Mission accomplished!

September 30, 2014 · Posted in Triathlon · Comment 

Proof that I finished!If you haven’t already heard I successfully completed my Triathlon on Sunday in 3 hours and 18 minutes…a little longer than my target time of 3 hours, but this course turned out to be far, FAR hillier than the Cambridge course that I’d been practising on. I came 858th out of the 1090 individual event finishers with 35 people unable to finish.

After the cancellation of the Cambridge event I found another event of the same distance on the same day at Hever Castle just south of London. The intention was to stay in a hotel the night before the event so as not to have to travel down at stupid o’clock but a friend and work colleague stepped in and offered us a bed for the night so THANKS MOLLIE!

Despite all the planning everything on the morning of the event felt a little more rushed than it should have been, but it turns out they were running a little behind schedule so after racking my bike and preparing transition I actually got down to the lake ready for the race briefing and the swim start a good 10 minutes early.

I was in wave 6, this is looking up the field so there are 5 more rows behind meThis was my first competitive open water swim and it was certainly interesting. I while I wasn’t expecting to be one of the slower swimmers this was still all new so I stayed out quite wide for the start. I got off to a good start and managed to hold my pace down and get into a steady rhythm. The water was several degrees colder than I’ve ben training in to the point where my cheeks were starting to go numb by the end of the swim, but it certainly wasn’t unpleasantly cold. Several times during the swim I found myself sandwiched between to people on converging lines but if seems that with everyone swimming in wetsuits you just tend to bounce off other people. I managed to not be in any large groups at the turns and pinch points so didn’t have anyone climbing on top of me at any point.

T1, after I went back to find my watch!I felt OK by the end of the swim, exited the water with the help of the Speedo volunteers and headed over to transition (a couple of hundred meters total I’d guess?). In training I’ve not been able to get my wetsuit over the top of my Garmin watch so as planned snapped it off before taking the wetsuit down…here’s where my problems started. I was supposed to take off my hat and goggles, then the watch, put the goggles and watch in the hat then set about removing my wetsuit. Instead I just tried to hold all 3 things in one hand, juggling them over to the other as required, and of course managed to drop my watch.

Turning round somewhat confused and wondering if I should just abandon it(!) another competitor ran past and said “If you’re looking for a watch it’s back there”. I had about a dozen people say the same thing to me as I headed the wrong way down the transition corridor but found it lying on the grass about 30 meters back from where I was when I realised I’d dropped it. A bit of time lost but not too bad.

Leaving T1...still trying to lock the shoes in hence the concentration!I found my bike OK, something I’d been warned to check out thoroughly beforehand, put my helmet on, attached my recovered watch to the bike, got the rest of the wetsuit off and sat down to put my shoes and socks on (yes, I still wear socks, I haven’t splashed out on seamless shoes yet). Getting up and starting to run out of transition I realised I was feeling a bit tired, but I had 2 bottles on my bike so getting the ride going and having a quick drink would sort me out…

The run out of transition before the mount point was a hundred meters or so and the ride out of the castle grounds was probably half a kilometre…I turned left went around a couple of corners and hit what had been described in the race briefing as “a cheeky little hill”. What it was was a climb of just over 2k. By the 3k point of the ride I was almost 4 minutes down on my target pace (of 18mph average speed). The relief was palpable when I hit a downhill section but was short lived as things started to go upwards again…we certainly weren’t in Cambridgeshire any more!

Traffic was an issue on the ride as it wasn’t a closed course. Major junctions were marshalled but the road we all fairly narrow country lanes so there were a lot of places where the cars were being held up by bikes, who were holding up cars and more bikes. On the plus side this gave me time for an enforced rest in places.

It also let me watch some particularly stupid cycling by some of the other competitors. On the aforementioned narrow counter lanes almost all of the cars were being very careful when trying to pick their way through the mass of exhausted cyclists. Some of the cyclists obviously decided that these cars were holding them up too much and decided they needed to undertake (really close to stone walls) to over take cars, on blind bends, while the cars were overtaking other cyclists. I was amazed that there wasn’t at least one addict reported during the day.

bikeFinishAnyhoo, I trundled on up and down hill after hill, doing quite well to over take a lot of people on the downhill sections and trying to keep up a decent cadence on the uphill sections. I was being careful to make sure I was getting through both my drinks (one electrolyte and one carbohydrate) when with 10k left to go on the ride I realised my legs were kinda screwed and obviously I still had the run to come. Luckily for me the ride finished with yet another uphill section giving me time to rest my legs before the run :-/

After an uneventful transition I started the run with my legs feeling about the same as they had at the end of the half distance practice event I’d done last month, that being knackered. It’s not that I was tired and out of breath, just that my leg strength had already gone. Still, I trotted on assuming that as the meters drifted under me my legs would remember the training and things would begging to feel more comfortable when I turned the first corner on the run and discovered another hill! Before the event I’d set the pacer on my Garmin watch to 6 minute kilometre pace in an effort to keep my pace slow at the start of the run. There was certainly no chance of me exceeding it at this point, still, I kept my stride nice and short and pootled along in what I’d come to know as my first gear.

After about 1.5k I started getting a twinge in my left knee, something I’d felt a couple of months previously that had stopped me from running for a couple of weeks. I recognised from that that because my pace was so slow I was clumping down straight onto my heel rather than running more forward but the problem is I need to run a bit faster to make that style work. I think I can safely say I made it up into gear 1.5 and probably no higher.

During the race briefing they’d said that the first feeding station we’d get to wasn’t actually on the Olympic course but was only for the people doing the half Iron Man distance to I went past that and on another km or so to the Olympic distance water station…where they’d run out of water. Still it’s not as if it was 23 degrees and sunny…oh dear :-/

runStartI trundled on to about the 4.5k mark at which point I reached the steepest hill so far and with my slow run up that being at basically walking pace anyway I gave into the inevitable and walked up it. It was at this point I realised that this was now simply going to be an effort to finish and my other time goals were long gone. A nice chap asked if I was finishing or if I had another lap to go, and while briefly tempted to just head straight on through to the finished I instead turned right and headed off to lap 2, after first climbing up and down a scaffold ramp to take me over the bike track to allow me to start once more up that hill.

On the second lap probably walked up half of that first hill and my legs were feeling in real trouble now, starting to get very sore and tight. I decided I needed something artificial to keep me going so decided that I’d count up to 60…if in that time I wanted to walk I would, but only whenI’d got to 60, and than I’d only allow myself 60 seconds of walking before starting to run again. Using those intervals I probably managed to run for 5 minutes before walking each time and was plodding onwards to the water station. Unfortunately when I got there I discovered that either they’d not been topped up, or they had and had run out again so with no option and a very dry mouth I continued my intervals. Around 1k later a buggy headed against the flow of runners towards the water station. One of the runners behind me stepped in front of it to make it stop and said they needed water now!

I could have done with this half way round the run!The chap driving suggested taking one of the containers off for everyone there and let him carry on toe refresh the water station. That prompted every runner in the area, including me, to stop and take a swig out of a 10 litre container…lukewarm water has never tasted so good! I continued with my intervals until, about 10 seconds into a walking piece I realised that there was a small group of spectators on a bench cheerful shouting “Go on Twelve Fifty (my race number), give us a little jog, you can do it! Jog! Jog! Jog!”. I had to smile and I had to get moving again, upon which I got a cheer and a round of applause from them all. 1km later and just as I was about to walk again when two fire year old buys screamed at the top of their lungs at me “GO ON, YOU CAN DO IT!”. Fine, I’ll carry on running then. That typifies what the crowd, and the marshals, were like all day. Helpful, encouraging & cheerful, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was helped along to the finish by some complete strangers.

Water bottles replaced with something more thirst quenching ;-)I should also at this point mention I was also helped along by Mollie, who’s house we’d stayed at the night before and her husband who came along to shout encouragement, and by my wife who at this point to bored to tears of Triathlon training talk but nonetheless kept popping up at different points along the route, in and out of transitions to keep me going.

Round the final corner and up (walking) that damn hill again and down the last 500m to the finish…mission accomplished. I got my medal, a large cup of water, and access to a table full of cakes, fruit and other drinks. I grabbed a coconut juice & some watermelon and walked, without counting now, to get my tag removed and leave the finish area to meet my wife and collect the cold(isn) beer that was in my bag.

The final word should go to everyone who’s helped me over the last few months, and particularly to everyone who sponsored me. I have aimed to hit £1000 but in reality thought I’d be lock to hit £500…and the time of publishing (and a couple of people have added in after the event know I’d actually finished) you have helped me raise £1,375 for Cancer Research UK so thank you, thank you, thank you!

Gutted…but I’m not finished yet!

September 3, 2014 · Posted in Triathlon · Comment 

Just after 3 o’clock this afternoon I received an email with the following title…

“City of Cambridge Triathlon Cancelled”

The reason given in the email as follows.

“Unfortunately in July an independent water sampling company carried out some additional tests and the river was judged to be unsuitable for competitive swimming. The river exceeded the standards for Enterococci and Escherichia coli, as well as testing positive for Leptospirosis (Weil’s disease), which is potentially fatal and obviously deemed unsuitable by ITU regulations. It is likely that heavy downpours of rain prior to the test led to this result, and it does not mean that this is a permanent condition of the river’s health.”

As you can probably guess from all the training I’ve been doing this felt like a punch to the stomach, especially as you guys have all been so generous donating to Cancer Research for me.

I know from the magazine I’ve been getting that there are other a Triathlons on that weekend so my aim is to find one of them that I can get to that still has slots open and enter that instead. I’ve not done all this to be stopped by something as stupid as water quality.

What I don’t know at this point is how closely the Just Giving page is tied to the event and if the cancellation will trigger some kind of auto refund…or if it doesn’t how I manually initiate that if I can’t find an event to enter.

Worst case I’ll go out on the day, do the Swim in Jesus Green Lido then do the ride and run anyway!

I’ll update more when I know more but as for now, I’m heading home and going for a 5k run…a really pissed off 5k run. might make me faster ;-)

25 days & £350 to go…

September 3, 2014 · Posted in Triathlon · Comment 

Yes, I felt as bad as I looked

Immediately after the Ely “Sprint” Triathlon

On Sunday 31st August I took part in my first actual Triathlon, the Ely Sprint event. This consisted of a 300m swim (in an outdoor heated pool), a 20km bike ride and a 5km run. I finished up with a total time of 1:16.59 which I was actually pretty pleased with considering the heat of the pool and the cross country nature of the run course…but boy did it ever hurt!

If the “Sprint” Triathlon last weekend proved one thing it’s that I’ve got a lot of running to do in the next 25 days. The swim was pretty good although not quite as quick as I’d like. I’m putting this down to the water temperature (I heard someone say 31 degrees!) and the curved nature of the ends of the pool. That might sound odd but it makes it pretty hard to spot the distance to the wall properly and meant I almost missed a couple of turns. As expected, I also went out too fast, something I need to make sure I’m more careful about when I’ve got a whole mile ahead of me rather than just a few pool lengths.

The ride felt good even though the Ely course is quite rough. It feels quite nice to overtake someone riding a full Carbon bike complete with aero frame and disc wheels on my little Cube, although it may have meant I was going along a bit quicker than planned in some areas.

Despite having done several brick (bike to run) training sessions, my legs felt wiped out right from the start of the run. I think I walked once over the whole run but that was up one of the steep little hills that were on the course. I was happy enough with 29 minutes for the 5k run, it’s not much slower than I’ve been running the Saturday morning Park run at Milton Park, but the way my legs were feeling I’m not sure I could have gone round again for a full 10k.

So the next 3 weeks are going to be all about running. I’m doing some shorter (2 mile) runs to try and get the average speed up a bit and will be doing some longer runs at the weekends at a slower pace to get used to running with dead legs. If I’m really lucky my toenail will have started to grow back by the time the main event comes around too! If anyone asks me in the next few weeks what I’m doing exercise wise and it doesn’t include the word running your next question to me should be “Why aren’t you running?”

Finally as of this morning I’ve hit £650 of my £1000 sponsorship target for Cancer Research which I still think is nuts. A massive THANK YOU to everyone who’s sponsored me so far and if you haven’t yet I’d be extremely grateful for anything you could offer. Donations can be made on my Just Giving page, just giving.com/jodrell

HelmetCam:1 Stupid Drivers: 0

September 1, 2014 · Posted in HelmetCam · Comment 

On my way home from work on Friday last week I saw a car coming towards me along a road with a 20mph speed limit that to my eyes was doing closer to 40 than 20 so I gestured to them, politely to slow down. The car responded by deliberately, to my eyes, swerving towards me. I’ve had some debate with a couple of friends about wether what I did was provocation to the driver…frankly it doesn’t matter if it was, there was no call for that action as a response.

HelmetCam!Luckily, actually deliberately to capture this kind of thing (although more often stupid and careless drivers and fellow cyclists than malicious ones), I have for the last couple of weeks been wearing a camera mounted on my cycle helmet. It’s a dinky little thing but it can capture full 1080p HD, slo-mo at 240 frames per second and can also live stream straight to Ustream :-)

Anyhoo…before I go on take a look at the incident for yourself. http://youtu.be/SX6YFCGoN2I

After sending the youTube link to the Cambridge Police Twitter account I was asked to go to the Police station today to discuss the incident.

I took the full HD video with me on my iPad to show the officer who I had an appointment booked with. After viewing it a couple of times he asked if he could borrow my iPad to show a colleague because he wasn’t sure what the driver could be charged with!

Upon his return I was informed that unless they could prove who was driving they couldn’t press any charges at all but the car in question was owned by a Woman and he suspected from their age that the other driver named on the same insurance was her Son (I had told him it was a man driving). He told me he intended to speak to the registered owner of the vehicle and let them know what had happened, and if he was told that someone else was driving he’d speak to them as well. He also told me that the police would be informing the insurance company about the incident and would leave it to their discretion as to what happened next.

Overall, I think that’s a pretty fair result :-D

My Naked Lunch moment…

June 3, 2014 · Posted in Triathlon · Comment 

Tonight I went swimming in my new wetsuit for the first time…and for the first time in Cambridge’s rather strange outdoor 100 yard long Lido. As was always going to happen I started off too fast and was slowing up halfway down the second length (second 100yrd remember) but it wasn’t so much that I was running out of energy, more that I felt like my new wetsuit was trying to kill me!

By the end of the second length (and as in the indoor 25M pool I was doing sets of 200m) I really felt like the suit was moving around and really pulling against the front of my neck on my throat. When I brought the suit last Saturday there had been someone in the shop to help and advise me when putting it on and it had felt fine. The shop also had an endless indoor pool so I was able to try swimming in it and did do for around 5 minutes with no problems at all. And yet, with every stroke down that second length I felt like the suit was trying to strangle me.

At the end of that length I stopped the time on my watch and set about tweaking things to see if I could get the suit to fit better. As I was on my own I’d had no help putting the wetsuit on, but I’d had a quick practice at home the night before to see if I could manage it and it seemed fine…the one thing I was worried about was doing the zip up but by arching my back and pushing my shoulder blades together I seemed to manage it fine.

I swam another couple of lengths and things we’re a little better but still not great, certainly not good enough to be able to swim a mile in without stopping. After each pair of lengths I’d try another tweak here or there and by the time I’d finished I think I’d got things pretty well settled down, but it’s safe to say that tonights session was a whole bag of no fun.

Getting changed afterwards I had what David Baddiel described during his and Robert Newman‘s Wembley gig as a Naked Lunch moment. The example, if memory serves, he gave that night was a male ballet dancer. “I’m on stage, in front of loads of strangers, wearing nothing but tights, my packet’s showing…what the fuck am I doing?!? Oh, I’m a ballet dancer,  that’s OK then”.

For me it was more along the lines of, my new ‘gadget’ has just tried to kill me, I’m knackered, I’m stood on a cold, wet, concrete floor, in a small wooden cabin, it’s pissing it down with rainy and I’ve still got to cycle home…and keep doing this for another 4 months. What the fuck am I doing?!?”. I then continued to get changed and put my trousers on…and realised I was wearing an old pair of trousers that by now probably have getting on for a four inch gap between my stomach and the trousers. “Oh yeah”, I thought, “I’m, losing a fuck load of weight…that’s OK then!”

To relax myself after I’d then cycled home in the rain I went for a quick 10 minute run on the treadmill, and if I’ve chosen to go for a run to relax you know things must be bad!

Plan 9…from somewhere

June 3, 2014 · Posted in Triathlon · Comment 

I’ve got a little under 4 months to go until the Triathlon is here and I think I’ve just mentally moved onto what must be the 9th iteration of my training schedule.

The recent Cambridge Beer Festival did put something of a dent in my schedule as expected and also brought 4 more pounds of weight on over the 2 weeks it was running (actually a bit less than I expected) but getting back into train has been tricky at best.

I did my first run since the beerfest on Monday evening and even though it was only the now standard 3 miles it was hard work..I’ve still got to double that distance and I’ve now got less than 4 months to get there.

Plan 8 involved building fitness through swimming and on the bike and limiting myself to runs every couple of weeks thereby reducing the pounding on my somewhat arthritic frame. After last night I’m not sure that’s going to work. I think I just need to get miles under the legs, but just in smaller, more regular doses.

I’m therefore going to try and run just a single mile every day that I have time. Including showers and changing it shouldn’t take me more than 20 minutes so I really have no excuse.

Now that I’ve got a wetsuit I’m also goi got start some open water and long LONG course swimming. Finally I’ll start to put in some longer rides at the weekends when I’ll have the time to spare.

I’m not as yet 100% confident that I can actually finish this thing with the run at the end but I’m going to give it a damn good try!

Help! I appear to have accidentally entered an Olympic Triathlon

May 7, 2014 · Posted in Triathlon · Comment 

At the end of February this year I decided that dieting on its own was far too dull to do for another year and I needed a target, a good reason not to have another pint rather than just to watch a number get lower most weeks when I weigh myself. (Lucky him!! Mine stays the same or rises – theWife)

For some reason entering an Olympic distance Triathlon, taking place at the end of September, seemed like a pretty good idea at the time and a week after pre-registering I entered… see, it’s not as if this was even a spur of the moment drunken decision! (Crazy one yes – theWife)

To let you into the level of the stupidity we’re dealing with here, I’m still 3 stone (20Kg) overweight and have Arthritis. I need to swim one mile down the river Cam, cycle 25 miles and then run a 10K (just over 6 miles). Until I started training I hadn’t run since I was at school, done any swimming more than a holiday potter for about as long, and I only cycle for commuting.

On the plus side my diet regime last year did have me on a cross trainer regularly so fitness wise I’m not heading into this from a complete standstill – clearly there is quite a lot of work to do.

At the time the intention was to just do it with whatever kit I’d got already and simply for the sake of finishing. Since then, and rather unsurprisingly, my competitive instinct has kicked in and so unfortunately has my penchant for buying gadgets. Still, I probably needed a new bike right?!? (mental craziness has kicked in – theWife)

Now, as everything for this event is somewhat spiralling out of control, and because I’m unlikely to do something this stupid again I’ve decided that I should support the official charity of the event, Cancer Research, and try to raise a decent sum of money.

I’m aiming for £1000, and that, dear reader, is obviously where you come in.

I’m not going to talk about the charity, they do a far better job of it than I ever could, but all I will say is that almost everyone I know either knows someone that’s been affected by cancer directly or has had a family member affected, so the cause is clearly a good one. (a very very good one – theWife)

I, and presumably they, would appreciate anything you can give to try to help me reach this target. Donations can be made through the Just Giving website at justgiving.com/jodrell

Please feel free to publicise this page or the Just Giving one directly to other people. I’ll be adding more to the site as my training progresses, with a few pics of just how silly I look wearing Lycra and just how knackered I look after some of the training sessions. (ha ha ha ha they’re worth seeing and spending money for – theWife)

After a pub chat a friend and I decided that 3 hours was a good round number to aim for as a time with a 30 minute swim, a 1.5 hour ride and 1 hour run at the end. We did of course forget to factor in any time for the transitions and changes between events, but I still think it’ll be a good mark to measure myself against, despite it actually being a pretty slow time (according to people who do this kind of thing regularly). (that’s not slow in my opinion – theWife!)  To be honest though, I’ll just be happy to finish the whole thing without having to stop and walk.

So there we have it. A silly event, a silly target and a pretty silly amount of money…come on people, how hard can it be?!?  (OK so it’s mainly crazy but the money’s not silly so get spending you lot – theWife)  (oh and I proofed it, so sorry for any errors or interruptions! – theWife)

Oh crap I’m boned :-/

March 24, 2014 · Posted in Triathlon · Comment 

As I mentioned in my previous post I’ve entered an Olympic distance Triathlon. Training actually hasn’t been going too badly. I’ve had some pretty good advice from a post on Reddit and last Friday i ran 3 miles for that I think was the first time ever.

After cycling around a lot on Sat then pooling around Cambridge doing some shopping on Sunday morning I decided my legs needed a break and thought I’d pop swimming on Sunday afternoon. There was a land session from 5-6 which meant I could swim, then get back to cook dinner.

As I said previously I used to do A LOT of swimming so was banking on this being an easy start for me, even if it were to take place tomorrow. After that swim yesterday I’ve probably got more confidence in me being able to complete the Run that the Swim!

After just 100m (4 lengths) I was wondering why I couldn’t feel my arms! Back in the day 1500m would have been a warm-up before the main session and now I’m blown up after 100m :-/

I switched to Breaststroke for 100m and then alternated 100m swims between Freestyle and Breaststroke until I’d managed to clock up 1000m and then skulked out of the pool…the half mile ride back home wasn’t particularly pleasant either.

What the hell have I let myself in for!

Current mood: terrified
Chance of completion: 50%

3 Silly Things…

March 3, 2014 · Posted in Triathlon · Comment 

On Monday I did 3 silly things…

Firstly I closed a window with 6 tabs open and told my machine I didn’t want to save any of it. That’s an hours work I’m not getting back :-/

Secondly I managed to wash my wallet…

Not just drop it into a puddle or the toilet or something bu actually put a pair of trousers into the washing machine with the wallet still in the back pocket thereby giving my wallet, driving license, all my cards and some cash a damn good soaking. However, other than my leather wallet now looking somewhat faded everything seems to have survived the experience rather well.

The third thing I did was to enter an Olympic distance Triathlon…

Let me just give that a moment to sink in.

That’s a 1 mile Swim, a 25 mile bike ride and a run of just over 6 miles (10k).

To give you an idea of just how stupid this was I’ll give you some background on me. I’m 40 years old and have had arthritis for around 15 years. I lost, through diet and exercise on a Cross Trainer, just over 3 stone last year but I still weigh about 16 and a half stone (230 pounds or 105Kg). The furthest I’ve ever run was a 2 mile Cross country at school. I do Cycle regularly but that’s only just over 2 miles each way to and from the station for work. I used to swim a hell of a lot but haven’t done anything serious for 25 years…

I mean, how hard can it be?!?

Current mood: thoughtful
Chance of completion: 65%

Douglas Adams was right…

August 21, 2013 · Posted in Rants . . ., Uncategorized · Comment 

Having just wasted almost an hour and a half of my life banging my head against a corrupt data dictionary in the INNODB database engine, a system that’s designed not to crash but in the unlikely event that it does it’ll automagically recover itself, I am very much reminded of this quote from Douglas Adams…

“The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.”
Douglas Adams (1952 – 2001)

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