The Try Athlete

There is only Do……There is no try

Archive for the category “Triathlon”

Friday Fun – One Man, Two Bikes

Friday Fun - Sometimes You Just Cant Decide Which Bike!!!!

Ive heard of two people on a bike but never two bikes on one person.

I saw this guy on Wednesday while in the outskirts of Cardiff, I couldn’t believe my eyes, I suppose he couldn’t decide which bike to ride ey.

Happy Friday everyone have a great weekend.

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Friday Fun – Sometimes You Just Cant Decide Which Bike!!!!

Friday Fun - Sometimes You Just Cant Decide Which Bike!!!!

Ive heard of two people on a bike but never two bikes on one person.

I saw this guy on Wednesday while in the outskirts of Cardiff, I couldn’t believe my eyes, I suppose he couldn’t decide which bike to ride ey.

Happy Friday everyone have a great weekend.

What type of runner/cyclist are you? Mr Happy, Mr Grumpy or Mr Nosey?

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I’ve been running and road cycling now for 10 months and love it, as I write my legs are aching from yesterday’s ride and that’s my way of knowing I’ve done my bit.

What I’ve found though is that there tend to be three main types of runner or cyclist you meet on the roads:

Mr Happy – will smile, nod and will probably speak to you if overtaking on a bike or being overtaken.

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Mr Grumpy – will often be blasting through a set training plan and will be too busy to nod and appear to be quite miserable.

Mr Nosey – the runner or cyclist who seems intent on glaring at you, looking at your gear etc but with no intention of engaging you in any way!

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Now I am not saying that either of the above three is right or indeed wrong. Being honest I’ve been a blend of all three when in out there depending on how focused a session I’m having and whether things are gong well or not so well. I do tend to class myself as Mr Happy though generally 🙂

I think its important to make the effort though, sometimes, and to realize if your glaring or being grumpy; when a simple nod could return the effort the person your passing may be making; and if not then you can glare 😉

Whatever you do though just enjoy it and if you get your enjoyment from lung shattering total focus sessions then good on you at least your out there doing something positive. At the end of the day were all trying to be better versions of ourselves out there, but don’t forget, try to smile once in a while!

Thanks for reading.

Training – Where Next

I am in a slightly unusual place of having to decide which direction to take next on the training front. I am normally a bit of a planner but realise I have come to a bit of a crossroads with my training plan and will need to have a refresh. The problem is that I hav completed a swimming event, then a cycling sportive and more recently a sprint triathlon. Its the latter which will form the next 6 weeks of my focus as I prepare for another two sprint triathlons, one at the end of May (same distance as Sunday) and then another at the middle of June (longer distance and open swim). My head is telling me to get the distance and fitness for the longer event and the shorter one will take care of itself.

I have recently been working on (back to back) swimming, cycling and running sessions to get my body used to the demands of the sport; replicating the distance of the upcoming event. However, I also want to join the local Triathlon club and go cycling with them and swimming. They meet on weekends and fitting the time in for that and the family is going to be a challenge, as is rolling out a balanced training plan with appropriate rest included.

I have a 20 mile ride planned home from work today and will start to plan out the rest of the training routine today. My hearts in the right place in terms of I want to do it the right way, but I’m just unsure as to what the right way actually is.

Thanks for reading!motivation-main_0

My First Ever Triathlon

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It’s four minutes until I report poolside to start my first ever triathlon, as I write I am sat in the changing rooms just waiting for this adventure to begin!

The butterflies in my stomach won’t rest until I make a start and remembering the training plan it’s going to have to be a smooth and relaxed start and wait until the bike to let go and attack it; then see what’s left in the legs and smooth out a decently paced run.

Arriving at the event its clear that this is a taster for many dipping their toes into the world of triathlon, the transition area is full of gear and athletes of all ages and abilities. Its clear that many will be using this as a season starting event, building up to longer events like me and others for half and full ironman(s); some may never do it again, but hopefully they will. Unpacking for me at transition is a big learning curve, I chatted to a couple of fellow athletes as the excitement and nerves within me kept building and made a mental note of where my bike was ready for later.

Standing at the poolside having the safety briefing with the rest of my heat it dawned on me what a mad event a triathlon actually is, I had a pair of tri shorts on and some goggles and was a bout to travel 14 miles with water, wheels and my feet; powered only by my heart and lungs – gulp!

I forgot what I planned as a strategy and went about hitting the swim as fast and as hard as I could, big mistake, I blew my breathing and had to breathe every two strokes instead of three and gradually brought myself back finishing in my usual slow and steady style.

Always Test Your Gear

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The bike ride was another learning curve, the day before the triathlon I bought a new pump that would clip on to my frame, as I would have no pockets. Problem was the pump fell off and I had to stop, get off, and hold it in my hand for 8 miles. Won’t make that mistake again. The ride was all up and down, some good climbing and down hills with very little flat making it a good leveler and a lot of fun too.

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Then came the run, a little bit of unexpected cross country adding to a mix of scenery, I felt good on my feet and still haven’t experienced the strange sensation I’ve read about when going from the bike to the run – maybe it will happen on longer events but hopefully I’m immune or something, but I doubt it.

Into the last mile I upped the pace a little and was able to finish with a little flourish, which I suppose, is a strong sign that my training has gone really well. Covering the last few metres in the beautiful sunshine to a rousing applause was a moment I wont forget; after months of training in the dark, the rain and the wind I had visualized crossing the line but never imagined how great it would feel, ‘I am a Triathlete’ I thought to myself, I’ve done it, I couldn’t stop smiling.

From the moment I started to the moment I finished the encouragement from the stewards and event supporters was superb and made me and the other athletes feel like a million dollars. The event was so well organized, signposted and supported; the Cardiff Tri club has left a high bar for the other events I will be participating in as part of the 260-mile series.

For those out there that want a fresh challenge, a great event with some amazing atmosphere I couldn’t recommend triathlon highly enough. It will make you fit, sociable and even (for me at least) do the unthinkable and buy a vest. Through the training I’ve lost over a stone in weight and am probably the fittest I have ever been.

I now have a PB of 1hr 31 minutes to aim for at the next triathlon, which is in Brecon at the end of the month; I have three weeks to improve and work on the three events one of which will be on holidays in Majorca. Much to look forward to and reflect upon after an absolutely amazing weekend.

Thanks for reading guys!

Embarrassing Moments

IMG_3389As it’s Friday, In addition to the heartache, triumph, breakthroughs and breakdowns; I think it’s also importand to share and remember the embarrassments, the funny and random things that occur when training and competing; because after all, it’s a mad old world out there.

Last weekend I was in Hay on Wye for my first sportive and managed to turn 65 miles into 75 courtesy of missing a turn sign sending me on a magical mystery tour. Asking a local where I was expecting to be answered with the town he replied England jokingly which was even funnier as the event I was involved with was set entirely in Wales. I humbly crossed back over the border, courtesy of some directions from said local, and quick call to HQ for them to guide me back to the route.

Just when I thought that was the embarrassment over with I was wrong. When finishing the ride with another cyclist in front of me I followed his lead and waved madly at the photographer taking snaps at him and while mid (two thumbs up pose trying to get a nice shot of me finishing my first big event) discovered it was the guy in fronts wife and she wasn’t in the habit of taking photos of completely random cyclists.

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Have a great weekend everyone and above all have some fun, if it happens to be at your expense, well that’s life.

Trial Run – First Triathlon Mock Up

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It’s four days until my first triathlon and training now shifts from cycling endurance back to a balance of the three events.

I didn’t have the best recovery from the sportive (Link to Previous Blog) and should have managed that better in all honesty. It’s taken me two days to get all of the aches out of the legs and arms and be ready for what was an intense session including a swim after work, then a 10 mile full throttle ride followed by a 3 mile run; all to mimic the distance for Sundays Try a Tri in Cardiff.

I managed to also try out my new triathlon shorts and running shoes and even my first ever running vest; felt like I looked the part, but would I perform the part of someone who could be considered, in any way, an athlete?

I have not been in the water as much as I had hoped, largely due to building distance on the bike, and I wanted to blast out the 20 lengths in a decent time. I covered the 400 metres in just over 8 minutes which for me is good. Part of me was dreading the distance taking 10 minutes so that’s a little bonus and one to build on.

Then came the slowest transition in the history of the sport. A traffic jam followed by a 30 minute drive home, then a little tinkering with my GPS watch before setting off. What followed was an exhilarating change from the slow and steady training of the past weeks. A chance to flex those cycling muscles the punishing hundreds of miles training had brutally developed. I embarked on an aggressive 10 mile ride for which I posted PB’s all over Strava and my highest average speed of 16.5mph – 1.5 miles faster than anything I have topped before which for me was great; even if it was painful but no pain no gain speed.

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And finally the run, the part where my legs throw their hands up
I’m the air and shout ‘what the hell are you doing NOW’. After the first mile they realised I was on the last leg of my triathlon mock up. Like an old locomotive the pistons ground their way into form and I eased up through the gears into the 2nd and tried to attack the 3rd and final mile. My big fear was being really really slow but I posted a sub 30 mins time of 26:05 and I know I can do better.

I wanted to compare my times to last years Try a Tri (2013) and all things being equal would have classed well in the top half. If I can speed up my run I could even have threatened the top 10 but that, I guess is the triathlete conundrum: ‘if I could have shaved 30 seconds here I would have finished there’. Suppose it’s not hard to see where lightweight and aerodynamic focused approaches come to the fore in consideration of the more seasoned and competitive among us.

One more training mock up on Friday then a rest on Saturday for the maiden triathlon event with core sessions on the rest days!

Really excited and already have the bug even before I’ve started the first race.

On a separate note I’ve also lost a little weight and have moved further into the £300 mark in terms of the 260 Miles for Kenzie endurance series – Brilliant.

Now wheres my idiots guide to aerodynamics?
Maybe not just yet!

Thanks for reading peeps!

After 1100 Miles I’ve Finally Cured my Saddle Soreness

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In preparing for a recent sportive I learned some valuable lessons when going over the two-hour mark on a regular basis. The post 120 minute milestone seemed to consistently herald the arrival of discomfort in the downstairs department.

Anyone who has ever been on a bike will identify with this and, of course, it’s perfectly natural to have soreness when starting out with cycling; or even when breaking in a new saddle of a slightly different shape or material.

But with over 1000 miles on the clock so to speak with my Giant road bike (the brand Giant, not the fact that I have an enormous bike ☺) still experiencing problems pointed to more than just bedding into the sport; so, naturally, I decided to change my saddle. After a bit of online research the Giant stock saddles didn’t shower themselves in glory, the reviews pointed toward Selle Italia’s range and I plumped for the C2 Gel Flow model, in addition to some bib shorts which again were regarded as far more comfortable.

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Setting out in my new shorts and saddle I had never felt as comfortable on a bike, that was until I crossed the two hour mark and the pain returned, much to my understandable frustration; what the hell more could I do!

I decided to do even more research and found that it could be down to friction and so decided to invest in my final solution, aside from paying a hundred pounds for either shorts or another saddle, that solution was a £10 tub of chamois cream. I also invested in a very good pair of bib tights as the 65 mile sportive was looking to be a painful prospect and not just on the legs. I had no time to test either out as the cream and tights arrived the day before the sportive and I had to bite the bullet so to speak.

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I am pleased to report that after 75 miles I was still comfortable in my saddle and was rid of a persistent problem that has hampered my love of cycling in one way or another from day one. All I needed was to apply cream to the cushioned insert to my bib tights and to my backside where I was getting pain and hey presto as if by magic I was cured. What a difference!

So to the makers of the magic cream I thank you from the bottom of my heart and the heart of my bottom.

My Very First Sportive

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Being up and out before 6AM on a Sunday is an unusual one for me, but something I’m going to have to get used to over the coming months as most of the events I’ve booked on for the season are on Sunday and in the morning too. Not that I mind really as I love it, and was awake really early due to a mix of nerves and excitement. Both emotions are due to the fact that I have never participated in a cycling event and have never cycled 65 miles before so two BIG firsts for me!

Don’t get me wrong I’ve cycled as close to the distance as possible (50 odd miles) but a bug has kept me sidelined for most of the past week so I’ve not quite hit the mark but aside from that have prepared well.

I arrived at Drover Cycles in Hay on Wye at 7am to a deserted car park as the rain was hammering down as the event flags danced in the strong wind! At that point, as most of the country was sleeping, I thought to myself that I must be mad! Fast forward a couple of hours and I was flying down the backside of the highest road in Wales (which is some feat, and the subject of some debate) and I though to myself no, everyone else must be mad for not doing this!

Then came the low point of the 65-mile sportive, I missed a turning marker and got lost. Calling into HQ for help, I had strayed miles off route and ended up adding 10 miles to the total haul – unbelievable, I couldn’t have picked a worse turn to miss; just after the first of two feed stations when I wanted to get my head down and power through the miles to close in on my longest ride and completing my first sportive.

Map demonstrating the landscape of the Black Mountins

Map demonstrating the landscape of the Black Mountins

The route made excellent use of the landscape with some rollercoaster style climbs and downhill’s all served up among the stunning backdrop of the Black Mountains.

The biggest surprise of the day was how sociable everyone was, when I pass, or get passed by, other cyclists on training rides your lucky to get a hello. But I would assume, on longer rides like this most people are grateful to have a bit of a chat to break up the format a little, which I really enjoyed.

The ride ended with a brutal series of leg and spirit sapping climbs to the summit of the mountain followed by a sensational, meandering downhill; the wind was so sharp it almost felt like I was freefalling, makes you feel so alive.

What a way to finish the ride, what a way to spend the day. Roll on next weekend and the next event; this is all getting a little additive.

Have also passed the £300 mark of the £500 fundraising target so progress is being made on all fronts.

All in all a tough ride but top, top, top fun!

Swimathon (5k) First Ever Endurance Event

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The other week saw the completion of my very first endurance event a three mile swim-athon, the thought of swimming even a mile would have been inconceivable not so long ago – but with a little focus and some hard work, misconceptions, doubts and inability can be crushed and torn like a piece of paper. This is all part of a 260 mile series which is my baptism of fire from a couch potato to an amateur endurance triathlete; outlined in my recent blog 260 miles for Kenzie.

I am far from a fast swimmer (or fast anything for that matter) and as 5 people were to share a lane (reserved for those of us swimming 2.5 or 5k) I hoped that I wouldn’t be the only slowie in the water. Sadly I was the slowest, by a margin, but in truth, given the differing levels of ability everyone was overtaking (except me) but that’s life ey!

‘Enjoy The Test’

The first 5/10 laps were hard as I tried to start with a strong pace that meant little as the other swimmers had already started to pass me. I felt bad for holding them up and just decided to swim at my pace and get the job done. This comes back to something my dad always said about exams or anything you need to prepare for ‘enjoy the test’. This simply means, prepare yourself well, get the hard work done beforehand and then when the test (whatever form it takes) comes around you can enjoy it more; safe in the knowledge that your ready for it. That notion served me well, and realizing that I could cover the distance non stop, freestyle, I got my head down so to speak taking it lap by lap, nice and smooth, nice and easy. I soldiered on through 200 lengths being the only swimmer not to stop until the distance was covered, until the solid tortoise crossed the line.

The biggest lesson learned was the mental approach and how important a clear and focused mindset is when you’re in a long haul endurance situation.

I know I need to be able to go a lot faster to be a good swimmer and all round triathlete, but for now at least, I’ve completed my first event. Finishing and leaving the pool to applause was a great feeling and, being honest, I am extremely proud of my first medal, its only a small token but symbolises the work that went into the preparation and the hours of training getting myself ‘ready’.

I can’t wait for the next event – 65-mile bike ride in Hay on Wye – tomorrow morning – bring it!

1 event down 9 to go – 3 miles down 257 to go!!!!!!!

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