Chase 2 Race For Black

Norseman 2016

Chase 2 Race for Black

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Wow where do I start maybe with the race directors opening lines in the Briefing “this is not a race it’s an adventure”

After a few years racing the standard M dot, Outlaw branded long events in 2016 I fancied something different where I wasn’t going to be chasing a a fast time or a Age Group medal. The chase for a Norseman Black Tee fitted this change perfectly and after I got a slot in late 2015 that was the goal for 2016 sorted

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We (me, Em and Steve Beevers (Big English)) arrived in Oslo on the Wednesday and the plan was to stay at my friends Richard Olsson (Big Swedes) house and then drive the course in reverse in his car to Edfjord where the race start is image

 

The Norseman is a point to point race with no nutrition aid stations / toilets etc on the course so you have to be totally self sufficient with a support crew in a car who follow you for the duration of the race and supply you with what you need as you go.

The Swim start is also very different to most triathlons with it starting with a jump from the back of a car ferry at 4:45 am into the darkness of the freezing fjord.

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My swim in my Xterra vendetta and skull cap actually went really well and I came out in the 2nd pack only 4 mins off the front group containing the leaders. Not 1 swimmer went under the hour mark showing this is no easy swim which is marked with a fire in the distance and it’s just a case of head for the flame and yes the water is cold.

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The bike WOW this would take what felt like most of the day . It’s just a hard course hilly, bumpy surfaces, twisty descents and then you throw in the weather wet very wet!! foggy and cold just 4’c . Luckily for me I was on the Paragon cycles Massi crossbow 2 which I have to say performed superbly in the conditions. I have to give special mention to my support crew here they kept my spirits up supplying me with what I wanted when I wanted. They even got me a water bottle full of coffee at one point to get me warm and I’m not even going to talk about what they had to do when I had to stop to go to toilet .image

 

 

 

Into t2 I was a shivering mess and big swede yelled at me full monty so I stripped off for a full kit change in front of everyone. Unfortunately for me after freezing for the last 7.5 hours I wasn’t looking my best so everyone got a good laugh at my expense.

 

Onto the run and once I got warm after a mile I started to feel good again and was cautious not to run too fast so was holding back. 5 miles past with ease with everything going smoothly until the urg came for another toilet stop. I shouted to my caring wife Em i need more socks or tissues she supplied and I dived into a bush again! I then got back into my stride but unfortunately due to my stop a few other athletes had caught me so it was now race time. 3 or 4 of us exchanging positions until the bottom of zombie hill and then this is when the Norseman really starts . imageI heard and read so many reports saying it’s impossible to run all of zombie hill and big swede had said the same. I thought sounds like a decent challenge so steady away 1 short stride after another and I ran/ slow jogged it all the way to the check point at 32.5km passing a few of the bike monsters than had flown past me earlier in the day and they was paying for the massive effort they had put in.image

 

 

 

 

The last part of the race is a surreal feeling as at this point you know you are going to get the famous Black Tee shirt and it’s just a matter of completing the last few miles. But the last few miles are hard you have to run with a rucksack carrying certain items the race directors stipulated beforehand. And also with one of your support crew as a guide mine was Richard Big Swede and his experience in this race was great as he guided me up the mountain trail all the way to the top.

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The finish line was such a relief as I was gone by this point and standing on the Norseman Black Flag at the top was an emotional experience. The last 12 hours had all been worth it for this moment standing on what felt like the top of the world!!!!.

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Your support crew is key in this race and all 3 of mine was absolute super stars. Em just been my Em suffering in the cold all day for me with 2 crazy excited hyper men and then having to walk up and down a stupid mountain herself to support me. Big English talking rubbish to me running up zombie hill keeping my spirits high and dressing me on the bike when he was getting soaked himself. Big Swede a 2 time black finisher of this race and my support runner for the last 10km of the mountain guiding me all the way to the finish and motivating me in his kind mannered Swedish way. (he was more revved up than me I think)image

What did I learn about myself at the Norseman ? That I can suffer in tough conditions and push the bodies boundaries and that I still love racing. I would say maybe not the fittest person does well here but someone with the ability to suffer and endure horrible conditions and fight. Better athletes than me finished lower down in the field but maybe I was able to handle the harsh conditions better. Do I want to do it again? For a few days after it was a No but now I’m starting to think maybe I could possibly in the future push for a top 10 or even higher in this race?

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Finishing 18th overall, 1st GB athlete and getting my Black Tee is right up their as one of my proudest achievements I’d put it along side my AG Gold medal and sub 9

 

 

 

 

imagebig thanks as always to Paragon cycles, Britcon, xterra Wetsuits, Metres to Miles and Stenno for the lend of his Zipps.

until next time keep training and get racing

Steve

Paper article pre race here

Paper article post race here

Nicky Robinson’s Ironman UK

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A lot of you reading this will be aware of my experience last year at the Outlaw, following that I had a choice to make…do I forget my dream or pick myself up and get on with it…I went with the latter!! No way I was going down the outlaw route again so I started looking at Ironman races, didn’t want a sea swim, quite a few races were already sold out so that left Bolton on the list! Ironman stated that there is roughly 5500ft of climbing on the course which made me um and ah but I eventually went with oh balls..Go hard or go home..right?! Online entry opened 1st September so I wrote that in my diary and when 1pm arrived I parted with £420ish of my hard earned pounds. I’d also made the decision at this point that I wasn’t going to tell many people and just get it done, so all the people who asked me over the months what I was doing and I replied with oh no not doing another that’s done, I’m sorry for the white lie but I’m sure you understand! I ticked over and then started base training in November but I knew that I needed and wanted some help so over Christmas I had a chat with Steve Clark from Off that couch fitness and started training under Steves guidance from 1st January, who better to prepare you for ironman than a hugely successful ironman. One of the best things for me was having to upload my training so Steve knew exactly what I’d done or more importantly not done, I missed a bit of training with an existing neck/shoulder injury and then a knee niggle but overall I think my build up went well. I raced Grantham sprint triathlon early in the season which went amazingly, next on the list was Grafman middle distance which didn’t go so well and was a lot harder than I expected but as it turns out was a good build up race. Jane Taylor and I also had a ride over to Bolton to take part in an IM training day organised by Invictus triathlon club, which was so worth while, riding the course set me up a lot better for the day itself there are so many hills, corners, hills, junctions, hills, so I would recommend a recce for anyone considering it. As we edged closed to July the nerves started so I had to keep myself in check, my last long ride was a nightmare of a ride with punctures, holes in tyres and having to be rescued only to find my other bike also had a hole in that tyre…eek What if I have a mechanical on the day etc etc was going round my head, they have strict rules around outside assistance at ironman so technically something like that could mean race over! Anyway September to July went when I blinked and somehow the car was packed and I was on my way to Bolton and I was a mix of being that nervous I could burst into tears and so excited. Everything with ironman is organised really well so I registered, had a look at all the clothes that said ironman on thinking what I’d like to buy and then headed up to the race briefing, lots of first timers (identified by a red race number) and only 12.49% of those taking part were women (come on girls!) I also then stayed for the welcome/pasta party to have my tea, whilst in the ironman bubble you can’t help but become excited they certainly know how to put a good event on. With Bolton there is a split transition so on Saturday I had to rack my bike and bike bag at Pennington flash and then my run bag at the macron stadium, I stayed at the premier inn at the macron which was a bit more expensive than other hotels but was really handy as 5 minutes walk away from the macron stadium. IM give you a recommended time to rack your bike so that not everyone turns up at once, I was early 9-10am but was advised not to rush about and go later if I could so I think it was just gone 10am when I got there. Due to the rain in the few days prior the whole place was a mud bath, I got my bike racked, hung up my bag and went to have a look at the swim start. I could see the turn point in the distance and thought that doesn’t look that far..good sign! I took the opportunity to talk to one of the marshals and he talked me through the whole of the swim and where everything would be that wasn’t yet set up. Slightly concerned about the mud bath but sod the mud I’ve got more than that to be worried about! Getting the car out of Pennington flash was difficult and I got a little stuck a couple of times I felt sorry for the people coming in, you could tell the people who’d done the race before…..they had wellies on! So, back to the macron to rack my run bag and then back to the hotel for an afternoon rest, a huge bowl of pasta for tea and I was set. After the race IM bring your street wear to the finish area and everything else ends up at the Macron and you can collect it the next day so the split transition I didn’t find an issue at all. Got to say I didn’t sleep well Saturday night or even at all, I was booked on the 4am shuttle bus to take me to Pennington flash but I was up, breakfast eaten and ready so I caught the 3.40am bus. We all know that at a race start someone makes time go faster so by the time I’d borrowed someone’s track pump, loaded my bike with my nutrition, checked everything, gone to the toilet a couple of times it was time to get my wetsuit on. I took my time to make sure it was on properly, I was going to be in the water a while and it’s a long day out so it made sense, bumped into Martin and Ciaran had a chat whilst walking to the start pens and left them near the front whilst I walked down to the 1.40 pen. IMUK is a rolling start so you line up with your predicted time and it saves the mass start carnage, it was predicted that all swimmers would be in the water by 6.15am, it was a little after that when I was heading closer and closer to the water to hear someone screaming my name, looking over to see Jane waving at me so after a quick ‘oh my god’ and a hug I was ready. imageThe pros started at 5.55am so some of them were coming round the Australian exit for their second lap as I was getting in. I liked the rolling start it was more relaxed, I could get in and get swimming in my own time in the whole of the swim I only got bashed a couple of times and nothing major so that was good. On my first lap I used the faster swimmers coming past on their second lap to pull me along, tried to draft where I could and just kept a steady pace thinking high elbow, breathe, long, strong, lovely, the plan was a nice easy 1.40-1.50 swim, a wise man had said no point wearing yourself out in the swim so kept this in mind as well. Before I knew it I was getting out, first lap done, look at the watch which said 49 something, yeah nice one just another one to go, heard more shouts and Dave was stood by the swim entrance so smile, thumbs up to show all good and back in, I knew second lap would be slower so it was just a case of nice and strong, sight the buoys well and try not to swim any further than necessary, a lot less swimmers in the water now but I was doing ok, overtaking people, still hanging onto some of the faster ones where I could and then before I knew it I was getting out, quick check of the watch 1.49 yeah that’ll do quick check on how I feel, yep I feel good, nice steady run up to the change tent, few more familiar faces, controlled but fast change and I was heading out to get my bike. The choice here was to run to bike exit without shoes and get feet covered in mud or get my shoes and cleats covered in mud, I choose the latter which again was a good choice as they had a shoe bath (volunteer with power washer blasting the bottom of your shoes) I took the option to have this done and then off I went to more cheers. On the bike course we had a few miles to get on the loops, 2 loops to do and then a fork off to the finish. Out of Pennington flash, start picking people off, nice! My legs felt like lead so I just keep eating and drinking as much as I could, the nutrition didn’t go as well as it should as you don’t get a break with this course it’s either up, down or round corners, the benefits are loads of feed stations and support. I knew sheep house lane wasn’t far away which is the big first climb, round the corner ooh here we go, nice and easy, up, up, up, up, up, half way up the chap in front of me was going that slow he just fell off his bike luckily to the left as I was just about to overtake him, quick shouts of ‘are you ok’ and he was so off I giggled up to the top, athlete support vans were round so they stopped and made sure he was ok too! Nearly to the top and past the fancy dress party, boom done and enjoy the down, swoop, swoop, try and make up some speed. A massive boost here was I knew the course and recognised what gear I needed to be in etc which was such a benefit as some sharp corners then led immediately to a hill. The support on the course was absolutely amazing, Babylon lane was like the Tour de France with people all round you and you cycling up the middle, up hunters hill first time, again the noise and support, lots of people walking but I’m not having any of that, come on Nicky you know that after this there is a huge downhill section, up, up, up and relax. Ok now, back to Rivington and second lap, now let’s get this done, up sheep house, fancy dress party guys and gals running up the hill with me, all going well, approaching the 90 mile mark I’d started doing some calculations knowing there was a cut off soon, now technically you have 10hrs 30 mins for the swim and bike BUT there are time of day cut offs on the bike as well so one of those could bite you on the bum if you are not careful. I’d convinced myself that I had 22 miles to do in 45 minutes..oh no never going to happen..pass marshal who said you are 18 minutes ahead of the cut off…right then no way they’re having me and I was off, up hunters hill again at about 94 miles but no time for slacking. I kept the pressure on, need to be back at the macron stadium for 4.30pm, don’t forget to eat and drink, go, go, go, I overtook so many people on this section and just kept picking them off to help me, a couple of miles to go, round a corner to see Coach Clark stood there, phone in hand I’d imagine working out how much time I had left screaming at me to go, down a hill into transition and boom 7 minutes to spare! Someone did say afterwards that they extended the cut off due to us not all being in the water on time but I wasn’t taking any chances! I think I got my support team a little worried for a minute there! imageNo worries it was all under control! Full change of clothes and most importantly fresh socks and I was running, at this point I knew I was going to be an ironman I had well over 6.5 hrs to do the run. Again it was a run to get to the loops, not loads of support on the first bit, a bit of off road running and a great big hill, onto the loops and wow wow wow check out all this support. I have no idea how many spectators were on the course but it felt like the whole of Bolton had come to support all telling you you’re amazing, 3.5 loops to do all of which took you past the finish line and then back out, I walked the feed stations and the hill but tried to keep a steady run erm..plod again before I knew it and on the last lap, Lincsquad supporters kept popping up at different areas of the course, Steve and Dave accompanied me on the last lap but by this time I know I was going to finish and my time was going to be 15.something. I was going for the finish, time was irrelevant but to finish with a 15 something was an extra bonus. Most people around me at this point are walking I’m not I’m on the glory lap and I’m running to that finish, picking people off, I even ran up the hill, spectators telling me I’m nearly an ironman, past the last feed station, Steve and Dave disappear to the finish line but not before telling me to make sure I have the finish line to myself and not to do a Horner! Round the last corner, the noise was just amazing, quick look no one around me I have the whole finish time and the whole cheers, lincsquad fan club on the left, high 5 the announcer lady (Paul Kaye was on a break – how rude!) arms in the air….NICKY ROBINSON YOU ARE AN IRONMAN…pics.. couple of tears..medal…t shirt..pizza This hasn’t been an easy journey and it’s been an expensive journey..was it worth it??? image

Absolutely I had a blast, I didn’t stop smiling round the whole course, my official pics prove that and I am an ironman! Anyone who has the urge to do an ironman honestly go for it, Bolton was just ace, the people of Bolton just come out in force to support, it’s hilly but ace, ironman reckoned approx 5500ft of climbing on the bike my garmin says 6765ft it’s not easy but then no ironman is ever going to be easy! Well done to Martin and Ciaran who both had an absolute stormer! Thanks have to go to my hubster Scott for supporting me and putting up with me never being in since January, Steve Clark for the coaching and support, everyone who helped with my training especially Jane Taylor and the Lincsquad supporters on the course Dave Hinch, Sue Couch, Sharon Ledgard, Gav Mann and Ric Longcake……seeing people you know just gives the biggest boost!

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Ps entry for next year is open!

Jon Dixon’s Ironman UK

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I entered Ironman UK 2016 in September 2015 after considering what to do after my Open University degree in Engineering had finished, I wanted to do something which would push me, and I thought an Ironman would do that, so I decided to go for it and entered. The usual thoughts of ‘holy crap, what have I done’ entered my mind, but I let Steve Clark, my coach know, following a meeting a plan was hatched.

I decided upon Bolton for the simple reason is that it’s an Ironman branded event, and it’s in this country, I didn’t want to think about the added complexity of racing abroad, so even though it’s a tough course, I thought it suited me being in this country.

The training started fairly well, I had entered a marathon in October 2015, and getting that distance in the legs early days made me feel more comfortable, and the training progressed pretty smoothly, getting in lots of long bikes and long runs, including another marathon in Manchester in April, as well as working on a bit more high intensity running and biking.

Swimming was something that certainly went up a notch during training, I went from doing maybe an hour to an hour and half to over three hours in the pool a week, it was always one of them sessions which was easy to miss when time was short and I never re-arranged a swim, however from booking Ironman I made sure I did nearly every swim session, and it really started to pay dividends.

There were times, when I was in a dark place mentally because of problems I had in my personal life, the focus of my Ironman Training helped a great deal with that, but equally, there were times, when I probably wasn’t a very nice person especially as I approached the race as anxiety and nerves started to creep up, I convinced myself I wouldn’t be able to complete the race, but, Steve gave me a big brick session of a 5:30 ride into a 2:30 run, I did this and felt strong, at that point I started to think I might be able to do this! I had dedicated myself whole heartedly to my training, the pressure of wanting to do myself justice, and not let people down who had helped and supported me started to weigh heavy as I approached the race.

I think mentally, for me personally, not having a particularly strong belief in my abilities, or belief in myself being able to complete something as big as an Ironman was really hard, the training was not only physically tough, but mentally tough too, getting the trainers on to go out running after 6:30 of riding or getting in the pool at 6:30 in the morning, when your tired from running the night before was hard, but, the challenge of that was something I stared to relish, so what if I’m tired, just man up and get on with it! Mixed with times when I felt down, or troubled I stated to relish the thought of a big tough training day, I even saw some of the training sessions as a kind of self-harm, try pushing myself to a physical breaking point, because I felt like that mentally, it helped, and the satisfaction of a good training session helped pull me out of some of the dark places I got myself into.

I had my data from my 9 months of training and as I approached the race I started to mimic the race paces and power figures for race day in preparation, to get used to the level of intensity and to fine tune these numbers.

The taper started, and race day soon approached….

The day before the race, I checked into my hotel based inside the Macron stadium (the race HQ) and registered, got all my kit bags, and went back to my room, and proceeded to double check I had all the kit I needed. I drove to Pennington to rack my bike and cycle bag, scoped out the swim course and looked at the swim / bike out sections. Then it was back to T2 to rack my run bag. The organisation at this point was superb, and I enjoyed chatting to a few competitors both experienced and nervous first timers like me, it was settling, especially with the atmosphere and that we are ‘all in it together’.

The race brief was a great experience and genuinely made me feel proud to be part of the event, and made me feel more comfortable about the day to come. After the brief I headed back to the Hotel who had laid on a pasta meal for athletes, so I had a moderate sized meal, making sure I didn’t over eat before heading back to my room at 6:30, I started to think of the training I had done, the hours-upon-hour I had spent preparing for my big day, just don’t mess it up!

I had been waking up earlier and earlier during the previous two weeks to get accustomed to the 3:00 wake up time I knew I’d have on race day, and surprisingly I put my head down around 7:00 and I managed a good solid sleep before my alarm went off at 3:00. I was surprised I slept well, but very relieved. I had my usual race day breakfast of crumpets with PB & J and dressed before heading to the shuttle bus, I arrived at the swim and it was a bustle of nervous athletes and spectators! Christ, this is big!

After I squeezed into my wetsuit, dropped my white bag off and headed to the self-seed swim start area. I found the section which was 1:10 and as I stood there I found I was surrounded by gold ‘All World Athlete’ swim caps, crap, I must be in the wrong area, but I knew my pace from training, and stuck with it.

And boom, the start, as I walked towards the start my heart was pounding, I was taking deep breaths telling myself to stay calm, and the start approached and I walked into the water, and I was away ‘this is it JD your racing in an ironman!’
The swim was brutal, getting bounced around kicked for the first half lap, I thought it would start to thin out but it didn’t and the whole first lap was hard to find rhythm and as I exited the water for the start of the second lap I was slightly behind the time I wanted but not too far, I walked the shore section to relax and stretch my arms, I couldn’t see the need to rush. I entered the water for the second time and thought I would easily find space, but the second lap was as bad as the first!

I then headed towards T1, along the way, as I walked, again taking my time to make sure I was comfortable, I saw Dave Hinch! What a surprise, a quick hand shake, and a ‘you got this Jon’ from Dave gave me a smile all the way into T1.

Again I took time in T1, the weather was cool, and I wanted to make sure I had dried my feet and had my kit on properly and was 100% happy to head out onto the bike course, it’s a long day I told myself, make sure your happy, a few minutes here wont harm.
I found my bike, and out of T1 I saw another friendly face, brilliant!

I headed onto the bike course and the point-to-point cycle to the start of the laps, right JD drink, picked my water bottle off my bike and dropped it, straight under the back wheel and burst it! Crap, no liquid before the first feed then! I knew where the feed was and I knew I’d be ok for the small amount of time to get there, as long as I started to get stuff in me at the feed.

As I entered the laps and the first climb of the day up Sheep House Lane, I thought what’s all the fuss! I felt comfortable and was happy spinning away, and it was like that for the first lap, the crowd up Sheep House Lane where brilliant, as well as fellow athletes, and as I progressed round the first loop I was feeling fairly comfortable, got to the first feed, picked up two bottles and some energizer bars (which I had been using all through training). The crowd really got into the race and people dressed in costumes and shouting and waving banners, I was loving the atmosphere. Then I got to Hunters Hill, wow, that was hard, steep! The crowd there where again exceptional, riding through a gap as wide as a bike, superb! And the rest of the first loop went smoothly, eating and drinking to plan, only starting to feel a little uncomfortable towards the end of the first lap, watching my heart rate and riding to my power figures I knew I needed from training, it’s all in the plan Jon, don’t change it!

As I entered the second lap, I was starting to struggle, up Sheep House Lane to the top, and I was getting in a bad way, the thought of the marathon now was really starting to feel daunting, and as I rode the last lap, the miles seemed to tick off slower and slower, and I started to feel worse and worse, up Hunters Hill the second time, and the only thing that got me up was the crowd shouting my name and cheering, it was an extraordinary feeling, I saw Dave again through one of the villages (can’t remember which one!) and he asked how I was! I wasn’t good, but he ran alongside and gave me some encouragement, not long now JD just get to T2 and get on your feet, I was starting to get into a dark place, and I kept trying to keep my spirits up, it was hard! I was thinking I’m not going to be able to finish, all that, for what, to bail out during the bike, bloody hell, why does my entire body hurt!!

As I approached T2, downhill thank god, my coach Steve Clark was cheering for me, the end of the bike was in sight and I got off my bike and thought, thank god that’s over, my mood lightened!

In T2 again, I took my time, I wanted to be 100% happy again, and as I left transition a quick stop for a toilet break, good stuff, your hydrating well I thought, and I was on my way.

Wow I feel good!! Looking at my watch 7:30min/mile pace, Christ! Slow down!!!!, again Steve was there with some encouragement and advice, and I settled into my 8:30min/mile pace and started to pass people, I quickly found rhythm and was feeling good.

I turned onto the laps, and hit the first feed stops and again followed my nutrition plan, making sure not to over drink and headed into the town centre to see the finish, ‘that’ll be me soon’ I thought, and headed back out, the hill out of the town centre is brutal, so a fast walk up that, then back running, the route at Bolton is uphill away from town and downhill towards the centre, so I kept telling myself not to worry about the feeling heading away, its uphill! The second lap was the same, I started to get a headache (which isn’t unusual for me), I started to not want to eat or drink, keep getting those gels down you, get some liquid! I must be too warm so tip some water over yourself, keep your bloody rhythm!! I started to slow as I got tired but still felt strong considering! I again saw Dave “Come on Jon this is your thing”, he was right! It gave me some confidence, then into the centre and I saw Gavin Mann, and Ric! Some more friendly faces! Great! Put a smile on my face!

Then coming out of the town centre for the last lap…crap I’m struggling now, keep moving! One more lap, I started a run a mile walk a minute and kept my head down as I headed through the lap band section and towards the far feed station, get to the last feed station I told myself its downhill then! I turned at the end, right, its downhill now, 3miles to go, so I plodded, my running didn’t feel pretty but as I turned into the centre, I just told myself, bloody enjoy this bit, you’ve earnt it, you’re going to finish!!

The crowd at this point where going mad! And I approached the start of the finish chute, and I looked forward, the crowd cheering, I was waved into the finish! I entered the finish chute onto the red carpet, a few high fives along the way, soaking up the atmosphere…..
“Jonathan Dixon, you are an IRONMAN” and I was over the line, hands held high.

Wow!, a mix of emotions, I started to feel emotional, 9 months of training, of upset, of being in a bad mood when things didn’t go well, of being too tired to even sleep after some training sessions, of beating PB after PB in training, of every race being a PB in the lead up, of sacrifice in all areas of life, with friends and family, all with one goal of becoming an Ironman, and I had made it, stood on the red carpet in the centre of Bolton.

With a tears in my eyes but a smile on my face, I had my finisher medal place over my head.

The challenge of my first Ironman was over, that 12:58:39 I spent on that day in July will stay with my forever, the crowds, the dark feeling on the bike when I didn’t think I would finish, the feeling on the run, the crowds everywhere, the cheers as I ran down the finish chute, and the words “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”. I left the finish area and met Steve, without his coaching I wouldn’t have made it, I know I wouldn’t have, it was fitting to see him at the finish of my Ironman journey since he was there at the start.

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And it’s all over, my Ironman training helped me through some dark times mentally and helped with my problems, caused me to fall out with friends now and again, and the way I dedicated myself to this goal for 9 months, and it was over.

But I finish my Ironman journey tougher, mentally tougher and physically tougher, I now know I can dedicate myself to something as daunting as this, sacrifice myself to a goal, and despite the obstacles I came across both mentally and physically I know I can do it, maybe the last 140.6 miles wasn’t the most important thing after all, maybe it was 2551 miles that preceded it, I am not sure, all I know is I am an IRONMAN.

Richard’s Ironman Austria

imageMy Ironman journey started last year, when it seemed a good idea to join a group of Lincsquaders who had signed up for IM Austria. So it became a winter of base training many wet rides and getting into a routine of swimming before work. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to New Zealand in February to do Wanaka 70.3. This gave me a real marker of progress, and realisation that I had a lot more work to do. There was no way could I of done a second lap of that bike route.
Coaching from Steve Clark and a great week in Mallorca tri camp, saw my mileages ramp up as we came into UK race season. I had a great weekend in May in Llanberis competing in the Savage, in typical Welsh weather.
I went out to Austria feeling as prepared as I could be. Nicola and I made a road trip, travelling to Klagenfurt in our camper and setting up our base in the campsite a couple of hundred meters from the IM village and transition. Of course the campsite was full of other athletes, bike envy started early, but it was great to talk to so many other athletes, first timers and multiple IM Austria finishers. I really recommend this site for anyone thinking of doing this in future.
Having arrived on Tuesday before the race, I had plenty of time check out the run and bike routes and enjoy the fantastic swimming in Worthensee. As this event has seen Non Wet suit temperatures in recent years, I only swam in skins, the water was 23 to 24 degrees and amazingly clear.
As race day approached the other Lincsquadders arrived, Steve Clark, Steve Grocock, Gareth Crabb, Steve Dobber, Dave Hinch, Richard Olsen and Rob Woodcock. Supported by our respective partners. Much banter and a sweepstake running to calculate the total cumulative time of us all. It was great to have the experienced Ironmen from the club to get last minute tips from.
After registration, the race briefing, the Irongirls event. Mrs Dobber leading the Lincsquad team to glory on the finish line. It was now time to take bikes to transition. The organisation was amazing, even had young lady to lead me to my transition point. I had a great rack position on the lane with red carpet and almost at the end, so will be easy to find my bike. Run and Bike bags put on the racking. Starting to worry if I had everything I needed, but will have to go back in the morning to top up tyre pressures and put drinks on bike etc.

Race day, the campsite started to come to life about 4:00 am. Determined to stick to my plan, waited until the alarm went off at 4:30, quick shower and pulled on my Lincsquad Tri-suit. Headed off to transition in the early morning light with all the other athletes. You could sense the apprehension and the excitement amongst the other atletes. I returned for a good breakfast and Yorkshire tea, then it was off to the swim start. I was amazingly calm and felt ready. I met Dave and Dobber as we shuffled down the funnel towards the rolling start. Into the water and off. The rolling start, meant I was quickly into clear water and overtaking people very soon. Feeling good I was soon at the first turn buoy after 1.4k, and then another left turn to head towards the Kanal. Swimming directly into the sun, it was really hard to see, there were swimmers going in all directions. Was I going the right way? Should I be following them? I had practised this earlier in the week, so stuck to my own convictions and approached the Kanal straight down the centre. The Kanal is narrow, shallower and churned up. The bun fight removed by the rolling start, was just transferred to the Kanal. I took a left hook to my face, my goggles nearly coming off in the process. Finally pulled out of the water by the marshals and off to transition. A glance at my watch to realise that it had been stopped at 20 minutes! It must have taken a hit in the water, by a stay arm. I had no idea what time my swim was. A quick restart of watch in transition so that I could at least measure bike and run.
The bike route is known to be fast and only a few hills. The definition of “hill” is all relative. East Riding and North Lincs is flat, so after several undulations on really good road surface we arrived at first hill. OK it was not too bad, if they are all like that, I will be fine. I was taking on a bite to eat and drinking every 20 minutes or so. I saw a sign Feedstation 1KM, then a hill. The feedstation was at the top, a gathering of supporters cheered us up. I realised the feedstations were at the top of every hill. So every hill without a feed station, was not actually a hill. End of first lap, 3 hours, happy with that, feeling good. Out for second lap, big cheers from Nicola and the other Lincsquad supporter crew.
10Km into second lap, it started to chuck it down with rain. Feet were quickly soaked and rain splattered glasses quickly got the demons on my back, could I get round in this rain, will it continue for the run….. I started to slow noticeably and the hills of the first lap had become longer and steeper on the second lap. I stopped for a pee and gave myself a talking too. Now more comfortable I headed off for the end of the lap. I had purposely been training with my watch set in KM, as the KM count goes down quicker than miles! Headed down the last straight towards transition, I heard Mrs Dobber shouting, looked up and overshot the dismount line.
So onto the run. Off into unknown territory. It is 4 years since I last ran a marathon. Only 4 x 10k. I set off through the park, quickly into a comfortable pace, but thinking am I going to quick. First 10k done and feeling good beyond the 2nd, shouts of encouragement from each of the other team. I knew I must be gaining on Dave Hinch, but then the wheels fell off. The 3rd 10k was more walk than run, I was overheating and my stomach was churning. As I came back into the Europa park, Nicola and Mrs Dobber gave me shout. “only 2 more park runs”. That made me smile and pick up my feet back into a steady run. Heading off back into Klagenfurt town centre, I clattered the bell in the square on the way through and back. There were so many people cheering and drinking beer in the bars that lined the main street. Cold Beer, only 5k to go. I kept steady, just grabbing water at the feed stations. As the sound of the finish line got closer, it was hard to keep my emotions in check. Turning into the finish, the music pumping, crowd cheering and hearing Richard Anness you are an Ironman gave me the biggest smile on my face ever. Completing in 13:33, was fantastic. Three weeks later, I know I can take some time off that. Just need to decide where.

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Austria x Steve x 2

imageWhilst half the Britcon RaceTeam were dotted around the countryside collecting silverware, Steve Clark and Steve Grocock chose to travel to Klagenfurt in Austria for one of the most talked about Ironman distance triathlon events on the circuit. The venue is breath taking. The turquoise lake to the alpine mountains are like photos straight from the Vontrapp’s ‘Sound of Music’ scrapbook. The smooth tarmac and fast descents attract the best talent on the planet to this full to capacity event. Joining the 3000 competitors is the world’s male Ironman record holder and former female world champion. Such is its popularity, next year’s event had sold out by the next day..
Due to the length of the disciplines 3.8K (2.4 mile) swim, 180Km (112 mile)bike, and 42k (26.2 mile)marathon run, the two Steve’s find training together helps pass the time on their century rides and river swims. So it was no coincidence that even in a field of 3000 athletes, both guys, after 58 mins of swimming in the beautiful turquoise lake were staring at each other in Transition 1 preparing for the 112 mile bike ride to come.

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Now what goes up must come down, so despite the speedy descents there are a number of notable climbs that must be conquered first. The Rupertiberg being the largest of these, twice, as it’s a two lap course. The 2.5 K meandering climb in your lowest gear makes for tough work especially on your Time Trial bike with disc wheel. Now the good bit, the descents. These are quick, you can hit speeds well in excess of 40 mph, more gears would be nice. Despite the 35 degree heat on the days leading up, actual race day had cooled off somewhat even treating us to a downpour. Unfortunately for the last 30 mile of mountain descents the second lap had to be taken rather gingerly not to bin it and ruin the shiny new Britcon tri-suits.

Again, and despite the 112 mile ride around the alpine mountains both local athletes found themselves back in T2 under the 5 hour benchmark and within less than 4 minutes of each other.. Steve Grocock had improved his position from 6th in his age group (45-49 yr) to now 4th place off the bike.
It’s normally at this point where the two guys say farewell. It’s wasn’t long before Clark pegged back the 4 minute deficit and with a few friendly words was on his way toward a 3 hr 18 minute marathon run. Grocock at this point not sharing his team mates enthusiasm and pace for the long run.

Ok, now both guys have had better and faster races but as Ironman regularly reminds us it’s a long day at the office and things can, and do go wrong. Considering this race was considered a ‘B’ race in preparation for Clark’s ‘Norseman’ in August and Grocock’s ‘Hawaii World Champs’ in October then both guys can take pride in their performances despite not appearing at the pointy end of the results.image
Another sub 10 hr milestone for Grocock and a sub 9:30 for Clark was actually better form than the two athletes expected.

Massive thanks to our sponsors Britcon, proud to wear the new tri-suits.

3 Races in 3 weeks For Ben Baugh

Lisbon

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My first age group European championships in Lisbon, which was on the Friday and I arrived at the hotel on Tuesday, giving myself plenty of time to settle in. I registered and racked my bike on Thursday making sure I was well prepared for race day. The setup for the race was brilliant and we were lucky enough to have the transition area under cover, which would have been handy if it was raining, however it did help to keep bike tyres cooler being in the shade.

Race morning brought perfect weather, not too hot and little wind. My race started at 11AM so it’s was a perfect time for me, meaning I could wake up at a normal time and not 4/5 am.

The swim course was fairly technical however I ended up with a pb (10:15), despite having my goggles kicked of at the first turning boy. Coming out the swim, 39th overall in my wave I was ready for the bike leg as I knew it was a fast time trial course. By this point the wind picked up and there was a fairly strong tail wind on the way out. However I didn’t push too hard as this can be a fatal mistake when returning into the head wind. On the return leg I started to pass more people, knowing that my plan was working. I came off the bike in 9th position overall.

On the run my legs felt good coming off the bike, and was on the shoulder of 4th position for my age group.

imageUnfortunately after about 2k, the lack of run training and fitness hit me and my pace started to decrease. I ended up with 6th in my age group, but was happy as I wasn’t run fit.

Lisbon was a great experience and a brilliant weekend for the OffthatCouch Britcon team with Jordan putting in a brilliant performance to take bronze in his age group, despite him recovering from a running injury as well. I would like to say thank you to Steve Clark for keeping me motivated and pushing me and also Britcon for supporting the team.

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Blenheim
I was very excited for this race as it is one of the best triathlon venues in the UK and also my first elite race. I did not know what to expect and set my self a target of not finishing in the last 10.

Is was a great day for a race and a few hours before the before I found out that Alistair Brownlee was racing, bring it on! Lining up in the swim seeing Brownlee In the Corning of my eye was a strange knowing I was in the same race as him. The swim was a fast course with only two turns. As the field was fast it helped me to perform better as I was hanging on the back trying not to get dropped. I manage to complete the swim in 9:50 which was another pb. I got into transform after the long run from the lake and managed to beat a few people out of transition that I exited the water with, which gave me a clear exit of transition.

imageOut on the bike I was on my own for the first 5 minutes. After putting in a big effort I managed to catch a group of around 8 that were about 40-60 seconds a head of me. We worked together through out the bike catching and dropping a few athletes. Coming off the bike I was feeling strong and the bunch ride helping to save my legs by working together.

I had another successful transition and was feeling good on the run, I knew that the course was long and fairly hilly however i felt strong, the first lap I was running well and had none of the athletes who I was cycling with near me. The second lap of the run another athlete over took me and I managed to get on his shoulder and I hung on at his fast pace until the last 500m. I managed to place in the top 30 overall and 5th junior and having one of the strongest races so far.

 
Llandudno

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After riding the bike course the day before I knew that the course would suit me. The picturesque hilly course round the Great Orme was a fantastic route the the triathlon.

After racking the bike on the sea front I was in my wetsuit and ready for a 10:15 start. We entered the sea and it was surprisingly cold as it had been warm over the weekend, it was calm and sunny however there was a warning for jelly fish in the briefing which put a few people off

Coming into transition I could see that there was a group a head of me. I rode straight off and went straight for the climb, I passed most of the people that were ahead on the swim however I carried on and didn’t form a group. At the top of the climb there was another athlete that looked to be going well, we decided to work together and after one lap we thought we were ahead of the race. After two laps of a hard climb and a fast decent I was ready for the run. I came out of transition on my own and I wasn’t 100% sure of my overall position. The run was an out and back along the sea front, I reached the turn point and no one had come past the other way, thinking I must be the leader. Running back down the sea front I was determined not too ease up and ran hard, with a strong crosswind. As I approached the finishing like there were crowds of people either side forming I finishing shoot, which added to the great race and the atmosphere. I managed to cross the line with the Age group win and overall win, which qualified me for the under 20 World Championships in Mexico

 

Jordan’s Exmoor UK 70.3

imageThe 2016 Triathlon tour continues this time another little adventure took me down to Exmoor. A fair drive in UK terms but what a incredible place it is. A place I have never seen anything like before, the only way I can think of describing it is – think ‘The Shire’ in Lord of the Rings and then think bigger hills and the same stunning natural woodland and streams.
I fully well knew the race was basically uphill from the swim exit, a fact well advertised by Ironman in them proudly bragging it being one of the toughest courses on the 70.3 circuit.
Yet on arrival I was still astounded by the terrain I was driving through to Dulverton the village I would stay in.
After arriving on the Thursday the plan was the recce the bike route on Friday. Nipping down to breakfast at my very triathlete accommodating hotel, I met a great bunch of lads from Fogarty Insurance Tri Team. They were Kona (World Championship) level performers, so when asked if I wanted to go around the bike course with them it was a easy decision.
The bike practice proved one thing to me..wow these climbs were awesome! 56miles of continuous up/down, I really couldn’t be happier with what I saw.
With Ironman races you pretty much sort everything on the day before. A 5 mile trip upto Wimbleball lake gave me a view of the rest of our battle ground for Sunday. A walk to the lake (well know for being cold) to have a feel of temperature was positive. 17°c!!! I could live with that, as well as the seemingly great clear water quality.
As for the run course…well. Basically I knew this was going to hurt! Similar to the bike you would be up or down which is hard to get in a continuous rhythm. I got the feeling they were adding in the steepest/longest hills possible just to hurt you even more and add to that ‘World’s toughest’ profile.
The race briefing simple, transitions nothing more than the usual. Time to get back to Dulverton and relax ready for an early start tomorrow.
A plan of a 4am start actually proved no issue, my body was in race mode and before the alarm went I was up and ready to roll.
We planned to get upto Wimbleball lake early due to the narrow lanes understandably causing 1500 people to que for ages before even getting parked up.
Well actually I arrived and basically beat nearly everyone there, first result of the day!
7am the swim would begin. With Ironmans new rolling swim start theory in place I placed myself comfortably in the sub 30min pen highly placed in the field.
7am came, and a 1000+ competitors took a run & dive in the lake. The rolling start makes life much more relaxing, no being battered or washing machine effect today. Possibly starting 100 people back on the line, yet before the 1st turn I found everyone sets off far too fast and I’d only be moving past huge groups.
1k into the swim I had a glance up…this can’t be right! I was in a front group of maybe 5. With just a few fish like swimmers off the front. Exiting the swim I was 9th fastest in 26.53 a great start for a comfortable effort.
Right uphill from here, there was a 500m uphill just to transition!
Onto the bike and what would be the most shall we say entertaining section of my day. Within the first mile you face a big test instantly. A long long climb just to get onto the circuit. The next 10miles after this aren’t bad though, just rolling climbs with fast descents. However it would be here my fun began. 20k in and a ascent that required dropping from the big ring. Oh dear chain gone! Off the bike chain on and go…maybe not. My chain was jammed big time in between the frame and cassette and had looped on the underside into the cassette. A gentle approach proved useless, so force applied I got it unstuck and hooked on.
Straight away I knew things were bad, chain jumping everywhere and noises you just don’t want. Pretty annoyed at this stage I came to the days dangerous/incredibly fast descent, I had no time to waste. Which nearly got the better of me, only very just making the turn at the bottom and clipping every cone in the process (Idiot). A few miles later the toughest sector of climbs were upon me. 1st climb on to little ring, horrendous noises and every doubt in the world my race was over. Half way up and losing the chain again and flying over the bars nearly made my mind up. I had little choice really but to try get to transition. So I set off battling my problems to get there.
Approaching the turn for lap 2 I had determination to at least give it my best go to get around. Ok lap 2 gave me the same constant chain jumping and 3x chain drops including another somersault over the bars. Which then lead to me running 400m with my bike up a 20% climb! I had a lot of comments of sympathy and a few ‘you’re crazy’ shouts whilst running up that hill haha! (I proudly ran past 2 people riding up that hill)
Problems galore, yet I had some confidence in my determination. I couldn’t believe so few people had came past me! Yes my main competition for 1st in age group was now well up the road and unreachable. Yet 2nd 3rd & 4th only caught me with 10k to go whilst I was running up that hill.
My head was filled with thoughts of belief GAME ON! I knew that if I’d limit the losses in that 10k, going onto the run I’d be in good position to chase. End of the bike and I’d still made my target of a sub 3hr bike split despite the hell I’d had..result!
T2 oh what a beautiful sight!!!! Bike racked a few comments of concerns by race marshalls/medical about my blood covered hands, yet shoes were going on and I was out of there.
Straight out of T2 the 1st position was taken, what on earth was he playing at in transition he should’ve been long gone..never mind.image
1st run lap hurt big time, having had no choice but to push big ring in the last 10k of the uphill bike. My legs really struggled to get going on the unbelievably tough hills the run course had early on. Twinges of cramp everywhere and making little ground initially wasn’t what I’d hoped for.
Miles 4/5 however a switch turned, I’d caught 2nd in my age group and moved off ahead. Meeting up with a guy called Tim who would become my new best mate till the finish. We worked together setting a consistent pace and moving up through the field. The miles ticked by and words of encouragement from Tim really kept me in a good head space. I was however feeling better than I believed I would after before struggling towards the end of a 13.1 miles run in a middle distance triathlon.
Lap 3- nearly there. But those horrendous climbs got no easier, only easier by the fact Tim and myself were flying past every man/woman in front of us. With under 2miles to go I began to feel the pace getting harder to hold, Tim just got away that few metres and I was now just holding out for the finish.
As I hit the (triathlon famous) Ironman finish carpet, incredible relief hit me that I’d even been able to get there after my days problems. I enjoyed taking in every moment of that carpet, crossing the line barely able to contain my joy.image
Tim was there waiting, he couldn’t believe I’d made it after seeing me several times struggling on my bike, telling me how well I’d done to be determined enough to finish.
In all honesty I was proud in myself for never giving in and having that belief that I could still pull off something. So 2nd in Age Group and 12th overall in my first Ironman (branded) 70.3 was a huge result.
My run split of 1.24.54 being 5th fastest of the day another positive, this is a horrendously tough run. And I hugely underestimated it despite reading up about how everyone makes that mistake!
Exmoor defeated! Coming home with a nice new IM trophy for the collection.
Would I do it all again..absolutely. Maybe 2017???

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Jordan Skelly’s European Triathlon Championships

imageWell here we are 2016 season is now in full swing. Race reports coming in from all directions and everyone cramming in those extra training hours as ‘A’ races swiftly approach.
For me this post race brief comes after my second high priority race of season for the European Triathlon Championships in Lisbon.
Although winter may have been difficult with not being able to enjoy doing the training I wanted to do. My first couple of races hadn’t gone as bad as I was anticipating..particularly to note a medal in the Duathlon Europeans.
In the weeks upto Lisbon I had began to put a good spell of training together. Granted I wasn’t feeling in as great shape as Geneva last year where I got the bronze medal. But it was a level better than at any point in the last 9months.
Arriving trouble free in Lisbon a week prior to the race I could get cracking on with some exploring. Which to be honest is the main reason I do these events as it combines two of the things I enjoy in travel and racing. image
Fellow Britcon race team mate Ben Baugh was racing on the Friday with myself on the Sunday. Which he proved great company as he had similar plans to myself in the days prior with hitting a few swim sets and the odd run to keep ticking over towards race day.
Ben’s race came first with a solid 6th position in his age group. With next up the Elites with 5x World Champion Javier Gomez winning the title. It as ever seemed a age before my race came but by Sunday I was finally ready to go!
The usual 4 am wake up call was a kind one this time, my body was in race mode and knew what was coming in the next few hours.
Fortunately my hotel was only short walk across to the race to join the long 30min pointless wait stood in a start pen with 80 other athletes in the 1st wave. All mentally preparing for the chaos which would begin in the water as soon as the start horn blasts out.

image With minutes to go we all entered the water- a sea water swim with multiple turn buoys (the point you can soon receive a kick to the face). The horn sounds after several minutes chorus of ‘two steps from hell’ (have a listen, it’s the perfect prerace start build up). For whichever reason my plan of a quiet swim start went to plan. Maybe not the quickest line to swim but I wasn’t having to fight 80 other athletes!
imageExiting a comfortable/quiet swim avoiding drinking too much salt water I was happy with how the first discipline had gone.
Onto the bike we were to be hitting the fast out & back up the motorway for 2x laps with only a dragging incline to contend (26.3miles rather than the usual 40k). During the 1hr 5mins on the bike I was more than happy with my progress, coming across names who I had never been close to in previous races….things must be going well went through my mind. With the second lap to the turn looking positive as I had put time into some good level athletes in the race. Yet most importantly I felt in control.
Then question time came, off the bike into transition for the run. I had no idea how well I would be able to run but knew it’d be more difficult than last year’s best races. Onto the first lap, yes I didn’t feel my fastest but it was proving faster than most people. I’d quickly take maybe 5? positions in the opening 2.5k, encouraged on once passing GB athlete Angus Smith that I was in good position it was time to hunt down the podium! The 4 lap run didn’t pay much favours to me once waves behind entered the laps, you just couldn’t figure out where the competition was. All I knew was nobody had came past me and I was running past pretty much all in front of me.image
The final time entering the MEO Arena for the finish I saw a 1.59.?? Damn it the sub 2hrs wasn’t happening on this course but it was great knowing I’m still close to that level of fitness.
It took sometime before we knew finishing positions, but once posted it was confirmed that I’d have repeated the Bronze medal from last year. Which makes a not too bad record at these age group races with hopefully more progress to come.
It was once again another great event with the GBR team in Lisbon and as always I’ve enjoyed meeting up with people you only see at these events 2-3 times a year.
Now having pre qualified for Kitzbuhel-Austria 2017 (now that’s a location to race) I look forward to seeing you all again there.
For any of you aiming to represent GB at these races – GO FOR IT. The whole build up and big race feel at these events is worth working for. Some races also seem to have the added location bonus too.

A special mention to Britcon as a new sponsor for me this year I hope this European Bronze medal goes some way to rewarding them for the support they have shown in me.

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Richard Anness 2016 So Far

Triathlon journey 2016 so far.

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I started planning my 2016 training in the Autumn of 2015, as most of have a bit of relax in the run up to Christmas. I entered the Challenge Wanaka 70.3 event in New Zealand  Feb 2016 and IM Austria in June 2016. To give me some discipline and a structured plan together I joined up with Steve Clark at offthatcouch fitness.  Short term plan to get round Wanaka,  then build for Austria.

With support from Nicola we planned our 3 week trip to New Zealand, primarily to see our son, working there and meet an old friend Moira Tarry. The race was planned for our last weekend. Moira has completed multiple Ironman and Challenge events including IM Bolton, IM New Zealand, Challenge Wanaka, Capetown and Kona!  Even after recovering from Cancer, completing chemo in November I knew I would have my work cut out to beat her.  Our competitive rivalry goes back 30 years!

Swimming was always my weakest discipline, Steve and I worked on this first, I saw big improvements quite quickly in technique, but still needed swim fitness over distance, which has come following the planned sessions. This really helped as I amazed myself with a big PB in the swim leg in Wanaka, in what was the roughest lake I have ever swam. The bike leg was really hard with many hills and a strong headwind, it was amazing scenery. I will admit to having to enjoy the view a few times.  I knew I did not have much left for the run, which is mostly a trail run round the lake and through woods.  I faded badly in the last couple of miles. Lessons learned, need more bike miles and plan better nutrition strategy on the route.   I did beat Moira, but I have to say her journey to the start line was much tougher.

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After returning from New Zealand, a few weeks at home, with the weather starting to improve, started picking up the mileage on the bike. Long weekend rides with the Goole Roadies, plus turbo sessions.

Then it was off to Majorca for Tri camp. I really saw how much I had improved in all disciplines in the past 12 months. The bay was admittedly much calmer this year, but I had more confidence in the water and the cone run was great fun rather than a challenge.  As for going up hills so much more comfortable improved pace. Going downhill, well let’s just say self-preservation kicks in too soon.  Sa Collabra was really enjoyable this year, riding with Stephen Cannings, Dan Ellis, Graham Cowan, we pushed each other up.

12987000_10154307681844349_5093577662937443967_n6149_10154231560924349_4467397370761106528_nWith work I travel around the country, so getting swimming and bike rides during the week has been really hard but myself, Clarky, Hinchy and Crabby did manage to get a tough day in the Peaks a few weeks back (Holme Moss Pic above). I have managed to get swims in the London Olympic pool.  Getting used to 50 meter pool with some of the countries elite swimmers in the higher number lanes was inspiring.  I even had a chat with Tom Daley preparing for his diving session.

The last few weeks has seen competition start.  North Lincs half marathon first, a massive 4 minute PB finishing in 1:39.   Last weekend the Slateman, always an event to get the season off to a challenge. This year I entered the savage, sprint on Saturday followed by long distance on Sunday.  Good test of stamina to compete on consecutive days.  The weather was, Welsh…., all seasons in one day.  A very wet and windy bike ride on Saturday.  A very wet start on Sunday, but the reward of a tail wind down the Ogwen valley and fantastic views of Tryfan and the Glyydrs. The run up the quarries has in previous years been a brisk walk, this year it was a slow run. I am not sure there was any speed difference, but it felt good as I was overtaking people.  Another great time 3:35,  which is 10 minutes quicker than last year, when the swim was cut to 500meters and a massive 30+ minutes quicker than the year before.

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So with 4 weeks to go to Austria. One more race the Leeds ITU Olympic distance, just for fun.

A couple more 100+ bike rides and long weekend runs, then our road trip to Austria begins. I am beginning to get nervous, but know I will get round. I have kept to the plan as much as work has allowed had to switch sessions around a bit but I know without it, I will have not seen my swim, bike run times improve.

Gold for Skelly

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A new season fresh targets but a similar goal to be the best I can be. Last year was most certainly quite a experience, achieving a far greater level of performance than I was realistically expecting.

That being said there were still many weaknesses to address in my race, which gave the platform for motivation during the dark winter months.
Not always do your plans go quite as you hope though.. with a difficult period from September-March where through injury I had a long spell of either no running or failure in attempting to do so.
Thankfully since getting into this sport I’ve surrounded myself with people of great knowledge to solve such issues. And I have to thank Andy Coulson for what work he has done with me to help resolve my pain. Even if the problem isn’t his specific area he gave me contact to who can solve the source of pain.
Unfortunately due to these issues I couldn’t start my season as originally planned. Missing several races I hoped to compete in but couldn’t risk further damage before the ‘A’ races came.
Finally a break through in March came by a visit to Riverside Clinic (Osteopath) from Andy’s recommendation. And within a few weeks I felt I could complete a race even if not going at my ‘best effort’.
Cardiff Half Marathon was a race on my list with its World Championship status this year. With the aim to just run at ease without risk I have to say it was to my delight to hit the finish through the torrential rain in 1.15.16. A new PB of over 2mins without really testing myself and not really being able to run for 6 months… I wasn’t complaining!!
Confidence taken from Cardiff I knew in a few weeks even if not at my best, I’d go to Germany for the European Duathlon Championships able to still manage a respectable time.
In going to Kalkar, Germany I would be missing the Mallorca training camp my Offthatcouchfitness coach runs. Which was a shame as it’s the best fun I’ve ever had out on the bike in those mountains. But representing GB/having a crack at the podium had a good appeal to me.
After a day of travel on the team coach to Germany it would be safe to say the venue was no Mallorca. Or even comparable to my last European race in Geneva by any stretch. A converted power plant into a ‘theme park’ set a peculiar scene.
Pre race day mostly consisted of a load of meeting new faces amongst your team mates. As well as course bike/run recce & testing the wind across the vastly flat course. And of course the usual contradictory race briefing.
So bike racked, race number 142 attached to all the appropriate areas and it was soon time to get things going.
My race had a nice 10.30 start (we need more of these) which would then lead to a 10k run 40k bike 5k run.
If pre season had gone to plan I would aim to hit this race in top form but this time there were more questions about my fitness than I was used to.
Regardless to that my aim was simple suffer as smartly as possible to cross the line in the best time I could.
The 1st run was comfortable and for my level of effort a 33.57 apparently ‘long’ 10k was a good start point. Although I have no idea of my time split in the race as I wear no watches.
1st run so far so good, coming in 3rd overall with good gaps into the field behind.
Onto the bike and my new machine a Giant Trinity courtesy of Giant store Lincoln was running perfectly. 90% of this course was perfect tarmac with only in the park a questionable light cobble like surface where most of your turns would be.
The 4lap bike gave me a good view of the competition and although I’ll admit my biking ability won’t give the fastest splits a worry. It was a peculiar sight to see that no one was really claiming any time back. A 40k solo ride with a few twinges of cramp and I would still come in with a split of 1hr 34secs.
Hitting the 5k with a lead over my age group was always going to be hugely in my favour. Even with my form feeling awful without having trained at this intensity much recently. The last 5k was still the 3rd fastest split of the day in 17.47.
I would cross the finish line to the finish commentary announcing ‘Jordan Skelly you are a European Champion’. Those few seconds right there are the moments that hours of hitting the tarmac training go into. It’s a feeling you can’t get enough of!
The evening medal ceremony was another feeling I could get very used to. Stepping up onto the podium to a vast roar from the GB team to collect a Gold medal with cameras and lights pointing at you in all directions, it’s simply a incredible moment I’ll remember for a long time.
A Gold medal in my age group, 6th overall and fastest GB athlete…not a bad result without being at my best level.
So now looking forward it’s onto Lisbon and another European Championships I’ll look forward to enjoying.
Especially now I know that even without the ideal training, Steve has managed to keep me in good shape and fairly strong through my winters training.IMG_20160415_185937