Ironman distance is a huge demand and stress on the body no matter what level and I knew that My body was still not ready to race the event following the disappointment at outlaw on July. So following outlaw I had a week away from triathlon and planned on what to do for the remainder of the season and next year. This year is the first year my motivation to train hadn't been as strong and lacking my mojo. I believe the only reason I have achieved the things I have in triathlon is down to my huge appetite for pushing myself to the limit in training and racing, and never giving in. So this season has felt almost stuck in 2nd gear and going through the motions, without really getting anywhere. Having not renewed my pro licence this year and racing more domestic events I haven't felt the hunger as much and probably had an effect but to get it back I had to get my passion and mojo back for triathlon again. I did consider giving triathlon up all together and find another Challenge to get my teeth stuck into and rejuvenate me- I did seriously consider giving rowing a go as the times I can hit on the indoor rower puts me well up their rankings but After a lot of thought I think there is still a lot I've not achieved in triathlon and there is still at least one top ironman performance left in me. So rather than throwing myself into hard training again for the rest of the season I set myself the goal of to just enjoy racing again and enjoy the training. So I just maintained my swim fitness with one swim session per week- mainly due to my local pool being closed all summer so getting to a pool was more difficult. The bike I focussed much more in intensity and dropped my mileage significantly and really enjoyed that. And the run i basically tried to race as much as possible, and if there was no races I would do some park runs. I then gave myself about a month before my first race back followed by 4 weekend of back to back racing. Thats one area that ironman has it's drawbacks as you spend so much time doing the hard yards training and so little time racing- so if you have a shit race you often dwell on it for a longer period of time- compared to racing the short distances if you have a crap race you can put it right a week or two later and race much more often. So my first race back was the sandman triathlon in Anglesey. This was a 1k sea swim- 60k bike and 10k sandy trail run. It was a beach start, and you could almost run to the first buoy. I didn't get a great Start and i turned the first buoy with two guys with a small gap in front.
The winds were up so the sea was pretty choppy, normally I thrive on a rough water swim but I really struggled to find amy rhythm getting launched about the waves. I managed to limit my losses and exited about 50sec down to the fish Ross hosking and Alex foster.
Out on the bike Ewan brown had exited just behind and he took off up the first climb. I chased hard after him and eventually reeled him in followed by the two leaders in after about 15-20km. For the remainder of the ride the group stayed together, everyone riding legally and doing their fair share at the front. It was great fun And I enjoyed the ride, with lots of attacks thrown in, as everyone was pretty evenly matched. It was probably the first time in a whilst that I was really having to work and well and truly blew the cobwebs off. With a couple of km to go I switched off for a few seconds and found myself chasing balls out for the next few km to latch back on. Ewan managed to sneak 30sec on the windy descent back down to t2 so I exited for the run with Alex, with Ross dropping back towards the back end of the ride. My run has been a bug focus this season, and despite loosing 3months at the start of the season due to injury I still felt I was running well so was looking forward to attacking the run course. Despite all my efforts my run legs didn't show up, and my chest was just clamping up really restricting my breathing. The run was tough enough as it was but my chest and lungs didn't help. Somehow I managed to hold on for 3rd even though my recovery runs at home are quicker than that performance. Overall I couldn't be disappointed as first race back and full credit to Alex and Ewan for topping off the podium.
A week later I had a weekend of racing, with the northern road relays on the Saturday and Xtramile south Manchester sprint triathlon on the Sunday. The relays was a 6.6km run. The standard was shit hot and I was guna have to hurt myself to stay with the people around me. This year I've really enjoyed running events and especially when the competition standard is high. Racing triathlon I can compete with most runners but when your put against pure runners you really get put in your place and it's great motivation getting destroyed by sub 30min 10k runners, and inspires me to work even harder in training. So the Sunday was the sprint tri in Wilmslow. As we now live in Wilmslow and my start time was 3pm I had almost all day to relax before racing which was nice. This was a 400m pool swim-25km bike through the country lanes- 6km run to finish. My legs felt surprisingly good and was ready to smash it.
As it's only a short pool swim there was little point going all out on the swim and spending the first part of the bike recovering so I just held a solid pace and then hoped to drill it on the bike. I got away and clear out of the swim and pushed the bike hard, it was the first race in a long time when things almost felt easy and flowing and was really happy with how it went. There were a couple of very strong bikers racing and to put time into them was Great to see that my fitness was going well. I've raced this event a few times now as it a superb local event for all abilities so had something to compare against. With matt barnes in my wave who is a pretty awesome runner and took something like 2min out of me the day before at the relays I had to keep pushing hard all the way. The run felt just as good as the bike and was able to run hard without the chest problems from the week previous. I won the race with 1min clear from brian fogarty in 2nd and matt barnes a further 1min back to 3rd- and only loosing 45sec to matt on the run which was pleasing. It was also a big pb for me on the course so a strong weekend of racing. I was pretty happy with my performance on how it felt- yes it wasn't a huge event but it felt a solid performance and i enjoyed it. So moving on the the week later to another always aim high event the snowman triathlon. This is a really tough event held very close to snowdon in north Wales. It's a 1km cold water swim- 70km tough mountainous bike and a 9km pure fell run. Whilst setting up in transition the announcement came over that the swim was shortened to 500m due to the cold temperature of the water. Most people we're pretty happy with that but I would have preferred the longer swim. Getting in the water and it didn't feel too bad, and once we got going it was fine. The swim was more like 400m but as it was so short the pace was going to be fast. Having focussed on the long distance events where the pro swim start is often less chaotic to begin with, followed by violent accelerations thoughout the swim, short course is very differnet With the first few 100m being max out sprint to start. As with the sandman the same few faces were at the front again but this time I got a much better start and I tucked in on their feet and made my way round the buoys. I exited the water with the group and had a quick transition and was on the bike first. My legs felt great on the bike and i settled into my rhythm, I was quite supprised to see the rest of the group falling back on the first steady climb with only Ewan brown coming with me and taking the lead. We got Over the first climb together and began the long twisty technical at times descent at great speed. Being a confident descender it was a great opportunity to open things up on the guys behind and we were flying down the mountain, until I misjudged a right bend and ended up crashing into the side with the tv camera in full view. I picked myself up, collected my spilled bottles and um jammed My chain- then a quick check of the bike before setting off again, Just as the chase group came past so I drilled it down the mountain and caught back up with them. I thought I had been pretty lucky and got away with any damage to the bike and body, with just my bars slightly twisted but adrenaline is a great thing to mask out pain, and as the adrenaline started to wear off my body started to hurt and seize up in the hip. My right elbow had taken a good crack and it looked like I had a boiled egg at the end onf my elbow, so riding on the aero bars began to hurt a bit. Also my lower back and hip had taken a beating and riding in the crouched aero position was painful and struggle to put the power down. I stayed with the group to the bottom on the descent and on the climb I managed to get away over the next two good climbs. Riding out of the aero position wasn't to bad as i wasnt cramped ul but the long desecent afterwards wasn't much fun and my left side of the body had seized up, resulting in getting caught again. I got through the remainder of the bike still in contention reaching t2 in joint 3rd/4th. The run is a brutal fell run and climbing from the start. I tried to relax and just get to the top, but after 10min of running my lower back was agony and was very soon broken down to a walk. I stopped every few min to stretch it out but little relief as the pain was very deep inside. I even stopped a walker and scrounged some bruphen which had little effect. The left side of my lower body had seized up and after 2-3km I decided to call it a day and walk back down. After loosing 3months of running at the start of the season due to a hip injury I wasn't prepared to start the winter months nursing another one. It was frustrating but that's racing. To win races you've goto fully commit yourself and take your chances- sometimes they pay off sometimes they dont.