It must be time to look back on 2013

Not really sure how to run this so any order will do. This is not just a sports blog.

MiniG is growing up, not just getting tall but growing up, it has been a good year with her. I don’t see her enough but we do have fun together when we get the time. If I am honest I am just happy that she still wants to see me.

Rachael and I have put another year in, it has not been all smooth sailing as her return to competitive cycling after the crash in 2012 was curtailed by a mystery heart issue. This is not the place to talk about such things suffice to say it has been depressing for her and a big worry and sometimes one of other of us gets frustrated. Who can blame her though? It must be terrible to have so much ability and not be able to compete. Me, I still need to work on being a little more understanding sometimes but I am trying…..

parkrun (god I hate writing this thing without a capital P especially at the start of a sentence) Rach has done an awesome job of getting this running and now with the support of the fabulous parkrunners of Newbury we are a thriving event. Special thanks to Andy and Dave as Event Directors as now Rach and I even go to other events sometimes. Seriously though this event would not be the success it is without the volunteers who give up their own runs sometimes to allow others to run.

Running is something I want to talk about, for anyone who missed it when the reason I no longer race ultras is I have degeneration in my ankle join. Nutshell I am 43 ankle is 83 !!! Many of you know I had a brief foray into running last winter before ankle pain stopped me and I put my full focus on the bike. Well once more winter arrived and I have once more stepped out in my running shoes. I have been patient and built up slowly. Two hundred mile months and some tentative commitments to pace at a 10km and a half should see me put in another 6 weeks of running before scaling back as the bike again becomes my focus. Four months of running a year even at a limited level seems better than nothing.

Cycling, now we get to what my has been all about. I put all my road racing effort into the LVRC this year and namely the MSTINA Toachim Vets series. As the season ended I had a host of good results but disappointingly no wins. That said my consistency saw me get 2nd overall in my age cat for the series so I see that as a success.

I took up track racing at Reading to try and improve my race craft, top speed and acceleration. What happened was I found I was a big old diesel so largely led people out in the short races as I lack top speed but come the endurance events I was strong. Really enjoyed my first season though and finished with a win in the B league endurance series.

Time trialling has been a bit indifferent this year, don’t get me wrong I am stronger than before and my results were consistently quicker but I really never got it right over 10 or 25 miles on a fast course. My best ride of the year was probably the national 10 where I brought my ‘A’ game to a technical course and in my view overachieved. My 25 form was dire though and has driven a change in my training this winter.

Winter Track League at Newport, to compliment my track riding I decided I would get accredited so I could ride at Newport with a view to stepping up to the National events on the track. I had to ride in the C league as a novice, actually I should have said nothing and entered B but I asked for advice. It was obvious from week 1 that I was at the sharp end(in wrong group) but for me all that mattered was 11 weeks of racing and time on the indoor track. Through the event I also rode 2 weeks in the B league and was competitive and had one crash which I am still modeling the scars for now. After 11 weeks I was the winner which was a bonus. I have now entered the B league. As an aside at the weekend I did an open Scratch and Points race at Newport which included some of the A riders, bloody hell I need more speed if I want to ride with those boys in the big events.

Now for the surprise and I call it a surprise as I cannot believe how much I am hooked. I have become a CycloX fan, it is mad as I am FAT and don’t really have great bike skills but as a former runner this is the closest thing I have found to a running race. I like it so much I may even have a mid season break so I can put an extra month of training in before my winter break. Had the bike 3 years and did a race last year and hated it. This year I loved it. I like the pain which is funny as I am useless at FTP sessions. The results have been ok, slowly I am improving as I improve my skills. I have some tubs for next season as well. I have to thank Dan Smith and Peter Kench for the encouragement to keep trying and for making a dodgy roadie welcome in the mud.

As I close of the sports side of the year a special thank you to all at Newbury Specialized Concept Store and Banjo cycles for their continuing support of a man who really is ride it like you stole it and often I have broken it :¬)

Being part of the Banjo Cycles race team has also been great so a final thanks to Martyn Harris (RaceWareDirect) for his technical assistance, patience when I ask silly questions and ability to supply me with great brackets for my array of garmins.

Thanks to Newbury Road Club for a great TT scene and club ride set up, I make a lot of TTs but not many club rides but knowing they are there and available with a good group of social riders and hardcore racers is excellent and really helps the training.  

Coaching, it has been a good year. Colin down near 2.40 and Kate getting that sub 3nailed being the two running highlights for me. Getting Andy to the start line and through his 70.3 was special as it looked like his leg was never going to calm down. Really changed his mentality and 2014 should see him faster across the board There have been other mini successes along the way and a few sad days as well. As a coach you live every stride of those big events/target races and if people miss you do question yourself. I also branched out a little in 2013 by doing a number of presentations aimed at the bigger/novice runner. This was fired off the back of parkrun and has been a great success and I look forward to doing more in 2014. With this I have also found myself mentoring a number of people as well. I have a feeling my biggest battles as always are convincing my triathlete friends that smarter is often better than harder, sorry chaps but you know it is true. I have also accepted a few more athletes into the stable so to speak and I look forward to working with them through 2014. If late 2013 is anything to go by then next year should see some great performances. It will be another year where I try to look calm but sometimes I’m not. Exciting times indeed and the biggest decision may be should I take on more people and do more face to face work again. The excitement is there for sure.  

Working, yes adult stuff as I do have a full time job much to a lot of peoples surprise. After my 9 month gig in London as a contractor I took a role in the PMO at AVIS in Bracknell. Bracknell is not nice but the office atmosphere is good and the role has potential, don’t get me wrong there are as in all situations challenges with people, technologies and ideals. Importantly I can see opportunities for me to develop which at this point in my life is important.

Funny really as I read this back, I was not convinced that 2013 had been a good year but from a racing point of view it has been a success. Those first 3 months clouded my view more than I thought.

What do I want in 2014?

A healthy and racing Rach would be nice

A healthy me including an ankle that lets me run a bit through the year

A road race win

Good results on the track, year 2 at this and I want to move to another level so being competitive is the goal, results will be a bonus which means I will be looking for wins

The athletes I coach to hit their targets

Not sure if I want to take the coaching to another level again but I am thinking about it

Promotion at work, as much as I love coaching I also like the office and being around people

Just remains for me to wish everyone a happy new year and say I hope you achieve your goals(maybe I can help)




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December 2013
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The Dark Lord Speaks


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