Monday, 6 December 2010

Scorching Tri Xmas Special (Olympic Tri)

It was my first triathlon of the season yesterday at Scorching Bay (Wellington) and it reminded me I still have plenty to do before March.

This was my 2nd Scorching full distance (although I also did a cut down 1000m, 35k, 10k) on the same course so I am able to compare to 25th Jan this year.

After an absolute cracker day yesterday this morning was overcast with quite a strong northerly.  Good news is that meant Scorching Bay was in a wind shade and the water conditions pretty smooth.

I've taken this last week very light after Taupo double last weekend so managed to get 4 swims in.  Including 3 open water, so I was feeling a bit more conditioned for the sea swim. 

Having taken my wetsuit in to Snugg, when I was home in October, to get a new panel (I'd ripped it under the arm on my HR strap) and some new fluffy so the closure I was confident I  wouldn't have the same trouble I had here earlier in the year with the neck coming undone.

As usual I positioned myself on the outside of the group, just next to Tony Buckingham who is just back from Kona and a great qualification at Ironman Canada.  With only 60 or so men in the wave it was pretty quick into open water, I got onto some feet and had a great swim.  I've developed a warm up now with some scull drills and some 50m pick ups and it seems to really help me get comfortable in teh water before I start - all those Splash n Dash paying off.

Coming out of the water about 7th I checked my watch and was pleased to see 21:40 odd - not quite as quick as I'd like, but really good considering it's pretty early in the season and I've not been swimming much yet.  Apart from my goggles exploding and having to pick up the pieces on the way up the beach and forgetting the way out of transition it was a good T1.  Out onto the road in under a minute.

Note to self ALWAYS check the transition layout.  They change and going the wrong way is a such a waste of time.

 Onto the road and we had a massive northerly wind, the out and back curves around the coast, but it's more tail wind on the way out and a 3k climb up Happy Valley to the turnaround.  I came out of T1 just behind Tony in maybe 6th or 7th and we cat and moused all the way through to about 35k.  At which point through mindless lack of concentration I let Tony go and never managed to get back onto him.  We took a few people on the bike and came in 4th and 5th.

Second Note to Self, maintain CONCENTRATION and don't let people get away unnecessarily.

Onto the run I felt pretty flat and although we had a pretty heavy wind on the out legs of each of the two laps it wasn't impacting others like it did me.  The first couple of k I struggled to get under 4min k pace, got taken by a couple of others from my wave and although I started to feel a little better after a few k never got my run legs.

I've been runnign pretty well in training lately and I was running at pretty much my tempo pace in a race.  CErtainly I need to do a few more bricks to get the pins used to running off the bike, but I'm going to stick with the Enduro 7 days before as my excuse for a little lack of top end....

Onwards and upwards.  In summary I was less than 80 seconds slower yesterday than I was in January this year on the same course in similar conditions. So I'm still encouraged. 

This week it's back to some solid training and then a bit of an ease up towards Rotorua Half IM on Saturday the 18th.  Then a really decent training block in the sunshine over the Christmas break.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

First Day of Summer, First Splash n Dash and a year in Wellington

Summer officially started in New Zealand today and it's actually feeling like summer.  Which is more than it was a year ago when I arrived in pouring horizontal rain and an antarctic southerly wind!

It's also pretty much a year to the day since my first Oriental Bay Splash n Dash.  A 700m open water swim followed by a 3k dash!

Splash n Dash 1st Dec 2010
After the epic ride at the weekend I've been feeling pretty shattered this week.  Thankfully Dave (Dave Parry, HPU) was gentle on me and has given me a pretty light week to recover.  But even so I've been struggling to get going.

With 320k in the legs and not all that much swimming recently I wasn't too confident going into the dash tonight.  Compared to last year I was perhaps a minute faster and the run about the same.  Considering the weekend that's pretty much as good as I can expect.

First transition of the yr :(
Fingers crossed by the weekend I'll be a bit more recovered ready for the first tri of the season.  I took the BMC (TT bike) out this morning for it's first trip of the season and it sure feels fast having been on the standard road bike for the last few months, I'm hoping my bike will at least will be strong and with fresher legs the run will be a bit better.

Still lots to do but perhaps I'm in a little better shape than this time last year.

Love to everyone at home in the UK.  Sorry to hear about all your snow.  There's always a spare room in Welly and it's summer now!

Thank you Mels for hanging out on the beach and taking the pics xx

Mexican visitor come to view the racing!
Gun show

Monday, 29 November 2010

3rd place for the Enduro

Thankfully I still don't know what 10hrs in the saddle feels like...

The Taupo Cycle Challenge (320k) Enduro on Saturday went great.   It was certainly a good confidence booster 3.5 months before Ironman New Zealand.  I manged to get around the course in a few mins under 10 hrs.  With an average speed of 31.5mph.  So now I've 14 weeks to get the speed up a bit for 180k.

It was a really interesting event. Starting at 1:30am meant we had less than 4hrs sleep on Friday night before getting up and heading into Taupo to meet the other 65 mental riders who didn't feel one lap was enough.

The first lap in the dark was a bit different, plenty of lights and very little chat. In fact the group was pretty much silent until 4:30am when the first glimmers of dawn were heading up over the hills behind lake Taupo.

The race tactic was to ride within ourselves for the first lap, hopefully close to 5hrs, in a decent group, then get as far through the hills at the start of the course, on the second lap before the quick one lapper boys caught us up.  Roughly it worked.

Three or Four guys stretched the group out for the first 20k before they broke away and ten of us settled down and let them go.  We pushed on in silence working nicely together, everyone taking their turn, all the way through to Taupo. 

Into Taupo we had to take our timing chips into a gas station to scan them before we could had out on lap two.  Several of us had parked cars at this station, while others had support crew meet them there.  So at this point the group broke up.  Sincere apologies to Mike Osborne, my work colleague and recent training partner on an epic training ride.  We had a relatively good transition, loading up our back pockets with another 5hrs of food, stripping off the nightwear and dumping lights.  We set off to find what was left of the group on the way out of town.  Unfortunately, 100yards away from the car and I realised I'd not put my new bottles on the bike - I'd just dumped the empties...

Of all the things I didn't want to do without, as the temperature was on it's way to the mid twenties, was water bottles.  I dashed back to the car, holding up Mike, and grabbed the full bottles.

As we road back out of Taupo for the second lap I saw 5:02 on my watch.  Pretty good.  I'd hit the gas station in 4:56, so another lap the same as the first and I could nip under my stretch target of ten hours.

We had a pretty pedestrian 30k out of town for the second lap.  Picking up another chap from our original ten 'Dave' and the three of us rolled on.  Chatting to a few other randons, including the two lads in 3rd and 4th of the 8 lap Maxi Enduro Bonkersride Extra. They'd kicked off Wednesday lunchtime and were well over 60hrs into their ride, on just 5hrs sleep.  Having just woken up from a long 2hr rest they were riding really well and tagged onto us for a good 15k before stopping for a refuel.

Around 30k the lead one lappers started to catch us up.  We struggled to hold the first group, just getting sucked along for a couple of k before getting spat out the back. The next group I held a little longer and the third group were going at an ok pace and I tagged into their group and stuck in a bunch through to about 85k when we hit Kuratau Hill.  I took the decision to save my legs a little. With 70k to go and 7+ hrs in the saddle I think it was the right choice.  Unfortunately Mike and Dave didn't catch the same group.  And I found out later that Mike hadnt' picked up his spare food at the car.  So the poor guy was running without fuel for 5hrs.  Sorry Mike - especially after you'd waited for me to go back for my drink!

Once over the Hill and through to the 100k mark of lap two (260k down) I got into a group with 6 or so stragglers and we worked together until the 4th group picked us up on the flat home.  50k out from Taupo we got into a 40 man train, I took on some food and caffeine and got working with about 16 others at the front of the group.  I was watching the clock, with about 75mins for the last 40k I knew there was a chance I could slip under 10hrs.  I waited for the bonk that I felt was inevitable but the legs held out and the caffeine did it's job.  With 10k to go I 18 mins, the adrenaline kicked in and I was able to keep pushing through several yellow capped Enduros and push all the way through to the finish.  I guess the leg destruction of JoGLE must have really helped.

As we all got mixed up in Taupo after lap one I had no idea how i'd got on in the competition but a mate told me I was the 3rd Enduro to finish and sure enough I was 30 odd secs behind a local chap in second and 16 mins behind the lead guide who apparently had held onto the first or second songle lap group.

All in all a really pleasing day. Pro Ironman Keiran Doe holds the course record (from last year) of 9:28:36, so I can't be too disappointed with being within 30mins of him over 10hrs.  To average 31.5kph (including stops) for 10hrs is pretty good at this stage. 

An easy splash in lake Taupo after the ride served as an ice bath and seems to have helped with recovery.  A short run today and the legs feel alright.

Race season is now here.  Weds night is the first Splash n Dash (open water swim / run) of the season and then Sunday is my triathlon of the season as I test my speed in the Scorching Tri Olympic.

14 weeks of hard work to come!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge (Enduro)

So it's 6:30pm in Taupo.  I've had a few naps today, an easy run and a swim on the IM course.  But now it's time to get to bed again.

At 1:30am I start the Lake Taupo Cycle Challange, along with 66 others we are riding it twice, so 320k.  Not as mad as those guys that are out there doing 4 laps.  Or the real nut-bars who started on Wednesday and are doing 8, 1280k!, but still seems plenty stupid now I'm here...

After the JoGLE ride last month I've backed up with some decent rides, including a 265k a few week back.  The bike strength is coming back, but I'm not sure what 10hrs+ in the saddle is going to be like, especially with the first 5hrs in the dark.  Guess I"ll know tmrw.

More details when it's all done!


Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Lands End to John O'Groats

Well that was fun!

I needed to get some bike miles in.  So that should do the trick to kick things off...

Back to Blighty for a few weeks and I managed to squeeze in John O'Groats to Lands End.  908 miles in seven days with 57 hours in the saddle.  Over 10km of ascent and 21k calories and I've still come back weighing 80kg!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

More running !! 6th at Abel Tasman Coastal Classic

Abel Tasman Coastal Classic

So this weekend saw my last big trail run before getting into serious tri training again.

It was an absolutely cracking race down in Abel Tasman National Park in the north of the South Island NZ. This race is a NZ trail classic, following 36k through the national park, along the coastal path, previously run by the likes of Scott Molina and Erin Baker it had to be done.

The blurb said to train for a marathon as the 36k off-road with 1000m of ascent is pretty much comparable.  I know I'm not in my best marathon form but I hoped to be around the 2:50.  But with a running buddy in Wellington having a PB for the course of 2:57 I knew sub 3 hrs was going to be a challenge.

Before the race starts there's a 30k boat ride from the finish at Marahau to the start at Awaroa, three different boats and some faff and we made it to the beach at Awaroa around 10am.  With NZ being hit by a weather bomb (pretty impressive wind and rain) the trip up the coast on Saturday morning was pretty damp and grey.  Huddling together in all our warm post race garb was requried.

Once at the start location we had to strip to race wear, then queue on the beach while our comulsory race gear was checked - not the best part of the day. 15mins later we were lined up on the little lodge airstrip at Awaria Lodge and without ceremony we were set off.

With 300 competitors and previous winning times of between 2:25 and 3hrs I didn't have a huge idea of how to take the race.  It retrospect it's probably fair to say I underestimated the course a little.  I took off with the eventual winner Simon Maldon and managed to stay with him for about 500m before he started to creep away on the first climb into the bush.  By 2k I'd settled into a realistic pace and had slipped to 7th with the first 3 moving really fast and the 4-6th not far ahead.

At 7k there is a strech running across the beach at Onetahuti, I could see the leaders spread out ahead and I was back in 8th.  With the legs already crying out (sand doens't suit us heavier fellas) I didn't want to push too much and recalibrated to a 2:54 pace and made a conscious effort to save the legs - it was going to be a long day. If I had anything left at 30k I could go for it then!

The terrain was pretty specatular, but certianly not forgiving, there were some nice long steady decents, but they all had twin siblings taking us up the other side of the valley - be it sharp and slippery or long and dragging there was a lot of up!  Thankfully the weather turned for the good, the sun was out and it was perfect running conditions, cool but dry.

A good proportion of my running in NZ has been off-road and trail, but I still leave a lot to be desired compared to those that have been at this game for years.  The few extra kilo's I'm carrying probably don't help much either.  I spent most of th run hoping for just a bit of flat where I could open my stride up a bit and get some decent pace going.  I was still waiting at 36k!

There was very little company and I ran most of the trail with just one guy either a few paces ahead, or a few behind. That was until around the 2hr mark when he took off like a rocket, passing me like I was standing still.  This put me back into 7th I didn't think I'd be seeing him again and from the feedback I was getting from trampers and the couple of aid stations there was more than 5 mins up to the 4th and 5th guys.  I concentrated on keeping my pace constant. 

At 33k ish, I caught the guy back and passed him straight out, he'd obviously pushed too hard - or perhaps I'd been haivng a bad spell.  I was back in 6th and although tired feeling relatively strong still.  There was one headland to navigate and then we were at the finish bay.  somewhere around this point I stumbled over a root and barely had the stregth to hold my own body weight as I fell forward.  You know you're knackered when you can't stand on one leg!  It never ceases to amaze me how you can keep running, at a decent pace, when you're legs are so ruined.

At 34k I got some further feedback from walkers that the next guys were still 5 mins up and I just kept plugging away, doubtful I was going to close 5mins in 3k!

The GPS was having a bit of a mare, coming in and out of reception, but the pace seemed to be good in the last 5k, even when I went through 36k and still the finish was a way off I knew I was going to get there without any explosions or catastrophes.

I hit the final 500m of board walks to the finish in around 2:55, I could see the finish chute ahead and had Dave's time of 2:57 in my head.  I pushed with all I could but it was a good 500m and my watch finish time was 2:57:55 with the race clock gaving me 2:58 dead.  Either way not good enough to beat Daves previous best of 2:56:53, but good enough to secure 6th. 

All in all a very pleasing run.  Perhaps not up to the standard of my 2:44 marathon before Switzerland IM in 2008, but still a great solid effort.  I was able to finish strong after nearly 3hrs of running, on tough terrain and finish 6th amongst a pretty decent field.  I'll certainly be consdering this event again next year.  I reckon 2:45 is possible.

Home to the UK in 2 weeks I'll be catching up with Dave Parry to plan out the next few months up to IM NZ in March, I've booked a return flight for July 2011, so IM UK is on the agenda, at the very least as a qualifier back up if Taupo doesn't go to plan.
The middle week of my 3 weeks in the UK is a cycle tour from John O'Groats to Lands Ends, 1600k in 7 days should get my cycling legs going again.  fingers corssed by the end of October I should be starting to feel like a (tri)athlete again.

(more pics to follow)

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Creeping up the ranks

2nd place at Hawkes Bay Half Marathon

A pretty pleasing race at the weekend in Havelock North, Hawkes Bay.

Going into the race I'd checked the last couple of years of results and last year I would've needed a 1:16 to win, the year before that a 1:21.  Considering my form and the amount of fast work I've done I thought I was in about 1:20 shap - so a podium could be possible.

Hawkes Bay was a great excuse for a weekend away and we managed to get out of town in good time on Friday afternoon, ready for a Saturday morning race. 

The half marathon followed the 2nd half of the marathon route, so a couple of hundred of us jumped onto buses at 9:30 and were scooted into the middle of nowhere (a windy road with two porta-loos) ready for the 10am start.  It was a cracker day with blue skys and low teen temps, but the wind was fairly howling - I thought i'd left that in Wellington!

Onto the start line with 3 seconds to spare, we were immediately off, and I immediately fell into 3rd.  Within 500m I took the guy ahead for 2nd and then set about trying to claw back the 10m that 1st place had on me.  The wind was pretty strong all the way through the first 12k with relentless rolling hills. 


I kept pushing to try to bridge up to him but by half way mark I was nearly a minute off him.  Unfortunatly that's pretty much how it carried on with 1st taking 2:30 out of me by the finish.

A pretty pleasing run, an average HR of 172 represents a good level of effort and although the time was terrible 1:25:13 it doesn't mean much for a half marathon with over 300m of ascent and such strong winds.  The guys at the finish were telling us that the course was 7mins off a pb course (with the wind), so perhaps I am in the 1:20 shape I think I am.  Certainly the winner (Thomas Bridgeman) should be better than a 1:22 considering he is running 16:30 5ks at the moment.

Interestingly I took no food or energy in this race and felt much flatter than on the Munter.  I think a was belt with some a gel bottle is the next purchase.

Two weeks until the big Abel Tasman Coastal Classic (37k trail) run and then back to the UK for some R&R, a catch up with coach Dave and the small matter of a John O'Groats to Lands End ride.

finish straight

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Mukamuka Munter Madness!!

Perhaps there's some fitness coming back - 3rd place and a race I'm proud of...

Description of the Munter from the BetterThanTV website -

"Keen on a real off-road run that is worth the bragging rights on the Monday? Do you miss that feeling of the lungs searing while you are gasping for air and the legs screaming with lactic acid while knowing that you are still less than half way to the finish (and there's the rest of the hill to climb).....? 

The Mukamuka Munter is your kind of race which is kinda cool because it won't be everyone's kind of race.

Starting at the mouth of the Orongorongo River, the 29km Mukamuka Munter will take you around the south coast of the North Island, over terrain that your ankles will hate you for and then up the Mukamuka Valley to the South Saddle. From there it's a knee bashing downhill to the Orongorongo River and an exit via the Orongorongo Track to the CatchPool Creek DOC base."

4x4 track along the coast to Mukamuka stream
This race lived up to the hype.  About 80 of us rocked up in the middle of nowhere yesterday morning, to pick up our maps and hear out the briefing on how likely we were to get lost and that carrying safety gear was not a joke (my car-share had pointed out people die in these ranges on the way to the race!).

After a mediocre trail run last weekend in Auckland I decided to take my nutrition a bit more serious this weekend and got out my camelback and picked up a few gels, some space rocket (sweets) and some caffeine.

The run follows a 4x4 track 12k around the coast to the mukamuka stream, where we turned in land and literaly ran 6k up a riverbed and finaly a near vertical gully to shoulder the range before dropping down through the bush (there wasn't really a trail) to the Orongaronga stream, where we followed another riverbed for a few k before getting onto a track for the last 8k and then a final 2k dash along the road to the finish.

Damien jsut ahead on an easy bit of mukamuka stream!
I headed out steady, wanting to hold my own but save the legs for the hills, I hit 12k in 55 mins or so and began the slog up the valley.  I turned into the valley in 6th with training mate Damien 30 secs ahead with the 4th place guy.  I quickly bunched up with these two as we picked out way over the boulder field that was the stream bed.  .

Mukamuka stream bed
Entering the gully
Towards the top of the valley, before it turned into a gully scramble I passed these guys and another chap caught me. We scrambled up the gully making the best route we could swapping the 4th and 5th position as we each took good or poor choice in terms of the best way to get up

Looking back down the Muka valley
South Saddle
Orongoronga valley ahead

I was able to take a few pics on the way up the climb but once we started the descent into the Orongorogo valley I needed both hands to stay upright. Dropping down to the valley another guy caught up with us but we over took the guy in 3rd who'd been struggling with cramps.

Out into the open valley floor at last I managed to push on from the others taking 3rd place and pushing away.

Orongorongo river
Unfortunately I looked over my shoulder after 5 mins of good running and realised the others had turned off behind me and I'd missed the exit of the river bed onto the Big Bend track.  Retracing my steps I quickly got onto the correct path (checking the garmin I only lost about 2.5mins).  Passing a bunch of trampers a few mins later they informed me I was now in detour had lost me 4 places.  I took a gel and started to work hard on what was at last a good runable track.  The remainder of the run was uneventful, it was all I coudl do to lift my legs enough to save myself from tripping over tree routes.  I managed to push through 6th, 5th (first women) and 4th then got a few glimpses of the 3rd place guy (the cramp victim) through the trees.  I caught him just as we were popping out of the forest onto the last 2k on the road.  We ran together for a k and then saw noticed the 2nd place guy up ahead.  I knew we had about a k to go and he was about 150m ahead.  I pushed on away securing 3rd and ran a 3:49 last k but just ran out of road and couldn't quite make 2nd.  3rd place and 3hrs7mins for a bloody tough 32.5k(Garmin) is good enough for now.  Great to feel some strength over such a long event, it just goes to show the difference a few gels will make you.

Two weeks away I've a road half marathon which will be a bit of a shock after all the trail running I've been doing but Dave has me back running on the road and doing some speed stuff so i should be a bit sharper by then.

Time to ride my bike now though!

Double hammy cramp. Go Robin...

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Back on it...

So I've been silent for a while.  It's been winter in New Zealand and I've been taking a bit of a break after IM Taupo.

That's not to say I've been doing nothing.  I've not been on the bike or in the pool much but I've been ticking over with the NZ winter run scene.  There's been plenty of stupid trail running through the bush and a few events, including a couple of podiums and some total spankings!

But now it's time to get serious.  Last weekend I got a pasting in Auckland (25k trail run) so this weekend I intend to go for it in the MukaMuka Munter a 29k trail (bush whack!) just north of Wellington - see THE MUNTER

The next few weekends I've a half marathon and another big trail run along the Abel Tasman coastal path in the South Island - Abel Tasman Coastal Challenge

In the meantime i'm back in the pool and on the bike.  This March I'll be at Taupo again and hopefully back in the UK for IM UK in July 2011. Then Hawaii 2011!!!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Ironman New Zealand - Race Summary.

"Still No Hawaii"

It's a week now since Ironman NZ, and I've had a bit of time to reflect and relax.  I suppose overall I am still disappointed with the race last weekend.  Disappointed not to have got a Kona slot, but mainly not to have raced to the best of my ability. I’ve had a few days now to think about what went wrong and I’m still not that much wiser!

I think really it came down to a combination of three things

1. Head not there (mental preparedness)
2. Nutrition
3. Short build (lack of run base)

I had played down (in my mind) the task and underestimated just what an ordeal Ironman is mentally and physically.  I had it in my mind I’d done 9:48 and 9:29 and so should be able to do 9:15 this time.  I’d done the training and it would just happen.   Perhaps all the changes of coming out to New Zealand and the time it took to get my bike here and get into a routine may have had an impact on my training.  It was only really a 12 week build and although I got some really good volume into that time, it might not have been the best quality.  My longest run was only 2:20 and that was a race, whereas last year I ran 1:45-2+hrs maybe 8 times. 

In terms of nutrition I didn’t change much in terms of calories and carbs from the last two races. The difference was I didn’t carry all my own food,  I was relying on the Powerbar stuff that was at the aid station and not training with that may have had an impact. 

In terms of the race everything went great until the run.

There were only 1250 competitors so T1 wasn't as busy as other IM I have done recently and this was te same in teh lake.   It was a stunning swim, the sun was rising on a pretty calm lake as we lined up for the 7am start.  The helpicopter was out tracking the pro's which always adds some adrenaline.  I had some help from my new locals mates (thanks Dee) sneaking into the quiet loo's about 6:40 before quickly heading down to the lake for a warm up.  Fresh water swimming is so good compared to the sea and I felt pretty confident on the line.  

I  got a good start from the front on the inside next to the buoys, so I was able to sight clearly, I had some feet from about 10mins in and quickly settled into a good rythym on calm clear water.  I kept those feet or others pretty much all the way around.  I checked my watch at the turnaround (bit under halfway) and I was on 27:30. I was stoked and that positiveness kept me pushing all the way home, I got out of the water at 57:30 on my watch which I was over the moon with as I’d been struggling to get the splits I wanted in the pool the last few weeks. 

Transition is quite long, maybe 600m including some steps up to the T1 park, I had a good quick transition and was onto the bike in just under 62mins, all was looking great.  Out on the bike the legs felt ok, maybe not great, but within 30mins my heart rate settled.  I let a lot of guys go, but had it in my mind I would ride 5 and a bit and still be on target.  There was a bit of obvious drafting on the way out with the wind, which I didn’t get involved with (maybe I should), but I still hit the first turnaround averaging 36kph. After the first lap I was still on the same pace, I was comfortably on for 5hrs.  The second lap the wind had picked up, as I'd anticipated.  dave and I had discussed this and I concentrated on eating and took it steady to the turnaround, at which point the wind had changed a bit and I didn’t find it too bad back to T2, I was cruising and rolling through a lot of guys.  

I hit T2 in 6:20 ish, a little p’d about the time but remembering your words from Dave not to fret about the time and at this point confident I’d left enough in the tank for the run to be a good one. I nipped through T2 (I think fastest of the day!) in under a minute and although the back was a bit tight I settled myself down into low 4:20 k’s for 3:10 a marathon.

After about 5k I started to slow, there was a headwind, but I just didn’t seem to have my run legs. I kept expecting to get a second wind (I was still taking regular gels at this point), but by 10k I was starting to die on my ass, the 2nd quarter back towards the finish of lap one we had a tail wind and I kept rolling on, albeit slowing, but once I turned back into the wind for the 2nd lap the wheels came off.  It was a real struggle to get back to the final turnaround and there were spells of walking from about 24k onwards. In the end all times went out the window and it became a battle to just finish.

The 10.5k splits for the marathon were 57mins,53mins, 1:06 and 1:16.

The finish was nothing like Switzerland, I was exhausted, but more mentally.  I just felt hollow and ruined and wanted to get out of there.  So I did!  This is the first Ironman I've left feeling I wanted to do it again, I might have to come back next year and smash it...

My Age Group (30-34) was madness.  By far the most competitive of them all,  7th place in 30-34 (the last guaranteed Hawaii slot) was 21st overall in a time 9:21 and the last Hawaii slot rolled down to the 11th in AG who did 9:31. I would have needed to run 3:10 to get that slot.

I've spent more than 2yrs chasing this Hawaii dream and perhaps it's time to take the pressure off myself and have a rest? I know I can do it, but I'd need a perfect day and a perfect build to get one of the slots.  BUT I'm not sure I can quit this without achieving the goal I set myself. 

In terms of my wider 'life' plans things have taken a bit of a change in the last few months, the work here is pretty great, especially in terms of opportunities.    I'll be here until at least Christmas, perhaps longer.  

I'm thinking of enjoying some racing for the next couple of months, training hard through summer (NZ winter) and having a crack at Ironman Western Oz (WA) in December. Keeping NZ in the back of my mind.

At the moment my cycling is probably weakest (certainly weaker than I'd like it to be) so a real stint on the bike over the winter as well as perhaps another marathon would be good. I want to be able to do sub 5, even 4:45 easily at WA in December and not feel I've got to kill myself on the run to go sub 9:15.

Thanks as always to everyone, friends, family, colleagues for the incredible support, kind wishes and patience over the last few months (years). This is a very selfish thing I do and I do appreciate the impact it can have on those around me.

Special thanks to Dave Parry (HPU) for his continuing invaluable advice and guidance and all the guys in NZ that have made me so welcome over the last 3 months and helped me very quickly get back to some good form; Dee, Mike, Mel, Helen... You guys Rock!!

Some pics to follow.


Friday, 5 March 2010

Ironman New Zealand T-14hrs

I thought I'd pen a few thoughts as I have a few hours to kill, keeping out of the sun and resting up as much as possible before Ironman New Zealand kicks off in 14hrs at 7am, here in Taupo, North Island, NZ.

Another incredible NZ venue (Lake Taupo, 8am Friday 5th March '10)

This time last July I was in another hotel room, keeping off my feet and trying to relax before Ironman Switzerland.  Certainly there are a lot of similarities to that day, I'm pleased to say I'm pretty relaxed this time. Experience really does make these things easier.

I went into Switzerland thinking I was in 9:15 shape and in the end just touched under 9:30, albeit with a brief pause to fix a puncture.  After missing a Hawaii slot there by 15mins I said I'd come back here in sub-9 shape.  Now I'm not sure I'm there, I'm not going to put a time prediction on tomorrow, but I feel good.  I've had 12 fantastic weeks of solid training out here in NZ.  My mileage and training time is the highest 3 months  ever, across all disciplines, so I just hope the 12 weeks build is enough.

Conditions for tomorrow aren't perfect for speed, with a 20mph SE wind, we will get a headwind on the return leg of the two bike loops, i'm not looking forward to the last 45k back to town much!  The lake here is incredible, it's crystal clear fresh water. But, as we are situated at the north of the lake there will be a bit of a chop with the wind, that said it shouldn't be terrible and with only 1250 competitors it's not like some of the huge Ironman mass swim starts.  The run is also a two lap affair, with some gentle undulations. As we follow the airport road out of town to the South East, at least the last 10k of the run we'll have wind assistance.

There are 162 competitors and 7 World Champs slots up for grabs in the male 30-34 age grouper.  The last three years they have rolled down as follows; 2009 - 9:45.11, 2008 - 9:43.23 and 2007 - 10:05:24, so you'd hope sub 9:30 would be good enough for that golden ticket...  That's a big ask on a slow(er) course but I've got my support crew trained up as 30-34 male spotters and I'll do everything I can to get the slot...

I'm feeling good, the bike and all the bags are checked in and there's nothing to do but relax, eat and drink well and try to get to sleep in good time.  I'll post a note as soon as possible with an update but don't forget you can track results live at (race starts 6pm GMT Friday 5th March).

Thanks for all the kind wishes,  Laurence

Saturday, 13 February 2010

3 weeks to Taupo

So three weeks to go until Taupo (Ironman New Zealand).  It's been a sharp training block this time and I feel good for it.  Arriving in NZ on the 1st Dec I was pretty out of shape, so it's been 10 weeks of decent training to get me up and running again.

I've done slightly more volume in all disciplines than I did in the last 10 weeks coming in to either Arizona or Zurich and until this week I've managed to feel fresh throughout.  This week it's been feeling tough, (maybe something to do with the huge rugby 7's weekend last weekend), but I'm hoping that just means I've done enough and I'm ready.  One more decent week next week, finishing off with a local half marathon on Sunday 21st Feb and then a couple of weeks of taper and I'm off.

I'll be chatting to Dave about the taper, but it seems I don't respond too well to dropping off hugely in the last two weeks, so it'll probably just be a bit less volume and an opportunity for the legs to get fully recovered.  Plus it's now I need to start getting my mind ready.  I've maintained better training discipline than ever before in this block and I'm feeling more confident in my ability than before.  Plus I'm trying not to put a time on my performance expectations.  I'm just keen to get out there, get through the swim and bike without any F ups and start running. 

Taupo looks to be a slow(er) course, with some undulations on the run and a heavy chip surface on the bike, so I'm probably not going to break any records...

But we'll see...

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Tussock Traverse 27k trail run

Last Saturday I ran the Tussock Traverse, something a bit different and a great way to see a new bit of NZ, plus it would be a decent training run! This 27km point-to-point climbs through the dip between two active volcanos in the Tongariro National Park, namely Mt Ruapehu on our left shoulder and Ngaruhoe on our right. 

It was an incredible event and has opened my eyes to how tough trail / fell racers are, no wonder Brownlee is so damn good.

examples of the crazy terrain...

The first 2k were straight up, see pic below for the start line between two flags, I set out at what I thought was a fair pace (just above walking!), by 2k I was around 5th, then we turned off the 4*4 track and it got silly.  Apparently this is a relatively easy course, but I was impossibly slow going down over the scree and rocks.  I got overtaken by 4 or 5 others on the downhill and that was pretty much it for the next 25k.  Push hard when it was flat and I could actually run and take back a few places then lose them on the downhill.

After about 5k I started to get cocky and decided I this was easy, I looked up for a moment, to see how I was doing and promptly fell flat on my face.  It's not like running on the road!

By 20k I was in 4th and I think I just sneaked into 3rd for a few minutes before a local chap from Welly and a 17yr old girl (thankfully she is an amazing up and coming mountain marathon runner in NZ) overtook me heading down towards the finish, I had nothing left and crossed the line in 5th.

Finish time of 2:22 for 27k (5:15k's..) but the most incredible part was an average HR of 174bpm! That's 10k HR for over 2hrs.  No wonder I was ruined.  It was one of those finishes where you collapse, stand, collapse, and then jsut don't know what to do with yourself.  20min later I pulled myself together enough to cheer Leonie and Helen across the line and collapse again onto the grass with a brew and a sausage sizzle - Kiwi's know how to look after their athletes!

Next day I was in Taupo to check out the IM course and somehow managed a 5hr brick session, including a full lap of the run course (half marathon).  Needless to say this week I've not been running much. 

I guess it can only make me stronger - as it didn't kill me!

Monday, 25 January 2010

2nd at Scorching Bay - Wellington Day Tri

I had a great a local Olympic distance race today. Nice to have no travel stress and to race on home (kind of) roads. I forget how hard it is racing like that short thought, my legs are pretty beat up this evening.

It was another cracking race and mentally much better than last weekend. We had a bit of wind swell in the sea swim and my wetsuit came undone in the first 200m so I had to pause at the first buoy to do it up, I lost maybe 20secs and the back of the 2nd pack, but was really pleased with how I swam after that. I pushed back through the field and came out about 12th, still pretty crap (I certainly swim much better in calm seas), but it was a positive swim. And I learnt to double check my wetsuit zip.

After feeling i'd ridden a little beneath par last weekend I just went out to kill it today. It was a normal Wellington windy day so times were down a bit, but I went from 12th to 3rd on the bike with the fastest split of the day. HR was constant around 155-160 to the end and I was really pleased with the even effort.

Run was a bit of a battle of wills to start with, just getting the turnover going and keeping form, but by the 3rd k I was tapping out 3:50’s and finished with the 2nd fastest run split in 38mins, and 2nd overall. Time wasn’t great at 2:10, but I was pretty pleased to put in solid race in pretty windy conditions.

It seems there are rarely position prizes in New Zealand, but I won a bag of coffee in the spot prize competition, plus it was a free race, given to me for marshalling last month. Sometimes you've really got to love the way they do things out here!

Everything is looking pretty much on track for Taupo. I've a few big weeks now, plenty of time on the bike and some big 5hr tempo rides. This weekend I'm up to Tongiriro for a 27k trail run and then Sunday I'm nipping to taupo for a 1/2 IM simulation on the Ironman course, so I'm be even more beat next Monday.

Below I've thrown up a few pics from Wanaka last weekend. Check out the hot new Human Performance race Team Kit!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Lake Wanaka Half - Crashing Back to Earth

You never stop learning with this sport, yesterday was another tough race and brought my sky-rocketing confidence levels back down to earth with a necessary bump...

(picture of the swim course last night)

Firstly, what an incredible event in a truly breathtaking location. If anyone reading this ever gets the chance to visit or race Wanaka, don't let it slip as this place is stunning and the whole town gets behind the race. The atmosphere for 16+hrs yesterday was exceptional.

I entered the new Lake Wanaka Half event back in the UK before Christmas. Having heard about it last year I pencilled it in as ideal preparation for Ironman New Zealand at Taupo (in 7 weeks). This was the first year they ran a Half event along side the full Challenge Wanaka but the event ran seamlessly so all credit to the Challenge crew.

4 months ago, imagining New Zealand to be a pretty small place I assumed I'd be able to catch a ferry from Wellington to the S.Island and have a simple drive down to Wanaka for the weekend. Turns out it's 3hrs on a ferry and 10hrs driving. So I soon scratched that idea, took a day off work on Friday and flew down early doors to Queenstown. Renting a car I drove the hour over Crown Range and down Cardrona Valley, trying to stop myself being the tourist I am and pulling into every lay-by to take pics...

I got into Wanaka about noon Friday to find this view from my Hotel bedroom window (from my private deck). That'll be transition , the finish line and lake Wanaka on the other side of the road, perfect!

As a 'proper' event we had a full on registration, briefing and bike and bag hand in on the Friday so I got all that sorted, grabbed too much food and hit the sack ready for what was forecast to be a calm, slightly overcast race day.

Race morning came and the weather was awesome, not a cloud in the sky. 6am it was already pleasantly warm, calm and light. Makes a change from UK racing I can tell you.

We'd been advised in the briefing that the lake water temp was not quite 15 degrees and felt a little fresh!! But the reality wasn't anywhere near as bad as the anticipation. The weather being on our side and the very respectable 8:15am start, made it all very bearable.

As I mentioned in my last post I've been swimming a bit better the last few weeks, so I positioned myself on the front of the 250 odd individual racers with the plan to go hard and try to hold onto some good feet. It worked pretty well, the first buoy was a decent way off, so by that turn we'd spread out and I was towards the back of the main pack (with a few driving off the front). I held my own in this group, avoiding my normal fade and apart from a slight lack of concentration at around 20 mins was very happy with my swim. Coming out of the water in 17th and 29mins, not the best of times, but with the fastest only managing a 25mins it seems it was an honest if slightly long swim - I was very happy.

I flew through the bagged T1 (2nd fastest T1 of the day) taking a few places on the way, so was onto the bike course in top 15, or so. Although I could have been anywhere in the top 100 for all I knew as we were mixing up with full Challenge athletes already.

Then things took a slight downwards turn, there was a small climb out of town to start the bike course and I was overtaken by a couple of guys in the first 5mins, my legs just felt weak. I pushed the first 20k and was just about holding my own, but my HR was high, my legs were dying and it didn't feel sustainable. I don't think I can blame the new bike, Mike, Paul and the guys at capital Cycles have done a great job sorting me out there...

...I'm just not where I need to be yet.

The course was tough, there was no let up, rolling and some decent hills, on really slow large stone chip. But it was the same for everyone. I've only been back on the bike since early Dec, so I guess I'm just a bit weak - or maybe Kiwis are just that much better on the bike than us Brits??

(rough stone chip!)

At about 40k I came down a great hill, spinning out in the 53x11 and managed to lose my chain outside my front ring, it then wrapped itself around the rear mech and I had to stop and unhook it, in total I stopped for a minute, but I'd gone from gaining on the guy ahead to losing 2 places. I told myself not to let it get me down and to push it too hard to get back to where I was. But in doing so I think I dropped off the pace, I lost another 5 - 10 places over the last hour and was pretty despondent when I rolled into T2 with a bike split of 2:44 - my worst middle distance bike leg since HIMUK in 2005!

The good news is I came off the bike feeling pretty fresh, I guess because I'd not been riding that hard! Another good transition, this time 3rd fastest of the day. Onto the run and I immediately started cruising through the field. All the eating the day before the race caught up with me and I had to take a pit stop (another minute lost) at 8k, but I was soon back charging through the field. I haven't worked out my position at T2 (I guess low twenties), but I clocked the 3rd fastest half marathon in 1:25 and was really pleased when i heard I'd got myself back up to 10th overall.

I feel like I should have been 10mins quicker on the bike - there is certainly some work to be done there - but it gives me something to concentrate on for the next 7 weeks until Taupo.

Apparently the bike course there isn't quite as tough, surface or hill wise, so 5 hard weeks on the bike and I should be ok.

All in all, an enjoyable trip to a fantastic event and location. A 10th place is ok and lots of lessons learnt to take to Taupo and consider over the next 7 weeks training I'll get proper race pics up shortly, but in the meantime I'm off for a day or so of rest before getting the bike out. A lot.


Thursday, 14 January 2010

Wellington Splash n Dash

Celebrate the small victories!!

6th Overall and 1st in Age Group

Last night I completed my third splash n dash in Wellington (ocean swim and run). The distance of 750m followed by a 3 or 4k run couldn't suit me less - lots of swimming time, no biking and a fast run! The first one I did in December, the night after I arrived in Welly, I struggled home in 11th place in a time of 24:30. Two weeks later on a slightly faster night (there weren't too many white horses) I clocked a 24:25. After a few weeks solid running I'd picked up some pace on the run, but was still disappointed in my swim.

However, a Christmas on the beach (with the wetsuit) and generally putting in the hard yards and my swimming has come on a notch. I was out of the water last night in 7th, a quick transition and I hit the run in 6th. Even with an extra k of running (last night was 750m, 4k) I managed to clock a 26:03. Nearly 2 mins off my swim and T1 time from early December.

The AG group win was nice, and to be 6th behind some Sprint and Olympic specialists is no disgrace . A perfect confidence boaster for the Lake Wanaka Half on Saturday.

I've had a rest day today (treated myself to a massage) and will be heading down to Queenstown and Wanaka first thing tomorrow. The field seems small, with the big guns going long on the full event (Challenge Wanaka), so maybe I can scrap a top 10 or even better!

Will post Sunday / Monday with an update.