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 It's Cloberin' Time 
Cycling to Barcelona and back + 50 mile TT
Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:10 pm IRON MONKEY
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Time for an update ... as I've been doing a bit of cycling recently. The last blog post outlines the plans to cycle to Barcelona and back and I did it over the previous 3 weeks, and just tagged a 50 mile TT on to the end.

I left coming back from Barcelona a day late, so had to do 3 big days, of over 150 miles a day, all good stuff. Ferry on the Thursday night, Friday train home from Plymouth, Saturday England match and then a 50 mile TT. PB Very Happy

Cycling down through France was done in 7 days, with a cycling volume of 57 hours. By far the highest volume I've ever done in one 7 day period. Once I got there, I basically had 6 rest days, then came back.

I carried about 25Kg of gear (camping, cooking, sleeping and clothes) so obviously the cycling times are a bit slow. The table below shows the facts, this is the same as the LEJOG table in terms of time. Exercise time is HRM time, and includes minor stops. I stopped the clock if I had a long stop (cafe, supermarket, or long navigation stop). Cycle time is speedo time.

Over the next few weeks i'll write a report of the trip, to look back on so I can remeber what went well and what I would do differently next time. Overall I enjoyed it a lot, and would defiently reccomend it to anyone who enjoys cycling - its so much better than riding your local loops over and over. As for now, i've got 8 weeks to get ready for the Outlaw. I've been down the pool twice this week already - the first time since IM-CH, and have also ran twice - the first time since January. I've got a lot to do to make my 10 hour goal.

Mon Dec 21, 2009 1:15 pm IRON MONKEY
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Just a quick update.

I have been looking around at races for next year, and along with the following also looking at the Midlands SPOCO time trial series to sharpen me up for the main races:

2010-03-14 Fradley 10k
2010-03-21 1485 No Frills Duathlon
2010-04-24 BUCS 10 TT
2010-05-01 BUCS 25 TT
2010-05-23 Coventry Half Marathon
2010-06-06 BDCA 50 (A50/12)
2010-06-12 BDCA 100 TT
2010-07-11 Three Spires Triathlon
2010-08-08 The Outlaw Ironman Distance Triathlon

I will also be cycling to or back (or both) from Bareclona at some point.
My initial route is this:


Ferry from Pompey to Caen then just over 1200 in about 6 days.
Or overnight ferry from Pompey to Santadeer, about 750k in 4 days.

(click on the zoom out on the second map, to see it better)

I'm also off there for a week from the 3rd, but that is on the plane. Will just take the running shoes. not sure when the cycle trips will take place, either early June or April time. If I don't cycle there in April time I will go for a week and take a bike with me. Thanh is moving there for a while with work, so the main reason is to visit her.

We both did a 5k santa dash in Southampton Common the other week. We were both nterviewed for meridian news - she made it on.
We were also in the local paper (Southampton Daily Echo), with one of these pics:

We had a family party yesterday. I used the suit to dress up as Santa and give out presents to the neices and nephews. It was quite a good disguise, even the older ones didn't realise it was 'Uncle Neil'.

I then got down on one knee, and pulled out a diamond engagement ring, and asked Thanh to marry me. She said yes, and we opened a bottle of champaigne.

Very Happy Very Happy

We're looking forard to 2010.
... the world cup is on as well.

The blog is The Outlaw, Hillclimb, MTBing and a new bike !!!
Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:31 pm IRON MONKEY
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Cheers, for the previous replies ... as you can see this blog is back, lol.

The main reason this blog is back, is the iron man is back for the monkey.
I have just entered the outlaw.
I don't care how tough the course is (or easy) I'm going sub10 in 2010.

The main aim is still to focus on cycling until May and to try and get the TT times down as in the targets in the blog post a few posts ago. I'll then start swimming in June. The plan is to get down the pool every morning, and then watch the world cup on the turbo with the odd run in-between matches. July will be TdF, with the same formula and then the race in August. I'm looking forward to it.

Generally i've had a quiet few weeks in terms of training, as i've been ill. I was commute cycling every day (46 miles round trip) and then got a bit ill. I normally get a cold around this time of year, and as when I get ill (which isn't often) I get totally wiped out. I am starting to feel a bit better, and managed a big mountain bike ride on the weekend with a few mates which was a good laugh. All the mtb mags always say that Jacobs ladder is the toughest climb in the UK, and after attempting it, I have to agree. Pure rocks all the way up and some massive step ups. For anyone to get all the way up with out dabbing would be quite an acheivement. I ended up walking most of it. Anyway I'll have another go in a few weeks time.

I also had my main hill climb TT a few weeks ago, I came 23/153 in a national ranked event which isn't too bad but tbh I wanted top 10. It was in the middle of my ill spell so not too bad. I also had a bit of a disaster right before the event and almost DNSed. I was out warming up and then was heading back with 10 mins to go. I pulled of from some traffic lights, and (I thought) my chain had snapped. Game over I thought, but upon pulling in on the side of the road and having a look I saw that my power link had come apart. I had cleaned it in the morning and much have not fully connected it together. I started looking in the road for the half of the link which was missing, but couldn't find it. I then remembered I had a spare one in my tool box which was in the car. I rang my Dad (who had come to watch) and he drove down and I put it on. To start with I was acting calm, even though there was only 5 mins to go, but due to the fact it was pi$$ing down and my chain had new lube on, my hands kept slipping and I couldn't get it connected. This resulted in me loosing my calmness and getting quite irate with a lot of f'ing. Eventually I got it connected. Stripped my rain top of, helmet of, puncture stuff out the back pockets and chucked it all in the back of the car.. and redlined it back to the start. I got there with about a min to go .. not the best prep. I almost caught my minute man though. I wish I used him as a carrot a bit more cause if I'd have caught him I'd have been put up to 12th. Anyway considering the illness and the start I think I did OK. Top 10 next year for sure. I probably went harder getting to the start than during the climb.

.. I'm getting fed up of saying 'next year', so 'next year' has to be it.
At the same time I have hit targets (sub 3 marathon etc) and a few podiums so its not all under (percevied) acheivement.

I also have a new (almost finished - more than in the pic) bike.

My commute is across Birmingham city centre, which is high in incidents every trip. I can actually go all the way down the canal, with only pedestrians and alcoholics to worry about. I had done it on my hard tail, but its a bit overkill for that. A cyclocross bike was perfect. It would also give me the option of going fairly fast if I do decide to go on the road. I picked up a Doaln multicross frame of ebay (for £85) and took all the group set of my old audax bike.. I also picked up some froglegs, and new tires. Not quite finished yet, but I'm looking forward to getting out on it. Also got some mega LUU lights form on-one. I did an evening ride round some pitch black lanes and they more than lit the way ahead.

Cheers, Neil

Game Over
Thu Aug 27, 2009 10:14 pm IRON MONKEY
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.. this blog is terminated.


Lands End to John O Groats 8 day cycle trip.
Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:16 pm IRON MONKEY
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The End-to-End ride is something I have wanted to do for quite a while, and I had pencilled it in for this summer. So no more putting it of it was time to get on with it. Originally I was going to do it self supported, but when moaning about the train costs to my Dad (to get down to the start and end) he kindly offered to come along with me, as long as I paid all the diesel. Its a sad state of affairs on the public transport in this country when it is cheaper to drive the length of it, effectively twice then to buy a couple of train tickets to the top and bottom.

This made life a lot easier in terms of what gear I had to take on my bike. I decided to put a rack on anyway, as originally I was going to take sandwich's each day and stop for lunch. After speaking to Pat Kenny, who is a friend of my parents, and a long distance cycling legend (he held the trike end to end record for 2 years) I decided to do it as a series of long rides as if it was a series of training rides. I also decided to go with SPD's and recessed cleats rather than Look Keo's and road shoes. I also decided to leave the rack on, so I could have put panniers on if needed with a full variety of waterproofs, locks, tools etc. without having to have too much in my back pockets.

A few days was spent planning out the route, using google maps and the CTC end to end guide. Original I was thinking of 9 days, which would be just under 100 miles a day. Quite a bit of flexibility built in. My Dad was to drive on in the morning, put the tent up, and then pick me up at a destination near to the camp-site. Next morning he would drop me of where I finished the night before. We had planned a night back at my parents when I was coming up through the Midlands, as even though it was a bit of a longer ride of route it offered a lot more advantages (a bed, laundry, home cooked food, see my Mum etc.), I also booked a night in a travel lodge. Scotland was left quite flexible, and we only planned the route up to just north of Edinburgh. A lot of the routes recommended not going up the A9, but we thought we would take a look at how busy it was when we were up there.

So the original plan was.

So Sunday before it was a big lunch then pack the car to drive down to Lands End. It took about 6 hours or so to get down there, just time to put the tent up before it got dark, then it was of to the pub for dinner. A fairly late night and a noisy camp site meant I didn't get much sleep that night, probably only 4 hours at best. I awoke to it chucking it down, hmm it was to be expected I suppose, but I didn't really fancy it on the first day. The first thing I had to do was to take some stitches out of my left leg from some muscle biopsies I had done for a sports science experiment the Wednesday before. In fact the 90 minutes cycling to exhaustion was the only cycling (or aerobic exercise) I had done in the 3 weeks since Ironman Switzerland.

Muscle Biopsy Scars

Not the best preparation but I thought I would be alright with all the cycling I had done earlier in the year. There was a small doubt in my mind that I hadn't taken this seriously enough, but generally I was confident I would get to the end no matter what.

Day 1. Lands End to Two Bridges.

At the Start

It was a very misty, wet and windy day at Lands End. Time for a few photos then I was of. A bolt in my rack kept coming loose as I went down steep descents on bad surfaces, which meant I had to keep stopping to tighten it. Eventually I swapped it with another one which was less important. When I stopped to do this, I also thought whilst I'm stopped I may as well have a 'comfort break'. It was a bit open, but I was facing trees so the traffic couldn't see. When I turn round there is a police car pulled up alongside me... err just fixing my bike... Luckily he was OK about it, and just said go behind the trees next time. Today turned out to be the longest day in trip time, and by far the most in ascent. It was wet and windy all day long. I arrived in Travistock, and rang my Dad. Due to a supermarket trip, road works and diversions he had only just got there. I cycled a third of the way into Dartmoor and it was really misty. I kept thinking of An American Werewolf in London, and was cycling very slowly. As it was still chucking it down we decided to go and get a B&B, and cancelled the camp-site.. this was definitely a wise move, even though it put the budget out a bit. I also needed a good nights sleep. All day whilst cycling I had just felt tired, legs were fine, but just sleepy tired. I wanted to be fresh (and dry) going into the next day.

Day 2. Two Bridges to Clevedon

What a surprise, It is raining again, probably even heavier than the day before. A big breakfast at the B&B then it was pay the bill and jump in the car to get to the finish point of the day before. 10 minutes later I was of. Dartmoor is pretty hilly and the roads were totally covered in water. I got to admit to having a few scary descents on a few occasions in these conditions but luckily I managed to just about keep in control. Today was pretty uneventful apart from a few slight twinges of cramp in my legs. This was a bit concerning so early into the trip. I have only ever had slight cramps on the bike, and that was after a 30 hour cycling week in Spain, a few years back. I made an effort to stretch out on the descents. Most of the day was spent cycling up the A38 towards Bristol. This road kept having signs saying 'Red Route 723 casualties in 5 years'. It seemed OK to me, but I did pass one pile up. I finished the day at a Tesco car park in Clevedon, where I popped in and got a sarnie, coke and some ear plugs in case of another noisy camp site. This was probably the best purchase of the trip.

Cycling over Dartmoor

Day 3. Clevedon to Ludlow.

Hurray, hurray the sun was out, so it was short sleeves for the first time.

A Sunny Start

My legs were feeling fine and I was looking forward to getting going. Today was to turn into the first day (of 2) with navigational errors. I had to get across the Avon bridge, but I couldn't find the cycle path entrance. My instructions had me go into a village, but I cycled through it, past it, round it, back into it quite a few times, before I managed to find it. It was bizarre, but finally after asking quite a few people I managed to find it down some side street in a housing estate. It was like I was going down someone's back garden, then I popped out on a path alongside a railway, then it joined onto the cycle path. 17 miles added on, and a lot of faffing around. It also brought my average speed down quite a bit. It was then over the Severn bridge into Wales, and up through Monmouth which was quite a pleasant ride. Today was planned as a flexible day with me finishing between Ludlow and Shrewsbury but with the additional miles it had to be the lower point. It was then a drive back to my parents house as mentioned in the into.

Day 4. Ludlow to Chorley

Today was to be the first day I used my mp3 player. It was a pretty easy day on paper to navigate as it was basically all the way up the A49. It was also a pretty fast day and I was feeling pretty good. I was averaging 19 mph up until I had to go through Warrington and Wigan. The amount of traffic lights was becoming annoying especially as they always seemed to be on red for an incredibly long time. My average dropped, a bus cut me up, and a woman tried to run me over, which turned a few heads in the street when I shouted for her to look where she was going. Worst part of the whole trip in terms of traffic, and if I were to do it again, I would look for a route around these towns rather than through them. Tonight was the travelodge night and some fish and chips from a local chippy, and a few slices of the fruit cake my Mum had made for us.

Day 5. Cholrey to Longholm.

Today was to be the best of the trip so far. It started a bit the same as the day before with traffic lights through Preston, but once I was through all of that things improved a lot. I went up through Lancaster and Kendal (both seemed really nice towns), then a really nice climb up and over Shap Fell which had some awesome views. A really long descent gave me a bit of neck ache as I was on the drops for too long, but it soon passed when I was back on the hoods. I cycled up to Penrith, where I stopped for a sarnie and coke. When I stopped to eat I would stop the clock on my HRM, all other times I would just leave it running. I then cracked on through Carlisle, then carried on for my first time into Scotland. I was feeling pretty strong and felt I could have cycled all the way to JOG. This was the longest day in terms of miles so far, at 120.

First time in Scotland

Day 6, Longholm to Kinross.

The day started with about 10 miles of climbing through a forest with hardly any other cars on the roads. I then had some fast descents, with some other climbs all the way through to Peebles. It was Saturday and there was a sportive coming the other way. Nodding and waving to the continuous stream of cyclists coming the other way seemed never ending. I eventually got up to Edinburgh, but missed my turn and ended up in the middle of the city centre. It was rammed, as the festival was on. It was quite interesting to cycle round a capital city though, but again brought the average speed down. I managed to find my way to the forth bridge in a very strong wind, and get over eventually making my way to Kinross after having to ask directions as the road signs were not too good. Tonight was a very noisy, family camp site even with my ear plugs in.

Day 7. Kinross to just north of Inverness.

Today was to be the longest in terms of miles and the longest ride I have ever done (but only by 2 miles). Went up through Perth, and then checked out the A9. It seemed fine, so of I set of on it. Again today I was feeling pretty strong, and the route was pretty fast. 142 miles at an average of 20 miles an hour, with more than 1500m of ascent. Today's big ride had set me up to finish a day earlier than the original schedule.

Every time I have read peoples report of LEJOG, they always say how annoying the midges up in Scotland are. Well I agree. From this point on I was continually scratching my bites, and will take more insect repellent next time.

Day 8 Inverness to John O Groats.

The rides of 120, and 142 had left me with about 115 to get up to JOG. I was up pretty early and today was the earliest start of the whole trip, with cycling at 7:45. The first section was really fast and I was averaging 20.5 mph after an hour, but then it started to get very hilly and very windy.
At about 70 miles I started to think, the job was done but there was still plenty to do. The last 30 miles up through Wick and then onto the A99 was into a very strong headwind which really slowed me down. Just so the trip ended as it started there was a massive downpour for about 30 minutes or so. I kept plodding away and eventually JOG came into view. Rolled into the car park, 10 minutes taking the usual photos, then into the café for a cup of tea, and can of coke. To be honest I was quite sad it was all over, as I really enjoyed it. We stopped of at the Tescos in Wick where I had a quick splash and change in the disabled toilets, then it was a long drive down to Perth where we had a B&B booked. We went down the road to an eat all you want curry, which was pretty good, and a few well deserved pints of Kingfisher which were even better. Next day was just a drive all the way back, getting home at about 3 pm.

The Finsih

Below is a summary of the facts and figures of each days cycling.

I ate a lot on this trip and never lost any weight. I basically had a 1k kcal breakfast, then between 2 and 3k on the bike (depending on the length of the day and if I stopped at a petrol station or not), another 1k straight of the bike, then about a 1 – 1.5k diner, then about 0.5k of snacking in the evening. That's a lot of energy income.


I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys cycling, as it is a great trip. It is so much more interesting doing point to point rides in new areas, then 100 mile loops which you have done loads of times before. I'll probably do it self supported next time, but obviously this will take at least 3 days longer. Thanks to my Dad for the invaluable support as well.

~   Last edited by IRON MONKEY on Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:18 pm; edited 2 times in total
Future Plans....
Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:28 pm IRON MONKEY
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Thanks for all the replies to the IM CH race report. I agree with most of the comments. Most of what I write in this post will address the various questions which have been asked.

I will return to Ironman one day, maybe even next year if TLD goes ahead, but I have been put of the big European IM races from the blatant cheating which goes on. The reports I've read on Roth seem good, and the waved starts will help to lower this problem, so maybe that race will be considered. I'll also like to return to Lanzarote and Norseman at some point but all these races will be a few years away.

Yesterday I joined the local gym (which also has a pool) for the year. For the price of a European IM and a return easyjet flight. I was quite impressed with the facilities actually, and have already been to Pilates and Yoga classes. I want to focus on some of my weaknesses which are strength and flexibility. This will be a good chance to do this and also introduce some variety into my training, and I will try and adopt a more total fitness approach.

When I do return to IM I am going to have to sort out my swimming, getting out of the water on 1.15 and 1.20 makes a sub 10 finish a bit hard to achieve. By the time you factor in transitions I have to knock out a 5hr/3hr30 run which I feel is in me, but hard. You don't want to be chasing times as soon as you get on the bike but keep it steady-going for the first hour and working into it instead. I enjoy open water swimming and enjoy the swimming section of the race, but training for it is boring. Occasionally having an easy swim is relaxing, but doing drills and constantly checking the pace clock is a bit of a chore for me. When I return I will have to join a club and get filmed again to pick up on bad habits and then eradicate them.

So in summary an IM break for a few years will freshen me up, allow to do some other fitness based activities and focus more on what I enjoy. If TLD goes ahead I will do it of 6 weeks or so of swim training and get on the bike in the usual time of about 1.25.

When I first took up triathlon and completed my first IM, I picked out 3 targets.

1 – Sub 3 marathon
2 – Sub 10 Ironman
3 – Sub 4 100 mile TT

1 has been completed after a 10 week run focus and was the easiest marathon I have ever done. 2 is still 46 minutes away, and 3 I had a crack at and came up 8 minutes short, but wasn't really expecting to break it on the first go.

So for 2 years, I'm going to focus on what I enjoy the most and what I feel I have the most potential in and that is cycling. Its pretty much going to be a full on time trial season for me next season, and have set my self some pretty tough targets.

10 mile TT - Sub 21
25 mile TT – Sub 55
50 mile TT – Sub 1.55
100 mile TT – sub 3.55

I have only actually done 4 time trials. 3 10's, (2 on the road bike), and the 100.
The first 10 was a mid 24 on Xmas eve, second was a low 23 the following summer. Both of these was on a sporting course which has a record of 21.00, so not too bad. I did a 21.57 on the TT bike on a fairly fast course with a strong cross wind this summer. The 100 was going well, and I was averaging 41kph on 3 hours and feeling pretty good. I consumed a bit too much drink and finished of my gel bottle too quickly and my stomach shut down in the last 40 minutes. I had to sit up and was sick quite a lot when I finished. I won't make those mistakes again.

I think these targets are realistic and achievable, and may alter them (hopefully down) depending on how my training goes. Getting up over 40 kph and maintaining it isn't too bad, but maintaining it up in the high 40's is a totally different ball game. I will have to look at position, and a lot more high intensity training to sort this out.

You can't be a proper cyclist if you've not completed LEJOG, and this is something I've always wanted to do. I have it pencilled in for early to mid August, which will then give me a big base of cycling miles to do some hill climbs this Autumn. I think I am more of a climber than a tester, so it will be interesting to see if I can be competitive and get near the top of the result sheet.

I've not been back on the bike yet, since IM CH, but when I do I'm thinking of going on a cycling streak. How many consecutive days can I cycle (minimum 30 minutes) for? Having the TT bike permanently set up on the turbo will help. If I miss a day, I have to just try and beat the previous total. I'm not worried about not having any rest days, as a 30 min spin will count as a cycle, but is also pretty much a rest day. If I find I do need to factor some rest days, then I will do. I won't stick at it just for the sake of it.

Some of the previous replies commented on my mental focus. On races up to 5 hours or so I think this is something which I am quite good at, but for IM it has always let me down a little. I think I do lack concentration for this length of time, and also maybe I'm still a little in awe of the distance and too cautious. There is something when you get on a bike though that you don't want to get dropped, so this won't be a factor here.

I'll still do a bit of running here and there because I enjoy it. My half marathon PB was set in September 2007, so a lot of running has been done since then. I'm thinking of the Wolverhampton and Birmingham half's in September and October. Obviously cycling will be the main focus leading up to them, but if I can keep running fairly regularly, hopefully I can pick up a new PB. After a year of cycling I might think of revising the marathon PB about this time next year.

Will pop in here from time to time to update on my progress. Its always good to look back a few years and see what you wrote, and others peoples comments are always appreciated too.

Cheers, Neil

Ironman Switzerland 2009 Race Report.
Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:49 pm IRON MONKEY
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This was to be my 7th and final Ironman race. I started triathlon 5 years ago just to do an Ironman, and after 2 Longest Days, Lanzarote, UK, ForestMan and Norseman I decided to end it on the race which I saw on ESPN whilst on holiday which got me interested in the sport.

The years training had been fairly OK, but 3 bad pieces of luck had left me with some zero weeks. Including these zero weeks I had average 11.5 hrs. a week from about November last year. The first bad luck was I burnt my leg with by flipping a pan of olive oil. This kept me out of the pool for almost 3 weeks, when I was just starting to enjoy it. I then had a really fast and heavy MTB crash, which meant I couldn't run for 3 weeks. I cracked my carbon frame as well, so quite an expensive race for me. My knee still aches a bit from time to time from that, but generally it is getting better. Third piece of bad luck, was I got a leg infection after a muscle biopsy for a sports science experiment. Antibiotics and rest for best part of 10 days was the cure.

Training had generally gone OK though. I PB'ed a 10k, 36.34, 10TT, 21.57 and a 100 TT, 4.08 and did pretty well at a local duathlon. I was swimming bilaterally all the time, and it felt pretty effortless but I wasn't that much faster. I'd had quite a lot of long runs and bikes so felt ready for it. 3 or 4 weeks leading up to the race, a few distractions got in the way but generally I felt good.

I flew out on the Thursday, and my bag didn't arrive of the plane. Hmm, no wet suit, running shoes, tri suit, clothes etc etc Bike box was there, and my shoes and helmet were in there. I managed to borrow most items (thanks milkywaye and leedsarmy), and found a wet suit rental place, and a stand which had my running shoes in my size... so I could start. Luckily early Saturday morning my bag turned up. I wasn't really up for the race, but would have been really disappointed if I couldn't have started due to lack of equipment. The day before the race I felt lucky to be starting, but I never really used this on race day.

I slept quite well the night before the race, probably about 6 hours which is pretty good with a 4am start. I had a big breakfast then of to the start. At Switzerland there is no awkward bag system which you usually get in IM events, having your gear by your bike is so much better. The bike was racked the day before, where they photo you entering transition, then check your picture on the way out to check that you have the right bike when leaving.

Everything was pretty smooth and relaxed leading up to the start, and just the right amount of time for all the faff you have to do on race morning. I decided to start wide left, then cut in to the first buoy. The gun went of and of I went. The swim was very busy all the way round and quite a lot of bumping into people. I took 2 heavy whacks but nothing too serious. Loads of congestion after each buoy. I did have a bit of a funny moment after about 5 mins. I could feel my chip strap on my leg, and I was convinced it was going to come of. I had to take a minute to compose myself, and tell myself there's nothing I can do about it anyway even if it did come of, then I carried on. You have to exit the swim after the first lap, and a glance at my watch I knew I was a bit behind schedule. I tried to pick it up on the second lap, but not I wasn't exactly swimming straight. I exited in 1.20, 5 mins behind my target. I knew my bike target was well within me, so thought I can pick this up on the bike.

T1 was pretty swift. I only had tri shorts on under my wettie, so on with socks, shorts, bike top (with gel bottle, spare tub and rain top all ready in the back pockets), helmet, glasses, gloves and then I was of. About 4mins30.

The first 30k of the bike was pretty flat and fast. I was sitting just of 40k, and overtaking everyone. I was riding with HR in the high 130's/low 140's which is pretty steady for me (199 bike max). When I did the 100 TT, I was high 160's. I probably should be riding in the 150's for IM. The climbs gave an opportunity to get of the aero bars and the descents were fairly fast with a few turns you had to slow down for. I got slowed up on heartbreak hill, as it was single file all the way up, with the crowds lining the sides like in a TdF climb. First lap was 36kph, and I was feeling fresh, but the second lap was a bit different. At the end of the first lap, my ergomo mount came loose and was just dangling below my aero bars. On the long events I do loose focus (something I need to work on) and like to see my power/hr data to help maintain my pace, otherwise I tend to back of, and it happened here. What really annoyed me was the total blatant drafting which was going on. The first lap wasn't so bad, as I was just overtaking, but I caught up with some peletons which were hard to get past. The drafting marshal's did nothing, it was a joke and was really annoying me. I should have used this and put in a big effort to drop the pack, but instead I sat 10 meters of the back, stopped for the loo, sat up for sections... meaning the second lap was 32kph, and low 130's. Overall bike time was 5.18, 3 minutes of schedule, but I should have been doing sub 5.10 comfortably. I finished feeling fresh and fine though, if not a bit annoyed from most of the other competitors.

T2 was pretty swift for me on 2mins30. Of with the bike top, on with the running top, fuel belt, hat, shoes and of I went. I thought to myself as I left T2, 10.30 is on, even with a pretty steady run. First lap was just of 5min k's, as was the second. After the first lap, I started to get really hot around my thighs. I then realised I hadn't taken my bike shorts of, so I had to tuck them into my fuel belt.To be honest I was getting a bit bored at the start of the third lap, and there was no motivation to move out of my comfort zone. I saw a few tritalkers which I stopped to have a chat with, which lowered my time down but made things a bit more interesting.

Got over the line in 10.46, a PB but it is quite an easier course than Sherbourne. I pretty much didn't feel anything when I crossed the line, raised my arms out of habit really. It was a good race and I recommend it. The bike course is fast with 2 climbs (one short, one longish) in it and a few short drags.

I sat round in the finish tent, chatting for a while. I then went and got my bike. We had to queue for a while in the drizzle as everybody had their photo checked. I shouted 'Oi, get to the back' at some cheeky bloke trying to push in ... I bet he drafted too.

I started playing football again to loose the belly, after uni. I started going to the gym to get fitter for football. I started running on the treadmill in the gym, which then led to running outside. I then did a few marathons. I then got into triathlon. I then started preferring cycling to triathlon .. so it is time to move on again. I still feel I have got no where near my potential in this distance so it will be revisited, but a break from it will be good for a few years. Having said that if TLD goes ahead next year, I'll probably do it.

This blog has been in hibernation for most of the year. I'll probably do another few posts outlining my future plans and perceived strengths and weaknesses, so I can look back and reflect. Making goals public can also add a bit of extra motivation.

~   Last edited by IRON MONKEY on Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:19 pm; edited 2 times in total
Wed Dec 17, 2008 3:56 pm IRON MONKEY
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This is such a belated race report, I had to question if it was worth doing one... well I decided to do one, but I will try and keep it short... even though it isn't

As mentioned in the forestman report in the last blog post (before last), preparation was far from ideal for 2 IM in 4 weeks, and since FM, I had got my house and had started to do it up. Not much training was going on, not that I was in the mood for it straight after an IM.

Every thing was last minute. I went to pack my Soloist the night before, and as I took the pedal of, the housing in the crank came loose meaning I couldn't get the pedal of and it was loose in the crank. Oh dear, over to the TT bike which has the same crankset, but I couldn't find my crank extractor. The only thing I could do was chuck my audax bike in the box and hope everything would be OK. As I did this in a rush I decided to use the wheels which were already in my bike box, and I just swaped the cassette over from the wheels normally on my audax bike to the ones in the bike box. (the ones in the bike box were lighter)

Anyway, of to Norway we all went... my parents and girlfriend the support crew. We had to get up at the crack of dawn (2.20) to get to a very chaotic Stansted and very long queues. We just made the plane and of we went.

We got over to the other side, and got the hire car which wasn't what we ordered and apparently an upgrade ???? We met a fellow tritalker looking very in need of a lift (Dave) but we couldn't fit him and 2 bikes and all of us in, so he had to get the bus.

It was pouring all day. As we drove to Eidjford I was thinking I really hope it is not like this on race day. As it turned out the weather was great bar a bit of drizzle on race morning.

Now when I got to the camp-site and put my bike together, everything seemed fine, but then as I turned the cranks there was a weird clicking noise. It turned out my cassette was loose, or so I thought. I asked around a lot and no one had a lock ring tool and chain whip (not even the UK support company ??) , but at registration I managed to borrow one from the tri sale stand. As it turned out, I had left the last spacer on the wheel back at home, so it wasn't packed out enough. In the end I used a spacer from mid in the cassette and put that at the back. That enabled me to tighten up the cassette so it didn't rock, but also meant I couldn't use the 14 and 15 gears as they were too close together from not having a spacer in-between. When I changed gear the chain just skipped over these ratios so it wasn't a problem.

So bike sorted, registered at a very pleasant race briefing, a quick cup of coffee in the town and a few photos at the fjord and it was time to head back get some food and an early night.

About to get on the boat:

The ferry trip out was a bit strange with a mix of atmosphere. I briefly chatted to a few tritalkers and had a look round, then it was time to jump in. I wasn't sure to take the chicken hatch or jump, but knew I would take a look at the jump. It looked quite fun, and it was.... the water was not too cold either once I took the plunge. I swam over to the shore, as we were warned that currents were against us and it would be less near the shore. Next thing I know the hooter had gone and of I went... it really was a spectacular swim and the scenery was amazing... now this must have been why I decided to take so long over it. Haha, not really.. the first half went quite well, and when I turned round the dog leg, I could see a big boat straight in front near the exit. At the registration they told us to swim round the boat and it was the only one I could see so I headed for it. BIG MISTAKE. Next thing I know I'm in the middle of the fjord and it is like I'm swimming in treacle, just not making any progress what so ever. I persist at it and keep plodding on, but just not getting anywhere. I take a break and look around, and I can't see anyone at all. At this point I just thought get back near the shore where I can actually make some progress, and when I get there I see a few other swimmers. I carry on up the shore, and finally a small boat in the corner of the fjord comes into view, so I swim up to that round and then up to the exit. Now I knew this was a long swim but I was quite surprised to hear it was almost 2.10 !!!!! that is 55 mins of normal IM swim time... oh well, better just get on with it.

On being told 2:10.. at least I found it funny:

I put lots of bike gear on in transition and even had a coffee from the Thermos, then I headed of. On exiting transition I was quite surprised to hear I was 150th (out of 191 I think) I really though I would be bottom 10 with that time.

This has to be the best bike course of all iron distance races – totally stunning. I just took my time and enjoyed myself. Early on I made up lots of places, as I spun up the first hill. My support car went past, and they stopped every now and then to give me jaffa cakes. I had the odd coffee as well. The first 40Km is all up hill, and you go through the old tourist route around the mountains, whilst the cars go through long tunnels. Once you get to the town at the top from 40k to 90k its pretty undulating and exposed.

Time for a Coffee Break:

Again great views and at this point I wish I had aero bars on. The plan was for my support team to meet me at the 90k town (I forget the name of the towns as it is so long since the race was on) as I went through I saw them, and I assume they saw me, but they didn't. Anyway from 90k to 150k there are 3 small climbs and one big one. I kept assuming that the support car would be coming past, and give me new bottles and some more jaffas. I had ran out of liquid a long time ago, and it was also getting hot. By the time I was up the 2nd climb of the 4, I thought I had better give them a ring. It turned out that they hadn't seen me, and assumed I was going really slowly. Now I know I was going pretty slow but not that slow. As luck would have it there was some chocolate stuck on my phone from a long eaten jaffa, which I licked of to keep me going a bit longer. Eventually they turned up and I got restocked, and also lost several layers. So of I spun in my smallest cog, and my smallest chain ring. Having a triple made it easy. I always find if I have a lower gear I use it, so from a point of view of taking it easy, having the triple was great, but if I wanted a good time, then just a 27 cassette would be best.

Final climb of the day (on the bike):

The final climb was the toughest since the first one, but great views. I got to the top and the last 30k was all down hill.. time to hammer it. I really enjoyed the last 30k and before I knew it I was in T2. Bike time was 8 hours, but ride time was 7:30. My stops with the support car were too long.

A quick change and stretch, and details to my Dad on how to pack up my bike and I was of, within 5 mins. I was feeling pretty good, and running quite well. A lot of people say that the first 25k on the run is pretty boring ?!?! maybe in relation to the rest of the race but in comparison to other races it was awesome. I slowly started picking of spots, let them overtake me as I stopped at the support car for drinks and a chat, then over took them again. If I knew that k's 25 – 32 were un-runnable I probably would have cracked on.

Ruuning to the mountain - The finish is on the top of that:

25 to 32k is what is known as Zombie Hill, and it almost broke me. At this point my Dad drove on to drop my Mum and Thanh my girlfriend at the entrance to the mountain so they could get to the top for the finish. There was a checkpoint at the bottom of Zombie hill, and I had some drink, and a salt tablet which they offered me. My tri-suit was covered in Salt residue, but I broke the golden rule of not trying anything new on race day. I had been drinking and eating crisps along the first 25k, so it was probably not needed. Anyway, I entered Zombie hill, which is like an alpine climb with switch backs and very steep. For some reason I started running up it, thinking it would be ok, if I took some walk breaks, but I think this pushed me other the edge. I started to feel real bad, and thought I was going to throw up. My stomach felt really bad, and I blamed the salt tablet. I also started to get real cold as I was out the sun, going upwards, and only had a trisuit on. I rang my Dad, and asked him to come back ASAP as I needed some clothes, and some water to hopefully settle my stomach. He was still driving up to drop the others of, so he was going to be a while. I had a sit down, and got told by a fellow competitor that it was dangerous to stop. I agreed but needed a short break I thought if I get too cold I'll crack on. For the next 10 mins or so, I walked, stopped, walked stopped and was slowly feeling better. Eventually my Dad turned up, so I grabbed some more layers and a swig of water. I felt a lot better, and managed to carry on upwards. So I started to feel better, but I was about to become totally demoralised. My Dad drove a bit up the road, and I soon caught him up. I asked him the time as I didn't have a watch on, and he told me whatever it was, I forget now. For the first time I thought I wasn't going to make it. I thought there was 40 mins to do 8k, which doesn't seem unreasonable, but up zombie hill, it felt very unreasonable. The reason i thought this was because I got confused on the check points. They said you couldn't enter the mountain, if you got there later than a set time which was 8k away at 37.5k. As it turned out the entrance to the mountain was at 37.5k, but the check point where they decide if you can continue to the entrance was at 32.5k. So a few k's later I went round a corner and had my spirits lifted immensely as I knew I could continue and finish at the top. From 32.5 to 37.5k it flattens of a lot, and even though it is uphill is more than runnable. I even managed to run a fair bit of this, as I was feeling fine now and rejuvenated with the black t-shirt moral boost.

At the bottom of the mountain, I got my backpack out of the car, showed them that we had the required stuff (spare clothes, torch, food, water) and we were allowed to get on with it. We were moving pretty fast and made it up to the top in just under a 100 mins, and made up quite a lot of positions. Stepping up the big rocks, used different (or so it seemed) muscle groups. The sun was going down now, and by the time we were near the top it was pretty much pitch black. No finish line, just get to the top, have a snap, handshake and told to get into the hut for soup and a greasy burger if you want it.

Job Done:

My mum had only just got there, as it took her 4 hours to get to the top... and then it was time to come back down again. There was time for a 5 min sit down, and a quick chat at the top, then it was decision time. Either walk down with the guides or stay the night in the hut. I was very very tempted to stay there, but knew it would be just as much of a pain to come down in the morning. So I got out, and joined the guided trip back down. We all got given a black Norseman blanket to keep warm and I think that for my Mum that is as valuable as the t-shirt I got the next day. Once we got going it was fine, but it took just over 2 hours to get down. My mum fell over (as we all did) a few times, and had to have a sit down for 5 mins, so if you were in the last group down that is the reason for the stops. Just as we got down it started to rain, so good timing.
We all jumped in the car, got to the hotel, quick shower and into bed, pretty much within 20 mins. Asleep within 2 seconds of getting in bed.

My race time was 17:22:20 and 137th out of 171 black finishers. With the early start to get the ferry, and the 2hr walk back down I now know I could do a 24hr event, which would be MTB enduro type things instead of a TT or double IM.

Next day was up for the presentation, food back at the hotel, packed the gear, whilst the community shield was on the tv, nap then out for dinner. A few expensive beers, then bed, up early to get to the airport.. then home! Fish and Chips and a few cheap-er beers.

I definitely want to do this race again, and do a decent time. There is nothing else like it. There is something about going out into the middle of a fjord on a big ferry and jumping in to start an iron man race which finishes on top of a mountain. May have to wait a few years though for my return.

Previous replies:

Sue – Thanks. I hope it continues.
GreenDragonFly – Thanks, welcome to my blog.
Poet – So you got to see what a proper ground looks like.
MountainGirl – Well here it is. More photos on my facebook page, if you've not yet seen them.
PaulL – No it was free (sort of). Normally about 100 quid for a DXA scan. Glad you like my bones.

~   Last edited by IRON MONKEY on Sun Jul 26, 2009 7:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
Still around and Body Fat
Sat Dec 13, 2008 4:38 pm IRON MONKEY
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Blog has been relegate to page 3 so I thought I'd better promote it back up to page 1.

The next post was meant to be my Norseman report, and I started writing it about 3 months ago, but haven't got round to finishing it yet. Also been of tritalk quite a bit, mainly due to not being bored at work anymore... but still pop in from time to time. Anyway, the next post after this one will be my Norseman report.

2009, will see me doing IM-CH. I'm looking forward to it. Race entry paid, the flights are booked, and so is accomodation. Trianing is also going well. I have just had a 6 week block of preperation which has seen me sort out new routes, all my gear, make an effort with my nutrition and generally get back into the swing of things. In the last 6 weeks I have done 3 of each sport each week, and peaked at around 14 hours.

Swimming is going well and I am enjoying it. My long run is up to 2hrs10, and a weekly morning fasted run is up to 1hr42. Bike is going good, with the long one up to 4hrs40. .. all pretty much easy stuff, but I have also done some cruise intervals here and there.

Next up is 4 blocks of 4 weeks base training.

Now in 07, and 08 I have done 2 IM each year. After 07 I said I wouldn't do 2 in a year again. I am now thinking of enering the Big Woody in 09. It is at a good-ish time after IM-CH and will see me do all of the UK iron distance races (arrgh good villa just gone 3-1 up as i type this) as I have already done FM, TLD and IM-UK. We shall have to see, but I'm quite tempted. I wouldn't mind doing some sort of cycle tour though.. LEJOG has long been on the list. If I did BW that might have to wait till 2010.

Anyway after Norseman, I spent all summer doing up my house, which was pretty much a full time job. Also saw me drinking quite a bit most nights... the 2 seemed to go hand in hand. Went up to just over 80Kg's. Last summer MayJune time I was down to 74Kg, which was my lowest adult weight. Once traing started it started droping of, and at the moment I am around 77ish Kg. My Tanita fat scales put me at 13% body fat, and 10% when I was 74Kg. I had a DXA body scan the other day, which is the most accurate method of estimating your body fat, and I came out at 10.9%.. so I'm guessing I must have been down to 8%ish when I was 74Kg. It certainly helps you cycle faster. The guy who did the scan was very suprised that I only had a kilo of fat in each leg. Half of my body fat is on my belly... also interestingly I have more fat down my left side, as most right handed people do.

In the new year, I will be having a muscle biopsy which will show the make up of slow/fast twitch fibres in my thigh.. I'm hoping for lots of slow twitch ones. Will blog about it when its done. I've also got some bike and run ramp tests due which I can compare back to my 07 results.

Anyway ... heres my skeleton. Now 4-1 Very Happy Very Happy 4th in the prem !!!

ForestMan Race Report
Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:57 pm IRON MONKEY
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This is quite late as I have been so busy, but here is my Forest and Norseman race reports.. Actually this is the years training review and FM report; NM report will be in the next post.

Last year, I did 2 IM, Lanzarote and IM-UK. I said to myself I would not do 2 again, but I ended up doing 2 pretty tough races in the space of 4 weeks. I originally entered FM as it was a local race and the first time it was going to be run, and then I decided on Noresman as it had always attracted me. I got my support team on board over a curry on my birthday then entered in November as soon as it opened. 07 ended with a December marathon which went well, then a 3 and a half week holiday in Vietnam with a week easy cycle touring. I came back had a few weeks of, then started training for these 2 main events at the end of January.

Early in the year training was going well, and then I went on a week’s cycle training holiday in Spain which was my third time out there. I went a bit OTT and did a 30 hour cycle week, way too much, so it was no surprise when I returned I got ill. A mates wedding and a life event which meant training was a no priority for best part of a month. During this time I also applied for voluntary redundancy from work which meant I could focus a lot more on training. A week trip to Spain followed where I took my bike, and then a bit later on a week in the French Alps (trust4you training camp) which was some of the best cycling country I have ever seen. I was feeling very strong on the bike at this point but came of slipping a worn cleat sprinting which meant no swimming in the lake.

I came back from France with more turmoil going on which meant that I couldn’t really focus on what I was up to, PB’ed a half ironman but really didn’t feel I had a good race at all, and knew I could have done better. Various things were going on which saw me buy a house which, completing the Wednesday before FM. With this going on the lead up to FM was far from ideal and even though I was looking forward to the race I wasn’t really focused or properly prepared. Everything was a bit last minute. The race was a great event and as always well organized and friendly.

The swim was long, and I exited in 40th position (out of around 80) on 1.33 (my longest IM swim by 12 mins). I got up into T1 and was about to set of, where I noticed my front was flat. I pulled the tub of, which was a bit tight, and whipped the spare on which was a bit looser. I tried to inflate it but it would not go up. Nightmare scenario as I only had one spare. I had to resort to a bit of out side assistance and my Dad went and got an old on I had just taken of the back wheel from the car. This was fine, and I wrapped the initial spare up for my back pocket as I noticed the valve was bent.. Better than having no spare at all. By the time I got going there were hardly any bikes left in T1.

In training I had been riding the FM bike loop at around 190Watts and 1.52, fairly comfortably. Do this 3 times and I would pop out on 5.3x, so the aim was 5.40 with a few bottle stops etc. First lap went fine, bang on the 1.52, but I needed the loo starting the 2nd lap and I thought about going on the go. Since a PB was out of the window (due to the long swim and problems in T1) I thought I may as well stop, I then thought what am I going to get out of this race? All time goals were gone, I had a million other things to do in the next few months, with NM being one of them.. I may as well minimize recovery time, so for the next 2 laps I sat up and span around the course taking it easy. Final bike split came out at around 6.30 (my longest IM bike by 20ish mins, Lanza was 6.12) or something way of the target of 5.40.

T2 was fairly swift, and I plodded of. Needed to pop into the pub for a short sit down once I got going. I felt fine in T2?? This is a hard run course. It is pretty much all of road and either up or down, with a few intermittent flat bits. Once I entered the of road section I was told I was in 40th position, which I thought was ok considering I had lost so many positions in T1, and took 2 thirds of the bike very easy.

I actually enjoyed the run, chatting with other people and just getting through it. I was mindful of avoiding an IM PW (which I had already got on the swim and bike sections). Finally the final lap came round and I was running of back to Sandy Balls and the finish line.

A great small friendly race with a great atmosphere all the way through the weekend. I hope it carry’s on past 2009 as I would like to have another go at some point. I know I am far from the IM attitude with a report like this, but I enjoyed it and had my reasons. I had considered pulling out in the weeks leading up to the race but I’m glad I got through it.

I think my final position was 37th and time was 13.11.

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TLD06 Finish
_____ Relevant Personal Bests _____
Half Marathon: 1:24, Solent Half 07
Full Marathon: 2:58, Milan 07
10k - 36.34

Half Ironman: 4:45:12, Beaulieu 08
IMUK: 11:08:17, IMUK 07
IMCH: 10:46
Standard Duathlon: 2:05:25, New Forest 07

10 TT: 21.57
25 TT: 56:36
50 TT: 1:58:22
100 TT: 4:08

IM Race report links:
.. .the rest in the blog somewhere ...

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