Ironman Barcelona #214 – A game plan

The time of year has come around again – the A race. The pinnacle of the year. 11 months hard training, comes down to one single day.

452A0299I’ve struggled this weekend with a bit of a harsh cold from taking on too much the past week or two, but I’m sure I’ll have shaken that off in no time.  

For those of you looking to track me, download the Ironman app and tap in number 214. That’s where the magic will happen.

Last year, it was a bit of a shambles. It’s no secret that Kona boiled down to one of the worst races of my life. But there and then I promised myself I would be better. I promised myself I’d never put myself or the people around me through that again.

So shortly after, I signed up for Ironman Barcelona. 

20x30-CAAM0917Every single day since I crossed that finish line in Hawaii 12 months ago, this race has gone through my mind. 

I decided just before Christmas in 2017, that I was going to go sub 9 hours for the first time. 

Yes, I’m very aware that hasn’t happened yet, and we’re still a few days out from the race. The season has been full of ups and downs. The lows have been very low, but the highs have been phenomenal. 

20x30-CAAN0053 20x30-CAAS0060This season I’ve gone from strength to strength, and really raced myself into form.

Changing, adapting and improving every race. We’ve ironed out nutrition, running and the bike, into a very dangerous combination.

For me 2018 was all about making myself fast. Plunged into a very competitive age group – I couldn’t expect to immediately jump to the top. And we’ve achieved that. I’m really happy with where we’ve got to, and I want to show case that this weekend.

It’s no secret that i want to go to Kona in 2019, and I’d quite like to get my spot in Barcelona. But if it doesn’t happen, that’s fine. I don’t really care.

Why?

Because all I can offer, is my best.

20x30-CAAQ0841And make no mistake, I’m absolutely in the form of my life. Over the past 11 months we’ve worked tirelessly to make sure of that.

This season I’ve crashed out of races, pulled out of them before they’ve started, messed them up half way round. And if that happens in Barcelona – so be it. 

We all know I’ll probably come out of the swim 15/20 minutes down on the leader. 

But then you better keep half an eye open – cause I’m gonna be coming. 

 

My goals are to swim a PB. 

20x30-CAAN0054To ride a power & speed PB. 

To run a sub 3 hour marathon.

The finish sub 9 hours.

No matter what happens – if I tick these boxes, it’ll be job done – a happy boy. And all of these are very achievable on current form. 

This season has been a roaring success for me. We set out to learn to run, and since then I’ve broken my 10k, half and full marathon PB.

Broken my half Ironman PB.

Broken my Ironman PB.

I’ve finished top 10 overall at an Ironman. Run a 1:20:14 half marathon off the bike. Finished in the top 5 bike splits numerous times. And knocked another 10 minutes off my swim time. 

So if Barcelona all falls apart, I’ll finish with a smile on my face, and fire in my belly for next season.

And if it doesn’t, watch this space. 

Cause my legs are lining up nothing short of something special. 

20x30-CAAP1025

Challenge Almere Half – Testing the Limits

Tomorrow will be the penultimate race of my 2018 season. It’s been a crazy one, full of all kinds of ups and downs. I barely feel like the season has started and we’re already at the end! 

99_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_068632-19178258It’s been a whirlwind week, burning the candle at both ends has really taken its toll on my body and my mind, but I think I’m finally starting to move through that and feeling rested again. 

Some of you will have seen the social media storm I uploaded yesterday. I had yet another double flat on the bike which ended up in a €80 taxi home and another £40 tyre to add to the credit card bill. 

In a lot of ways that relaxes me – it wouldn’t feel normal if everything didn’t go wrong in the few days immediately prior to the race. 

But in other ways it leaves me very stressed, anxious. I haven’t had much trust in the bike this season, it’s let me down more times that I can count. My form has been the best I’ve ever had, and my legs have come ready to party. But the machine just hasn’t played ball.

And that’s completely out of my control! 

32_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_025566-19178191In tomorrow’s race I’ll be applying myself to the full in every moment. I’ll give it my all and the pointers indicate that there’s a big performance in the legs. If the bike gets in the way of that, I’ll have to adapt and do what I can to get round, or add it as fuel to the fire for Barcelona. 

The course is flat, potentially fast, and probably windy. I’m excited to sink my teeth into it and mix it up in yet another stacked age group field.

I chose this race 4 weeks out so that I could test the legs and test the limits. I want to know just how far I can stretch myself, before it all caves in. This season I’ve always said in these big races, I’d take the risk and roll the dice. Risk finishing at all, for the chance to perform at my best.

For this reason, I’ve decided after all the faff with the bike, wheels, tyres and inner tubes. That I’m going to be racing without a puncture repair kit. I’m going to carry an extra bottle of fuel meaning that I should be able to complete the course with entirely my own nutrition.

I’ve chatted to Joel, and we’ve agreed, this is the strategy we’re taking. So if my tyre does go flat, I don’t have to worry. I don’t have to panic. I know that’ll be the end of the race.

Yes, I’ll probably spit my dummy out, and yes I’ll probably throw a strop. But it’s just fuel to the fire, and if the bike happens to be the limit – we’ll reconsider the strategy we’re using.

There’ll be more races in the future – and I have no doubt it’ll come together at some point.

DSC_8950I’ve got a game plan, it doesn’t differ too much to normal, and I know exactly what I’m capable of. 

At this stage all I want is a smooth, event free race. Do what I know I can, and finish with a smile beneath the grimace. 

You’ll be able to track me on the challenge website by clicking —> Here <—  and I’m number 2121 – doing the middle distance. If it doesn’t work, challenge also have an app! and the website is http://live.challenge-family.com.

Same old story – don’t panic when I’ve left the water last – panic if I’m doing well!! 

I’ll see you on the other side, and hopefully do a live race report on Facebook shortly after I finish, don’t miss it!

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.

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!

Couch to Athlete – why you can do it.

Some of you will know that recently I’ve started to dabble in the world of “coaching”.

I’m by no means an expert coach – and I wouldn’t even consider taking on any high end athletes. And not just because I’d be scared they’d beat me. But because the carefully managed, fine tuned programmes are something that can take coaches years to perfect.

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But that being said – by applying some basic training principles along with my knowledge in the three sports I’ve enjoyed over the last 9 years, I think I’m beginning to see a few patterns.

Maybe you’re reading this as an ironman, or an elite athlete thinking “I’ve been through this”, so now it doesn’t apply. But your family, friends, colleagues – the people that say “I couldn’t do it”, tell them they can!

First of all – I really believe that anyone can do it. You can be riddled with all the excuses in the world – but you’re not fooling me.

“My knees are shot” – find a cycle or swim event.

“I’m just not built for it” – that can be changed.

“I like food too much” – not as much as I do, trust me.

And what defines an athlete? someone that completes athletic events. I don’t care if you want to run a sub 25 park run, or get round your first ever marathon. I think you can do it. Even if they sound crazy to your right now.

img_5676Already the excuses will be creeping in, why you can’t, why you wouldn’t be able to.

I’m currently working with three women running their first marathon, all of whom separately believed they’d really struggle at a park run. And all of whom I’m fairly convinced, have the potential to run a a sub 4:30 marathon.

Why?

Because they want to.

And because who’s to say they can’t?

It comes from three basic ideas:

Number one – get your body used to training.

You have to want to do it. You have to want to be helped & you have to break down the barriers of “I can’t”. People aren’t born good at sport, it comes through hard work.

3But not the hard work you associate it with. I’m not talking 3 hours of running or 10 hours cycling. I’m talking 4 sessions a week, of an hour each.

Ask a trainer, find a coach, join a club, there’s loads of people that can help.

Get out of the door, and join the gym. Do 20 minutes on the bike. Go home, watch tv, do whatever you want. But you’ve started. You’ve made the first step, it’s much easier from here!

Start with 30-40 minutes of exercise, up to 4 times a week. Do park runs, classes, whatever you fancy. Find a routine, stick to it, make yourself accountable. And after 21 days, a habit sticks. You’re in, we’re go, you’ve got this.

One of the training programmes I’ve written started in October with the goal of London marathon, (6 months), and one started this week, with the goal of manchester marathon (3 months).

Sounds like a tight turnaround – but I’m very confident it can be done.

Block two is the worst of the three.

Teach yourself how to work hard:

combo3By the time you start this, you’ve done the hard work. You don’t sit around as much any more & you enjoy exercising. So you need to start exercising hard.

It sounds so daunting – but there’s a very easy way to start. Go to a gym, or run, and set yourself a time goal. Roughly 30-45 minutes. Maybe a park run. And go as hard as you can.

You don’t have to tell anyone how far you went, & even if you don’t think you worked as hard as you could, it honestly doesn’t matter. The hardest part is done!!

Now it’s a game. It’s a challenge, it’s a race.

img_1888You’ve set your bench mark, so next time, you have to beat it! Either go for longer at the same speed, or go faster/further for the same time. You have a target, go get it!!

And slowly it becomes a game, you race yourself, break records, set new limits. You can push this as far as you want. But you don’t ever have to do more than an hour, just make sure you’re absolutely flat out! Once you’re within touching distance of that personal best, you won’t let yourself stop.

By the end of the block, you’ll have nailed it. You’ll really know how to work hard, – how to test & push yourself. So when you’re up against it, you’ve been there before. You know how to cope.

 

Step 3 is the easiest of them all.

Practice – and go get it.

24_m-100793362-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2000_177477-12947444Whatever your end goal is, you’ll be able to reach it by now. So practice running, practice cycling, swimming, rowing… whatever it is. The event isn’t far away, so make sure you’re confident in yourself, how far you’ve come & where you’re going.

It might be that this is now just a stepping stone, you’ve decided you can do more, go better, further.

If you’re running a marathon, you really don’t need to run that much until this block, when your legs have to start getting more used to miles. You don’t have to do any silly 20-30 mile practice runs. If it makes you feel good, fine, but otherwise, just stay injury free & work on your fitness.

And when you’re nailing your event, enjoy yourself. You’ll have worked hard for it, the tough stuff is done!

Just go out, with a smile on your face and soak it up. You can’t change the outcome, whatever it is. But you can certainly surprise yourself. You’ll have come a long way – be proud of yourself.

 

 

Get used to training.

Learn to work hard.

Go and prove yourself wrong.

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Recovery, Results & Running… Another Marathon?

2_m-100790953-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-1835_015979-12559849It was just over 2 weeks ago that the Ironman World Championships ended and since then my feet have barely hit the ground. It’s always a strange feeling getting home from races. Not helped by getting back to the wonderful British winter. But this year it’s been especially strange.

It’s been three years since I first started in triathlon, being talked into it by my two friends Lightfoot & Livo (the two really tall boys from the Kona photos). And it’s been a bit of a roller coaster. Ever since I finished that race at Ironman Wales, I knew all I wanted to do was make it to the start line of Kona. It didn’t seem like too tall an order having only missed it by a little over a minute, that was literally putting my shoes on faster in transition.

I still had to make it through my final year of uni & keep my legs in one piece, but in March this year, I managed to get my entry. And sure enough, I made it to the start line of Kona.

10_m-100790953-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-1835_045392-12559857 64_m-100790953-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-1835_178008-12559911It’s very strange when you set such long term targets, because once you hit them, you feel a bit lost. It took me two and a half years from starting triathlon to treading the warm waters of the bay, waiting for the canon. And it’s all over in a flash.

Sure, I’ve set myself new targets, and as always they already sound ridiculous, and pretty far fetched. But not completely out of reach. But my biggest one so far is done – over.

It’s no secret that Kona didn’t quite go how I wanted it to. In fact, it couldn’t really have gone much worse to be honest. And if you haven’t read my race report, that’s because it doesn’t exist yet. And I’m still debating whether it ever will exist – although it may appear on the Asics Front Runner blog feed.

And while I’ll beat myself up about it every single day until I’m next on that start line – it’ll be what gets me through every session this winter. When I don’t want to get out of bed, when I don’t want to do another set, when my legs are too beaten up to do any more. I’ll keep going. And until I’m next on an Ironman finish line – the race will be a demon that I have to face. But I’ve proved enough times that I can string a solid race together to not let it get to me.

In the 3 years I’ve been in the sport I’ve had:

Multiple time trial wins.
A 10k win.
Endless PB’s.
UK Triathlon/Duathlon Podiums.
Two Ironman Podiums.
A European Silver Medal.
A World Championship Bronze Medal.
& A World Championship Silver Medal.

It looks great on paper, but I’m still not satisfied. I’ve only ever had one race I’ve been pleased with, & I was only pleased because I had a ruptured tendon in my knee, hadn’t trained for half a season and somehow still managed to battle round in a semi-respectable time.

You can catch that race report here.

And even then I beat myself up that I didn’t get a gold medal.

But really, I know that going into 2018, absolutely none of it matters! I’m moving up an age group, playing with the big boys. They don’t take prisoners. I can’t afford to bumble through races any more, making an endless list of silly mistakes. Although I know you never make the same mistake twice.
I have to go into the winter with no expectations, no limits and no pressures. Just let my legs do their thing – not get injured – and see really how far we can push it.

After two weeks of eating doughnuts, boozing and sitting on the sofa. Mincing around San Francisco, eating everything I see and seeing just how fat I can make myself. I was ready to get stuck in. We had an absolute blast and it’s been great catching up with everyone I’ve possibly had chance to see – and there are still plenty more of you on the list don’t worry. But I’m ready to get back to training.

I don’t have a bike – american security made sure of that. My legs are still tired. & I’m much later starting than last year. But I’ll find every possible way I can to start moving forward – the cycling can wait anyway…

23114920_373350736422243_539080177_nOn Sunday, my 2018 started with a jog round the Dublin marathon. I was literally in the country 24 hours – including the extra hour from the clocks falling back, so wasn’t expecting anything special.

I just had to prove to myself that I hadn’t completely lost it all. Plus I’ve started “coaching” a couple of friends in their run-up (excuse the pun) to the London Marathon. So I had to prove I know (slightly) what I’m talking about.

Asics had sorted us free entries to the event, as they’re the main run sponsor, so it was a bit hard to say no! In true – Jack Schofield fashion, the day before was spent wandering around Chester, eating pancakes and not drinking water. Doing everything on the list of things NOT to do the day before a marathon. I then caught a late night flight to Dublin to meet fellow Frontrunner Jon Baguely.

We had a twin room out near the airport so wandered out to find some dinner around 11pm. Managing to find a cute little Italian in swords, (restaurant that is, behave), we sat down and had a nice candlelit dinner. Waltzing home around midnight before chatting until 1am.

 

It was clear performance wasn’t on the menu for the run. We clearly hadn’t had a huge amount of sleep, drank a porridge sachet from a mug a couple of hours before, and had a little banana. Just the big feed I needed before a marathon… or not. We started fairly far back after getting stuck in the queue for the portaloo – but managed to get across the line in the front 3,000.

We had one plan – have fun. Cross the line smiling & not injured. Everyones happy.

23146161_373352209755429_2144529068_n 22885762_10159469945700153_6177195149603569934_nWith a quick toilet break after the 10km mark – we knew it would keep people tracking us happy knowing we’d made it to at least one check point first.

We jogged round with a smile on our face until the 36km marker where we had a very easy decision to make.
Push the legs for a 3:10 – or cruise for a 3:15.

Well that was a no brainer – 5 minutes in a marathon we aren’t targetting was an easy decision. We sat in with the runners around us and worked the crowds all the way down the final straight. Having an absolute blast – running step for step as we had all day.
We crossed the line in 3:14 – a respectable marathon time by any standards. And a 12th place for me.

After two weeks off it was clear there’s still something in my legs. After a days rest I’ve since done my first track session with my coach at City of Stoke AC & jumped in the pool for the Satellites to rip my arms apart. Again with the new head coach. Lots of change but nice to settle into the routine.

I’m in a great place heading into the off season & I’m excited to see what I can get out for 2018.
Lets hope the injuries stay off, the smile stays on & I’ll be writing to you all again soon!
Thanks for the ongoing support – you guys are the best.

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 🙂

Ironman – A Team Sport.

As the Ironman World Championships come closer, we’re now almost exactly two weeks out from the event.

I know you all really want to track the event instead of sleep on a Saturday night, I can just tell. So details of how to do that will appear here much closer to the time.

22156865_361850904238893_498181739_nI’ve spent a lot of time out on the infamous “Queen K”.
(The colloquial name for the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway on which most of the Ironman World Championship is battled out, and has been for the last 38 years, (This being the 39th edition).)

 

Hours spent cooking away, pounding mile after mile, day in day out has given me a lot of time to reflect on my season & short career in the sport.

 

I did a very interesting series of video interviews recently with a friend of mine all about the psychology of sport & triathlon including with what keeps me going, why I do it and what inspires me. The series will be appearing here over the next few months.

18056679_1115158271924231_5447854826666611028_n

For the most part of my career I’ve been one of the really annoying athletes that just seems to get it right when it matters. It all comes together in the nick of time to allow me to pull performances out of the bag that we didn’t think were possible.

 

Small moments of brilliance, just as I start to slip under the radar, that bring a race back to life. The Oklahoma bike leg, the Canada run, even the easter 10k. Sections of races, that transform the whole day.

And sure, I put a lot of it down to luck. Right place, right time, good legs. You could say it’s a good training programme (harder to justify that one this year), “talent”, a whole host of different reasons.

What do I think it is really?

It’s dedication, resilience and a belief so strong – that really there simply is no other option…

But don’t worry, not from me. I’m not talking about myself here.

I’m talking about my team.

One of the earliest lessons you learn in school, sport or elsewhere is that everything/everyone functions better with a team. It’s just more successful.

Now I know what you’re thinking, Ironman isn’t a team sport. It’s a solo event.

Sure, the athlete goes through the motion of training, races at the event, stands on the podium, all fun and games! You have to wake up early, work hard, eat properly (ish), get plenty of rest & recovery.

But behind the scenes there are a team of people working tirelessly to make that happen.

22119342_361850914238892_656800012_nAnd I don’t mean one or two people… I mean a whole host of people, that you wouldn’t even think made a difference.

There are the obvious ones that you could name instantly – the coaches, physios, mechanics, sponsors. Kit suppliers, partners, people I go straight to for advice.
Then obviously no less importantly, my family & friends, my training partners & the people who started sport with me, back when I was splashing in a different sense. (rowing). Some of who continue to influence & inspire me!

The people that if they weren’t there, it just wouldn’t be possible & I just couldn’t keep going.

My body wouldn’t function, my bike wouldn’t work, there’d be nobody to pick me up when I just think I can’t do it any more.
I wouldn’t be able to afford races, I’d have no food to eat, my recovery would be poor.

22140578_361851440905506_1308141462_oBut then there’s a third layer to the team. The substitutes bench, the people a bit further back.

The followers Social Media, Strava, you reading this right now.
The people I’ve raced against/with, people I’ve bumped into & people that just stumbled across me.
The people that you don’t really know care, the people watching from a distance, and the people that just want to feel a small part of the journey.

They all make up the team.

Because at the end of the day, in an Ironman race anywhere – Kilometre 32 of that marathon is a dark, dark place.

And what gets you through that?

img_3066

The team.

The people you don’t want to let down.
The good luck message/snap/post you got the night before.
The endless messages of support you come back to, no matter what the outcome.
The person that you bumped into 3 weeks before, who you haven’t seen for 5 years who just said “mate you’re doing great, keep it up”.

The people that have believed in you, every step of the way, even when you didn’t believe in yourself.

These are the things that pop into your mind, and when you’ve retreated to the back of your mind & every fibre of your body just wants to stop, it’s these small things that keep you going.

22119614_361850887572228_103496816_o

22127493_361850917572225_586943722_nSo enough of the heavy stuff, why is this at all relevant to you?
Has he been on the medicinal herbs?

Well no, obviously not.

It’s relevant because it’s relevant to all of us. Great, I do ironman. But really, it’s no different to any other hobby, job, pastime.

If you’re having a bad day, it’s not your week, or maybe you’ve just not had a good September.

Have a look around & find your team. The people that care about you, believe in you, want to support you. Even if you can’t see them straight away, they’re definitely there, & they’re the people that matter most. The people that can pick you up & get you through it.

Reach out to them, have a chat, say thank you.

Because behind the scenes, without them, none of it would be possible!

Stay tuned for a more up beat post next week 😉

#myteam