Indoor training isn’t quite as boring as many of you imagine...

Indoor training isn’t quite as boring as many of you imagine...

 

Great, safe* and sociable turbo trainer group session yesterday evening in Arkesden.  Organised by Craig Dyce, It was the 4th adult session focussing on steady states and breakaways. It's every Thursday if you fancy joining us.  #DyceFitness 

 

*Safe - Safer than running outside.  I was running this morning and a car hit me with it's passenger side rear view mirror. Thanks, no injury but was forced to shout in French!

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Swim swim swim... Preparation for my first triathlon!

I may be an experienced duathlete (well, mmm, hmm, I can still learn a lot) but I am a complete triathlon novice!  One of my goals in 2015 is to participate to my first triathlon but I am not going to set the bar too high initially; my plan is to start with a pool-based, sprint triathlon.

 

I am now attending the Monday swimming sessions run by my club WaldenTRI.  My club have been working with Philip Hatzis, a level-3 coach from “Tri Training Harder”, on a swim training framework for the first quarter of the year.  All the training will be based on a magic number called “Critical Swim Speed” (CSS), which is the estimated pace you are capable of doing for 1500+ meters.  More information on CSS can be found in Philip’s blog here http://tritrainingharderllpblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/swim-testing-critical-swim-speed.html

 

So my last swimming session on Monday was a bit of a surprise as I was not aware that it would be time-trial night.  The purpose of this session was to measure our CSS. For that, we have been asked to complete the following test: a 400m best effort, 200m best effort and a 50m best effort.  Argh, I am discovering that swimming is hard work.  It is the first time ever I swam a 400m and I found it hard physically and mentally.  At some point, I’ve had to take a couple of seconds rest after each length.  Having said that, having done the 400m first, I found the 200m and 50m relatively easier.

 

My swim times were slow but I now have at least a baseline to work from.  I completed the 400m in 9:20, 200m in 4:16 and 50m in 47 seconds.  I was quite happy about my 50m swim time.  As per the magic formula, my CSS is 2:32 per 100m and 38s per 25m.

The good average swimmers completed the 400m between 6mins and 7+mins; the very best swimmers from WaldenTRI are capable to do the same distance in less than 6mins.  So I think my first target for the next few months is to drop my 400m swim time from 9:20 down to 8mins.  I will keep you posted on my progress towards this first target... And then set the next one...


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2014 TE National Cross Duathlon Championships

WaldenTRI’s Merry Men battle at The Evil Sheriff, 2014 TE National Cross #Duathlon Championships - 7th November 2014
 
At 43 years old, seven (4 + 3) seems to be my number… After racing relatively “well” on-road in October and finishing 7th at the British Age-Group Standard (on-road) Duathlon Championships on 12th October, I was curious to see if I could translate that fitness and form with the mud. 
 
Saturday 7th November saw the 2014 Triathlon England Cross Duathlon Championships held at Sherwood Pines, Nottingham, as part of the One Step Beyond organised Evil Sheriff Off Road Duathlon.  It was a fantastic event, attracting well over 300 athletes to a challenging, fair and very well marked course in the beautiful Sherwood Forest.  The event was a combination of two cross country runs (5 and 3km) and Mountain Bike (2 laps of 10km).
 
In order to battle the Evil Sheriff, the WaldenTRI’s Merry Men Charlie Passfield, Craig Dyce and I, opted to arrive the night before.  A huge thanks to Mike Passfield for offering to take us to the event with his motorhome.  We left  Great Chesterford on Friday around 8pm and arrived at 10pm on a camp site just 15 minutes from the event venue.  No need to drive at silly hours in the morning, great!  However, we had to wake up early in order to have our breakfast a couple of hours before the event starting at 8am.  We woke up at 5.30am and all opted for a different breakfast.  In case you are interested, Charlie had some porridge, Craig had some rice krispies (a light breakfast), and I went for a more French version: 2 slices of brioche and some cereals with yogurt.  We left the camp site at 6.45am and arrived at the Sherwood Forest at 7am.
 
Only one hour left; pressure and doubt inevitably arise (well at least for me).  I don’t know the bike course and I wonder if I have made the right choice for the tyres (knobbly ones).  Quite a chilly morning and we are now heading down to the race HQ for registration; Craig realises that he doesn’t have any proof of ID.  Luckily, he just have to give the phone number of his emergency contact person.  At 7.30am, set up in transition is done and after the usual running over the entrance and exit routes, it is time to start warming up.
 
After a very short briefing, wave 1 (youngsters up to male 40-49) is heading to the start.  The countdown was on.  The 3 of us are on the start line.  The horn sounds and off we go. 
 
We were all strong on the runs but Charlie was very strong on the bike too.  Charlie lead the way with 11th overall and collected a trophy for a first in the under 20 category.  Craig finished 7th in the 45-49 age-group and I finished 9th in the 40-44 age-group.  Craig and I clearly need to do more cycling.
 
So now, is seven really my number?  According to the BTF and ITU rule books, cross duathlon consists of mountain biking and cross-country running. Hence, to be eligible for a Triathlon England standing you must ride a mountain bike and not a cyclo-cross bike.  The final verdict from BTF is that I finished 7th in the 40-44 age-group at the National Off-road Championships.
 
Great video from Triathlon England: ow.ly/E7nyL

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Althorp Sprint Duathlon

On the 18th October, I competed with Charlie Passfield in the Althorp Sprint Duathlon organised by On Your Marks Events.  This event was the final qualifying race for the 2015 European Sprint Duathlon Championships.


This sprint duathlon, going through the beautiful Althorp Estate, consisted in a 6k run, followed by a 20k bike and then a second run of 6k again; perfect configuration as I am a much stronger runner than biker.


My tactic was to follow Charlie and his young legs as long as possible during the first run.  After one mile, I realised that his pace was a bit too fast for me and I did slow down.  Just before entering transition, I twisted my left ankle and hopped on one leg for a few seconds.  Despite a small pain, I was determined to carry on and see how it goes once on the bike.  I completed the first 6k run in 22:17 and entered transition 35s after Charlie.  I reached my bike, put my helmet on and then pushed my bike through the bumpy transition to the mount line.  Just after the mount line, I realised my bike shoes were dangling.  Both elastic bands holding my shoes in place had snapped off.  Beginning of a nightmare.  I decided to jump on the bike and try to slide my feet in the dangling shoes but it was “mission impossible”.  So I dismounted, unclipped manually the shoes, slid my feet in the shoes, jumped back on the bike and clipped in.  I lost 1:37 with this catastrophic bike mount but lesson learnt, I will now use strong elastic bands for my next races… At this point, I thought the race (and qualification for the Europeans) was over and asked myself if I should just stop. A first DNF?  After a few seconds of hesitation, I decided to pedal hard to catch other competitors.  In very muddy and dangerous conditions, I attacked downhill while other competitors were slowing down.  Without the time wasted at the beginning of the bike leg, I would have achieved the 4th best time out of 300 competitors.  With this good ride, I improved my position from outside 20.  And finally, despite a painful ankle, I pulled out a good final 6k run, completed in 23:45.


My finishing time was 1:26:31 and, much to my surprise, I finished 1st in my age group and earned my qualification for the Europeans.  I finished 17th overall and excellent result from Charlie who finished 4th overall.

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British Age-Group Standard Duathlon Championships

On the 12th October, I competed in the National Duathlon Championships in Milton Keynes at the Big Cow Duathlon. 


I travelled very early in the morning and arrived before 7am for a race start at 8am. It was very dark when I arrived, the fog was thick and the temperature was very low (3°C)! It was the coldest morning since the official end of the summer.


The event was made up of a 10k run, followed by a 40k bike (2 laps), and then a second run of 5.2k. The run course was pan-flat, a PB course for sure! The bike course was relatively flat with a few undulating sections.


The race started fast with some of the best British duathletes at the front (Alan Murchinson and Lee Percy amongst others).  I was not able to stay with the lead pack but I managed to stay with the second lead pack and actually felt very comfortable and maintained a very good pace throughout. I completed the 10k in 35:53, my best time ever!  I came into T1 in a decent position but I always knew that I will loose a few spots on the bike leg….which soon happened.  The visibility was very bad with the fog and the weather refused to warm-up; it became as much a battle against the cold as a fight again the fatigue.  Contrary to Oulton Park event I felt lonely, isolated during the bike leg, which I completed in 1:09:43.  I went into T2 determined to gain a few places back.  I had a quick transition and ran off the bike very well to finish in 2:07:24, 37th overall and 7th in the 40-44 age group.


I was mostly happy with my first 10k run PB and very happy to be ranked, as a French, in the British top 10!


Very well done to Pete Thompson, who finished 5th in the 55-59 age group with a finishing time of 2:16:39.

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