Someone once said to me that to really progress in life, in every area you want to, you have to surround yourself with positive people you look up to, admire and more importantly, that inspire you! Since I started this journey in triathlon I’ve done just that.
It started with my wife. If it was not for Mishelle I’d have never have taken part in the London Marathon. I came home one day and said, I’m going to do the London Marathon one day. Mishelle’s response? “Blah blah blah… You’re so full of sh*t! You say this stuff all the time. Stop. If you want to do something, stop procrastinating and just sign up and do it!” So I did! I learnt a lot that evening and since then I’ve literally taken that in to every aspect of my life. Mishelle is so independent and is incredibly supporting. Mishelle also leads by example and as well as being a full time Mum, is now a qualified Reflexologist, EFT Practionioner and is now training to become a Yoga Instructor. I’m very lucky to have someone like this so close.
Next was my coach. As you know I feel fortunate enough to to be coached by Simon Ward. I’m also lucky enough to live so close and therefore coffee and breakfast (if you’re paying) is often on hand when required. The ironman events, the marathon des sables, the black shirt from the Norseman etc etc. Even his miming! The relationship with a coach you trust and believe in cannot be underestimated. I love the banter and the honesty. What he’s managed to achieve with someone that could not swim a 50m length and who had barely ridden a bike (this is clear to see if you watch me descend) is amazing! Living locally Simon then encouraged me to attend Leeds Masters Swimming sessions on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Needless to say, I’m now surrouded by more inspirational people!
Some incredible talent! World Record Holders etc and some amazing Age Grouper athletes too! None more so than Suzie Richards and Phil Wilson (both short listed for the 220 Magazine Awards – both with amazing blogs too so check them out!)
What they’re both achieving is amazing and I was fortunate enough to witness Phil qualify for Kona at IM Wales 2015. Amazing! Now… That was when I also met Matt Lawrence (an equally as impressive blog!
If you’re going to subscribe and follow any you’d be hard pushed to find any better than those!) Matt has previously missed out on Kona place by just 70 secs, which is now the only reason I’ve joined the ‘shaved legs’ team. Marginal gains!
So, with the exception of Big Suz, I had the opportunity to join Phil, Matt and Simon together with another shortlisted Age Grouper, Susan Pugh, and James (chasing the Kona dream) on a training camp in Lanzarote! I jumped at the chance. A week to train with some big hitters and guys that have been doing this for years. I really wanted to test myself. The camp was incredible and I didn’t let myself down. I pushed so hard everyday and by the end I was fatigued. Phil pushed us hard on the last run with the infamous ‘build’ that had Matt and I clinging on for dear life. By the last open water swimming session my ‘technique’ was fading (I think at one stage Simon compared it to an injured seal – progress then!) but the main event was the miles on the bike and the climbs.
I pushed and pushed and felt stronger than I imagined. I surprised myself and a couple of others. The hardwork over the winter on the CompuTrainer has clearly paid off and I’ll not be stopping as the weather improves. I will maintain the midweek sessions and the results have been incredible.
Surrounding myself with these guys for a week was amazing and the power put out by Matt on the bike was awesome. The week pushed me to the limits but I didn’t feel out of place, but I need to man up on my descending or all the hard work is in vain! Since the camp I’ve made noticeable gains within each discipline:
My technique is visibly better, my pace has therefore increased and my endurance has improved. Both of which link back to technique.
My power has most definitely increased and this week I was comfortably holding 200W+ for my hour sessions on the CompuTrainer
Feel stronger and faster with an quick cadence. I also feel strong on the climbs.
Since I’ve returned from Lanzarote the training has remained consistent and I continue to hit every session with purpose and more importantly never miss one. I may have to juggle some bits around but consistency is key and has worked to date so I’m not going to let up in this area.
A couple of weekends ago now I took part in Brutal Events, The Brutal Duathlon in Dorset. Yeah it’s a long way to travel from Leeds but I’m a sucker for a challenge and love hills. That’s the reason for doing The Brave Heart, Ben Nevis last year.
Dorset was beautiful and the weather could not have been better. The family and I went down Friday morning and arrived just after lunch. We went down the seafront made a sand turtle and then took our fish and chips back to the B&B. It was an amazing spot, about 6 miles from the start line and the venue itself was perfect. You have your own mini flat in a courtyard so it’s not just a room. Perfect for a family. The next morning I had a scheduled ride. I checked with Simon that I was still to do this with the event… The response “this is just a training event right, nothing serious?” “Of course” was my response. We ventured out as a family for the day and visited the castle and did heaps of walking. Our son was whacked so we set off in the car to do a recce of the route. We got back and I realised that we did not know which way the route was to go. 50/50 I went the wrong way… 100% confirmed on the day… I went the wrong way.
That evening after my little afternoon ride, we called in pizza and loaded up on some carbs.
The next morning the B&B allowed us to use their facilities at 630am as they were not open until 7am. It was so relaxed. We got to the venue for 7:15 to register early and get everything set up. In total they were expecting just over 100 competitors. I racked my road bike next to the only other bike in transition and then watched as all the TT bikes began to join me. I’ve made the decision to focus on my technique and build a good base this season, working on descending before moving to a TT, but that doesn’t stop me being a little intimidated by the other bikes. I thought with the hills this would be a road bike course anyway, but there were people that did this last year and some very experienced triathletes using TT bikes, so what do I know.
We’re off. I ensured I was positioned towards the front of the pack and quickly realised I was keeping pace with the front 10. It was a quick pace, especially in light of the 1st 400m being up what felt like a flight of stairs. After the initial ‘brutal’ climb I was so hot so I undid some zips (in a non 50 shades style – this was purely functional, not suggestive) and kept the pace. My core temperature soon dropped and the zips came back up. Visibility become almost non existence in the mist and that was the incentive I needed to keep up with the front runners, despite the pace. I didn’t want to get lost. Then it happened. I forgot that there was a sprint on at the same time and therefore a large number of those in front of me, turned back for their 5k run. That now left myself and 5 others ahead. Again, I kept pace with the 2 directly in front of me and then, upon reaching the cliff and the descent I had bridged the gap and was hot on their heels. It was now getting warm, very warm and I passed one of them heading into transition I removed the layers and took hold of my bike.
The next surprised even me. Based on 2015, I’m not renowned for my slick transitions but I was out ahead of those others in T1. Since the training camp in Lanza I feel strong on the bike so I thought I’d push on. I started to catch people ahead of me, but I was unsure if they were the slower of the sprinters or those on the standard distance. A large group of us rode together for 20k and kept jostling for positions until a young lad flew past me. I decided that this was the moment and I went with him. He pushed on the climbs, an area that was strong for me and I kept pace, we left the chasing pack and then as we were descending and at 30k I decided to push on and give it all I had. At this stage I did not know my position, but I pushed and pushed and then I looked behind me and I was out of sight. I kept my head down and pushed on in to transition. The modest crowd was great as I climbed to T2 and then I heard my son shout “that’s my Daddy!” and that pushed me on further, then Mishelle shouted something completely unexpected… “You’re in 3rd place”
It was at that moment I knew, based on the 1st run, I had enough in me, providing I hold pace on my run to keep the lead. I had my record transition in T2 and started the run. I could not see 2nd place but neither could I see 4th and then I began to question whether I’d heard Mishelle correctly, especially with the sprint on simultaneously, I was wondering how she’d know. I decided to run hard, as hard as I could to catch the man in front. That way I knew I’d keep my position. Having that mentallity was great. It did not feel like 10k, it went so fast!
I never did catch, let alone see the guys in front of me, but neither did I see anyone behind me. I crossed the finish line and I was told that someone special was giving me my medal. It was my son and I was so proud. It was then I was also told I’d finished 3rd!!! I was gobsmacked, but Mishelle was right! It was amazing!!!
The event was so well organised and signposted and the weather was phenomenal!
I can’t thank everyone enough. Those guys that push me every day, Simon Ward and more importantly Mishelle and Bear!! This whole journey has been incredible and I’m amazed with a podium finish!