Archive Page 2

14
Jun
17

Disappointment to Victory

Em went running and I drove to the bike shop to collect some stuff and tell Morgan it was off. Obviously we were both disappointed.  I think I was less bothered because I have done a lot of races and had only really done a small (7 weeks) period of training for the event whereas Morgan had done 3 months and they had arranged a child free weekend in Wales with a lot of outlay for the hotel. Gutted !!!

Off for a jog and then some pancakes before returning to the bike shop. Morgan and the lads at Banjo are great and me being me needed some work doing on the bike. So Morgan fitted the new stem and bars for me. While all this was going on I contacted Ellie Barnes at Barnes fitness who organises a number of local events, not sure why but I just had a hunch she had a race on. Turned out to be the Dinton Duathlon and I could enter on the day.

SWEET although doing a 5.25km 20km 5.25km race is not ideal when you have been training to race for over 5hours !!!!

Sunday morning and having not ridden the bike in the new set up I rode the whole 5 miles from home to race HQ, the bike felt quite normal really which was an encouraging sign. Registration done, bike racked and I was ready. I decided to use the HotShot cramp “cure” that I had imported from the states, lets face it I have had issues at 3 out of 3 duathlons this year and none were that long. As usual I had done my homework to understand transition and see how many nice bikes there were. The bike makes a huge difference and a rider has to be very good to hold off a marauding TT bike over 12 miles or a different league of runner. From this little research it was obvious there were about 8 people who could be in the mix.

Run 1 – From the gun it became apparent that 8 was in fact 4  as we drifted away from everyone else. If I can say settled then I settled in behind 2 lads and we were all some 10/20 metres behind the lad out front. Working hard saw a sub 5.40 first mile and then it calmed a little. When I say settled I was running at about 95-99% effort, the difference between this and a flat out 5km is very small if you want to be at the sharp end, almost comes down to not going all in for the last km really. I must admit I have developed a belief that if I can stay close I can out ride people. If someone then rides away from me they were simply better.

T1 – came in 4th and went out 4th no real drama. I have a system it is calm and I stick to it.

Bike – as I mounted I was already up to 3rd as the lead guy of the run had some issues. Personally I had trouble clipping in, not sure if I had grass in the cleat or the toe cover had moved but time was certainly lost.(For next year I must learn to mount into my shoes already on the bike. I caught 2nd quickly and discounted him as he wasn’t on a Time Trial bike(turns out he was quick but does draft legal sprints) and within a few miles I had caught and passed the leader. I then set about just riding the course and was slowly but surely getting away from the rider in 2nd who was on the same bike as me :¬)  Sadly I got stopped at the temporary light and for rather a long time. Now I know he was eventually also caught up but I admit I had trouble getting going again and I guess he worked harder to stay with me as we arrived at T2 together.

Dintonbike

T2 – a clusterfuck of the highest order, failed to remove both feet from my shoes as the dismount line came up faster than expected so limped into transition. Once in it went fine and we left T2 together.

The final run – so I had problems from the off,  firstly in my head, I knew he was faster and had set myself up to be well clear on the run. In theory you get far enough away that people settle for 2nd place but here I was now being dropped by someone who knew he had to gap me but had no idea by how much. The other issue was a small twinge in the left calf which I think was caused by the shoe mistake and I am delighted to say it didn’t cramp. Now was this because I had used HotShot? Who knows but I was able to just run and I was fine. After a while I think the gap stopped growing but all the way to the line I had no idea if I had won.

The result was I won by 6 seconds and broke the course record in the processDintonTrophy

The good news is I know I can go faster but then so does 2nd place. It was sad not to have the joy of crossing the line 1st but Ellie and her team can’t be accountable for the local road people :¬(

It wasn’t the Pig but the effort was off the chart physically and I was very aware that I had not been training for that sort of effort. I was in great shape but this just bloody hurt.

Thanks Ellie and team for a well organised race, actually just enjoyed the atmosphere before and after.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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04
Jun
17

Brutal Little Pig

So after the success of my foray into Duathlon and after some chatting with Morgan a trip was done to West Wales to have a look at the Pig Duathlon. Morgan was thinking of doing the full distance whereas I actually just went along to get some training in.

Plan was simple do the first run, drive the bike course and do a loop of the second run.

What did we learn ?

Well the first run isn’t a run really it is walking at speed up a mountain with intervals of jogging and the descent is basically falling with style, that said once we got into it a lot of fun was had. Somewhere in here the discussion started about me doing little pig.

We drove the bike course thinking mmm this is a TT bike course and at this point plans for a second recce of the course occurred.

So off we went for the second run and although not up and down a mountain a fair amount of climbing was involved, I think around 6 miles in Morgan realised little pig would be enough and I then said I would enter as well :¬)  Then we got lost a little but no tragedy the end result was we made it back to the car.

After this Morgans training was focused and I adjusted mine a little as well and we finalised dates for the second visit.

The second visit was very useful as we did the climb again, not super fast but quicker than the first time and this was good for confidence and my belief that my leg could take the pressure.

The bike course as expected was hard but it is a time trial bike course, yes some of the climbs are nasty but there is enough time spent aero to make me believe it will be the fastest way round.

So there we were two weeks out and full of confidence, even the level of DOMS was much lower.

All sounds simple really and then my fragile body decided to rear it’s ugly head. I had taken the 2 days off running again after the recce but had trained well as felt strong, Wednesday night at intervals I even pushed a few reps. Still felt good. Thursday morning I went for an easy run and afterwards sitting in my office I got some serious pain. So much so I spent the next few days limping quite badly and initially convinced I had a stress fracture, so much so I tried the hop test on Friday night at home and collapsed against the radiator in pain. Suddenly my participation in Pig was in doubt. This carried on all weekend but come Sunday night I suddenly felt better. There was pain at a pressure point but I could hop. This week just passed suddenly became crucial, all the time this has been an issue I have been riding, once on the bike I was fine, again very like my 2 Stress fractures.

So Monday I ran a single mile. It felt ugly and uncomfortable but there was no pain it was just awkward. I waited for 2 days and nothing went wrong so I headed to intervals that I coach with a plan to run a few reps easy and see what happens. Delighted to say nothing went wrong.

Two more hard days on the bike so no running so I withdrew from F11 on Saturday as I had fatigue and a bike in bits. Plan B was to jog a few miles including a parkrun. The big emphasis was in JOG and so a very pleasant morning was changed on coming up on a group at parkrun with a woman lying on the ground. 2kms at speed to go and get first aid. Rested the rest of the day and waited to see how I was. Today I rode for nearly 4.5 hours and ran for 30 mins.

I’m declared FIT TO RACE !!!!!

I still don’t understand what went wrong or why I am now ok. I am worried this may happen again.  I’m concerned that I have become over cautious and even paranoid about the state of my body

In effect have I become a drama queen ?

09
May
17

LVRC – The Tour of the Abberleys 2017

There are very few road races I do and only two I return to year after year. Three days of hard racing on courses that make me feel very fat. What is not to like?

This is the fifth time I have been and in no small part due to Mike and the excellent team of volunteers I already look forward to next year.

Em and I even stay in the same hotel year after year. This has almost become a holiday with pain thrown in for very little extra charge.

Enough of this though what happened this year?

The Prologue – a 2.5 mile largely uphill Time Trial

After a good warm up which included Em having a go at the prologue I lined up knowing I was fit and healthy which is a long way from last year. As always I am acutely aware that I only have so much power over such a short period.  I own a power meter but to be honest given the nature of the course I just ride damn hard, I never really go off too hard and never over cook the climb, I glance at the power here and there and if I think it is a little low I push harder. I was rewarded with a PB and thought I had ridden quite well. When the results came in though I admit I was grumpy as I was a long way down. That said it was PB and I wasn’t dying.

Stage 1 – it’s always thought of as the easiest day and largely flat, it is anything but with around 2500 feet and a nice torture climb you do more than once.

The pace was hard from early on and as often happens I found myself towards the rear of the peloton, it just happens, the following car must just be waiting for me to go ping. At some point a couple of riders got away, they were never seen again.  This year unlike last year I felt better and even though it was hard when the bunch split again on the climb I was able to avoid being gapped too badly and get back on without any real drama. Ironically in a smaller bunch I was still on the back but a few who had been in front of me were gone. I’d like to say I did something exciting or there was a drama but I didn’t and there wasn’t. The second lap was actually easier and as we got ready for the sprint any little efforts by people closed down, I had already accepted my lot, the intention simply to ride hard to the line and avoid losing time.

Reflecting on day 1, no drama and nothing to report. One the one hand I wish I had done more but in reality I couldn’t the standard is just too high and I am not good enough.

Day 2 – 3500 feet of climbing with 5 laps of a circuit with KOM points, you know this is asking for trouble. Happy to report I actually felt ok

Stunningly this stage was mental from the off, as soon as the car pulled ahead the first attack happened, there were a few less of us on day 2 and it was no surprise that I found myself at the back. I do try to move but I just drift back. What was noticeable this year was how easy I found the far side of the circuit. Lots of small climbs and little accelerations by people but at no point did I feel concerned, ironically I was most concerned by the speed down the main road. There were points when at 40mph I thought I am not sure I can l keep on here. The KOM climb is quite long but has a recovery which for me means I can close a gap off. The very top section to the line is also only a slope if that makes sense. It was off this section here that my only attempt at a breakaway happened as I chased after Paul Dring and we jumped over to the lead group of 4, sadly they sat up shortly afterwards and I never got another chance but it had shown me I could ride off the top.

Come the last lap I was actually thinking about how far up I could finish rather than gap limitation. Of course I had to work very hard across the flat and never really made it to the front but it was a good day.

Talking to Em in the evening I was happy with my effort but really concerned about what lay ahead tomorrow!!

Day 3 – its only 2300 feet but the stage is only 34 miles and nearly all the elevation in 4 climbs.

As expected there was an attack as soon as the flag dropped with the Brothers Dring and someone else(sorry I wasn’t there) who went hard.  The rest of the peloton wasn’t hanging about and we caught the leaders on the first climb. I say we, a few of them did I was hanging on for dear life. That said I got over the top and I can descent so by the bottom a good group was formed. We just about got back to the leaders as the 2nd climb arrived. First it was bye bye leaders and then it was bye bye Gobi. Stunningly I got over the climb and rode back AGAIN. As we arrived at the 3rd of the major climbs(lap2) the leaders were long gone but I was quite well positioned in the bunch and although very hard I made it over with most of the group. I think we lost a few but not me. Nice fast descent and we almost rolled along the bottom of the course.  Riding into the last real climb(I know the finish is on the prologue hill but..) and I was 3rd or 4th in the bunch but sadly they just rode away and I was toast. Pretty gutted really but although I had no real issue getting over I just couldn’t hold the pace. Once more I went full gas off the top and did everything I could to be close at the finish. Ironically I had just got to the back of the bunch when all hell broke loose and they went for home. Ha ha ha I was gone again.

Sitting afterwards looking back it was the best Abberleys yet for me as a rider and I had a painful but great time.

I have to thank Em for all her support, Mike for pulling it all together with his team and the other riders who make this the event it is. I swear the standard gets higher every year.

See you all next year.

Gobi

23
Apr
17

National Age Group Duathlon Championships 2017

So for those that didn’t know I have been down the Age Group road before.

http://dload.osb.s3.amazonaws.com/results/clumberclassic11results.pdf

Bronze at the British Champs in 2011, followed by a trip to Ireland for the Euros.

http://www.triathlon.org/results/result/2011_limerick_etu_duathlon_european_championships/6491

Given certain things in life I never even stayed for the presentation as didn’t expect to win. I just rushed home.

I stopped after this for a few reasons:

  1. Cost – it does seem a lot of money to do an event that in some ways is no more competitive than a good UK National level race.
  2. I still wanted to be a runner and had used the bike to protect myself after the injuries in 2009.
  3. Mainly though I didn’t really like the atmosphere at Age Group events. There are things I’m still not sure about but times change.

It has taken a while but sometimes you just need a little bit of time to come round to things. I think in effect I have been in denial. In some ways desperate to be accepted as a cyclist and not a runner on a bike.  I love CX, enjoy racing and get some satisfaction from a good time trial but fun and coaching has had me playing with triathlons and duathlons over the past few years. Triathlon is funny given I can’t swim but there has been no getting away from my results with 2nd overalls locally and even a high placing at a middle distance event. In Duathlons that has meant Age Group wins every time I line up and last year I won my local event overall.

Given all that I concluded that 2017 was to the year I got back in with the big fish.

First up was the Sprint Worlds qualifier at Oulton – 17th overall and 1st V45 – Seems I still have it, there is a blog about this one :¬)

Secondly I used a low key event as a tune up so still short runs but a longer ride on the TT bike – 2nd overall and 1st V45 – Really only wanted the effort and expected to be near the front as this was a local level event.

Finally onto the National Duathlon Age Group Championships at Bedford. This was to be the final part of “Is Gobi still competitive?”

We travelled up the night before which allowed us plenty of time to relax, eat etc and make sure there was enough sleep.

Steak for dinner was well received as was the reasonably early night. Sadly the 8am start still meant being up before 6am but this is where preparation matters. We had travelled with bread, a toaster, proper coffee and a cafetière set the alarm for 0545 and by 6am I had eaten.  Coffee I can pretty much drink at leisure until about 30 mins before the start.

We drove over to the track and the first surprise was how far parking was from registration – Oh well, turned out to be an excuse to test the bike. I did a few rides so called it a warm up.

Bike into transition and some shoes, I’m not a drama queen in transition and just put in the minimum, check in and out and then just leave. No shoes on bike, never learned to mount into them and no markers needed. I guess bright coloured bikes and common sense go a long way.

I don’t know about others but my primary goal before I start is to visit the bathroom for a final clear out. This was a good day with the last visit being close to the start. The strange battle was with the weather. Up until 5 mins before the start I was thinking base layer, gloves and arm warmers but almost last minute I stripped right down. This was a great move as come 0815 I was feeling great.

So that gets us to the first run – 37.10

My plan had been 36.40 so 3.40 a km and so I watched everyone run off again, a few kms in and I started to make progress which was great, what wasn’t so great was my pace which after 4kms had dropped off a little. It was windy but not that bad so I wasn’t that happy. Not for the first time though it dropped and stopped so in effect pretty even pacing just a little slower than I wanted.  I ran with another V45 for a lap and a bit and there is no doubt we kept each other on pace. Importantly I hit T1 feeling fine.

I’m not a stresser in T1 and I guess the one plus about doing a lot of events many years ago is I have a plan, never rapid but solid. Jogged out in my shoes and did a flying mount onto my bike, now it was game on.

Bike time – 56.09

The course had a few sharper bends and wind but again nothing to be bothered by except erratic riders :¬)  My laps were all within about 8 seconds fastest to slowest and with the exception of MattB passing me like I was on a shopping trolly all was ok. The only thing of note to happen on the bike was a strange pain in the side of my left knee, not sure on others but all I did was laugh and think “that’s a new one” while I carried on at pace. I had calculated my laps and peeled off but as soon as I headed to the pit I thought I had come in early.

Even less stressed in T2 as this is shared between triathlon and duathlon so even more trained. Silky with the only concern being a little pull in the knee.

Run 2 – 19.52 – pretty horse really and only consolation is how long it was

I didn’t exactly hobble out the pits but this was a very cautious run with me stressing about coming in early . The strangest thing happened though, my first mile was SLOW and I mean jog slow but as I went through the first mile everything went loose and I was down at 6mm, final stress as I passed the pit and saw MattB come out(turned out he had done too many laps and I had done enough). The second lap I was running faster than the first 10km and really chasing people down which is brilliant and frustrating at the same time. Stormed the line, under 1hr 55!!

Final result – 17th overall and 3rd V45 – another Bronze

Now I raced here with no idea where I would finish so of course I was very happy that my legs held up which given the issues I had had in the other 2 races was not a given.  The first thing  I wanted to know once I believed I had done enough laps was how far I was from the overall winner and the Age Group winner.

An eternity from the overall but close to 2nd and 1st in my AG, within hours I was anlysing where I failed. Failed is a strong word as this was a good race but I wanted to understand if there were things I could do better.

It has taken me a while to write this as I wanted time to reflect on my result, I stated before I didn’t appreciate it the last time I did it but this meant something to me.

http://chiptimingsolutions.com/british-duathlon-championships-2017?tab=Race%20Results#1_94D641

What it means is this.

I am a duathlete, there I said it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In this type of racing I am competitive at National level events.

6 years since my last National Level events and I finish with an Age Group win and an Age Group National Championships medal.

There you have it I am still competitive :¬)

Now I can have a little fun. Interesting ideas around fun I am considering longer events so have entered Little Pig in June – 7 weeks is enough time to prepare myself isn’t it ?

Watch this space I am sure there will be a blog

09
Apr
17

Contender ready ?

Would you believe we are considering doing “Little Pig” for a fun?  Strangely the length of the race is not the problem but the possibility of doing real damage to my back or ankle need careful consideration. That said I need a test event to decide which distances I will race more seriously next season as a duathlete.

Yes I have enjoyed this period of my training and without the pressure of pretending to be a triathlete(I do swim a little when I enter them) I have really trained quite well.

Last bike shakedown was on Tuesday night with a 300 watt 10 mile TT, crap time but good effort.

The rest of the week has been a mix of taper and recover from the weekend, must admit the pain in my quads has really surprised me.

Bring on Sunday !!

28
Mar
17

Tuning up

I have been out on the TT bike the last few weeks just trying to spend some time on it so I thought maybe what I needed was a tune up race before the National so a quick search in the internet and I found the Ashridge Duathlon. Off road run and TT bike friendly lapped road course. Entered the sprint as I wanted to do a hard effort off no rest.

Hotel booked nearby so Em and I cruised up on the Saturday evening and ate near the hotel. Mad all the drive plans for the morning and got to bed reasonably early remembering the clocks went forward.

Race day and initially all went to plan including testing deep heat on my legs (BLOODY HELL) to make sure I wasn’t cold. Thermal base layer and neoprene gloves were out again.  I put the bike in transition and then noticed the issue. There was no garmin on my bike!!! TWAT !!! Warm up became a tempo run to the car and back. No worries made the line nicely warmed up.

Off we went and I quickly noticed that my breathing was a little rougher than I would like, that said I settled in and ran a solid effort on the first run, went for the calm transition and a smooth easy exit . Jumped on the bike and although the garmin was running there was something frozen on the screen so I rode on how I felt. This went ok as I felt very strong on the bike, went hard on the hills and rode 2 pretty even laps. I knew I was relaxed as I hadn’t really worried about getting out of my shoes which seems silly as I think about it now. I also remember having to twist my leg as my left foot was on the ground. Another smooth and relaxed transition. Analysis showed that I can go harder on the bike which does back up how I felt. I had ridden myself into 2nd place so pretty good really.  As I left T2 the guys in 3rd and 4th were only just coming in so I felt pretty calm when suddenly I got that telling pain in my calf. Shortly after I was standing still and stretching it out. Not sure why I bother as I know it doesn’t work until it is ready.  Thanks to the stop my gap to first was bigger and gap to second smaller and relaxing was now out the question. Once running again I was back to 6mm and pushing hard until I knew I was totally safe which was about 200 metres from the line.

2nd overall and 1st V45 – solid day out off the back of a high volume week,  the only concern seems to be my left leg deteriorating even in a small race like this. I want to laugh it off but with less than 2 weeks until the A race I’m a little concerned.

Oh well, not a lot I can do now beyond make sure I am on the line fresh a week on Sunday.

 

 

 

 

13
Mar
17

Oulton Park Sprint Duathlon

In with the big fish.

I like riding a bike and to be honest in places we don’t want to go I admit that I rather love my running.

Thanks to Towers getting me to do some pacing I have been in reasonable shape for the last 3 years so as much as I am in denial I run quite a bit.

As I work with a few triathletes I have been dabbling a little with triathlon and doing a few local duathlons, safe to say I have been quite successful.

This got me thinking that maybe it was time to see if I have been avoiding the sport I am probably most suited to. YES duathlon. I’m not a brilliant runner or a time trialler but I am strong and can back up my efforts quite consistently.

I last had a go at National level in 2010 and 2011, I wasn’t shabby, got a bronze at the GB Age Group champs in 2011, raced at the Worlds and the Euros over those years. There were things at that point I didn’t enjoy and to be honest I was filling a gap as I expected to be back running ultras and collecting my Celtic plate vests running for Wales. Sadly more leg and back issues put paid to that and so the bike has become more and more the focus.

So for the first time since 2011 I was on the entry list for a World Age Group duathlon qualifier but lets be clear right now I am not interested in the blue suit. Not saying never but for now I just want to know where I am and do I have a future at National level events.

I came out of CX season pretty healthy this year but also lacking any real endurance as all my training has been focused on racing for 40 mins so I entered the draft legal sprint. I also banned myself from any MTB racing to avoid silly injuries. There is a possibility a certain bloke is reading this who once questioned my logic of riding an MTB just before a national champs after I crashed and cracked 2 ribs. Seems I have changed and he may have had a point.

Race day

So typical of 2016 I rocked up in terrible weather that only seemed to be getting worse. I registered and racked my bike placing my shoes under a bag with my helmet on top facing down. Not good for speed but somehow dry shoes and head just for a few minutes seemed a good idea. The briefing was long and I was cold even with 5 layers on but then it was time to start. I kept a base layer on and Neoprene gloves and as I stood on the start there was for a few moments SNOW !!! I was questioning my sanity.

Then we were off, cones down the side and running through water, people were flying and after a minute I was aware that my pace was 4.50 per mile and I was going backwards. Thoughts were like this

  1. I suck
  1. They will blow up
  1. Slow down before you blow up

Sure as my name is Gobi people started to slow and I started to move through what was basically the 3rd group.  It was still a shock to be so far down and I was concerned that I wasn’t at the races.

Afterwards I discovered I was 24th and 1st V45 so it seems old and slow was fast enough.

Onto the bike, after my slow transition I left the pit to flying mount my bike and set about making up places. (I put my shoes on and then run out)  It was minging out there but initially I was passing people so spray was not too bad. I caught a pair after a few laps and for 1 lap they did a turn each before I pulled away, it was a handy break in effort but vision was hard and the rain kept coming.  On lap 3 I had the only scary moment when I approached the hairpin at speed and some poor young lady just didn’t understand my request and veered across me twice, I don’t believe I was rude but if I was sorry and I hope you had a good race.

With about a lap to go I was just pushing hard, focused on the run but unbeknown to me at this time starting to suffer in the cold, stats showed my heart rate drop yet I had no perception that my effort had dropped off. Sadly the second I got off the bike I knew things were bad. That said what was obvious was that I could ride a bike.

5th fastest overall on the bike and 1st V45, I was always confident on my biking as this track had the sort of recoveries I am used to in Cyclo cross.

Back to the race.

I dismounted and was instantly aware of cold feet, tight calf and tight hamstrings to the point I was not really running as I left T2.  Distressed that my body was breaking down I just kept pushing forward hoping I would warm and loosen off but as I approached the hairpin the left leg went PING. I stood and watched a people ran passed as I stretched, all my good work drifting away. After what felt like a day but was more like 60-90 seconds I was running and I mean running, last KM was 3.47 not brilliant but a start contrast to the first 3.7kms of the 2nd run. I even got back a couple of places.

41st for the second run and 2nd V45 – this was not good!!!

I crossed the line shaking badly wth Em on hand to throw clothes at me.

Next thing David appears and shouts, welcome back you just won the V45 :¬) Turned out I had beaten all the V40s as well.

Finally having some food I sat there with Em and I discussed my happiness at being competitive and my distress about the state of my legs in the cold, was more the state of me. If it had been standard distance I would not have finished. It is however very hard for people to understand that finishing 17th overall and 1st Vet I could be disappointed yet somehow I was.

Why? I still stand on a start line and race for the overall first and my biking had given me a shot at the top 10, my first was hard but not over the edge so to give up 60-90 second on the 2nd run really hurt.

Plans for next cold event are already coming together but hopefully not needed in April.

Bedford for the National AG champs and this time I will be back on the TT bike and doing the Standard distance, like I said earlier, I’m testing the water and seeing where I am OH and deciding what I want to do next year duathlon wise.

So as far as short distances go the answer to the question ” Is Gobi competitive at National level?” The answer is a resounding YES !!!!

Race well and stay safe

Gobi




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