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3 races, 3 weekends!

1 – Ironman Wiesbaden 70.3, 14th August, 1.9km swim, 90km cycle, 21km run

Oh Wiesbaden, we have history…. It was the first triathlon I ever entered, back in 2011 and this year would be the forth time I had headed over to Germany for it. The first time was a rude awakening to what a very hilly 70.3 felt like the second was a DNF due to a crash on a steep decent, and the third time, last year, was pure redemption and a sub 5.30 finish, which put will well up in my AG.

This year I had set 3 goals for the race, firstly a sub 3 hour bike, which would mean a 30kmh average, and with 1455m of climbing that wouldn’t be easy, and quicker transitions to last year…. and to beat last years 5.28.

Travelling back and forth to Frankfurt twice in the previous few days wasn’t really ideal, and 5 days holiday in Ibiza a couple of weeks ago wasn’t what ‘the coach’ would necessarily suggest but nevertheless it was fantastic and greatly needed. Besides I had put in some serious work in the 2 weeks before Ibiza and got back to it the week after.

Any IM event that I have done has the race briefing and bike drop the day before, now usually they are in a big tent in a field, but Wiesbaden being the European championships IM uses the beautiful Karhaus (Casino hall)

Not much had changed from last year other than the swim course and a small stretch at the end of the bike due to road works.

After the briefing I headed to the lake and dropped my kit in T1 and headed back to hangout with the wife and my son, in fact we went swimming…. well splashing!

I had driven the course on the Saturday morning before the race briefing so all there was left to do was force massive amount of food into my belly and try and get an early night, thankfully, Jona obliged.

Last year I clocked an Ok (for me) 37mins but had swam the long way round, the swim course had been slightly changed, due to the lake being a working lake which sand is dredged from, so the shape and depth of the lake is different every year. However being sand based it is always clean, if not always clear! This year the course was mushroom shaped, and the same entrance/exit point was used on the shore. The rolling start helped me focus on my own swim and stay relaxed and with last song I heard in the car on the way (Karma Chameleon) in my head I focused on my technique, and not my sighting, as the mushroom shaped course wasn’t the easiest to follow, I exited in 37 minutes. But T1 was quicker, yey!!!

I know this course, and I know where I crashed, I know the ups and downs. I really wanted to beat last years 3.04 and went hard on the first 20km, which is nice and flat. Then we entered Wiesbaden and the hills start, the 1st significant decent is where I crashed in 2012, no problem this time, the next one is so steep IM do a special King of the mountain prize for the quickest AGer up it, it wasn’t me but I went past a few and no one passed me! At the top you take a quick left then right and you are on the long climb up into the Taunus area, basically its Germanys Peak District, 5.8km at 8% average, again I hit a steady cadence and seem to pass plenty of riders… at the top we continued up and down with some lovely long descents which I reached speeds in excess of 70kmh, I felt much more confident on them this time round, mostly due to the time spent in Mallorca with @methodtriathlon, there are some nasty corners at the bottom of steep hills, you know its dangerous when there are hay bales on corners, and I am sorry to say I saw 2 riders being loaded into ambulances. Anyway after 84km I found myself at the top of the pre-mentioned hill and all that was left was the long decent back down to T2, that 6km took just 8mins!!! 2.58 bike more watts and more speed than 2015. Happy

T2 was quick, less than 2 minutes, but I knew almost straight away I was in trouble my quadriceps muscles were cramping with every stride, Nevertheless the first 2 km passed in 4.40s, 5km passed in 23.30, but after the first lap the cramping returned and my pace slowed, then the pain got worse and I walked, then I stopped and stretched…. this felt rubbish Run walk run walk for 13km wasn’t fun but eventually I got there feeling a little dejected I entered the finish area and saw Inga and Jona furiously waving at me, this spurred me on a little and I managed at least to finish by running over the line!

I had eaten plenty on the bike and in the days before, lots of salts. Once I uploaded my Garmin I had an idea of where I went wrong, I just pushed too hard on the bike, too many watts had fatigued my legs just too much… Once over the finish line I met up with Inga and Jona, Inga knew I hadn’t finished in the time I had hoped but Jona first words in front of me were ‘I need a wee-wee, can I do it on the tree’? (He’s potty training).

Of course I am a little disappointed that I didn’t perform as I had hoped. It’s a great event and well organised. There was a lot less spectators than in previous years, as well as added security at bike check-in and transition, sadly, perhaps just a sign of the time over in Germany.

Life is good, and I get to do it all gain next Sunday!!!

2 – Cotswold Classic, 21st August, 1.9km swim, 90km cycle, 21km run

So I entered this race when Inga had decided that she and Jona would be spending a week in the USA with her parents, it was never really a conscious thought that I would be doing two 70.3’s in consecutive weekends, but once I realised I could I thought I would. It would be a good challenge if a little daft!

The past week consisted of travelling back from Germany, a couple of massages and limping around, a couple of light Wattbike sessions and a jog around the park was the only ‘training’ I did. The pain of the cramps I suffered in Wiesbaden stayed with me for a few days, and to be honest I could still feel them on Friday and even at the start I wasn’t 100%.

It wasn’t just me this time I had two clients taking part as well as a couple of other familiar faces, and Chris from @methodtriathlon came along to offer his unique style of support.

The night before a group of us headed into Swindon to an Italian restaurant to get stuck into the pasta and bread, then I was back to my hotel for an early night as I was due to start at 7.10am.

The event is in the heart of the Cotswolds; the swim in is a shallow water sports lake. In fact the organisers informed us the lake was particularly shallow, and in parts so shallow it was possible stand up in.

We were let off in waves of approximately 100, and followed an M shape course across the lake. As we were told the lake was very shallow in parts, so shallow in fact I could of pulled my self along with my hands on the bottom in parts.

The first 400m I felt awful, tight shoulders, couldn’t get my breathing right, I was convinced I was going to get cramp… We turned the left at the first buoy and I slowly began to relax, my arms and shoulders began to feel looser and I slowly started to pick up speed. I suddenly found myself swimming along side my client, I recognised his wetsuit, we stayed together for about 800m, perhaps it spurred us both on a little bit. I exited the lake in 33mins.

My first transition was quick enough, wetsuit off; shoes and helmet on and off we go. The bike course is two laps of a P shaped course, it only has 1 hill on each lap, and that hill is only a couple of hundred meters long. So gauging my effort using my power meter was going to be important, especially after over cooking it on the bike last week in Germany. I had already decided that I would try to keep to 65-70% FTP around 210w, even if this meant sacrificing speed in the hope of saving my legs for the run. The winds were strong and on the way back it was directly blowing into my face making the ride feel harder than perhaps it should of. The nature of the course made for constant effort, no hills also means no rest on the downhill’s, so by the T2 arrived my legs were feeling heavy. The bike course was all on relatively quiet roads however within the last 15km I passed what looked like a serious accident, cyclist – ambulance – parked cars… As competitors wee were asked to dismount and walk past, we have since be informed the rider is doing well, despite a few broken bones. A timely reminder that racing is meant to be fun, but we all have to be incredibly careful. I finished the bike after 2.32.

Another quick transition and out on to the 3-lap course. The first half is mostly under the trees on dirt footpaths that rug the edge of the lake we swam in. The shade was much appreciated as the sun was beginning to warm up the air by this point. The second half is mostly on the roads of the local village before heading back to the lake to complete the lap. I took the first 2kms very quickly and soon realised I should slow down to avoid the pain of the week before. However having done a strong bike I had my eyes on a sub 5-hour finish. The second and third laps began to hurt, but no cramps. I did slow slightly in pace towards the end of the run but crossed the line in a time of 4.56.

113 events run the Cotswold Classic, they are a smaller brand then the multi-national monster that is Ironman, but they organise a great event, all the marshals are great and the feed stations are very comprehensive. I was pleased with my performance considering I had raced the week before. Had I been fresher I would have hoped to finish in around 4.45.

Just Daventry Sprint to go….

3 – Daventry Sprint Triathlon, 21st August, 400m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run

This past week was really all about recovery, I had to visit Sarah at Physio Remedies as I had some foot pain, she poked and pulled my foot around and told me it was just some inflammation after the abuse I had given it in the last 2 weeks. Even my left foot was very painful all week. Totally my own fault but nevertheless I was pleased I wasn’t having to chase Jona around this week. Daventry is the town where I went to school and the swim is in the Leisure Centre where I played a lot of basketball in my teenage years. I stayed with friend the night before which made getting to the venue incredibly easy. Having done the 2 70.3s and no speed work for months, it was obvious I would just go 100% from the start and hope the foot was Ok to run… I would stop if the pain were too much.

The 400m swim was in the pool, I just went hard from the start, pushing off was a little tricky on the foot, not a great start. I slowed a little in the last couple of lengths but exited in 7.07, the timing mat was on the exit of the swimming pool so by the time I had climbed out of the water I probably wasn’t far off the 6.45 I submitted on entry.

I used tri specific shoes for the first time in a race, which gave me a few seconds in T1 & T2. The bike course was a 20km loop on open but quiet roads, and apart from a couple of big roundabouts near transition it was drama free. I over took plenty of other riders and no one came past me, I knew I was on for a decent time, the 2km hill exiting the village of Braunston certainly did drain the legs, but for every up there is a down so it evened out nicely and I finished the 20km in 35.31.

I slid on the running shoes and heading off on the run course that took us around the country park, it was strange as I haven’t been there since I was about 10 years old. Anyway the foot began to hurt almost as soon as I began but it was just there constantly and the pain didn’t increase. I kept going, but it wasn’t great, the lack of speed work meant I felt slow and sluggish. The course was on dirt paths and under trees so it was slightly slippery in parts. A couple of guys who had started behind me came past, normally I would try and stick with them but given the foot I didn’t have the top end speed to keep pace. The small hill up to the finish felt like a mountain I was pleased to finish in 18.38… yes, it was slightly short of the full 5km.

I finished with a time of 1.03.49 a 10th place overall. I know if I was 100% I would have been slightly quicker but I am pleased that I did this race. Another well organised event.

Why Use EMS (Electromuscular Stimulation Training)

EMS has become increasingly popular throughout mainland Europe over the last few years and I’ve been one of the first personal trainers in the UK to offer EMS training from our studio in Canary Wharf, using the innovative Miha Bodytec machines.


What is EMS?

Muscle contraction is caused by the central nervous system, which sends electrical impulses to control muscle contraction. During EMS training this natural principle is used: the EMS device generates an electrical impulse which is delivered through electrodes placed in direct proximity to the muscles, causing the muscles to contract. EMS technology has its origins in rehabilitation and was first proven to be effective on human performance in the 1970s.

The Miha Bodytec machine is superior to conventional EMS training devices as it stimulates agonist and antagonist muscle at the same time, as well as deep muscle groups that are difficult to reach with conventional methods. During training, you will wear a vest, which contains electrodes in the areas of the upper and lower back, abdomen and chest, a hip belt that stimulates the gluteal muscles, as well as arm and leg pads. The intensity of different muscle groups can be controlled, and Max will create a program customised to your needs and aspirations.

Due to the intensity of the workout one session per week is enough to achieve results. The success of EMS training becomes visible and tangible after just a few weeks: Fat content and weight are reduced, while muscles are strengthened and toned, and general wellbeing is improved. Research has shown that EMS offers the following benefits:

Benefits of EMS

Due to the intensity of the workout one session per week is enough to achieve results. The success of EMS training becomes visible and tangible after just a few weeks: Fat content and weight are reduced, while muscles are strengthened and toned, and general wellbeing is improved. Research has shown that EMS offers the following benefits:

Strength & Conditioning / Sports Performance

  • Increased muscle size and strength
  • Increased muscular endurance
  • Increased explosive power

Health & Wellbeing

  • Reduction of lower back pain
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Improved posture
  • Reduction in symptoms of incontinence (particularly postnatal)
  • Strengthening of connective tissues Weight loss and appearance
  • Increased metabolism leading to…
    • Decreased body fat%
    • Decreased body weight
    • Decreased abdominal girth
  • Reduction of Cellulite

While EMS offers excellent results on its own, I believe that it should be seen as a supplement to traditional training and a well-rounded nutrition plan.

Why use EMS?
  • The use of Miha Bodytec is the only training form that increases maximum performance via improved speed of motion.
  • 84% users reported an increase in performance.
  • After just 4 training session maximal strength increased by 17%.
  • 71% of participants increased endurance levels.
  • Strength-endurance values increased by as much as 108% after 12 training sessions.
  • After 4 weeks of training, maximum performance rose by as much as 30%.
  • Muscle contraction speed increased 22% on average. The explosive power of core rose by up to 74%.

Source: Studies at the University of Bayreuth (Boeckh-Behrens et al. 2002-2006) and the German Sports University Cologne (Kleinöder/Kreuzer/Speicher 2006-2008)

  • 88 % of the subjects reduced their back pain. The frequency and duration of back pain reduced by up to 80%.
  • 40% of participants complained about constant back pain at the start of the study, after 6 weeks of training this reduced to 9%.
  • Back pain totally disappeared in 44% of the patients with chronic complaints. The duration of back pain in everyday life improved by 30%.
  • An alleviation of urinary incontinence complaints was achieved in 65% of the cases. 24% of subjects became complaint-free, whilst a decrease in complaints occurred in 24%.

Source: Studies at the University of Bayreuth (Boeckh-Behrens/Vatter 2003, Boeckh-Behrens/Walz/Niewöhner 2003, Boeckh-Behrens/Sebelefsky/Grützmacher 2002, Boeckh-Behrens/Stötzel/Benner 2003).

  • 87% of participants report clear visible body-contouring effects; with a substantially more positive perception of their bodies.
  • 89% felt more firm and taut after the training program.
  • EMS training reduced the percentage of body fat by 4% within 6 weeks.
  • Females lost an average of 1.5 cm from their waist and hip circumference.
  • Male subjects reduced their abdominal circumference by up to 2.3 cm – with a muscle buildup of 1-2 cm on their legs, upper arms and chest.
  • After just 13 weeks of training overweight subjects lost an average of 3.5 kg and 9% body fat as well as 6.5 cm at the waist and 2 cm on their upper arm circumference.
  • Subjects over the age of 65 lost 6.8% of their abdominal fat and 6 cm of their waist measurements – even with a low level of training.

Source: Studies at the University of Bayreuth (Boeckh-Behrens/Vatter 2003, Boeckh-Behrens/Walz/Niewöhner 2003, Boeckh-Behrens/Sebelefsky/Grützmacher 2002, Boeckh-Behrens/Stötzel/Benner 2003, Boeckh-Behrens/Treu 2002), a study at the Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (Kemmler/Birlauf/von Stengel 2009), Miha Bodytec own studies

  • A 12-week EMS training program demonstrated beneficial effects on muscle strength and power in elite rugby players (Babault et al 2007).
  • Results suggest that supplementing dynamic contractions with EMS appears more effective than EMS only, or weight training only, for increasing knee extensor strength and Vertical Jump scores in female track & field athletes (Willoughby & Simpson 1998)
  • Combining EMS with dynamic contractions may be the most effective the most effective method of increasing muscular strength in USA college basketball players (Willoughby & Simpson 1998)

    An athlete of old, isn’t everyone(?)

    Toby Davies
    Age 42
    Weight 83kgs
    Height 5.11
    Body Fat 12%

    An athlete of old, isn’t everyone(?), my last attempt at fitness was in 2010, my eldest had just been born and I finished that year 132 in the Marmot and a week later 512 in the Etape, should/could have done better, Wife then instructed me off the bike. Prior to that I lived off my achievements as a teenager, having been a middle distance athlete for county and country but come university I had a choice and it wasn’t athletics. In 2008 I had an accident whilst Kite surfing in Africa and managed to practically kill myself ending with two weeks in a Jo Burg intensive care unit, after having broken my leg, split my skull open, severely damaged circa 80% of my lungs with sea water and carelessly lost a couple pints of blood enroute from Mozambique. That accident spurred me onto the bike and the achievements listed above……. But I felt there was more, not least I was board of my own pub chat on sporting achievements, along with the rest of my peer group, as 40 somethings, we were all still talking about events /achievements of over 20 years prior!!!!
    The Haute Route – Alps, “The toughest amateur cycle race in the world” or that’s what it purports to be, circa 900km and 23km of vertical height gain over 7 days, for some reason this seemed a sensible objective for my return to cycling. I gave myself 1 year to prepare, not that I would need that to complete it, but, I wanted to complete it at the front, or the closest to the front that I could achieve….. I needed help.
    Max; we started in the Gym looking at core strength and advice on diet for weight loss that climbing up mountains requires aka cycling chic. I was also looking for a cycle coach and Max put his hand up for this also, so with a weekly training schedule, diet advice, training peaks as the medium to communicate day to day, we set off. The first 3 mths, it felt like little was happening, weight stayed more or less static, and the training seasons didn’t get any easier (they never got any easier). Then slowly things started to improve, power on the bike, average speed increased and weight started to come off, at 77kg’s and circa 3.85 watts/kg I felt I had achieve all I could, but we had 8 mths to go, the training seasons on the bike developed as did the gym work (twice a week, meeting Max twice a mth). Come Feb with 6/7 mths left, we increased the bike miles, and weight carried coming off in a controlled manor, hitting in April 73kg’s, 4.3 watts/kg, which propelled me to 6th place in the 272 kilometre Liege-Bastion-Liege amateur race of some 6000 participants (how many do the full distance I’m not sure, for sure it was the longest distance I had ever ridden in one go by almost 90km! and it rained the whole way). Happy with that I put head down and carried on, Max found more and more interesting and challenging training schedules, although also at this time I remember a prompt call to say stop cycling, take a rest!!! Max was right of course I had dug myself in to a hole of fatigue, but all part of the journey which I was still somehow managing to balance around work and family.
    The final two mths; I have to thank my wife, as much as Max, as time with family did suffer a little, but that said it was great to see them all so supportive and good for the kids to see what dedication can achieve. After two weeks in Corsica where I cycled every morning approx. 200km (thank you Mark Warner kids club), I was flying, the Tour De France had been in Corsica in 2013 and I was posting times on Strava faster than the Tour riders!!! 63kg = 5 watts/kg, 6.7% body fat, domestic pro type status… I got a late entry to the Trois Etape pro/am cycling event, where I finished 3rd, beating all except one of the twenty pros, including Yens Voigt… I beat Yens Voigt!!!! And again posted times on Strava faster than some of the Tour boys.
    Haute Route; circa 750 riders, would say some of the best amateur and semi pro riders in the world, arrived in Nice for the start, I wanted to finish in the top 20 and top 10 in the mountain time trail on the 3rd day, but on arrival, everyone was looking very very game… had Max and I done enough, I seriously thought we may have misjudged this, not least the pace they set off on Day 1. Day 3, my favourite day I placed 16th in the mountain time trial, but the first British Rider and when Emma Poole (yes Olympic Silver medallist and World Time trial champion) said she was very upset not to beat me…. I knew we had done all we could. Across the week I was consistently placed in the top 25 riders, riding in the front peloton (yes me, 42 yrs old and I normally sit in front of four computer screens for 10-12 hrs a day) and finished the week in 20th spot, the first British rider of some 300 Brits, and very very happy. Max, where can you take me next.

    Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire

    I had entered back last Autumn, but due to family commitments it looked until last Friday I wasn’t going to race, but having made that decision only 8 weeks ago I had missed the cutoff for a refund. So when Inga (my wife) decided she would be in Germany this weekend it seemed the obviously thing to do. I wasn’t too concerned as I have had a great Winter and Spring training, although more than a weeks notice to take on a 70.3 is NOT something I would recommend.

    In my experience Ironman branded races are always very slick and this one was no exception, although last year being the first one on this site had caused a few complaints, these must have been smoothed out as it all worked very well. The split transition meant the Saturday was a long one, especially driving up there, and then driving the bike route, something I find very useful if there isn’t time to train on it. I was tired when I reached my hotel, I didn’t even have the energy too shout at the TV when Russia scored! Big bowl of pasta and some sweet potato fries was the safest order from the room service menu.

    I always try and arrive at the start as early as possible on race morning, check the bike, sort out computers and watch all that stuff and, then of course spend loads of time waiting in line for the porta-loo, never enough of these, although I did have my own toilet paper this time.

    Rolling start on a U shaped course, the rolling starts are a great idea, it made it really easy. The water was clean and relatively clear and there was no wind so it couldn’t have been better. I wanted to be calm in the first 400m and find my rhythm, and for once that worked, it was only the second time this year I had been in open water so was pleasantly surpassed when I looked at my watch after 800m and saw I was below 14mins, obviously I faded or swam to far as I exited in 36.57 and I swam 2050, according to my watch!!! Very comfortable.

    It was long run to the tent, took my time getting changed, would rather be comfortable then rushed on a 70.3. No drama.

    In long distance Tri’s I tend not to attempt the flying start, I run to my bike in my bike shoes, the amount of people who can’t do the flying start properly that loose out on time, plus socks were needed at this time of the day! Mounted and headed out on the dam to exit the lake, we were instructed that there were speed bumps and no overtaking as the road was narrow. On the first speed bump I lost my only water bottle, not ideal but only 20km to the first food station. Once across the dam the first 5km was nice wide roads before we entered 10km on narrow undulating country lanes. Not something I am unused to, from TTs, but given the rain overnight I was fearful of a puncture! There were a few I saw. Anyway put the power down and passed plenty of riders from all the different AG. Knowing the course I knew after the 15km point the course opened on to A roads with a nice smooth surface and relatively flat, time to go, slightly undulating in parts, 2 longer climbs at the end but nothing too bad, I got my replacement drink, used 4 gels on the ride and apart from the heavy down pour after 90mins or so I was really pleased to exit in 2.39 averaged 34.8kmh.

    Again not enough porta-loos in T2! Very glad for the change of socks I had thrown in the bag, not something I would normally do but given the forecast I was very glad I did.

    The run was 3 laps around the Shugbourg Hall Estate (which is very pretty by the way) and the local village – some on road, some footpaths, and some off road mud paths, dangerously muddy in the rain we had. Given my lack of preparation I knew it might be a case of doing what I could and holding on during the run. I went off very quickly and after 2 km in 8.30 I knew this wasn’t going to last, keep pushing and despite the rather large hill which we had to run up 3 times, and the very muddy track for at least a quarter of each lap I completed the run in 1.39. 2 gels, both half swallowed and half swilled and spat out (sorry for the detail), water/electrolyte drink when needed.

    Satisfied…. little odd doing it all on my own and having no one there with me but did allow to be relaxed but focused, the lack of preparation did mean I was very relaxed and had no real expectation other than to ride hard. Finish time was 5.08, 32 in AG, normally would hope for better and with a bit more focused training and better weather I would have hoped for under 5 if not 4.50!

    Stratford Upon Avon Sprint Triathlon

    This is the 5th year in a row that my long term client and friend Lee Goldsmith have took part in this race, a great race in a great town. Its early in the season so good motivation to keep working hard over the winter months, and its a pool swim so no worries with cold water temperatures. 

    Last year the race took place in alternate location as the Stratford-upon- Avon pool was being refurbished and both Lee and I weren’t particularly focused on the event being so early in the season and with us both having other priorities at the time. However we both made it a focus this year and Lee focused on the event from the turn of the year, specifically working on his swim and bike, Lee set himself the target of a PB, whilst I built in some specific run speed sessions in the weeks before the event. Having finished 8th the 2 previous years I was really looking for a top 5 and a sub 20 minute run. We had both travelled up the night before and enjoyed a good Itaiian meal and walk by the river with our wives and my very energetic son. We were then joined in the morning by my Mum, sister and nephew!

    Registration and bike racking is as easy as it gets, and the staggered swim start couldn’t of been easier. With the racers being seeded on predicted swim times, then being let go every 15 seconds this should, should, lead to a calm swim surrounded by swimmers of similar ability, Lee’s hard work over the winter had paid off as he swam 36 seconds quicker than time, whilst I managed to drag myself out 2 seconds quicker than previous.

    The organisers had changed the bike route slightly, taking us on a shorter route, but with slightly more hills. The roads were small but quiet early in the morning and thankfully there had not been any rain this year. The only small amount of traffic encountered was on the way back into town. Cycle training had been my main focus over the winter so I was keen just to put my foot to the floor and see how fast I could finish the 18km course, the answer was 27.45, a very decent 39.2kmh. Lee hit a PB and encouragingly said afterwards ‘I felt strong on the bike’.

    The run course was 2 laps of 2.5km out and back, which included grass paths, river towpath and pavements. My sole goal was to run as fast as i could hoping I could hold on to <4.00/km pace, which I did, 19.51. Lee look the calm on the run and even managed a smile at the finish line, more than I did. 28.41, significantly quicker than last year. Overall
    Great race, once to have family there for this one. The weather was even on our side. The staggered starts makes it very hard to gauge where you are in the race, (which doesn’t normally matter) but as I had a place I wanted to achieve it was hard to judge effort and timings, hence the full out effort on the bike and run. It seemed to work I finished 2nd and won my AG whilst Lee had his highest place finish and that PB for this course.

    Year Total Swim Bike Run Placement
    2012 1.42.06 9.59 1.00.47 31.20 352/358
    2013 1.33.08 7.51 55.13 30.04 402/536
    2014 1.33.50 7.15 54.55 27.54 265/397
    2015** 1.29.22 8.01 46.48 30.06 248/323
    2016* 1.20.53 7.25 41.28 28.41 225/302

    ** change of venue / *new bike route

    Year Total Swim Bike Run Placement
    2012 1.15.30 7.44 45.43 22.03 50/358
    2013 1.11.20 7.09 42.42 21.29 36/536
    2014 1.10.33 6.56 40.33 20.28 8/397
    2015** 1.03.51 6.52 33.21 20.40 8/323
    2016* 55.52 6.50 27.45 19.51 2/302

    ** change of venue / *new bike route

    How to Road Cycle…It’s just like riding a bike

    Adapted from ‘The Cycling Bible’ by Robin Barton

    Many new riders tend to underestimate the role of cadence and pedal around 50 to 60 revolutions per minute (rpm), but pro road racer won’t go below 90 rpm and some pro triathletes will reach 120 rpm (triathlon distance dependant) this is because mashing a big gear at a low cadence takes therider into anaerobic exercise. A fast cadence in a lower gear consumes less oxygen and puts less stress on leg muscles and knees. However, it is a skill that needs to be learnt. Some bike computers measure cadence, so during practice find a flat piece of road and use the computer to focus on increasing your rpm gradually.

    With many gears to choose from making the right selection is important as it affects cadence and speed, especially when climbing. On an undulating ride, use the gears to maintain a constant level of effort. There is nothing more tiring and inefficient than varying cadence and effort. On shorter climbs, you can get away with a bigger gear thanks to the momentum you have built up, but never let the gear stall you.

    Being aware of what gears work for you will help with the most important part of gear selection: being ready for attacks and getting into the correct gear quickly. Changing under load can cause the chain to slip, so slacken off the pedal stroke for just the instant you change gear.

    How to Climb

    Riding Position
    The hills are where races are won and lost. Don’t worry about being aerodynamic; the priority must be a relaxed efficient style. With your hands up on the brake hoods or the bar tops, creating a riding position that open the airways and lungs, maintain a light relaxed grip. This informs the rest of the upper body; the more relaxed it is, the easier your breathing and more focused effort. It’s fine to push forwards a little on the bars. Try sitting towards the back of the saddle, to lengthen and straighten the back. Shifting your body position every now and then will give the muscles a break. Standing on the pedals delivers more power but is more tiring and cannot be sustained for long climbs by mortals. It also raises the heart rate and uses more energy. If you do stand for extra exertion don’t let your arms bear to too much weight, keep the power flowing through the core and legs; the arms should be providing a little more stability. Try to find a rhythm led by the turns of the pedals and keep the upper body still.

    Rider have different styles, lance Armstrong preferred to spin a low gear, while his long term rival Jan Ullrich opted to grind out the hill with a slower cadence in a higher gear. On shorter climbs you are more likely to select a higher gear and stand up on the pedals, however, be aware of the lactic acid.

    Being able to regulate your breathing is very important. Fill your diaphragm; it may help to take a couple of deep breaths with full exhalations before the road turns uphill. This is also a useful technique for relaxation. If you find yourself puffing, ease off the speed, straighten your back and shift into an easier gear for a while. Whilst spinning the pedals focus on your breathing, giving slow complete exhalations.

    Good climbers are clever climbers. They understand about pacing themselves, saving energy where possible, using techniques such as riding in a group or on someone’s wheel (directly behind them) to reduce wind resistance (known as drafting, illegal in triathlons). A good rider will be able to read other riders and the road ahead. On long climbs in race situations, stay at a pace that keeps you at the front of the bunch where you can monitor the situation. Successful climbers often use a feature of the road – a tight corner, a suddengradient – to launch an attack, accelerating hard until they’re free of the bunch then finding a hard but sustainable pace. Its essential to read the climb and its place in the route. Most pros will prefer one or two long climbs to numerous short, steep, energy-sapping hills. On the shorter hills, when riding in a bunch, start the climb at the front of the bunch, and you can let yourself filter backwards through the pack and still be in the bunch at the top. This means you wont drop out of the back and have to work on your own to the top, watching the rest disappear into the distance. Look at the profile of the course; big climbs towards the end of a race are where attacks will occur.

    How to Descend

    The Body
    Descending involves more of the upper body and core than climbing, since you’ll be crouching in an aerodynamic tuck. The position involves putting your hands on the drops, tucking the elbows into the side of the body, lowering your chin to the bar and raising your backside. A relaxed body is essential; the bike will respond negatively if you are locked stiff with fear. In a straight line, cyclists will keep their cranks level when freewheeling. In corners, keep the inside pedal up.

    Watch out for corners with a camber that slopes away from the direction you want to go in. Enter the corner wide and cut the apex; this will help you carry the most speed and minimise the need for braking.

    Brake before a corner. Braking during a corner will do terrible things to your centre of gravity (shifting weight forwards) and unsettle the bike. If possible, brake in a straight line. Use both front and rear brakes. On long descents, rims can become very hot through friction, so hot that blowouts are not unheard of.

    Speed Wobbles
    Sometimes a bicycle descending at speed develops a speed wobble, an uncontrollable

    side-to-side shake. To correct it, try clamping your thighs to the top tube and slowing down very gently by feathering the brakes. Letting a little air out of your tyres or even fitting better quality wheels can prevent it occurring again.

    Going from Ironman to IronDAD

    My entry to IM Frankfurt was made in a rush of blood after a fairly dramatic DNF in Zurich last July. I won’t bore you with the details but it ended with me in the medical tent, after just the swim, coughing up blood and my wife being extremely worried about me for a few days! Revenge on the distance was the only way to settle my conscience.

    In 2010 my brother-in-law did IM Frankfurt in 2010 and asked me if I would do Wiesbaden 70.3 the year after. At the time I was playing a lot of basketball and a switch to any kind of endurance sport was a complete change for me. As a fitness professional it should have been something I was quite capable of doing – and I did, not a spectacular time but I got my finisher’s medal.

    Two more summers of racing various distances with increasingly better results and getting to know my new sport, I even got my BTF coaching license, I took the plunge and entered the long one, it was perfect timing, now or never as I had got married over the winter and ‘life’ would soon get in the way!

    IM Zurich was to be my race…. Hold on, no; fail – disappointment – anger – frustration – the plan hadn’t worked!

    After a couple of weeks of moping around eventually my wife Inga suggested I do Frankfurt this summer (2014), we spoke about ‘our family plans’ and realised it could all happen around the same time… As it turned out it would be around the same time… Our first child would be due on 22 June and race day was 6 July.

    So many permutations: “What happens if he’s early?”, “What happens if he’s late?”, “Could he possibly arrive on race day?”, “I’m not allowed my phone on me you know?”, “Should I withdraw?”.

    Now one thing I haven’t mentioned is that Inga is from Frankfurt, where her family still live. Conveniently their house is sandwiched between two parts of the bike course, perfect for practicing the course before the race. We had always been keen on having the birth in Frankfurt so Mum could be with mother-in-law, and as father-in-law is a Doctor it wouldn’t hurt him being around.

    So we came up with this elaborate plan to get a very pregnant Inga to Germany well before the birth, along with my race bike. Then I would fly over at weekends prior to the due date to be with her and bump – and train of course – llowing me to work during the week. I was then due to drive over to Frankfurt to be with Inga on the evening of the 19th, with the last of my kit and we’d have the car for the IM and the journey home.

    This is where the fun started.. At 1.30am on the 19th I’m asleep and my phone rings, Inga’s picture on my phone, my heart pounds it really can only mean one thing! She’s calm, I’m not… “Its started, I’m going to the hospital, I’ve booked you on the 6.05am flight, get here!”


    Cab booked straight away, not another wink of sleep, get to the airport and pace around a bit, ask the desk three times if there has been any delays, change seats so I can be nearest the exit… land, check my phone to read “Its happening now”, sprint through the arrivals to passport check, smile, sprint out to the cab rank, explain the situation, pay the guy extra to hurry up the hell up, its happening now, out the cab before he’s stopped driving, sprint up to the maternity ward, mid-wife says in a thick German accent “Ah, you’re here he has slowed down now.” I am sure that’s not the last game my son will play with me!

    The next five hours that followed were the strangest most surreal magical, all those things that all Dads say, I get it now! At 2.36pm Jona Finley Curle was born safe and well. Yes three days early and yes I would have had time to drive over, let’s just say not everything in Germany is not as efficient as us Brits are lead to believe.

    As it turns out I had over three weeks in Germany riding the course, running by the river and getting to know Jona, no work, no stress, just some last minute tweaks to my race plan as it draw closer. Oh I did have to fly back to London and then drive back to Frankfurt, no worries – all worth it.

    Race day came nearer, I was calm, Jona, well Inga was allowing me to sleep at night so I was rested and ready to go, training had been done, race weight achieved, bike all sorted. I had a new motivation… “Don’t let all this running around, crazy plans, numerous flights be for nothing – make sure you finish this one.”

    Race day, I had a plan – as you can tell, I like a plan!

    I started towards the back to find some open water and swam at my own pace, I am a decent swimmer now though not great, I just don’t like being punched and kicked underwater, so I tried to keep wide at the turns and looked for open water when possible. I exited in 1:17hrs, comfortable and calm – I have swum the distance faster in the past but I probably swam an extra 200m as I didn’t want a repeat of Zurich. I took my time through T1, had my planned energy gel, got rid of sand on my feet then hopped on my bike.

    I was determined to enjoy this, I had ridden the bike course at least 15 times and knew all the hills, the parts where I could attack and bits to sit up and spin. The Germans organise a fantastic race, people lined the course everywhere especially along the cobbled section in Hochstadt and the climb through Bad Vilbel making me feel like a TDF rider very briefly.

    I knew where Inga and Jona would be, and as I zoomed under the bridge on which they stood I honestly felt how cool is this, my new family watching me do something this daft! The roads are smooth and fast, the organisers give you the racing line through all the corners, no real wind, and my nutrition was perfect – I loved – 5:24hrs.

    The sun had started to shine strongly; I had packed sun cream in my bag, again no rush through T2. Cream, gel, new socks, trainers, hat, bathroom, go! I wanted to run the first 5km without using the feed zones to get the legs going, then after that get fluids and fuel and all the feed zones and walk through them.

    Which is exactly what I did, the plan worked, no walking, keep running, count the kilometres up until halfway and count them down afterwards. I ran the London marathon this year and ended comparing the two marathons, 10km – Greenwich, 25km – Canary Wharf, whatever keeps you going right? Marathon time 4:17hrs.

    My ever-supportive wife Inga was at the finish line taking pictures, not the most flattering pictures I have to be honest! I had finished in a decent 11:14:38 (aiming for under 12hrs). A quick flood of emotion as I crossed the line, but all I wanted to do was go see Inga and Jona, one of the excellent volunteers grabbed my white bag and my medal and t-shirt for me (IM really do things right) as I grabbed a beer and headed for the exit – and there they were – waiting!

    It has been crazy few weeks, my emotions have been all over the place. Luckily all our planning worked out in the end – all the credit has to go to Inga, she has been amazing and has literally allowed me to train and tick this off the list. The arrival of Jona has at least given us a story to tell him when he is older and something we will never ever forget.

    I wonder how long I have to wait until I can say I want to do another one?


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