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Breaking 2:30 Part #1: The Ground Rules

Hey Everyone!

At the end of July 2011 I did my first Olympic Triathlon.

I’m not going to lie to you it was INCREDIBLY hard! The swimming leg was like being chased by a pack of evil dolphins whose sole intention was to drown you by swimming all over you and kicking you in the face, time… and time…. and time again. It was unrelenting and at times horrific and it went on for 1500 metres, which for any land based discipline is really not that far but when you are in that water, with 24,341 people (I counted) trying to maim you, it’s simply a bloody long way. And you know what? The water didnt taste that great!

Wetsuit @
All the grace of a newborn elk

I flopped out of the water with all the grace and rigidity of a Portuguese Man O War and wobbled to the bike, getting dizzier and fuzzier with every step. That doesn’t seem right does it? Taking a moment to gather my thoughts at the rack I gathered my thoughts and bike and stumble-ran (in my cleets and still wobbly legged is a freaky combination) to the end of the transition zone holding the bike in one hand. I freewheeled the first section, wanting a little more rest, before clipping into the pedals and setting sail towards the sunset. In hindsight, the bike section was quite fun, you get to have a side by side chats with people as they overtake you. At one point a random non-tri dude caught up to me wearing cut off jeans, t-shirt and record bag slung over his shoulder. I noted he had a fixed gear bike as I looked side on in disbelief. He continued along side me for a good half a mile before he decided that I was going too slow for him, “you’re doing really well” he patronised as he sodded off! WTF?!?!

Tri and Bike!
Maybe if i looked like I was trying harder I would get a better time!

The bike section finished quite happily and I felt rejuvinated after slipping into my comfy running trainers and heading out of the second transition into the run. I felt good, I felt confident, I felt…cramp… after less than 1k into the race. Lovely, only 90% of the run to go then?!? The cramp wasn’t helped by my girlfriend and friend watching, pointing, laughing, eating ice cream.

I finished with an official time of 2hr38mins and 55s. Actually quite good!

This is the breakdown of the Result

Swim 1500m: 35mins 10s

Transition 1 (Wobbly): 4mins 24s

Bike 40km:1hr 6mins 21s

Transition 2: 2mins 18s

Run 10km: 50mins 44s


Little bit Crampy
Little bit Crampy

So why am I writing this post and if ultimately I did better than ok? Well the key defining time for an Olympic Triathlon is 2hrs 30. I was just 9mins over that – an average of 3mins per discipline. This was my first time, I can do better next time? Surely?

To get under 2:30 I decided I would have to train more and better (duh) and there would have to be a few ground rules.

1) I have to use all the same gear – no hyperdynamic bike with rockets. I want as fair a comparison as possible

2) I would have to lose weight/fat. Less Cake and Doughnuts

3) Train better with the training plans from Triathlon Plus Magazine in the absence of a Triathlon club.

4) Continual feedback by doing monthly speed tests.

5) Stay uninjured.

Let me break these down

1) Same gear: Triathlon can be a ridiculously expensive sport with lots of shiny new things to buy! There is a great amount of gear envy and i’m sure a better bike, (lighter more aerodynamic, trispecific) would get me a better time but I really want to see what I can do as a result of better training first.

2) On the date of the London Triathlon I weighed 93.1kg (14.7 Stones) this is the heaviest that I can actually remember myself being…ever! The lightest I can remember was 83.2 the day of a Taekwondo competition when I was at university but that was 10 years ago. Im also pretty sure i was sub 80kg when I was 18years ago, but using 83.2 as the basis I was nearly 10kg (over 1 1/2 stones) over that weight, or the maximum allowable hand luggage weight on a decent airline carrier (i.e. not “Ryansdispair”). The last point seems flippant but it really hit home when I did weigh my hand luggage before boarding a plane as it felt really heavy i was considering whether to check it in. It weighed 8.5kg! I thought to myself “If someone gave me this bag and asked me to run 10k i’m sure I would tell them where to go – so why am I doing it”. Weighing 10kg over where I knew I could be had to make things harder right??

3) Whilst I trained a fair bit I only really went for a few runs and paddles in the pool – that was the first time that I had swam 1500m in one go. Silly. I needed to train more effectively and with purpose and be in a position where in the last few months I wouldnt be training to get fitter, I would be training to get better, faster, more technique, silkier.

4) As part of this training better I need to set goals and keep track of things to check progress. Red bought me the fantastic Garmin 910xt watch, which amongst other things can track how i’m doing with the swimming which a huge bonus for me as i lose track after 5 lengths…or was that 6??

5) I know this is kind of impossible but this really means to train sensibly. I tend to injure myself i train when im massively tired or sick and i just want a run around etc etc. Stupid, stupid stupid. I need to cut this out its shit when you can’t train when you’re injured. Take the hit get an early night, come back brighter!

So why am I bringing this up now? Well I have my first triathlon of the season at Blenheim Palace on Saturday 8th June. This is the sprint distance so there is half the amount of fear but will be a great acid test as to what kind of condition I’m in.

Based on the London olympic times above my ideal times for each leg, assuming that the transition is the same, would be

Swim 16mins

Bike 32mins

Run 24mins

Total time approx 1hr19mins including transitions – sheeeeeiit…

The times that I get from the sprint will form the basis of the speed tests and fuel my training for the rest of the summer. There will be quite a big pack of us taking in Blenheim on Saturday part so it should be competitive and hopefully it will lead to some good times! In particular Scouse, Big Rich and my good self have a bet on – £5 per minute difference is payable to the winner (£50 max liability). The table below shows the people i know that will be taking part (plus a couple of elite guys for comparison).

 The Kobestarr Blenheim Tri League

SWIM (750m) T1 (inc 400m run!) BIKE (19.8km) T2 RUN (5.4km)
Brownlee 1
Brownlee 2
Chris BC
Steve MS
Tez BC
Big Rich
Uncle Jun
Ad Rock

Ill let you know how it goes!