Steve G’s Season Kicks Off.

Whilst the Cats away, the mice will play!

In a feeble attempt to keep visitors tuning in to the OTCF website, the Boss has trusted  me with his passwords in the hope I’ll write a little blog whilst my little workhorse is sweating it out in Majorca. I guess he wants to hear about my winter training and early season events. Not really sure why? It’s not as if I’ve just run a sub 3 hour marathon, I haven’t placed highly in the English schoolboys and I definitely haven’t been training and supping coffee in Dubai with Jensen Button like my fellow Race Team members.

I guess he wants an account from a more mature(old) member of the ‘Off that Couch fitness Race Team? One that people living in the real world can relate to, one that juggles work, kids, food, beer and a receding hairline….. and beer. A blog that flies the flag for the middle-aged weekend warrior…………….it’s a clever ploy, I’ll give him that, it makes them look even better.

If anybody has ever read my Ironman Austria or Challenge Roth blog then you’ll know I’m hardly the epitome of a dedicated athlete. I don’t follow any training programmes, don’t understand or simply haven’t got the patience for things like heart rates, training zones, power meter numbers, VO2 and lactic threshold thingamajigs. I know all these things work and respect anybody who has the discipline and professionalism to stick to them. (I think Coach Clark might be regretting this now). My blog won’t give you any state of the art training tips I’m afraid, it really is as simple as …..’Oh, it looks like a good day I might run down the riverbank’….’ It’s looking like rain, so I’ll go for a swim’. Or, ‘I’d like some fish and chips and an ice-cream so I’ll bike to the seaside’. It is very ‘old school’ and I know if I adopted some of the more sensible training regimens I’m sure my time would be far better utilised …………..But, at a possible cost of losing interest and falling out of love with the sport. For the time being at least I’m happy to work hard, play hard. If I fancy a beer or two, crisps and chocolate then I’ll ensure I work them off with a good training session. It’s a very ‘2 steps forward, one step back’ approach and I know the dedicated among you will already be thinking ‘loser’ and switched off to read your Tri 220. But it works for me and allows me to enjoy the sport………………….what was I on about again, oh yes, winter training.

Following a fairly successful 2013 race season I enjoyed a longer than usual ‘fat month’ before doing my normal thing of hitting the long miles on the bike.  Rides of 50 miles with a café stop being the norm. The mild winter meant the rides soon eked out to 70 then 80 and then a handful of 100 mile bike rides but still with the obligatory café stop. These long rides are a must if you’re doing a half or full Ironman event, for me they’re a great way to lose weight. I’ll deliberately not have a breakfast or gel etc. but have an omelette or beans on toast at the café. This works for me and supposedly teaches the body to burn the fat rather than your glycogen store. It doesn’t work for everybody! Push too hard and you’ll bonk before the café and your mates won’t thank you for it. When it comes to a race I’ll use gels, flapjacks etc. which then seems like I’m taking rocket fuel.

Running has again been long steady miles being careful not to push myself too early on in the season. Again, I don’t want to get fed up of running so I’ve deliberately avoided 10K’s, parkruns etc. as I know I would end up targeting them and just hating it. To say swimming has been a slow burner would be an understatement.

Swimming! Every year I say I’m going to maintain my swimming by going at least twice a week, it never happens. I long for the better weather so I can start my open water swimming in the Ancholme. I’ve accepted that unless I’m going to invest 3-4 hours a week into my swimming then I’m not going to get any better. Last minute panic training in May usually gets me back on track.

So after all these long(bike), slow(runs) and non-existent(swim) winter training then why did I find myself entering the East Riding Triathlon sprint? In previous years I’ve started a bit later in the season and had to play catch up so I thought this year I’d start earlier. I suppose I had fond memories of last year’s victory too and thought this would serve as a good test.

The race went better than I thought. The swim, as expected was a good 30 seconds off my normal pace. Sticking 5 min 20 secs down on my entry form was slightly optimistic! The weather was windy and wet so I ditched the disc and deep rim wheels and opted for my clinchers as a safety precaution.  I settled into a good rhythm and made a bit of headway into the ‘Isle of Man Ironman’ champ Daz Sharpe when Biking legend & ex multinational TT champ Kev Dawson powered past. Knowing I’d caught 2 minutes up on Kev’s swim all I had to do was keep him within my sights, ok, not an easy task!!! but I didn’t panic. Well, not until the first bend anyway when I found myself on the other side of the road praying I wasn’t going to hit the deck. That was it for me, I bottled it! I could only watch in awe as the other two crept away seemingly oblivious of the conditions. Don’t get me wrong, I was never going to catch Kev in a month of Sundays but was hoping for a bit more damage limitation.

The run went surprisingly well considering I haven’t done any sprint work, so this kind of made up for my disappointing bike.

Whilst I had my eyes firmly fixed on Dawson and Sharpe some cheeky Barracuda chappy snuck in and beat the lot of us, so 4th place was all I could manage in the end. Despite the poor show on the bike I was only about a minute off my end of season winning time from last year. So I maybe shouldn’t beat myself up as I invariably, like others, get better as the season unfolds.

Several days passed and I found myself at a full to capacity Barton wheelers 10 mile Time Trial (this sport is getting popular). Last year my initial TT was shocking and I was well off the pace, I suppose I expected the same this year. I couldn’t remember my previous times on this course but felt like I was going fairly well, my average being 27.3 mph. It turned out my time was definitely better than I thought and I managed to bag the win whilst beating some good lads who’ve had their fair share of handing me a whupping.

With all my domestiques sunning themselves in Majorca this wasn’t going to be easy. Luckily I managed to find Alex and Andy Bradley no strangers to the OTCF set up. These two are cracking riders but their maintenance is worse than mine. After 7 miles the multitools were employed to two broken seats and posts!! 10 minutes later we were on our way and making good time. Feeling fairly strong I thought Walesby Hill was a good time to bid farewell to my two wingmen as getting to work on time for my afternoon shift was looking dodgy. My breakaway was short-lived as I punctured just 4 miles up the road at the notorious puncture city of Stainton Le Vale! The two brothers pretended to show sympathy as they rode past at speed but must have been thinking, serves you right?  To be fair to them I did rather cockily say I’d catch them up?? 10 minutes later I was back on my way and spent the next 40 miles chasing shadows whilst blowing out of my a**e. The brothers beat me back by a minute or two but, hey, as they say, it’s not a race, just a fun charity  ride 😉

My moving time (and this is where Strava comes in) was 4 hours 50 minutes (20.6 mph average) probably 15 minutes quicker than last year’s effort. Okay the weather was more favourable this year but I do feel that bit stronger at the longer distances than previous years. Hopefully bodes well for a good Ironman year.

Steve Grocock, finally signing out.

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