Monthly Archives: April 2014

Race Report: Newby Hall Duathlon 2014

Race Date: 13/04/14

Race Type: Standard Distance Duathlon

Result: 11th AG

Performance: Satisfied 7/10

My first standard distance duathlon – Run 10k / Bike 40k / Run 5k – and as art of the England National Championship, organised by Function Fitness Events. This was telling with a very strong field and some big performances across the age groups.

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A flat and fast course around the beautiful Newby Hall near Ripon in North Yorkshire, with the run route taking on a small stint on the trails and gravel path around the grounds. A tight, narrow but nearly fully closed bike route was windy and exposed but made for a fast pace.

Run 1 – 43:17

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I set off with the pace of around 7:10 minute miles in mind. I held this and stuck to the plan to bring home a solid 10k, actually my second best ever time over the distance in all competitions. I was warm and had thought I’d over-dressed slightly, but this was to be levelled out come the bike leg!

I felt I still had something in the tank at the end of the run, and had watched the field run ahead, ending the leg in 111th.

Bike – 1:13:47

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I used elastic bands on my clipped in bike shoes for the first time, something I practised on the park the day before. this worked a treat and I was out on the bike in a good time. I just got my head down and worked my ass off on the bike, not holding back at all. My recent riding and hard turbo sessions had got me psychologically ready to be riding hard for 25 miles. I made up a lot of places on the bike and posted the 42nd best time of the day, holding around 20.5mph average.

It was the first time I’d used my Cole T50 wheels and also my Giro Air Attack in competition. I was very happy with these and they certainly made a step up in performance.

Run 2 – 22:19

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Again, I went through transition in a good time and was out on the final lap of the run. I just tried to hang on and see what I had left. It was beginning to hurt and I just had to bring it home. It was good to give myself a good beasting and get some sharpness back  that you can only really achieve in a race situation. You will work harder under race conditions regardless. I pushed to the end, and took 72nd overall and 11th in my Age Group.

Finish time: 2:20:38

Overall not a bad result considering the strength and depth of the national Age Group field and also pleasing to see my tempo runs paying off alongside a very solid bike leg, which I take most pleasure from.

A nice course, well ran event and perhaps a good early start to my 2014 season.

Triathlon England Race Report – REPORT

Free Photography – PHOTOS

Full Results – RESULTS

Controversial Referee’s Report – REPORT

 

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Referee’s Race Report: Newby Hall Duathlon 2014

Before I begin my personal account of my own day, it is worth noting that the following day of the duathlon the competitors received an e-mail from the event organiser (Functional Fitness) in regard to the referee’s report of the race. I first saw this posted on facebook and was later contacted in the day via e-mail. Bit of an odd one this, as I have never been contacted by the organiser so quickly and in such a bad mood! It did smell a bit of anger and desperation that their hard work had been scrutinised beyond their ideal outcome. A bit needy to ask for us to back him up & bring us into his war with Triathlon England!

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To be 100% honest I didn’t really think about the course being ‘dangerous’ at the time of competing, I just took it for what it was, you have to beat what’s in front of you. There were plenty of potholes on the course. The half road closure was narrow and tight, but I was more concerned about being accidentally caught drafting because it was so tight. I did have to ride outside of the cones on several occasions to over take, but I did this calmly and judged in plenty of time. I checked over my shoulder each time that it was safe for me to go on to the open road. The wind made it trickier in the tight lines.

Where the accident occurred in the race, which is referred to in the report, was in hindsight was probably not very safe on paper. Turning left into narrow on coming traffic was exaggerated by the cross winds, so there was added potential for something to go wrong.

Like I say, at the time of riding, I didn’t feel unsafe or in any danger because of the course. However, this is probably where my own controversy appears. There were some poor riders out there. Before I saw this referee report I was back at my sisters house talking to her about how surprised I was at the poor riding skills on show. I also felt this when I did Ironman UK 2013. I sound like a massive billy big balls here, but perhaps the event organiser underestimated the range of abilities to deem what was safe for some, might not be for others.

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Last minute swerving from a pothole was just down to not looking far enough ahead. Give yourself time to adjust and spot obstacles in advance. Your wheels will thank you and the gradual movement around them carries your speed in a straighter line.

There was a lot of changing line, hopping from one side of the road to the other. Perhaps in search of some shelter from the wind, but very unpredictable for riders coming from behind.

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What I was surprised by is people’s lack of riding knowledge in terms of carrying speed and momentum through a corner. This is basic stuff, ‘The Racing Line’, carrying momentum through a corner. Dad would always say it’s all about how fast you can come out of a corner that will carry you down the next straight. People don’t use apexes. Riding into a corner and taking it as a 90 degree corner rather than as a bend, that flows through, hit the line and get on the gas when you straighten up. This also makes the corner a lot wider and increases the margin for error.

Cattle grids weren’t an issue. There was enough warning in the race briefing to be aware of the inevitable runners/riders on the course at similar times to take into account that this will happen. I felt the course was signposted adequately enough, but when on a stretch on the bike on my own, I did have to have a look round to make sure there was someone else going my way, I wasn’t lost was I?

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I think the referee had a rather large chip on their shoulder to write such a damming report, but I also feel there will be things that the event organiser will amend for future races. It was great event, very beautiful grounds and setting and a flat, fast course that I believe was enjoyed by the majority of participants. It’s a shame this has been the first thing to comment on before my actual personal race report.

At the end of the day, racing of any type will have it’s dangers. There should never be a need to feel you can’t race because you feel the course is too dangerous, you take on what is in front of you. I’ve always viewed my fairly short triathlon experience as a test of myself against a course, a distance or a time. This was no different. You just get your head down and take on the challenges that are arise that day.

I would defiantly do this event again, it is only with hindsight that the safety has been brought into question and taken away from what was actually a fantastic event. Nor do I want to shift the blame on my fellow competitors for the unfortunate accident that happened. I do feel races will bring out that extra animal, that extra 1% that will make you take a corner a bit quicker than you’d usually feel comfortable with, but it also important to ride within your abilities. It’s not just sit on and pedal and the fittest guys wins. A tri bike, on narrow lanes, in a cross wind will be a difficult beast to tame, heightened by the circumstances of a race day red mist.

Play safe kids.

Conquering Snowdon

It was wet. It was windy. It was uphill all the way. What were to expect from climbing a mountain in the UK?

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The missus and I attempted a trip to Snowdon exactly a year ago, but the tourist information told us a recent fatality had closed the mountain route so were unable to go up. That and a bout of food poisoning to the poor dear made for a damp squib of a weekend in Wales. Saying that, I still managed to get some mountain biking in so it wasn’t all bad!

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This year however we conquered it. A total ascent of 1, 007m after we had to park 3 miles away from the start of the official walk. I forgot my waterproof trouser so went up in jeans, my second best pair. The chafe was gut wrenching. My climbing shoes hadn’t been worn for a year so the blisters were excruciating. But it was beautiful. The mist and sheet rain added an extra element to overcome which made it even more satisfying to power on through.

I was surprised how busy the walk was. Pletny of people out, some with dogs and even one chap running up which made me ponder the thought of one day returning to do the same thing. Would the old knees take it? Maybe we’ll find out one day.

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We stayed in a beautiful little cottage in Ysbyty Ifan, about 30 minutes drive from the base of Snowdon. A handful of cottages in a tiny village that has as much mobile phone reception as it did vowels. This turned out to be a good thing as we pulled out the Cranium board game, ample red wine and a boat load of cheese.

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I cycled over to Wales from Warrington. I had originally planned to do Manchester to Wales, but I got hung up at work and delayed my start time so I thought I could buy myself 20 miles and still make it for the arranged time. The afternoon cycle is one huge advantage of working early morning breakfast radio hours.

A gorgeous and hilly route via Chester and into some lovely Welsh landscape, somewhere I defiantly plan on revisiting for a day trip and some tough hill work. A train from Manchester to Betws Y Coed is about £35 and 3 hours, well worth a jaunt out.

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Chuffed to bits to make it up Snowdon, great weekend with the girl and her friends and I didn’t miss a yard of training because of it.

Race Report: Cannock Chase Winter Classic 2014

Race Date: 23/02/14

Race Type: XC MTB

Result: 3rd

Performance: Very happy 8/10

I had done the Cannock Chase Winter Classic (organised by Go Run & Ride) the year before and when I saw it advertised again for 2014 I put my name down as I was itching to be entered for some races of some sort.

I hadn’t ridden the mountain bike for a while, so I went for a quick gentle spin around Clayton Vale just to blow the cobwebs out.

I got to Cannock an hour before the race time and managed to get a little section of the course in for a practice. I just wanted to warm up and check the gears, brakes and everything was all good.

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I positioned myself near the front of the start line so I could avoid the bottle neck traffic in the first corner. From previous racing experience, everyone goes mental at the start, enough to just hold you up when it turns single track and then it can become something of a queue.

I managed to consolidate 3rd position from the first few turns and didn’t lose touch with the leading pair until I hit the deck in the wet rooted wooded section. I took a hit to the ribs at low speed and didn’t really think much of it. I got up and had to rip out some rogue long grass that had been caught around my rear gear cassette. This cost me a few seconds and a couple of positions that I managed to claw back on one of the longer climbs. I was happy about that as it’s usually my climbing that can let me down in these races. I have the ability to go quickly down hill and do better at the more technical parts of the course.

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The 2014 route wasn’t that technical so there was less chance of me to make my usual gains. I think my riding skill comes mainly from the years spent motocross riding and being familiar with the bike being loose and comfortable with being uncomfortable. I tried to initiate a gap to 4th which pulled out enough for me relax and not have to take too many chances.

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I held on for a solid 3rd position, despite me losing some ground towards the end of the race. I had accounted for that which is where the big middle effort came from. I timed it well and was really happy to get a podium and a few pints afterwards.

The only bad news about this race possible came 2 days after. I ran 12 miles on Monday, the day after the race and woke up Tuesday with a severely tight and sore right ITB. Looking back on my history and discussing it with my coach Paul Savage, it can be traced back to running after mountain bike causes ITB issues.

The position of a road bike, TT bike and mountain bike differ quite a lot. I was riding the MTB hard and really pushing it. Then to do a long run the day after may have initiated the problem.

I’ve since, ran and ridden the road bike as usual without any problems to further point the finger at the guilty MTB!

Race Report: Wilsmlow Half Marathon 2014

Race Date: 23/03/13

Race Type: Half Marathon

Result: 1:36:38 (PB)

Performance: Pretty Pretty Pretty good 9/10

Luckily the weather held out for us at the Wilmslow Half Marathon, despite the unpredictable reports in the week leading up to it. Some hail at mile 3 was the worst we went through and that didn’t last too long.

I did Wilmslow Half Marathon 4 years when I ran the furthest I ever had at the time, going round in 1:48:48 as a pretty inexperienced runner. I had 4 pints of cider and a 3 course dinner for a friends 30th the night before. This year I was a very different runner, managing to pace my race perfectly in 1:36:38 with a better than expected performance.

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In training, I have 3 paces – Hard 7min mile / Steady 7:45-8min mile / Easy – 9min mile. Along with my coach Paul Savage we agreed a target pace of 7:30 per mile for the half marathon, after I picked up a rogue ITB niggle two weeks out from the race. I managed to clear this up in time to get a little build of steady miles before the race and put the apprehension of the ITB out of mind.

In the words of Larry David ‘Pretty Pretty Pretty happy’ with 1hr 36min, equating to a pace of 7:22min miles which held consistent throughout the race. An even split, passing through 10k in 45min. I had to dodge a few of the slower runners who positioned themselves up front at the start, so there was some pavement hopping going on and manoeuvring around these guys in the first mile, but I eventually found a rhythm and never deviated from that pace.

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Wilmslow route is lovely, taking in the Cheshire country roads and relatively undulating run, but still a fast course. Not hilly, just a few ups and downs to keep you working. The only issue with the course is the finish. A work road, with puddles, mud and a lot of people. There is not much room for spectators accord to my folks who couldn’t see me. Spectators were dotted around the course in their gravel driveways and Wembley styled lawns – this is Cheshire like I say.

Runners World reviews of the race can be found here & also the full results page here.

For breakfast, I had 2 slices of white toast with peanut butter and then a banana about an hour away from start time. I had a large latte from my new favourite coffee shop in Didsbury – The Deli – and spent a good 30 minutes on the foam roller and going through my usual stretching routine.

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Overall a very satisfying performance and very pleased with my pacing. I felt good at 7:20min miles so just stuck with it. A PB by 12 minutes and a good sign that my running is coming along nicely. Strava upload here.

Another shout out to coach Paul Savage who nailed the event in 74mins. Very impressive run in what is shaping up to be a good season so far for Paul.