Monday, 16 September 2013

Cymmer Afan Off-Road Triathlon - Round 3 of the Welsh GP Series

I’ve been a huge fan of this race since I won the National Cross Championships back in 2010. Strange that, eh?

The main reason being, it’s got a great, big, bloody big hill on the bike leg. It’s the off-road equivalent of Llandudno. Just replace the cast of Cocoon in tiger print with the kids from Lord of the Flies riding those fucking scooters within head butting range of your wing mirrors. This’ll be brief, as quite frankly, not much really happened.

My swim was slower than last year by ~10s, the bike went ok although my legs felt a bit flat and the run was good. Both bike and run were quicker than the previous year which is surprising as I’ve only been in the pool twice and run once since Llandudno...

Wales doesn’t have enough off-road triathlons.

I managed to grab my first win of the season – don’t get excited, it’s only a small race, and moved into 2nd overall for the Welsh GP Series standings. Although I’ve only done one event, so I’m not sure how much kudos that holds.


Swim Bike Run Overall
John Williams 09:50  38:50  18:40  01:08:46 1
Chris Lillywhite Cycleworks / Specilized 12:45  35:42  22:00  01:11:50 2
Simon Osbourne 12:02  39:14  20:46  01:12:49 3
Emily Iredale Cycleworks/Specialized 11:35  40:27  21:47  01:15:21 4
Nicholas Farnell 14:01  39:43  21:22  01:16:10 5

My next/last race of the season is in London on the 13th of September, The World AG Championships. That was my one goal for the season, getting there. Considering where I’ve come from two years ago, it’s slowly starting to sink in that I’ve actually qualified. Amazing where motivation comes from. In my case it was the consultant who told me to stop running back in 2011; “perhaps you’re not built for running”. I still have no idea what this means, but it did cost me £160. Cheers, mate.

In fairness, I have managed my running since the appointment. I started back with a load of time in the gym strengthening my arse/hips, stretching my hamstrings and generally playing around with the swiss ball and elastic bands. The running started months after the consultation; one run a week on a treadmill. First it was 5x30 seconds then I gently moved up to 4x1k. 4k is pretty much the most I run these days on the treadmill, just different variations. 10x400. 5x800. You can all do the math.

Cycling has pretty much been the consistent thing in my training. My swimming interests comes and goes, which is a shame considering I was faster over the bike/run than the overall winner in Llandudno this year. I’m still undecided with what I’m going to do next year in terms of sport. My knees have started to struggle towards the tail end of this year, so after taking 3 weeks off running, they’re fine again *touches head*.

My cycling has improved massively this year, especially when there are hills involved. I know that Strava isn’t exactly the beacon of accuracy for results, but it does give me a good idea of where I am in relation to other people who live around Carmarthenshire. We’ve got some seriously strong cyclists around here and I’m lucky enough to train alongside some of them. I’m sure they won’t mind me mentioning names but the likes of Matt Page (runner up at the World 24hr mtb Championships & former European Champion), Huw Thomas (current European 24hr mtb Champion), Scott Davies (Junior British time trialling Champion & 1st Welsh rider to win the Junior Tour of Wales (currently out in Italy on the “Baby Giro)) and then there’s the guys at the club rides, Tony, Owen, Matt and Brian.

A huge thanks to these guys for pushing me so hard during the rides. It’s clearly benefitted my running too. I’m toying with the idea of doing some road racing and time trials next year with some endurance mtb’ing over the winter. I’ll make my mind up after a good break post London. Although I’d love to go back and get a solid result at the European Cross Championships.

Anyway, I’ve got a World Championships to enjoy in just over a week. I’m started to get excited...

Here's some photos of what I've been up too.


Monday, 15 July 2013

Three races...three jellyfish.

Pendine Triathlon
I got a lesson in running by a 16yr old boy. What is it with these Welsh Juniors?!
The swim was cancelled on the morning of the race. I had no issues with this decision as the sight of the buoys coming back onto the beach in a tangled mess was enough to raise a few eyebrows.
This meant that swim was replaced with 3k run. 8k of running on a beach? Less than ideal 1 week out from a Worlds qualifier in Bristol.
Pendine is pretty exposed and the winds were playing havoc with racked bikes and the unattended helmets were being blown around the place. A case of just grabbing the closest helmet when getting on the bike?
From the off I held 2/3rd position at relative ease with another guy matching my pace. The junior had already got a significant lead going into T1. I could hear my running mate breathing pretty heavily so I guessed he put too much into the first leg.
Onto the bike and I was making some decent time into the junior. I caught him on the start of the second lap and decided to push on into the headwind on the return where I opened up a decent gap. This gap was torn to pieces as he caught me before the turnaround of the final 5k. Running down the beach into the headwind was pretty shite...and it started raining. I kept the gap on the return and worryingly, I've realised I start the run these days in a bit of a mess? It takes me 2.5/3k to get into a rhythm? (this is still with me after Bristol).
I finished 2nd roughly 25 seconds behind Junior and 3 minutes ahead of 3rd. I was pleased with the quickest bike split of the day considering I'm 66kg and the flat course with a filthy headwind isn't exactly playing to my advantage. I got a free Welsh cake.
Bristol Triathlon – World Championship Qualifier Round 2
An easy week led into Bristol Triathlon - one of my targets for 2013. I was subdued all week and felt generally flat during the lead up. Perfect.
This was easy to plan for. Finish in the top 5 of my Age-group (30-34) - it just so happens to be a pretty competitive age-group. There were ~80 of us in there and nigh on 600 entries to the race itself.
I caught up with a mate (Thomas Peoples) from previous races in Leicester when I tried my hand at middle distance in the Vitruvian . He spent most of the morning on a wind-up and generally putting people on the back foot with his observations....
”six gels? For a sprint...?”
“Yellow shoes? He’s got to win”
“That bike is worth more than my car!”
“You wearing a watch? You won’t have time to look at it....”
Onto the start and what was a pretty uneventful swim, I stumbled up the travelator and was disappointed not to be greeted John Anderson in his shit striped pj’s. I was out in 11th from the AG and was already feeling rubbish when I finally got on the bike. Being a flat, out and back 10k (two laps), I spent the majority of it laughing at the packs of rides (which was inevitable, considering the course) making their way past followed by the ‘draft police’. It’s an awful bike course! Penalties and DQ’s were being thrown around at the end of the event. 9th quickest bike split of the AG.
The run was just shit. I was stiff and struggled for the first 3k again until Thomas caught me and I finally pulled myself together and hung onto him for the remaining 2.4k. Unfortunately, I was overtaken right at the end and missed the final slot of 5 by 1 second. I had no idea at the time, but had no complaints on reflection. I ran like an absolute clown. I was 19:59 for the 5.4k and 15th in AG. Rubbish.
After all the DQ’s and penalties were handed out, I finished 6th in AG and 23rd from the 495.
I had one last chance of qualifying, it was the next weekend in Llandudno which would be my 3rd race in 3 weekends.
Llandudno Triathlon – World Championship Qualifier Round 3
Last chance saloon...same plan as Bristol, top 5 or miss out.
I’ll apologies to Lowri again for the accommodation I booked. I paid £40 for the hotel. To put this into perspective, two breakfasts cost £19. I’ve been to Anne Frank’s house and the only difference between the two was she had Nazi’s with rifles and we had half soaked, seventy-year old Scousers propping up the bar in tiger print.
Anyway, the race. I really didn’t fancy doing it in all honesty. I was tired from the previous two weeks and could have happily gone home after seeing the retirement home/hotel.
Floating around in the sea waiting for the horn to go (not mine, although I am a fan of tiger print), I was stung by a jeffin’ jellyfish. Both ankles, wrists and neck. Luckily, it didn’t bother me until I finished the race. I took the swim relatively steady and just aimed at getting around in the 2nd pack and hoped to make some time up on the hilly bike route. As I was 16th out the water in the Ag (108th overall), I clearly took it a little too easily...
The bike was great; two hilly laps of the Great Orme. I took the road bike and thankfully, this didn’t come back and bite me in the arse. I was catching people straight from transition and gradually made my way up the field. I had no idea where I was in terms of positional, so just rode pretty hard throughout. I knew I’d lose time on the descents as I’m not exactly built to go downhill, but I more than made up for this on the ascent. Looking at the results, I had a solid ride: 5th in AG and 12th overall.
I wasn’t sure how the legs would respond to the ride and was pretty nervous going into after what happened in the last two races. Thankfully, I got into my rhythm pretty quickly and was happy to tick along for the first 2.5k. There was a hill on the turnaround and I started to catch a couple people who by the looks of it, put too much into the bike. On the return, I was passed by a guy in the AG below me and decided to stick to him as long as I could...he dragged me to the finish line. I passed a couple guys in the same AG as me on the way back but I left too much to do with a poor swim. I’m pleased with my time on the run considering it wasn’t exactly flat and especially how I’ve been running lately. 18:09 was good enough for 5th in AG and 25th overall.
Finishing 14th overall from the 715 that finished, I knew it would be close...but I had to laugh when I found out I finished 8th in my AG. EIGHT? Of the top 20; 11 were 30-34. Kinell’. Between the winner and myself, there was only 1min 40s and I missed the final slot by 26 seconds. Also, to show how bad my swim was, I was quicker than the eventual winner on both the bike and run.
Anyway, I’m 2nd on the roll-down list and should find out if I get a slot within the next week or so.
From the two races, I’m relatively happy with where I am. I’ve missed out by 1 second and 26 seconds. Meh’
Next for me, Cymmer Off-Road Triathlon. This is part of the Welsh Grand Prix circuit. It’s got hills.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Llanelli Triathlon 2013

Despite wasting the morning walking around saying “cracking day for it” to every man and his dog, I finally got round to putting my wetsuit on and missing the entire race briefing. I was speaking to a friend prior to starting and I claimed confidently that they’ve changed the run route, more notably, the direction of it. He informed me that I was talking utter bollocks and the run was exactly the same – one less thing to worry about. I still don’t know why I decided this!?
This was my first race in the new Xterra wetsuit – I’m a brand ambassador. I wore it around the house and did some lunging in the living room and decided it’s probably the best wetsuit in the World for lunging around your living room. In fairness, it’s very good in the water too...unlike me. The usual swim stuff entailed; foot in the groin, elbow in the ear and slap in the face and I was out in 7th.
Onto the bike and after an uneventful 30mins, my saddle slipped. So after riding what felt like a child’s bike for the final ~5k, I got out on the run. Yep, 7th fastest bike split. Can you guess what my run split position was...?
Putting my daps on, I only went and bent the insert of my right shoe and ran the 5k with a Steptoe & Son limp. Schoolboy error. It didn’t make much difference as my legs were shot from the child’s bike position I slowly developed. That’s right, 7th run split.
I finished 5th (Na-Ha!!) overall and claimed the ‘Carmarthenshire Resident Winner’ trophy... this was previously known as “The Spare Trophy”. Probably.
One thing I’ve noticed this year (and towards the end of last year, in fairness), the depth of talent in South Wales for triathlon is pretty impressive. For a region that’s predominantly know for its rugby, I’m amazed at every event by the growing numbers of very quick athletes – not to mention the overall number of people trying the sport. There were over 300 finishers at Llanelli alone?!
A shout to a school mate, Mathew Fuge, who had an unfortunate accident on the return bike leg only to get up and finish the race. He later found out he broke his wrist. Enjoy the painkillers, buddy.
122Beynon, DanielMSEc Cycles Merthyr01:11:35
2123Hockin, JamesMSCeltic Tri01:12:30
3285Simpson, RossMSUrban Cyclery01:14:13
4219Miles, DanielMSCardiff Tri01:15:50
5340Williams, JohnMS01:16:25


Next up for me, providing I can afford the fees, will be a visit to the Priory Rehabilitation Centre after some wedding celebrations last weekend. I’ve been sober twice since Friday AM. Congrats Allan and Anita – thanks for the wine. *dry heaves*
I also pared a par 5 on the previous day’s golf tournament and told everyone....EVERYONE...about this at some point during the wedding.
Apart from that, I have a title at Pendine Triathlon to defend (I haven’t got a chance) and then a couple World Championships qualifiers in Bristol and Llandudno at the end of June. Which reminds me, I need to get my passport. Bristol is abroad, right?
*points at Great Orme* “How great is that? Orme God”

Monday, 8 April 2013

Racing again...

Mumbles Duathlon – Sprint

Force feeding myself porridge, honey and raisins at 5:00am usually means spring is here and I’m starting racing again.

Unfortunately, I’ve been doing this for the majority of the winter on both Saturday and Sunday mornings. I’m not sure what I’d prefer? Getting in at 5am and suffering from a 3 day booze/food induced coma, or a 4hr ride in the back-arse lanes of Bethlehem (not THE Bethlehem) getting cow shit slung up from the wheel in front.

Anyhow, 6:12am and I was pulling into Mumbles car park after being abruptly woken by the flashing speed camera. 38mph in 30mph zone. I was too tired to muster any emotion at this.

I chose to wear all my kit. Between the wind (imagine Twister without Bill Paxton) and the sub zero temperature, I wasn’t taking any chances. For anyone who hasn’t been to Mumbles, it’s the edge of Earth.

5k run. After briefly laughing at an old school mate who chose to wear as little clothing as he could, we were off - not just me and him, that would be cheating. There’s not much you can write about a 5k other than I ran pretty steadily into a headwind and returned into a crosswind for in 5th (3 were doing the long course, 1 the short course) and a 18:12 (5:51 pacing). I think my eyes streamed for the entire run. Knee is fine, thanks for asking.

21k bike. The evening before the race, my plan was to get up early, head back to the parents, pick up the time trial bike and make my way to the race. Instead; I had a pizza, packed the road bike and went to bed. Anyway, was out on the bike just behind a long course competitor and caught him just down the road. I did have two pretty close behind me, aero helmets and all...etc so decided to give it a good crack up the first climb and put some distance into them. At the turnaround point I realised that there would be a pretty harsh block headwind to compete against...not to mentiont the 16yr old who hammered me on the run. He was ~1min ahead of me and my beard at the turnaround and 3rd was roughly the same behind me. Pretty uneventful return leg ensured I was 3k away from a 2nd place in my first ever road based duathlon. My eyes streamed for the entire 21k. 38:35 for the bike.

3k run. Having only run 5k last year bar one race (9k), I was looking forward to seeing how I’d cope with the extra 3k. I was feeling the cold but I was happy to pace it back in for 10:32 (5:37 pacing – the wind had died down considerably) and finish in 2nd , 1min 30s behind the 16yr old, non-pub going winner.

A total time of 1:09:18.

I stood around for the prize giving as I thought it could’ve paid for my driving offence. They only gave prizes for 1st place. Mentally, I just collected the 3pts & £60 fine to a round of applause.

My next race is in May. It’s a 5k which also falls on a bank holiday. Hopefully I'll be sober.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Wiggle Review: Speedo Classic Aquashort

Firstly, I’m a handsome man. I’m blessed with looks. I bought these for two reason;

a)      Flaunt around the edge of the pool and hang around in my man cave; the sauna at my local swimming baths.
b)      To swim in the local baths.

They’re well made. Small...but well made. This is great if you have fantastic quads. Luckily, I do.
There’s a thicker material around the ‘biscuits’ area too. This is both good and bad; let me explain.

Good: for those of you with ‘little biscuits’, it’ll firm the area, and like an optical illusion, make the zone look full, firm and fertile.
Bad: if you have ‘big biscuits’, it’ll detract from my...sorry, *your* fantastic quads and ripped midriff. The area will resemble a set of well presented potatoes and an industrial garden hose. You’d better get used to the gasps and occasional female blackout. Women will want to rub them (the shorts, not your potatoes), I’ve dubbed my pair the “Genie’s lamp”. They’re robust...they can handle a rub.

Also, when strutting from the mixed-sex changing rooms, in my experience it’s advisable to mime the lyrics to WHAM! – Club Tropicana to get you in the correct frame of mind. This is my only complaint; the Classic Aquashort (Genie’s lamp) doesn’t come with a laminated lyric sheet for the aforementioned song. For the amateur Mack Daddy, you’re not expected to know the lyrics. This is a slight oversight. You buy these shorts, you start on the road towards becoming a Mack Daddy. Deal. With. It.

Thanks for reading. I also have sensational glutes and perfectly aligned areolas.

All together now:

Let me take you to the place
Where membership’s a smiley face,
Brush shoulders with the stars.
Where strangers take you by the hand,
And welcome you to wonderland –
From beneath their panamas....