The Frenchman - June 1st - Tom Levy

After 9 months of work towards my first iron distance race. There I was standing on the beach looking out at a stretch of water 2.4miles long. All I wanted to do was turn around to someone and fulfil my pre-race tradition and shake a fellow competitors hand…I didn’t. I couldn’t. I speak no French and there I was in the FRENCHMAN. Everyone was French and boy did it feel a little lonely.

After not the easiest and problem free journey to my father and I arrived in Houston, west of Bordeaux. We’d been there a couple of days and it was now 17:00 and I was heading towards transition with my bike and different transition bags. I had T1 with cycling shoes, road helmet (not aero) sunglasses, Garmin and most importantly SUN CREAM!! T2 bag had my running shoes, a cap, more sun cream and gel. T2 was a lot less cumbersome.

Skipping forward 12 hours and there I was again, standing in transition pumping the tyres up, checking my nutrition was in place on the bike, my water bottles full, my helmet and shoes were in my bags! Perfect everything was ready to go. So I grabbed my dry bag with my wetsuit and goggles in, kissed my other half good by, said bye to the family and headed to one of the 10 buses ready to bundle us tot the other side of the lake. The great thing about this swim was that it was 1 straight line. Start one side of the lake, finish the other. Perfect! Sighting would be easy. Head down and swim! Arriving on the other side of the lake I got changed, pulled my wetsuit up higher than ever before to give my shoulders as little hassle as possible and headed onto the beach. Making sure to double hat it so no one could rip my goggles from my head I looked around and realised that it was truly an individual sport.

Now I don’t speak a lot of French. In fact very little, but I do know enough to recognise a countdown to put my goggles on so to be ready for the rush that is running into the water. Well, you can imagine my surprise when I head the gun go off and there I was with my goggles onto of my head. So deciding it was a sign I walked into the water ducked my head under to clear my goggles, placed them on my face and dived in. Feeling calm and confident in my swim I started to push through the throngs of feet and flapping arms. After about 600m the bashing and kicking started to disperse and I could finally feel my rhythm coming into play. Making sure I stayed relaxed and in a straight line I pushed on. recognising I was in the middle of the lake because the water had dropped a noticeable few degrees I sat at my pace and slowly picked off athletes who had obviously gone off to fast. Remembering the sighting techniques taught to me I kept the sun at 10 o'clock in my goggles and remarkably I stayed straight on course. After a little while, I realised I was coming to the end of the swim. I saw the big red buoys marking the entrance to the harbour and so turn into the harbour. Now I could only sight off of the land on my left as the sun was still low and directly in front of us. I have never been so blinded in a swim. I remember feeling a touch of sadness because the swim is always my favourite part and now it was over. I swam far up into the swim exit, missing where the family was I clambered into the changing tent.

Finding my T1 bag, number 402, I sat for a moment and pulled my wetsuit off. At this point was confronted with a very naked gentleman who was obviously getting changed into cycling gear. Being taken back a little made sure my tri suit was in a comfortable position, applied as much suncream as I could, dried my feet, helmet on, shoes on, Garmin in hand and I was away. Down the isles of bikes and there was my trusted Boardman. My Zipp 808 wheels with their brand new tubs from Schwalbe glistening with the morning dew on them. grabbing the bike I was out of transition and onto the bike course. Quickly hearing my father shouting ‘1hour 3 minutes for the swim’ That was a confidence boost!

Out on to the bike and onto one of the flattest courses I have ever seen. Head down, stick to my ideal normalised power and drink!!! We all knew it was going to be a freakishly hot day and it did not disappoint. after an hour on the bike and 30km, I was feeling comfortable but the sun had started to show. Little did I know it was going to be that hot. Over the course of the day, it would have an average high of 34c across the course with bits of the bike spiking at 40c and the run at 38c. I was worried about the idea of being dehydrated so I started to drink lots. This was fine. It did mean that I had to stop 3 times to dive into a hedge for a quick wee. I know lots of people will say why didn’t you just go on the bike? Well, I hadn’t adjusted my suit enough and the thought of urine and a slight rubbing suit didn’t bed well. 

Moving through the course I stuck to my power and was shifting along at a nice 18mph. It turns out no one who swam my speed cycles at my speed. 250 people passed me on the bike. Opps. we had headed north and looped back to come south. at 90km we headed back into Hourtin where before you could stash your own aid bag. So I quickly stopped, chucked my littler away and gathered my nutrition for the next 90km. Tori gels and bars are AMAZING! I couldn’t advise them more. I had a bar and a gel an hour. I also got through 1 bottle of their carbohydrate drink per 90km. The other major nutritional decision I had made was to use Totum Sport salt water sachets. I don’t work well with electrolyte tablets so have had to find different ways of not cramping. Well, I can not advise these enough. One an hour and I didn’t cramp at all the whole way through the bike and run! THEY WORK!!! I would also like to say a massive thank you to my girlfriend, Lauren, and sister Rebecca who had walked all the way up into town from the lake to see me come in halfway for the aid station. It really helped to see a friendly face or 2!

One of the reasons I chose the Frenchman triathlon was for the reason of the flat cycle. Well, I got to 150km and there were suddenly these undulations. WHAT???? Well, it wasn’t as flat as I thought. I had a hill that lasted at least 300m and was easily 5% gradient. How dreadful! This was actually a bit of a relief. Gave me a chance to sit up a little and stretch my neck out. What made this really hard was the fact it was crossing a sand dune that was about 15km long. There was no wind and everything was absorbing the heat along with it being the hottest part of the day. This is where temperatures started to rise and rise. It was like cycling into an oven. Head down and push through it. Holding a little more power than I had expected I pushed on, now wanting the bike to finish.

Heading out of the sand dune I knew I had 15km to go. So last Torq Bar, a big slurp of carbohydrate drink and another Totum Sport sachet so that it had a few miles to settle in my stomach. Before I knew I was in transition. Whizzing towards the dismount line I didn’t know someone was going to take my bike from me. How kind of them. If I had known I would have dismounted a little sooner but I didn’t so there I was stumbling around trying to unclip. Down the isles of bikes again, grab my T2 bag. Helmet off, shoes off, running shoes on, cap on and I was away. OH MY THE HEAT!

Running slowly but still running I made it to 2kms. I remember thinking how wonderful it was that I had less than 40km to go. Turning onto a straight where you had a choice of either running on bright white stoney gravel or running on the jet black tarmac bike lane, it was like choosing between slapped in the face or slapped in the face. Both were equally awful. The white stone reflected all the sun straight back at you while the tarmac was so hot it was boiling your feet every step you took. I found the thinnest part of grass and tried my hardest to move along that.

My run slowed and it turned into a walk. I knew this would happen but I was hoping not for another 10km at least, but I couldn’t will myself to work any harder. Making sure at every aid station I got soaked with a hose so to stay cool I carried on. I completed the first 10km lap and saw the family and my other half Lauren. Their support and cheering were invaluable. I grabbed a Totum Sport sachet from my own aid bag and carried on what was going to become the hardest 10km of my life!!!!

I mustered up a jog and put one foot in front of the other, and headed back out on to the 10km course. This lasted for about 500m. My legs felt like lead, my body just wasn’t cooling and all I wanted to do was sleep. The next 5km took around 50min. I was stumbling and walking like a zombie. I decided to revert back to the diet I only used if things were truly dreadful. WATER, COKE and READY SALTED CRISPS! After another very slow kilometre, I had to stop. My right big toe was hurting and I could barely walk on it. I could feel my sock catching my nail so I sat down on a curb and took my shoe off. There, while playing with my sock, I thought how easy and comfortable it would be to just not get up, to just walk off the course right now and go to sleep. This seemed like such a viable option I said to myself that when I got back to the family I would do this. I would just wander off the course and call it day. So getting back up moving I thought this would be my last 3km of the race. I had done a half marathon and that would be fine…

…Well my foot felt instantly better and obviously the coke kick in. As I was walking along I thought to myself about something I had read. It said that to run a good marathon you have to go to a dark place. A place where you feel awful but can keep going. I thought to myself ‘how dark do you feel right now Tom?’ the answer was not very. I didn’t feel like I was in a dark place I just didn’t like it. This was not a good enough reason in my head. So I had a word with myself and told myself if you are going to quit it has to be for a better reason than not liking something. So I started running again, and I was running faster than before. I knew I couldn’t keep the pace up but while I was doing it I might as well keep going. So suddenly out of nowhere I went from walking 12minutes per Kilometre I was running 4:30per km. Grant after a kilometre I stopped and walked for a couple of hundred meters but then I started running again. Still, at this pace, I wasn’t expecting. I was flying past people. I completed the second lap where Lauren started to run next to me. She told me that I was doing a good job and that I would complete. My mum and dad were saying the same things while my sister took lots of pictures and cheered. For the first time, I believed them. I felt a renewed confidence that the heat and distance weren’t going to beat me!

The Third lap flew past. Lap 2 had taken my 1hr 40mins to do 10 km. I went through lap 3 in an hour. I didn’t want to be in the heat and on that course for another 3 and a half hours. This was the thought kept running through my mind. The faster I ran, the more of the course I ran the sooner it would be over! So like before one foot in front of the other just this time a lot quicker!!!

Lap 4 came and my concentrated effort on lap 3 was starting to show. I was trying to move with the same figure as before but it wasn’t coming so easily now. Oh well, I thought. I am going to walk a little more it doesn’t matter. I shall walk with purpose and power through it. There were 4 of us all on our last lap, all within 200m of each other. We changed position about 5 times on the last lap. You could see each one of us was trying to make it past the others. Then you would take an extra moment at an aid station and 2 people would pass you, or you would stop and walk a little then they would jog past you. I was determined not to be beaten by these other 4.

With 3 km to go, I was struggling. Walking was slower but still as fast as possible. I had passed one of the 4 and he had fallen off. I knew I had 3 left to ‘battle’ with…. Well, it didn't go to plan. going into the last 2 km they had all past me and the furthest was about 300m ahead. I could not move. I managed to hold these gaps but could barely run. With less than a kilometre to go, I knew where I was going to end up…but NO!!! Passing the 1km to go marker and stumbling along I saw my wonderful girlfriend. There she was with her phone in one hand and waving the other. Suddenly she was running alongside next to me. This gave me a bit of life. I picked my feet and head up and started to move a little more freely. She was a little distracted fumbling with her phone. I thought 'by god woman, there are official photographers you don’t need to take a selfie now'. Little did I know it wasn’t a selfie she was taking but Spotify she was opening.

Now sidenote here... If any of you know me, come along to my spine classes or have spoken to me in the last 2 years, you will know I am a massive, slightly obsessional fan of Rupauls Drag Race. I love it all. The Queens, the dresses, the music!! I am a fan of it all. So it was with pure delight when I was running along, Lauren next to me, I suddenly heard Mother RU with Sissy That Walk. This was exactly what I needed to hear! Lauren had somehow plucked the exact music I need to move my feet faster. I was feeling so good I started singing the lyrics.

‘Pick myself up, turn the world on its head

Don't forget what, don't forget what my mama said

People talking since the beginning of time

Unless they paying your bills, pay them bitches no mind’

That was IT!!! 500m to go and I was running with Lauren to my side, my parents and sister shouting support and Rupaul rumbling in my ears. 400m to go and I catch the first out of 3 guys. I fly by like I was out on a fresh 5km.

‘And if I fly, or if I fall

Least I can say I gave it all

And if I fly, or if I fall

I'm on my way’

300m to go I catch the second guy. He looks decidedly upset with this. I feel him picking the pace up and sticking on my heels. He won’t stay with me. I’ve got family support and far too much ‘Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent’ (Rupauls fav phrase) for him to overtake me.

‘Better beware, ain't no tea, ain't no shade

But at the same time, bitches better get out the way”

150m to go and I catch the last guy I was aiming for. I turn and cross the line. 13hrs 10minutes 7 seconds. I have the other 2 blokes right behind me. I had finished! NO MORE!!! Everything I had worked for, done. I stumble around and see my mum and Lauren. They tell me to take a seat and I do for about 30 seconds. I was so out of it. I could barely move but barely stop. I left the family and wondered into the finishers tent. They were handing out beer (tasted awful), Parma ham (the greatest thing I have ever eaten after a race) and hot dogs (I couldn’t eat enough of them)

After about 10 mins I grabbed my kit bag I had left at the start of the swim and walked out. Still exhausted and out of it, I wasn’t ch company. There were lots of hugs and congratulations from everyone. We got my bike from transition, along with all my other gear and headed back to the apartment. With a lot of help from Lauren, I managed to climb into a bath and have a scrub. I was ruined but I have never felt happier and for longer. This whole past week I have been buzzing off of it!!

So a massive THANK YOU to our tea sponsors who help put each and every Beacon Triathlete on the start line.

Xtenex Laces for giving me a speed transition with your elastic laces.

Schwalbe Tires for keeping me stuck tot he road.

Tri-Harder for all helping me with all my triathlon needs

Ride Harder for helping my bike fits!!

Sport Link Running and Fitness for keeping me in shoes

Replay Sports Clinic for helping with those niggles and injuries

Chestnut Nursery for giving us the funding to allow our athletes to do what they do best

Epic Orange for supplying us with great trip suits

My biggest thanks go to my family who came out and supported me! I couldn’t have done this without you! Dad, you really helped by driving us about everywhere!!! A massive thank you to Lauren my other half for putting up with all the training, the equipment and the odd birthday and Christmas requests. (On my birthday I was greeted with ‘I don’t know what it is but here's your present. Happy Birthday’ It was an aero bottle)

Now to enjoy the summer!!!!

English MIddle Distance Champs - Jake Brockwell - 2nd June

English National Championships - Middle Distance
2nd June 2019, Chester

2nd in 20-24 Age-Group | 4 hrs 38 mins
Jake Brockwell

Anyone who’s completed any triathlon knows: whatever ability, you’re in for a hard day at the office. The mindset on that last leg, the run, can only be described as ‘a dark place’, even for pro-triathletes. This race was no different!

Back in September 2018, I sat down with Tom Levy (Beacon Tri Team Manager) to discuss my ambitions for the upcoming season. Up until that point, I had only ever competed in duathlons, as well as running and cycling races, earning me the nickname: the ‘land mammal’. I then told Tom about my slightly absurd idea to race a middle distance event (half-ironman) as my first triathlon. After a few seconds of natural disbelief, the attention immediately turned to making that happen. The great thing about Tom, and all of Beacon Tri, is their willingness to help you think big. To have ideas you had always thought were impossible because of a hurdle (e.g. swimming). In this case, Tom had brought: a wall calendar for the entire upcoming year & a printed list of big races (such as the national championships and GB Age-Group Qualifiers). We mapped out the year, and Tom encouraged me to race the National Championships.

Preparation: Sunday 2nd June was in the diary. But sadly, I wasn’t able to start swimming until March after recovering from an operation on my ear. In fact it was Jill and Iain who encouraged me to finally ‘take the plunge’ at a swimathon. In early May, Senior athlete, James Chapman and I raced a warm-up event in Peterborough to test the legs and highlight areas which needed work. By June, after a solid build-up, averaging 12 hours per week for 10 weeks, the day had arrived. 

The race: The bike was racked, and I quickly found myself ready to start the swim in the River Dee, Chester. It was by far the most competitive field I’d raced in. The swim kicked off, and after the expected kick-in-the-face or two, I was into a rhythm. About 400m left to go, I started to feel very sick and started to breast-stroke because the heavy breathing was making it worse. Thinking the nausea had gone away, I started to freestyle again. Unfortunately, I spent the next 300m of the swim throwing up, 3 times in total. Apologies to the 700 competitors behind me who had to swim through that. 

After a 35 minute swim, I still felt quite sick and walked through transition. Once in the natural habitat of the bike, I felt much better (but a bit hungry due to an empty stomach). Though it was very windy and I didn’t have anyone to ride with, I felt great; overtaking about 200-250 people and not being overtaken, averaging 22.6mph. However at about 10km to go my quads cramped up. I finished with a 2hr 22min split which, solo on a lumpy and windy course, I was happy with.

Once in T2, the cramp had set in. After spending a few minutes stretching out, I hobbled out onto the course. The legs just had nothing left, after a tough end to the bike. The run was a dark place for 1hr and 28 mins but eventually, I crossed the line in 4hrs 38mins. This was enough to earn 2nd place in the 20-24 Age-Group. 

This wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the continued support of everyone in Beacon Tri who continually helped and came to training sessions. Congratulations to team manager Tom who just completed an ironman-distance race In France, and fellow athlete Grace who raced the European Age-Group Championships.

Monster Mojo May 5th

I was initially only planning on doing one middle distance this year (Chester). But, as is often the case, race day doesn’t always go to plan. Especially when trying something completely new. I decided to give it a go, to see what I need to work on, with one month until Chester middle-distance. It was also a good opportunity to see how my bike form was after bike-packing in Spain for 9 days, clocking up 46 hours.

Senior athletes, James Chapman and Tom Levy, had been talking about this race for a while, and it sounded like a decent course. After a few issues with my bike (which is still being repaired), fellow Beacon Tri member James McLean offered me his TT bike, and thanks to some serious organisation by Team Manager Tom Levy, it was all ready for race day.

It was an early start, leaving Norwich at 4am. After registering and setting up transition, it transpired that the swim had been cut from 1.9km down to 1.2km (which I was more than pleased about) due to the cold water and weather (despite being May, it was only 3 degrees). The swim kicked off with no time allowed to acclimatise, and I immediately experienced my first open water mass swim start the hard way: a brain-freeze, a few kicks and ‘punches’ to the face, hyperventilating and someone grabbing onto my leg for a tow-along! After about 5 minutes I lost the ability to use my left hand because of the cold, which made me even slower but also meant I couldn’t swim in a straight line for more than 5 strokes (adding on at least 75-100m). I cam out of the water in 14th-last position, about 6 minutes down on the group of contenders containing Beacon Tri senior athlete James Chapman.

Into T1, felt very dizzy. After faffing around on the floor for a couple of minutes trying to get my wetsuit (thanks to Ben Strickson of UEA Tri for letting me borrow his wetsuit!) off with a non-functioning left hand, I was onto the bike course. However, this was short-lived as my useless left hand wouldn’t let me get my left foot into the shoe. I wasted a precious minute pulling over to the side of the road and putting my shoes on. Once I got into a rhythm on the bike, I began to feel great. The hard work in Spain had paid dividends and I was gaining ground. John Jacobs of Paradise Tri came past me having taken a wrong turn after coming out T1 in 1st place. After 5 miles I worked my way back up to John, and we formed a good bike group with Mark Atkinson for the rest of the ride. Mark did the lion’s share of the work with John and me contributing when we could. Even at 12 metres, the draft benefit at 25mph was huge. Simon Brierley of Paradise Tri was calling out the splits each lap and we were making up lost time on the leaders. Towards the end of the bike, I had to stop at a traffic light for about 30 seconds but had the 3rd fastest bike, in 2.20 for 51 miles (there was a group who took the wrong turn, adding 6-7 minutes).

I came into T2 hot-headed to run down the leaders over the 20k. After a quicker-than-normal T2, I got out onto the run course going a bit too fast, doing the first 5km at 6.20/mile pace. I started the run in about 9th place but was quickly up to 4th, and only 50m behind 3rd. The course was quite slow with only some tarmac sections. I found the psychological element of doing four laps of a 5km loop very difficult (thanks to Simon Brierley for the encouragement, would have walked about 5 miles otherwise). After about 4/5 miles the wheels started to come off and my pace gradually slowed to 6.55/mile. I went past James Chapman, who had sadly had stomach issues on the day meaning he was not able to hold onto his lead. This meant I was up to 3rd but I was slowing down and was soon passed, putting me back to 4th place, where I eventually finished after a hard slog. It was a great learning experience and I was happy with the overall result! Next up is Stradbroke tri (organised by Jill and Iain) and then Chester Middle-distance tri.

Ely Duathlon March 2019 - Luke Lynds

The first race of the 2019 season was an early 5am start which reminded me exactly why I loved racing......

Being early in the season, Ely was a perfect chance for me to test out my fitness and see where any weaknesses may be. Race morning had the typical perfect weather for racing; wet, windy and absolutely freezing! A speedy registration left me with plenty of time to organise, rack and relax before the race start. With all pre race rituals completed (most involving the loo) I zipped up into my trisuit and started my warm up. The minutes before the start were slightly tense as I had been fighting knee pains whilst running in the weeks before so all body parts were crossed hoping it would hold up.

All racers started at the same time so as the race unfolded I knew roughly where I was positioned in the field.

The first run unfolded nicely. Me, along with the eventual first and second place broke away running the 4.94km course in 18.04 I came into transition on heels of 2nd place but managed to make it out just in front. I made a rookie mistake of not checking what gear I was in which lost me some time and made me ride away in slow motion. The bike was cold, wet and lonely but despite the weather not wanting to play nice I actually really enjoyed the course. The roads were nice and fast and the scenery was nice (and grey). I lost a fair amount of time to the two people in front but this wasn't a surprise as biking has been my weakest discipline compared to the older guys. However for most of the ride I tried to tuck myself into a super aero position attempting to combat the wind. It wasn’t too long before the turning to t2 came up after a short out and back section. Now comes the sad part. After dismounting and racking my bike I went to unclip my helmet only to find that my hands were so numb from the cold, I couldn't feel where my strap was. I fumbled around for a few seconds until my superman in fluro came to my rescue and helped out. But that's not the end. My hands and feet wouldn't do what I asked them to and I spent another while trying to force my feet into wet running shoes all whilst hearing dad shouting and laughing at me from a distance because 'he thought he taught me how to put my shoes on when I was 2'. During that awkward moment 4th place had arrived and left. I ran out after him with a 30 second gap and the proud title of 2nd slowest t2. I managed to crawl back up to the shoulder of 3rd place by about kilometer 2 and after a few seconds to gather myself I pushed hard trying to get a gap, I knew I had got a few meters on him but never looked back. The final 2.5 km I was running scared just trying to push and not blow too soon. The finish line couldn't have arrived sooner (mainly because I started to taste a bit of blood) but also I felt like my body was about to shut down. I was cheered home to a 3rd place finish overall which was a very pleasant surprise for the start of the season and hopefully a good sign for the races to come


BUCS Sprint Triathlon - Alfie Bentley

This race marked a year since my first triathlon, and so it offered a great opportunity to see if a year of training had paid off.

I knocked exactly 2 minutes off my swim time and over 3 minutes off my bike split compared with last year’s result. Overall, I finished nearly four minutes faster and was 135th male (last year I was 221st). I was a tad disappointed with a slower run than the previous year but I think this could partly be blamed on the heat (around 25C) and it was still the 68th fastest on the day. Regardless it was a great weekend away with the UEA Tri team, and another excuse to wear my new Beacon tri suit. 

Nottingham Triathlon - Matt Floyd

 Nottingham race report: This race was a GB qualifier for the European Championships in Glasgow in August 2018. The start was brutal. I was amongst the middle-middle part of the wave. I received multiple swings, dunks and scratches, resulting in my slowest 750m swim time ever. The poor swim start, was followed by a poor T1. The marginal aero gains of my helmet (kindly leant to me by GBR Brockwell) which would have saved seconds on the bike leg, were unfortunately lost, by trying to strap my helmet. The bike leg was a fast one, averaging over 24mph- I overtook a fair few. The bike leg was also a frustrating one. 200m in front of me, a pack of 10 guys were in their own little chain gang; very cheeky in a non-draft legal race. And the fact that no one was disqualified, bewildered me. The run was great, with a time of 18.20 (5K). I came 8th in my age group with a sprint PB of 1:01:50. I was successful in qualifying to represent GB age groupers at Glasgow. Very happy that the training had paid off and the 4 weeks sober prior to the race was worth it.

Blenhiem Triathlon - Matt Floyd

Blenheim Palace tri race report: The aim of Blenheim Palace Tri was to finish within the top 10. This year I felt stronger than ever and ready to smash the swim. The swim commenced at 11am, the wave consisting of 400 brave souls. I managed to get out the main pack early on, swimming in relatively clean water. The two in front were swimming to the first buoy, instead of the further one located at 500m out. As a result, I made some marginal ground on them. I came out of the water around 5th. T1 which is a 400m run up hill with an average gradient of 4-5%, was brutal. Luckily the other triathletes were also in the pain cave, I overtook 3 guys. For T1 I had the 6th fastest split. The cycle was my least favourite discipline of the day. I couldn’t really get into it and next year I will defiantly use my road bike opposed to my TT bike, partly because there are so many rolling hills. I overtook one other guy on the bike and came into T2 2nd overall in my wave. The run was actually pretty good considering I had been injured for a good while, 3 weeks prior. This did hamper my build up, but to go sub 4.00/km pace at Blenheim is alright going. In my wave I finished 2nd and overall 12th out of 4200 other competitors. Next year a top 10 finish I am very hopeful of! 

Edinburgh Half Marathon - Jake Brockwell

Yet another crack at the sub 1.20 half! 

After 5 half marathons I missed the sub 1hr 20min still eludes me. After Norwich this year, I got home and signed up to Edinburgh (a notoriously quick course!). Unfortunately, at the beginning of May I tore my gluteal muscle which took me out for 3 weeks. Learnt my lesson to actually stretch and foam roll etc now (Got to keep Lorna happy!)

It was touch and go whether I’d be on the start line or not with the injury but it seemed a shame to come all that way (+ all that $$$$) and not try and at least get round. 

In the end, it was more the lack of fitness and training rather than the injury which showed through in the first half of the race. From 5 to 9 miles I settled into a nice rhythm and looked on course for a 1.20/21. At mile 9 the form fell to bits, the left glute and hamstring seemed to go from under me. The pace went from 6.05/mile to 6.50/mile, the pain just wouldn’t let me go any quicker. It was a brutal last few miles, and I crossed the line in 1.22.30. Chuffed with that time to be honest, before the race I honestly thought just finishing would be a miracle. Hopefully with a bit more training, the sub-1.20 target will come at Peterborough this Autumn. Even managed a hobble up Arthur’s Seat the next day!

Unfortunately, the last few miles of the race took its toll and did some hefty damage to the injury. Back on the bike and in the water for now. Thanks as ever to Beacon tri and all of our sponsors (Chestnut Nursery, Tri -Harder, Ride Harder, Schwalbe Tyres, Xtenex Laces and Sport Link) for their continued support.

Stradbroke Triathlon - My first time guiding - Tom Levy

To the delight of my girlfriend Sunday came around and I was up nice and early for my first proper race of the season. An early bowl of cereal and off I went to pick up Iain. 

Unlike years before my first race of the season wasn’t to be on my own. For the first time ever I was to be guiding Iain on the Tandem for the cycle and then on the run. SO come 6:30 I arrived at Iain’s and with the tandem just about fitting into the car we were off. I won’t lie, the weather wasn’t not the greatest. With the fog gradually getting worse the further away from Norwich we traveled my nerves weren’t settling. 

We arrived at Stradbroke with everything there in flying form as usual. Active Outdoor Sports know how to put on an event and this didn’t disappoint. Iain quickly registered and off to transition we went. Georgie, one of the head marshals there, kindly asked where abouts in transition would it be most useful to place the tandem. After a little debate we decide to try and stay out of everyones way and place it right next to bike out in a corner where no one could trip over it.

Tandem, shoes, helmet sorted in transition it was now time to weight. With the fog easing and my nerves calming the time ticked by nice and quickly. 09:09 was Iain’s swim time, after his 160m pool swim he’d rush out into transition where he would find me with the tandem and off we’d go. So as to plan I left at the poolside and ventured out into to transition. Although the fog had cleared the temperature had was still COLD!!! Trying to stay warm in transition I resorted to squats (not advisable in a ti-suit) and a bit of dancing, to the amusement of the marshals. 

Iain comes rushing out of the pool into transition and we are off. Helmets on, shoes on, tandem off the rack and we waddle out over the mount line. “Right foot in?”…’click’ …”In” and off we go. Round the first left hand turn, up the road round another left hander and into a rhythm. This was only my 3rd ride on a tandem and the first in a race, so I had warned Iain that we probably weren’t going to be too quick. Well the first down hill section in to a right hand turn really proved to me how much thinking I was going to have to give this. Flying down the slight hill I realised double the weight, nearly the same drag, and the same 25mm tyres as everyone else bikes was going to make for quick descending. Around that corner and I started to feel at home a little more on it. 

I would like to say a massive thank you to Simon, the race director, for spray painting the pot holes with orange paint. I will make sure to take out shares in the paint company next year before this race, because he used A LOT of paint. There were holes everywhere. Big, gapping ditches in the middle of the road. Dodging and weaving these whilst being slung round corners, we slowly started real others in but this wasn’t the aim of the ride, or the race. To make it round safely and enjoy ourselves was the aim and we defiantly did that. 

Into transition with our helmets off and running shoes on we headed out on to the run. As it was a small race around a lot of single track fields we weren’t tethered at the wrist. This helped me as Iain is a much stronger runner than me at the moment. Getting cheered on by our sponsors Tri Harder helped! Although I tried my best to ‘guide’ Iain around the course I was more just shouting making directions and little bits of information from behind him most of the time. 

Crossing the line I definitely felt spent while Iain claimed his legs had only just warmed up. In a time of 48:40 we placed 7th overall. A massive congratulations to Tom Huband who dominated the field with an out standing bike split of 26:00 for 17km on a course that is HARD WORK! It was brilliant to see so many friendly and failure faces. A massive THANK YOU    to the race organisers and our sponsors: Chestnut Nursery, Tri -Harder, Ride Harder, Schwalbe Tyres, Xtenex Laces and Sport Link

Would I do it again????? In a heart beat. Guiding Iain was some of the best fun I have had in a race for years!

Wroxham 5K - Rob Aldous

Nostalgia was the main feeling turning up to sign on at my old high school, that being said it meant that I knew the roads we ran on well and it added to a sense of ease on this run. It was a fun race from the start slowly passing through the ranks getting further and further forward is always good feeling heading into the last kilometre I felt strong and started to ready myself for one final kick at the end which I probably left slightly late managing to cross the line at 19:57 just managing to beat my sub twenty goal and set a new personal best. I’m looking forward to the next race in the series with the goal of taking a few more seconds off my time.