Tag: training

Aberfeldy Middle Distance – Bike Course (Iain)


Whilst Andrew was failing to escape from Alcatraz, I was in Aberfeldy visiting our parents. They were staying here, instead of at home in the Western Isles, as my Dad had a hospital appointment to attend.

During his appointment he had to sit a memory test. To pass, the test required a score of at least 82 out of 100. If he failed then he could lose his driving licence.

This seems very unfair as I only needed 40% to pass my university exams and, with that limited knowledge, I’ve been in charge of things much more dangerous than a car.

During the test, one of the question was name an object beginning with P. He said penis. My mum was appalled. He was then asked to name the President of the United States, he couldn’t remember. I suspect he’d have got it correct if he’d also said a penis!

The Aberfelday Middle Distance Triathalon bike route starts in Kenmore. The town is famous for being the place where the first cast of the salmon season takes place. Less well known is it’s a town evil Iranian dictator Colonal Gaddafi bought property in!


I wonder if any other dictators have property in Scotland? Maybe North Korea’s Kim Jung Un has a little flat in Saltcoats? Maybe Syrian President Bashir likes nothing better than a day on the beach at Prestonpans?

Unfortunately, I’m away when the Aberfeldy race is on, but, if you are doing the event, here’s what you need to know.

The first three miles are flat. There is a single lane bridge with traffic lights in Kenmore. I assume a marshal will be here and wave bikes through if it’s clear otherwise your race would stop before it’s barely began.

After three miles of flat it’s nearly five miles of uphill. It’s a straightforward climb but keep a look out for the turn onto the Schiehallion road. I missed it and had to turn back. Again, I assume a marshal will be at this point.

Once on to the Schiehallion road it’s mostly flat and fast but there are some tight corners where you can’t see what’s coming. I had to brake in case a car was coming the other way. The roads aren’t very wide so I didn’t want to drift into a car’s way. The descent on the way down to Kinloch Rannoch had two steep sections with tight corners.

Once in Kinloch Rannoch its virtually flat all the way round the loch. The road was good quality and I used tri bars all the way round.

The climb back up Schiehallion isn’t as bad as the first time as there’s less of it! It’s then virtually downhill all the way back although watch out as some of the corners are tight.

Overall it’s a enjoyable ride. Nearly 850m of climbing but with lots of places you can get the head down and bike fast.

Escape From Alcatraz – Swim (Andrew)

Athletes, listen, this is an important announcement! You must –

Pfffffftt. Ziiipppp. Fffffuutttt. PA broken. Silence.

I’m waiting in transition. I’m wearing a wetsuit and trainers. I should be swimming in San Francisco bay but I’m not – the 2017 Escape From Alcatraz swim has been cancelled (for the first time ever!) and I’m waiting to find out what happens next.

It was an early start, 4am alarm, but, with the time difference between UK and the US it still felt like mid-morning. I got an Uber to transition, having left my bike there yesterday, the first time they’ve let people rack up on the Saturday. I didn’t know at this point it wasn’t the only weekend ‘first’ .

At transition I have plenty of time to set up my gear (unroll towel, check bike helmet, 10 seconds, done), check bike for air (press both tyres down with my thumb, 5 seconds each) and then catch a bus to the boat which takes you out to Alcatraz (just a couple of minutes to catch the bus).

The last bus leaves at 6am but, as I wasn’t sure of queues, I’d  got to transition early and after completing my rigorous and thorough transition routine… I was on the bus by 5am, which was too early. I was on the boat by 5:30 and had two hours to wait until the swim start.

On the boat, a former sternwheeler (I Googled this), you get divided by age: over 40 onto the top deck, under 40 on the main deck. In case you forget how old you are you can check your leg: at registration they write your age in black marker on your left hamstring.

I’m under 40, and with my memory intact, I don’t even need to check when asked, so I get to sit on the main desk. As I’m there early, there’s plenty of places to sit, so I sit down.

Sorry, you can’t sit there.

The man to my left is indicating an empty space of 10 metres.

My friend’s just coming back.”

It’s okay, I’m sure we’ll both fit.

I sit down and then worry that a man with a 10 metre wide butt will sit on me. Luckily, when the friend returns, he has a normal size butt – as do the two others who later join us. Not that I was checking out butts. But how much room does one butt need?! Even Sir Mix-A-Lot, the world expert on big butts and a man who cannot lie, would have said there was room for plenty of butts on that part of the boat.

I close my eyes. Listen to random conversation and think about the swim.

I’m nervous. Scared. But I have a secret weapon. Last night I left a water bottle in the fridge and I plan to pour it on my face and down my back before jumping into the bay. I think the cold water will help me acclimatise before I plunge in.

But, I never get to check that theory. At 6:30am, just as we’re due to sail to the start, a man with a loudspeaker tells us to be quiet and to listen to the PA. The PA then tells us that there’s been a “small craft advisory warning “and that the “swim is cancelled“.

There’s a loud groan. A protest. We’re asked to leave the boat and it’s still not clear why.

People talk about refunds. About ditching the whole event. One man says he can’t run or ride a bike, the only reason he was here was for the swim. Others talk in foreign languages. People travelling around he world to be here. And the swim, the iconic swim from Alcatraz back to San Francisco is cancelled.

Now I know how Al Capone must have felt – there was no escape from Alcatraz today.

Later, I find out that the wind and current was too strong even for the safety boats. The small craft warning was a warning that the kayaks and paddle boards who marshal the swim would not cope with the conditions. And if it was too dangerous for the safety boats it was too dangerous for swimmers.

I’m disappointed. I’d travelled a quarter of the world to.be here but I know safety comes first. And, after seeing the bay later, with whitecaps heading east, rather than west, and with winds hitting 35mph, it was the right call.

We queue to get back on the buses. It takes nearly two hours to get everyone back to transition. We still don’t know what’s happening but announcements say that a bike run race will take place and details will follow.

I keep warm by staying in my dry wetsuit. I thought of pouring the frozen water on my head just so I can have the Alcatraz experience but that would have been a stupid idea.

At transition, the PA gives our just as the announcement of the new race is made: “Athletes, listen, this is an important announcement – you must –

We gather at the entrance instead as a loudspeaker is found. The organisers will send us out in waves. Pros first then by number, five at a time, every 10 seconds, to ensure people are spread out along the course just as they would be if they’d completed the swim.

I finally take off my wetsuit and get ready to… ESCAPE FROM TRANSITION!

End Of Month Report (Iain)

My plan for May was not to have any mileage goals but instead complete a number of events:

  • Helensborough 10K – I was hoping I’d get under 45 minutes for one of my 10K’s this month. I surprised myself by managing it in the first race. Link here
  • Bealach Na Ba Race 44 mile race (with the aim to do the climb twice) – My aim was to beat Andrew but he beat me due to a puncture. We didn’t do the climb twice due to the puncture. Link here
  • Loch Leven half marathon – the aim was to beat Andrew but he beat me easily! I was happy with my time so I can’t complain…too much. Link here 
  • Antonine Trail Race 10k – great race. I’ll sign up for the half marathon when it becomes available. Link here
  • Caledonian Etape 81 mile bike  – My aim was to beat Andrew but he cheated 🙂 Link here 
  • Dumbarton 10K – I didn’t make it to this race which I think is the second time I’ve entered it but not made it to the start line.
  • Shettleston 10K – Last race of the month. I was tired and hungover but my time was okay. Link here 

The theme of the month was “My aim was to beat Andrew but….”

Thankfully, despite these losses, the Todd Championship is still close. It’s currently 4-3 to Andrew. Overall, I enjoyed the races and got PB’s for the biking so it was a good month.

My plan for June is not to have a plan. Iron Man Edinburgh is the next goal (at the start of July) so I’ll concentrate on keeping everything ticking over so that I’m fit and healthy.

I also don’t want to let Andrew know what my plan for this month is to ensure I win! I have a secret idea….

Here’s a selection of photos from May. If you want to see more then follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/twinbikerun/

Shettleston 10K (Iain)

The Shettleston 10k is misnamed – it wasn’t in Shettleston. It was in Glasgow green.

The Edinburgh marathon works under a similar ruse. Visitors think they’re going to run through one of the worlds great cities but instead the race heads out of the city. Before you know it, your running thought a council estate in Prestonpans.

It should be called the “leaving Edinburgh and running through crap towns” marathon.

I did the race when the course was in Edinburgh. Andrew had trained for months to do it. I got a place at the last minute when someone else dropped out. I hadn’t trained. The night before the race, I drank shots in a bar til 3 AM.

The race started at Meadowbank stadium. the first mile was a brutal climb of Arthur’s seat. I felt ill. I kept pace with Andrew till the halfway point and then I retired.

The winning time for the Shettleston 10k was the fastest 10K time in Scotland this year. The man who ran it is called Wayney Ghebresilassie. With a surname like that its not a surprise he’s good at running! He cruised round in 30.11.

I was slightly hungover having attended a wedding the day before. Having learnt a lesson from my Edinburgh marathon experience I didn’t drink shots till 3AM. I drank beer.


End Of Month Report: April (Iain)

My plan for April was:
– The Dirty Reiver race (you can read about it here
– Bike (on average) 110 miles a week – I managed 129
– Run (on average) 16 miles a week – I managed 16.3
– Do yoga at least once a week – done!
– Swim twice a week – I failed. I managed three swims in a month. I need to do better!
– Plaster the hall. I phoned a man and he’s doing it next week 🙂

I’m happy with how April went. I had a two weeks vacation. I call it a Scottish compass holiday because, by the end of it, I’d visited the north, south, east and west of Scotland!

In the north, I visited Findhorn. A very spiritual community of hippies with eco-homes. I found this book – “Your Pet’s Past Lives & How They Can Heal You”.


I have so many questions:
– does my cat have nine past lives?
– Was my cat a cat in a previous life? If not, is being a cat a punishment or a reward for past behavior?
– how can my cat heal me? He seems pretty lazy and selfish. I suspect he’s planning to kill me.
– the author is a whale whisperer??? What are whales saying ? And how do you whisper underwater?


In the south I visited the Garden of Cosmic Speculation. A wonderful garden that’s only open once a year. One of the grass mounds in looks like an ass which meant they needed this sign:


Which is a motto I live my life by.

In the east I biked from Edinburgh back to my home in Lennoxtown. On the way I passed this sign:


How many people get shot in Falkirk that’ve had to put a sign up telling them not to?!

And, in the west, I went home to Stornoway. I visited the Callanish Stones. They were much more redder whiter and pointy-er than I remember.


My Plan for May is not to have any mileage goals as I’ve got loads of events to do:
– Helensborough 10K run
– Antonine Trail Race 10k run
– Dumbarton 10K run
– Shettleston 10K run (which despite the name isn’t in shettleston!)
– Caledonian Etape 81 mile bike race.
– Bealach Na Ba Race 44 mile race (with the aim to do the climb twice)

Here’s a selection of photos from April. If you want to see more then follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/imacivertodd/

Female factory packers of the world unite! (Andrew)

Every six months or so I order new energy gels. I have to order them from the internet as I like ZipVit gels and you can’t buy them in any shops, or at least the shops I know, or at least the shops I know within five minutes of the house. The internet has reduced the need to search any further!

Today, my latest supply of banana gel ZipVit’s arrived  – and they came with a message on the front of the box. An unexpected message. It said:


Now, while I’m all for manufacturers telling you that they took care packing their products, they really shouldn’t need to tell you that. It should be a basic requirement of delivering anything that you didn’t just throw everything into a box higgledy piggledy before mashing it down, throwing it as hard as you could against a brick wall before stamp on it to make sure the lid closed. That’s Royal Mail’s job. The manufacturer should be sending everything packed carefully.

So, it was nice that they’d taken the time to highlight this as an important step. Unnecessary, but nice.

What I do have issue with, what I really don’t believe, it’s that “Sam” had anything to do with it,

Maybe, I’m wrong. Maybe the ZipVit warehouse is filled with good looking women taking an almost unhealthy interest in packing energy gels boxes in brown delivery boxes to fat guys on bikes. Maybe she placed this sticker here with her own fair hand, a fair hand shared with the hundred other beautiful women of the ZipVit shop floor all desperate to provide MAMIL’s with much needed banana tasting energy boosts.

Perhaps Zipvit is at the cutting edge of female empowerment in the warehouse packing industry. Maybe they sponsor deprived woman from inner city communities, train them and teach them and school them in the ways of packing boxes.

Or perhaps Sam is a lone trailblazer in a male dominated industry where to handle a package you need to, well, be able to handle your own package.

Maybe Sam is the Emily Pankhurst of ZipVit box packers? Maybe she’s a feminist icon in waiting? Maybe just maybe Sam is real.

Or maybe, almost certainly, it was packed by Dave from Rotherham.

Dave who farts on the boxes and scratches his bum.

That Dave.

Not Sam.


I hate you, Dave!

You lied to me, Sam!

And you didn’t even pack it carefully – one of the corners was squashed!

End Of Month Report: March (Iain)

My plan for March was:

  • Stirling Duathlon.
  • Alloa Half Marathon.
  • Bike (on average) 100 miles a week.
  • Run (on average) 16 miles a week including a half marathon and a 10k.
  • Do yoga at least once a week.
  • Swim twice a week.

What actually happened:

Oh well, I achieved everything but the second swim. I can’t complain about March. The weather was good and I was healthy all month.

This month’s targets:

  • The Dirty Reiver https://www.dirtyreiver.co.uk/ It’s a gravel bike race in Kielder forest. A 60 mile off-road course on gravel tracks. I’m looking forward to it as I’ve never been to this part of the Country before and I’ve heard its a beautiful spot.
  • Bike (on average) 110 miles a week.
  • Run (on average) 16 miles a week including at least one off road hilly run of an hour a week.
  • Do yoga at least once a week.
  • Swim twice a week.

I’m on holiday for two weeks so I’m looking forward to biking and running but also catching up with household chores. I have a hall that needs plastered and painted. That’ll definitely be the hardest challenge of the month. 🙂

Here’s a selection of photos from March. If you want to see more then follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/imacivertodd/ 

This boy can’t… (Iain)

#thisgirlcan is a social media campaign encouraging women to participate in sporting activities. Women are encouraged to tweet/facebook/instagram tales of sporting success (no matter how big or small) so that other women will be inspired.

It’s a great campaign and I recommend you check out the website: http://www.thisgirlcan.co.uk/

Would men benefit from a similar campaign? In my opinion, probably not – men do not have to be encouraged to brag. We’ve all written a blog post about an amazing training session or event, we’ve all gone into work and said how we smashed a bike/run/swim course at the weekend.   Did it inspire people? No, it probably bored them. Nobody likes hearing about success unless it’s their own.

So instead I’ve an idea that I think can inspire men. Let me be the first to say #thisboycant

Because I’ve learnt more through failing at sport than succeeding.

So join me as I admit:

#thisboycant snowboard –  I fell over during the first hour of a five day ski holiday while on the training slope. I accidentally punched myself in the chest. I broke my rib. I haven’t felt that bad after a punch since the last time I went to a house party and drank from a fruit bowl.

#thisboycant play rugby –  I was told by my coach that with correct technique I could tackle anyone. That was a lie. I tackled a man twice my size. My technique was perfect. I ended up concussed. I was more wiped out than the Labour vote at the next general election (oooh. A little bit of politics!)

#thisboycant cycle on the track – I attended four track session. On the test day another cyclist crashed into a wall above me. His bike slid down the track into mine. I fell off, hitting the ground hard. I bashed my head and lost skin on my arm. I looked so bad I was mistaken for the Elephant man.

#thisboycant rock climb – I went to a climbing center. I had to attach the rope to my harness in two places. I attached it to just one. I fell off the wall. Luckily the one place holding the rope was strong enough to break my fall. Unfortunately that one place was my crotch. The instructor said it took balls to survive a fall like that. It certainly did!

I learnt something from each of these failures. I learnt I don’t have to be good at sport to enjoy taking part.

So when people ask me whether they should attempt an event be it running/biking/triathlon? I say, YES! I can’t do it but I’ve never let that stop me so it shouldn’t stop you either 🙂

The next time you write a blog/tweet etc think about writing about something you can’t do.

What a shower! (Andrew)

They don’t cover this in any training plan.

It’s not in any book.

But it’s the one thing you need to know before starting any triathlon programme – how often do you need to shower?

Check your programme. It doesn’t mention it, does it? Your programme will tell you that, today, you need to run five miles and you need to swim two kilometres; but what it doesn’t say is that you’ll also need to shower after that run and shower after that swim – and, probably, shower when you get up.

Unless you don’t sweat when you sleep. Then don’t shower when you get up.

(Ya dirty stop out).

Training programmes will tell you that you will train for five, six, seven hours however, when trying to fit it all in, those programme should also explain how long it’ll take to shower – and to get changed.

You don’t start running without getting changed. Not unless you like nudey jogging, which, in Glasgow, is dangerous as it’s cold and people will think a Smurf is running wild through the streets.

Instead, when looking at your training programme you need to think – “okay, I can run for five miles at lunchtime but that also means I’ll need a shower when I get back. Now, my one hour lunch is looking a bit tight (unless you can run under 7 minutes a mile) as not only do I need to run, I need to shower and I still need to eat.”

Showering is the fourth discipline of triathlon. Maybe, the fifth after transition. But definitely in the top six of tri.

The sixth is getting your wetsuit on without looking like a sausage trying to squeeze back into its skin.

Showers need as much planning as any other part of triathlon.

You need to remember a towel for the pool, a second for work. You need to think about your hair, do you wash it first thing when you wake, or after your run at lunch, or both times, or none at all – you like it tussled.

Hair is a triathletes’ worst enemy. We spend most of the race covering it up with swim cap and bike helmet only to unleash it on the run when it’s damp, sweaty, flat and, possibly, covered in salt. Your hair basically has all the grace of a chip found in the gutter at the side of the road.

(Random thought – why is stylish a compliment? She’s stylish! Normally, when you add -ish to the end of the world it’s an insult, it detracts from what you’ve just said. This sandwich is alright-ish. Stylish should mean you have style, well, styl-ish.)

When planning any training programme the most important thing you can do is plan your showers along with it. I’ll look at my day and see if I need a swim in the morning followed by a run at lunch time means two showers – one after the swim and one after the run – instead of three if I shower in the morning, run in the afternoon then shower, then swim at night then shower.

I then take it further. If I’m cycling at night and shower at 8pm. Does that mean I don’t then need a shower in the morning because it’s been less than 12 hours since I last showered?

I could then have a shower on Monday night, not shower on Tuesday morning, shower on Tuesday afternoon after a run then only have one shower when I would have had two.


Assuming you agree that showers are more of a time thing rather than linked to how much you whiff when you get up.

See, planning showers is hard! And they need just as much attention as the training itself.

I mention all of this because a couple of weeks I had a misfortune in the shower. I was at work. I was finishing washing when, instantly, the lights went out.

The work shower in a room off a corridor which is off another corridor. It’s right at the centre of our office, far, far away from any windows. When the lights went out, it instant darkness. No light under the door, no passive light to slip through and provide some illumination. I was effectively blind.

And I couldn’t remember how to open the shower door.

I’d never had to think about it before. I just opened it. With my hands – and my eyes.

Now, I’m trapped in the cubicle, sightless, and unable to remember if it swung in, swung out, slid open or lifted up suicide door style.

I couldn’t get out. Nor could I shout for help. I was naked. Help would come but help would very quickly run away.

For five minutes I tried pulling, pushing, sliding and jostling until I figures out there was a pivot in the middle of the door that meant I had to both pull and slide it to open it.

I then used the light from my iPhone to get changed.

It’s what Bear Grylls would have done.

So, the moral of this story, is that showers are tricky things. Not only can you get trapped in them you can also find them eating into your valuable time. Incorporate showers into your training plan. Plan ahead. Know how they open and close. Master the shower – and you will master triathlon.

End Of Month Report: February

My plan for February was:

  • Bike (average) 100 miles a week.
  • Run (average) 16 miles a week including a 10k+ run once a week.
  • Do yoga at least once a week.
  • Swim twice a week.

What actually happened:

  • I averaged 85 miles a week on the bike. I’m happy with that. Due to other commitments I wasn’t able to do any weekend biking (other than once) I also lost a week due to a head cold.
  • I ran on average 15 miles a week and managed at least a 10k every week.
  • I managed 1.5 yoga sessions a week.
  • I swam twice a week.

Overall, I’m pleased with February. I didn’t have much spare weekend time to bike/run but still managed to get close to my targets.

This month’s targets:

  • Stirling Duathlon.
  • Alloa Half Marathon.
  • Bike (on average) 100 miles a week.
  • Run (on average) 16 miles a week including a half marathon and a 10k.
  • Do yoga at least once a week.
  • Swim twice a week.

I’m looking forward to the duathlon as I’ve never done one before. I’m not sure how to pace one it so I will just aim to go slightly faster than Andrew!

I’ve done Alloa a few times. It can be a hard race as there’s a long straight section into the wind. My aim is to get under 1 hour 45 minutes.

Here’s a selection of photos from February. If you want to see more then follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/imacivertodd/