Right then- another year in the books. I’ve done one of these ‘little’ reviews every year, so I can’t break the streak now (sounding like the crazy endurance addict that I am).
Running – 1,827 miles (2017 – 2,286)
Cycling – 6,812 miles (2017 – 5,702)
Swimming – 255 miles (2017 – 160)
Total time spent training/racing – 775 hours. This is an average of 15 hours per week, spread across the entire year.
Headlines to take from those figures; I’ve biked quite a bit more, and swam a great deal more. Despite this, I haven’t yet turned into a dolphin. There’s still time. Running wise, this is my lowest total since 2014, and the first time since then that I’ve been under 2,000 miles for the year. Maybe I really am a triathlete now – a terrifying thought.
So this year I’ve taken part in (deep breath) 29 x 5km parkruns, 1 x 5km race, 1 x 1 mile race, 1 x 5 mile, 4 x 10km, 1 x 10 mile, 2 x half marathons, 2 x marathons, 2 x ultra-marathons, 3 x cross country races, 2 x green belt relay stages, 1 x duathlon, 2 x sprint triathlons, 1 x olympic triathlons, 1 x half ironman and 2 x iroman.
For the mathematically able of you out there, that’s 55 events. Now, I definitely can’t classify these all as races, as some of the parkruns have been taken in at a more sedate pace, but I like to keep myself busy in my free time. Some might say I’m slightly addicted. They may well be on to something.
January – March
I kicked off the year the only way I knew how, with the New Year’s Day Triathlon in Edinburgh. I continued my steady climb up the leaderboard, improving from 3rd in 2017 to 2nd. I just need no one to turn up next year.. (Spoiler alert, the race has already happened in 2019, and I came 3rd. Useless).
After this it was time to knuckle down and get stuck in to some proper triathlon training. Ably assisted by Sporting Director Paul Burton, we put together a plan which involved lots and lots of cycling. Since the weather in the UK is so sh*t, a great deal of this was indoors.
April – June
I got the chance to run with Katie in Battersea Park as she smashed through the 40-minute 10km barrier in style, one of my real highlights of the year.
April always means the London marathon, so it was time to dust off the swimming trunks again and go for my annual run around the capital. No attempted heroics this year, just a steady paced effort that would leave my legs in tact and able to crack on with Ironman training.
May brought the legendary Green Belt relay with the even more legendary Clapham Chasers. I got disqualified and then reinstated at the Thames Turbo triathlon, putting down a rather uninspiring performance.
Training started to pay off coming into June, as I managed to finished 2nd overall in the Deva middle distance triathlon, setting a new personal best of 4:10 in the process. Confidence was building as all roads led to Ironman UK. Well, everyone elses confidence in me, maybe. I was still absolutely terrified.
July – September
Ironman UK. The infamous bike crash. The day where I finally made the dream I’d had chasing for years a reality. I don’t really know if I need to say much more. Katie wrote a better race report than me.
After qualifying for Kona, I had a relatively short turnaround period, and again Paul was instrumental in getting me sorted and making sure I was doing the right things. It was a tough period to manage, as I never felt like I truly recovered for the training and then race in Bolton.
However, I finish the build-up on a high, taking the win at the Brighton and Hove triathlon in September, much to my surprise. Maybe things weren’t going so badly after all…
October – December
October was all about our trip to America. Although Katie didn’t have the day she wanted in the Chicago marathon, I could tell when I saw her out there on the course in the last few miles, that she’d given absolutely everything and I was so proud.
Then it was onwards to Hawaii, the big dance. The Ironman World Championships in Kona. The race and the trip met and exceeded all my expectations and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Just to be a part of the race and be amongst so many amazing and talented athletes was incredible. I didn’t have the performance I wanted, but I’ve got absolutely no regrets about chasing Kona and then my approach to race week. I loved every minute of it.
After this, it was all about having a bit of fun for the rest of the year. We had a brilliant weekend away in Devon, seeing two of our good friends getting married and running around a bit whilst we were down there.
I then had a crack at a couple of ultra-marathons, with no pressure on times or positions, just going out there and enjoying running. The 31 miles and 5,000ft of elevation at the CTS Gower were a real eye opener but a brilliant experience. The 50km Mince Pi run was also great fun, if not slightly damp.
Sandwiched between these two was another personal highlight of the year, as I had the privilege of running with Graham Sutherland, a good friend from the Chasers, in Valencia, as he smashed through the 3 hour barrier for the first time. It’s not always your own performances that are the most memorable, and that’s one of the days I’ll always look back on with a huge smile on my face.
I’ve had so much support through the year from friends and family, as well as everyone at the Clapham Chasers, and it’s always nice to know people care about the stupid things we’re getting up to.
Paul has been an absolute legend. He’s incredibly patient, putting up with all my stupid questions and reservations, helping me out solely because he’s a bloody decent chap. When it comes to triathlon, I don’t think there’s many people more switched on and I honestly don’t think I’d have got anywhere close to achieving what I did this year without him. I’ll always be in debt for all the help you’ve given me mate.
This whole nonsense wouldn’t be possible without the support of Katie. The adventures we have together are amazing and I wouldn’t swap it for anything else in the world. It’s been a tough year at points with her being unlucky with numerous injuries, but we’ll keep battling against them.
2019 battle plan
It’s easy in the social media age to make it seem like things are going swimmingly. Being brutally honest, the period since Kona has been a real struggle. People had said it’s not unusual to see a real confidence/motivation crisis in the months after achieving a lifetime goal, and they were spot on.
I’ve just had no desire to do any proper training, and the motivational flame has dimmed somewhat. I’ve not been enjoying the sport at all, and this has been combined with career issues alongside some other personal relationship problems. It’s not always straight forward, even if it might appear that way on the surface.
I know I’m incredibly lucky to have been able to experience the things that I have in the last 12 months, and I can only be grateful for that. The sensible person inside me says ‘Just suck it up Spraggins, stop being so pathetic’, but try as I might this just doesn’t happen sometimes.
Next year I’m scheduled to take part in Challenge Roth in July, one of the biggest ironman events on the planet. But at the moment, I’m just missing my running, and have an itch to go back and see if I can run the times that I used to be able to clock.
I don’t think the winter helps, with the dark mornings and evenings leaving you unable to picture a summer of racing. However, I’ve tried to let myself mentally reset over Christmas and I’m hoping a New Year with help me turn a corner and get back on it and start enjoying it more.
If I’m honest, if I could chose just one thing to happen in 2019, it would be for Katie to be injury free and enjoying herself. It’s the worst thing having to watch someone you love go through hard times and be unable to do anything to help. If I could, I’d offer to take the injury from her and have the time off myself; unfortunately in reality it doesn’t work like that.
Anyway. The show goes on. There’s only about 16 weeks to go until London. Now where did I put those swimming trunks..