Quite unbelievably, this blog has now been running for over 3 years, and the little stats page tells me that people are still reading it (well at least opening the page and getting through the first paragraph or so before going back to browsing Facebook).
At the end of each year I’ve done a little training/racing summary (2015 here, 2014 here) with some thoughts on how the year has panned out. In terms of volume, I’ve really stepped it up in 2016, as the below numbers show;
Running – 2,768 miles (2015 – 2,111)
Cycling – 3,569 miles (2015 – 990)
Swimming – 120 miles (2015 – 42)
I think I need to know what I need to do to become a better triathlete – run less, bike significantly more, and also increase the hours spent flapping around in the swimming pool. My running has improved greatly in the last 12 months, PB’ing across every distance this year. Now is the time to let it tick over in the background and really make gains in the other sports, which I might find difficult as running will always be my one true love.
Another problem I may need to address is the amount of racing I’m doing. I just can’t say no when asked to sign up to another event with friends or club mates. As a result of this, I’ve done 43 5km parkruns this year, as well as 3 other 5km races, a 10km, 2 cross-country events, 4 half-marathons, a 20-mile race, a 12 hour race (as part of a 2 man team) and 5 marathons. And that’s just running. Add triathlon into the mix and there’s also an Olympic distance triathlon, my first duathlon, a half-ironman and a full ironman. As fun as this is, it’s hard to fit in proper training around all of this..
As with previous years, all thoughts of swimming and cycling were swiftly forgotten as I worked to finally get the sub-3 marathon that had been hanging just out of my reach for the past 12 months. I put in some serious run mileage during these 3 months, peaking at 87 miles in my biggest week. During this time I PB’d at the Kingston 10km two weeks before Barcelona, so the signs were positive.
We travelled out in numbers to the Catalan capital, a big group of us all taking part in the marathon. Race day has to go down as one of the best days of my life, as I smashed through the 3 hour barrier (running 2.51) and Katie broke the 4-hour barrier in her second ever marathon – I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have tears in my eyes seeing that news. Paul Brown wrote an alternative version of events which is also well worth a read.
Post Barcelona the focus immediately shifted to improving in the water and on the bike. I had my swim stroke analysed (the basic summary – it’s crap) and started logging mile after mile in the saddle. I always like to keep an element of fun during training (otherwise what’s the point of doing it, really?) and so James Bosher and myself teamed up as a pair in the 12-hour lightning run, both managing to run around 50 miles each and finished as 3rd pair, picking up a tacky plastic trophy for our efforts. Katie has tried to get rid of it, but it’s still got pride of place tucked away in our hallway where virtually no-one can see it.
I paced my good mate Brian to a new PB at the Edinburgh marathon, which turned out to be the most enjoyable run of the year, with perfect weather and a lovely weekend away in Scotland with my family.
As part of my build up to Ironman Switzerland my first triathlon of the year was the half-iron distance ‘Deva’ race in Chester, where I managed to chop nearly 30 minutes off my best time (4.29). This event also marked the first time I ran into George Bright, a member of my running/triathlon club and someone I’ve been drawing inspiration and advice from ever since.
Two weeks before Ironman Switzerland I took part in a final ‘warm-up’ event at the Norwich triathlon. I surprised myself (and probably pretty much everyone else) by finishing in 9th place and probably having my best race of 2016. The day was made special due to the fact that my grandparents were fairly local and were able to be there to watch me take part, which was a real motivation to perform well.
Completing my first Ironman was without a doubt my biggest goal and proudest achievement in 2016. It’s safe to say that lots of things didn’t go quite right on the day itself, but I enjoyed every single minute of the 10 hours and 39 I spent out in the water and on the road, finishing with a massive smile on my face. It has left me with unfinished business over the iron-distance, but I’ll have at least two chances to address this in 2017..
After a couple of weeks holidaying and recovering post-ironman, I’d made the decision to see if I could use the fitness I’d gained during training for Zurich to potentially PB over the half-marathon and marathon distances. First up was a surprise holiday for Katie in Norway, where we ran the Stavanger half-marathon, where I managed a small PB but not quite the sub 1.20 clocking I was hoping for.
The week before the Berlin marathon I ran my fastest ever 5km (17.18), so I knew things were looking promising. Katie and I travelled out to Berlin with my great mate James Bosher, all hoping for good results. I managed to run under 2 hours 50 for the first time (2.49), but James had an absolute stormer, improving on his PB significantly and running a 2.47. He really has moved up a gear in the last 12 months and I’ve got some serious work to do if I want to get up to his level.
The last 3 months of the year were just about having a bit of ‘down-time’ (not something I do well) and just having some fun. I ran another marathon in Kingston, had a blast during my first duathlon with a great bunch of Clapham Chasers and went on another incredible holiday to Australia and New Zealand, cumulating in completing the Queesntown marathon, for a bit of ‘fun’. On Christmas Day I’d decided to knock off a marathon before breakfast, so ran a few miles solo before Bosher joined me for an incredibly enjoyable 15 miles finishing at Great Notley parkrun – Christmas dinner well and truly earned.
It’s now the 31st of December and I’m preparing to kick start the new year with a bang, taking part in the Edinburgh New Year’s Day triathlon for the second time. The two A-races this year will be the Outlaw triathlon in July followed by Ironman Wales in September. I really hope in 12 months time I won’t be writing ‘I wish I swam and biked more in January-April’, but I can’t promise anything.
2016 race summary;
30th – South of England cross country championships – 1.03.06
14th – Bramley 20 – 2.14.32
28th – Kingston 10k – 35.41
13th – Barcelona Marathon – 2.51.43
3rd – Reading Half Marathon – 1.21.01
1st – Conti Lightning run – Pair w/ James Bosher – 3rd place
8th – Hackney Half Marathon – 1.39.21
29th – Edinburgh Marathon – 3.04.00
12th – Chester Middle Distance Triathlon – 4.29.44
10th – Norwich Olympic Distance Triathlon – 2.13.18
24th – Ironman Switzerland – 10.39.23
27th – Stavanger Half Marathon – 1.20.32
25th – Berlin Marathon – 2.49.30
9th – Kingston Marathon – 2.53.06
19th – Queenstown Marathon – 3.00.43