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AJBell London Triathlon

Being part of the Science in Sports Ambassador team has nothing but perks! As well as getting a steady supply of what i feel is the best training supplements and support i also get from time to time get offered race entries.

When i found out the SiS were the nutritional provider for the London Triathlon weekend and i had been given the chance to enter, how could I say no.  I was told i could choose whatever race i wanted so i spent some time looking through the options and then it appeared!

Up until now my journey into triathlon had stuck safely in sprint distances but it felt a long way to go to do a sprint regardless of how iconic it was!  Also once i began to look through race routes and more event information i realised that due to the venue the sprints were a multiple lap affair around the Excel Centre but the Olympic Distance race on the Sunday saw closed roads to Big Ben and back.  That was it, decision made!  Just the small point of stepping up to a 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run!

With a new found focus training started well.  My running mojo hadn’t still fully returned but using the Exeter University Pool gave my swim training a new lease of life and ride outs in good weather with my friend @Itsbeef helped build confidence each week.

Training went well and times came down distances grew and i was beginning to feel ready for a new challenge.  Timing could not have been better.  London Tri fell on the weekend after school had broken up allowing no pressure of returning to work after but a long holiday!  I had offered to help team SiS with promotion and general duties on the Saturday before my race on Sunday.

So a quick jaunt up on the Friday to mums and then a journey around the M25 to the Excel centre.  I had found an airBnB literally a stones throw from the excel.  My host was amazing, not only was there free parking, she was more than happy for my bake to come inside and happy for me to check out after i’d raced and had a shower! Win, Win!!

So a brief walk over the pedestrian foot bridge over to the Excel allowed me to see the swim course.  The water looked a little green but with lots of space it was a 1 lap swim which i was much happier (Don’t like lap races).  I stop and watched the TriStars racing as a wave had just set off and was shocked at the speed!  I’m sure there were a few future world athletes in the dock.

London Tri 2

Walking down the longest corridor in Europe i was fully immersed in all things Tri.  Surrounded by expensive bikes, athletes of all shapes and sizes and lots of lycra!  It wasn’t until i turned the corner into the main hall the sheer size of the event hit home!  With part of the run lap inside the hall adding to the atmosphere as well as the finish there was a great buzz in the hall.   Moving through the few outlets selling everything you may need, want or had forgotten trying not to dribble too much over the bikes around me i was in search of Seb and the rest of the SiS Team.

SiS were giving out gels on the course, Whey20’s at the finish but also had a small stand giving away gels to the competitors as they entered transition!  Now transition was nothing like i had ever seen in a race!  Transition must have spanned the size of 2 possibly 3 football pitch’s.  Space for everyone racing in the waves of the day to rack and get ready.  The officials were being their usual organised and officious selves which made entry and exit from transition smooth and fairly quick through the checks.

It was great to be there on the Saturday and get a feel for the event.  This is by far the biggest Triathlon possibly event I’ve done.  Watching those who have done many Tri’s as well as those first timers milling about as well as giving advice on race nutrition was great to take my mind off my race and my worries of the unknown!

It still does surprise me how many people turn up to an event and decide to use the supplied nutrition without ever trying it before or even worse  never having used fuelling in races!  Mine is always a well advised and practised routine!  At least i know i can rely on SiS to be good for most regardless if they have used it before!

So as the last wave set off for the day i met up with Katerina, fellow organiser of @UKTrichat and Owner or @RaceCheck for some tea and a catch up.  This was great for my nerves as it took my mind off things as well as a brief catch up with @myblondereality

After seeing Katerina back to the tube i headed back to my AirBnB.  It was empty and quiet so a quick brew and a chance to prep things for the early start before a good night sleep……………………………….. Sadly the neighbours had other ideas.  As a 30th birthday party got into full swing i saw every hour pass until it died down around 3am! my alarm was set for 6!

So even with little sleep like most i woke before the alarm, sprung out of bed to begin my pre race ritual.  Porridge, SiS Go Hydro and the constant checking of kit.  I was lucky to be testing some new kit out for this race too.  i had the new Aqua Sphere Kayenne Goggles, Garmin Forerunner 935 on my arm, a Fab new Pearl Izumi Sleeved Tri Suit and of course the amazing Ridley Fenix SL.  So with kit on Charlie Mcleod sports cloak on to keep me warm i headed over the bridge to rack my kit.

I had registered and picked up m chip the day before so it was very smooth.  The hall was quieter than the day before due to the time.  The races had not begun so it was a mood of preparation and nerves.  I did the helmet checks and then headed into transition.  Now even though it was quiet i managed to miss read the signs and racked my bike in the area for the wave before mine.  I choose not to move it as i’d set my kit up!

London Tri 3

Kit laid out, checked, checked again and AGAIN i walk the transitions from swim to bike, bike to run.  The reason i didn’t want to move was partly because i had a good spot in the long transitions which was easy to spot.

So with wetsuit half on, goggles in hand i headed out of transition to wait for my wave start.  I met up wit a few other people racing with SiS and we chatted through our expectations and experiences.  Going into the unknown i had a hope to get under 3hrs but was unsure about what to expect so finishing was the focus!

As we entered the holding pen we were handed our swim caps.  The wave was split into 2 due to the numbers, we would enter the water just after the first group but it still was a busy pen!  The compare went through the safety briefing and got us ready before i downed my SiS Caffeine shot and headed down the stairs to dockside.  Goggles on, Cap over the top i jumped into the water and decided to swim over to the inner side of the course.

The course was a large rectangle and we would travel around it in a clockwise direction.  The inner rope was further from the pontoon which made it quieter.  This decision paid off as throughout the swim i was never run over and although catching the other half of the wave in front of me it was fairly smooth.  Far from my fears of how it could have gone.

So final turn taken and i headed for the pontoon, a quick scrabble out a push of the button on my 935 and i was heading up the dockside to transition.  We had to remove our wetsuit and put it in a bag before heading UP the stairs to the main hall before running about 300m to our racks.  My decision to not moved my bike was good as the bikes around me had gone making it easier to get sorted.

Helmet on, number on, bike unracked and i was off to the mount line.  As i crossed the line i jumped on my bike glided down the ramp while fiddling with my shoes and i was off!! This was the bit i was most looking forward too!  We headed out over a few flyovers before heading through a few tunnels before we settled onto the road running into Westminster.  I was feeling good, it felt fast but i didn’t want to look at my watch so jut kept plugging on.

It was hard at times to keep up the cadence and speed as i forgot i was racing and was enjoying the view.  Tower of London passed, London Eye and then i began to make out the turn point at Big Ben.  There were good numbers out on the course cheering you on making it even better!  I made the turn point and headed back to the excel.  The est of the ride seemed to go fairly quickly.  With focusing on taking on Fluid and trying to pick off riders i was soon at the turn around point for the smaller lap.  Taking on my gel ready for the run i have about 3 km left of the bike.

Transition for the bike was easy.  Dismount and then racking was about 200m away.  I had a bit of a fight with my trainer and then my race check visor went on and i was off.  I was trying to do the maths in my head of the times but couldn’t work it out so just decided to go as fast as i could and see what had happened at the end.

The run course was 3 loops along the dockside and then inside the Excel and out again.  The run course was fairly busy and felt like the start of a half marathon at times and i spend a fair bit of lap 1 weaving in and out.  On each lap you had a little horrible ramp up of about 30m to head into the excel and then we snaked about inside being cheered on by the crowds before heading out again.  It was a warm day and i found the air hard to take in when doing the inside part and was happy to get back outside!

Lap 1 went, lap 2 went and i saw the time.  My wave had started at 8:35 ish and it was 10:40 something i was going to be well inside 3hrs!  Maybe even close to 2:30!! It spurred me on for the last lap.  My legs were tired, i was hot, the course seemed to get busier but i plugged on! Turn point tick, metal path, tick, Spectator gantry, tick and oh the ramp!! I made it back inside for the lat time.  Crowds had got busier as the race had gone on and the atmosphere inside was great i turned the last corner and followed the ‘Finish’ signs and ran up the last straight trying to up the pace (I’m sure it hadn’t in real life!) i heard the commentator call my name as i got to the final 20m.  I crossed the line and stopped my 935.  I had completed my first ever Olympic distance Triathlon!!

Now what was my time????? I was given my medal, a bottle of water and i headed off to look at the screens to see my time!

London Tri 5

2:34:42!! i was chuffed! not only sub 3 but nearly Sub 2:30!! I was pleased wit a sub 50 10km to finish but know that i can work on my time on the bike and swim to find the extra speed i need to shave 4 mins 42 and of course sort my Transitions out!  I had done it! i staggered through to the recovery zone.  Grabbed a few Whey20’s and headed back to get my kit!

London Tri 4

I was so happy to finish in 1 piece as well as finish with the time i got.  My legs felt sore but i already began to unpick the race and look at where i could have found 4 minutes.  After downing a quick Rego at the SiS stand i headed back in to grab my kit from transition.  It still hadn’t sunk in but i had stepped up to Olympic after only 2 sprint races.

So would i do London again…….. Yes the atmosphere was great, the Westminster course was amazing and even though the water looked green, visibility wasn’t great, it didn’t taste too bad!  I’m not sure if i would have done the lap races but the iconic Westminster route is a must for triathletes.

So after getting my kit together i hung around to watch the elites make it look far easier than i did before heading back for a shower, pack the car and begin the journey back t sunny Devon.

The Journey home is long enough to get you thinking…….. What next?  Do i go 70.3? Do i try for London Marathon again?  what is my next challenge?  Luckily i haven’t answered that question yet but i have a few ideas so watch this space!!

Happy racing! 😉

 

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Aquasphere MP Tucson Jammers Review

I was given a pair of the Micheal Phelps Tucson Jammers to try out by AquasphereUk and i have had a few months now to give them a blast.  I have tried them both in the pool and the sea on their own but i have also tried them under my wetsuit. Price £31

When i first received them i was a little unsure about the print, not for the style as i like the design but the placing of it!  Talking to my wife she thought it may be like a big arrow pointing to parts that don’t need highlighting in Jammers!  Luckily this is not the case when you put them on! (Sorry not happy sharing those pics)

Now you could say Jammers are just Jammers but i have an odd shape body (Exe Rugby Player) i don’t always find the fit that great but i found these tight but not too tight and i found they keep their shape and are not baggy at the knees.  The top cut is good and the tie stays tied and tight too!  The Material it of a good quality and there is no risk of loosing your modesty due to it’s thickness but it is also lined with an inner so this is definitely not an issue.

They have been designed to be used for training with high chlorine resistance as well as being sun protective (Not that we have to worry too much in the UK!) and sun cream resistant.  I did fully agree with the fact they were quick drying too!

Now they don’t claim to make you swim faster, improve your turns or anything else that would be ridiculous but with a great fit and design they will help you focus on your training rather than adjusting your suit.

They have washed well (i just throw them in the machine with my towel and other kit!) and as they dry so quickly they can be used very regularly.  Now the colour way may look a little busy and this may put you off at first (Like me) but i have to say when it’s on it’s great.  Why can’t we have a little colour in our training kit?

If you are looking for some new jammers for you summer training then definitely consider these shorts.  They have a great fit, look good and will last the test of time!

Happy Swimming

Beginning to Tri – So i’m now a Triathlete

So i can now honestly say i’m a triathlete, well maybe only a open water sprint distance one but with 2 sprint tri’s under my belt i can still be classed as a novice but i did it.  So what have i learnt?

  • It’s a great event to get involved in! i have loved trying something new, even coming form injury and having poor fitness a sprint tri is achievable and still good fun.
  • You don’t need to buy the gear – lots of people doing sprints buy loads of expensive kit but you wont look out of place on a mountain bike and a surf wetsuit if you want to see how you go.
  • You wont be the only newbie! Both events had lots of new to tri racers.
  • It will help you stay Injury Free! Having to mix your training up across 3 events has stopped me over training and get back to fitness!
  • Each race is different, you cannot compare BUT you will want to do more!

So now my first tri season is over, whats next? Do i have a winter of running? I fancy trying some Cyclo Cross and Duathlons too!  I need to build my base back up both in speed and mileage across Swim, Bike and Run.  I have 2 more pounds of weight to lose and i have decided i want to build on this year and try a few Olympic distance races next year.  Speaking to others it sounds like quiet a step up so here is my winter plan!

  1. Regain focus and build a good training base over all areas
  2. Do some of the Wild Night Trail races to help build strength and running stamina
  3. Stay injury free by stretching and working on my core
  4. Build my speed back up both on swim, bike and run!
  5. have a go at a CX and Duathlon if i can find some locally.
  6. Take my nutrition more seriously, especially around recovery and repair

So i guess now it’s here the only thing to do is get going! Starting as i mean to go on! pool session planned for Monday morning.  Oh and also the fun bit……….

What races do i enter next season? More to Follow! 😉

 

Zone 3 Aspire Wetsuit Review

The team at Zone 3 agreed to send me a wetsuit to test for the Triathlon Season so as I have just finished my last race I thought I would post my review! It needs to go back but after using it this summer I really am going to struggle to let it go back!

The team offered to send me the new Aspire model I had seen it had won several awards and had been highly rated by several magazines but as with everything I wanted to wait to see if it was true myself.

When the suit arrived I was impressed by the quality of the box and the fact that you also got a good quality bag.  The team had suggested what size I needed (I suggest you do this or try a few on first) and I have to say it was spot on.  You can see the quality in the suit right from the start.  The neoprene looks and feels very smooth and the lining is of great quality too.  All the joins look very neat and make this look a high quality suit as it is.

The fit was superb.  The 1 piece shoulder felt very comfortable and on first try I knew it would feel unrestrictive in the water.  The body and legs which are thicker to aid buoyancy felt supportive but easy to get on.  The zip was of a great quality and I was able to do it up by myself, this shows a well-made suit in my eyes.

As this was a test suit I was unable to trim it.  Being 5ft 6inches I normally take a few inches off the legs and arms to make transition easier.  The arm and leg cuffs are well designed and I felt this would have been easy and not compromised the suit.

So the proof was in the testing.  I have used this suit on several triathlon races over the summer as well as some open water training, sea swims and a mile sea swim race.

I used this suit first on the first Open water club swim at Budleigh Beach, Devon.  It was a cold, windy day and the sea did not look that inviting.  I noticed not only that it was a warm suit but you really can feel the extra buoyancy in the body and legs and I was able to keep good posture throughout the training swim.

As expected the 1 piece shoulders really allowed free movement in the arms and I didn’t feel restricted at all.  I forgot to put anything on my neck and was worried how sore it would be but I was pleased it was chafe free.  I have noticed on training swims since that as it helps me keep my shape in the water it also makes me faster and less tiring.

The real test for the suit would be both a mile swim race and a triathlon transition.  The suit performed so well on the mile race, as with the training swims I felt buoyant and kept a good position in the water as I swam around Burgh Island.  I never felt cold and the buoyancy helped with sighting in the waves too.

zone-3-suit-and-biI was a little worried about transitions as I had been unable to trim it down but I didn’t need to.  The pro speed cuffs really help with getting on and off quickly.  I never felt stuck in races to get it off.  Getting the suit off was quick and simple.  The stretch in the cuffs allow it to come off quickly even over a clenched fist with my goggles and swim cap in!  The shoulders are so flexible it is easy to remove.

So after using this for a season it still looks like new.  If you follow the care advice and dry it and then fold and store flat I can see this suit lasting for many seasons.  I haven’t used gloves to put it on and have never had an issue of put any nail marks in it.

I will really be sad to send this suit back.  So much I have been looking to buy one for next season.  If you are in the market for a good quality suit that will not only look good but help you swim smoother and faster, then I would really consider the Zone 3 Aspire.

 

 

Cotswold Sprint Triathlon Review

I entered this sprint Tri for 2 reasons, it was very close to my parents (free accommodation) and i spent many a great day swimming in the lake so really wanted to race there.

Pre-race information was good and the pack given out at the sign in the day before had further information to put even the most unorganised or newbie at ease.  Signage to the event car parks was good and easy to follow.

Race day parking was well marshalled and organised and quickly i was in, parked and starting to get my kit ready.  I was able to find my racking point the day before and go through exits and entries in a calmer and less stressed surroundings.

My initial observation was that the transition area felt very small.  With racking for 500 the gangways between the racking was very tight.  With this in mind i kept kit to a minimum and on a small towel.  More on this later.

The 750m swim was across the lake from the near bank before taking a left turn and then a further left to return to the original bank but nearer the transition point.  The lake was clear and fairly warm.  This was my first lake race this year and it was a nice change from salty, choppy water.

Race briefing was clear and done to each group as we entered the water.  The waves were of about 50 people but as we cuold spread along the bank the start was not as frantic as i have had in previous races.  The depth of the lake was undulating and i never encountered problems but i did hear of some that ‘drifted’ of he route getting grounded.

Swim exit was via a rubber mat covered ramp.  The ramp just touched the water.  I didn’t realise this and on exit went to put my foot down and there was nothing there!  To exit i had to get my fingers into the matting and crawl out.

The route from the swim to transition was not too long (I was near the run/swim end, furthest from the bike exit/entry)  Quick change, making sure to tuck my kit under the racking and i headed off for the bike leg.  My earlier concerns about the size of transition soon proved correct.  I got stuck behind a athlete who was getting his kit on then walking out of transition.  I also found myself walking over/running my bike over others wetsuits as they had not tucked them away.

Once out on the bike course it was well marshalled and easy to follow as like the swim course it was basically a large rectangle.  The roads were fairly flat with only one major junction to cross which was manned by the local police.  There was a technical section involving a few left and right turns in quick succession but once again this was well marshalled.

As a Non drafting race, the straight flat roads made this much easier to comply.  The trickiest part of the cycle was the dismount and transition.  The dismount line was on the road with a sharp left turn off the road into the transition.  This was a little hairy as some left it a little too late to stop!

Transition was once again cramped, i got stuck behind a cyclist walking in and then by a group of relay runners stood in the way waiting for their team mates.

So i headed out on the run, i was looking forward to this as it was a trail run around the lake.  I was worried that i had brought the wrong shoes as it had rained the night before and i had brought my road trainers.  It was a little greasy at times and i may have been a little quicker but it wasn’t a major issue!

The 2 laps of the lake was a refreshing change from road or path based runs and was very picturesque.  After the second lap you had to double back on yourself to run up the finish funnel.  I heard some had fallen as the corner was wet from the nights rain.  I just slowed, turned and began again and had no issues.

I crossed the line, got my medal and headed to get my timing sheet.  Not only had i done a fast run i was happy with my swim too!  Packing up and getting going was simple.  The carpark was easy to get out of and not that hectic.

Would i do it again? Yes, when does the entries open? i have a time to beat!

Pros:

  • Well organised
  • Clear, warm lake swim
  • Easy to navigate
  • Good Marshalling

Cons:

  • Transition was too small
  • Pontoon water Exit would have been better than short ramp

Zoggs Predator Flex Review

The guys at Zoggs sent me a pair of Predator Flex goggles to review for the triathlon season.  As the season is nearly over for me I thought I would let you in to my thoughts.  My first impressions when they arrived I was impressed as they looked sleek.  The smoked titanium lens looked the part and I hoped they would help on my open water races and swims.

I have tried other Zoggs glasses and found them to not fit as with other brands also, so I was really pleased to find this fitted my face comfortably and made a great seal around my face without having to be too tight.  They are easy to adjust and sit well on the back of my head.

I used them in the pool a couple of times to make sure they didn’t leak and were comfortable and I was impressed that they did not fog and still we not too dark so were fine being used indoors.

My first outdoor swim in them was on a sunny sea swim in Exmouth.  The coating helped with the glare and had great all-round vision.  I wore them for a 20 minute swim with no leaking or fogging so I was pretty pleased for a first session.

Since this session I have used them on a mile sea swim race as well as several open water triathlons and I have been really pleased with their comfort and anti-fogging abilities.

At a price point of £30 was happy with their quality and build quality and felt happy that they could be used for indoor and outdoor sessions.  These goggles have won many awards and won best in test in several reviews and I can see why.

So if you are looking for an all-round goggle that can be used regardless of the session then look no further.

Bideford Triathlon

The Bideford Tri is a Local club and Rotary Club run event where all profit goes to charity.  It’s a great sprint tri that is very friendly but still challenging.  Facilities are good with a large long stay car park and toilets within 100m of the finish line.  Race start time depends on tide times so can vary.

The Swim is a straight 600m river swim with the tide from downstream back to transition, The water is not very clear and the tidal race can catch you out on the swim out to the first bouy from the shore.

Transition was easy to navigate and there was lots of support.The bike leg is well marshalled and easy to follow (i never did a pre drive and had no issues) Be warned though this is by no means a flat course! The 24km bike course weaves it’s way around the little villages around Bideford and has 1 enforced foot down junction,  But with tough uphills there are some super fast downhills too.  There is a good flat/downhillish last 500m to spin the legs out before transition too.Bid Profile

The run was perfect after the hills, The route takes you over the old bridge and out and back on the flat Tarka trail.  Thre was a well place water station at the turn point too.  The run was well supported in the final stages across the bridge and into the finish funnel.

This is a small race (Max 250) with a real friendly feel.  This would be perfect fr both newbie triathletes to try there first Open Water race as well as the die hard racers to test yourself with a hilly bike course.

As with the title, this race would be a great race to do whilst down in sunny Devon on your hols due to being in August.

The organsers were super helpful and friendly and it had a great atmosphere!

Hope to see you all next year!