Monday, July 28, 2008

Shin Sprints...

And a fabulously warm and fruity good morning to you all.

Okay. first things first. Who loves this weather? Everything seems so ridiculously enjoyable and easy in this kind of climate, doesn't it? From shopping, to training, to being with the kids... it's all so damned comfortable. If only we could bank on this weather for a guaranteed two to three months of the year...


Anyway, what do I have to share with you this week? Well, firstly I've had a meeting with Coach K and a debrief on Ironman Austria. We agreed that all went well this year and I've asked him to work with me through the winter prior to beginning Ironman training in January. I was so knackered after Ironman last year that I didn't train for a couple of months then, when I did get back to it, I picked up injuries that kept me away from quality work until xmas. This year I'm determined to begin Ironman training from a stronger base. Especially as...

... I've set my target for next year. What are they, do I hear you say? (I know I hear you saying that). Well, thanks for asking. I'll tell you. Next year I'm aiming to finish Ironman Germany in 10 hours 15 minutes or less. That will mark a significant improvement on this year and will require a serious raising of the bar in both training and performance. But I reckon I'm the man for the job and it will keep me honest.

I've been amazed by my recovery and ability to train since Austria. This week I've been training every day, getting back to some serious work with a 1 hour swim session on monday, 1 hour bike on Tuesday, 10k run Wednesday, 10 mile Time Trial on the bike on Thursday, 5k speed run on Friday, 2km swim followed by a 50 mile bike on Saturday and yesterday... my first sprint triathlon.

Well, I tell a lie. It's actually my second sprint triathlon. My first marked my introduction to triathlon a couple of years ago but it went by in such a blur and I've been focussed on the long stuff ever since that I don't really count it. But I digress.

As part of my desire to keep fit during the Ironman off season, I'm not only committed to training but also to doing more events. So I figured I could use a little sharpener on Sunday and signed up for the Bedford Weekender triathlon. An open water swim of 750m, a bike of around 22km (to be confirmed) and a tough 5k off road run. Fiona was a little disheartened by my rising at 4.50 am (by 'rising' I, of course, mean getting out of bed) but I sneaked out and my mate and fellow triathlete Colin Bradley picked me up for the short hop to Bedford.

We racked and raced and enjoyed it. I placed 10th overall out of 116 and 2nd in my age group with splits being - 12.50 for the swim, 1'02 for T1, 41'10 for the bike (including T2) and 19'48" for the run, for a grand time of 1:14:50 finishing in the top 6.9%, comfortably my top finish position in any race. I placed 5th fastest on the bike and was really pleased with the strength in my legs not only so close to Ironman but after the 50 mile bike the previous day. I placed 11th fastest on the run and 17th fastest in the swim which was slowed down by a poor T1.

Afterwards we went country walking (Erin, Alice, Nicky and Mike our Canadian cousins staying with us) and Mike and I went swimming with Alice which I used as a bit of a recovery session. Following that I kicked back - nursed my sore knee (see picture) and enjoyed rather too many beers. A splendid weekend's recreation.

Last week's film quote came from (the over-rated, I think) The Shawshank Redemption, where RED, played by Morgan Freeman, said:

"Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."

Try this on for size. It's a quote I've held dear to my heart since reading it in the novel of the same name as the film from which I now take it.

"Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action."

Who said this? In what film?

Toodle pip to you all...

Monday, July 21, 2008


A week on from Ironman Austria I've had time to digest the race experience, think about my preparation and the event itself and reflect on the positives and negatives of my preparation and performance on the day.

I like to reflect and post analyse as it helps me quickly set my goals for the future. All my life I've set myself high targets and I've quickly learned that once they're achieved, I need to be moving on quickly to the next. The past is history.

Of course, along the way I allow myself fleeting moments of satisfaction. But without tough goals I'm like a ship without a rudder. It's just the way I am and I'm happy with it.

So what of the previous year. Well, positives first. Some that come to mind are:

- I've moved my training to a new level. I work more efficiently and train smart.
- I've involved my family in the triathlon process and they've enjoyed it.
- I'm stronger in all three disciplines.
- I've got a great base to move on to the next challenge.
- I've been relatively injury free since xmas, allowing me to train and perform to my potential.
- I've retained the ability to (just about) balance my training with work commitments and family life.
- I've developed the confidence to begin 'racing' rather than simply 'taking part' in triathlon events.
- I've developed a great new network of training partners through Team MK.

And negatives?

- Training can border on the obsessive and I'll need to be much more efficient with my time management in the coming year.
- There are times when training has come first. I'll need to learn to keep family first and training second - which comes back to time management, listed above.
- I don't feel I'm truly unlocking my full potential on the bike. I can go faster. I know that.

But really, I have to say - the positives this year far outweigh the negatives.

So what of future goals? Well, here's some to be going on with. In no particular order of priority.

1. To develop Alice's triathlon.
2. To compete in Ironman Germany 09 as my A Race and achive my time goals (see later).
3. To complete my latest movie script and set it forward towards production.
4. To continue to enjoy my work, life, and sport balance.

At present these are simply outline targets. Which is where you, blog friends, come in. I'm due to have an Ironman de-brief with Mark Kleanthous, my coach, today. As part of that session we'll be talking about goals for the coming year. I have some ideas in my head of my Ironman goals but I'd be interested to hear what you think I should be aiming for. Leave your thoughts on the blog... I'd be interested to know what things look like from the outside. But please, please, bear in mind that a one and a half hour PB improvement in an Ironman will never again be something I'll enjoy. There are goals and then there is dreaming !

I'm back in the swing of things at work, which is terrific. To come back from Ironman with an empty desk and quiet phones would have been soul destroying. So I'm delighted to be recording radio commercials this week as well as working on two TV commercials over the next month. A couple of other projects are bubbling under too, not to mention my movie script which has been on hold for a week due to Iron commitments.

The girls finish school on Wednesday. For Alice, and for us, it's the end of an era as our youngest daughter finishes at the village primary school. Edlesborough School has been wonderful for them both, allowing them to flourish and develop at the right pace whilst stimulating their intellect and providing them with not only an excellent academic base but, more importantly, a sound moral code and a sense of spiritual well being. Both have been fortunate enough to pass their eleven plus exams and, with Erin happily installed at Aylesbury High School for Girls, Alice will start at the Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School (also in Aylesbury) in September, offering a mixed sex environment and specialisms in the performing arts.

A busy summer awaits. I'm taking the girls camping in early August and then they're off to Florida with their cousins Kitty and Brogan for two weeks under the supervision of my parents. Fiona and I are taking the opportunity to have a week in New York to belatedly celebrate our 20th (count 'em) Wedding Anniversary. I have the National Triathlon Relay Championships on August 2nd and am competing at The Vitruvian Middle Distance (Half Ironman) triathlon on September 7th. In addition I'm thinking of tossing in a cheeky end of season marathon. So... combined with work commitments, a busy summer.

The film quote prior to Austria was too easy for you lot...

"I'm not mad, I'm proud of you. You took your first pinch like a man and you learn two great things in your life. Look at me, never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut. "

was spoken by JIMMY CONWAY (Robert de Niro) in GOODFELLAS...

Gabriel got it, so did my Ironman running twin Robert Quantrell (though he cheated by looking on line for it).

Here's this weeks...

"Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."

Any ideas?

Numerous pics this week. From the top. Me, looking sprightly on the marathon course! Some of the Team MK party with families at Hotel Worth. Alice with Ironkids medal and tattoo. The swim start. And finally, in the morning going by boat to the race. Left to right Helen, myself, Boothy (Team MK - 9 hours 32 mins!) and Paul going to his first Ironman.

Congratulations this week to Paul on becoming an Ironman, to Andy and Jo for signing up for Austria 2009 and to Gabriel who went sub 10 in Austria. Great effort, mate.

The last week has seen me gently jogging and doing a couple of lake swims to recover and get the blood flowing again. Now I'm rested, my bike is pieced back together after its transportation and I'm ready to go. And so, this week, I must return to training.

Why? Because, that's what I do. I train.

Have fun this week and feel free to contact me by commenting on the blog.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I love it when a plan comes together...

Greetings blog people. Short and sweet this week as I've created a link to my Ironman Austria Race Report. Suffice to say:

Job Done.


You can read all about it here: Jevon's Ironman Report

Thank you for all your support through the year. To Fiona, Erin, Alice, all my family, friends, Tri Talkers, Team MK mates, training partners, Mark K my coach et al.

We'll be back next week with a relatively normal service and hopefully some photos.

In the meantime, there's one of us all in Austria after Alice had placed 9th in her Ironkids triathlon.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Another Brick in the Wall...

Good morning blog-friends. I hope that wherever you are in the world that he sun is shining on you and there is hope in your hearts.

There's no sun here as I sit in my office looking over my front garden but I'm hoping the weather will lift for Thursday's flight to Austria and the days thereafter.

Yes... we're finally there. Ironman Austria is this Sunday at 0700 (Austria time) and it's been quite a journey. I feel in the shape of my life - seriously, I haven't felt this fit since I was playing first-class rugby in my early twenties and am mentally as prepared as I'll ever be. In fact... I'm really looking forward to it. Fiona, Erin, Alice and myself fly on Thursday from Stansted. We're staying at Hotel Woerth in Maria Worth next to the lake at Klagenfurt, some 10k from the start of the race itself. My brother Sean and his family will be there, as will my other brother Conal. My parents will also be with us, not least as it's my dad's 70th the day after the race. So it will be a wonderful family affair.

Of course, there'll be others there too. My mates Tom and Helen will hopefully have recuperated from their fantastic races at Ironman Germany this week (Tom raced in sub 10 hours, Helen in sub 11 - well done, guys) and will be staying at the same hotel to cheer me on through the race. Ironman Sam will be there too, as will dozens of Team MK members and families. So, all in all, it should be a fantastic race.

My task for the day is to focus for (hopefully) just less than eleven hours whilst expending a huge amount of physical energy. I'm hoping to swim the 3.8km in 65 minutes, then take 5 minutes for my first transition, bike 180 km in 5 hours 45 minutes followed by another 5 minutes for Transition two, followed by a marathon in under four hours.

Put like that... you can see it's a tall order. But I've not been training this hard for nothing. I'm physically capable of all these targets and I'm capable of stitching them together. Ironman isn't just about physical capability though, it's about marshaling and utilising all your resources when your body is at its lowest ebb, every fiber of your being is screaming at you to stop and your mind is wandering due to the lack of oxygen. I promise you... halfway through the marathon, you're hard pushed to remember your middle name, let alone focus on on-going race nutrition and split time calculations.

I made two key mistakes last year - I neglected my nutrition on the bike and I set off too quickly on the run. I won't be making those mistakes this year. There will be problems, there will be difficulties. It's called 'Iron' man, after all, not 'Easy' man. But I'm looking forward to facing them head on, gathering strength from my support and driving forward to achieving my goal.

So, now I've had that Winston Churchill like chat with myself... what's been happening this week. Well, my taper has been going well. I've been reducing the hours training but - as Tom told me to do - included a few sessions in there to keep myself 'honest'. Training highlight this week was knocking another 25 seconds off my PB 10 mile Time Trial time on the bike which now stands at 23:51. So there is life in the old legs still !

I've been busy at work too, setting up some radio ads that I'm working on after I'm back from Austria, discussing future TV commercials with some clients and, of course, working on my film script. I'd be lying if I said that I find the latter the easiest thing in the world, but as I'm writing differently this time - producing a fully formed treatment consisting of over twenty pages of story before I begin scripting - I'm happy with where I am in the process. I'm hoping to have the treatment finished prior to flying to Austria so that there's nothing playing on my mind during the race preparation.

My taper week's training has looked like this:

Monday - 45 minutes swim drills, 20 minutes easy running
Tuesday - 45 minutes open water swim, 60 minutes bike, 45 minutes 80% Heart Rate run
Weds - 45 minutes run at Ironman pace
Thurs - complete rest day
Friday - 45 mins bike 10 mile TT (23:51) plus warm up and down, 15 minutes back to back run at 8 minute miles and 69% of Heart Rate Max
Saturday - Back to back session: 45 minute 2.2km swim, 2 hrs 15 mins bike 40 miles, 5 mile run at IM pace, 45 mins.
Sunday - 40 mins run at 85% max heart rate.

Total time training this week - 9.68 hours

Last week's film quote was

"You're a big man, but you're in bad shape. With me it's a full time job. Now behave yourself. "

and was spoken by Michael Caine as Jack Carter in GET CARTER. Robert Quantrell got it but only after sneaking a peak onto IMDB. Boo... hiss...

Have a go at this one:

"I'm not mad, I'm proud of you. You took your first pinch like a man and you learn two great things in your life. Look at me, never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut. "

Go on... you know you know. Who said it? What movie?

Congratulations, of course, this week to Tom and Helen for two outstanding performances at Ironman Germany.

Finally, the photo... Fiona and Erin went girly shopping to Milton Keynes on Sunday so Alice and I hung out together at home. She'd recently picked up a big box of complicated looking lego models which, frankly, had me scratching my head and wondering how long it would take before she gave up. But she didn't give up. She followed the assembly booklet, constructing the things, bit by bit until - eventually - a fully formed model was formed. It was a patient, revealing and enjoyable process (I played a small part as 'coach') and it made me think of the journey I've taken over the past year on the way to this challenge. My coach, Mark K, has provided the 'assembly booklet' of training schedule and words of wisdom (as have other friends along the way) and, piece by piece, I've constructed my fitness over the year to the point where it is now, I believe, a fully formed item ready for the game to begin!

Let's see.