Tag: training

The fastest boy in school (Iain)

One of the signs I am getting old was seeing my Secondary School and thinking how much it had changed since I attended it. It was a very minor change – the Council had knocked it down and built a new one!

Previously, a road ran past the front of the school. The road has been replaced by a very large building. This is very annoying as the road was a shortcut from my home to the shops in town.

I did think about cutting through the school to save me a five minute detour but for some reason schools frown upon middle-aged men roaming the playgrounds.

That road has a special place in my sporting heart and history. It was where I became the fastest boy in school history. How I felt when I saw it was gone is how Andy Murray would feel if Wimbledon was knocked down and replaced by a Tesco Metro. He’d probably need a sit down – although that might be due to his dodgy hip.

It happened during my 5th year of secondary school. During PE lessons the class would take part in a 100m race. The  course was setup on the road outside the school.

The PE teacher picked one of the other boys to go out with a measuring wheel to mark the start and the end of the course. Once it was setup the class lined up at the start.

I don’t think I warmed up before the race. This was the 1990’s. Warming up hadn’t been invented yet.

We didn’t have blocks so it was a standing start. The gym teacher blew his whistle. I started running with all the forward momentum of a conservative MP stepping forward in support of Theresa May i.e. I dithered a bit and then when I noticed everyone else was doing it I stepped forward too.

I covered the first 50M swiftly and was soon near the front running alongside a boy wearing Joe Bloggs jeans. He’d forgotten his shorts but he didn’t care as he knew the Jeans made him the coolest guy in our year. I knew he’d slow down towards the end as he wouldn’t want to get the jeans sweaty.

In the last 10m I was Eric Carmen! No not the kid from South Park but the man who wrote and sang All By Myself. {NOTE: I thought the reference would be less obscure but as I’ve gone to the trouble of googling who sang All By Myself then I’m going to keep it in!]

And then I was over the line. I couldn’t believe it. I’d won. The teacher couldn’t believe it. My time was unbelievable!

I was so fast my name should really be UsIain Bolt Todd.

What neither I nor the teacher knew at the time was the boy who’d been sent out to mark the course didn’t know how to use a meter roller so he’d just taken a guess at how far 100m was. He’d actually created a course of 81m.

This was discovered when another PE teacher heard about the time and realised that a runner as slow as myself could not possibly have run the time claimed.

I was the fastest boy in the history of the school….for about ten minutes and then it was annulled.

‘Tis But A Flesh Wound (Andrew)

Running with an injury should just be called ‘running’. Runners are always injured.

Ask any runner and they can talk for hours about their creaky knees, dodgy ankles and wonky hips. “But it’s always been like that!” They’ll add, forgetting that it wasn’t like that before they started running.

Runners are basically the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Despite how many limbs are chopped off the knight still cries ’tis but a flesh wound!’ and battles on.

That’s why there are certain stages that runners go through when they run with injuries… sorry… when they run normally.

It Doesn’t Get Any Worse When I Run

At the moment I have a pain in my left foot. It falls into the category that I call “It Doesn’t Get Any Worse When I Run”.

This is an injury that’s just as sore when you walk as when you run. That mean, and this is logical, I can run because running doesn’t make it any worse! (Don’t think about the logic, just trust me!)

These types of injury also tend to fall into the related category of…

It Doesn’t Get Any Worse If I Run On Alternative Days

Again the logic here is sound. If the injury doesn’t get any worse because you only ran on a Monday and Wednesday then clearly you can’t be injured at all. An injury would hurt all the time so, if it only hurts on alternate days then it can’t be an injury at all. Simple.

After Five Minutes It Doesn’t Hurt When I Run

This is a tricky injury because it does hurt when you run. Usually quite painfully and in a way which suggest amputation may be in your future. However, after five minutes, all the pain goes away! (Though it does tend to return an hour after you stop – and ten times worse than it was before).

I’ve had this injury. I hurt my knee and every time I tried to run it would be very painful to put any weight on my leg for the first five minutes then everything was okay until I stopped and had to cry with the pain of it all.

However, as it wasn’t sore when I ran, or at least most of the time, it wasn’t an injury at all!

It Hurts When I Lie Down

Wimp! If it only hurts when you lie down then you know what to do – go for a run!

It Hurts All The Time

Okay, a runner may admit this may be an injury and will book an appointment to see a physio in three weeks time. In the meantime: keep running! You never know, it might heal on it’s own!

Norseman – The journey begins… (Iain)

The Chinese philosopher Confucius wrote “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

The approximate distance from my house near Glasgow to Eidfjord (the Norwegian town where Norseman starts) is 1000 miles.

And I don’t step anywhere until I’ve booked a flight, arranged a hire car and reserved accommodation with AirBnB. So, forget what Confucius said, the phrase should be: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single… mouse click.

Click  1 – Arrange a support crew. 

It’s compulsory to have a support crew. Previously I did this by myself for Andrew. That worked fine but, if I’d had to run the final leg, then the logistics would have been tricky. This time I’ll have two support crew. It’ll make it a more enjoyable day for all of us.

Click 2 – Arrange a flight

There’s two flights from Scotland to Norway. One goes from Edinburgh to Oslo, the other from Aberdeen to Bergen. Bergen is the closer to Eidfjord but Aberdeen is much further from my house. The time I’d save driving in Norway would be lost driving in Scotland. I therefore booked a flight to Oslo.

Click 3 – Arrange accommodation

Eidfjord is very small with limited accommodation but I managed to arrange an Airbnb for a small village nearby – Ovre Eidfjord. I booked a chalet in Rjukan for the finish. I’ve stayed there before. They sell great pizza on site which I’m looking forward to having after the race.

Click 4 – Train for the race

I asked Google “How do I train for Norseman?”

Google replied: “Stop sitting on your ass at the computer!! You won’t get anywhere until you step outside!”

Maybe Confucious had a point after all…

2018 (Iain)

I have wee’d in Harry Potter’s author J K Rowling’s driveway. It is not my proudest moment…

Even worse than that – I met her at an event and, instead of saying, “Hi there, I really enjoy your books,” I said “Hi there, I pished on your gate.”

I told her she could use it in a book – Harry Potter and the Search for a Toilet. A book where Harry Potter has one too many Butter Beers and then tries to make it home. She’s not written it… yet…

Triathlete’s claim an IronMan is the hardest event on earth. It’s not. The hardest event on earth is trying to unlock a door, hopping from one foot to the other, whilst desperate for the loo.

Rowling owns a country house in Perthshire. The house is peaceful and quiet but a b-road passes by her front gate. Every May the Caledonia Etape Cycling Sportive uses the road. 5,000 cyclists pass the entrance to her house but one year instead of wiz’ing by I wiz’ed in a different manner.

I was desperate for the loo and I saw her path was conveniently located close to the road. A bush next to the gate hid me from the view of other cyclists. I knew it was her house but resisted the urge to shout, whilst gripping my wand, “Expelliarmus!!!!”.

I’ve started planning my 2018 “season” hopefully I’ll avoid any incidents with beloved children’s authors! I’m picking races based on the closeness to my house and ones I’ve done before and enjoyed.

2018 Races (until Norseman)

  • January 27th – Buchlayvie 10K
  • February 11th  – Kirkintilloch 12.5K
  • February 24th – Glentress Trail race 21K
  • March 11th – Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon
  • March 18th – Alloa Half Marathon
  • March 25th – Stirling Duathlon
  • April 22nd – Balfron 10K
  • May 13th – Loch Leven half marathon
  • May 20th – Caledonian Etape
  • July 1st  – Ironman Edinburgh 70.3
  • August 5th – Norseman

Glentress Winter Trail Race 21K (Iain)

route

I have two man crushes. One is ex-Celtic striker Henrik Larsson.  I was a season ticket holder at Celtic during Larsson’s time there. At games I’d sing:

You are my Larsson,
My Henrik Larsson
You make me happy when skies are grey
We went for Shearer, but he’s a w******
So please don’t take my Larsson away

He eventually got taken away so I stopped my season ticket! Celtic without Henke was like Ant without Dec – nice setup work but no-one to supply the punchline.

My other crush is…Hugh Grant. I think it’s because we both fancy Liz Hurley and we both had terrible floppy haired curtain haircuts before cutting our hair short. The first film I saw him in was “The Englishman Who Went up a Hill but Came down a Mountain”.

A title which sums up my Glentress trail race experience (but replace Englishman with Scottishman).

I hadn’t done enough research on the race. Actually, I hadn’t done any. I just had a vague memory from biking at Glentress six years ago. Unfortunately that vague memory wasn’t of the course but of a particularly good plate of macaroni cheese I had at the cafe. Mmmm – delicious!

The day before the race I was asked – what are you doing at the weekend? I replied, “I’m running up a hill.”

I was sort of correct except the hill was just a warm-up for the rest of the climb! It was actually a 6 mile 700m+ ascent of a mountain!!! (I might be using dramatic licence here but it was a long climb and I think of hills as being less than 700m…much, much less)

So, although I went up what I thought was a hill. I definitely came back down a mountain.

PS – It’s a great race. The next one is on in February https://www.highterrainevents.co.uk/glentress-trail-race

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Racing into 2018 (Andrew)

Triathlon and running magazines will tell you that Autumn is a time to relax. The race season is over. The nights are drawing in. It’s time to let injuries heal and training decrease because, damn it, you deserve it, you magnificent athlete, you!

You did so well this year!

You smashed that A race.

You got the PB!

You ran out of acronyms to describe your achievements!

Except, what happens if you didn’t?

You got round your A race (just). Your PB stood for peanut butter and the sandwiches you ate by the dozen. And then you stopped doing anything at all for two months because you didn’t have time to train.

Do you get to relax?

Well, yes, Because it’s cold, and wet and frankly, it’s Scotland in Autumn. What other excuse do you need, you magnificent athlete, you?

And it is an excuse. Because the one thing the magazines don’t tell you is what happens when everything goes wrong, like this year for me.

The summer was a write off. A project at work meant I had very little free time for three months. And while I completed Escape From Alcatraz and IronMan 70.3 Edinburgh it was very much a case of “Thank you, Lord, for cancelling/shortening the swim and making it easier to get round!”.

So, Autumn for me is a chance now to get back to training, to start a few months earlier to be ready for next year and another attempt at Escape From Alcatraz and, as Iain’s announced, being the support for Norseman.

Because racing isn’t really about racing. And that’s something the magazines don’t get. Not some years.

This year wasn’t about racing as other things were more important and next year won’t really be about racing either, it’ll be about making sure Iain completes Norseman. Taking part and supporting others are just as, if not more important, than racing.

Though results always matter when you do race! 🙂

So, while I’ll be supporting Iain, I’ll also be secretly hoping he finishes Norseman after 111 miles on the bike so I can say I’m the best Todd at Norseman by getting to 112 miles!)

 

Learning to learn (Iain)

There is an old saying: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach”

Which is certainly true of the teachers I had. Except they could not ‘do’ or ‘teach’.

My physics teacher was a drunk. He had no idea who anyone in his class was. At the start of each year, he would take a photo of the class. At the school parents evening he pointed at the class photo and asked my parents: “Which one’s yours?”

My history teacher used to tell fat kids at the front of the class to move to the back as they were blocking the view of the other pupils!

My tech teacher gave me a bit of wood to make a model boat. He then used my bit to demonstrate how to do it. When I gave it to him for assessment he said it was rubbish and gave me a “D.” It was his work!

All I can say to my physics/history/teach teacher is – all is forgiven! Last month I did the  UKCC Level 1 Triathlon Course. I discovered for myself how difficult it is to teach a group.

The course takes place over three days. On day one, I coached a swim session on sculling. There was only one problem. I did not know what sculling was. Actually, there was a second problem. One of the people I had to teach was the brother of an Olympic swimmer. It’s fair to say his small toe knew more about swimming than I did.

I was very self-conscious as I told people to “catch the water” and “this will make you a better swimmer” as I had no idea what I was talking about. I eventually gave in and made them swim up and down. At least they got some exercise.

The lesson I took from that was its best to teach what I know and if I don’t know it then I need to practice, practice, practice till I do know it.

On day two I had to teach running and biking. This went slightly better. My running drill was balance. I’d done a yoga class that morning with a balance section so I just repeated what that teacher had done. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel.

My bike coaching was terrible so the less said about that the better but it did reemphasize that I need to practice, practice and practice some more.

Day three was the assessment. Thankfully, that went well and I passed the course. Thankfully, there’s a gap of a few weeks before day three so I was able to practice, practice and practice!

Hopefully I can now help out at some club sessions. Fellow athletes can then say about me:

“Those who can tri, those who can’t coach!”

My first triathlon (Iain)

On a Monday, in September 2008, I  joined the Royal Bank of Scotland. The first day was amazing. I met my team mates, I got taken out for lunch and, in the evening, we all went to a bar and got drunk.

My second day wasn’t as good – the bank collapsed!

I don’t think the financial crises was my fault but I can’t be certain. I was very drunk that night.

During the night out, the RBS project manager told me about a race he’d entered – the Edinburgh New Year’s Day Triathlon. A 400m swim in a pool, then three laps on a bike of Arthur’s Seat finishing with one lap running around Arthurs Seat.

It sounded great, so I signed up. I then realized I hadn’t swam since school ten years previously. I then realized that at school I hadn’t been very good at swimming.

I should therefore have practiced swimming before the event but like all men faced with a problem – I ignored it!

I’m not sure I took the event seriously. This is what I wrote on Facebook the night before the race.

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and this is what I was doing at 0300, five hours before the start of the race

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I think it’s fair to say my pre-race fueling strategy was flawed.

I woke up very hungover but I made it to the start.

The swim was eight laps of the commonwealth pool. I used the breast stroke for all of them. I remember thinking “this is the furthest I’ve ever swam” and that was at the end of lap one!

The bike didn’t go any better.

I had an old mountain bike. Thankfully I was not breathalyzed before hitting the road. My bike broke on lap one. Everyone passed me as I tried to fix it. I eventually got it working and made it round slowly.

My drinking caught up with me on the run and I threw up at the start, the middle and the end of the lap.

I eventually finished last.

BUT that wasn’t the worst part of the day. After the swim, instead of going to the run transition, I’d gone to the changing room to use the hairdryer. I wasn’t going to go out on new years day in Scotland with wet hair. I’d catch a cold!

As I was blowing my hair the RBS project manager saw me. He strode over and asked how my race had gone” I replied that I was currently doing it. He looked appalled!

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Life: the fifth triathlon discipline (Andrew)

Some people say that triathlon is a sport of four, not three, disciplines.

You’ve got your swimming, your cycling and your running – the three sports that make up a triathlon.

But you could add a fourth. Transition. The ability to stay upright while trying to pull a wetsuit off your foot with all the grace of an alcoholic ballerina performing the dance of the swans on a stage made of butter. Transition is a sport in itself.

However, there is also a fifth discipline. One that’s more complicated than bilateral breathing and harder to master than keeping upright with tri-bars whenever the wind blows (which is every day in Scotland). And that discipline is ‘life’.

Because the one thing triathlon expects, nay demands, is that you actually find the time to run, swim, cycle, struggle with wet suits at the side of lochs, and that can be tricky. You can’t spend all your time on your bike when you’ve got to be at home or work.

And some weeks, that means you don’t get to do very much at all. And those are the toughest weeks because you might have a diary or training plan that requires you to swim 4×500 metres followed by 30 minutes of light jogging. Yet you’ve not left work. The dog needs walked and you want to be home in time for dinner.

That’s why I call life the fifth discipline. Arguably, the most important one, because you need to be just as good as balancing everything else that’s happening in your life before you can even think about going out for a run. At least if you want to avoid divorce, the sack, or a grumpy dog.

So, for the last few weeks, I’ve been concentrating on the fifth discipline. Life.

Which is definitely a thing – and just something I’ve invented to justify eating cake.

And I’ve definitely not been lazy and put my feet up for a month.

Oh, no, not me –  I’ve been hard at work.

Training – honest! 🙂

IronMan UK 2015 (Iain)

This week, I realized I have a lot of old posts from a previous blog. So that they don’t go to waste, and to save me having to write new blogs I’m going to publish some of the more interesting ones.

This is from 2015….

Bolton was home to Fred Dibnah. He climbed chimneys and became a TV star.  When he died a statue was erected in his honor. Bolton was home to Nat Lofthouse. He was one of the greatest English footballers. When he died a statue was erected in his honor. Bolton was home to Vernon Kaye. He presented the TV show which tried to drown celebrity’s – “Splash.” I hope he doesn’t get a statue for it!

If he doesn’t then he will, at least, get a mention in a remembrance book at Bolton Wanderer’s stadium. It lists all the Bolton fans that died that day….which is a bit creepy. Do they phone up the hospital and check who the recently deceased supported?

Bolton

IronMan UK which is based at Bolton’s stadium. The race is a 2.4-mile  swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and then a run of 26.2-mile.

Registration/Setup

Registration and Transition 2 are based at the stadium. It’s convenient for parking and easy to get to/from the motorway. The expo/merchandise is smaller than IronMan Frankfurt (which I’d visited a few weeks beforehand) so don’t wait until after the race to buy anything as it will most likely be gone by then.

You can request a special needs bag for the bike section but its not given out automatically.

We stayed in http://www.hiexpressleigh.co.uk/ which is next to the swim start but about 10 miles from Bolton. It was a good choice. We walked to the swim in the morning and they supplied an early breakfast and a pre-race dinner.

After registration we parked the car in a multistory next to the finish line. The car parks free at the weekend. After the race we’d only have a short walk from the finsish to the car park.  We took a bus back to Leigh and picked up a race essential – a Subway sandwich for the special needs bag. I wasn’t going to spend all day racing without eating some real food.

Unfortunately the hotel room didn’t have a fridge so I created one from ice cubes and a sink. I suspect I was the only one racing who eat a Subway.

Fridge

Our pre race rest comprised walking to the cinema to watch Ant Man. It was rubbish but watchable. I got to bed about 20:00 and set the alarm for 04:00

Swim (01:21:46)

The rain was pelting down when I got up. The start was only a short walk away so instead of getting clothes wet I wore the wet-suit from the hotel to the start line. As I walked along I passed people in wetsuits who also were also wearing rain smocks! Why??? Surely they can’t be concerned about the wet suit getting wet!

The swim is a rolling start so you queue in a line and enter the water and start swimming. Where you stand in the line represents how quick you think your swim time will be. I queued towards the back.

The swim is two laps of the course. The queue start meant there was no getting battered and bumped at the beginning of the race. The second lap was trickier as the weather was abysmal which made it tough to spot the buoys. I was surprised when I got out to do so at the exact same time as my brother. I hadn’t seen him at all on the course during either lap!finisherpix_0955_006476

Transition 

There is only one tent. Other races have two (one for male, one for female) so if you want to get naked you have to do so in a corner of the tent that’s blocked off. Its pretty pointless as it’s not very well blocked off so you can see everything. I apologize to anyone who got an eyeful. I can only claim that the water was very, very cold.

Bike (07:46:48)

It was still raining when we came out of transition. The forecast was for the sun to come out within an hour but I wore waterproofs. I’m glad I did because the weather forecast was wrong and it was mostly a cold and very windy ride.

The first section is a 14 mile urban ride to the start of a two loop circuit. The circuit has two hills on it. Neither of which is particularly difficult as we are used to Scottish hills. The support on both is excellent as a lot of people come out to cheer you on as you make your way up.  The wind never abated on the laps and it felt it was more against than for me.

Nothing much interesting happened on the ride other than a man rode into the back of Andrew at the special needs section. Luckily neither Andrew or his sandwich were hurt. At another point we took a wrong turn but we weren’t the only ones who did so and it was quickly rectified.

In terms of organisation there aren’t many toilet spots on the loop and support vehicles seemed to be few and far between. It didn’t cause us any issues but its worth noting that help might not be immediately at hand.

This years bike split times are much slower than last year’s. This has a good analysis of it http://www.coachcox.co.uk/2015/07/20/ironman-uk-2015-results-and-analysis/

finisherpix_0955_001229Transition 

There was only one tent so a similar system of nakedness replied. Again, I apologize for anyone who got an eyeful.

Run (05:04:09)

The weather in Bolton was nice,  the sun had come out (at last!) We had a strategy of running the flat/downhill and walking the uphill. After two minutes of leaving transition we came to the first hill. It felt strange to stop but a strategy is a strategy!

The first part of the run takes you into Bolton city centre. It’s pretty dull slog along a canal as there are no mile markers. I had to rely on a GPS watch to know how well/badly I was doing.

After this there were three loops of the city centre. The amount of supporters, or they may just be people who like to watch other suffer,  lining the streets was unbelievable. At time I was running into a wall of noise. A wall that likes shouting encouragement. Unfortunately I do better with criticism  so I just ignore the encouragement but I do appreciate the atmosphere. Without it the run would have been a struggle. One women did make me laugh as she shouted “two for the price of one” after spotting myself and Andrew.

The loop is surprisingly hilly. A steady climb out of town and steady descent back. As the hills were long I abandoned the hill strategy and replaced it with ‘the cone game’! I’ll share this wonderful game so you too can go slightly mental on a race.

It’s very simple. The course is lined with cones so pick a number of cones to run past and then a number to walk. On the way down the hill on the first lap we’d do a 4-2 strategy. 4 cones running, two cones walking. On the way back up the hill 3-3. The strategy would change depending how we felt so if we were tired we could drop to a 3 cones on 4 cones off etc

From this I learnt that Andrew has trouble counting as he’d say “was that the second cone or the third?”

I also believe I can now recognize every cone in Bolton! By the end they all had individual personalities. I might have gone loopy. It was a really good way to get through the run as we could always see where our next run or walk section was.

Their was a lack of toilets on the route but luckily neither of us had any issues on the day. We both just eat a little bit of everything in moderation and that worked fine.

The finish was excellent. Big crowds and the man saying “lain…you are an IronMan” but better than that was the free pizza in the finish tent.

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Overall (14:45:50)

A good experience that means I’ll never have do another one! I’ve always preferred shorter races and this didn’t change my opinion although I would like to know – If I did  an IronMan abroad would they say “you are an IronMan?” or would it be”eres un hombre de hierro” or  “vous êtes un homme de fer” or…