I'm heading into my first ever long distance triathlon event - the 2010 Aviva Ironman 70.3 taking place in Singapore.

What bizarre thought process did I go through, which led me to sign up for this race? Oh yes, beer and mates! A few ales into a night out with some friends who raced triathlons, and here I am, committed to the thing.

This blog is written by me, for me, to record my thoughts as I head towards, and through, race day (whether I finish it in a day, or at all, is another story). Feel free to read through it, send me a comment, or move on to something more interesting - like that site on paint drying.
21
MAR
2010
Race Day

Woke up at 0420 before the alarm went off, so headed downstairs and made some toast and coffee. Watched some of the second half of the rugby I recorded, and switched it off just after Wales scored a try - a nice positive mindset to take to the race.

Found some nice parking near the race start, headed over to transition and set-up the bike. I'm deliberately loading the bike up with fluids, 2x500ml behind the seat, 1.3 ml between the handlebars, and a further 750ml on the frame - a combination of Pure Sport energy drink, and Nuun re-hydrate (not in the same bottle of course). I also have some PowerBar and Gels as well, to try and keep the calories up. Chatted to Ping, originally from Singapore, but grew-up in North Carlolina, who was setting-up next to me. I then had a walkabout to find the lads. We hooked-up at the start line, wishing each other luck - energy and nerves were high, and my toilet visits were in overdrive as usual. Stu, Roman and Mark were off first, in their age group, then it was Seb, Andy and myself, with the youngster Kyle in the next wave.

Final hand-shakes at the start line with Seb and Andy, one-minute to race start, I feel surprisingly calm, 3-2-1 and it's off. A very slow jog to the water, reminding myself to take the swim easy. First lap, and I take a slight detour with a whole bunch of other people. The sun was lying very low, and swimming into it wasn't the best for sighting the turn buoy. Out of the water, first lap down and in for the second. A steady cruise and I've got a stinging sensation in my leg - probably sea lice, or jelly fish. I rub it with my other leg, and swallow a bucket full of water - nice! Out of the water in 43:02, and feeling good running into tranistion. Get my calf compression socks (got to protect the injury) on the wrong legs, upside down - a quick swap, on with some suncream, helmet, sunglasses, shoes and racenumber and it's out on the bike.

We follow the Expressway (like a motorway/freeway) in 3 x 30Km loops, but the lanes are very narrow. After a few minutes the pros go past, which means there's no chance of overtaking, but after that I get the foot down and start curising at over 30Kmh. The saddle seems to be holding, and I don't feel I'm working too hard keeping it above 30. The narrow riding lanes are a pain though, and the cones are not consistent in their line-up, meaning you have to be aware that after you pass one on your left, the next one might be right in front of you, or lying sideways across the lane. Seb hit one, but fortunately he stayed upright - many others came a cropper and there were plenty of riders with no skin on various parts of their body - there was also the ejections from people's bikes to watch out for: bottles, inner-tubes, tyres etc. At one point, all the lads seemed to be together, so there was a bit of banter between Kyle, Stu, Seb and myself. There were a few short-and-sharp up and down hills, and I was able to get in a tuck position and cruise nicely, hitting 59Kmh on one hill - the next two laps, I tried to hit 60kmh, but on each occassion there was too much traffic in the way, and I had to hit the brakes. The temperature was rising, and I could feel the heat on my skin, and by the third lap my neck and shoulders were aching, but importantly my legs were in good form. Got off the bike in a time of 2:56:51 - very, very pleased with that, but also quite sad as it will probably be the last time I ride my bike, before it returns to the manufacturers.

Long hobble in the bike shoes to my transition, and then out onto the run - it's now very hot, and there's three 7Km loops to run! I pass the first marker, it says: 1Km, 8Km, 15Km - a long way to go, looking forward to when the 15Km applies to me. After another Km I pass some toilets and think I'd better go for a pit stop. I then reach the most westerly turn, grab some cold sponges - heaven - and start the eastward leg, and stomach cramps hit me, how far to those toilets? This time there's a queue, and I'm third in line. Far too many minutes later, thanks to some muppet taking ages, I'm back on the run. On the way to the easterly turn, there's a good crowd of people, and hearing them shout your name (it's printed on your race number), always gives a boost. I then pass Kym and Rhys (lump in throat time), who are there with Leah, Charlie, Kat, and Karen, spirits are raised enourmously - Brandon is also there, just before the turn, and after it Bea and Matt - I can't explain how good it feels to hear all of them urging me on. Heading back in the other direction, away from the crowds, can feel a bit lonely, but seeing mates heading in the other direction and saying hello is always good - Mark and I seem to be running at the same pace, as we always meet in the same spot. Just over the 7Km mark and the Achilles starts playing up, then the calf goes, and it's pain time. I start limping and slowing terribly. I bang down some pain killers, but I'm in trouble. The second lap passes in a mix of grunts, groans and swearing - there's no form to my running, no speed and I'm beginning to wonder if I'll actually finish for the first time. Eventually the pain killers do their work and the pain eases, but by this point I'm very tired. Last lap, almost there, and some of the drinks tables have run out of fluids. Triathletes cameraderie holds though, and runners pass each other bottles of water they pick up from tables which are well stocked. Through the crowds for the last time, u-turn, and there's the finish - I kick hard, overtaking Roman in the last Km. Finish line, medal and T-shirt - 70.3 Ironman - tick.

My target was sub 7 hours, I finished in 6:27:15, which I'm pleased with. The run time was pretty bad, but seeing though the calf and Achilles played up, I can't complain - I managed to run/run with a limp through 95% of the route; some short walks while I drank water from the hydration stands. Really pleased with my bike leg, and the swim was an easy cruise with no real effort or energy expended, so overall I have to be pleased.

My position was 550th out of 1132 competitors, so made the top half, just. In my category, I came 126th out of 216.
20
MAR
2010
Back up to the race start to drop the bike off. Hooked up with Kyle, Andy and Seb, and then joined a very long queue, and then saw Stu and Roman in transition later, also chatted with a guy called Peter, who was over from the UK to compete, and had a quick catch-up with Mark who was still queueing. Had the bike checked over by the inspectors, found my place in transitions, covered the handlebars and seat to provide a bit of protection, and then hooked-up the saddle to the horizontal pole. A bit worried about that, the dodgy collar holding most of the bike's weight - oh well, if it holds, I hope it will hold for the race, if it doesn't then better it breaks now that in the middle of the 90Km.

Climbed into bed at 2130Hrs, dozed for an hour, and then got up again at 2230 to watch Wales v Italy. Saw the first half, and then headed back to bed at 2315.
19
MAR
2010
Headed up to the race start to pick up the race pack, and had a chat with Shem at the Ironguides stand. Wished him luck on breaking his Personal Best for the race, around 4 hours 45minutes - holy hell, that's fast - last year he did qualify for the World Chamionships, but it was too expensive to get there. There was also the top girl runner from the class there, her best is 5 hours 35 minutes - unbeliveable! I asked them to shout hello when they zoomed past, especially if they see someone cycling with a collapsed saddle and their knees up around their ears!

Headed to the pool and swam a quick 1Km, no pain from the calf. Not feeling too good though, seems like a throw-back to the cold and cough I had earlier.

Some whiskey is the order of the day, just to help sleep.
18
MAR
2010
Called the bike shop (Bike Haus) and they said they have a spare part, so zoomed over.

Arrived at the bike shop, but realised the part they'd given me was for the rear of the collar, I needed the front part. Unfortunately, on the 2008 model of the Felt B12, the front of the collar is attached to the frame, which means a whole new frame!

The guys in the bike shop think it will hold for the race, but better deploy some Stu engineering, I hate the thought of having to ride the bike standing for 90Km, or worse, have the saddle suddenly drop while I'm tucked into the aerobars.

Went to visit the massage therapist at the osteos, and had a good 90 minute treatment on the calf and legs - 90 minutes of pain!

Back home, and a few cable-ties around the collar to re-inforce it a bit. Also placed some rubber around the seat post, and attached this with a few cable-ties, so if the collar does fail it should be a gradual decline in height, rather than a sudden collapse - I hope!

LINKS
Bike Haus: www.bikehaus.com.sg Felt Bicycles: www.feltbicycles.com
17
MAR
2010
Missing track because of the calf/Achilles, but thought I'd try out the bike trainer to see how it held up on cycling.

Good news! No pain!

Really bad news: after about 5Km, I looked down for some reason, and notice a white line running through the collar that locks (and adjusts the height of) the seat-post. Thought it was a white mark, but nope, it's a crack through the aluminium!

Jumped off the bike, had a closer look, and it's not looking too good - bike shop tomorrow.
16
MAR
2010
Rest that calf - damn it!
15
MAR
2010
Up early for a 10Km run.

Half way through the Achilles started to ache, and then it felt like the pain crept up and grabbed my calf, and wouldn't go away.

Phoned up my Osteo, and made an appointment - when he touched my Achilles, I almost hit the roof! A quick session of massage and needle treatment (this is not hocus-pocus meridian line acupuncture, but involves inserting a needle into the muscle as a direct massage technique - it does in seconds what long hours of massage does. It also allows direct manipulation of deep muscles).

Ice, rest and compression is the order of the day - not much chance of elevation, as I have to work.

LINKS
Osteo Pain Relief Centre: www.oprc.com.sg
14
MAR
2010
No hangover, but still mad about the rugby!

One week to go!

Thought I'd head over to Andy F, who's doing the triathlon as well, so we can compare nerves - great BBQ mate!
13
MAR
2010
Pete's stag do.

Paintball in the afternoon, from which I am now covered in bruises and grazes - however I did manage to capture the two flags with a solo sprint in the first game, and one of the flags in the second - bring it on! Pleased to say, my team won 2-0, and no pain from the Achilles.

Didn't plan to drink a lot, but you know how it is? You just get carried away with the (as we say in Wales) "hwyl", but I did pull out before 10pm, to make it home to watch Wales play Ireland in rugby. The game wound me up so much, I couldn't sleep! I was supposed to race in the duathlon the next day, but I binned it.
12
MAR
2010
Need to stay off the Achilles, so a rest day might be best - all part of the taper before the race.

Did make the gym though, and did an hour of weights.
11
MAR
2010
The day after a migraine leaves me a bit 'spaced', and a shooting pain through the head everytime I cough or sneeze - yep, I still have that cough!

20 uncomfortable kilometers on the bike trainer, no pain from the Achilles.
10
MAR
2010
Today was not a good day!

Need to shake this damned cold thing, so headed to the track. Good to see another mate Andy Mac join the group - awesome runner, but not a triathlete - if he could swim, I'm convinced he'd be good.

Started with some planks and then into 10 x 800m with 2'30" rest inbetween. The 800m were broken down into 5 at moderate (that's about 4.5min/Km pace for A group), 3 at a higher intesity, and then 2 at 'comfortably uncomfortable'.

Didn't go into this run properly hydrated, with the cold and everything, but I wasn't too bad. Could feel the chest 'rattle' a little, but on the 5th lap started to feel a pain in my right Achilles, on the 6th I pulled-up. Walked it off a little, and then joined the group for their 8th - completed this and it wasn't too bad, so headed off on the 9th and pulled up after 50m - the pain wasn't good.

Did some stretching, and then got hit by a migraine - rubbish! Half the vision went with the Aura, and that was that - a classic for me, dehydrated and exercise! Limped away from the track quite quickly, and headed home to force water down, and lie down in a dark room with a bucket next to the bed.
09
MAR
2010
Don't feel good - rest, with work of course!
08
MAR
2010
Throat and chesty cough getting worse, elbow sore - not good!
07
MAR
2010
Up early for a 45Km ride with Kyle. We kept a good pace, and were both pretty pleased with the ride.

I normally weigh myself in the morning, so there's some kind of constant in the routine. However, decided to jump on the scales just before my shower, and shock-horror, sub 90Kg for the first time in many years!

Bad news, I'm definitely coming down with something. A tickly throat, and beginning to cough. Hopefully it's mild and short - really don't need this now! I've also picked up a sore elbow, some kind of tendon issue is my guess - not sure what's caused it, but it's quite sore if I pick anything up, will have to try and swim tomorrow to see if it hurts doing that.

Weight: 89.8Kg (after cycle)
06
MAR
2010
After two days out eating and drinking, was a bit concerned about creeping some weight on. Jumped on the scales, and it was down - maybe the metabolism is higher than normal and lapping-up those extra calories.

10Km run in the evening, and then headed to a Gary's birthday party. Stayed for three beers, and then headed home. A good crowd of mates were there, and it would have been way too easy to slip into a session.

Weight: 90.8Kg
05
MAR
2010
After last night, the morning was taken up with work and hangover management - same for the afternoon - and in the evening met up with Kyle and his girlfriend Leah for a curry and a beer.
04
MAR
2010
Didn't want a rest day, but didn't have time to train as I worked late, and then met some of my mates down the bar at around 9pm. We hadn't caught up for a while, and so I staggered out at 2am - not the best training day, but at least I'm a part-owner of the bar, so at least the drinking was for a good cause.

Found out from Charlie that this week has been one of the hottest on record in Singapore - no wonder I melted on that bike/run on Monday!
03
MAR
2010
Upper and lower body weights in the morning, track session in the evening.

Time to nibble the bullet and move up to the A class.

We were doing timed sets, where you had x time to complete and rest after a set distance. E.g. 2'30" to complete 400m; if you finished the 400m in 2', it means a 30 second rest before starting again, finish in 2'25" and it's a 5" rest.

After warm-up and the usual dreaded planks, the itinerary for A was 3 x 400m in 2'30", followed by 6 x 1Km in 5'30", finishing up with 3 x 400m in 2'30" again.

It was tough, but I worked hard and made every distance within the allocated time, apart from the last 1Km where I come in in 5'32". The 400m I came in around the 1'45" to 1'50" mark, and started off with 1Km in 5', but dropped to 5'15" for the 4th and 5th. At the end of the last 400m, I was on my hands and knees in the center of the track, having a "moment".

An excellent seesion, and pleased I finished the entire session with the A group - it's a too fast for me, but if I don't push it, I'm not going to improve.

Weight: 91.4Kg
02
MAR
2010
After yesterday's exertions, think it's time for a rest day.
01
Mar
2010
Really need to start picking things up, less than 3 weeks to go.

Headed out on a 70Km ride, and then into a 10Km run.

The ride went OK, although as I ducked out of work early, it was still hot and sunny - needless to say I got sunburnt in the areas I missed with the sun cream! The run was a bit painful, and I was practically at a walking pace by the end - I'd planned to take some water with me, but somehow managed to forget it, so half way through I was gasping. I also decided not to use any energy drinks or gels, to see how I went, and that made me realise that they do add a bit of kick.

Fitness: That brick session must have paid some dividends
Mental: A nice long ride put me in a positive mood, but how I felt on the run neutralized that.
28
Feb
2010
Singapore Sprint Series: Aquathlon

Tribob (a triathlon training outfit) run a three-event race in Singapore every year. The first, an Aquathlon (swim, run), then a Duathlon (run, bike, run), and finally a triathlon (swim, bike, run). The series started in 2008, and I've raced in every event to date. Today was the start of the 2010 series, beginning with the Aquathlon.

An early rise, and off to Sentosa (a small island, dedicated to resort-style entertainment, to the south of Singapore, connected via a short bridge). Arrived at the race start, got into my running shoes and tri top, smothered myself with the suncream, handed the rest of my gear into the bag-drop, and got body-marked.

Quite a few people I knew were racing, so we had a chat and joked about "why do we do this, Sunday's for sleeping" - as we do at every race start. I was in the first wave, for swimmers that could complete the 750m in under 15 minutes - as were my mates Matt (a natural triathlete - very fast) and Andy (an experienced triathlete, whose times are almost identical to mine), with Mark (a veteran of the 70.3 Ironman) following up in a later wave. This was the first time I'd raced with a wet start - treading water between the start buoys. The current was strong, and pushing everyone past the buoys, so it was quite a fight to stay on the right side. I didn't hear the old "get-set", so the klaxon came as a bit of a shock, therefore I was angled the wrong-way, fighting the current, rather than in a good position to get going. A quick flip onto the front, and it was game-on. As usual, it was a bit of a swim-fight, but after 13 plus minutes, I was in transition.

Ditched the swim cap and goggles, slipped on the runners, and away on the run. I was targetting a 25min run for the 5Km, and started off on target - but with the horrible salt taste in my mouth. First drink stop and I drank some orange tasting fizzy stuff - much better!

A few Kms in, and flying past me in the other direction and heading home went the race leaders (professional athletes). Into the half way mark, and my pace was still faster than the 5 Min/Km pace. At the 3Km mark, starting feeling it, but managed to keep my pace up, although my watch (GPS enabled Garmin Forerunner 310XT - all the gear, no idea) said that it was further. Passed more friends heading in the opposite direction, and therefore gave Malcolm, Tracey and Karen (Andy's wife) a wave. Saw the finish line, kicked to overtake another runner, and as I crossed the finish line, I had an out-of-nowhere chunder. How embarassing, all those people around, my name called on the tannoy, girls handing me my finishers medal, and there I was with a mouthfull of recycled fizzy orange stuff. Ducked around the side of a barrier, and got rid of it, and then found a dustbin to fill. That 5Km run was definitely 5.5Km, and I finished under 27:30.

A total time of 41:11, which put me in 94th position overall (671 competitors in total), and 30th in my race category (Male 30-39, 221 competitors) - I'm pretty happy with that!

LINKS
Singapore Sprint Series: www.singaporesprintseries.com
27
Feb
2010
An easy day required, as I have a Sprint Aquathlon tomorrow.

A gentle 5Km run in the morning.
26
Feb
2010
An hour in the gym (True Fitness), with my trainer Flex. A mix of lower and upper body weights.
25
Feb
2010
Work really does get in the way of training!

20Km on the indoor trainer.
24
Feb
2010
Track training: the only structured part of my build-up to the race.

I run with a group, coached by Shem Leong who is an Ironguides coach and works in Athlete's Circle. Shem is a brilliant coach, and has changed my running style to something more efficient and faster. Before, I'd plod along, heel-stricking and basically relying on momentum built up from my swinging beer gut to carry me forward. Now, I'm forefoot-stricking, with a high cadence in a forward lean position (pose running). I'm far from perfect in terms of technique, but it's definitely better than before.

The proof of how good Shem is became evident in the finish times of my first and second Olympic Distance Triathlon (I've only ever done two). The races were about 6 weeks apart, and inbetween I had two one-on-one sessions with Shem. In my second OD tri, I knocked exactly 30 minutes off my time, breaking the 3-hour barrier.

After an 800m warm up, and then making us groan with some stretching and core strengthening exercises, we did a pyramid set:
8x200m (30 second break between each), followed by 400m, 800m, 1200m, 1200m, 800m, 400m (90 second break between each), 8x200m (30sec)

I'm in the B group, the A group (which my mate Kyle is in - who was one of the beer drinkers that night, and completed this race last year in an impressive time) had to do a 1500m inbetween the B group's 1200m - there are some amazing runners in that group! There's also a C group, doing less distances than the B group, but still working just as hard.

We had to do the 400m and 800m at 3 - 5Km pace (i.e. the pace you'd run in a race of that distance), and then the 1200m in 10Km pace. The 200m had to be done fast. During the 1st 1200m I started feeling it, but I pushed through, and by the second 800m I felt good, and was able to complete the last set of 200m strong and fast at the front of B group - I still collapsed in a heap on the grass when I finished.

Fitness: It's improving, and I surprised myself with how I felt during the last 200m set
Injury: Varies between sharp and aching pain when not running. After running it's sore, but bearable.
Mental: A little more positive, I feel that my running strength is increasing, but stamina will be the issue in this race.

LINKS
Shem Leong: Profile - Blog
Ironguides: www.ironguides.net
Athelete's Circle: www.athletescircle.com
Pose Running: The "Pose" Running Style
23
Feb
2010
Shouldn't a birthday be celebrated over a week? It should, but not when there's less than a month to race day!

Swim in the morning, aiming for 2Km, but got to the 750m mark and realised that I hadn't called the toll people in Sydney to pay, so jumped out of the pool after just 1Km and ran home - to and from the pool is about 2.5Km.

Afternoon, did an hour on the bike trainer (which in my opinion is harder than being on the road), and then into a 4Km run, completed in under 20mins.
22
Feb
2010
It's my birthday - sounds like an excuse for a rest day

Weight: who cares, it's my birthday
Fitness: I've survived 39 years
Mental: Still in the 35-39 age group for the race
21
Feb
2010
One month to go, and I'm sat on a plane heading back to Singapore from Sydney.
Last week in Sydney I managed to fit in 2 x 10Km runs, coming in around the 55 minute mark. A short, fast 3Km run in under 15mins, which included some hills. A total of 2.5Km in the pool.

Weight: 91.6Kg
Fitness: Improving, but way off the mark
Injury: A damaged Sacroiliac Joint, causing back pain and Psoas muscle problems
Mental: Still not fit enough, but I've got a full month - LOL!