Monday, 21 July 2014

2014..a year of injuries Grand Tours, new experiences and new expectations

Why is it that when you have almost completed or half way through a blog you accidentally hit the red X as you move from page to page and nothing saves...........Aaaargh....infuriating.

Where was I.... oh yes... 2014, a bloody awful year in terms of accidents, illness and injury but a mixed bag of positive results.

The year had just got started and I was returning to running following knee surgery for a torn meniscus when a bike accident in late January resulted in a fractured shoulder, fractured 5th metacarpal, bashed up other knee(!) and facial grazes and cuts but it seemed to be the whiplash that took the longest to recover from. Bloody irritating when trying to breath in the pool or glance over your shoulder when biking.

A&E selfie
# 5th metacarpal (little finger to most people)

did its job

A new Vendetta wetsuit and Lava pants from Xterra Wetsuits arrived and the Lava pants are a godsend. I was able to effectively swim with a good body roll without getting too tired, and remain relaxed whilst breathing and still knock out 1:20 for 100m multiples. Certainly helped with recovery and fitness building.
I was commuting on the 29er that I bought with the plan of getting into Xterra triathlons and eventual qualification for the World Champs in day it will come.
I entered a 25 miles TT with Mark Saggers and Ali who had never ridden a 25 outside of a triathlon. A windy day and I managed to go under 20 minutes for the first 10  miles knowing the last 10 would be tough. I finished in a lifetime pb of 54:24! Over a minute quicker than my previous set back in 1997 and three minutes quicker than last years best. I still don't know where it came from other than I was focused and concentrating on every push and pull of the pedals. It was good to compare against Mark but he had come off a heavy training week and he managed a 56min. He was hoping for a 57. Ali managed a first finish in 1:26.
With the elation I decided to risk potential failure due to lack of training and get the kayak out for the World Quadrathlon Championships to be held at Brigg, North Lincolnshire. I knew the course well having won the 2012 European and British Champs there but again my kayaking had been hampered by the crash. The race started with the usual 1500m river swim and I hugged the bank upstream and down the middle on the return. Fast and furious as I tried to stay with the known swimmers,  I came out in 4th a minute down on last years World Champ but 40 seconds up on the favourite, and Xterra athlete, Steve Clark.

Xterra Vendetta seeing action at the World Quadrathlon Champions

The kayak phase is next and immediately I was not comfortable and being overtaken by lots of good kayakers including many GB paddlers. Steve Clark caught me after the turn and managed to get on the wash of another overtaking athlete whereas I lost balance and the wash and continued to struggle.
The bike went well but never felt awesome but I was making up places at least. Returning to transition I could spot a few riders ahead including Steve and Stefan but Steve King was nowhere to be seen. In 2012 I had spotted Steve King a minute ahead and quickly outran him to win by 6 minutes and Stefan by 3 minutes. It would be different this time with lack of form. Surprisingly the run went well considering the condition I was in but it was not good enough to challenge for the medals. Probably the best bunch of competitors at a Worlds event and Steve King (GBR) won, with an outstanding performance by Tom Stead (GBR) to take 2nd. Watch out for the future because when he learns to kayak a bit better he's gonna win. Leos Rousavy (CZE) was 3rd. My worst World result so far (9th) and just missing the Vets prize by a minute but consolation in that I was within striking difference of Stefan (GER) and Steve Clark (GBR).

setting up transition at the Worlds
Running in pain

Receiving an entry as last years winner from Spalding Triathlon club was gratefully accepted and the chance to race alongside my son was fantastic. Elliot had entered a relay team but we would be going toe to toe on the run at some point. I have always liked the Spalding triathlon as it used to be local for me and I trained at the pool. I have never finished less than 3rd. Andy Tarry had entered so I knew that realistically a win would involve Andy having a mechanical or injury issue. I wasn't wrong....he won easily with the fastest swim, bike and run and I took 2nd with the 2nd fastest swim and bike and the 3rd fastest run. My son managed to run a very respectable 18:26 despite no training or interest and I suspect he was running scared a little knowing I was chasing on the second run lap. His team did win the team prize too. Proud Dad moment. If only he could take it serious and train he could be a great athlete.

Xterra Velocity speedsuit gets its first pool use
I just love riding in the sun on the Bp Stealth

Me and Elliot finishing Spalding Triathlon 2014

So the next big challenge was the |Cheshire Ring kayak race. Ali and I were planning on doing the Devizes to Westminster 125 miles kayak race as a K2 in April but the accident put that to bed. So The Cheshire Ring is the next biggest race at 96 miles with 92 locks and 6 tunnels to navigate.
We estimated 23 hours and we were on for a sub-20 until darkness fell, tiredness set in and unfamiliar knowledge of the locks and route.

Ready, steady, 96 miles....GO!
My brother, Philip and son, Elliot came to help with feeding and motivating and did a wonderful and well appreciated job of it. We managed to finish in 20hrs 58min 33s, with both of us suffering many blisters to our hands but the sense of achievement was phenomenal when we considered what we had completed. At one point in darkness we came a cross a dead end that turned out to be a downed tree blocking the canal. After a quick recce we manipulated the 6-metre kayak through the tree and re-entered the water. Can we do it faster? Can we break 20 hours? Most definitely....with favourable conditions like this year and more training and practice. maybe next year.....or the year after...who knows?

More recently as last weekend, Ali and I took part in the Great Manchester Swim with Ali doing it for charity and me as a training session. Another opportunity to race in the Vendetta. It is so buoyant and smooth and a pleasure to swim in. I hit the water first for my wave but was quickly overtaken by a 19:40 swimmer over the one mile course. I was content with my 24:00 time at 1:24/100 pace. I am on the toes of the front swimmer in the video below.

So whats next? I was asked to join the GB team for the World Cross Triathlon Championships in Germany but lack of leave and funds have put paid to giving it my best but I do have a place for the Nation Triathlon Championships at Liverpool in August. I also have a mammoth swim event in September with Ali. We are taking part in the Scilly Swim Challenge which involves swimming between each island and walking across each island. Total distance is 6 swims(15km) and 6 walks(10km) in one day. So looking forward to that and we have a seal swim planned. Hopefully we will see some dolphins or porpoises too.
Mark Saggers has also invited me to a ride with Ed Clancy, Olympic medallist in a prize that he has won. So I'm looking forward to that and hopefully a day of sunshine in Wales.

Next year I am considering another Ironman as my brother Philip want to do one. So that means a winter of training and a big build up. I want to win my age group and get on the top of the podium. My second place trophy in South Africa is a constant reminder of what can be achieved and a bit of sibling rivalry never hurt anyone. Did it Philip???? see you on the start line Bro!

1 comment:

Sags said...

Nice to see you back in block and buddy. What a difficult year it has been for you with that crash throwing you into turmoil. You've done amazing considering! Great to see another IM on the way - keep the training logged in the blog! Just getting fuelled for the Ed Clancy ride. . . . .now where is that sunshine?!!