Modern Pentathlon

After successfully negotiating my horse ‘Buddy’ over a minor fence today at Hewshott Farm Stables, I am now able to say that I’ve completed every discipline of the Modern Pentathlon and in doing soon, I have displayed the ultimate test of fitness, courage and skill. (quote: pentathlongb)

Modern Pentathlon

  • Fencing (completed 23rd Aug, 2013)
  • Swimming (completed 23rd Mar, 2013)
  • Pistol Shooting (completed 2nd Dec, 2012)
  • Cross-Country Run (completed 26th Oct, 2014)
  • Show jumping (completed 14th May, 2016)
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Wellington Triathlon

Having completed the Thames Turbo Triathlon in May, I still wasn’t sure whether I was convinced with the sport. The wet weather, early start and almost crashing my bike certainly didn’t help things.

I decided to give it another try, only this time over a longer distance. I still struggle with the swimming so when I came across the Wellington Triathlon (set in the beautiful grounds of Wellington college), the 400m swim, 20 mile cycle and 10k run was ideal. I managed to persuade Jimmy and Katie (recently engaged, congratulations guys) to compete with me.

It was a great day, glorious sunshine, beautiful scenery, 9am start and no accidents. It was a really enjoyable experience and one that has really given us all the bug for triathlons. Unlike last time, when the post race discussion was all about the weather, we dared to dream about open water swims, Olympic distance triathlons and at one point I think I even mentioned ‘Iron Man’. Probably getting a bit far ahead of myself.

So Triathlon is another sport that I have fallen in love with through this process. My focus (after the half marathons) will be to concentrate on the other challenges for a few months, but no doubt I’ll be back with a triathlon update sometime next year.

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18th challenge completed – Triathlon

Last week came the turn of the Triathlon.

It has taken a week to write this report as I’ve been deciding whether or not I enjoyed the experience and ultimately whether I will do one again.

Having rested for a week after the Manchester Marathon I decided that I could recover in time to have a good crack at my first Triathlon. I decided to start with a Sprint triathlon and join Jimmy and Katie in the Hampton Thames Turbo Triathlon. 426m swim (pool), 21.5k cycle and a 5k run.

I think I need to split the report into two – training and the race.

Training

So 6 weeks to get in shape. Swimming, Cycling and Running. Each on their own quite manageable, but a different prospect altogether to complete each one after the other. I also wanted to post a half decent time.

Swimming

Having completed the Sportsrelief 2.5k back in March I had built up some decent swimming fitness with breaststroke, but decided that I should give frontcrawl a shot. Ever since school this was the one swimming stroke that I couldn’t really do and definitely couldn’t do for very long. The first couple of sessions I could only manage a couple of strokes without stopping, but after the 4th or 5th session I started to build up some endurance and I was close to swimming 426m in one go. The issue was I was very slow. It was taking me almost 2 minutes  more than my breaststroke and the inefficiencies of my stroke meant that I was a lot more tired at the end. I decided to have a couple of lessons to see what I could do. They definitely helped and I felt like frontcrawl was a definite possibility. After my second lesson I went for one more swim session as a time trial. I felt shattered. Training 22 out of the last 23 weeks had started to take its toll. I managed about 300m and had to stop. I took a little breather and decided to see how my breaststroke was feeling. Again it was still much more comfortable and a lot quicker. Breaststroke it was going to be.

Cycling

I think most people are relatively relaxed about the cycling element of a triathlon. The thought of 21.5k didn’t worry me, however I knew that because it was the longest element of the race it was the one that I needed to spend the longest time doing. Had some good rides along the way and managed to fit in a couple of brick sessions, 48k Sportive and a few other Cycling challenges in the Olympic park. Most of the details for my cycling training can be found in earlier posts.

Running

During the 6 weeks Triathlon training I was also hoping to work on my speed, having been so focused on endurance up until now. Having recently joined Ealing Eagles Running Club I now had access to some coached sessions. My 5k PB was 23.36, but having put in a few interval sessions I have got this down to 22.33. The aim is 21.30 by the end of the year.

The race

With the race day fast approaching I started to get everything in place. My new tri-suit had arrived in time for my last swim and I had read through the race pack to get familiar with the course and how to get through transition. I always knew it would be an early start, but when the official start list came out with my name next to number 34, it dawned on me that I was be in the pool around 6.45am! Being a pool triathlon, competitors are set off in waves dependent on their predicted swim and completion time. So on the morning of the race, I got up at 4am to have a light breakfast consisting of a banana and an energy bar. I didn’t feel like I could stomach anything else that early.

I was one of the first at the pool, so had plenty of time to set up my bike in transition. The weather at this point wasn’t too bad but the forecast was not very good at all and around 5.30am the heaven’s opened. So me and my fellow triathletes headed for cover under a tree and the race briefing was delivered in the most horrendous conditions.

6.42am – I had been queuing up by the pool for around 10 minutes by now and was really very cold. Jimmy and Katie were watching on – they weren’t due to start until the 3rd wave. So in I went – 12 lengths of the 32m pool. My aim for this leg was 11minutes and I was almost spot-on. 11.07 and onwards into transition. This is something that is very difficult to practice and in truth I hadn’t give it enough thought. The rain was still very heavy so I had to dig into my black bin liner to get my helmet, gloves and trainers. I was now set for the cycling. This was all done on opened roads but as it was before 7am there weren’t many cars out yet. The cycling was the most isolated part of the race – and at times there weren’t any other riders or marshals in sight. Around half way, I was going pretty well. Having only been overtaken by 1 person in the swim, I had picked off 4 or 5 by now on the cycle. The roads though weren’t great and the sheer volume of water meant that it was difficult to see potholes at the sides of the road. As I approached the bottom roundabout I was determined to keep up the momentum that I had built up until this point as there weren’t any cars around I didn’t slow down too much (I really should have). I lost control of the bike and although I didn’t completely wipe out I ended up hurting myself quite badly trying to keep it upright. I had bruised my ankle, cramped my calf and tweaked the top of my hamstring. On top of this it was still pouring down and I was the furthest possible point away from base. I decided to keep going with the hope that my muscles would loosen up and I’d be ok for the run. The next few miles on the bike were tough and by the end I did start to feel better.  I moved into transition number two. This was much quicker than T1 as all I needed to do was rack my bike and take off my helmet. I still wasn’t sure whether my calf would stand up to the run, but once I got going it seemed alright and my pace was good. By now the rain had started to ease off a bit and I was starting to enjoy myself. I was running at a comfortable pace for the first couple of miles and managed to overtake a couple more people when suddenly competitor 33 came past. My competitive spirit kicked in and I knew that if she got too far ahead she would finish above me. She started around 30 seconds before me so I picked up my speed and stayed in touch all the way until the end. My 5k run finished in 23.28. I was over the moon with this time. 6 weeks previously this would have been a PB and I did it having already completed a swim and a cycle.

I was shattered and in a lot of pain. The adrenaline that had got me through had started to wear off.

My final time was 1.25.28. 171st out of 331. A pretty good effort for my first one. Reckon I might give it a go again – just maybe one that starts a little bit later in the day. And yes, I think I enjoyed it.

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13th challenge completed – Swimming

Yesterday I completed the 2.5k swimathon challenge.

The swimming challenge was a bit like the athletics challenge in that I could have easily just picked a short distance to complete, ticked it off and moved onto the next one. In truth I didn’t know what I was going to do for swimming until one day I came across the Sportsrelief leaflet at my local sports centre.

A few days later, I had signed up for the 2.5k swimathon for Sportsrelief. Rhian also signed up so the plan for the next few weeks was for us to train together and slowly build up to the distance. I think we only swam together once, but it was still good to share the experience of training for something new.

It took me a couple of weeks before I got in the pool as I was finding it difficult to fit in the swimming around my marathon training. The first swim was tough, I managed around 750m and had my head above water for the whole thing – I couldn’t get used to the breathing. The next session I progressed to alternating between a proper stroke and keeping my head above the water. But it soon started coming back to me and after the 3rd or 4th swim I was up to half distance and starting to feel confident that I would be able to complete the 2.5k. In the meantime, Rhian was smashing the swims – going further, faster and swimming more often than I was.

I was still at a maximum of 1,5k when I broke down with tendonitis after a 18mile long run as part of my marathon training. Whilst this was bad news for the running it was good news for the swimming. I swapped 3 runs for 3 swims, with a longest effort of almost 2k. I was almost there – the only problem was that I was still in marathon training and as my weekly mileage increased to close to 40 miles I didn’t have the energy to do anything else, so in the last 4 weeks before the big day I only managed 2 swims, both around half the target list. For the two weeks leading up to the swimathon I also spent every evening trying to work out how to fit the 2.5k into my marathon training. I wanted to be fresh for the swim but without cutting back too much on my runs. Luckily (or unluckily) the swim was two weeks before the marathon and therefore I am currently in my taper phase. So on Saturday morning I ran 12 miles as planned, stretched, foamed rolled and iced in preparation for the swim.

So yesterday, the day had arrived – however we weren’t swimming until 6pm so we had the build up of a whole day. I don’t know why we were nervous but we both were. My parents had come up to watch (thanks for the photos) so at least there would be people cheering us on, not that you can hear that much in the pool. The event was a lot more low-key that we’d thought with around 20 other swimmers taking part at the same time as us. Rhian was in lane 5 and I somehow managed to get lane 1 all to myself. So at 6pm off we went – we’d been training in a 25m but Gurnell in Ealing opened up the 50m pool. Great experience, but psychologically a lot harder and probably slightly harder as you don’t get to push off the side as often.

After the initial adrenaline rush of being part of an event, I quickly slipped into my cruise mode and my pace was similar to my training swims. I had a white hat on (the swimmers in each lane had different colour hats to make it easy to count), although it didn’t really matter for me as I was the only person in my lane. Despite this I’m sure the guy counting my lengths wasn’t really paying much attention and at the point I had done 40 lengths of the 50m pool, he wasn’t looking so I had to shout and ask how many to go. He said 12. I probably had only done 38 but wasn’t the most reassuring response.

Anyway, I completed the swim in around 1h 11m – about what I thought. Rhian finished in 1 h 1 min 1 second. She was slightly gutted not to finish in under an hour.

Overall, it was a great experience and the first time I’ve swam regularly since primary school. It was also help for the triathlons, although I might need to swim front crawl for those.

Feeling a bit stiff today so I have taken a day’s rest before getting back on the marathon training. 2 weeks to go until I hopefully achieve my goal of a sub-4 hour finish.

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General update

Thought I should post something as I haven’t posted for a while.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been focusing on training for my second marathon on 6th April (Greater Manchester marathon). My goal is simple, run under 4 hours. The training up to last week had been going really well. I’d completed a number of runs over 13 miles including an 18 miler last week. Unfortunately after the last run I had a reaction in my left knee, which has turned out to be tendonitis. As a result, I had a full week off running before tackling a 10 miler this morning. I actually felt really good and so far my knee seems to have held up. I have a half marathon scheduled in for next Saturday. The aim was to go sub-1.50 however the recent injury might mean that I need to treat it as another training run.

As part of my marathon training I’ve been following the Runnersworld journey to Paris forums, in particular the sub-4 hour forum by James Carroll. As I don’t belong to a running club and generally run on my own it’s great to feel part of team all aiming for the same goal.

http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/forum/spring-marathon/my-asics262-journey-to-paris-sub-4-james/270566-20.html

The slight upside from not being able to run this week has been the additional swimming sessions that I’ve managed to fit in. I’ve signed up for the Sportsrelief swimathon, which takes place on 23rd March. The challenge is a 2.5k swim. My best to date is 2k in 60 minutes so I feel well placed to complete the challenge

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Swimming challenge set

Just signed up to the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games.
2.5km swim on Sunday 23rd March at Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre.
Got my 1 mile swimming badge as a 10 year old but probably haven’t swam more than 30 lengths of the pool in one go since.

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Swimming

I learnt how to swim at school although I wasn’t particularly good at it. The challenge is to compete in an organised race. I will probably use the Triathlon to complete the swimming challenge

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