Sunday, 15 September 2013

World Age-Group Triathlon Champs: Job Done!

I’ve not concentrated and prepared so much on a race since the London Marathon 2012, so its not surprising that, in the past few days, I’ve been feeling a combination of nerves and excitement. Today started early catching the N19 night bus, along with a few dishevelled part-goers, to Hyde Park and then preparing my bike in the dark ahead of the race. It was cold; in fact the air temperature was so cold that the organisers shortened the swim by half to 750m. Personally I felt as though this played to my advantage and was relatively unfazed by the decision. As it happened, by the time my wave started at 7:45, I think it would have been fine to swim the full distance, but the decision had already been made. The great thing was that it was dry, not windy and we had clear skies to race in.

I’d been told to go hard from the gun on the swim, so I tried my best to latch on to someone else’s feet and gradually work my way through the field. The usual barging and bashing continued up until about 500m, and it was only towards the end that I managed to pull myself clear of it. I must have finished the swim in about 15th.

Transition was long, both in terms of how far you had to run and the time it took me to take my wetsuit off. Needless to say, mine was far from textbook and there is still plently of room for improvement there.

The bike course was fantastic; riding down Birdcage Walk, Whitehall and the Embankment all on closed roads. Frustratingly I did not have my Garmin on, otherwise I’d have definitely been out Strava segment hunting! Although I am strong on the run, I knew there would be other triathletes out there capable of posting a sub 33min time for 10k, so the aim was to try to make as much time up as possible on the bike. I went past Danny Russell (Highgate runner who I knew had run a sub-15 5k this summer) after about 8k and felt as though I needed to finish a good minute ahead of him on the bike given his running ability. At about 10k, I went hard over a bump and my seat post dropped by about 1.5 inches, which didn’t seem to impact my speed too much, rather it just made my bike position a little uncomfortable. I finished the bike in about 10th, ahead of a sizeable group of riders and then hit the run.

The run course was busy from the other waves, although there was still plenty of space to pass people and I so worked my way through the other runners. After just over a lap, Danny Russell came past me and I tried to keep up with him, but he was just too strong. It did give me a target follow and I made it my aim to keep him in sight. There was a lot of people out there cheering on the course and apologies if I didn’t acknowledge everyone supporting that I knew, lets just say I was well in the zone by this point. I didn’t feel as though my pace slowed throughout the run, in fact I finished with a sprint crossing the line in 1:49:33 which gave me 6th place in my age-group, 18th overall and 7th out of the Brits. A great day out, event and experience all round!

I’d certainly like to do more age-group races again and hopefully it’ll lead to other multisport opportunities. I’ve had a lot of help along the way, in particular from Alan Murchison for helping arrange a time-trial bike and some pacey cycle rides, my firm Capco for their support towards a time-trial bike, my parents for helping with all sorts of logistical things around training, my training mates for joining me on any cycles or runs, and all the support today to help get me round. Thank you!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Build up to Age-Group Triathlon Champs: Part 2

This Sunday I'm competing in the world Age-Group triathlon championships in Hyde Park. I've written a couple of blogs this week for Financial News to illustrate how someone working in the city balances training for triathlon alongside a day job. I thought I would post them on here too, so here is part 2 about my aims for the race and how I've prepared over the past month:

"With just days to go until the race on Sunday, I've started to think about where I would like to place in the field and what sort of time I hope to achieve. At the British Triathlon Championships in Liverpool, where I qualified for this week's event back in July, I finished 14th overall with a time of 1:57:17 - just under 2 minutes behind the winner.

Since then, I have invested in a 'Specialised Shiv', which is a time-trial bike and therefore a lot more aerodynamic than a standard racing bike. This was made possible thanks to an award given to me by Capco for services to our clients.
Managing to compete and carry out the required training alongside my day job requires a well-structured day and an understanding among my team about the demands I have outside work. The hardest part is when a work deadline comes up and my training needs to be shifted, although being able to incorporate my training into my cycling commute to and from work often helps to avoid missing a session altogether.

I have also invested in some deep-rim wheels and clocked up many more miles swimming, cycling and running. The aerodynamic design of a time-trial bike provides a significant benefit and the deep-rim wheels reduce turbulence, both of which should help increase my speed on the bike. As part of my final preparation, I have also made sure to run at least once a week at race pace. This should help ensure that I am familiar with the speed I need to achieve when I run off the bike.

It is hard to estimate what my total time to complete the race will be as every triathlon course is slightly different, but I am aiming to finish comfortably under two hours, which will hopefully put me in with the sharp end of my 30-34-year age group.

Obviously, the rest of the GB age-group team and competitors from the rest of the world will have been training hard to be at their peak performance for this event and, as a result, the level of competition is likely to be very high.

Similar to my preparation for any other significant race, the last seven days of training is relatively straightforward.
With the hard work done and the miles in the bank, it is important to allow your body to shake out any fatigue so that you are fresh for race day itself. My plan was to swim at a relatively easy pace a number of times, run once or twice, and make sure that my bike is working perfectly. I also aim to eat and sleep well, as these are two important factors in the final preparation that can be easily overlooked.
Overall, I feel ready, my training has gone well and now it is a case converting my efforts of the past four months to performing in the race itself."

Build up to Age-Group Triathlon Champs: Part 1

This Sunday I'm competing in the world Age-Group triathlon championships in Hyde Park. I've written a couple of blogs this week for Financial News to illustrate how someone working in the city balances training for triathlon alongside a day job. I thought I would post them on here too, so here is part 1 about my training:

"Having stepped up from the marathon to compete at triathlon this year, I have had to adjust my training, which has previously focused on running, to incorporate two further disciplines.
My background in athletics has allowed me to appreciate the volume and type of training required to be competitive at running, and I have converted this knowledge to help prepare for the swim and the bike.
Intensities across the disciplines vary - for example an hour's steady running can be equivalent to three hours of cycling, and I find myself far more fatigued after an hour's run compared to an hour's swim. As a result, I have found the duration of training for triathlon to be significantly longer than when I concentrated solely on running.
It is important to focus on the discipline where more training can make the greatest difference. This may not always be your strongest discipline, and the other two disciplines may slip as a result.
I have made a concerted effort this year to improve my cycling, which has come at the expense of becoming slightly slower at running and swimming, but achieving a faster cumulative time overall. To put it in perspective, in the three months leading up to the London Marathon in 2012, I ran 720 miles and cycled a fraction of that, while in the three months before this Sunday's age-group triathlon I will have run just 150 miles but cycled 2,750 miles.
So what does a typical week's training look like for me? Here is a sample from July:
  • Saturday: 3km swim in the morning, 40-mile bike ride in the evening
  • Sunday: 20-miles on the bike in the morning, including a 10-mile Time Trial and followed by a 3-mile run. A 30-mile bike ride in the evening
  • Monday: 3km morning swim, 8-mile run in the evening
  • Tuesday: 25 miles on the bike in the morning, strength and conditioning work in the evening
  • Wednesday: 3km swim in the morning
  • Thursday: 23 mile bike ride in the morning, 8-mile run in the evening
  • Friday: 30 miles on the bike in the morning
  • As well as this, I commute to and from work by bike, which adds another 55 miles

This particular training schedule works for me and I structure it around my working day. It requires getting up at 5:45-6:00am every day to ensure I have enough time to exercise before work, and a degree of self-discipline is needed to train again in the evening, but I find the end-goal provides enough motivation for this.
I started to ramp up my training in May and have kept it up for the whole of the summer. Now, with just days until the race, I can begin to taper knowing that I have done as much as I can to prepare."

Here is the article online