Spring is coming

Well, winter has flown by and we are now well on our way to race season. Training has been going really well, each week is seeing a constant improvement, making this year all the more exciting!

I have been competing in a local crit race series, at the first few races I was dropped like a stone from the group, but I soon built up my corner confidence and managed to stay in the group at the latest race of the series. Unfortunately a bad gear choice coming out a corner on the second last lap left me at the back of the pack and in no good position to contest the sprint. Lessons learnt I shall see how it pans out at the next race in a few weeks time.

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It’s only 30 days until my training camp in Mallorca, can’t wait to get out climbing some mountains in the easter sunshine. Got to get those sharp tan lines! A few hundred kilometres on the bike should sort me out!

 

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Winter round up

After an over extend month break from training, I got back into the swing of things for BUCS duathlon. My lack of regular training came to show and I wasn’t able to beat my time from the previous year. But as usual the big turn out from Loughborough made it a great day catching up with all my friends from university.

Since BUCS I have spent 2 months consistently churning out the sessions, my new coach Vicky has told me she wants me to get to the new year in one piece and not injured…. she’s doing a good job so far (touch wood). I am really looking forward to next season, the plan is to qualify for worlds early in the season for draft legal sprint and non drafting standard then focus all my training on September and see how close to the podium I can get!

It is going to be a hard challenge though, I need to take big chunks of time off my run splits, improve my swimming and consolidate my bike strength so my race splits are reliably fast. But I think we will get there eventually!

At the beginning of December I took part in my first crit race, although not being able to clip in at the start of the race cost me a place in the main pack and resulted in me chasing on for the whole race. I thoroughly enjoyed it, after I caught my breath, and I can’t wait to get back racing in the new year.

The next 3 months should be fairly quiet with only a few crits and 5k running races to keep me sharp. I’m just excited to see where I will be at when we hit the first races of the season!

Merry Christmas!
Dan

Vitruvian

Well having got back from my holiday last week I have finally got round to writing up my race report for Vitruvian, the final race of my season and also the race I had been targeting all year.

Waking up at 3am to a rainy english morning wasn’t the ideal start to the day, with the forecast set for rain all day I knew it was going to be a bit of a wet and miserable race.

For once BBC weather didn’t lie at 7am just before race start, it absolutely hammered it down. Not to worry I will be slightly drier when I jump in the lake. We all lined up along the waters edge as the sun began to rise and the first bouy came visible in the distance. One of the perks of this race is the beach start, a frantic sprinting of 100 men into the water, half of us falling over, some people doing exceptional dolphin dives and others just plowing through the water and flopping in. My arms felt good as I sprinted into the first 100m, looking for some feet to follow. Settling into my rhythm I cruised quite happily round the first lap, catching a lot of the previous wave before. Out the water and a short run along the beach before diving back in for lap 2, I enjoyed the Australian exit as it gave you a chance to reset before heading onto the second half of the swim. The second lap was about as eventful as the first, loosing the feet of the person in front of me I forged on alone and exited the water feeling happy with how the first part of the day had gone.

As I ran into transition I was pleased to note the rain still hadn’t stopped. I was less pleased to realise I hadn’t checked how many racks down my bike was…. oh shit! A bit of frantic running around I finally found my bike after running up and down 3 racks. Helmet on, struggled into my socks and shoes and I was off to the mount line. With the rain still lashing down and my helmet visor fogging up constantly I spent the next 2 and a half hours pumping my legs, drinking water every 10 minutes and feeding my body from a bottle which contained a concoction of gels and energy powder (it was basically syrup :’) ).

Coming to the end of the bike I felt as though I had paced the race pretty well, I was tired but not blowing. It was a bit of a relief to get off the bike, finding my transition spot straight away this time I was smoothly into my soggy run shoes and out onto the run course. Woo my run legs feel great, tapping out a nice rhythm legs ticking over very nicely. This was all until around km 5 and my body told me to slow down a little bit. It was here where the hardest part of the race came, my ankles were really stiff and hurt every time I struck the ground. I spent the next 5km kidding my self that I would stop and walk a little bit at the next km mark. Id get to the next km and think, well you managed that one you can manage one more. And so it carried on, at the half way point I began to feel a bit better. Ankles were no longer hurting, or maybe just the general body pain was masking it. I began to formulate my strategy for the second half of then run:

  1. Keep it strong
  2. Good form
  3. Pick it up a bit every 2.5kms

Simple really! By this point in the race I had slipped a few places on the run and I had no idea what place I was in. But there was a few people not to far ahead, so I fixed my eyes on the back of their tri suit and began the slow process of hunting them down. 5km to go and I had taken back a few places, unfortunately the people I had passed had come with me so now I was mentally trying to break them, keep pressing the pace they will crack eventually I told my self. Sure enough with 2km to go I could hear the noises behind me getting distinctly fainter. Only 8 minutes to go Dan you’re nearly there. 1km to go…. CRAMP! My obliques in my right side had cramped up and brought me to a abrupt halt. Unable to even stand straight let along run or walk. I tried to easy my self into an upright position as I watched runners began to stream past me (all my hard work down the drain). After what seemed like an age my obliques had relaxed and I broke into a slow jog, which slowly built back up to normal race pace again. Frustrated with having stopped I emptied the tanks in a fruitless attempt to close anyone down. As I turned the final corner knowing my finish position was secure I began to soak in the atmosphere from the crowd and savoured the moment when I crossed the line and could finally stop moving!

Despite my set backs on the run, I had finished the half marathon in 1:31 only 1 minute off my target. Immediately after the race I was slightly disappointed with my performance, I had been hoping to finish higher than 75th overall and 8th in AG. But on reflection I can only be pleased with how I did, I raced as well as I could and was just beaten by better athletes on the day! Turns out the standard at english champs is pretty high haha!

Thanks to all my sponsors for helping me though this year: Pedal potential, Bounce Balls and Maru. Your help is invaluable!

 

You can’t win them all

I guess that title may be a bit miss leading, seen as I haven’t actually won a race.

Well I guess that is also a bit of a lie, but it comes down to what you want to define a ‘win’ as. Everyones definition of winning is different. For some just completing a race is a win, for others it may be beating last years time.

However for me, I consider winning  to be first overall, at a big event like a championship race. Maybe that leads me to be too hard on my self, I am still proud of my age group wins, but I am still seeking that outright success.

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So I guess that leads me back to the title. Liverpool triathlon, the British Championships and what I can almost call my home race. I came to this event a bit apprehensive, having just moved to Bristol to start my year internship at Airbus, training had been put on a bit of a back burner. Settling into the new job and new city had taken its toll on training, I had some good sessions where I was running and swimming well. But the consistence just wasn’t there unlike whilst at university.

Nether the less I was entered and I hadn’t raced for 2 months so I was looking forward to having a crack at it. So rewind to 2 weeks ago and I am in the starting pen chatting away with the guys and having our usual pre race banter. Before I know it we are all jumping into the water, ‘keep your mouth shut its salty’ I remind my self. The horn goes and off we go, sprinting away from the pontoon I feel good arms ticking over nicely and I settle onto the feet of the leading few swimmers. By the first turn bouy 300m in I had slipped off the lead group and found my self on my own about 10m back, this is where I stayed for the remainder of the swim slowly loosing water to the leaders but still maintaining a reasonable position. I was happy getting out the water, I had swum well and felt pretty good. IMG_0760

Onto the bike and lets just say it was below par. For the previous two months I had only managed to get out on my bike about 5 times in total, not ideal. So I guess I can’t really complain with 37kph, however conceding over 3 minutes to the leaders on the bike alone put me completely out of the race.

And finally the run, since moving to bristol I have been going to the athletics club once a week for their track session. I had been putting down some good splits on my 1k reps and had a great session of 6x3minutes in the week prior to the race. However, the lack of cycling had truly toasted my legs, so it wasn’t long before my calfs began to cramp and my pace slowed right up due to the pooling lactic in my quads. For some people a 44minute 10k would feel like they are on top of the world, for me it felt like a slow shuffle. There were many times when I wanted to stop and walk, stretch my muscles or just give in completely. But I pushed on through, mentally those 40 minutes were probably the hardest I have ever had in a race and yet that mental struggle produced one of my worst run performances to date. IMG_0762

So returning to the title, you can’t win them all. Everyone has their bad races, but I suppose its the bad races that pick you up and spur you on for the next one. At the time of writing, that means 14 days until English Middle Distance Championships (Vitruvian). Since Liverpool I have put in some great sessions and my gym work has me feeling strong than ever… so maybe my season will end on a high, we will find out soon!

 

Thanks for reading 🙂

Deva Triathlon, A distant memory

I wanted to leave this race report until July, as I knew I wouldn’t have anything exciting to write about… and who wants to read a boring blog post!

So, we need to cast out minds back to a rainy and miserable race day morning back in June. There I was in Chester town centre, setting up my transition area prior to embarking on my first half iron distance (or middle distance) triathlon.

I was nervous but quite excited, I knew there was a few fast guys racing so I was secretly hoping to be able to be in with the top guys of the ‘chase pack’. The first half of my season had been leading up to this race, but despite this my preparation still hadn’t been ideal. Because of injury and exams I hadn’t been able to get any consistent high volume weeks in which are key to a successful race. But never the less I was quietly confident that with what training I had done I would still be able to pull off a reasonable race.

Down at the start area I kept quiet and listened to my music whilst doing a stretch band warm up. Unlike last year I was first into the water rather than last, which meant I got a bit of a longer paddle around the start area before the horn sounded! Once we got going, all the drafting practice we had been doing at swim training was a bit wasted. As I immediately found my self on my own behind the fast guys, but leading out the rest of the main field. Not ideal but hey ho I was swimming faster than I ever had done so I couldn’t complain too much! Out of the water in 6th I quickly ran up to the transition area, where I took a bit longer than usual as I wanted to put my soggy socks on before my shoes :’) 27368273410_4e2f038e53_o

The bike was rather uneventful, I passed one person who got out the water just ahead of me, and also got overtaken by someone who looked like they had a rocket attached to their bike! What struck me about the bike ride though was how it was rather enjoyable, because I wasn’t going full gas I was able to enjoy the scenery a bit more whilst still tapping along at 36kph for the 87k course.

Onto the run and this is where the real fun and games began, I had never run 21kms before and knew that once I passed 15kms I would be in unknown territory. With this in mind a conservative first 1km of 3:52 (a bit ambitious haha) which soon settled down to a consistent 4:25/km. I was happy with how I was coping, I had only been passed by 2 people one of which was only 200m down the road as I headed onto my last lap.

 

The second of the two people to pass me had dropped me to 11th position, I came to this race with the aim of a top 10. So I was determined to catch and overtake him. Each lap was around 7km long so I knew that I still had awhile to go so I didn’t need to kick too early. I bid my time and decided that from the turn around point I would try and close the gap down… within 1.5k I had made the catch, leaving me around 2kms to the finish… oh shit!

Those last 2kms really hurt! I had committed to running at 4:10/k and knew slowing down wasn’t an option, so I gritted my teeth and crossed my fingers, hoping that a red tri suit wasn’t going to catch me again and put me out of the top 10. The last time over the bridge was such a good feeling, I knew I could stride it out and enjoy the finish having achieved my aim of a top 10! I even had a bit of speed to beat someone from the standard distance race in a sprint finish down the blue carpet haha (I must not have raced hard enough!)27365521040_1590cca0ae_o

I was rewarded for my efforts with a 10th overall and a 1st in age category, not bad if I do say so my self! Now I’m fully looking forward to competing at the brutal Vitruvian middle distance race in September!

Swim – 27:30 (including a long run to transition)

Bike – 2:24

Run – 1:26:15

Strong but still not fast

Its been a few weeks since Nottingham Triathlon, one of my favourite races of the year and one I have never failed to attend.

Heading to this race with 6 of my Loughborough friends and club mates was always going to result in a bit of pre race banter with all of us ribbing each other saying how long it was going to be till they caught the other. Truth be told, I knew it would be pretty competitive at the sharp end of the race.

My prediction was pretty true, with 5 of us in the top 25. A strong swim got me out the water near the front of the field, onto my bike and I was quickly into my stride hunting down the athletes ahead of me.
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Managing to pass 2 of my James and John and coming into transition just behind Will I knew I was heading onto the run in a good position (I believe just inside the top 10). But this was where I knew I’d begin to struggle, I was running well and felt strong. But the speed just wasn’t their and it wasn’t long before James and John came flying past me again. A bike speed of just shy of 40kph and a run of 19:35 was enough to hang onto 23rd place and a 1 minute overall improvement on last years time. Can’t complain with that!

Overall a very fun day out with my friends and a positive feeling heading towards my first major race of the year. Just a few key final preparation sessions and I will be in good form for the biggest challenge of my triathlon career so far, my first half iron distance triathlon!13342166_10154215769981796_916727385_n

Season Openers

Well, this wasn’t quite the blog post I was hoping to write. If you’d asked me a month ago, I would of hoped to have raced two solid races to put me in a really good position going forward to my first middle distance triathlon.

Unfortunately, injury and a bit of miss fortune resulted in two races that I wasn’t expecting.

First up was BUCS Sprint, I had been feeling pretty good for this race and was hoping to show off my strong swim form which I have been working hard on for the past few months. The hard training paid off and I came out the swim feeling stronger than I ever have in a pool sprint. So far so good… well until 2k into the bike where my legs just said no, I was dropped from the others in my wave and ended up doing an easy spin round the course. Feeling pretty pissed off to say the least I was on the verge of throwing in the towel and pulling out, but I knew I’d regret it if I did. So I thought I would at least finish off my training day with a pretty solid sub 20 5k off the bike. All in all not the ideal race, but still a good experience.

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Next up, BUCS Standard. A chance to prove to my self I can actually ride a bike! And that is exactly what I did, maybe a slightly below par swim, where I felt strong  but not as fast as I had hoped. Onto the bike and I quickly set into my rhythm sitting on 275W and beginning to power my way through the field. Picking my way from 43rd to 26th overall. Unfortunately all good things have to come to an end, a lack of running due to injury meant as soon as I hit the run my calfs began to tighten up and aggravate my achilles tendon. So yet again I found my self having to take it easy during a race, but as I told my self. There are bigger fish to fry this year, and this race was just another stepping stone in my build towards the big ones!

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Next up I have Nottingham Triathlon this weekend, where lots of my fellow Loughborough team mates are racing. So watch out for the purple army smashing it up again round the national water sport centre.