Sunday, October 21, 2012

2012 Season

First post in along time.  No quite sure why... I guess I had nothing to write about.

The only way to describe season 2012 is - disappointing.  Having ended year 2011 with a time trial PB of 55:52 for 25 miles I had high hopes for 2012 and racing Ironman again.  The preparation started off well and I was in the best shape in January for the time of the year.  We had a week in Lanzarote and I was swimming, riding and running well.

A change of job meant that I was spending a lot of time in Germany during the week, but Helen and I adjusted my training and the preparation was still on track.  The turning point for the worse was a training ride back in he UK in March at a weekend when I got hit by a car.  I hit the deck pretty hard and was out for a while and spent the rest of the day at the A&E.  Fortunately nothing broken except of the bike, which was a write-off.

I returned to training pretty quickly but it should have been obvious that something was very wrong. I was at 50% of my pre-accident levels and wasn't really able to follow the plan anymore.  To make things worse work was busy as I was splitting my time between Germany and the UK.

I run an early season 10M and recorded a new personal worst result and decided not to run the London Marathon and concentrate on getting back to full fitness.  But the fitness was in no hurry to return.  Even a week in Mallorca did not help and was well off the pace at the 70.3 race at the end of the week, coming in 23rd in my age group.

On the first weekend of July I raced Ironman Regensburg, which was a a key race of the season.  I gave it my best shot and had a decent swim and a reasonable bike, but faltered on the run in stiffing heat.  I ended up with a slow time of 10:12 and 24th place in my age group

My last chance of qualification for Ironman Hawaii was Ironman UK in Bolton and usually I go quite well in second Ironman of the year but this time I was struggling on the bike and ended up pulling he plug on the run.

That was also the end of my stint with Helen and PBscience.  I enjoyed the training over the previous 18 months and it' a shame that it ended up with a couple of poor result.

After Bolton I took some time off did a sprint triathlon in Seaford winning my age group and taking second overall again, a sprint at Dorney Lake with a second in my age group and the London Triathlon coming 8th in my age group with a fairly slow 2:17.  The season ended up with a fun run 10k in Nuremberg, close to where I worked all year with another personal worst time.

Hopefully next year will be better.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Madeira 2011

It's been a while since the last post from Mallorca. After a good training camp things have not exactly gone to plan. I've done some early season road races and time trials with pretty average results. I'm reasonably fit, but so far have failed to convert this general fitness into race fitness or any results to speak of.

For the long May bank holiday weekend we were due for a short break to Madeira and I decided to take my time trial bike in an effort to find some race form while enjoying the sunshine.

In the end it turned out to be a nice holiday, but one of the worst places to do any time trial training.

Firstly, the terrain is VERY HILLY. I normally don't mind hills, but there really isn't a flat bit of road in Madeira and the road either goes up or down. And the hills are steep... Generally anythigng less then 10% isn't even considered steep here. With my TT gearing I had to resolve to grinding up the gradients with a cadence that would often drop down to 50rpm and legs screaming of lactic acid. A typical 90 min ride would end up with about 1000 meters of climbing.

The road surface is bad. That's the only way to describe it. Potholes, old uneven tarmac, you name it.

I even managed to find some long stretches of "Belgian cobbles".

There is one road on the South side of the island where there road surface is new and smooth. Unfortunately the majority of this expressway seems to go through tunnels. These range from a couple of hundred meters long to 3km long, with the vast majority being over 1km long. Some have decent lighting, some are dark. One thing for sure - none of them seem safe with trucks going through them at 90km/h.

Finally, the weather. Being so close to Africa and the Canary Islands one would expect the weather to be similar, quite dry, sunny and hot. Nothing further from the truth. It rained on most days (making the roads even more tretcherous with the tarmac not being laid out for the wet conditions) and the temparature was around 16C at sea level. Given that the temparature goes down about 1C for every 100m of altitude climbed it made the mountains at 1400m feel very chilly, particularily if you add the cooling effect of the clouds typically sitting atop these mountains.

All in all it made for an environment not ideally suited to time trial training to say the least. Not surprisingly during our 5-day stay I only spotted one other cyclist on our last day and he looked as out of place as I must have looked on my TT bike.

If you're planning a trip to Madeira and are thinking of bringing your bike with you my advice would be to bring a mountain bike. Or better still, leave the bike at home and enjoy the other attractions the island has to offer.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mallorca - 2011/02

Sadly my first PBscience Mallorca training camp has come to an end. We had great 7 days in the Mallorcan spring sun and I've learned a lot. Mostly about the fact that more isn't always better.

The weather was fabulous for this time of the year - every day it was around 15C and sunny. The camp was organised with military precision and professionalism typical to PBscience but also with enough flexibility to allow for plans to be modified to suit our goals.

We had a group of 15 athletes, all very fit, as our mountain time trial demonstrated, but with some very different goals at different times of the year, which no doubt provided a challenge for our coaches to plan the daily activities to suit everyone. They did a sterling job and I think everybody left the camp on Saturday having fulfilled their camp goals.

The coaches guided us carefully and with a great degree of knowledge and professionalism in the direction that would provide the best return on our time investment in reaching our season's goals, but left the decision to follow these guidelines to us. All decisions have some form of consequences and the time will tell whether we made the right decisions or not - this is all part of the learning process.

Of course there was also a fun element to the camp and some of us provided some additional entertainment in a form of a "washing up in the dishwasher" incident or similar. There was some serious coffee drinking too - after training ;)

Personally I couldn't be happier with the outcome of the camp. I'm leaving stronger than I was when I arrived but also less tired, having been recovering really well - remarkable. The training was less volume orientated but with better quality and a big focus on recovery. My personal favourite day was the "mountain" ride including Col de Soller and Puig Major.

The mountain time trial to Lluc provided some additional excitement...

... and quite a bit of suffering:

As for the numbers, my time trial time was 24:1 and I averaged a 298W. A couple of weeks ago I didn't think this wold have been possible, but the camp was a real eye opener.

I hope better things are yet to come this year.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Lanzarote - 2010/12

Lanzarote is one of our favourite training destinations. It has some great swimming and running facilities at Club la Santa and great bike riding around the island. The area is hilly and always windy and hot which provides challenging conditions all year round.

This year we managed to get away for our trip to Lanzarote for the Christmas period week. Unlike in the previous years I concentrated mainly on cycling with some good riding doing base miles, but trying not to completely destroy myself so early in the season.

My favourite climb is the Tabayesco road to the top of the Haria mountain:

This year I did the climb twice, both times as part of a long ride.

Towards the end of the week I was starting to feel quite strong and the second time up the climb I posted a time of 36 minutes flat averaging 252W. I was happy with that given that it's still very early in the season.

In total I did just over 300 miles over 5 riding days, 10km of swimming over 3 swims, one good run and a few good core conditioning sessions. A good training week.

This time we were staying at a resort in Puerta del Carmen, which was actually very comfortable and located a little bit away from the busy areas with a 3km walk to town. It was nice to be located in a quiet place and be able to get some good rest.

As usual we enjoyed our annual Lanzarote trip. It was so nice to get away from the cold UK weather and spend some time outside in the sun and get some decent training done. We came back relaxed and I'm not even as tired as I've normally been after a training camp so I'm looking forward to another 3 weeks of training at home and then a trip to Majorca.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter training wonderland

We've had quite a bit of snow recently, which made bike riding conditions "challenging" to say the least.

This is how the approach to the top of Box Hill looked like this morning:

And this is the famous 20 minutes queue for the coffee atop:

The coffee and cake tasted so much better today...

Looking forward to some sunshine now.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Helly Hansen Adventure Race

It was such good fun to break up the winter training by doing an event that was "different". And it was different in every way...

It was a team event and we had 2 teams and decided to dress up for the occasion:

I was off in a team with Neil and Chris. The event was in a format of a Run, Bike, Canoe, Bike, Run. The weather was perfect and we decided to take it out hard, while still having a good time:

The Canoe portion admittedly wasn't our strongest discipline:

But we rode our bikes hard and made up time on the mountain bike section despite some "wardrobe malfunctions":

In the end we finished in 13th place out of over 100 teams. We all had great support along the course and at the finish by Alex taking pictures. The event was great fun and we laughed throughout the whole event and for hours afterwards.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winter Training

The winter wonderland has descended upon us making training conditions "challenging"

Upon returning from Mexico I started my winter preparation for next season, concentrating mainly on cycling. In the first week after we got back I had my first "lab test". Needless to say I didn't break any records and the results were fairly disappointing.

Since then things have been getting better and my fitness is slowly improving, but it will be a long winter and it's a slow improvement process.

That's how I'm spending quite a lot of my time at the moment:

Last weekend was the end of my first 3 week block of training and on Saturday I broke my record at enduring the Chinese torture of turbo training by sitting for 3 hours and 10 minutes on the damn thing. That's my reward afterwards:

Otherwise not much to report, other than looking forward to the Christmas break now.