Month: June 2015

The Colour of Money?

I think I have blog diarrhoea at the moment – nothing for months, then three in a little over a week.

No need to thank me.

This weekend’s activities will be contrasting, in emotions, in distance, in appearance, in style and in weather but strangely not location.

The location will remain the same and that is the ever lovely Cholmondeley castle – which plays host to a Colour run on the Saturday then a triathlon ‘festival’ on the Sunday, within which I will take part in the 70.3 Gauntlet in an attempt to beat my daughter down the finishing chute (https://budjude17.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/picking-up-the-gauntlet/‎) for a change.

Saturday is family colour run day – the first time we as a family will be taking part in the same event. Not sure who is more looking forward to it, but it is great to see Zoe getting so excited for taking part in events. Ultimately apart from not being as lardy as I used to be, that was the one goal I had for starting to stumble about ill prepared in lyrca. Hopefully her interest doesn’t wain this week as I have booked her into take part in the Long course wales kids event (http://www.taffkids.com/) and although we haven’t officially sorted her coming back to Tenby in September the more I think about it the more I would love to see her complete Ironkids on the Saturday and absorb the atmosphere on the Sunday – having said that watching her dad wandering the streets of Tenby late at night like a drunk might do more harm than good.

I have to admit I have never been interested in taking part in a Colour run, mainly because Zoe wasn’t really old enough and also because of the price charged. To me at face value it seems very expensive for what is essentially a parkrun with a group of local youths throwing paint at you. I should clarify that I managed to snag a family freebie through work to take part (and you know I love a freebie) – but it should have cost us almost £75 for the three of us to enter, or if you prefer £5 per km per person.

Pound for km that is over two and a half times as expensive as an official Ironman is. I have done the maths trust me. That’s based on an Ironman which everyone knows is at the expensive end of the full distance spectrum – if compared against, the some would say better organised, but with less glitz, Outlaw it would be 4 times more expensive per km.

4 times!

Four times – an event which takes up to 17hrs, requires millions of volunteers, safety canoeists / boats , numerous road closures, motor cycles, draft busters, thousands of bottles of energy drink supplies, a jungle full of bananas, a warehouse of jaffa cakes and Gary Big Ears personnel supply of Ready salted crisps, not to mention the quite impressive collection of freebie magazines, bags, t shirts, medals, blisters and appalling spectator race photos you acquire from such a long time on your feet.

I get that it’s a bigger novelty event and as such you would expect to pay a premium for it on top but when you work it out, in black and white that seems an amazingly high mark-up / rate of exploitation for some paint.

Added to this is my pet peeve for sporting events such as triathlons or novelty runs.

Paying for frigging parking and insult to injury…..the bag drop.

Now for those of you not in the know about the location of said castle, I am happy to report that it is here

ch map

 

I think by anyone’s estimations that is in the countryside – so options of how to get to the event are fairly limited; no public transport goes that way generally, let alone at stupid o’clock on a Saturday morning, so unless you plan to cycle at least 15 miles each way with your small family (its aimed at youngsters after all) its either a horse or using the good old fashioned car. With no alternative parking to be had nearby for said motor vehicle or said horse.

So per car they charge a staggering £10; regardless if you have crammed in 8 or are by yourself. You have no option – it is akin a tax on happiness. Using Ironman as a benchmark again, that percentage is like turning up and then being charged £160 to park the gear laden car, to do an event you have already paid a small ransom to take part in.

I get they are in it to make money, it’s a business after all, but surely the parking ‘costs’ (although what cost of allowing people to park on a field there is I don’t know – especially because it is free to park in the same field the very next day to participate in the triathlon) could have been absorbed into the margin charged on entry. Again if you do the maths 2000 (ish) people at a rate of 3 people per car equates to 667 cars, at £10 each is a return of over £6500. But at what price? Would that extra price stop an additional 250 ish people taking part in the event in the future, I guess you would never find out if they haven’t come to support family or friends this year due to the high price of parking.

Would those people then go on to spend money on the (expensive) merchandise and maybe buy some post event grub, then go home and tell everyone how much they enjoyed it and then have the ‘we all should do it next year’ conversation and thus starting the snowball effect for the next year.

Ok Ironman is expensive – but least they don’t charge you £2 a bag to place inside a tent for an hour to look after all the things you don’t want to get covered in paint – after all who would want to get covered in paint……

That said I hope it’s at least two and a half times more enjoyable then I found Tenby last time around.

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Top To Toe / Tit / Testicle

This will shock you.

I like a moan, probably more than most.

However it is clear that Tenby has become the all-consuming beast in regards to my attempts of sporting ability. I have mentioned before I feel a little bit like it has at times been built up in my tiny deluded little mind to be bigger than it should be – at the end of the day I attempted it and failed.

I didn’t like failure so I signed up again to right the wrongs – I am behind the eight ball on righting those wrongs, however I still think I will finish this year and readjusted my mindset accordingly – something I am much happier for. Maybe I will finish just outside the Kona slots, but it goes without saying I would snap your hand off at a finish of any sort this time around. Especially if it doesn’t involve puking everywhere.

With this sucking of fun (not like that I have been married for 6 years) I wanted a focus outside of Tenby and so rather wonderfully decided to lump in on a long distance tri for 2016 – the newly formed, rather wonderfully named Lakesman.

Bet you can’t guess where it will be held.

I love the lakes and have done other events with the company and they were fantastic, plus they had a payment plan where you can drip feed payments, plus they had a special 100 club (for the first 100 people to sign up) plus they promised me I would get a tailwind all the way round and a beer at the finish line. Anyway I have been to Keswick before and it has millions of ice cream shops.

So that’s every box ticked.

So that will be my main focus next year, to not come last in the lakes.

It’s kind of catchy isn’t it.

However – something has been itching deep inside me, that not even Sudocream will solve. That itch was heightened by Denzil ‘ How hard can it be events’ / ‘Mr 9bar’ last year when he did it and more recently (last week) Phil ‘the legend’ Collard. That ‘event’ is to cycle from the Top to the Toe of Great Britain.

I have christened it TTT (top to toe) as JOGLE is a bit pants I think and also means that if I have to quit at say the Midlands it can still be TTT (top to tit), or indeed if I got as far as Somerset it can still be TTT (top to testicle)

I know I am not fit enough at the moment, I have only once ridden 112 miles in one go, but it would give me a great base to work towards longer term on my biking ability and also the mental toughness to go day after day, but as ever the fundamental questions surrounding commitment to setting a date are cost, time and family buy in.

The quickest time ever was a mere 44hrs – more reasonable timelines are between 6-9 days, with clearly there being a benefit of less accommodation if less nights away, less nights away means less holidays from work, which means easier to get sign off from the boss (the proper one at home), which means it could become a reality. However the shorter the number of days equates to longer sessions and time in the saddle each day.

I have hundreds of unanswered questions; route to take – quickest vs safest, size of group to do it with, organised vs DIY (much preferred), camping vs hotels vs places to crash for free, cost expectations, time of year, could I use current bike, how much kit would I need, will I be sponsored next year (could they help support it), can I live in bib shorts 24 hours a day for a week etc. And no doubt I will be begging people for information from social media in the coming months to pool the collective knowledge to help the dim witted one.

Fundamentally I am writing this to drop the hint to my wonderful, beautiful, brilliant, intelligent and sexy wife, that I would like to do it, but also to see if anyone fancies helping a fat lad cycle the length of this wonderful island.

I am sure it would be more fun, not to mention safer, with at least one other person and I have no idea what the optimum group size would be, but for some reason I am thinking three or four (mainly because that seems a sensible group to ride as and also would give me plenty of time hiding behind the other two or three)

At present I am thinking around Easter in 2016 – which is late March (I think) to utilize the bank holidays to ease the holiday required from work (think it would still be 4 days annual leave) /although I have issues over the weather (although judging by June so far it wasn’t that much worse in March) and available daylight hours at that point in the year.

As mentioned I really know nothing about this – all I know is that you have to get to the start, cycle to the end and get home again afterwards – everything else is completely up in the air a little / a lot.

Clearly if I have hundreds of responses then I will hold some sort of X Factor audition where on a sliding scale of criteria you will be judged. At present this involves, the ability to change a puncture on MY bike, how good your bum looks in lyrca, the ability to provide cake and tolerance levels to smelly 33 year old men.

Anyway enough of the semi-serious guff – who’s in?

Send CV’s with photos of cake and you in lyrca to…….

POWER

After the ‘achievements’ of Chester (within which I include winning a man vs food burger challenge, not falling over and getting Joe to buy me a drink) my plan was to continue the build towards Tenby by utilising the wonderful welsh countryside and attempting to drag my lardy, lime covered slow ass up some hills.

Frequently worried about what awaits in September I have nicely forgotten the fact I am doing the Long course weekend swim and bike in 12 days’ time. The event which was / is going to be a confidence building exercise is fast approaching and I will be going in as usual under cooked in the training department and over cooked in the feeling injured and generally abit shit department.

So a nice bit of panic training has ensured that I am suitably knackered and thus was sat on father’s day in the kitchen moaning and generally being a grumpy sod about what to do. I did my longest and hilliest ride, which doesn’t say much, of the year on Saturday in the rain and mud (which included getting lost looking for the Cholmondeley Castle Gauntlet bike route) I found it both mentally and physically tough and with no one around to chase down due to the weather ( I love picking off folks out on bikes – it makes me feel quicker than I am) I resorted to singing to myself and frequent bursts of shouting POWER at the top of my voice as I attempted to get my legs to stick to the 20 mph average I wanted.

They didn’t listen.

However this was rudely interrupted when during a burst of ‘raw power’ I shouted something alittle silly about cows and hills and welsh people, whilst going past a garden – which turned out to be full of people attempting to enjoy a BBQ in the drizzle.

Judging by the looks on their faces I am guessing they didn’t have a choice but to listen. I was quiet after that for the rest of the ride.

Capture1

So on Sunday – randomly the daughter was the one who pushed me out the door to do some miles. Everyone knew I was tired, I knew I was tired but I figured that least afterwards I would feel tired but with some more miles in my legs and with a big fat roast to look forward to I went out. Mainly because she was going to the park having managed to fly round the garden on her new bike shouting ‘I can do triathlon’ and wanting a big space to mess around in, we were forced into a photo shoot by the wife and her shouts of good luck perked me up abit.

Capture

So off I went and just couldn’t get going at all on the bike – no comfort (these Pella bib shorts are about as effective as sitting on a dishcloth with the added bonus that I now have a new fragrance – sudocream) and a clear downturn in my ability to push. It’s strange how 0.5 mph average difference makes such a huge mental difference to me. Being new to having a garmin where I can see such exciting things as average speed I have become increasingly focused on looking at my watch and then getting annoyed with myself as it falls below 20 mph.

Even a drop from 20.1mph to 19.9 mph gets me swearing quickly – I don’t know where I think I have got my god given right to be able to cycle consistently over 20mph up hills without sweating, but anything slower annoys me greatly. I think part of it boils down to the fact that I have a better bike this year, but due to my lack of fitness, my love of cake and various injuries my average speeds haven’t gone up much (well not as high as I was expecting) when I compare some of my times to previous years I am still well down on what I hoped for.

I have accepted that it’s going to take a long time to get back to running quickly (for me) although running off the bike is improving – I did a 7:08 mile the other day – but I had hoped for a more immediate upturn in my cycling speeds, which hasn’t been the case.

Must mean I was super fit before on my old bike or that I am super unfit now. I would suggest it’s the later.

So a nice reality check of a weekend ahead of 6 events in 3 weekends. I would love to get close to my ‘usual’ time of 5:30 for a 70.3 this weekend and I think it would be a good sign of improvement versus the fact I was 25 mins down at Outlaw. That said I ran a 1:47 HM at the end of Cholmondeley castle last year and I don’t have a cat in hells chance of doing that this time around.

More of a realistic test will be to see if I am in any fit state afterwards to eat a massive burger

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a new dawn, a new day

So in the last three weeks I have somehow managed to start two 70.3’s and an Olympic distance triathlon.

One of which wasn’t in the plan. As I was returning through Manchester airport and back into the rain after 2 weeks of sunshine and all inclusive food in Majorca, a place became available to do Outlaw Half – one of my favourite races and a location which holds happy memories of both the half and full last year. Now I am sure you all know I bloody love a freebie and this was an amazing and generous offer by not just one person but more a collective of amazingly nice, down to earth folks – who I had never met.

So with the wife duly obliging in my desires to go attempt to bumble my way round Nottingham I was despatched, minus supporters – which was a shame but I couldn’t find anywhere affordable for the three of us at such short notice, the day after I got back from holiday. I was allowed clearance to go on clear instructions to stop if it hurts. Sue still has a lot to learn – as if I had followed that advice I would have got about 300 metres into the swim before dragging my wetsuit coated ass out of the drink.

So I arrived in an as ever hot Nottingham and met up with the wonderful folk of @teambear_tri to chat, support and generally be inspired by their stories to get to the start line the following day plus some little run one of them did across a bit of sand earlier this year. Having never met any of them and only really dipped in and out of the group on social media I was a little apprehensive about meeting them all, but my fears were immediately quashed when Paul started taking the piss out of me for not wearing the hoodie – suppose he did kind of have a point as everyone else was, even in the sunshine. I think he has a thing for suffering.

Automatically I felt like I was part of the group, despite most / all others knowing each other already, they were never any moments where I felt in the way or out of place. Which considering Paul was ill and had just given me his entry was testament to his character. So much so that after the meal we had a chat outside about my recent ramblings / mind-set and the such and within 5 minutes I had a renewed confidence and what felt like a firm platform to begin to push towards Tenby.

The usual nervous micky taking and discussing weird and wonderful events ensured the meal passed quickly and apart from Vicki getting chips thrown at her everyone behaved. The hotel I was staying in was rough – so much so that I hid my bike in the shower, wrapped in towels whilst I was out for tea and I was expecting the worst in terms of noise and general disruption throughout the night. But randomly I heard nothing, which either means I was knackered or I left so early in the morning all the drunks were not yet back. Actually as I was leaving complete with bike on my shoulder down three flights of stairs a group of drunk blokes did a double take as they were heading in as I was departing into the storm.

The race itself was fairly brutal – I had a mild panic attack in the water, having been used to Majorca seas for two weeks, the temperature was a bit of a shock and also due to having no space for what seemed like an age. T1 took ages as I struggled to put some warm clothes over my wet tri suit. The bike was miserable, as my run of heat waves whilst being in Nottingham ended abruptly with heavy downpours and gusty winds. I plodded on reasonably quickly, but felt my knee on occasions and dialled it back to focus on shouting abuse at all the trains of drafting which seemed to be going on around me in the gloom.

I love the bike course, but the wind and rain made it abit of a struggle – especially because I hadn’t seen my bike for two weeks prior to the event. Back safely into T2 and another long changeover due to my tri suit falling apart – thank god I had some running shorts with me, otherwise it would have been very embarrassing. Off I plodded, past bear corner and began the out and back – I felt ok and was determined to finish so set off at all I could muster – as ever a stupid error and ran the first mile way quicker than expectation or what I could reasonably hold for any distance. The rest of the run was uneventful, I prayed to the portaloo gods and they answered me with a clean throne to which I could disgrace.

By the end I was honestly just happy to finish, albeit in my worst ever 70.3 time and 25 mins down on last year, it served as a strange confidence booster – if I can finish a half in crap weather whilst still recovering from my knee op, being unfit and still a stone heavier than last year then maybe I can scrape round Tenby in under 17hours.

But the most important thing I took away from Nottingham, apart from trench foot, was the spirit and sense of team togetherness from the bear guys. I have only experienced something similar with Team 9bar and always enjoyed those occasions immensely and this was no different. Time flew, everyone happy to help out and no one forcing agendas and I was sad that I had to start the long journey home with a car of extra smelly, wet kit.

I struggled massively in the week after and didn’t do any exercise till Wednesday which forced my decision to just do the swim and bike at Bala, something which tragically would later be a decision which would be taken out of my hands. So Sunday came, I stood waiting for the start of the tough Bala 70.3, dreading the swim, then dreading the hills on the bike, then dreading the fact that I would not be putting my run shoes on for the last leg.

The swim was shorten due to it being friggin freezing and I was glad it was only 1000m as I got booted in the face almost immediately at the start and it took me longer than usual to settle down into some sort of comfortable pace. The usual Bala scramble to exit the water followed and I discovered my hands wouldn’t work and thus it took me ages to get a cycle top over my knackered tri suit.

bala bike

Off out onto the bike and saw the family and managed a smile – I think I was just happy to be out of the water, but the smile quickly disappeared on the first climb. To be honest, looking back now, it wasn’t that bad as within the climbs were plenty of downhill sections which allowed you to get your breath back and recover a little bit. The bike has actually longer than planned due to the council dumping gravel in the original turn around spot and I was eager for the turnaround point before the real tough climbs kicked in on the way back – by now I was cooking, but thankfully the knee was playing ball and I was making decent (for me) time – still plenty of people overtaking me, but I was also picking off a few.

Knowing the course I was aware of one last big climb, before some smaller stuff towards the end and I was grinding up the hill when it was clear that something was going on. Marshalls all over the side of the road calling people in to a layby for a chat. I had no idea what was going on and to be honest was glad of having a rest, at not quite the summit. The news that there was a serious road accident up ahead involving a triathlete stole all the breath from me – I only knew a couple of people doing the event, but we triathletes are a strange family come a race (as often seen on the road leg when giving encouragement to each other) and it was devastating to think something had happened.

We were told that the race had been abandoned at that point and that up the road we would have to dismount and push for a bit – but we must keep going and head back to transition at the earliest opportunity. I started off again, now cruising along chatting to others before we got to the queues of traffic and silence fell across us all.   The slight of an ambulance and an air ambulance was brutally visual and due to the lack of urgency from the paramedics I assumed something serious had happened. I passed the scene and kept going – I couldn’t stop and help, I have zero first aid skills and generally am pretty useless in an emergency situation. It was horrible, we couldn’t work out what had happened as they appear to be no car on the scene, so assumed that it had, had to have been a hit and run.

I chatted some more with the guys around me and we figured that everyone would know that the race was done back at HQ – but guessed that they wouldn’t know details about the persons involved – how could they yet. So the three of us decided to pedal as if still in the race (with a bit of friendly drafting) and give it some welly back to the lake to lessen the time for friends and family to wait to hear that it wasn’t us involved (this generated the ‘you’re not bad for a big lad, do you do time trials’ comment) This seemingly was a good idea as when I got back Sue and her folks (supporting for the first time) burst into tears at the sight of me being alive and well. I am assuming that they were tears of happiness, but I have yet to have that confirmed. (Clearly my reputation for injurying myself is well known as I had a couple of messages asking if I was ok on twitter when I later checked)

The atmosphere was horrible, people stood around in silence – everyone thinking the same horrendous thoughts until they saw the triathlete they were supporting then all the emotions came out. Compare that to the usual mixture of energy, excitement and noise when getting off your bike in T2 and it was extremely sobering to say the least.

My heart goes out to the family of Daniel Cavanagh http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/tributes-daniel-cavanagh-bala-triathlon–9429538 who sadly didn’t get to finish his triathlon that day and it puts everything into perspective. The way that Wrexham Tri and all the triathletes handled the situation deserves great credit as well and goes to show that generally the people who take part, get involved and love triathlon are decent human beings. Again it reminded me of Tom and from that morning we as a family don’t leave the house without letting everyone know just how important they are to those that remain.

Sadly that wasn’t the last triathlon tragedy to hit the local area as in the following week, leading up to Chester Olympic triathlon, a member of Chester tri was knocked off his bike and killed on the local roads (http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/watch-tributes-a483-cyclist-alan-9454986) – something which has done nothing to appease Sue about me disappearing at 4:30 in the morning to dick around on my bike. The organisers and again triathletes paid the up most respect to Alan on race day and it was hard to run past the memorial on each lap, that was rightly displayed.

swim exit

The race itself was good from my perspective; I got to meet up with a couple of members of Team 9bar, used my new race kit for the first time (I think I need a new lime related nickname) and amazingly my performance was actually pretty good, coming in at 2:21 – a big PB for the distance and with a bike performance I thought was only average followed by a 10k of 46 minutes – overall meant it was way better than I was expecting.

chester bike

Plus I got to beat Joe and some other local boys – not bad for a fat lad with a dodgy knee.

run

Actually got a weekend off this time around, but plan on heading over to ride the Castle series 70.3 course if anyone fancies joining me on Saturday morning.