Month: September 2018

Not Waving…

Finally got to my first swim lesson with the proper coach tonight.

Martin, Wendy’s workmate, (who has been going for a while) said the coach will ask your goal, assess your swim, then be brutally frank about your chances of achieving it. Martin has heard him tell people they just don’t have enough years left to achieve their ambitions.

I was all set for confrontation. You say I can’t do it, I’m going to prove you wrong if I have to go to a different coach to do it.

He told me to swim up and down while he walked besides me in the pool. After 2 lengths he stopped me, and asked what I wanted to achieve.

“I want to be able to knock 40 minutes off my 2.4 mile swim time within 3 years.”

No problem. 3 months.

Bugger me! Didn’t see that coming. I suspect he may have misheard me, but he was very positive about my chances.

He was happy with my stroke, my kicking and my rotation, said not to change it. He correctly identified my initial problem, not being able to breathe.  He set me a task of swimming to the deep end, then dunking under and breathing out through my nose, surface, in through my mouth and repeat.

After a few goes of that he told me to breathe every second stroke on the swims.

It sounds stupid, but it was really working.

I had been keeping my head down for as long as possible because every time I breathed I had to roll right out of the water and stick my head up to get a huge lungful of air, which more or less stopped me dead. Then there was the panic of missing that huge breath, and the panic as I was running short of air before I took it.

By only breathing out through my nose it trains you to only breathe in through your mouth. You’re not wasting half of your breath seconds blowing out. By doing it every second stroke I was sipping regular air. Never running out, never panicking, not having to gasp huge amounts, which in turn let me relax and keep my head in the water as I breathed.  That is my first ambition, to master the smooth, head in the water, breathing of the good swimmers.

He had another point as well. “The trouble with adult swimmers is they come here and tell me why they can’t do it before I’ve even had a chance to look at them.”

He didn’t think there was much wrong with my swim once I’ve got my breathing right. He really thought I could do it.

That is the best bit of tri news I’ve had in ages. As I say, I know I can batter the run, the bike is going to be incredibly hard but just a matter of constant training. The swim was what could have stopped me dead.



Warrington Half

Just some stats for future reference.

I did the Warrington half marathon today. I didn’t think I was going to be able to, but managed to get a shift swap at work.

It was a good run for me. I managed to batter my previous personal best (from 2012 when I was a young and vigorous slip of a 46 year old lad) by 3 minutes 24 seconds.  I was a bit disappointed with the overall time of 1.36:17, I wanted to be a lot closer to 1.30, but hills. And wind. And other excuses.

I’ve got the Manc half next month, so hopefully get within spitting distance of 1.30 then.

Still, PB.

The stats, subject to change when the final results and proper breakdown get posted are:

I was 1.36:17

5,295 people entered the half (I don’t know how many were no-shows/ DNF’s yet.)

I finished:

277 overall,

246th in the men’s race, (only 31 women beat me! That’s quite impressive for me.)

25th in my age group.

The age group stat is meaningless until I know how many were in that category, but 277th out of 5,295 puts me in the the top 5.23% for the overall race.

Just looked at my last Warrington half stats in 2016.


558 overall

496 gender

65th in age group.

Wow. That’s way more encouraging.

Right, I’ll confirm when the official results are up, but just on the stats I’ve got that’s not bad.

Then Lettie, a niece-in-law, said her chap did it in 1.15.

I thought it was a wind-up. He’s a noob, only been running for about a year, after knee surgery. No way.

She seemed serious. As was Wendy. I looked it up, that would be a 5.45 m/m pace. Nah, not even. They looked it up on the results, there he was 1.15. I was stunned, full of admiration, but mainly gutted. In the end Lettie got to doubting herself so texted Mark, her chap.

He’d ran the 10K.

Bloody hell.

But, for some actual perspective, today somebody ran a 2.01 in the Berlin marathon. A full marathon at 4.38 m/m pace.

I hear competitive knitting is the future.


Where The Iron Crosses Grow.

The title is a reference from a not very good war film. A cowardly German officer is jealous of his sergeant’s Iron Cross. At the end of the film the sergeant runs into the fight saying to the officer “Come with me and I’ll show you where the Iron Crosses grow.” Or words to that effect. 

It’s a phrase I use for my training. I finish work and I’m tired and hungry and want to sit down, eat and sleep. But I’ve set myself a massive challenge. I grit my teeth and do an hour on the bike or a run.

The bike is set up in the shed on the turbo trainer. I shut the door to keep gnats out (and in an attempt to heat condition myself) and go like stink. I couldn’t believe how hot I got so I bought a cheap wall thermometer to quantify. An hour of pure graft, sweat pouring off me, and I raise the shed temperature by 6°C! And the humidity goes stupid, I’ve had water running down the steamed up windows. It’s awful.

But, that is where the Iron Crosses grow.

I set myself this sub 10 challenge, then looked into where it would place me. In 3 out of the 4 Barcelona Ironmans that would have given me a podium finish for my age group. Which is an impressive ambition, but then I took the reasoning a step further. That would place me in the top 1% or 2% for my age group.

When you think of it like that… get sweating fatlad!

I’m thinking of how I can make it happen.

I want to lose another stone, not through dieting as such, just keep on exercising.


I’ve missed out on 3 weeks of swimming. We had a bank holiday so it was shut, then I was on holiday, then yesterday my feet were still bad so I thought I’d best wait. Next week I start my swim training in earnest. That is my biggest challenge. I can build leg muscles for the ride, I can get faster for the run, but swimming is technique. And upper body strength. Of which I have neither.

I was thinking that it’s all going to succeed or fail on the ability of this swim coach. Then I changed my attitude. If he can’t help me I’ll find someone who can. I’ve got nearly 3 years.


My running took a bit of a hit after my stupid attempt to run without socks. It turns out I was thinking of the bike section, that can be done comfortably bare foot. I could barely walk, never mind train. After 10 days I did a test 6 mile jog while we were on holiday. It hurt but it was manageable and it didn’t exacerbate the problem.

I tried to catch up with my sub 3 training when we got back. I was 2 weeks behind so I had to go from 2½ miles at 6.45 m/m, then two weeks off injured, straight to 3½ miles. I gave it my best shot but was about 20 seconds too slow overall. Then I tried to do a 10 mile run at 7 m/m. That was a massive fail. I wrecked my chest muscles trying but averaged at 7.19.  I’ve got the Warrington half marathon on Sunday so I can’t do too much more this week. I’ll try and do my fast run again tomorrow. But if I’m to stay on track I’ll need to add another week, so 4 miles at 6.45.


Of course, the big news on the training front is my Canyon (triathlon specific) bike. I was trying to make do. A cheap ‘it’ll do’ aero bike, some cheap swap over bits from China. Not ideal or what I really wanted, but probably sufficient.

Wendy, bless her, said “Stop trying to do it on the cheap. You won’t be satisfied and it never works out. Buy the proper bike.”  When I checked Canyon’s website they were having an end of season sale! It was meant to be!

My lovely bike is arriving tomorrow.  Another reason I force myself into the shed. If I go out on that bike I’ve got to be so fast nobody can catch me. The shame of having that bike and being burnt off by a granny on her 3 speed shopping bike would be too much to bear.


While I was looking for the picture of the bike on my ‘phone, I noticed the holiday pictures. Oops. Forgot all about it. While we were away Wendy had to tell me off and say “you can do all that when we get back, we’re on holiday” or some such. Well deserved. I am obsessing.

So here’s some snaps.

Hole. Why?

Tolerable views.

Just a bunch of seals.

Wilderness Wendy.

Cornish traffic jam.

You should have seen the size of the one that got away.

Bah. Holidays.