Paul Deen’s 2012 season review makes for excellent reading, and his 2013 goals are set in stone.
My A goal for 2012 was a sub 10 finish at Challenge Roth in July. I also succumbed to peer pressure and entered Ironman Wales in September because half of Black Line London were doing it! I had no particular goal for Wales other than to experience what a bloody hard IM course feels like and see whether a harder hillier course may suit me.
Other minor goals were to try and get faster at all distances and to hopefully win my AG at one or two of the smaller races, I had come close a few times in 2011 so this didn’t seem an unreasonable.
I had toyed with getting coached towards the end of 2011 but after looking around and emailing a few I chose to be a cheap skate and opted for a generic training plan which I purchased via Training Peaks. Initially this was ok but when I had a ski holiday and then started doing some early season races I was realising that a generic plan didn’t really work as I was just randomly shifting all the sessions around.
In February a decent contingent of Black Line London raced the Wokingham half marathon. My half PB was an old and rather soft 1:28 so I was confident of a PB and was pretty happy with a 1:25:13 off the back of fairly limited training.
This was followed by a disappointing result at the March Ballbuster and was the tipping point in my decision to get a coach as I was way down on where I wanted to be and was a whole 5 minutes slower on the bike than my previous effort just 4 months earlier and it was in better conditions…..worrying
So I did some more research and talked to a few more coaches. My main requirement was that they had a decent amount of long distance triathlon experience preferably personally as well as professionally as a coach. I also wanted them to be Training Peaks based as I had been using the platform for about 6 months and had really started to appreciate its many brilliant features. I had also just started using a power meter but had little idea of what the numbers meant at that point.
In the end I opted for Steve Lumley who used to be head triathlon coach at Birmingham University, he had completed 33 Iron distance races including 4 trips to Hawaii and coached people of all abilities to over 300 Iron distance finishes….so that was the experienced box ticked! He had recently relocated to Malaysia to set up a coaching and elite development squad. Having a coach located half way round the world doesn’t sound ideal but using Training Peaks is absolutely ideal for this situation as the workouts are loaded directly into my planner and coach and athlete can communicate via Training Peaks and also email.
So mid March and I am being coached professionally for the first time and boy was it a shock to my system,the volume and the intensity went up immediately most noticeably on the running front where I went from circa 25 miles per week to more like 40…..ouch! I didn’t notice any jump in performance at my next 2 races: The Fulon Duathlon where I came 4th in my AG & Thames Turbo Sprint Race 1 where I also came 4th in my AG but was disappointingly slower than Race 4 in 2011…..mmmm
Shortly after TT race I spent a week training at the excellent Tricamp Mallorca run by Nick Dunn. Fellow BLLers Paul B & Ash were also in attendance and we had a fantastic week of swimming (a bit) biking (a lot) and running (quite a bit) in absolutely perfect circa 20 degree weather. I think we hit 30 hours of training for the week and had a lot of fun.
A cut back week on return led in to a week with 2 races in 6 days, Thames Turbo Race 2 on the May Bank Holiday and then my first proper triathlon test of the year at The Swashbuckler middle distance in The New Forest.
I felt totally knackered the morning of TT race 2 and wasn’t feeling very confident on improving on race 1 but I was determined to give it the full beans. After my usual utterly crap swim, I had a v swift transition and my first ever flying mount (cheers Nick!) and just rode as hard as I could putting all thoughts of the 5k run to come out of my head, It bloody hurt! Despite the run being agony from the get go, the pace was ok and I was delighted to cross the line for my first ever AG win…..happy days!
6 days later, after another week of hard training I was feeling even more knackered at the start of The Swashbuckler. Cold weather in the lead up had left the water temperature of the Beaulieu River at 12 degrees and it was touch and go whether there would be a swim. In the end they opted for a shortened 750 metre version and to split us in to 2 waves based on our predicted 1900 metre swim time, I was in the 2nd wave that would go 5 minutes after the faster swimmers.
The cold swim combined with the freezing 5:30 am air temperature made for the most uncomfortable bike ride I have ever done. Thin gloves and toe covers gave little to no respite and my hands and feet were frozen from the start. Because of the discomfort I didn’t feel great all ride and when I got off the bike assumed, because of how I felt that I was having a bad race. I can remember very clearly the utterly bizarre sensation of trying to run with frozen feet after that bike ride, it felt like you were running on stumps.
My pre race plan was to try and do the 14 mile run at 7 min pace, this calculation was based purely on me wanting to improve on my previous best of 7:15 pace from 2010. I didn’t have any benchmarks in recent training that gave me a clue as to what pace to expect, plus I was tired, untapered and cold so I wasn’t at all confident when I started running. It is a 2 loop run and my plan was to keep HR under control for a lap and a bit (which would hopefully be 7 min pace) and then from about mile 10 pick up the pace if I was able to. Well this plan worked out much better than I hoped and I found myself holding back a bit for first 7 miles and was ticking off sub 7 min miles with ease. By lap 2, I could feel my feet again and was starting to feel pretty good so picked the pace up . A girl on the side of the road then told me I was in 16th place which made me feel even better especially when It dawned on me that I had a 5 minute lead on the 15 in front of me!
The last part of the run is the without doubt the best sensation I have had in a race since I started endurance sport in 2007, I was hurting for sure but it was a controlled hurt. I felt totally in the zone as I focused on targets up the road and reeled them in one by one. When I crossed the line I knew I had had a great race. I had just run 14 miles at 6:46 pace with a big negative split and felt awesome.
Obviously I hung around for the awards and had no idea of the results other than I thought I was top 10, I was just hoping no gun 40-44 AGers were in front of me so that I would win mine. Turns out I needn’t have worried as my nearest rival finished 7 minutes behind me and I won it easily. I also came 8th overall only 10 seconds behind 7th and 50 behind 6th. Bearing in mind the top 2 guys were pro this was my best result ever. I also had the 5th fastest run of the day which was the most pleasing and surprising aspect of the race.
So that was 2 age group wins in 6 days… mmm maybe this being coached business was working!
A few weeks later and it was a revisit to Wimbleball for UK70.3, this race had completely humbled me a year earlier when the hilly 3 loop run had been utter agony, I think I gave up triathlon about 100 times in my head on that run. Because of that experience and also because I was again untapered I took the bike fairly steady and built into it gradually. The run was of course still difficult as the course is an utter bastard but it was in no way as uncomfortable as a year earlier and I managed to maintain a fairly consistent pace throughout. I crossed the line in 5:10:10 knocking 18 mins off previous years effort and came 5th in my AG earning me a Las Vegas World Championship Finals Slot (which I declined) My run was also a lot faster than I had anticipated and was the 20th fastest amateur split of day which again surprised me.
So it was the final push towards Roth for a few weeks and then a taper and finally the big day was upon us. I have written a full race report for Roth here but a quick summary is as follows:
Swim pretty much exactly where I expected in 1:05 but painful cramp in both calves near the end was sub optimal.
A difficult 5:20 bike in unexpectedly windy and slower than usual conditions for Roth. I felt awful for 3 hours but great for final 2….weird!
A well paced 3:26 negative split run that sounds easy when you write it down but was bloody hard work
Finish time 9:55:35 = Job done.
After some serious Bavarian eating and drinking and a couple of easy recovery weeks it was back to proper training to get in shape for Wales. This included a trip down to Tenby in August with fellow BLLers Ian, Jen, Nico and Paul B to check out the course. We had a great weekend and the bike course was awesome but I was having serious doubts about whether I had the motivation to do another Ironman so soon after Roth. I dwelled on it for a few days when I came back and consulted with Steve who confirmed what I had been thinking which was to pull out if I didn’t have the right motivation. The problem for me was that Sub 10 at Roth had been my total focus for 7 months and once I had achieved it, I couldn’t motivate myself for Wales where I had no specific goal other than to get round as best I could. I had for a short period after The Swashbuckler thought that a Kona slot might be a slim possibility at Wales but my results at UK70.3 & Roth plus a serious study of previous years results had convinced me that this was a pipe dream.
So with no IM Wales I focused on a few short term goals, firstly I wanted to see how I would do at an Olympic distance race as I unusually hadn’t done one all season. I also wanted to go well in my AG at The London Duathlon, a race I have done a few times before and always enjoyed. Finally I wanted a sub 3 at The Ballbuster.
These late season goals panned out pretty well….
I entered the F3 Henley Olympic distance race and came 6th overall winning my AG comfortably.
After that it was Thames Turbo Race 4 in which I won my AG again and also got a third in the series prize which I am pretty sure was a mistake! But it did make it 4 AG wins for the season which is way beyond what I hoped for.
At The London Duathlon it was an absolute scorcher of an early September day and everyone struggled in it but I managed 15th overall and 2nd in AG just 18 seconds off the win.
Finally in November I was delighted to get around the Ballbuster in 2:58:39 for 14th overall and 4th in AG.
I also joined the fat tyre brigade with the purchase of a 29″ hard tail in November and did my first off road Duathlon a few days later at The Wildman and absolutely loved it. More of those races to come for sure.
Oh and how could I forget about the Banana Man team time trial which I did with fellow Black Line boys Ash and Jim and was without doubt the most fun I have had at a triathlon! Whilst we were not dressed entirely seriously we were looking for the win but had to settle for second behind the rapid Thames Turbo boys. Black Line will be back for revenge next year though but hopefully without the Speedos.
So all in all 2012 has been rather good with all major and minor goals ticked off plus a few extra ones for good measure.
My 2013 A goal is to try and get a Kona slot at IM Frankfurt. It’s not going to be easy but if I can get very close to or below 9:30 it should be on. Rough plan in my head is 1 hour swim, 5 hour bike 3:20 run…..easy.
I have also finally realised that my swimming was not going to improve unless I switched my brain off and just put the work in like I have done with running and biking. I am now doing 3 quality swims a week and am seeing the benefits already, a sub 60 swim at Frankfurt will be mine…..
Another goal for next year is to qualify for GB Age Group team for the World finals in Hyde Park in September. Getting quicker in the swim will be a crucial part of making this happen.
I’m also going back to Wimbleball for the third year running and assuming I will be in 9:30 IM shape in June would love to go very close to or preferably under 5 hours. If I can do this I would have a decent chance of making the podium too.
So some lofty goals in there for sure and to be honest I have to pinch myself that I have actually said some of them out loud but I think it helps to focus the mind once you have done so.
Have a good New Year everyone and happy training and racing in 2013