Thursday, 23 August 2012

Tuska Triathlon


I was really looking forward to this race as it is the first race that I've done for a while that I've done previously. Which would allow me to see if I'm making any improvements. In fact, I've done this race twice before.

2008 - This was my first open water swim, (World Champion) Helen Jenkins passed me in the water like I wasn't moving. I posted a time of 1:41.

2010 - A seasoned triathlete at this point and posted a 9 minute improvement, by finishing in 1:32.

So, with the knowledge of a basis of some good training in me I was aiming to bag a time of 1:25. A tough ask, but it would mean that I would be pushing myself. My usual target is to finish in the top half of the results, but as this race is the Welsh Sprint Championship, my expectation of hitting this target was slim.

Despite having a good race at Gower, I was disappointed with my transition times, therefore I was determined to get through transition in as little time as possible. My main time savers would be to go sockless and to have my race belt on under my wetsuit (not sure why I've not done this before).

I'd had a decent brick session without socks with no after effects from blisters etc., so I was confident that I'd be OK on race day.

Race Day

Usual stuff, alarm goes off at 5 o'clock, get the porridge and kettle on,. kit in the car and off I go. I'm pleased to note that it is a mild morning with no wind, perfect race conditions, if it can stay dry then we're off to a winner.


Just to confuse us all at 7:30 in the morning the swim waves were changed from the usual men first followed by the women 5 minutes later. This year it was everyone except male vets in the first wave and then the vets to follow. The great thing about this is that I would hopefully be be picking off racers from the first wave throughout the race

The water was pleasant and the swell that I'd noticed when registering on Saturday had died down. I had a solid enough swim, but felt a bit heavy across my shoulders. I managed a time of 17:13 which was over a minute better than I'd posted in 2010.


Right! No messing about into transition get me wetsuit off; glasses, helmet and shoes on and off I go. All completed in a time of 1:14, which is twice as long as some of the racing snakes but considerably faster than the 2:54 I posted in 2010


As the bike is reasonably flat (for Wales), my plan was just to hit it hard and keep on going. I quickly made ground up on some slower cyclists, unaware if they were in my wave or the earlier wave, but either way I was ahead of them on the road and on the clock.

Gunning it!

As there aren't many hills on this course I took the opportunity to stand and get some momentum when I was climbing, instead of the usual grind as to not fatigue the legs. The only two exceptions being the long drag up Stormy Down, and the final climbs on Three Step Hill.

I came home in a time of 41:56 which was about 5 minutes faster than my 2010 time, with a good run my target time would be in my grasp


Another sharp transition, and was turned around in 53 seconds


The run along the front was changed from previous years, with the route now staying on tarmac for the full 5km instead of the middle section being on coastal path. I felt comfortable on the run and was ticking off athletes on a regular basis.

High 5s all round

I reached the turnaround point in about 10 minutes, which implied to me that the run was a bit on the short side.

As I returned to the promenade, I was caught by a few athletes; but I was more than happy with my time of 20:04.

Almost home

With a race time of 1:21:21, I'd more than exceeded my expectations. And with a position of 105 out of 215 racers I'd also attained my target of being in the top half, despite the very strong field.

Whilst I have have had races that I've felt have been major achievements, this was by far my best performance within a race.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Second Ironman Syndrome

Well I did the race and I've (literally) got the T-shirt.

The question that I keep asking myself is, should I do another Ironman race? And this in itself raises further questions

  • Should I do Ironman Wales again?
  • Should I do a race that is notoriously fast?
  • Should I do an overseas Ironman race?
  • Does it need to be an Ironman branded race?
  • Can I do the training again?
  • Is it fair to expect the commitment from my family? 
  • Will I be just as motivated the second time around?

The problem with endurance sport is that it takes up a lot of time. I currently train about 9 hours per week and this works out fine as I can train before I go to work and do a bit on the weekends around doing family type things

And 9 hours is plenty for my ability and for anything up to standard distance races. But when these volumes need to be ramped up with morning and evening sessions as well as longer sessions on the weekend where family life has to work around me, that's when it becomes a physical, mental and emotional strain.

OK, I could just continue with my current training levels and most probably I'd adequately complete another Ironman race, but I'd know deep within myself that I hadn't given my best and that when I lined up on that starting line I'd know I hadn't done enough.

Unless I can convince myself that I'm up for this again, it's not even worth speaking to Ang to see if she's up for having another Ironman adventure (at least her marathon training won't clash with mine). Only when there are ticks against these two boxes can I move onto the finessing of deciding which race to do.

So the questions in order of priority are

  1. Do I have the motivation?
  2. Do I have the support?
  3. What race shall I do? 
 At the moment question 1 remains unanswered, and until that is resolved, there's no point in taking it further. So, it looks like I'm in for some internal dialogue.