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

Jane Taylor ETU Duathlon Championships.

Kalkar 2016

ETU Duathlon Championships.

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The only word for the experience is surreal.  This was because 1) it seemed utterly bizarre to be representing GB to the point where I never really believed it was happening and 2) the setting was so extraordinary.  The GB Hotel and HQ had to be seen to be fully comprehended but had the quality, not exactly of a dream, more of a nightmare. We spent a lot of time hanging about Wunderland and it never lost its strangeness.  Both Suzanne and I had opted for accommodation off site and I think it is to this choice that we owe returning with our sanity largely intact.

The GB support team were terrific and managed to calm us all down after a confusing and contradictory briefing on the Friday.  For instance, at one point we were told wheels had to be UCI compliant which I knew my Zipp 60s were not (I learnt this after the proposed change to Sprint drafting rules). I was glad I’d packed my Campagnolos in case of high wind but was even gladder when I bumped into Joan Lennon (Age Group liaison person) who said it was rubbish and didn’t apply to this competition.

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We joined the official course recce on the bikes Friday morning and attempted to walk the run course in the afternoon when the heavens opened.  After sheltering by a (closed) ice cream kiosk for a while we retreated back into the hotel.  Later Jon and I completed the run route although it wasn’t at all clear where the turn point was.

20160415_180808[1]The parade of nations in Kalkar that evening was blessed with glorious sunshine.  The square filled with Brits quaffing and guzzling.  (Actually, I went and bought a mug from a very beautiful cookery shop. Ever since we had boarded the ferry we had had nothing larger than a thimble to drink out of – unless you wanted alcohol.) 17 nations were represented and we felt very proud to be with our fellow competitors if also slightly hysterical.20160416_203034[1]

Race day dawned but we didn’t bother to see the dawn as is usual with competition days.  The Women’s Sprint was the last of the day and not due to start until 7:15pm!  This was an improvement on the original 7:30pm start.  Concern about the lack of light led to the moving of the start time.  So, a whole day to fester.  Thankfully we had been allowed to register on Friday rather than between 8am and 12noon on race day. Racking was between 1pm and 4pm so Suzanne and I arranged to meet up at 2:45pm.  A slight mishap with the route due to road closures and then we were there in the midst of heated combat.  We arrived just as Mark York completed his magnificent event, finishing 4th in his age group and then saw Jordan Skelly and learnt he had won his age group with a massive lead of 3 minutes!

We racked the bikes in the indoor transition area and looked for ways to pass the time.

Overnight we had become persona non grata in the GB Hotel with fierce frauleins keeping us out. It was only with the help of a team mate that they were persuaded to let me in to see the physio.

At long last it was time to warm up and we found Ruth Wilson on the same mission.  And then the big moment came and we lined up.  Or, as Alan Woodcock described it: “There were all the women jostling to be at the front, elbows out, and there were you two standing lah-di-dah out the back”.  First run was not good with no bounce in my legs even at the very beginning, so grit your teeth and do what you can time.   The second lap was a little better and I vied with “SuperMum” Wilkinson all the way round.  Onto the bike in reasonable shape and off.  Apart from the boil and the chill making my hamstrings tighten as we went along, the bike went quite well.  I left SuperMum behind and overtook quite a few others.  20160416_191407[1]The course was 2 laps, mostly flat and straight with right angle turns and a dubious bit cycling over paving and around cones and barriers in and out of the site.  I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that Suzanne did not pass me on the bike for the first time ever!  Back into transition.  Things seemed to be going ok until I realised I was running with my helmet on!  A marshal took it from me and I was out of the hangar and onto the last lap.  As usual with duathlon it was just keep going, every step is one nearer the finish, and then there was the finish and a great shout.  That was a sweet moment. Mark you were great cheering us on through the runs.

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Suzanne came through shortly after and we were pretty chuffed with ourselves and each other.

We found Ruth who had put in a fantastic performance finishing 4th in her Age Group.  I was 6th in mine about 3 minutes behind the winner I was told (I am now thinking 3 minutes is a tiny margin even though it is more substantial in the Sprint than Jordan’s Standard) and Suzanne 7th in hers so not a bad showing from Lincsquad.

Congratulations to Jordan, Mark and Ruth.

Sam we really missed you and still wish you had been there.

A big, big Thank You to Jon and Rys for being so patient and supportive.

And Suzanne – you were the best race buddy ever!

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Chase 2 Race Your Dream Recipe book is here

Put good fuel in to get good performances out

Click here to get your copy

My idea on nutrition is simple; eat a quality and varied diverse diet from as many fresh, image1 (1)whole foods as possible. It’s nothing new but it amazes me how many people maybe do this or follow a fad diet for 1-2 weeks before they fall back into bad habits. So I’ve decided to put this simple, easy to follow 100 recipes book together to help people eat well, live well and sustain it.

Also in the book I list the supplements I used that helped me on my way to winning my age group Gold medal at the European championships and I recommend what meals to eat in the book on non training/exercising days and what to eat post workout.

As well as the 100 recipes within the book I also offer a guide to hormones, as understanding how hormones work and how our lifestyle choices affect our hormones levels is vital if we want to get the best results possible.

Click here to get your copy

March Fat Loss Challenge

Are you with me???????       IMG_4023So race season is nearly upon us and I also have a Triathlon camp in Mallorca coming up so I’ve decided to try and drop my body fat % to help me hit 2016 lean and ready to race

 

As you may be aware I’ve been working on a nutrition, lifestyle and recipe book for some time and i’m delighted to say the 132 page booklet is now finished. In the book I also talk about what happens to the body when we eat, how hormones effect the body, how insulin spikes make the body react. What to eat on rest days and big training days.
So my challenge is for the whole of March I’m going to commit to my books 100 meals and it’s simply easy to follow rules and get some fat loss results that can be maintained through a lifestyle change and not just a fad diet.

To join me and commit to this challenge where you will have full email and social media support from me all you have to do is purchase my book for just £10 form my shop page here and email me to add you to my March Challenge List below

Challenge On Board List

Steve Clark, Emily Clark, Rachel Crisp, Ben Richardson, Carol Blacker, Ric Longcake, Richard Anness, Emma Watts, Rebecca Urry, Lindsay O’Connor, Chris Bates, Katie Bates, Laura Parker, Darren Scutt, Dan Ellis, Isabel Turkington, Jo Findlay, Wayne Norton, Matt Horsman, Alan Stanworth, Graham Cowan, Darren Scutt, Chris Derzy, Rob Wood, Rachel Bullas, Jane Taylor, Vicki Wilson, Marc Shrimpton, Rob Marshall, Anna Gibbs, Dave Gibbs, Shakey, Ed Lidgett, Andi Croft, Lindsay Croft, Erica Carpeter, Hazel Stevens, Mel Nicholson, Simon Wild, Karen Wild, Gary Baugh, Ali Baugh, Rob Ayton, Sue Couch, Jayne Kenny, Sam Ritson, Scott Barley, Kath Green, Alex Bailey, Gary Horner, Sharon Cotton, Jon Conroy, Nicky Robinson, Clair Dolby, Steve Dolby, Lesley hattersley and Zoe Bainbridge.

Get your Lifestyle Change Book and Join us Now

Off That Couch Fitness Supplements

Supplements shop
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 I’ve been asked so many times “Steve what supplements do you take to help you look after your body” and for years I’ve told people to look after my body I’ve used the following Omega 3,6,9 oils, Glucosamine and Vitamin D3 (Vit D3 since my stress fracture in 2013). I’ve used all the above along with energy drinks, gels and a little whey protein after hard sessions and that’s it. So I’ve decided to have my own made and so I went direct to a few GMP certified manufactures (Good Manufacturing Practice within the UK) and have developed the following products.

Whey Protein plus B vitamins

Endurance athletes tend to focus on carbohydrate intake and pay little, if any, attention to protein. As a result, protein deficiency appears often among endurance athletes, with its inevitable negative effects on performance and health. Serious endurance athletes do need considerable amounts of protein, because maintenance, repair, and growth of lean muscle mass all depend on it, as well as optimum immune system function. Low dietary protein lengthens recovery time, causes muscle weakness, and suppresses the immune system. Chronic protein deficiency will cancel the beneficial effects of your workouts; instead, you will become susceptible to fatigue, lethargy, anemia, and possibly even more severe disorders. Athletes with over training syndrome usually have protein deficiency.

Omega 3 6 9 Fish Oil 

Omega 3,6,9 is recommended for helping to reduce the risk of heart disease. It is also thought to help with pain associated with joint and muscle tension due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties.

Omega 3,6,9 are the most essential fatty acids DHA and EPA are distilled to remove unhealthy, saturated fats, cholesterol and pollutants.

Glucosamine

Glucosamine is naturally produced by the body to support the growth of healthy joint tissue. As we age, it is common for our body’s ability to produce and store Glucosamine to reduce. Excess stress and injury can also cause Glucosamine levels to decline. Therefore, many people find high quality Glucosamine Sulphate tablets to complement a healthy diet and support the body’s natural supply of Glucosamine.

High Strength Glucosamine Sulphate 1000mg is one of the best selling joint supplements in the UK. Each tablet is produced to the highest GMP approved manufacturing standards. To ensure that each tablet is consistently of the highest quality, Glucosamine is combined with low levels of potassium chloride (2KCl). This acts to stabilise the Glucosamine, and has been proven in clinical trials to be the most effective type of Glucosamine in supplement form.

Vitamin D3

Frequently referred to as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D3 is essential for everyday health and well being but it’s not always easy to guarantee your daily dose. Vitamin D3 helps to maintain strong bones and teeth. This is why I was recommended to take it in 2013 when I had my stress fracture in my tibia and I’ve taken it ever since. It’s also known for supporting normal function of the immune system, normal cell division and normal muscle function.

  Get Your Supplements by
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Karen Marklands 1st year in Triathlon

What a difference a year makes!

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Like most, I’ve come to triathlon pretty late in life.  Having tried endless sports different sports from netball, football, volleyball, to gymnastics, diving, climbing even trapeze – I knew triathlon was the one for me from my first bash at it in the Drax Goole Sprint Tri last year. I’ve been hooked from there on in.

I was pretty chuffed with my first attempt – placing 9th female with a time of 1:11:44. Not bad I thought for someone who’d only bought a road bike 8 weeks earlier and still regularly toppled over when trying to stop quickly and not managing to get my feet out the cleats!. 

I was so excited I went the night before to get my race pack and was so glad I did – the set up was nothing like I’d imagined. A really helpful bloke (who I now know to be Steve Dolby –  cheers Steve!) showed me where to rack my bike etc the next morning. I remember thinking how friendly everyone was and a year on that is one of my over-riding impressions of the sport 

In my race goody bag was an Off that couch fitness leaflet and I saw they offered Triathlon coaching.  I thought I would give it a try – I only expected to have a couple of sessions of coaching initially – I thought “how much can there be to learn about swimming; riding; and running?”.  From the very first session I’d answered that question – “Erquite  lot actually!”.  In my training to that point I had only ever gone out and ran, swam, or rode as hard as I could for as long as I could I am sure I would have given up by now had I continued like that – for the boredom if nothing else.

I’ve learnt tons from Steve over the last 12 months – I thought I was a pretty good swimmer anyway but I’ve come on loads with technique training – and the open water sessions made a big difference.  I’ve learnt how different types of training (endurance, interval, hill sessions etc) not only help you build speed and endurance but also mix it up and keep you motivated.  Each week, like a geek!  I eagerly await my training plan for the week – it generally appears in my Training Peaks app on Sunday’s – I then set about matching with my work diary and childcare jiggling stuff around so I can fit it all in.

For extra motivation and a bit of company and coaching I usually head to Scunthorpe a couple of times each month for 1:1 coaching.  

I can’t believe the difference it made – I’ve always been pretty fit but I am now way fitter than I ever been.  By the time of my second triathlon – Grantham Sprint Tri in May this year – I’d knocked a minute and a half of my 5K PB and another 30 seconds off my swim time.  I came 5th female (missed out on 4th by seconds – 1:07:05 – Oh the importance of slick transitions!!!).  I’d also by then tempted my husband into having a go (he too is now hooked!)

Throughout the season I managed to make it down to a few of the Burringham Duathlon sessions – great practice for me as my bike is by far my worst discipline and a really friendly crowd.

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My first open water swim tri was the Lincolnshire Edge Sprint Tri in JulyThe swim seemed to fly by. I couldn’t believe it on exiting the water when Steve announced I was the second female out.  But by the time I was exiting T1 Ruth Wilson was hot on my tail.  As I expected she quickly caught up and came past me on the bike (as ever with encouraging words – thanks Ruth).  I was thinking – come on keep going, don’t let anyone else past and you will finish top 3 female.  But half way on the bike course, I saw plaits ahead!  It spurred me on and I managed to pass the woman who had exited the swim first – I was thinking “OMG I’m second!.  I know my run is pretty strong – but was it strong enough to hold her off?   It was! Wahooo – second female and 1st Age Group (1:32:18).

A couple of weeks later I competed in my local Goole triathlon.  A smaller, very chilled out affair with lots of local support and a river swim in the Derwent. My first female win – and a huge trophy to add to my growing collection!

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Hubby and I then decided to have a bash at the Allerthorpe Olympic Distance Triathlon at the end of July.  We camped overnight – stunning weather.  Swim was awful, 100 people in a wave and I found out what all the fuss was about with swim starts I was punched, kicked and ducked under till spluttering! After losing quite a bit of time getting googles back on – I took the outside edge and played catch up and managed to beat hubby out the water by a few seconds.  I was pleased with my bike leg, I knew the course well and averaged around 20MPH which for me was phenomenal.  The second half of the run was tough but managed a decent top 20.  Reckon I can go under 2 hours 30 next year!

That set up me nicely for my final tri of the year – the Drax Sprint – a year on anniversary of my first tri.   I was over the moon to knock 6mins 13 secs off my time the previous year.  3rd female and 1st in age group (1:05:31).

My final challenge for the season was my first half marathon.  I entered the Bridlington Half a couple of weeks after Drax – having never ran more than 12 miles I was astounded to post a 1:37:44.  That’s it now – Half Ironman next year definitely I’m thinking maybe the Vitruvian – I think a few smallish hills work in my favour!

I’ve loved this year – it has been amazing – and whilst I am hardly knocking on the doors of the elite athletes for me it is an incredible achievement and something I never thought I could do.  

After a couple of weeks of well-earned rest I’m now gearing up for another winter of training ready for next year who knows what difference another year can make?  It’s a tall order, I’m not sure how much more I have left in me but reckon there is more in the tank (especially on the bike!) but if I can make half the improvement this coming year as last year I reckon I will be knocking on the door of GB Age Group Qualifying!  Something to aim for at least! 

November Get Back On It Challenge

November Eating Clean, Training Mean & Getting Lean Challenge

Join me In my November Eating Clean, Training Mean & Getting Lean Challenge

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As my end of season fat month comes to an end this is when I need to get back to some sort of decent training before another short break at Xmas before the real work starts in January. So to keep myself focused I’ve decided to go all November with NO Chocolate and NO Crisps and everyday I’m going to do 60 abdominal exercises and 60 seconds held plank. The 60 60. I’m also going to get in the pool 5 times each week to get my swimming back up to scratch.

Sounds easy but can you do it ?? if so join me for all or some of it ?? (as I know not everyone who reads these emails is a swimmer. Non swimmers can commit to do 5 fitness sessions per week instead)

So far a few have joined me and committed so I’m naming them on here to show they are on board!!!

NO Choc & Crisps November and 60 60 challenge signed up list

Steve Clark, Gary Baugh, Ben Baugh, Marie Wilson, Richard Ogden, Isabel Turkington, Richard Stenton, Neil Buchan, Ben Richardson, Paul Mcewan, John Chambers, Sam Ritson, Chris Gibbs, Lesley Hattersley, Rob Carpenter, Kev Fish, Alexa Fish, Jane Taylor, Daz Sharpe, Lindsay O’Connor, Nicky Robinson, Aiden Grocock, Jordan Skelly, Jacqui Saxon and Hope the Dog

Throughout Nov all those on board keep posting your tips and pics to Off That Couch Fitness’s Facebook and Twitter @offthatcouchfit

Good Luck and time to get Lean

Chase 2 Race The Dream Time Done

Ironman Barcelona 2015

Chase 2 Race The Dream” was my slogan and target for a few years and when I qualified and raced Kona in 2013 that was “Done” and ticked off my list. I then needed a new target and “Chase 2 Race The Dream Time” was created. The target of sub 9 was set and I had two failed attempts in 2014 at Ironman Austria (9:14) and Ironman Copenhagen (9:07) although at the time both were personal bests, the chase was still on.

So when I sat down to plan my races for 2015 I decided to have one real good shot at it. Ironman Barcelona!!! This time I’d make sure I went into it shaped and taped!!. In the build up, I targeted 2 half distance races which both had sea swims as prep for Barca. They both went well. Gold and Euro Champ in my AG in Italy and 2nd in AG at Dublin and a Worlds 70.3 spot bagged for 2016 so both pretty good indicators that in 2015 I was strong.

The cool thing about Barca was that I had my best mate Stenno racing his first ever Ironman (his report here), friends Alex and Richard plus my main training partner Growy (Steve Grocock) (report also to come) who I probably spend as much time with biking as I spend with my wife (ooops).

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Race Day

Age Groupers go off at 08:45 so quite a late start for an Ironman and no need to get up at 3 am as you do for many others.

The Swimbarca 10

A rolling start whilst seeding yourself with similar ability swimmers and then go for it. Swimming as most of you know is probably the discipline I find the least enjoyable. As Barca is a sea swim it’s always in the hands of the gods whether it will be calm or rough. Luckily for us it wasn’t too bad on race day as the 3 days prior it had been horrendous. For a sea swim my plan is always to be out in under 60 mins and I’d  set my Garmin to vibrate every 15 mins. At Barca they have distance markers in the water every 500m so you can keep check on your progress. I rounded the the halfway turn before the 2nd vibration on my Garmin so I knew I was up on time. During the 2nd half of the swim and out of nowhere guess who appears right at the side of me? Bloody Growy! I’m breathing to my right and he’s breathing to his left just like in training. I decided to shout and wave at him, not really sure why as I was only with him on the start line 30 minutes previous?! I should have been more focused on the job but it momentarily took my mind off the swim. The trouble was I started to laugh and took on a mouthful of sea water and Growy just swam off into the distance putting 60 seconds into me during the 2nd half of the swim!!!

Out the water in 58:45

T1

I messed about trying to put compeeds on as I’d been suffering with blisters. Complete waste of time as they wouldn’t stick!

Bike 4 hours 37 mins

Barca’s bike is fast but you have to ride it fast in order for it to be fast if that makes sense? You need to hold an aero tucked position and put constant pressure through the pedals because its so flat. I rode the first 25 miles hard because as I left transition I saw Growy had already come to a stop on the bike and was searching for his water bottle which he had dropped. I had a little chuckle and then focused. The aim was to hold him off until the furthest turn around point on the bike, about 25 miles away. Barca is famous for its big packs, mainly because its so flat. Yes, groups can be large but nothing worse than what I saw in Kona in 2013. I’d also raced Barca previously so I was experienced and almost prepared for this. My plan was simple, overtake! If I couldn’t drop the pack (I tried this repeatedly the previous year only to discover it destroyed my legs for the run) then drop back and ride at the rear but ensure I maintain the legal distance of 10 meters. This is exactly what I did and before I knew it, the bike was done and dusted in 4 hours 37 mins. I’d averaged 24.1 MPH and more importantly, I felt good. I’d been that occupied with keeping my 10 meters the time simply flew.

T2

Groundhog day. Again I messed about trying to attach the compeeds for the blisters and again a complete waste of time!

Run 3 hours 13 mins

barca6For me, this is when the Sub 9 challenge really starts and after a solid swim and bike I’d given myself 3 hours 17 mins to do this. Easy right??? I was initially unsure how to play this…. two choices? I could set off conservatively (slow) and try to hold this pace for the full marathon. Or….. I could bag a fast first half marathon and then just survive for the 2nd half. I went for the second option and ran a fast first half marathon going sub 90 mins and getting in the mix of the race with guys up the road one of which was Alex who went on to finish 3 seconds ahead of me Kudo’s!. After all I’m a racer so lets race. Training Peaks shows I clocked 11 miles all at sub 6:59 pace then another 5 all at sub 7:30 pace (the plan was working). Quick wee stop and now it was survival time and the plan was hardly rocket science, but at least it was a plan “as I say the best plans are simple” . I tried to hold the coat-tails of the fresher runners that were on their first and second laps as I knew they’d be running well. The last 9 miles were tough. Anyone that has done an Ironman knows the last 9 -10 miles are always a struggle so it was just a matter of getting it done and holding a steady pace which I knew would get me under the 9 hours. I was that tired towards the end I couldn’t muster the energy for my usual finish line celebration. But…… as they say, ‘Pain and Suffering is Temporary (Sub 9 for me) lasts forever!!!!!

Sponsors and friends this one is for you

Lastly huge thanks to my wife Emily for the support and suffering she has shared with me on this journey.barca5

Whats the next slogan ?

You will have to check back soon to see!!!

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The Road to Hawaii by Steve Grocock

The road to Hawaii

‘………….and from Great Britain Steve Grocock is going to Hawaii’

I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have remembered Paul Kaye’s words if it wasn’t for a 17 second clip from the wife’s Iphone. The ‘Voice of Ironman’ was actually talking to me! It’s still there on Facebook, the handshakes, the lei (the flowery necklace thing) and the wiggle, which I think I’d have got away with if not for the missus’ prompting! If the clip would have made Youtube I’m sure just me, myself and I, would’ve single handily helped it go viral the following day as I played it almost continually trying to separate the reality from the haziness. The whole experience was surreal, a blur, shell shocked, lost for words… all done to death cliches, but genuine stuff.

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The lei, garland was proof it did happen.

 

Now, obviously the day (after the race) started with beer in the morning. It was also given out free-gratis at the Awards. The day naturally continued with more beer as we partied hard which led nicely into the evening and into the early hours where we thought it’s time to let our hair down a bit with,… a few more beers.

Needless to say alcohol could have been quite a contributing factor toward this kafuffled distinction between fact and fiction….

Rewind to 5 weeks previous…………

The Sundowner Half Ironman was done. The race served as an indicator to my form and although I took the Age group win and got 5th overall I knew I was a long way off Ironman fitness. The run was a staggering struggle, which inevitably led to valuable time being lost resulting in the 3rd and 4th placed athletes passing me in the last few miles of the race, and the latter within view of the finish line, a bitter pill to swallow. Barcelona seemed a million miles away! Like I said the race was an indicator so I knew I had to put some serious miles in during the next month. My son Aiden was the obvious solution for my poor run form and although not really constructive toward his own ‘Sprint tri’ plans the lad encouraged me during several of our double figured runs. This was accompanied with some tough 100 mile rides and long swims in the river with my OTCF team mates and (Ironman Barca comrades)  Stenno and Clarky. They too continued to show encouragement and motivation as we’d all benefit from chasing the same Ironman goal. This was crucial if I was to have any chance of a respectful race in Spain.

My two buddies have always been of a similar swim standard to myself. We’ll normally meet up a few weeks before a race and swim together. This is normally my wake-up call as they always seem to be ‘on it’ that little bit more than me. The run up to this event was no different, and maintaining tradition this was definitely the case a fortnight out from Barca, and exactly the arse-kicking I needed. I knew a swim in the Ancholme every other day should address this but boy, it was getting cold!

Rewind two days previous……………….Race day.

My only criticism with stopping in a hotel before a race are the obvious temptations of the lovely food on display. After weeks of dieting I somehow convinced myself that all food is good and I’ll need those extra calories throughout the day. This happened a few times in the previous days and I even found myself out on the pop one night, such was my poor discipline. Was I really serious about this race?? I wasn’t sandbagging but a major shutdown at work had meant 12 hour working for a couple of months so I genuinely didn’t feel I’d done the hard graft on the road this year and deliberately didn’t give myself any goals. I know how a race can go horribly wrong if your goals aren’t looking like being achieved. Clarky kept trying to pin me down for an expected time but I would only commit to a sub 10 hr goal as I’d cast my mind back to Roth 2 years previous and be reminded of the pain I was in trying to chase such.

With tyres inflated and Portaloos visited it’s now 08:45 and the three of us are still chatting on the beach as we watch the first of the rolling starters hit the sea. Within a minute It’s our turn, the timing chip beeps as we leg it over the sand. Rather an unusually well behaved start by Ironman standards and I’m an instant fan of this rolling idea. My goggles are still in tact and I’m swimming with athletes of similar pace that appear to be able to maintain a straight line. Not sure where the other two are but I knew they wouldn’t be far away. Fortunately the sea was relatively calm compared to the previous days and apart from the swell making sighting of the buoys difficult, things were fine and dandy.

DSC_0258I never look too much into the swim part of an ironman as it’s quite a small percentage of your time compared to the other two. My aim is to go under the hour but more importantly relax and keep well within my limits, making sure I never raise my heartrate to much more than the equivalent of a brisk walk. I was rudely awoken from my daydream just after the turnaround buoy when I passed some little chap screaming and gesturing at me. Now this poor guy was wearing Clarky’s hat and distinctive goggles but where was he going? Why was he going backwards on what seemed like the opposite current to me?

Oh yes! Yes, yes, yes…. get in! Did I laugh? The inside of my wetsuit never dried!

Swim done in 57:41

I’d heard a lot about this bike course as it’s very fast but has also received it’s fair share of criticism for having big pelotons. This got even worse this year as the entries increased to a further 300 athletes.

I think karma came back to bite me as Clarky had the last laugh within the first 400m through the twisty streets of Calella. The first speed bump was a reminder that I hadn’t secured my front water bottle and the second bump was a reminder I hadn’t secured my rear water bottle! Some very good Academy Award acting on Coach Clark’s behalf as he appeared deeply concerned whilst biking past (I think the tears were a little over the top though). Two stops in less than a mile wasn’t part of the plan!

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Everything I’d heard about this ride was true. It was fast! I’d averaged almost 25 mph for the first 25 miles (including the slow 3km section through the town) I’d finally caught up with Clarky who was going like the clappers. The roads were like glass and the towns and coastal cliffs kept the wind from spoiling the fun. There was also packs, as expected. My idea to evade the attention of the motorbike marshals, in hindsight probably wasn’t the best. I found myself constantly overtaking the slower riders and instead of trying to squeeze into a 3-4 metre gap (not that there ever was one) on the inner lane and risk looking like I was wheel hugging I would do big turns at trying to drop the hangers on. This was fine until the very last section of the race where it’s absolutely rammed. The snowballing effect had created a bigger monster and it wasn’t long before I heard the whistles of the draft busters. I could hear the mayhem behind me as guys was getting irate with the officials when being told they’d been penalised.

I’d seen our mate Alex Bradley previously and he’d had to spend 5 minutes in the penalty box, poor lad I’m certain Alex is an honest and strong enough rider not to need the help of others.

Yep you guessed it, I got shown a blue card. I couldn’t even remember what it meant? What the Spanish guy said to me I still have no idea but remonstrating my innocence was only making him shout louder showing me how powerful this man was……………….what a complete jobsworth! I’ve never had much sympathy with people who’ve received drafting penalties in the past but this was now happening to me. An absolute joke!

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The penalty boxes were full of Brits all protesting their innocence, surely a coincidence? Although a read on some of the forums makes you wonder when over half of the travelling 11 chaps from one club and half of our quartet got pinged!

I had to take this on the chin and try not to let it ruin my race, but I still feel sick about it. The organisers need to sort it out somehow as it’s a lottery to whether it’s your day or not!

Back into T2 in 4hrs 43 mins with a 5 minute penalty and still averaging over 24 mph was by no means the end of the world.

T2 could have been better if I’d have remembered to put my comfy running shorts in my bag which I hadn’t realised until emptying both Transition bags to find, that there they were,……… not there!

The Run

I’m not sure if I’m a good enough runner to actually have a plan on the run. There’s not really much point in sticking to a pace because I’m not strong enough to execute it. So my runs always start off at low 7 min/miles and try to keep below 7:30m/m pace for as long as I can. This went well for a measly 4 miles! Unfortunately the extra food I’d scoffed the previous night and that morning had taken their toll. I was grateful for those extra calories as I felt strong throughout the race, but now for the first time ever in a race… It was toilet time.

It was a bit disappointing to see the garmin displaying my average pace had dropped to 7:50 when exiting the porta-loo when it was 07:20 before going in. Oh well, at least now the stomach pains had subsided and I was back in the game. I managed to spy Clarky going the other way and could see by his demeanor he was chasing his sub 9 hr dream and running well. I saw Alex flying too and Rich Powell was thoroughly enjoying himself, but no Rick? Hope he hadn’t had a bad one. The 2nd and 3rd lap had me blowing a bit when you seem so far away from the finish. This is when you look forward to the encouragement of your family and friends who are scattered at several strategic points along the palm tree-lined promenade, their happy faces didn’t disappoint. The fourth and final lap was approaching and I wouldn’t say I picked the pace up but I at least got interested again when I worked out I could beat my previous PB of 9:49. Thankfully I saw Rick in the distance, we had a quick chat and he seemed in good spirits. I knew then he’d be called an Ironman in just a few hours’ time.

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The finish was now in view and I soaked up that last little bit of red carpet. I got my medal and had to be escorted by two boy scouts to a chair, I felt a bit woozy to say the least. It wasn’t long before the cups of soup had me back in the land of the living. My run time (with toilet was 3:45) so I was pretty pleased with that. My overall finishing time was 9hrs 34 mins 12 seconds a new PB by 15 minutes.

It wasn’t until the next day that I studied my times, and I do this a lot, but instead of being content with what I have achieved I find myself saying….but if only!! Kona, with a bit more luck, could have been a reality. Now, this was beyond my wildest dreams before the race as it’s hard to qualify at such fast courses. But I couldn’t help being frustrated at being so near, yet so far!

A trip to the award ceremony to watch Alex collect his 2nd place AG trophy turned out to be the best thing I did.

It was announced that there were 6 slots in my 45-49 yr age group as it was quite heavily populated. I couldn’t help noticing on the results that if it wasn’t for my 5 minute penalty I would have got an automatic slot for Hawaii…….oh well!

This is why I was so shocked to hear my name called when it rolled down to me. You beauty!

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A chance meeting with Harry Wiltshire and Johnny Brownlee in one of Calella’s bars.

Massive thanks and love to my wife for all her support, this could not have been achieved without your support & understanding.  Also big love to my son Aiden Grocock for being the best training partner and also making me laugh.

As always a big thank you to my mate and training partner Coach Clark as your experience and knowledge on anything triathlon is invaluable, appreciated.