20180520_11141And before we know it, it all gets a bit too much. We can’t hide it. And we need to release it.

If an olympic champion had a bad race, but still won – nobody wants to talk to them about the race. Nobody apart from their coach. If they had a tough day between the ears, you wouldn’t believe them & you wouldn’t wanna talk about it.

Everyone else wants to hear how hard it was, how tough they had to fight. After all, they bloody won, how can they possibly feel bad?

If a big city boss is wealthy – but the numbers are down with the business so they’re making £500,000 less… you don’t care cause they’re still rich. They still have money. Even though their life evolves around the business… how could they be sad?

And with social media, the whole situation is elevated. These “perfect” people that live the dream life – do they not have problems? They look pretty, travel the world and have fun. They don’t have issues at all…. right?

Who do all these people turn to when times are tough? Are they any different to me or you?

20160724_968Why are your problems any different to theirs? And why is this even relevant?! 99.9% of the population, me included, will never be in that situation, but that doesn’t make us any more or less isolated.

Yes, your problems may be different. But that doesn’t make them any worse, or any better. And that doesn’t make it acceptable to just isolate these people. Or tell them to “stop moaning”.

It’s not ok that they feel scared to speak out, feel like they’re being silly or ridiculous, because they know they have it good. And that in turn trickles down the tree.

Cause we’re all lucky, the fact you’ve read this means you’re in a better situation than over half of the planet.

We have a habit of glossing it all over, making it look ok. Telling everyone “we’re fine”. We don’t open up for fear of being judged, fear that they’ll tell you “you’re just a drama queen”. Fear that they just won’t want to listen.

So look after the person next to you, ask your friends if they’re ok. Genuinely ask them – listen to the answer. Find it out. Before it all gets a bit too much. If I can change one thing today, or get one person to check that someone is alright, then this post will be a success.

Even if you think they have it all under control. That doesn’t mean they do.

Because one day you’ll be in their situation – and you’ll want someone to reach out to.

But don’t worry. They’ll be there.

Winning Races for Smiley Faces – The Summer Menu

It’s about time I did an update of the last few months and what my adjusted goals are looking forward to the summer. If you follow my other social media channels you’ll know it’s been a hectic few months of a bit of this and that. If you don’t follow them, well why not?!

But don’t worry, I’ll let you off if you don’t, you can get the important bits here!

First things first, where can we catch up?!
I’ve probably missed you in a world of rubbish excuses like bedtime, training tomorrow, “dieting”… so I’m going to be racing some local events to touch base with everyone!

img_3508-1I’ll be racing a sprint distance triathlon in Wilmslow (starting at the leisure centre) on the 20th May – start times are yet to be released, but stay tuned if you’re around to watch that one. It’ll be a super short race & I’m hoping to complete it in under 1 hour 10!

The summer season has come around very quickly and the real racing starts 4 weeks on Sunday.

This will kick off with Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 (10th June). That will be the first real indicator of summer form and what I can begin to expect moving forward into the season. This is a half ironman – so the distances are – 1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run! Plenty of racing to watch and get stuck into!

Following that I’ll be doing one of the Castle Series in Cholmondeley Castle. This will be another 70.3 event on 24th June, and another little taster of my form to take into World Champs. Nice and local over near Nantwich so that I don’t have to travel too far to get into the swing of the big races.

World Champs will be in Denmark this year on the 14th July and will be my first A race of the season. This is one of two races that will be my main focus for the year, and after that we’ll regroup and re-assess to see where we’re up to.

So what’s been happening?!

It’s been a crazy one!

30125761_437555703335079_1698798986_o 1865912 1957076Two weeks in Mallorca on training camp racked up a crazy amount of miles and the legs began to show some real form. Something I haven’t really found in the last couple of years since a strong 2016 season. The hard work is really paying off and this led nicely to Manchester marathon.

 

The legs didn’t feel good the morning of the marathon, we’d got the build up wrong, I felt sluggish not sharp. But it’s a good learning curve. None the less I toed the start line and had a clear set of goals in my head. The outcome I wanted saw my time aorund 2:39:59 – although I knew early on that this wasn’t going to be the case. I battled from start to finish, and did the first 28km perfectly on pace. Passing the half marathon at 1:19:55 it was going to be touch & go but around mile 20 (km 32) it blew up in my face. Drawing on some really tough times in training I kept the focus. Thanks to the hero that is Pete Butler, we fought through it and I made it out the otherside, glued to his heels. I managed to make the finish line in 2:42:29 – a great time that I was happy with. This will qualify me for a guaranteed championship spot at London Marathon next year, something I’m excited to take up.

DSC_7731 DSC_7811 DSC_7788Following the marathon I had 2 weeks to let my legs attempt to recover before launching an attack on Storm the Castle duathlon, an event where I had unfinished business after just missing out next year. I still didn’t feel my best but again knew exactly what I needed to do. On the day my legs were good and I managed to hold on for the win. Breaking the tape was a fantastic feeling & something I’ll be working extremely hard to do again in the future. It was a great event and I learned a lot about my body through the day – despite not quite finding the bike legs, my running legs carried me through. Didn’t think I’d ever say that!

A report of the day can be read here.

DSCF7491 DSCF7489A very heavy 2 weeks training following STC meant that my legs were far from fresh when I arrived at the Cheshire Points Series 50 mile time trial on Saturday’s summer afternoon. None the less I managed a lifetime best in power output at 325W for the 1:52:10. Although I finished 6th Overall and 20 seconds behind my PB. Despite losing to some of my close competitiors it was great to line up with some of the top guys and perform amongst them again – though some changes need to be made to my time trial set up.

Since then I’ve had to rest a broken toe that I’ve been carrying since before Manchester, not ideal but better to take a break from running now rather than forced rest in the future.

All in all a very productive couple of months with lots of positives to be taken. Plenty of personal bests both in and out of training making me hungry to see what I can achieve this summer. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but the consistency is slowly coming together to get me there. Working closely with Joel Jameson at Jameson coaching is really paying off and I’m hoping I can stay in one piece to enjoy a hard season of summer racing!

Why your PB time doesn’t actually matter.

I’ve had a few very interesting conversations with various people recently, and I’ve decided that actually, PB’s don’t mean anything.

img_5743I know, I know, crazy talk. But hear me out.

It’s that time of year where you’ve entered a load of races, you’re absolutely hammering yourself in & out of training to get yourself in the best possible shape to set a new pb. But why? What exactly are you doing it for?

So pb’s are great for a number of reasons. You’re only really ever in contention with yourself, and pushing yourself further and further each day to be better, is something I’m absolutely behind. Every day I push myself to new limits, just trying to be a better person than the day before. However… are you ever just in contention with yourself? Or are you really constantly comparing yourself to everyone else in a society full of external pressures.

The first question anyone asks me is ‘ooo, what’s your pb’. Or, ‘oo how fast could run x-km. How quick can you do this on a bike. What’s your best park run… What’s your best ironman time?

 

bored-cat_Fotor

Well first of all, who actually cares? I can move pretty fast, there are plenty of people that can move a lot faster. But second of all, surely every single time/race/course/person is going to be different. If you think you’re quicker than me, turn up at world champs, and we’ll race. Fine. A proper fair test, same day, same course, then you win the bragging rights…. if you win… until the time we race again.

EventPhotoHandler (17)But what if we race again on a different course, I win this time round, we’re both twice a fit, but we go an hour slower, same distance?

Are you quicker because your pb is quicker than mine… or am I quicker cause I just beat you, fair and square? And even though we both know we’re a lot fitter, we went slower. It was windy, raining, icy, hilly… but we’d have run rings around the athletes we were the year before.

Are we slower because our time is slower? Is that what you’re telling me by asking me what my pb is?

Now when people ask me what my best ever race was, I’ll tell them the World Championship in Canada. Not because I made the podium, not because I managed a good time, neither of those things matter.

But because I had a torn tendon in my knee, I’d only been back training 4 weeks after a 4 month break, and I’d spent 6 months coming to terms with the fact that physically I wasn’t where I wanted to be mentally. But I went out, and from start to finish I battled, and there was no way I was going to let up before I crossed that finish line. And that’s something I’ll hang on to for a long time, I really earned my stripes.

One of my most liked instagram posts recently was one where I made the statement “nobody cares how fast you were in 2017, or even 2016. While that will gain you respect on the start line, it’;ll mean nothing when you cross the finish, and only you can influence that… Get your miles in, cause 2018 is gonna write itself, with or without you”.

And there is so much truth to that. My friends love the saying “we’ve all done stuff”, and there’s a lot of truth in that.

Week in, week out people complete training, race events, test themselves. And that’s great, but I could turn up at a park run this week and smash myself to bits… maybe set a pb, maybe not. I could do the same course next week, in driving rain, ice & wind… on much better legs, but go slower. There’s so much more to this sport than a stop watch.

Be proud of what you’ve achieved, you worked hard for it! But don’t cling on to the times, the numbers, there’s so much more to a good performance than that. Remember your best races as the ones where you performed well beyond how you expected. Where you were mentally tough, you fought against the odds. The races where you influence other people, maybe you paced a friend to a pb and you hold success in that. Together, as a team you can enjoy the victory.

Don’t hang on to the time, hang on to the moment!

Ironman World Championships – Tracking the Race 

We’re nearly there.

Can’t even describe what I’m currently feeling, as I’m not sure myself what it is.

Nerves. Excitement. Stress. Apprehension.

You can track me on either the ironman website, by googling ironman world championship.

Or download the app & track me there. The app looks like this:

 

I’m number 2409, & the race starts at 18:05 Saturday, UK time.

 

I’m not putting any pressure on myself, I know this year a podium is out of reach & I’ll be back in the future.
The plan is to race firm, play to my strengths, keep it together, & get myself to that finish line in one piece.

 

 

Swim Smart.

Cycle Firm.

Run Consistent.

See this with a smile on my face.
If I can string together a solid race alongside the best in the world, then we’re on for a very exciting 2018.

I can’t ask myself for any more.

See you on the other side!

Question & Answer: Your Turn.

So in my last post & on social media I asked if anyone had any questions about the race or life in general. Despite the fact nobody was brave enough to comment on any of the posts publicly, you’ve all been busy squirrelling questions to me on email & private message, so hopefully I manage to answer them all here!

At the time of answering these it’s Sunday evening here, Monday morning for you guys at home. That makes me 5 sleeps from the race.

6 if you include Friday night in which I won’t sleep. Slow down, I saw you trying to catch me out there.

We’ll start with general questions, of which there weren’t many, then we’ll get on to the Kona questions!

What’s your resting heart rate?

Well my watch tracks this, & I keep an eye on it from time to time but rarely do much with the data. Today is was 37bpm (shown top right of the image on the left), my average this week has been 38 apparently. It generally seems to sit around the 40 mark, hoping that means I’m just really fast at the moment? We can dream…


Are you careful with what you eat?

Yes, of course. Coach… Erm not really. I’m very careful to make sure I get the right amount of recovery in, eat well whilst training & don’t starve myself. The past few weeks I’ve been dieting very hard so shifted a lot of weight, but I always eat within 20 minutes of finishing a session and make sure my diet is full of veggies & fruit. But who doesn’t love an ice cream or slice of cake from time to time… in winter time to time is much closer together than currently that’s for sure!

 

What’s your biggest weakness?

This is a very broad question… but ‘m going to take the easy way out and say swimming. My attitude to training is good, I could maybe push myself a bit harder in races, I’ve still never made the medical tent, obviously I take to cycling well and my running has shown a lot of potential this season. Sunday indicates swim has come on a lot with me posting a 1:09:30 for the iron distance, beating my previous best of 1:23 comfortably. But there’s still a lot of work to do for next year when I move up an age category.

 

Who’s your biggest inspiration?

Honestly, I don’t really have one. There are so many people around that have so many incredible qualities to draw from it’s hard to count. The pro’s are great to look up to, but so are some of the top end age groupers. There’s also a lot of inspiration outside of triathlon. Obviously my parents but places like my Aspics Frontrunner group. It’s is full of some really inspirational people, they all make me feel really lucky to be associated with them on a daily basis. Some great examples to follow, and I don’t mean just fast people. They all have a phenomenal story and work hard to make both theirs & other peoples lives better. I’d love to be like that.

 

Now for the fun stuffs! KONA.

Last month you raced the World Champs, & now you’re at the World Champs, what’s the difference?

This is a good one! Last month was the ITU race. That’s international triathlon union. It was a bit shorter than this & they’re the guys that run things like the world championships that the Brownlees race. Kona is in the same place every year on the same weekend, it’s the Ironman Franchises world championships and it’s where it all began 39 years ago. It has a reputation as it’s the most prestigious triathlon outside of the olympics, and it brings the best of the best in the endurance world. It’s a real privilege to race here, and spots don’t get handed out easily!

How do we track the race?

The best way is to download the ironman app. It’s definitely available on apple, & surely is on android. And you’ll be able to click on ironman world championship, and search my name. That’s the easiest way. Also the ironman website will publish tracking links, & the pro race will be televised. I’ll post a full set of information on Friday for you, it’l also be on my Facebook page!

How is your Knee holding up, it was sore after your last race?

Yeah I don’t wanna jinx it, but it’s be handling really well. I tore the tendon on the inside in Canada which was pretty rough, & I’d had all the problems with the other knee all season, so bit of a kick in the face. I managed to handle it well & within 3 weeks I was back training. I did a full weeks training last week (End of September), & I didn’t seem to have any pain. Just gotta hope I can shake that out of the legs & we’ll be good to go. It’ll be nice to be on a start line without any injuries in the back of my mind.
How have you acclimatised to the conditions in Kona?

 
Yeah it’s been good out here. I can’t thank the guys at Glass & Stainless in Congleton enough for giving me the help I needed to do this. I haven’t raced yet, but it’s been invaluable to my fitness & preparation and I know it’s given me absolutely every opportunity to be the best I can be. I’ve been staying out of the sun a lot of the time, but I’ve done some really long sessions out there and put my body through it. I know what we could be in for & it’s the same for everyone I suppose. But yeah, we’ll see how the body responds but I know that I’m performing far better than I was when I got here!
Your prep hasn’t been ideal this year, do you think you’ve got good form?
This is a toughy. I showed a lot of promise in Canada & i’m moving better now than I was then. I haven’t really done anything long this year. I’ve done one long bike ride a couple of weeks before Canada, and Canada was the only time I’ve run more than a half marathon. If I’m honest I think this might tell towards the middle/end of the marathon out here, but we’ll deal with that when we get there! I’m currently moving ok, still a little clunky but I like that a week out, the speed is there.
Have you got a race plan?

Yes.Ok fine. This kind of rolls over to the next question but I’ve just gotta do what I’m good at. If I can come out the water in 1:10/1:15 I’ll be in some good company. Obviously I’m strong on the bike so I’ll push the pace a bit, but I don’t wanna burn out. There’ll be a lot of people getting carried away around me, so I have to pick my pace well & stick to it. Get my nutrition right then I’ve got a good structure for the run. No tells as to what times I’m looking at though. And really, the conditions will change that, so I’m not too number focussed. I’ll stick to my plan & hopefully come good.

Are you looking to compete or survive?
Is there a difference? Yeah obviously it’s a dream of mine to get top 5 & stand on the podium at Kona. But if we’re being realistic, I think I’d have to have a perfect race, and someone else would have to make a mistake. It’s not impossible, but the chances are slim. I’ve had a really rough year and I’m a firm believer that you can’t really make your ironman result faster. Sure you can grab a few minutes in the swim or bike, but your form is your form. & you can very easily ruin it. Once you hit that wall there’s absolutely no coming back, it’s game over. So I’m just gonna go out there, give it the best I’ve got & we’ll see where that leaves me. I can’t really do much more than that!
Do you have any pre-race rituals? What will you do between now (mid week this week) & the race?
I wanna say no. But that’s probably a lie, my parents would be better at answering this one I reckon. Nothing weird, but I suppose the whole thing is a ritual. I eat well in the build up to make sure that my IBS is really under control & settled. I do the exact same sessions the 3 days before every race, so I know how my legs should feel. I get plenty of sleep & rest, stay out of the sun to save energy. Watch a good film sports like invincible, coach carter or remember the titans and go to registration/racking/the various admin stuff.
Is there anything really worrying you?
Not really. I’ve had a bad year but I’ve trained well the last few weeks, I can’t do any more than that. The difference between a good race & a bad race can cost you 90 minutes and 30+ places in your age group, so I’d quite like to get my nutrition right & have some legs left to do myself justice. I really don’t want to get it all wrong. But really it’s just another ironman. I’ll be stood next to the best athletes in the world. The conditions are gonna be very rough (currently predicting 30+ degrees & thunder storms). & I have to travel a long way, as fast as possible.
There’s plenty of other races to come, & I’m sure I’ll be back one day. For now I’ll just give it everything I’ve got, do my best & we’ll see where that leaves me. If I can cross the line and think “that’s me, that was everything I had & nothing I could have done could improve that”, then it’s mission accomplished!

10 days out – Get Involved.

As we move closer to the race the anticipation is definitely building.

Kona is filling up & people from all over the world are starting to strut their stuff up & down the course.

With my race starting 18:05 on Saturday 14th that means we’re almost exactly 10 days out.

And I know a lot of you have been messaging me various questions over my social media, so I thought I’d try to get you all involved by doing my next blog as a Q&A format.

You ask the questions, I’ll give the answers!

These can be anything from Ironman or Kona related, race or training related, to nutrition & lifestyle related. I don’t mind! & (if there’s more than 3 questions) I’ll do my best to answer them all in a blog early next week!

You can ask me on social media, comments or messages, or drop me an email at schofield.tri@gmail.com

Well?

What’re you waiting for!!

Here’s my training video for anyone that missed it at the back end of last week 🙂

A Foreign Discipline – Lost in Transition.

So yesterday I had a little whack at the South Manchester triathlon.

I fly to Hawaii first thing tomorrow (Tuesday), so just wanted to put my demons to rest and have a little hit out despite carrying a few injuries!

The race takes place in Wimslow, cheshire & consists of a 400m pool swim, a 24km bike and a 6.5km run.

Some of you will have seen me down at Congleton park run yesterday, where I clung on to a 18:04 as my first run back since Canada, three weeks ago.

Saturdays Park run.

I then spun the legs out with a 75km recovery ride over to the Wirrall, so my legs weren’t quite on peak form waking up this morning.

With a bit of magic cream (voltarol), & a long stretch and roll. I was ready to go. I only really had one goal – don’t do anything stupid. No more injuries please.

It’s strange starting a race at 1:45 in the afternoon, I’m used to bleak 4am starts & a 6am transition close.

So after a lazy morning in bed, I bumbled over to the start, ready to battle. Set the bike up, pulled my new tri suit on, & we were ready to go.

Is it lunch time yet?

I went out pretty hard. A 16 lap pool swim doesn’t sound like a lot, so my heart rate was quickly up and away.

Starting the swim.

Despite losing my swim cap & one eye of the goggle, I managed to splash my way to a 6:26 swim. Fairly happy. I knew that the top boys wouldn’t be hours ahead of that, damage limitation as always.

Out of the pool and into the fun.

A slow first transition but I was away in under 2 minutes, far from slick, but enough to keep me in contact, just about. Although yet again it would transpire the race was essentially lost here.

After i’d spent 8 minutes putting socks on.

Now the bike, I haven’t really ridden since Canada with my knee flaring up every time I try to spin the legs, & still sore from the day before. None the less I went out hard & attacked the technical course.

Powering away from the mount line on my CycleStore, giant.

In hindsight, socks were a bad idea.

Fairly flat, very windy (both versions of the word). I managed to battle round in a 38:07, an average of 38.6kph. The lack of training certainly showed as I couldn’t really find the red zone. A heavy amber was all my legs had, the zip had been left at home. Or somewhere late February.

Coming back into transition.

I only had one job left. Despite struggling to take my shoes off in t2, very amateur, I managed to get in & away in 46 seconds.

This is where I really suffered.

My legs had no snap, no pace, no speed.

And so it begins.

Heavy from yesterday & no track work, ever, was really showing. I managed to hold a sub 4 minute pace despite steps, hills & trails. Finishing with a 23:59.

1:10:57 overall, a fairly happy boy with yet again lots of unfinished business, a recurring theme for 2017.

Third overall, 2nd in AG.


Receiving my award for third overall.

See you in Hawaii!!

World Championship Silver – Bitter Sweet.

It’s always a tricky one when you race a big event like world champs, a lot of pressure, a big stage, fierce competition.
And your goals at the start of the day swiftly change as it unfolds before you.

It’s hard to be annoyed at myself considering I got a silver medal, I raced some really good numbers, and I’ve only had a few weeks training.

Although considering I had to do it one legged, I know there was plenty more in the tank.
The swim:

Going into the water I felt good, I found a nice rhythm early on and found some clear water in amongst the crowds. Considering I hadn’t swam for so long I felt like I was moving well & I knew this part of the race would be damage limitation. As always.
I managed to sight well & swim a good line, for once.


Until we turned into the sunrise.

Trying to sight through misty goggles heading towards the sun is like trying to ride a uni cycle on one leg blindfolded. If you’re me anyway. There was zero chance of that happening. It lasted around 400m before we turned back and headed for land. I managed to keep a decent rhythm the whole way and keep my energy levels nicely in check.

I emerged from the water in 59 minutes. Job done.

I took a bit of time in T1 (transition) to regather, apply suncream & head out on the bike.

The bike:

Usually my favourite part of the race, it’s very safe to say I hated 80% of it. A beautiful course that I couldn’t even play on.

The first bit was tasty. I knew off an hour swim the top guys were only maximum 20 minutes ahead, so I’d be able to get a visual early on and scope out who I was chasing.

Unsurprisingly I was chasing everyone.


The first 25k was an out and back flat road to the north of the lake, and I had only one job. Shut them down.

Legs on like a rocket, I felt alive. I knew I was on for a good day, ticking over counting people off one by one. The new bike was really purring, ripping up the road like it had an engine.

Going through some of my age group like they were a stop sign – make a statement – you won’t catch me.

Back through town and my knee began to twinge, trouble. Big trouble.

95km left and the pain has started, do I quit now & discharge myself, or keep going?

I put my head down & carried on. More flat before we hit the first hill. More people ticked off the list.

By the top of the first of the 4 hills, I knew I knew I was in for a bad day. I was still moving ok but I’d been limited to one leg. The left leg was spinning, but not generating any power. And it wasn’t a little niggle, it was an all out pain. I was burning through my Science in Sport hydration mix & bars faster than I’d have liked, the pain was talking it’s toll.

With every pedal stroke a knife been stabbed into my knee, I told myself I’d stop if I slowed down.

It was a draining experience, I felt sick with pain & I didn’t even know if I’d be able to run. I carried myself through the next hour before taking the foot off the gas & just coasted for the last hour.

A 3:10 bike split – job well done but a bitter taste in my mouth. There was more in the tank & I knew it wasn’t good.
A quick moment to pull myself together in t2 & decide whether I was actually going to run, before heading out on the course, ready to walk the last 30k for a medal. Happy with the day I’d had.

The run:

I was approximately 2.37 seconds into the run, I don’t even think I’d crossed the timing mat, when I heard mum scream ‘you’re in 4th, and there’s 5 minutes in it’.


Fantastic, as if I didn’t have enough to worry about even finishing the race, the pressure was now on. 5 minutes over 30k, unless I’m racing a pure bred runner, I back myself to shut that down.

So I made the decision there and then. Push through the pain, deal with that later, run hard & have a go at gold.

My legs felt good, the constant twinge in my knee took my mind off anything else. As the sun began to really set in, the temperature started to approach the 30’s and I knew it was going to be a tough one.

For 3 days I’d drank nothing but electrolytes, science in sports finest, so I knew the cramp should hold off, at least for the most part.

Quickly into third mum was relaying the times to me, 3 minutes & two beyond him. I’ve not travelled all this way to be outrun, it’s a mental game from here anyway.

I found a nice routine through the aid stations – water to the face – ice down the top – energy gel – something to drink. It was doing the job. I had an asics bottle belt keeping my hydrated between so I didn’t miss a single drop.

Step by step I knew if I stayed consistent, I’d get there.

And then, at 15km, bang on the half way mark, he crumpled. Second came tumbling backwards as I glided through & I knew at that point it was on.

Chasing & chasing. I’d already taken 3 minutes, could I take another two?

I was running hard, I’d thrown the game plan out the window completely and this was an all or nothing job.

My knee was agony but I knew if I didn’t stop, it wouldn’t buckle. Stay strong.

Counting out the km’s I could see myself getting closer & closer, could I take gold?
I managed to shut the gap to around 40 seconds before he opened his legs & started his final sprint. I had nothing to match. I gave a brief chase before residing to enjoy the last 2.5km, a smile on my face, knowing I’d done what I set out to do.


59′ swim.

3:10 bike.

2:18 run.


If you’d have offered me silver the morning before, the week before, two months ago, even four months ago. I’d have bitten your hand off.

But knowing I lost out by two minutes, when I could have had another 10-15 on the bike and maybe 5 on the run. Is a bitter sweet ending.


So I’ll get myself fixed up, piece it back together. And get after the next one.
Kona.

Long Distance World Championships – Lets play Triathlon.

Sunday 27th August, a date marked in my calendar for exactly a year and it’s come round really fast.

I’ve not had the build up I wanted, far from it. But we’re past that now, & you can’t influence the past.

My bike is racked, my kit bags are packed, my training is done and I’m sat in the AirBnB with my feet up.


By the time you read this I’ll be in bed, attempting to sleep, anticipating what’s going to happen to me tomorrow.


The race starts at 6:35 in Penticton. So that’s 2:35 in the UK. Or 3:35 if you’re swanning around in Europe.

You should be able to find tracking links online. But google will be able to help you with that, isn’t it a great bit of software.

I’m number 5012 which will make me easier to find!


The game plan is go hard. I’ve not flown to Canada to splash around, have a pretty bike ride & then have a 30km walking picnic.
I can train in the UK, the world championships is very much a race.

I’m here to see what my body can do, see how far I can push it, and see just how much heat I can handle.

I could list my niggles & injuries all day, knees, feet, hips…. but I’m now at the stage where I’ve just put them to the back of my mind, & we’ll play what’s in front of me.

If I feel like I’m putting my Kona chances at risk I’ll stop, otherwise I’m going to be flat out, for as long as my body will let me.


A good race would be a 1 hour swim, a 3:10 bike and somewhere around 2:30 for the run.

Races never go to plan, but no matter what happens, I’ll have given it everything I can, no matter how far I get.

See you on the other side.