Celtman Nutrition Plan (Andrew)

I was running through Cooper Park in Elgin this week when I passed the library and a bunch of teenagers hanging out on it’s steps. Which was good to see. Teenagers hanging out at the library. They must be the cool kids, I thought. Probably exchanging thoughts on whether the Blagh Book by Nigel Tomms really does challenge the stifling formality of language by writing a one million word long sentence where every second word has been replaced by the word “Blah” or whether it challenges anyone not to laugh at such pretentious twaddle as books are meant to, as a minimum, be, you know, read and understood.

And then one boy turned to the other and said: “Gonna give us a poond”.

“Wha fir?” said the other.

“It’s a poond an eccie and ahm gonna get wasted!”

Which made me think. How can an eccie, which I assume is an ecstasy tablet, not being up with the old drug lingo, be a pound? How can it be cheaper than a legal drug like alcohol or cigarette? Has the market fallen out of eccies. Is there a big warehouse with a secret stash of unsold tablets somewhere in the Moray countryside where the local drug dealer has no choice but to have a fire sale before the spring/summer eccies arrive?

Or was the kid being conned? Was someone selling Smarties and pretending they will get you high?

Or are drugs just really cheap?

They don’t tell you that in school.

“Don’t take drugs!” Says the teacher.

“Why not!” We say.

“They’re too cheap! Save up and get a proper drink like a Buckfast – like a real man!”

When I got back, I Googled “How much do drugs cost” and I was surprised to learn how cheap heroin is too. It’s only £10 for the average bag while cocaine is £30 – £40 per gram.

Based on those prices, I would be daft not to inject myself intravenously.

Then I Googled the price of new energy gels as I’d run out. And as I’ve written before – see here – I need a new supplier.

And, having checked the price of energy gels and energy bars and comparing them against the latest street prices I can confirm that I will be running Celtman on a nutrition plan of one ecstasy every hour and a shot of heroin at the end of each stage. It’s the economic choice. I’d be daft not to save money by buying my ‘nutrition’ on the black market. Triathlons can be expensive, but not if you shop around.

But, before I buy more drugs than Boots the Chemists, first I asked the Glasgow Triathlon Club Facebook forum this week for recommendations for a thick gel to replace my Zipvits and have been recommended gels by Torq. I’ve ordered a box of mixed gels – but if they don’t work out I may need to join the cool kid gang and visit the library…

Review: The Game Changers (Iain)

Hi. My Name is Iain and I am a vegan…sometimes.

I drink milk and eat cheese. Which means I am a bad Vegan.

Should I call myself a Vegetarian instead? No – I can’t. I should mention that I also eat Tuna

I could call myself a pecscitarian. Someone who eats vegetables and fish but I can’t. I should mention I occasionally eat chicken.

In fact what I cansay is “Hi. My name is Iain and I eat a balanced diet but try to be vegetarian more often than not.” Which does not sound very interesting or sexy.

Being full on 100% hardcore Vegan is sexy. Its cool. I know so because Netflix has said so. They have a glossy film called The Game Changers.

In it the main presenter argues that eating any animal products can hinder athletic performance, wreak havoc on your heart, impair sexual function, and lead to an early death.

Its full of masculine men doing macho things.

Its basically saying “Are you man enough to go Vegan?”

Which is inspiring. Who doesn’t want to kick ass like a MMA fighter, drive fast cars like a F1 driver or play tennis like a wimbledon champ?

There’s only one problem. It seemed a bit lacking in proper science. They had scientists on it but their claims seemed pretty dubious and not very factual.

One scientist claimed that the Gladiators in Roman times were all Vegans and that must have been why they were the peak of manliness. Which assumes the gladiators had a choice in the matter. They were probably Vegan because they were all Slaves and no slave owner was going to waste good food on them. They got the cheapest and most plentiful food – which was plant based food.

Another scientist showed a vial of blood from a vegan and a non vegan. The no vegans was cloudy whilst the vegan was clear. Clear seems better because we are conditioned to think that means pure but he never explained what it meant. Maybe cloudy is what its supposed to be! There was no evidence to say one way or the other.

I google the program afterwards and found a number of articles decrying the science in the program. This is a good example.

ttps://www.biolayne.com/articles/research/the-game-changers-review-a-scientific-analysis/

So for the moment I will stick to a boring bit of everything diet. I’ll pitch it to Netflix as a documentrary “The Same Gamers”

Bealach na Ba Race – 2014 (Iain)

I had learnt my lesson from my DNF in 2012. This time I trained for the race, I wore the correct cycling kit and I had bought a new bike – a hybrid! It was a mix of a road and mountain bike. Surely that would be perfect for climbing hills on roads?

At registration I had to fill in a release form stating I absolved the organisers of any blame in the event of an accident. I assume this was due to Malcolm’s accident as I was not asked for this in 2012.

I lined up at the start. I felt confident. I tuned to Andrew and told him that “I thought it was going to be a great day.” I spoke too soon. It started raining.

This time the climb was much better. I made it half way up before I had to get off and push my bike. There was no camera crew at the top this year. There was no one at the top. The conditions were miserable – wet and windy. Nobody wanted to hang about in that type of weather.

I was pleased when I biked past Applecross. The climb was done. The rest of the course would be easy!

It wasn’t. The miles after Applecross are an endlessly undulating series of small hills. There is more climbing in this section than during the Bealach climb.

By the time I hit the umpteenth small hill I had to get off and push my bike. My legs had run out of puff.

Andrew was on a road bike. He felt fine. Maybe when Lance Armstrong was wrong when he wrote “Its not about the bike.” I felt it was definitely about the bike.

Shieldaig

I made it to the second last village on the route – Shieldaig. It’s a small coastal town. The organisers had setup a feed stop here. They were packing it away into a van. They looked surprised to see us. A man approached us and said “I didn’t realise anyone was still biking”

I assume that means we are last. Very last. He opens the van and says “Help yourself to anything you want”

I take a packet of crisps, a can of coke and unusually I spot some cheese slices. I’d never seen cheese at a food stop before. I ask the man if I can have some of the slices. He says yes.

I try a bit. It is delicious. The best bit of cheese I have ever had. It was probably the cheapest cheese imaginable but after cycling 75 miles my taste buds must have craved the milk and salt goodness. I’ve never had cheese as good as that again!

To this day I still salivate at the tastiness of that cheese.

Powered up on the three C’s – cheese, coke and crisps we head off to tackle the last section of the course.

It was horrific. For the the last 12 miles we had to ride into a strong headwind. I had to stand up on my pedals to move my bike forwards. It was like biking through heavy mud.

At last we spot the finish. It’s getting dark. We’ve been riding for nearly nine hours.

I’m spent but elated. We are going to finish. We have done it together.

With 100m to go Andrew sprints off. He doesn’t believe in doing it together. He believes in winning. He is the only one at the finish line. We are so late. Everyone else has gone home.

We drive home. He spends the five hour journey telling me how he is the winner of the Bealach na Todd.

Music 2019 (Andrew)

There was no escaping one song this year – Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’. It sold 10 million copies in the US and it stayed in the top 40 in the UK for so long the Home Office threatened to deport it.

With its chorus of “take my horse to the old town road!” most folk assumed the song was inspired by country music. Which it was – but that country was England! I’ve discovered, by checking Google Maps, that Old Town Road is not in Utah but Stoke-on-Trent, just round the corner from Premier Electrical Wholesales and a ceramic tile pottery. It’s as authentically western as John Wayne’s name.

If you want proper country music there was only one place to take your horse – and that place was Nashville. And there was no better country song, and, in fact, no better song this year, than Luke Bryan’s ‘Knockin’ Boots’.

Most people would say it’s awful. That it makes ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ a contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. But they would be wrong. It’s BRILLIANT.

Listen to that guitar solo, the way it’s a NUDGE NUDGE WINK WINK SAY NO MORE of the fretboard.

Listen to the lyrics. It’s not just a list of cliches that rhyme. It’s more complicated than that. It’s a list of cliches that rhyme that tells a story of a night: a night that begins with getting across town to meet someone; taking her out to get some drinks, then moving to the dance floor, followed by calling her a cab, then starting getting friendly in a backseat, before, eventually, she’s won over by Luke Bryan’s charming ways or suggestive guitar licks or, possibly, rhohypnol and they’re soon ‘knockin boots’! It’s a tale as old as time. If that time was before the #metoo movement rightly suggested getting her drunk was not the height of seduction. But that doesn’t stop this being my song of the year. Even if it doesn’t mention Stoke.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Miley Cyrus – Party Up The Street

For when you can’t afford the taxi to the party at Luke Bryan’s house.

Grimes – We Appreciate Power

Best lead single with the word ‘Power’ in the title since Kanye West’s Power. Hopefully this doesn’t mean that Grimes will follow Kanye into the light and become Sister Grimes the nun in 10 years time.


DC Fontaines – Big

One of my favourite albums of the year. I think they’re gonna be… big! (Did you see what I did there?)

The Slow Show – Eye to Eye

From my favourite album of the year.

Honeyblood – A Kiss From The Devil

Best Scottish album. I’m pretty sure there’s a hint of Gary Glitter’s Rock & Roll Part 1 to this one. You can definitely imagine the Joker dancing on the New York stairs to this song.

Foals – In Degrees

Would have been best album of the year if they’d released one ‘best of’ album instead of splitting it into two parts.

Fat White Family – Feet

A Spotify discovery, which is getting rarer as my wife shares my account and listens to One Direction and The Greatest Showman and my new discovery’s tend to be Louis Tomlinson singing Les Miserable.

Blake Shelton – God’s Country

Someone’s been listening very closely to Bon Jovi’s Young Guns 2 soundtrack.

Miley Cyrus – The Most

Final song on her album. Final song on this list. If you get the chance, watch her Glastonbury set. But not in front of your granny, unless your granny was a trooper and swears just like one.

Celtman Training Plan (Iain)

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

Michelangelo (not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle but the painter)

My aim for Celtman is to get a blue T shirt. To do this I have eleven hours to reach the start of the climb to Beinn Eighe. To get there I have to swim 3.4K, ride 202K and then run 15K.

A finsihers t-shirt from 2016

If I take longer than eleven hours to reach Beinn Eighe then I will be sent on the low course and I will receive a white T-shirt. Although the low course does not go over Ben Eighee it is still a hard technical off-road route.

So what does it take to get a blue T-shirt?

Swim

Last year the average blue t-shirt finisher swam 01:06:50. The slowest swam 01:39:42.

Bike

Last year the average blue t-shirt finisher biked 07:07:59. The slowest ride was 07:57:16. This equates to an average speed of between 15 to 17 mph. I suspect the slowest cyclist was a very quick runner.

Run

The run course has changed slightly this year so I can’t compare it to previous years but based on the average swim and run times I’ll need to run to Beinn Eighe in about 2 hours 30 minutes.

My plan is to get fit in two stages.

Stage 1: Get fit (Dec 1st until 12 weeks before Celtman) 

My swim fitness is good. I have spent allot of time in the last year improving my swimming. I regularly swim once or twice a week doing 2K metres a session. I cope well with cold water as I swim regularly outdoors. Therefore I won’t change anything I currently do as I’m happy at my current performance level.

My bike fitness is good for short rides. I commute to work by bike a couple of times a week (16 miles per day) and I occasionally ride a 30/40 miles route at the weekend. I’d struggle with anything longer than that so I need to increase my stamina and speed over the winter so that I can cope with long training rides in the spring.

For Norseman I did allot of work on the Turbo over winter. I will repeat that for Celtman. I will aim to do 120 miles a week by the time spring comes along.

My base run fitness is good for up to half marathon distance. I try to do one long run and one 10K a week. The majority of my training is off road on hills/trails which should stand me in good stead when it comes to the race. I’m doing an Ultramarathon in March. Training for that will hopefully bode well for Celtman.

Part 2: Get Celtman fit

Part 1 will hopefully got me fit enough tthe longer rides/runs necessary to get in triathlon shape.

I’m going to reuse my Norseman training plan. It worked well for me in terms of fitting training around having a normal life. It involves doing one key session a week in each discipline.

WeekRunBikeSwim
12hr run5 hour2k swim
22.5hr run5 hour2k swim
3half marathon 2k swim
410K + half marathon5 hour2k swim
510k5 hour2k swim
62.5hr run5 hour2k swim
7Easy week  
8HALF IRON MAN  
9Recovery week  
102.5hr run5 hour2k swim
112.5hr run5 hour2k swim
121 hr3 hour2k swim
13RACE  

I can’t find a half ironman to enter in week 8 so I’m going to do my own instead.

I will come up with a more detailed plan for each month but this will be starting point.

Preparing for Celtman: November 2019 (Andrew)

I have slept in a living room, a cleaner’s cupboard and what felt like a supermarket skip. Racing around the country is expensive and one of the skills all triathletes need is the ability to find the cheapest and closest accommodation to the start line as possible.

On Skye we stayed in a hotel room whose window opened into a skip. Which was handy, as the room didn’t have a bin. Or much in the way of sheets, paint, any wifi or hope of better days. Every hour someone would throw a glass in the skip. Every hour. All night.

In Dunkeld, I thought I’d found a bargain before the Etape Caledonia. £35 a night for a double room. The room was new. Recently renovated and had a smell which could only be described as Eau Du Crime Scene Clean Up Crew. My eyes started watering as soon as we opened the door. The smell of bleach was so strong, my teeth turned white. The room was so new I’m sure it was still a cleaners cupboard that morning.

As for sleeping in a living room. That doesn’t sound too harsh until you read this – Norseman – and you spend three days with the equivalent of a torch shining in your face while you try and sleep.

But not this time. This time we’re staying at the Torridon Inn, a luxury hotel only a few minutes from the finish line.

After years of slumming I want something to look forward to at the end of the race.

Not that there’s that much choice for Celtman. The Applecross penisula is isolated and there’s not a lot of accommodation. To make it harder, the penisula forms part of the North Coast 500 tourist trail so any accommodation is already hard to find with tourists booking for their own tour of the Highlands.

So, no sooner were places confirmed than Iain scoured AirBnB and hotel websites for places to stay because there’s no point having a place if you don’t actually have a place to stay too. And not, thankfully, anywhere that will involve a rubbish dump, the eternal sun or more chemicals than the Rolling Stones dressing room.

Goals for December:

  • Training will officially start in January. December will be about getting into a routine of doing ‘something’ most days of the week but without any pressure to do anything in particular. It’ll just be about getting used to a routine.
  • Work out training plan
  • See if I can try and be a bit more scientific and check stats like heart rate, functional training power, watts and a whole host of other words I don’t know the meaning of yet.

Jimmy Irvine 10K 2019 (Andrew)

There are three starts to a race. The first start is when you start running. For most of us this will be a few metres before the start line as we don’t start at the start as we don’t want to mix it with the top club runners looking to win races. The second start is when you start your watch so you can keep track of how far you’ve run and how long you’ve been running. This second start will be as close as possible to the third start – the point we cross the start mat and hear the beep of timing chips.

Three starts. Three times we control exactly when we start a race as we decide when to start running, when to press start, when to cross the mat, yet still I like to hear the sound of a starting gun, klaxon or just a loud whistle. There is something ‘official’ about having a starting signal that Garmins and beeps cannot replicate. Even better, the start should be marked with an official starter, and in most years, for the Jimmy Irvine 10K it’s been Jimmy Irvine himself. You can read about it here (including more about Jimmy Irvine). This year, he wasn’t here in person, but he was here in portrait as the finisher’s t-shirt had a picture of him and his wife on the start line at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow.

The race has taken a number of different routes around Bellahouston Park however, this year, it stayed the same as last, which I originally thought was great as it features two laps and three visits to the same downhill section. As the race starts on a hill you run downhill for most of the first kilometre. You then repeat it again at the end of the first lap and again at the end of the second. Two laps, three downhill sections. 

However, when I say I “originally thought it was great”, I have now changed my mind. Last week, Iain and I ran around Edinburgh, taking in a number of hills including Blackford and Arthur’s Seats. After checking Strava, I notice something curious. The highest heart rate was recorded at the bottom of hills, and not the top. With the peak rate being recorded at the bottom of Arthur’s Seat after running down from the summit. 

King of Edinburgh

I’d always thought that running uphill was harder. It certainly feels like it. But, the scientific evidence – and what is more scientific than a record on Strava! – shows that running downhill was much, much harder.

So, when I originally thought I was going to write about how the Jimmy Irvine 10K is a nice route as it’s more downhill, than up. I’m now here to warn you that the Jimmy Irivine 10K is a hard race because it’s mostly downhill! Avoid, do something easier like the Ben Nevis Hill Race or the Mt Everest Marathon. Anything except run downhill!

Saying that, I might just be annoyed because I missed out on breaking 45 minutes by 8 seconds. It was still the fastest I’ve run a 10k in a few years but, still, even with three starts, I couldn’t find one that would take my time below 45 minutes…

I blame Iain. He ran off to fast and I decided not to keep up as I wanted to warm up a bit first. Then, to make matters worse, he ran the rest of the race too fast as well! What a cheat! I bet he even ran the downhill sections. I didn’t. I walked them* – you can’t be too careful you know!

So, while there was three starts, there was only one way to finish: second place to Iain again.

*This might be a lie to avoid saying I couldn’t catch up with him even when I was trying to sprint. 

The Accidental Celtman (Iain)

The Road To Kinlochewe

I didn’t plan on getting a slot to Celtman 2020.

Unlike Andrew ( https://twinbikerun.com/2019/11/21/dreaming-of-celtman-2020-andrew/) it’s not a race I have always dreamed of doing. In fact I can’t even pronounce it correctly. I always pronounce the ‘Celt’ bit like Celtic instead of ‘Kelt’.

The only races I ever dreamed of entering were Norseman and the Marathon Des Sables. I’ve been lucky enough to have taken part and supported at Norseman but I will never do MDS. My body struggles badly exercising in hot weather. MDS would kill me!

Next year, my plan was to take part in one of the hardest middle distance races in the world https://triathlonx.co.uk/index.php/half-x and then do one of the easiest long distance races – Ironman Denmark.

I only entered Celtman because I wanted to do it in the future. Entering this year would increases my chance of getting a ballot place later. Failed entries give you more extra ballot places in future years.

And then this happened

Trust my luck to win the one ballot I didn’t want to win!

BUT…

…now that it has happened I’m excited about it. It will be great fun to go head to head with Andrew. May the best Todd win!

Although, if you are anywhere near Torridon in June 2020, expect to hear me repeatedly utter the line made famous by Dante in Kevin Smith’s Clerks “I’m not even supposed to be here today! ”

Clerks

Jimmy Irvine 10k (Iain)

I spent the week before the race full of the cold. Not the normal cold but life threatening man flu.

My fellow men will sympathise at just how potent this horrific affliction can be. Its only known cure is watching TV, drinking beer and replying “no. I’m ill” to any enquiries about whether any housework is going to be done.

I decided I wasn’t going to do the race as it always rains when I take part. Last years event was so biblically wet I spotted Noah leading animals two by two to his boat. I didn’t fancy running whilst being at deaths door.

But for the first time in my five attempts at the race there was no rain. It was actually a very pleasant sunny morning.

I decided to run. I was still ill and I definitely wasn’t fit enough for household chores. In fact, I think it might be a few weeks before I can even think about hoovering or helping out around the house. A run though is fine to do.

The course is two laps of Bellahouston Park. It’s not a very scenic park but it’s pleasant enough. It’s mostly flat but there is one hill that is tackled twice.

I decided I was going to run as fast I could. As soon as the race started I legged it away from Andrew. Later Andrew complained I went off too fast. No – he went off too slow!

The race was pretty dull. I spotted Andrews wife a couple of times so I gave her a wave. Which turned out to be more times than Andrew spotted her. He managed to run past her without seeing her.

I kept a good pace up for the whole race and I was happy with a sub 45 time. I didn’t expect to be as fast as that. Maybe man flu isn’t as bad as I thought….

Barney, Andrew and I

Dreaming of Celtman 2020 (Andrew)

IronMan UK was my one and only long distance triathlon. Never again I said. That was it. One go. Done it. Never need to do it again.

Except for Norseman.

And possibly Challenge Roth.

But the chances of getting in were so slim that IronMan UK was, I thought, the only time I’d ever swim 3.9km again, probably the only time I’d ever cycle more than 100 miles and definitely the only time I’d run a marathon as I don’t like running long distances. 

Oh, and except for Celtman too. 

Apart from those three races, I was never going to voluntarily spend an entire day racing again!

But what were the chances of getting into Norseman? Challenge Roth or Celtman? People try for years and don’t get into any of them. I applied, still with no expectation of getting in, and, straight away, I’ve got a place in Norseman.

A couple of years later and I manage to get a place in Challenge Roth too.

And now I have a place in Celtman.

I don’t know whether God likes a laugh, but he certainly enjoys a good ironic chuckle. 

While Norseman was fantastic. I’ve written about it on the blog and you can find out all about it. Roth too. And they were both ‘special’ and they have given me some great memories (along with a deep, deep fear of losing my watch while swimming – read about it here and, four months later, I’m still mentally scarred by it!), it’s Celtman which means the most to me because it was Celtman that got me interested in triathlons.

I never watched triathlons on telly. I’d never heard of IronMan or knew anything about the World Championships in Hawaii. I knew triathlons existed, I’d even tried to the New Year’s Triathlon in Edinburgh but I was like a dog playing football. It might know to chase a ball but that’s all it has in common with a footballer. I knew you needed to swim, bike and run but I didn’t know it was better to swim freestyle, that a mountain bike is not the professional triathlete’s first choice or that the run is something you race, not walk in to finish. 

Celtman changed that. I was watching the Adventure Show on BBC Scotland. Every month it reports from different events across Scotland. In 2011, it reported back from the first Celtman extreme triathlon. 3.4km swim on the west coast of Scotland, a 120 mile cycle round the Applecross penisula and then a marathon up a Munro and finish in Torridon. 

“That’s impossible,” I said, “how do they do that?” 

Every year since I’ve watched the Adventure Show and thought I would love to take part but secretly I knew that I wasn’t good enough. I don’t want to swim through jellyfish in freezing cold water. I’ve never cycled 120 miles. I’ve never run a marathon up a mountain. That’s what other people do.

But as I started to train for races in middle distance, then long distance, then Norseman and Roth, I started to think this year that maybe, with a bit more effort, I could be ready for Celtman. Because I don’t want to just complete it. I want to stand at the top of the mountain and be one of the few competitors who complete the whole course. In order to do that you need to be halfway through the run eleven hours after starting. Which means I’ll have around 8 hours to complete 120 miles on the bike, knowing that my swim time is the one thing I won’t be able to change no matter how hard I train. 

And, to make this Celtman, even better, unlike Norseman and Roth, Iain will be racing too, which will be a good incentive for both training and on the day itself. Though it has spoiled my support runner plans as he was going to run the final half with me!

Now that I’ve secured a spot I keep thinking of the first edition. I think how impossible it seemed and I think how possible it now is. I can’t wait to take part!