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Kona. I’ve changed…

Admittedly, I’ve been pretty slack on the old blog posts and updates this year. My year was planned during the off-season of 2015 and has been through various amendments! Originally I was registered for Ironman France in early June. When the European Football Championships were announced the travel prices and accommodation prices went sky high. I decided to change my focus to Ironman UK, some 6 weeks later and revisit where my Ironman career began 3 years ago.

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My training went as best as it ever had done. I enjoy the training just as much as the racing. Executing the Ironman race is just putting together all that work and appreciating the process that got you there.

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For me, Ironman UK felt like one hell of a struggle and a long, hot day of racing. As I mention in my race report, the run was survival mode. It wasn’t until after the race when I’d analysed my splits and seen my overall position that I could see how much all the other athletes struggled too and I had actually raced pretty well.

It’s hard to tell what position you’re in during an Ironman, even more so with a rolling start. Having a spotter with updates will struggle to be accurately up to date. It’s all about racing as hard and sensibly as you can against yourself and the course.

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Finishing in 6th place in my age group has made me realise a dream of going to the Big Island and racing at the Ironman World Championships. Some people have had a childhood dream to race the Big Dance and some have spent years trying to qualify. Being at the roll down on Monday made me appreciate how much it means to people that make the cut.

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I’ve raced motocross my entire sporting life and got ok at it. I wanted to race at the highest level I could in that. Dad and I raced some relatively big races, winning Championships, but we weren’t ever going to turn pro or travel with the sport. We loved it and raced as hard as we could every weekend. When I took up Ironman in 2013 I didn’t have a clue what everyone was going on about racing Kona. As I started to learn more about the sport and understand what qualifying for Kona was, I floated the idea with myself that it should ultimately be the aim – become as good as you can. If that is enough to reach the heights of Kona then that’s great.

I think I have a big enough ego to want to aim for the pinnacle of whatever I’m doing. Whether that’s in my working life or sporting life. If I took up guitar I’d want to eventually be good enough to release a hit! I work hard in the background, training everyday and pushing myself as far as I can. As it turned out, Ironman UK came together for me and I was able to realise that goal of Kona qualification.

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It was tough. My coach Paul Savage has been incredible. I went to visit Paul with a sore ITB back in 2012 and since then he has trained me from first timer to Kona qualifier in the space of 3 years. All credit to him and his vast knowledge. I stick to whatever he tells me and knock out the sessions as best I can. I can’t speak highly enough of Paul’s ability to motivate me to new things.

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My partner Lynsey. She has been there since the beginning and it’s a big call to go to Kona for the both of us. We are getting married next year and to be digging into a hefty chunk of money for my sport is hard to justify but she has encouraged me to be the best I can be and I love her for that. Unfortunately Lynsey cannot be with me in Kona due to budgets and also her best friends wedding taking place the same day!

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My parents are amazing. Dad and I love to race, always have done. We are a great team despite all my sports being identified as individual efforts, there is an ever present team behind me regardless. Whatever I decide to do, they never question it, just encourage it. Mum and Dad’s support is never overlooked and they have been at each of my races no matter where it is and they’ve seen me cross every finish line and are such an amazing sight for me.

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It’s been hard to sum up my feelings towards Kona. Everyone is different. Like I say, it’s never been my life long dream, but it has been something that has intrigued me since I came into the sport. I hope that doesn’t sound unappreciative or condescending. Once I set my mind to it, it did become my dream and to have the opportunity to test myself against the very best on the toughest course in the world is something that excites me beyond words. I could not have turned down the slot, I don’t want to resent the decision and be sat watching the race on October 8th knowing I should’ve been there. I need to do this.

Bring it on.

Race Report: Man-Tri Aquathlon(s)

Since doing the first two events of the series, I have since been marshalling at the races. For £10 you get Tuesday night solid field and chip timing. Manchester Tri Club host several events across the year and the Aquathlon series have gone from strength to strength. This year a change of venue to Sale Water Park and high hopes for this race growing into an attractive series for North West racers.

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I had a good first race, charging through the run to make up the lost ground in the swim. The second race I ran I was just coming off the back of a huge training block and I could tell in the legs that this was a tough short and sharp race.

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I didn’t feel it at all and the times are telling by which day I struggled with!

Race Report: Darley Moor Duathlon

29th May Darley Moor Duathlon

Result: 4th / 1st AG

I won an entry to Darley Moor Duathlon after winning my age group at the Macclesfield Off-Road duathlon back in February. I won my age group again at a small local race.

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Well organised and really nice folks at this race. A beautiful smooth be course on the circuit means you can just axe yourself and leave it all out there.

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The run around the circumference of the circuit was really hot and sticky, but I was out ran from a podium place by a very strong club runner. It took a lot out of me to ride hard up to the front and I lost out in the final ¼ mile. Good, fun, local event.

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Race Report: Southport Marine Lake Std Distance Tri

22nd May

Result: 30th / 7th AG – 2:14:41

Swim: 26:31 / Bike: 1:05:23 / Run: 39:29

I always enjoy a solid standard distance race and Southport was a fairly decent day. I really need to pick up my run legs and eek out a few more minutes of speed.

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My bike was solid, on a windy course and the swim is all about damage limitation for me. The officials were particularly power-trippy at this race, it didn’t have a great vibe about it.

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Nice venue for a post-race wander. I was forced to do a post-race wander because the parking is on the course so you aren’t able to leave until the final competitor is off the bike. I’d suggest parking off the recommended area!

 

Race Report: Monster Middle Tri

8th May Monster Middle

Result: 13th– 4:23:34

Swim 35:06 / Bike 2:18:25 / Run 1:28:21

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Really enjoyed this race. Great location and a great value for money race. It worked out to be a perfect tune up for my Ironman. A nice middle distance Tri based in Peterborough around the rowing lake. It was great for spectators as the location is all in one place.

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The bike leg was even fairly nice and I put together a solid day of racing. It was very warm and I’m really happy with my ride and run through the pack to take a good result.

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A long trek for us, but Lynsey and I decided to make a weekend of it and stay over. My folks were also able to join and visit a relative in Peterborough at the same time.

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All round, an event I would defiantly recommend.

 

Triathlon England Blog – June 2015

This blog went up in June when I had started running again and really hammering the hills on the TT bike. The booze had been cut too!

June 2015:

Finally I’m back running and even tentatively competing! After an extended time away from running I’ve worked really hard to become a better swimmer and rider which has paid dividends – lots of climbing on the TT bike to try and over-compensate for the hills that I’ll face at Challenge Weymouth in around 10 weeks time. Killer turbo sessions mixed with some long 100-mile tests and threshold 10-mile TT’s have all shown vast improvement on two wheels. I’m just trying to transfer the progress I’m making in the pool to the open water – practising sighting, constantly thinking about technique and just using my time in the water to get the best bang for my buck.

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It’s great to see the fitness has stayed in the lungs without the running – it’s just the running legs that need to catch up. I’m taming the urge to run too hard while I’m gradually building the mileage back up. I did Warrington 10k, a nice local midweek event and also the Salford Aqauthlon, organised by Manchester Triathlon Club; really good local events that push me a touch harder that I would on my own in a training day.

Always conscious that I am not out of the woods yet with my history of running injuries, it’s key to not risk any silly flare ups. There is a bigger picture that needs to stay at the front of my training thoughts. There is no need to be hero on a Tuesday or Thursday night, instead listening to my body and its capabilities.

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I am the only one accountable for all my sessions, there is nobody making me get up at 5am to train and there is nobody who really cares if I don’t. Ok, my coach Paul Savage will set me the sessions, targets and training zones and follow my progress accordingly, but only I know when I’m tired, or forcing the issue as well as when I’m letting myself off. There isn’t anyone who even has to know if I had that slice of cake or that mid-week pint, everything is on my terms and it’s ultimately an individual sport that makes me responsible for how hard I want to work that day.

Before each Iron Distance race, I’ve abstained from the booze for 3 months preceding the race and Challenge Weymouth is no different. I’m pretty hard on myself if I do miss a meter or a minute of training, but it’s tailoring my best plan of attack and giving myself the very best opportunity with the time and energy I have available.

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Why run so hard in training if I know it might affect the next two sessions or screw me up even beyond that? How can I best plan this week to make sure I hit everything without being a recluse, being dumped (!) or just too smoked to get off the sofa? Only I can take satisfaction in that days training so I just shut up and do it – and then buy her something nice on the way home!

Triathlon England Blog – May 2015

This blog went up in May, after I’d pulled out of Bala Middle Distance Triathlon that was to be the British Championship event for this year

May 2015:

After 7 years of waking up at 4:30am for my job as a Breakfast Radio Producer, my working hours have recently changed to the bog standard 9 to 5:30. I used to think it impossible for people to do Iron Distance training that didn’t work in Breakfast Radio! I’m learning the hard way of how to fit in all that volume around a normal day shift having had it so good for so long.

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So I still have to get up at 5am, but now I am training before work, therefore the only real thing that has been taken away is my afternoon nap and ‘Deal or No Deal’ fix! I can do a productive 90 minute Turbo session or 3000m swims and still make it to the office for 9am. The only absence from my current training program is any running. Since my last blog when I wrote of being hit by a car on a training ride, I’ve not ran at all. I decided to take 4 weeks off to let my legs recover from an ongoing niggle around my shins which flares up between sessions with far too much regularity. It did mean however, that unfortunately I had to – for the first time ever – withdraw from a race. The British Middle Distance Championships (who do a very generous withdrawal policy I may add) as I just wasn’t in any kind of triathlon race shape.

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It was with a heavy heart and I left right up until the last minute as I had singled out this event as a high priority on my 2015 race schedule. A good marker to lay down before the final 3 month build up to the European Long Distance Championship at Challenge Weymouth in September which has now taken on even more significance.

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Despite my recent woes and being a triathlete that just trains like one but never races, there are always positives to take out of the sport. No running has equalled much more focus on swimming and biking, which have come on incredibly well. With no training bike (written off in the car accident) I’ve been forced on to the TT bike prematurely, which has been beneficial training. I think its good to track progress and I often to a series of tests every 5 or 6 weeks to see where I’m at, inclusive of a 100m target paced TT on the flat which I did this weekend. Both in swimming and cycling I’m clocking PB’s at the minute, I just need to start running again – then racing of course!

Triathlong England Blog – April 2015

This blog was published in April, having just been knocked off my bike by a car and also ran the Greater Manchester Marathon in 3:13:15

April 2015:

Blame it on the law of averages, fate… or just a stereotypical BMW driver not looking at a roundabout. Either way I soon found myself flying across a shiny green bonnet & in a heap on the Cheshire asphalt. Wilmslow is the Mecca of footballer’s mansions and here I am rolling across the floor like one of their own.

The latter reason is why I’m currently nursing a very sore hip and back after returning from a training ride and being taken out. The bike hasn’t fared too well from the whole ordeal, which combined with my forced break from training has meant for a very somber week. I’ll be ok – but entering a very important period of training in the lead up to British Middle Distance Championship at Bala it’s far from ideal and I need to get back to it soon.

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Moving on, I was looking forward to the Open Water swimming season firing up. USwim Dock 9 at Salford Quays is right next to the Capital FM studios where I work and it’s a really good atmosphere down there – music, coffee and post swim flapjacks. Wednesday nights and Saturdays morning will become a permanent fixture in the training program this spring/summer, with Saturdays being followed a run session in a group organised by my coach, Paul Savage.

It’ll be the first time I’ve really trained in a group – big or small – so I’m hoping that being surrounded by better swimmers and runners will drag me along. I enjoy getting out into the open water – it makes a nice change – but can be a touch chilly, so this will only serve to toughen me up away from the relative coziness of the pool.

I have recovered well from the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon, where I ran above my expectations in what is a great confidence builder for my Iron Distance marathon. It proves the run training was soaking in nicely. Having 3 sports to train does keep it interesting and helps stave off that single sport injury potential, which I was beginning to feel with my upped running mileage. Pre-car accident, Paul and I were lining up some good swim and bike focused training to bring that up to scratch alongside the running, but I’m dragging a week behind already now.

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Base fitness was the main buzzword of winter and this has paid of nicely leading into the 2015 season so it’s seems. Training indoors on the turbo is arguably where my hardest efforts are done. Revisiting specific sessions are easily measurable, a good chance to catch up with all the on-demand sport from the weekend(!) and not at all distracting when the girlfriend walks in and starts taking photos at probably not your most attractive moment!

Triathlon England Blog – March 2015

Here is my 2nd Triathlon England Blog from back in March. The oringal blog lived on the Triathlon England website:

March 2015:

It’s been good to finally get outside and even throw in the odd spring event recently. It’s been difficult to chase those cycling miles over the winter, so I’ve taken the opportunity to mix up the riding and also get the all important bike fit done before the race season rolls around.

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I’ve had the mountain bike out quite a lot over winter and used this as a good alternative to the turbo trainer.  The Mountain bike works you hard and has transferable skills for bike handling and is much more accessible in all weathers. Now it’s a bit more bearable to get out on the road bike and clock up some miles in the Peak District hills, it means I’ve not had to sacrifice too many weekends to the indoor turbo sessions. It’s great having North Wales and The Peak District on the relative doorstep of South Manchester.

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The time spent not racing was a good chance to get the TT bike dialed in and set up for the season ahead. I had a great bike fit session recently, tweaking my position to get the best possible fit. With my main races being the British Middle Distance Championship at Bala and the European Long Distance Championship in Weymouth, we reached a set up that isn’t too aggressive and means I can comfortably stay on the aero bars for long periods. It’s a thorough process and an important one to get right.

Getting the bike fit done before the season kicks in means I have plenty of time to get used to it and familiar with the set up, as each Mountain bike, road bike and TT bike are all slightly different. I won’t have to touch this again now so everything is on point and ready to go racing.

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My road bike is an old Specialized Allez Sport that I don’t mind running into the ground and is heavy. Once I switch to the TT bike (Cannondale Slice) it feels so slick and light and easy to go quick on. The training effect of the old tank-like Spesh is actually a great benefit when I swing a leg over the Slice. I don’t think I’d be allowed another bike even if I did want to upgrade, as when she reads this, I’ll have to admit that I never did actually sell the mountain bike!

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I’ve had a good running focus recently, with the Greater Manchester Marathon approaching in April which I’ll use as a potential Iron Distance dress rehearsal. I ran Wilmslow Half Marathon this weekend, which backed up a good block of that run training and leads nicely into the marathon. It put a lot of confidence back in my running and proved I was over a few of those wintery niggles that plague the off season.

So now the bike is fully fitted and waiting in the livery, my running legs seem to have finally arrived and my swimming is ticking along nicely –  I’m excited to get out and start actually racing!

Triathlon England Blog – February 2015

At the beginning of 2015 I was asked by British Triathlon and Triathlon England to blog about my year in Triathlon. I send in a short blurb each month and they are published on the British Triathlon website.

Therefore I’ve not been as active on my own blog for a while! Well, I’ll add re-publish my blogs on here and look after this site too!

This blog was written in February as an introduction:

February 2015:

I’m James Wilson and I work as a Breakfast Show Radio Producer at Capital FM in Manchester. I start work at 4:30am each day so I’m usually finished at work by lunchtime… and that’s part of the reason I got into triathlon – all that spare time in the afternoon needed to be used up somehow!

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I’ve been doing triathlon since 2011 with not a great deal of a swimming or running background. I’d always cycled, but I grew up racing motocross as my main sport.

Triathlon got a bit addictive and it quickly became an obsession since motocross. I went to watch my now coach Paul Savage (www.physio-coach.co.uk) at Ironman UK in 2012 and then signed up for the 2013 event shortly afterwards. I’d only done 2 sprint triathlons at the time, but I wanted to get involved with something totally out of my comfort zone and spent the next 11 months working towards that goal. I didn’t tell anyone I was doing the race until a month before the cannon went off. I just wanted to go about my training and it wasn’t until I knew I was in shape that I mentioned it to anyone.

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I did ok for my first go and managed to qualify for the Great Britain Age Group Team for the European Long Distance Championship in 2014, which were held at Challenge Almere. Results are here.

I’ll again be targeting the European Long Distance Championship this coming year, this time held at Challenge Weymouth, UK. I’ll also be working towards the British Middle Distance Championship at Bala in June and filling my race calendar along the way with some standard distance races and the North West Triathlon Championships.

I’m not a member of a club and I do all my training on my own in Manchester, but I do work with my coach Paul who helps me out massively with plans and physio since I started taking this triathlon business a bit more seriously.

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I’ve had a bit of a false start to the year so far, coming off a nasty bike crash in November which has hampered the winter training a little bit. I’ve been confined to the indoor turbo sessions until recently, but finally back in the pool now and working on that illusive winter base fitness before the hard graft really kicks in.

Watch this space for what 2015 has in store!