Category Archives: funny
With just over 2 weeks until my ‘A’ race of 2014, the European Long distance Championships at Challenge Almere, I have acquired my first injury of the year. It’s depressing as hell, a real blow mentally and obviously physically. My right foot is struggling after a long 16 mile run on the Northern Irish coast, which was undulating and windy. I am due to rest and recover and see my physio and coach Paul Savage for treatment this Friday in the hope to turn this around quickly. I can take comfort from a great block of run training in the bag, so as long as I can avoid aggravating it further I will hopefully carry my base fitness over this next fortnight.
The moodiness I’ve felt since has brought me on to another point, which I am guilty of neglecting and selfishly putting to the back of my mind. The affect on my girlfriend Lynsey around this recent set back and how I then act and behave.
I think having my ‘A’ race so late in the year this time around has just dragged on a little too long. Training has been high volume and hard on my body. I have set a self imposed drinking ban 3 months out from the race and most of my weekends have revolved around long rides and brick session that take up a lot of time. It hit home when Lyns said in conversation that she is looking forward to going out for dinner and sharing a bottle of wine again. Something we take for granted and the fact that she has noticed that this fundamental part of our relationship has not happened for a while made me feel like I have let her down a bit and not given her the attention she deserves.
She is so good at letting me get on with things and understands how important training and this race is to me. She recently turned 30 and we hired a big cottage for 25 of her friends to party over two nights – I didn’t drink but I still had a good time. Then in Northern Ireland we went back to see her family and friends where again I can’t drink but still had a good time. It gets on me too, constantly answering questions as to why and how I can cope without drinking from her pissed up friends. It’s a like being pregnant – moody, sober and craving cake.
I’ve taken annual leave days to fit in training, something I should be using with Lyns. I go to bed early, leave her up on her own and I get moody when I don’t. It’s difficult to talk about training with anyone apart from my coach Paul as Lyns doesn’t really understand the regime and how I’m feeling about sessions and although she tries to answer my anxieties and worries as best she can, it’s difficult to turn our dinner time conversations into training as well. I’d hate to think that my boring lifestyle has held her back from doing things and going places or seeing people and having nights out. It’s important to make time for her.
I think the tipping point will have been when I shaved my legs, something Lyns was dead against. I still did it and she wasn’t happy! Listen to her reaction above when I recorded it and played it out on my radio show the following day!
I’m just ready to race now and feel training has gone on 4 weeks too long this year. I’m ready to get it out of the way and enjoy that dinner and drink with my girl. Spend some time, money and attention on her now rather than swim, bike, run which it has been for the majority of the year.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
I spent last week on secondment at a radio station in London – LBC. I was working on the Breakfast Show with Nick Ferrari, a similar role I do at Capital FM.
Although LBC is a talk radio station, the premise of producing a radio show is to find something to talk about. The difference between a good and a great show is what and how you talk about that subject.
I last posted about how things around training fall in line with quality training and this is applicable to taking all the things I did at LBC back into my current role.
I’ve been producing breakfast at Capital for 5 years and a change of scenery was good for my professional work also for my Iron distance training.
I didn’t take my bike down with me to London so I had a week concentrating on running and swimming on alternate days. I explored london on my runs, even tripped over Russell Brands German Shepherd while he was out walking in Victoria Park.
It put a bit of impetus back into my training that made me re-fall in love with running again. Although I am still a nerd with numbers and HR, it was good just be somewhere different although I was doing the same thing.
I did think I was having a stinker of a day in the pool. I found a nice local authority leisure centre on Marshall Street in Soho, but it wasn’t until a few sets in I realised it was a 33m pool and my times were off because of the extra distance, not just the treacle water of the big smoke!
It was a great week to be working at LBC. I was involved in a phone in with Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and also covered the breaking news of Nelson Mandela’s death.
I maybe had a couple of extra pints and over indulged slightly in the food, but I was seeing some old friends so I let myself off & knocked up my signature chicken curry as a thanks to the guys I was staying with for the week.
Now being back into my usual work and usual training it has hit the reset button and given me a nice little bump going into Christmas. Being a triathlete, it is good to have two or even just one back up sports to continue to train in while it’s not possible to do the other one or two. When my knee forced me into a break from running last year I was able to concentrate and make real progress in my swimming. This week is similar having a break from the bike and pushing some real good run training. Triathlon means there is always something you can be doing in the meantime.
Same as producing a radio show, we need to fill the air time with high quality content like we need to fill our training time with quality sessions. We can get on the turbo and do the session we are meant to be doing, but we might as well not bother if we are just going the motions. Every show, every session needs to be worth it considering the limited time we find to train it might as well be the best it can be. There is nothing worse than finishing a session knowing you let yourself off a little bit. It can feel like a long wait until you get to make amends.
Does radio and Iron distance training go hand in hand? A tedious link and who cares, lets just watch that bumbling man from Eton one more time.
Race Date: 06/10/13
Race Type: Marathon
Performance: Mixed 6/10
On 6th October I toed the line at the MBNA Chester Marathon. It’s fair to say my involvement in the marathon was somewhat slap dash.
Why did I even do it, 8 weeks after doing Ironman UK? A friend of mine was running in the event on his own and suggested I join him – he dropped out in the week leading up to the race which kinda pee’d me off a bit. I was turning 30 in the middle of October and wanted to get a sub-4hour marathon on my CV before that milestone age marker. Finally my missus had gone to visit a friend in Australia and do a bit of travelling for 5 weeks! So why not, £40, whats to lose? As it turned out, quite a lot of water and a handful of dignity.
Chester Marathon was billed as fast and flat course. It was not flat. Long gradual climbs dotted around the course culminating in a killer of a hill at the 20 mile mark. Other than the shock of the inclines, the course was beautiful and took in a fantastic loop of the countryside and the old city of Chester itself. It started and finished at Chester Racecourse, which also meant from the off, the dew on the grass had given me wet feet for the next 4 hours.
5 weeks training wasn’t the ideal prep. I had to carefully, but fairly quickly build back up the mileage. Starting out at 10 miles, then 12, 14 and 15 mile long runs with a couple of shorted tempo runs to keep the legs firing. I soon realised I’d taken on too much, but the mentality of just completing Ironman UK made this feel like it ‘Anything really was Possible’* and I’d just done one of these marathon things and felt fine.
Chester Marathon was the first time I have taken myself to the breaking point. I ran really well up to 30k, knocking out 20 miles all at 8min per mile and felt great. I was on for a 3hr 28min time until I went bang.
My stomach locked and I could barely take a breath. I just made a weird groaning noise instead. I began to slowly shutdown and limped another mile here and another mile there.
My legs stopped picking up my feet. My vision began to blur and my hearing went a bit funny. A bit like when someone is talking to you and you have headphones in. Like walking past a club or a bar with music playing, muffled and unclear. It was a very strange feeling and one that I’d never experienced before.
I still had around 5k to go. My mind went haywire. I saw a brown tourist sign saying ‘River Trips’ and I argued with myself that we were running along the River Dee, not The River Trips. I’d never heard of the River Trips in any Geography lesson. I couldn’t compute the simplest of things. I was going bonkers with myself.
My splits looked like 10k – 48 mins, 2nd 10k at 49 mins, 3rd 10 at 48 mins and my final 10k home was 1hr 20mins! Yes I did hit my sub 4 hour marathon goal, but I did it the hard way. My folks even decided to take a day out to watch, but they were left waiting while I got some water and a sit down with the fabulous medical crew.
The keys to my downfall: Not enough water, not enough training, too hard too fast. Schoolboy errors and nothing new. I’d put so much emphasis on IMUK that every avenue was covered, no stone left unturned in the lead up & I wasn’t going to deviate from what training had taught me. Chester however, I was far too blaze and lax, not giving the event the respect it deserved and I paid for it.
I was all over the place. But in a sadistic kind of way it felt good to come through it. I’d taken myself beyond breaking point and still managed to keep going. I proved to myself that I can still survive when I’m at my lowest and things around me are starting to shut down. There was no way I wasn’t going to finish and if I can take anything away from that event it was that I can overcome a losing battle with myself and come out the other side.
Exciting news has been circling the Manchester cycle scene recently. Firstly, the Tour De France swings by our region in 2014 and it was funny to see how Rochdale can claim such ownership of the tour as it passes through less than 1k! Fair enough, it geographically does enter the area but come on – for a few meters? The article is on Manchester Evening News and I love being local! The 2014 route does look great and it will be nice to say you have ridden parts of the Tour’s course.
Secondly there is a rumour doing the rounds that Tour De France winner and Olympic gold medalist Bradley Wiggins will be opening a coffee shop in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. This would be cool. A bespoke cafe that would be a hub for all cycling and coffee drinkers – whether they fancy a skiddy latte or a ped-earl grey, it will be great to have an independently run coffee shop, even if its just to meet up and watch the Tea De France every summer. Glad I got that out of my system.
Finally, a bit of a funny clip I came across that went viral after the Oprah Lance interview – Lance Armstrong knowing all the words to Radiohead’s ‘Creep’. Brilliant.