The year starts OK with plans to race Manchester marathon, Xterra Malta, half and full Outlaw triathlon and then take it from there injury permitting. A few local run races would kick off the season before hopefully a good TT season (start next week) then open water swimming.
So late January the dreaded flu bug passes through the office like a tornado in Kansas, except I don't end up in Oz and spend a week in bed followed by another two weeks of general malaise and feeling lousy. The prospect of a week training and holiday in Cyprus with Ali keeps me sane but slightly worried I might be too under the weather to train properly.
All was fine and Cyprus proved to be a fantastic winter sun local and quiet familiar roads with plenty of climbing. No swimming though as the sea and the pool were freezing but supported recovery as an ice bath.I finished the week with a respectable 250 miles on the bike and managed a 2hr long run and total run millage of 25miles. We returned home to finish the week off with a half marathon in our village which was a disappointing 1:24 and would normally have been about 1:18 given the other competitors I know.
Next up was a local 10km race and in this one I managed a 37 something but it was 10.4km in the end and I was only minute from the winner. This was a great feeling knowing the speed was coming back(2nd place had beat me by 7min in the half marathon).
Ali and I recently joined Marple Swimming Club and Marple runners but the swimming has been really focused and included some hypoxic training (25m underwater swims) and feel this has helped along with the structured training. Something I probably haven't done for a year or two.
Off to Xterra Malta for a race and a bit of more sun and holiday in April and to put into practise the swimming. Xterra is the off-road triathlon version and from my experience at Xterra UK last year, and now Malta, they're not easy. Maybe its just me not knowing how to ride a mtb fast yet but I do rely on my good all round ability of swimming, bike fitness, and run to make up ground.
Malta was a great race. Of course it was because I won but it is a lovely place to race. Beautiful clear sea swim, rugged mixed terrain bike leg with something for everyone including some tarmac, steep climb, tricky descent and a few technical bits. The run has more of the same with a small scramble up the cliff and a quad sapping hill climb. The wind on the day didn't help much and only added to the difficulty. The swim went well and I mixed it up with the pro's but soon was getting overtaken on the bike. I managed to take some places back during the run but was hindered with quad cramp on the steep climb following a bit on the bike too. Not knowing where you are positioned or who is ahead or close behind made just give it all and I managed to win my first race in a few years (Age group obviously) by 7 minutes. Most importantly though was winning the slot to the Xterra World Championships in Maui, a bucket list race for me. Better start saving!! Good job its not a wet suit swim in Maui as I managed to put my thumb through the calf of my Vector Pro. I think I'll need to shorten the legs which will make it even faster to get out of.
|I removed the wetsuit on the beach due to the long run and steps up to T1.|
|Photo by Samuel Farrugia|
|Mdina glass trophy for Xterra Malta Age Group win ....yessssssss!|
A week later and a few blisters remain from Malta but its time for the Manchester marathon with Ali and Daz Sharpe. We had thought last year we might be capable of 2:40 on the flattest marathon course in Europe but winter miles were lacking from me and Daz has Ironman Lanzarote in 5 weeks with my Outlaw ironman in three months. We would be happy with sub-3 hours and we did. I set off at my comfortable pace running at a HR of about 162 whilst Daz set out to run 6:45 per mile with the intention of picking up the pace later. Everything went well until about mile 21 when cramp started again. I had been running about 6:15 per mile but suddenly it was 6:30 for two miles then BAM! 7:45's. What could've been somewhere around 2:45 and a pb ended with 2:55:15. Happy enough but I was running scared the last few miles worried that Daz would catch me but he ended up with 2:59:45.
So we both broke 3hrs and happy with that, and I'm slightly happier as he still hasn't beat me over marathon distance. We then waited for Ali and the tracker showed she was on target at 30km but hen as 5hrs came and went we new she was struggling. 23 minutes later she comes strolling down Talbot Road with a big grin on her face. Again lack of mileage through winter took its toll. My biggest run had been 2hrs/16.5 miles but Ali's had been just under 2.5hrs in a half marathon. All in all it was great prep for the Outlaw.
What else?......oh yeah, Ali and I had a bike fit at CycleFit in Manchester. Big differences to my TT position but small tweaks to my road bike with a new saddle too. Ali has had some big tweaks to her position change of stem and saddle and as I write she is out on a 60 miles sportive and has punctured twice.
I'm also looking to sell my Quintanna Roo triathlon bike and also the Bp Stealth to fund my next tri bike. Some interest so far but no secured offers so get on the ironman journey Facebook page and make me an offer.
Next up Xterra Greece ....7th May